Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver #AudioBookReview

Psychopaths Anonymous

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Maeve has everything. A high-powered job, a beautiful home and a string of uncomplicated one-night encounters. She’s also an addict – a functioning alcoholic with a dependence on sex and an insatiable appetite for killing men.

When she can’t find a support group to share her obsession, she creates her own. And Psychopaths Anonymous is born. Friends of Maeve.

Now in a serious relationship, Maeve wants to keep the group a secret. But not everyone in the group adheres to the rules, and when a reckless member raises suspicions with the police, Maeve’s drinking spirals out of control. She needs to stop killing. She needs to close the group. But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including her new man….

Psychopaths Anonymous is a scathing, violent and darkly funny audiobook about love, connection, obsessions and sex – and the aspects of human nature we’d prefer to hide.

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This is my second novel by this author and I bought the audiobook with my last Audible credit. I thought I started off on the wrong foot with the first one but now I’m having to admit that this author is probably not a match for me.

First of all, I have come to realize that I prefer books with a clear and predictable structure, a question at the start of a novel waiting for an answer, a heads up on what mystery needs to be solved. I however got into this novel without anything to hold on to except the 12 steps of AA. But where will it lead after reaching step 12, what is the purpose of the story? After a good part of the story, when it dawned on me what ticked Maeve’s boxes, I was questioning if she would get caught as a serial killer, who the next victim would be, and if she would kill her sexual partner in the end, but her overall thoughts didn’t really interest me as much as wanted them to.

Lots of people are fascinated by psychopaths and how their brain works, as am I, and I probably read and watched a few too many romanticized versions where you can find some redeeming qualities in the characters because there was nothing sympathetic about Maeve. I’m definitely not ‘A Friend of Maeve’ in any way. She’s this know-it-all alcoholic psychopath who joins several group meetings (including AA with the intent to steal some ideas for her own group meeting of Psychopaths Anonymous) because she loves other people’s misery and it obviously feeds her feelings of superiority. I didn’t like Maeve at all, but it might be more worrisome if I did.

Psychopaths Anonymous is not for the faint of heart. Even I found it quite crude when Maeve describes one of her murders in gruesome detail, I must be turning soft now I’m a year older. There is a big dose of violence, alcohol and sex within these pages but I’m somewhat surprised myself that what probably bothered me most were her opinions on God and faith. It was a recurring theme and it didn’t sit well with me how she ridiculed people who find support and solace in their belief. Each to their own of course, and I’m an atheist as well but it felt quite harsh and repetitive.

I looked up the traits of a psychopath and she’s a 100% perfect fit so the author did a great job. I won’t spoil where this story is going to go and if she’s able to keep on hiding body parts in her freezer from Seth, the one person she doesn’t grow tired of. I don’t know what the chances are in real life of this ending happening as it was in this novel, but as far as fictional worlds go, I have to say I’m feeling ok with the way the author ended things for Maeve. I don’t regret sticking to it till the end because I simply had to know how it was going to be wrapped up but in all honesty I probably won’t give it a third shot.

I bought an copy of this audiobook. This is my honest opinion.

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The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen | Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough #Audiobooks

AudioBookReviews

TheGoldenCouple

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Wealthy Washington suburbanites Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem to have it all—until Marissa is unfaithful. Beneath their veneer of perfection is a relationship riven by work and a lack of intimacy. She wants to repair things for the sake of their eight-year-old son and because she loves her husband. Enter Avery Chambers.

Avery is a therapist who lost her professional license. Still, it doesn’t stop her from counseling those in crisis, though they have to adhere to her unorthodox methods. And the Bishops are desperate.

When they glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I really enjoyed listening to Karissa Vacker and Marin Ireland, the narrators of this audiobook. Karissa takes on Marissa’s voice and Marin is Avery’s in this story. That way we hear from Marissa and her husband Matthew who seek Avery’s unconventional therapist’s support. Marissa fears her husband’s reaction about her infidelity so she confesses in the presence of Avery and hopes she can give them the tools to overcome this and stay together.

Avery knows Marissa is holding back something and is determined to find out what it is. She likes to dig in deep and her methods are unorthodox but thorough. I loved hearing from Avery and she was the most interesting character of the novel.

