One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid #BookReview

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In her 20s, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure. On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her 30s, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness. That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants while trying to protect the ones she loves. But who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

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Another novel from my backlist as One True Loves was published in 2016. I bought an ecopy of it in 2017, long before she became even more of a bestselling writer with the hyped novel of The Seven Husband of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six and I picked it up ‘now’ because I wanted to read it before watching the movie adaptation of this novel. If I’d watch it first then I wouldn’t make it a priority to read it and who knows in what year, if any, I’d get to it then.

There is much to love in this novel and I highlighted so many quotes hitting home, yet I still didn’t fall in love with it. Emotions run all through this novel but I didn’t always feel emotional myself as it was quite clear for me what Emma needed to do and it frustrated me sometimes when she wasn’t thinking along my lines.

The novel had a good structure. The opening chapter sets the scene where Sam and Emma are with her parents enjoying a meal in a restaurant, then she gets the call that her missing – presumed dead – husband is actually alive. The first part shows the encompassing love between Jesse and Emma, the second part defines how she meets Sam again after two years of grief and how they fall in love.

What makes this novel so compelling is the dilemma. Everyone will ask themselves whether she should be with Jesse again or continue with Sam. I did love the dilemma that Emma’s faced with even though it wasn’t so much of a dilemma for me because I was already those two steps ahead of her and had thought exactly what was about to come into her head. You’d probably enjoy this story most if you just let the emotions wash over you.

Both men are great guys and they both love Emma deeply, there’s no denying that. I think I liked them even more than I liked her if I’m honest. I know that Emma struggled but I didn’t always agree with the way she dealt with the situation. The fact that she tells one guy that she chooses the other one but still sleeps with him ‘one last time’ was frankly incomprehensible to me and made me question if she should be with either one of them. No, just no!

That being said, I did enjoy how the novel sets out to explore true love and the resolution is quite valuable, something we all need to be reminded of or simply informed of and a life wisdom I’m happy to carry with me from now on.

One True Loves was a bittersweet, emotional story about one woman searching for the love of her life. I can’t wait to see this movie now!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

PS Watch out for my battle of book covers because I found 5 different covers for this one and the latest one (publication 2022) is BE-AU-TI-FUL.

The It Girl by Ruth Ware #BookReview

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April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

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This was my fourth Ruth Ware novel (I have already reviewed The Lying Game, One by One and The Turn of the Key) and The It Girl is a wonderful addition, one that made me think and rethink about Neville’s involvement and other possible suspects.

I remember being slightly disappointed in one of her novels because the killer was too obvious for me but I promise you that The It girl kept me guessing and guessing some more. I thought I was a super sleuth but this novel certainly knocked me around.

The It Girl was a wonderful mystery to read. It provides an airtight case against Neville, one of the porters at Oxford University. Not only was he a seriously creepy guy, Hannah also saw him coming down the stairs and found April murdered minutes later. He always cried out his innocence though till the day he died in prison and it’s only when Hannah receives a tidbit of new information about April from a reporter that she wonders what was going on with April at the time. Did she know her at all? Why didn’t she tell Hannah, her roommate and best friend? She wants to get to the bottom of it so she visits her old college friends and it helps her to put the pieces together. Oh did I tell you that Will was April’s boyfriend and is now a soon-to-be father of Hannah’s child? I don’t know why I thought that would worth mentioning but I certainly found this an interesting turn of events.

Without divulging too much I can only say that I had a suspect and when this suspect was crossed out I found myself another one and it turned out in the end that I was wrong again. I love it when an author can wrongfoot me and she did so good! She put in several red herrings and the tension ramps up in the final chapters. I think I knew a little sooner than Hannah that she was in some kind of trouble but other than that I was as surprised as she was. There are lots of people who could have a reason to kill her but the real reason and finding out the background story preceding her murder was also an eye-opener for me.

