I LOVE sharing books I’ve enjoyed with you all! I’ve had an Audible subscription for a few years now that I got during Black Friday promotion and it’s truly one of the best things I’ve ever purchased because it allowed me to experience the joy of reading again. I listen while I commute, when I get ready in the morning, while folding laundry, etc. The better the book, the more reasons I’ll find in my day to continue listening!
Here are my thoughts on some books I’ve listened to over the last 9 months or so. I’m not sure if the Audible experience is vastly different from actually reading the book, so keep in mind that my reading experience is based on listening to the books via the voice actors who portray the characters in each book. All synopses in this post are directly from Amazon.
Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
Synopsis: Young Saffyre Maddox spent three years under the care of renowned child psychologist Roan Fours. When Dr. Fours decides their sessions should end, Saffyre feels abandoned. She begins looking for ways to connect with him, from waiting outside his office to walking through his neighborhood late at night. She soon learns more than she ever wanted to about Roan and his deceptively perfect family life. On a chilly Valentine’s night, Saffyre will disappear, taking any secrets she has learned with her.
Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct—accusations he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel forums, where he meets a charismatic and mysterious figure.
Owen lives across the street from the Fours family. The Fours have a bad feeling about their neighbor; Owen is a bit creepy and suspect and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night. Could Owen be responsible? What happened to the beautiful missing Saffyre, and does her disappearance truly connect them all?
My rating: 5/5
Gosh I just love every book I’ve read by this author. This book kept me engaged and was a page-turner with great character development. I liked the ending of this book too.
Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
Synopsis: Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in LA alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.
Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer – traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.
Nina’s, Vanessa’s, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.
My review: 4.5/5
I LOVED this book! By the end, I kind of had an idea of what would happen, but the story really sucks you in. I enjoyed the character development of the two women and how the book weaved in and out of different time periods and how the story was told from each woman’s perspective. A page turner for sure!
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Synopsis: Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most. Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends with Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.
My review: 5/5
This is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. I loved the main character and the way the story unfolded, with old diary entries of the main character interwoven into the story and giving context to so many of her experiences. It was at times hard to listen to the descriptions of abuse and the epilogue was heartbreaking. However, there is a very powerful message in this book and it’s truly worth the read (or listen).
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
Synopsis: Where do you see yourself in five years? Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers. She is nothing like her lifelong best friend – the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella. Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content. But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight – but it is one hour she cannot shake. In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting.
My review: 4.5/5
Another book I couldn’t wait to finish – the story moved quickly and I found myself completely surprised by the ending. There is some heartbreak in this story – I remember being in the Walmart parking lot about to get some groceries, listening to the last chapter of the book and crying in the car for a little bit before I went inside.
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Synopsis: Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. Beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers, and half of a teenaged golden couple. Ellie was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her. And then she was gone.
Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.
Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?
My rating: 5/5
Wow. Wow wow wow. This is the third Lisa Jewell book I’ve read and her storytelling is just magical. The stories are complex, the characters well developed and though the books are filled with sad, mysterious and often disturbing situations, the way the story unfolds, chapter by chapter is a delight.
Verity by Colleen Hoover
Synopsis: Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin. When Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, asks Lowen to complete the remaining books in a contract his permanently injured wife is unable to fulfill, Lowen has no choice but to accept. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home with the intention of only staying one or two nights—long enough to sort through Verity’s chaotic home office to collect all the notes and outlines she’ll need to start writing the first novel. But the more time Lowen spends with Jeremy Crawford, the less of a hurry she is in to leave. While there, Lowen uncovers a hidden manuscript. An autobiography containing chilling admissions Verity planned to take to her grave, including the truth behind the events that turned their lives upside down. A truth that, if revealed to Jeremy, would further devastate the already grieving father. Lowen decides to keep the manuscript a secret, allowing Jeremy to continue to believe Verity is merely an innocent, unfortunate victim of circumstance. But as Lowen’s feelings for the devoted father and husband deepen, she wonders if keeping Jeremy in the dark is in her own best interest. After all, if Jeremy were to read his wife’s autobiography, the disturbing truth would make it impossible for him to continue to love her. A chilling romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.