There is a lot going on in both Marissa’s life and Avery’s lives which make this audiobook anything but dull. There are some interesting side characters too who add to the story in Marissa’s bubbly shopping assistant and Avery’s love interests Derek and Skip. There is also an undercurrent of danger and threat that seems to be related to the complaint Avery made in name of a client, another plotline in the story, but when I found one plotline slowly seeping into the other, I questioned even that and I couldn’t wait to see how everything was related to each other.

There was absolutely nothing I can put my finger on that made me like but not love The Golden Couple. Even if it’s not my favorite title from one of my favorite authors, it was still entertaining and cleverly crafted.

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Insomnia

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In the dead of night, madness lies….

Emma can’t sleep.

Check the windows….

It’s been like this since her big 4-0 started getting closer.

Lock the doors….

Her mother stopped sleeping just before her 40th birthday, too. She went mad and did the unthinkable because of it.

Look in on the children….

Is that what’s happening to Emma?

Why can’t she sleep?

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I loved reading Behind Her Eyes in 2017 and Cross Her Heart in 2020 so this was the author’s third book for me. Insomnia definitely leans towards Behind Her Eyes with the story hung up on one shocking twist. Even though I’m not a fan of unrational things I could get behind what she had planned all along so I didn’t feel cheated in the end. My patience was pushed to the limit at the beginning however and I have to congratulate myself for seeing it through.

This was one of the biggest slow burner novels I have read in the last years and it was only at 40% into the story that the first big exciting thing happens that pulls the story open and presents at least a mystery I could perhaps get my head around more. Up until that point Emma Averall is having weird thoughts, she has numbers in her head, she recites certain words (which will stick in your head too by the end of the book!) and there are a few other strange things happening that remind her of her childhood. She’s worrying about her 40th birthday coming soon because her mother went crazy on her 40th birthday and she wonders if the same is happening to her. The author doesn’t give anything more to cling to so despite all this weirdness I felt a little bored at times and I didn’t feel as much tension as was probably intended. Thankfully a suspicious death marked the turning point and I became more interested in Emma and her family from thereon.

I didn’t really feel the connection with Emma but that didn’t deter me from my goal to find out the truth. Emma is an unreliable narrator so during the whole story I was left wondering if she really did have mental health issues and whether she had anything to do with this death. I didn’t want to believe so but there was always some degree of uncertainty. The author seemingly enjoyed keeping her readers in the dark, only ramping up the craziness a few notches as the story progressed so, much like Behind Her Eyes, I had to wait till the end for it all to make sense.

You have to undergo this story and wait for the surprise but if you do hang in there is a great twist waiting for you in the end.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward – The Housemaid by Sarah A. Denzil #AudioBookReviews

AudioBookReviews

TheLastHouseOnNeedlessStreet audio

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This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter, Lauren, and his cat, Olivia, in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies.

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve come across this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think….

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Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for this or maybe it was because of the animal cruelty (of birds) described in the first chapters of the novel but it wasn’t a good start and it ended up being quite a challenging audiobook, even though I quite liked the narration. The Last House on Needless Street was soooo weird for sooo long! I really struggled in the beginning and if it hadn’t been because I had already heard so much about it and seen this novel on favorite lists I’m not sure if I had continued. But perseverance is my middle name (ahem) so I’m happy I finally know the secret of this book. The plot is original although it went very slowly and didn’t make much sense at times what was going on. There are three voices in the novel and Ted Bannerman is this strange guy who lives in a delipated and boarded up house next to a forest. Olivia the indoor cat loves Ted and makes observations now and again. Then there’s Lauren, Ted’s daughter, who isn’t always there but when she is her moods are often eratic. I had guessed the clue of the story early on but not the exact extent of it, how encompassing it would turn out to be. In the end the author made it even more difficult with the stairs, the basement, the colours of the rugs and it almost became a bit too much to digest. I like seeing things in my mind but it was impossible to conjure up how this would look on screen or in real life.

I understand why so many readers praise it and talk about it so much because it really is special and the idea behind it – as the author explains in the afterword – is great but if you ask me if I want to read/listen to it again then the answer is no.

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The Housemaid

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Housemaid wanted.

Skills required: discretion, and the willingness to go the extra mile.

It seems like the perfect job. Great wages, accommodation provided and all located within the walls of Highwood Hall, a stunning stately home owned by the Howard family. Not many little girls dream of becoming a maid, but this is an opportunity for me to get back on my feet. And for me to revisit my past….