The It Girl is the sort of novel that you just have to know who did it! It kept me turning pages at high speed. If you love playing detective and you enjoy books with multiple suspects then this is definitely worth putting on your readlist!

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

Demon by Matt Wesolowski #BookReview

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In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

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Demon’s the sixth book in the Six Stories series and one I’ve been very eager to read. If you’re new to the series I can only tell you that each novel can be read as a standalone because the only constant is the podcast presenter Scott King, who brings a new case each time to the reader’s attention where he interviews 6 people trying to gain more insight and to perhaps give a satisfying answer to why and what happened in the past. He’s not exactly trying to prove someone’s innocence like in many other novels, but still, by interviewing and hearing about the cases from different people there are always other viewpoints, other things they know and have seen and it changes things significantly. You start out with a very broad perspective but as you go on you start to see more nuance. It’s a wonderful journey how he peels back all these layers each time, twisting and turning the story as he goes, and – for lack of a better name – brings a sort of enlightenment in the end.

I do love finding out each time who the people are that he has lined up for the interviews, and this time around there were some unexpected guests on the show. He starts with a woman who lives in the village of the victim and the two teenage murderers. There’s never only a murder when Scott King is involved, there’s always some sort of legend involved, history that plays its own role, and certainly, again, there’s an atmosphere of creepiness and evil in the small rural town of Ussalthwaite predating the murders for decades.

Wesolowski really went all the way in this novel and for me it’s one that goes most deeply into the supernatural. It’s great but also the reason why it’s maybe not my favourite of the six books of the series. In the other novels there were clear answers and explanations in the end that satisfied me and in this case some of it remains rather trivial. I never thought I could get the heeby jeebies from the mention of a black stone that fits the palm of your hand. Such a stone is mentioned in relation to events in the seventies, the nineties and even in the present where it plays even a role in the life of someone who has nothing to do with Ussalthwaite. This person – for some reason – has summoned the wrath of the flies over herself too in the process and it was the first time ever I felt it was a little over the top, there was just too much of it you know?

I do hope this isn’t the last novel of the series although if it is, I think he did a brilliant job in every one of them. His writing is stellar in every novel! It’s also a great achievement for me that I read an entire series. If you need confirmation about the quality of the series, I think this tells you how great they are. If you want to read the reviews of all the novels, I’ve listed them, not in the order of publication but for you especially into my personal ranking:

Six Stories
Changeling
Deity
Hydra
Demon
Beast (frankly only because I remember the least about this novel now, also vampires are not my favorites to read about)

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This review is my honest opinion.

He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker #BookReview

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Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a bottle of Xanax and a handle of vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers secrets in the childhood lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man who Celine herself claimed would be her ruin.

On the hunt for answers that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life-and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.

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I’ll be honest, I certainly did not choose this novel for its cover, but I have already read 3 other books by this author (you can read my review of the last one Until it Fades on the blog in 2017, the others pre-date my blog) so I was able to look past first looks and decided it was time for another read by this author.

The prologue alone had me hooked as Maggie finds herself quite ‘trapped’ and I immediately wanted to know why and who, what was going to happen to her and what led up to this. But before any answers are given the story loops back to the start where Maggie arrives in New York to clear her friend Celine’s room after her death.

Maggie and Celine were best friends, or so Maggie thought. After Celine’s death she finds a photo of a man who’s lying in bed almost naked. At the back of the photo her friend wrote “he will be my ruin”. Maggie wonders who he is and why Celine never told her of him. Was he her boyfriend? Even nosy neighbour Ruby (she’s an 81 year-old writer) who sees and hears everything knew nothing about him. As Maggie dives deeper into her friend’s life she is shocked to find out there’s a lot she didn’t know about Celine’s life. I loved the fact that Celine was into collecting antiques and I never thought I could feel so interested in this but the side-story of a theft that Maggie was looking into really only added to the intrigue.