But I soon realise I’ve made a mistake. The strict housekeeper, Mrs Huxley, watches my every move, emerging from the shadows when least expected. Lord Howard’s son, Alex, takes an interest in me, and as a former addict, I find myself drawn to him because I know he’s bad for me. There’s a general atmosphere of unease at Highwood Hall, from the narrow tunnels laced throughout the sprawling house, to the abandoned north wing, rumoured to be haunted. It’s easy to imagine the secrets hidden within these walls, like the secrets I hold close.

On my first day, I receive a mysterious package. I open up the pretty gift box to find a miniature doll version of me trapped inside a dollhouse. In this scene I’m dead, lying in a pool of red paint at the bottom of the perfectly recreated staircase. Someone sent this threatening diorama to me, but who even knows I work at the hall? And what do they want?

I know only one truth: my perfect job is turning into my perfect nightmare.

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I enjoyed The Housemaid in the format of an audiobook. The narrator Sophie Rundle spoke with clear pronounciation and had a pleasant voice and I’d certainly not mind listening to her again in the future.

The story takes place in the present but I sometimes really felt I was transported to the Victorian era and the modern references almost felt out of place. I did get used to this unusual blend and I became fascinated quite soon with the strange diorama that turned up on Ruby’s first day. Who was it from and what was its purpose? Did someone want to see her gone before she had even started? There were definitely strange things going on in that house and it was all very atmospheric.

I really enjoyed the first three parts of the book but I found it harder to enjoy the final part. The characters were interesting and believable, but then at the end it all seemed a little far fetched to me. There were some shocking truths in the end that I hadn’t entirely seen coming so there is that but it unfolded as if someone had pulled a plug and there was not enough explanation to make me believe what I read. I think I would have liked it more if Ruby had found out more gradually so the pacing would have been more consistent with the rest of the novel and motives and thoughts could be more developed so it would sound more believable.

All in all it was not a bad novel per se and I see the potential of this author’s writing so I might give another novel a go in the future if I have the opportunity.

Of dog walkers and yoga retreats: Sleeping Dogs Lie by Samantha Downing | The Getaway by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen #AudioBookReviews

AudioBookReviews

I chose two short novellas (around 2 hours of listening time each) because I love reading books written by these authors and I wanted to see if their audiobooks would be equally brilliant.

SleepingDogsLie

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Shelby works as a dog walker in northern California, and she’s just finished up her bi-weekly trip to the park with a husky named Pluto. When she brings him back to his house, she finds his owner – Todd Burke, a well-known local businessman and founder of an organic supplements company – lying on the bathroom floor, dead. A detective arrives on the scene. As she interviews Shelby, the body is inspected by a medical examiner, and more cops search Todd’s home, it becomes clear that the victim’s life was less picture-perfect than his clean-cut persona might lead you to believe.

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If you love animals you’ll enjoy listening to this audiobook. I normally give novellas a miss but I fell for the mention of the author and the dog in Sleeping Dogs Lie. The author managed to create an entertaining mystery about the murder of a husky’s owner. Pluto seemed like a goofy and affectionate dog, especially with his interest in neighbouring little doggie Daisy. I didn’t expect the dog and his dog walker to be so front and center of the story but I loved that it revolves around them. Pluto’s owners had joined custody, his neighbour wanted him to leave his dog alone and threatened to kill Pluto…  So who killed Todd? Detective Grady tries to make sense of it all. There are a few suspects but I totally didn’t expect this outcome. Great twist and motive!

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TheGetaway

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Prepare yourself for a transformative experience. Sometimes, life’s setbacks contain hidden gifts. Here at Lakewood, you’ll find the space to unwrap them.

A weekend at the Lakewood Retreat is exactly what Chloe Powell needs. Freshly unemployed after her boss loses a reelection campaign, the former press secretary desperately wants a break from the bustle of Washington, DC. A flier posted at her yoga studio leads her to the getaway, which looks amazing: Organic meals, celebrity testimonials, and a serene private property within driving distance of the city.

It’s so perfect, in fact, that Chloe’s barely bothered by the intensely personal questions she’s asked in her application, or the unnerving social experiments her enigmatic host, Sebastian, imposes on her once she arrives at his remote cabin. But when a mysterious new guest shows up, Chloe can no longer suppress her rising panic: This place is not at all what it seems.