In this murder mystery Maggie encounters two very good-looking men so there are some sexy times in this novel and the thought alone that she might just be making out with a killer was quite unsettling. Maggie is at least convinced that her friend didn’t want to kill herself. Initially I was looking in the opposite direction from where Maggie was looking – I thought it was kind of obvious even – but then the author pointed subtly to ‘my suspect n°1’ so I had to shift my opinion again, and again. I enjoyed how she kept me on my toes and while the suspect pool is very limited I couldn’t decide nor anticipate the ending.

The side characters were great to get to know and they all help to reveal the truth, from Hans the gay antique expert who helped Céline with her collection, Ruby the neighbour who bakes the best shortbread, detective Doug and hacker Zac. In addition there’s also worth mentioning Grady the sexy super of the building and Jace, the rich man who has all women lying at his feet.

He Will Be My Ruin was a decent mystery that kept my attention throughout and even when you find out who’s behind the wheel, the suspense is not over yet. She kept me hooked until the last page!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre #BookReview

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One hen weekend, seven secrets… but only one worth killing for

Jen’s hen party is going to be out of control…

She’s rented a luxury getaway on its own private island. The helicopter won’t be back for seventy-two hours. They are alone. They think.

As well as Jen, there’s the pop diva and the estranged ex-bandmate, the tennis pro and the fashion guru, the embittered ex-sister-in-law and the mouthy future sister-in-law.

It’s a combustible cocktail, one that takes little time to ignite, and in the midst of the drunken chaos, one of them disappears. Then a message tells them that unless someone confesses her terrible secret to the others, their missing friend will be killed.

Problem is, everybody has a secret. And nobody wants to tell.

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An isolated Scottish island and secrets, secrets and more secrets! How could I not get excited about that? I have read quite a few of books with a remote setting but The Cliff House definitely sticks out among the others. I knew I simply couldn’t pass up the chance to see how Chris Brookmyre (author of previously reviewed novels Black Widow and The Cut) would handle one of my favourite settings and if I would be able to suss the biggest secret of all.

Jen is soon to be married to Zaki and she has booked a very luxurious retreat for her hen weekend. She is joined at this remote Scottish island by a few friends from the tennis club (Nicolette and Kennedy), two of her oldest friends (Helena and Michelle), her soon to be sister-in-law Samira and Beattie, the sister-in-law of her first marriage to Jason.

There is instant tension from the get go between some of the characters and a whole lot more tension is added when they start to wonder who has the biggest secret. The plot switches smoothly between all the characters and the twists and turns follow each other up rapidly. In order to find their missing party member they have to work together in pairs and while they are trying to survive until they can alert someone or escape the island old grudges are brought into the open and there are quite a few. The truth flips opinions and there were some great secrets that I had not expected.

This story made me quite paranoid and I was suspicious of everyone, like a good old merry-go-round it made my head spin. I thought I knew where the story was going to take us in the end from the very beginning but I was completely off the mark, the page-turning plot is completely unpredictable!

The Cliff House (apparently also published as She Knows) was deliciously addictive and I can recommend this novel and this author in general to everyone who thinks they’re smart enough to figure things out with ease. Consider yourselves challenged!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Little Brown, Book Group via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella #BookReview

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After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years… and panic sets in.

They quickly decide to create little surprises for each other, to keep their relationship fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me – anything from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to photo shoots – mishaps arise with disastrous and comical results.

Gradually, the surprises turn to shocking discoveries. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all. . .

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This is my first Sophie Kinsella novel, can you believe it? I did see Confessions of A Shopaholic with Isla Fisher on tv and I happened to watch it again not so long ago. I quite enjoyed myself and that is why I finally picked up my copy of Surprise Me.