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

Another duo that knows how to deliver unexpected twists. Unfortunately, for some reason and especially knowing what this author duo is capable of, I expected more from it. It started off really good, I was hooked at the start and alarm bells went off as soon as Chloé arrived at the retreat. There was that unsettling feeling where you can’t put your finger on what is wrong exactly hanging in the air and possible scenarios were trying to take form in my head. When another guest finally arrives it became clear what was going on but I didn’t feel as excited with this twist as I should have been. The tension was ramped up in the end and I did cheer Chloé along. This was ok but you’re not missing out if you haven’t listened to this.

I downloaded these audiobooks from Audible for free, as part of my membership. Do let me know what your thoughts were if you have listened to these audiobooks in the past!

Who is playing games? The Christmas Murder Game / The Other Mrs #AudioBookReviews

AudioBookReviews

TheChristmasMurderGame

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This Christmas is to die for…. Let the game begin.

Lily Armitage never intended to return to Endgame House – the grand family home where her mother died 21 Christmases ago. Until she receives a letter from her aunt, asking her to return to take part in an annual tradition: the Christmas Game. The challenge? Solve 12 clues, to find 12 keys. The prize? The deeds to the manor house.

Lily has no desire to win the house. But her aunt makes one more promise: the clues will also reveal who really killed Lily’s mother all those years ago.

So, for the 12 days of Christmas, Lily must stay at Endgame House with her estranged cousins and unravel the riddles that hold the key not just to the family home, but to its darkest secrets. However, it soon becomes clear that her cousins all have their own reasons for wanting to win the house – and not all of them are playing fair.

As a snowstorm cuts them off from the village, the game turns deadly. Soon Lily realises that she is no longer fighting for an inheritance, but for her life.

Twelve clues. Twelve keys. Twelve days of Christmas.

But who will survive until Twelfth Night?

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review-2

star three and a half

I listened to numerous samples on Audible and I chose The Christmas Murder Game because a. then I could finally say that I read a Christmas themed novel this year and b. I loved the narration by Laura Costello instantly, she has a very pleasant voice to listen to. Oh and if there ever even needed to be a third reason, I also do love a locked-in type of novel on any given day.

I was spoilt with the characters, well until, one by one, they started to die of course. But when Lily enters Endgame House, a hotel and conference venue that comes with its very own labyrinthe next to it, she is met by her cousins: the ever lovely Sara (not!), Rachel en Holly (I appreciate the author for choosing a lesbian couple among the family and for not making a thing of it), and then there’s Rony and his wife Philippa, Tom and Lily herself who both arrive single.

I was eager to get started with the clues but the start was a little slow as the first clue only happened when I reached Chapter 9. But when we were off we were off with a good start. Each of the twelve days of Christmas has a clue in the form of a sonnet which leads to a key. The sonnets were intriguing but too hard for me to find the clues in them myself so I had to be led by Lily (as she’s the star who can solve them with ease) which was quite ok for me even though I had hoped to be able to unravel some of it myself.

The clues were a nice touch but I enjoyed the search for two killers most of all. There is of course the killer in the house whose only goal is to get his or her hands on the house but there’s also the search for the person who killed Lily’s mother Mariana and because that happened 20 years earlier it was safe to assume that it was someone else than the present killer, but who and why?

I can’t say I didn’t see some of it coming in the end, especially when they’re down to only a few persons but I was very interested to see how Lily would escape death and with her quick thinking she definitely didn’t let me down. I was quite satisfied with the way the story ended. Maybe not the most memorable novel out there but all in all quite an entertaining audiobook.

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TheOtherMrs

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When Sadie moves with her husband, Will, and their two children to a tiny coastal town, it’s a fresh start. Will swears the affair he was having back in the city is over, and Sadie believes him. But their new beginning is tainted when a local woman is murdered, leaving Sadie convinced there’s a killer in their midst.

Hot-headed, beautiful Camille is obsessively in love with Will. She’s even prepared to follow him thousands of miles to stake out his new home in secret – and in doing so, becomes the only witness to a brutal crime.

But who is Camille really, and what is her connection to the dead woman? And as the murder investigation deepens, whose secret will be revealed as the darkest of them all?

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review-2

star three and a half

The narration (mainly by Piper Goodeve) was fine but I did pick this one up because of the author. I read and loved Kubica’s first novel years ago (about an abducted girl) and while I have another paperback on my tbr pile, I couldn’t resist choosing this title to listen to.