Sylvie and Dan have been together 10 years, married for 7 years. They are THAT couple, the perfect one, they literally finish each other’s sentences and are in a great place at the start of the novel. Then they hear from the doctor that they’re in excellent health and are expected to be together for another 68 years; they have to recover a little bit from that announcement. Sylvie and Dan make a plan to surprise each other to help keep their relationship fresh and exciting but nothing goes to plan. I enjoyed the little surprises they threw for each other, they’re good fun and most are things that are easily considered when you’re a couple (surprise breakfast in bed for instance). But then halfway through the novel Sylvie hears Dan having a hushed conversation that unsettles her and he reaches out to some old friends among which an ex-girlfriend. There might be a surprise coming up she doesn’t want to discover. She thought her marriage was solid but Dan is absent-minded, taut and he always has to work. Can they get back to the way they were?

Surprise Me was easy to read, it’s not too taxing so perfect reading material while you have some time off and are enjoying the sun. The characters, especially Sylvie, and many of the situations she finds herself in were quite relatable. The second half and the ‘secret’ that Dan keeps from Sylvie was more serious than I expected but a great twist in the story too, it’s something that brings on a change for the couple on its own and the biggest surprise she’ll have all things considered.

A great book that certainly surprised me. I’ll be looking out for more books by Sophie Kinsella.

I received a free paperback copy of this novel a few years ago in a giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson #BookReview #capitalcrimebookclub

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London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know . . .

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It took me a while to get into Daughters of Night but once I did I was all the way in. The novel is set in 1782 London and Laura Shepherd-Robinson paints such a vivid image of that era, it is all quite detailed. Daughters of Night must be one of the most researched novels I read so far, at least it felt that way. I struggled a little bit at first with some of the terms and language so I started to make a list of words that I needed to look up. Maybe you know these terms already because you are either native English or you read a lot of historical novels: tipstaffs, penny bunter, pugilist, peccadillous, buttered cardoon, ormolu workers, quim,.. but I certainly learned a few new words and meanings that I normally don’t come across in crime novels set in the present day. After a while though I did get the hang of the atmosphere and it became easier to read. I didn’t need to pause my reading so much anymore and that certainly helped to enjoy the story more.

The story was quite intriguing. Caro Corsham – a woman who has a secret of her own – is on a mission to find the killer of a prostitute who had impersonated an Italian contessa and befriended her in that persona. Caro employs thief taker Peregrine Child to help her and while he goes into ‘a bawdy house’ and talks to people on the street, she concentrates on a select group of men of her own standing who all seemed to cross ways with the great artist Agnetti who painted the girls as goddesses. He seemed pleasant enough though, it’s his wife who made me raise questions.

I very much enjoyed their investigation but I must say that I was always looking forward to the chapters from the perspective of a young girl named Pamela too. She went missing, along with another girl so her fate was still unclear and I held out a little bit of hope that she was still alive. These plotlines, the murder of one girl and the two missing girls are intermixed in so many brilliant ways making Daughters of Night quite a complex story. Nothing is as straightforward as you think and I would never have been able to imagine the different paths this novel takes.

Daughters of Night is a totally engrossing read, not the most easiest novel to read for me perhaps but challenging me in a good way and very satisfying in the end. Oh and if perhaps you want to find out what puzzle purses are, there’s no better way to find out than picking up this novel!

I received a paperback copy of this novel in my Capital Crime bookclub subscription box. This is my honest opinion.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord #BookReview

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When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

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I bought a copy of The Names They Gave Us in 2017. The cover sparkles so beautifully in the sunlight so that’s one of the reasons why I couldn’t resist, as well as for the glowing reviews I read at the time. But as the story goes so often, I lost sight of it until I recently held it in my hands again when I was looking for something emotional and charming to read.

After reading a few pages I did wonder if I would be able to fully enjoy this novel because I discovered right away that Lucy, the main character, is the daughter of a pastor and a very religious girl. She takes her faith pretty serious and at the start of the novel she’s struggling a bit with it after she finds out her mother is diagnosed with cancer for a second time. I don’t have anything against her faith but I was a bit afraid that I wouldn’t be able to build a connection with her. I needn’t have worried because Lucy was easy to sympathise with after all and the religious context doesn’t take over the story. As the novel progresses she becomes a lot more worldly and in the end her belief is integrated into a message of a more general nature.