There’s a really big twist in this novel which will illicit a five star rating if it hits you from the side, but I actually read a novel with the same twist in 2014 and it was such an unforgettable twist, so it was literally staring me in the face this time with a big neon flash. The idea was formed in my head when Will and Sadie were summoned to their son’s school and I found confirmation not much later again by things that were said. From then on it was simply enjoyable to see how the author cleverly manipulated the reader in the rest of the story.

The Other Mrs also serves several snippets of a 6 year old girl named Mouse, and at the beginning it really wasn’t clear how these fit into the whole story, or even who the girl is. Is it the little girl of the dead woman, Imogen when she was young, Camille, Sadie? With my growing insight it did start to make sense though and I liked that the author chose to insert this background story. Mouse – whose real name we don’t get to hear until the end – tries to be a good little girl but ‘fake mom’ calls her ‘a rodent’ among other things, when her father isn’t around to hear it. I can usually handle reading about domestic abuse fairly well but it became more heartbreaking as time went on and it hurt to hear this anonymous girl talk about what was happening to her without knowing what was going on. It is relevant to the story though and it definitely helps to understand all of it in the end.

Even though I figured out the biggest twist (debatable) I was still very surprised in the end because the author had one more surprise up her sleeve. I nearly fell off my chair when I read it because there was no foreshadowing for this turn of events!

This novel has everything in it to keep you hooked so I do recommend this thrilling mystery! I’d give it a star more if it hadn’t been so obvious early on what was going on. I’m definitely very interested to read some of Kubica’s other novels now.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins #AudioBookReview

AudioBookReviews

ASlowFireBurning

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Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.

Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?

Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

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I’m a fan of the actress Rosamund Pike since I saw her in her role as Amy in Gone Girl and now she’s also one of my favorite narrators, if not my most favorite one so far! I give 5 stars for the narration of this novel and 3.5 to 4 stars for the plot. There were plenty of characters in this novel and thanks to the brilliant narration each character had its clear own voice. The narration was delivered with a lot of intonation as well and I loved how Pike shouted and sang and cried quite convincingly throughout the novel, I wasn’t bored for a second. I’m convinced that being an actress is a big advantage for the narration of audiobooks.

The whole plot revolves around a numerous cast of people living close together, Laura, Carla, Miriam, Irene and Theo and their involvement in each other’s lives and in the lives of Angela and her son Daniel, the two characters who ended up dead not long apart from each other. Miriam’s narrowboat was positioned next to Daniel Sutherland’s boat so she had a good view who came and went and she saw Laura on the fatal day. Does this mean that Laura stabbed him to death? Laura is a bit of a clumsy girl, she was a victim in a hit and run accident when she was young and faces many difficulties every day which results in sudden bursts of angry behaviour. She’s 25 and often does shopping for Irene, the old lady living next door to Daniel’s mother Angela, who in turn was the sister of Carla. Miriam feels a kinship to Laura because she was a victim too as a student when she was lured into a desolate house which she only narrowly escaped. Intermittent with the general story there’s also snippets of a book called ‘The One Who Got Away’ which was fascinating to listen to although it didn’t feel as if it blended in exactly with the rest of story. After a while though it did became clear that there’s an issue that arose with its publication which also plays an important part in the story.

The author certainly took on a lot, I think you get the gist that this was not a simple story but a complex one with connections between the many different characters. I found it hard to distinguish Irene and Miriam’s story right away but with the building of their histories and lives they soon became two very different people in my mind too. I have to say that after a while I was so caught up in the tragedies of their lives (Carla and Theo lost their little boy for example) that I didn’t miss that there wasn’t a lot of progress happening in finding out who killed Daniel. It’s only in the third and last part of the novel that the big mystery received all the attention and after a few twists and turns and some red herrings, the mystery came to a satisfying conclusion.

In essence: A Slow Fire Burning is a complex family drama and it was fulfilling to discover how the puzzle pieces of the deaths finally fit together.

3 #AudioBookReviews with family drama

AudioBookReviews

I’m still listening to audiobooks and it’s going very well thank you (I signed up for 3 months of audible at 2,99 £ so there’s definitely more to come too). I picked a few titles that interested me but that I wouldn’t necessary pick as a first choice to read. Normally that would mean I wouldn’t get to these books in the next 10 years but now, thanks to them being on audio and being able to squeeze in 15 or 30 minutes here and there, I can review them much sooner. 

Here are 3 audiobooks with some serious family drama and a bit of mystery. I loved Everything I Never Told You most of all but do check out Hurry Home and The Wife Stalker too! 

Hurry Home by Roz Nay

HurryHome audiobook

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Alexandra Van Ness has the perfect life. She lives in an idyllic resort town tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, shares a designer loft with her handsome boyfriend, Chase, and has her dream job working in child protection. Every day, Alex goes above and beyond to save children at risk.

But when her long-lost sister, Ruth, unexpectedly shows up at her door, Alex’s perfect life is upended. Growing up, Ruth was always the troublemaker, pulling Alex into her messes, and this time will be no different. Still, Alex will help Ruth under one condition: we will never, ever, talk about the past. But when trouble befalls a local child, both women are forced to confront the secrets they’ve promised to keep buried.

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The novel is about two estranged sisters Alex and Ruth. Alex is introduced first showing her acting in her role as a child protection social worker. She seems devoted to the job, caring while her colleague Minerva doesn’t seem to see that a child is not properly being taken care of. She is righteous and dutiful but even her boss Morris lets himself be convinced by Minerva that the child in question, Buster, is fine to stay at home with his parents. Then Ruth shows up at her home, the sister she hasn’t seen in over 10 years, since Ruth ran away from home. Snippets of the past start to trickle in and something about that past is definitely off but I couldn’t put my finger on what we were dealing with. The change of perspective by each sister was interesting. The biggest question was establishing who the reliable sister was in the story because after a while they both seem quite fitting. It wasn’t a bad story but it didn’t really make me feel excited either.  

Hurry Home is a rather slow burning mystery or family drama, which kept me entertained but the narrator of the story (Hillary Huber) didn’t make the two voices very different so I didn’t feel as much difference between the sisters as I would have liked and it made listening a bit monotonous. 

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

EverythingINeverToldYou

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Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest in the family – Hannah – who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.

Everything I Never Told You is a gripping page-turner, about secrets, love, longing, lies and race.

amazon uk

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Another family drama but one that touched me so much more. I really enjoyed listening to the soft spoken voice of the narrator (Cassandra Campbell) and the mystery why Lydia killed herself was quite compelling. Lydia had it all, she was a brilliant student and had lots of friends. She makes her parents proud and it’s safe to say that she’s their parents favorite child too. When her mother finds a packet of condoms in her backpack after her daughter died, it seems she didn’t know her so well after all. The author goes back to that one decisive moment in history that is the first drop in a bucket that will overflow in the end. The story behind their terrible loss takes root even before Hannah was born, with Marilyn’s longing to become a doctor herself. Things definitely took a different turn. 

Everything I Never Told You is a tragic story. It took me a few chapters to get into it, as I didn’t feel it at first when Marilyn and James meet at the university as student and professor in the beginning and their lives didn’t interest me as much, but once Lydia started telling her side of the story, I was completely sucked into it. Lydia is carrying a weight, she does everything to make her parents happy, even at her own cost. It is a story of loneliness, of being misunderstood, of not belonging neither here or there. It seems incomprehensible at the start why she would have killed herself but in the end the tragic nature that led to these deadly consequences is so clear. The story felt very real to me, the story and characters were well rounded and I recommend this audiobook with any reservations.

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The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine

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Joanna and Leo seem to have the perfect relationship. Two adorable children, a beautiful house in a chic area of Connecticut – they have the kind of life people envy.

Then Piper moves to town. Piper is young, attractive, flirtatious. It’s almost no wonder Leo is tempted away…

Devastated, Joanna starts digging into Piper’s past, and discovers some very disturbing secrets – not least that Piper’s previous two husbands ended up dead. But Piper dismisses Joanna’s fears for her family as paranoia. Who is telling the truth? Joanna? Piper? The only certainty in this web of lies is that no one is who they appear to be…and no one will escape unscathed.

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Another family oriented novel with two women telling the story, the only catch being that you don’t know who is telling the truth. It’s very much a Piper versus Joanna story and with Joanne pushed out of the picture and out of the lives of Leo and her children, it was easy to be on team Joanna from the start. The further into the story the more I questioned Piper’s character too. Her past raises some serious questions and Joanne is convinced Piper wants to harm her children. Is it true? Piper is having difficulties winning the children’s sympathy and it’s clear that Stellie’s behaviour is a struggle for her but would she really harm him? How will Joanna make Leo see Piper for who she really is? I didn’t really like Leo either for putting Joanna aside so casually while she stood by him during his depression and I didn’t understand at all why they chose to tell the children Evie and Stellie that their mother is dead and not let Joanna see them. I felt that quite insensitive and unnecessary. With hindsight it all made sense though.