Upon her mother’s request Lucy’s not going to church camp with her parents like she does every year but she’s filling in for someone at the Daybreak Camp on the other side of the lake. In Lucy’s opinion that is a ‘hippie camp’ but she can’t possibly say no to her mother when she’s just been diagnosed with cancer.

If there’s one thing I can say is that her stay at Daybreak Camp is a real eye-opener for this girl who lived such a sheltered life. This is a camp for troubled teens (where Lucy is responsible for a bunch of 8 and 9 year olds) but the camp leaders also come with their own baggage. This novel tackled several difficult topics, with loss and identity just to name some, but it never felt too heavy on me and there were lots of beautiful and fun moments too. It’s really not a sad book! The attraction to Henry was cute as well but I wouldn’t call this a romance novel, the focus fell more on the development of Lucy’s friendships and it definitely shows in the end how important they’ve all become for her.

‘What is a group of friends? A relief, a scaffolding, a safety net,…’

The camp and the people in it changed Lucy and she grew tons in this transformative novel. The Names They Gave Us refers to the labels the kids in Daybreak Camp get – even from Lucy before she arrived – but they are not just a group anymore, they are individuals and their personalities and voices touch Lucy and touched me as a reader as well. This novel holds a torch for more acceptance and understanding and delivers the message perfectly, without it being too much of a lesson but simply by showing some wonderful people and how they deal with things that life threw at them.

I enjoyed this novel more than I expected when I first started it so absolutely don’t let the religious background scare you off to read this one! I had a warm feeling when I finished reading it.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel at a local bookstore. This is my honest opinion.

The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor #BookReview

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He framed her. Now she’ll destroy him.

Five years ago, Olivia Sutherland was wrongfully convicted of plotting to murder.

Now she’s finally free, Olivia has three goals: repair her relationship with her daughter, clear her name, and bring down her husband – the man who framed her.

Just how far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And how far will her husband go to stop her? Because his lies run deeper than Olivia could ever have imagined – and this time it’s not her freedom that’s in jeopardy, but her life…

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OF COURSE I enjoyed C.L. Taylor’s latest novel, she’s never been a hit or miss for me. The Guilty Couple kept up the mystery and had me guessing until the very end why Olivia’s husband accused her of planning to murder him. When Olivia is released after five years she is looking for answers but she isn’t allowed to contact him so she has to be really sneaky about it and I loved all the sneakiness throughout the novel! One of the absolute best scenes where I was literally holding my breath was her stealthy attempt to steal potential evidence from her husband with a little help from her friends.

Olivia reaches out to four friends who really go to the limit for her when the occasion rises; her old business partner, her last cellmate in prison, and two other friends she’s known for a long time. On the other side she fears Dani, a police officer who she thought was a friend but who testified in her husband’s favor. Dani has her own agenda and her biggest concern is finding money to get her sister in a rehab clinic. She’d do anything to help her so she turns to Dominic, Olivia’s husband to get 30.000 dollars, only she notices that Olivia keeps popping up and that unnerves Dani more than a little bit.

Dominic is very secretive all of the time and he’s counting down to something and I had no idea what he had planned but this deadline put the pressure on Olivia’s quest, while that other danger is looming over her too, namely getting caught and being sent back to prison. There were some surprises along the way but the biggest one was definitely at the end. Life after being released from prison certainly isn’t easy for her and it’s difficult to know who you can trust. I can’t say whether she’ll be able to prove her innocence but justice comes in many different ways so I was quite satisfied how the story was wrapped up in the final chapters. The only issue I had was that I wasn’t entirely convinced about her husband’s motive for framing her (I never really got any hate vibes off of him towards his wife and I kept thinking why else he would take such drastic measures) but I readily admit that that doesn’t mean he’s a good guy because he’s most certainly not. So in the end I still wanted pay back for Dom, the sort of husband you better not have!

I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher Avon Books via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

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

AudioBookReviews

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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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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.