It didn’t help that I loved the narration of Joanna’s voice so much more than Piper’s. I just noticed that both voices were actually narrated by Julia Whelan but for some reason I thought there were two narrators.

There is also one helluva twist in this novel that I didn’t see coming at all and for that alone it deserves at least 4 stars. Pulling this off takes amazing skill. 

A novel that kept me guessing what the deal was for the longest time!

Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena #AudioBookReview

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In this family, everyone is keeping secrets. Even the dead.

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

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Not A Happy Family was a great choice for an audiobook and I really enjoyed the narration by Ellen Archer. I only read one of the author’s novels before (An Unwanted Guest) but when I came across this one I couldn’t resist this new murder mystery.

Fred and Sheila Merton invited their three children Dan, Catherine and Jenna and their partners, as well as their cleaning lady-more family friend- Irena over for a Sunday Easter dinner where they drop quite a few unexpected bombs at the dinner table. The guests are all more than happy to leave but the next day Fred and Sheila are found murdered in the house and their children are rich. Dan – who didn’t take over the family business – now had money problems, Catherine – the perfect daughter – always dreamed of living in her parent’s house and Jenna – the struggling artist – saw the support of her parents also coming to an end. They all left but who returned later that night?

It took me some time to really get into the story, mostly because with the three siblings there were ‘only’ three suspects so I thought I’d find it quite easy to point out the killer. I was very wrong about that, even at 90% I had absolutely no clue who did it.

I’m usually great at guessing the identity and I sometimes even know quite soon who is hiding something but they ALL have things to hide this time so that didn’t give me any clue. In the beginning I still thought I was clever by thinking of who was present but not given too much attention, but then the author drew in more side characters into the plot, like Fred’s sister and a woman named Rose and you could almost say that they become the prime suspects.

Almost every single character introduced into the story is a likely suspect in the end and there are more people with a motive than expected. I kept guessing and guessing which was so much fun to do. There are so many secrets and lies going around in an effort to simply not seem like they’re the killer, they lie to their spouses, they ask their spouses to lie for them, the siblings even start to point fingers at each other.

It was impossible to guess the identity of the killer so this is one of the rare books able to surprise me. I do wonder if the author knew herself who did it from the beginning or if she left all options open until the end and then made the decision. I’m suspecting the latter as it could have been anyone else and it would have the same effect! The whodunnit wasn’t the only thing that surprised me in the end though, the final chapters in the form of an epilogue gave the story an extra twist and concluded the story on a real high.

I received a free ecopy from the publisher Penguin Random House via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion. 

Every Step She Takes by K.L. Armstrong #AudioBookReview

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Sometimes there’s no use running from your past. . . .

Genevieve has secrets that no one knows. In Rome she can be whoever she wants to be. Her neighbours aren’t nosy; her Italian is passable; the shopkeepers and restaurant owners now see her as a local, and they let her be. It’s exactly what she wants.

One morning, after getting groceries, she returns to her 500-year-old Trastevere apartment. She climbs to the very top of the staircase, the stairs narrowing the higher she goes. When she gets to her door, she puts down her bags and pushes the key into the lock . . .

. . . and the door swings open.

It’s unlocked. Sometimes she doesn’t lock it because break-ins aren’t common in Rome. But Genevieve knows she locked the door behind her this morning. She has no doubt.

She should leave, call the police. What if someone is in her apartment, waiting for her? But she doesn’t.

The apartment is empty, and exactly as she left it, perfectly tidy and not a thing out of place . . . except for the small box on her kitchen table. A box that definitely wasn’t there this morning. A box postmarked from the US. A box that is addressed to “Lucy Callahan.”

A name that she hasn’t used in ten years.

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I’m giving an audiobook a new try and the results are… well somewhere in the middle ground. After finishing Every Step She Takes I realise that the blurb is more of a teaser but doesn’t really say what the book is about. There is no big mystery who sent the box, the mystery lies in what happens after sender and receiver meet and let’s just say the encounter won’t go exactly as planned.

Goodreads announces Every Step She Takes to be edge-of-your-seat riveting but frankly, it was hard to get into it at first. The build up was slow and at the pivotal moment where the story kicks off, I knew I was headed for a mystery/drama more than a thriller. Lucy/Genevieve Callahan is the character who it’s all about. In a past plotline she shares how, aged 18, she starts a summer job babysitting the two children of a celebrity couple (movie star Colt Gordon and his wife and violinist Isabella Morales) and how it went so wrong one day that she ended up as a musical teacher in Italy, keeping her head down and trying not to be recognized. In the present day she finally has a chance to set the record straight and tell what happened, or didn’t happen, on one fateful night. I thought it would be something major, something worth moving several countries for but it was not as excessive as I presumed. I know the media is not to be underestimated and they can break people but still, I felt it was a little overplayed. Anyway, Lucy has learned from her past experience with the media so she’s not taking any chances this time and decides to take the matter in her own hands and find out who really should be in the media’s eye now instead.

One of the things I liked in this novel was the fact that Lucy (aka llamagirl) received help from someone called PC Tracy via text messages. She and I had the same idea who this PC Tracy was but we were both wrong and it was one of the best twists in the novel. The final chapters also made me happy I persevered with most of the action and revelations revealed in the last part of the novel.

Finally, I don’t want to end this without telling that I really had fun listening to the narrator’s Italian accent for Isabella Morales and Lucy’s lover Marco, she did this brilliantly and I wanted them to talk as much as possible.

Space Hopper by Helen Fisher #AudiobookReview #Netgalley @HFisherAuthor

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They say those we love never truly leave us, and I’ve found that to be true. But not in the way you might expect. In fact, none of this is what you’d expect.

I’ve been visiting my mother who died when I was eight.
And I’m talking about flesh and blood, tea-and-biscuits-on-the-table visiting here.

Right now, you probably think I’m going mad.
Let me explain…

Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?

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I never had a space hopper (or skippyball as some might call it) myself when I was young but I do remember going to a certain birthday party in the late ’80s where every child was crazy to try it out, including me. It brings back memories and Space Hopper is all about revisiting the past and finding an answer to that burning question: would you go back in time if you had the chance? Maybe you better think twice before you say yes.

The novel should have been slightly out of my comfort zone since it’s about time travel but I never had a strange or uncomfortable feeling about it. One of the reasons I did like it so much is probably because it had the feeling of a contemporary novel dealing with a mother/daughter relationship more then it was about time travel. It all felt quite natural and of course it helped that Faye, the person subjected to time travel, was quite skeptic about it herself. The process of travelling isn’t glossed over and it was never just accepted as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. The fact is that it really is a big deal and more painful then you think. There are a lot of questions to ask oneself about the safety but on the other hand, aren’t all the risks, the bruises and cuts along the way, worth it if you can see your dead mother again?

Faye lost her mother when she was 8. She doesn’t remember much about it or what her mother died of exactly. She ended up with the neighbours who she called Aunt Em and Uncle Henry and she had a great childhood but they didn’t talked much about her mother or what happened to her. Faye’s a mother herself now of two young daughters and she feels that hole in her heart is still there. She wants to know what happened and who her mother was. Then a miracle happens, she finds an old space hopper box and reenacting an old picture of herself where she’s posing in the box, she suddenly falls through it and ends up in the year 1977. She only ever saw her mother through the eyes of a child so she grabs this opportunity to get to know her mother as an adult, without revealing she’s her daughter coming from the future. I loved that warm feeling of friendship between Faye and her mother Jeannie but I was in conflict sooner than Faye was… what if she didn’t get back to the present, or if she couldn’t let go of her mother, and what if she inadvertedly altered the past, would that change her life in the present?

Space Hopper was a delightful whimsical and warm novel but it doesn’t shy away exploring also bigger topics at times like having faith and living a life without fear for what is coming. I adored Faye’s blind friend Louis and his blindness brought a great perspective to the story. Albeit in a totally different context (he speaks of a very colourful emerald egg that he displays at his house) he says at one moment that you don’t need to see a thing to know it’s true.

The rollerskates that are displayed on the cover also are a wonderful reference in the story. In fact, I enjoyed many many different little scenes that played out. The ending of the novel was very touching, it wasn’t entirely unpredictable but it still gave me a sense of exhilaration (ok and a tiny bit of horror) to see how it played out in the end.

Finally, I loved the narration of this audiobook and Sophie Roberts is the best narrator I ever listened to so far, she really brings the story to life!

I received a free audiobook copy of this novel from the publisher Simon & Schuster via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.