My rating: 4/5
This book was disturbing in many ways but also a quick read because it’s a page-turner. It was also extremely sexually descriptive, just FYI. The ending was a bit…unbelievable. It made sense when it was all put together, but I was expecting something totally different because the author leads you to believe so many things about each character.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Synopsis: The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner – The bridesmaid – The body. On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
My rating: 3/5
This book was just OK. I found myself just wishing it would finally be over so I could move on to my next read, which isn’t a common feeling for me. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great and there are so many others I’d recommend over this one.
American Royals II: Majesty by Katharine Mcgee
Synopsis: As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace–and Prince Jefferson–at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans.
My rating: 4/5
I was so looking forward to part 2 of this series (by the way, this author’s Thousandth Floor trilogy is seriously one of my faves!) Though nothing is as good as the original book, there was quite a cliffhanger in the first book, so I needed resolution! If you’re not a BRF fan, this book may not be that exciting for you, but it’s a fun read – a little on the YA side, but I enjoyed it!
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Synopsis: Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am. She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
My rating: 5/5
This is the book that got me hooked on Lisa Jewell. Like I said, her storytelling and the way she weaves in the details is just…magnificent. Her books, though disturbing, make for interesting reads that are always page-turners. Her characters are well thought out and I love the way she just immerses you into the story line and leaves you wondering how it will all unfold with twists and turns everywhere. I also think her plots are very unique – always something I don’t expect.
The Heir Affair by Jessica Cocks and Heather Morgan
Synopsis: After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca “Bex” Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world’s judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.
But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they’d placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick’s brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten — nor forgiven.
My rating: 4/5
I wanted this to be a five star read, but truthfully, the first book (The Royal We) is SO GOOD that this one could just not possibly compare to it. Book one was basically amazing Will and Kate fan fic and was so fun and well written. Book two was good and I enjoyed it, but it just wasn’t as exciting or page-turning as the first.
You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Synopsis: Shay Miller wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is increasingly lonely. Until Shay meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane live a life of glamorous perfection, and always get what they desire. When they invite Shay into their circle, everything seems to get better. Shay would die for them to like her. She may have to.
My rating: 4/5
I liked this book a lot – it was different because it was a book about women but didn’t involve romantic relationships. It was a creative plot and like nothing I had read before. Definitely has that thriller vibe.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
Synopsis: This was supposed to be a very different book. Five years ago, Jessica Simpson was approached to write a motivational guide to living your best life. She walked away from the offer, and nobody understood why. The truth is that she didn’t want to lie. Jessica couldn’t be authentic with her listeners if she wasn’t fully honest with herself first.
Now, America’s Sweetheart, preacher’s daughter, pop phenomenon, reality TV pioneer, and the billion-dollar fashion mogul invites listeners on a remarkable journey, examining a life that blessed her with the compassion to help others but also burdened her with an almost crippling need to please. Open Book is Jessica Simpson using her voice, heart, soul, and humor to share things she’s never shared before.
First celebrated for her voice, she became one of the most talked-about women in the world, whether for music and fashion, her relationship struggles, or as a walking blonde joke. But now, instead of being talked about, Jessica is doing the talking. Her audiobook shares the wisdom and inspirations she’s learned and shows the real woman behind all the pop-culture clichés – “chicken or fish”, “Daisy Duke”, “football jinx”, “mom jeans”, “sexual napalm…” and more. Open Book is an opportunity to laugh and cry with a close friend, one that will inspire you to live your best, most authentic life, now that she is finally living hers.
My rating: 5/5
Truly a must-read. I was always a fan of Jessica Simpson and avid Newlyweds watcher. Reading her book was soul-crushing but also so…empowering. She shared her truth so authentically, knowing it was the right thing and perhaps in some ways for her own healing. I cried multiple times reading this book (I listened on Audible, as always, so hearing her tell the stories in her own voice was particularly tough). Trust me on this one – you may have your preconceived notions, but you’ll realize just a few chapters in that you were so very wrong about…well, almost everything. Her vulnerability in this book is pretty astounding. She reveals herself in a way that I don’t think many people are capable of – and that’s what makes it such a good read.
When Less Becomes More by Emily Ley
Synopsis: Statistics don’t lie. Moms today are more fatigued, burned out, and overwhelmed than ever. Smartphones constantly ping and alert and demand our attention. And social media can eat up hours of our days with mindless scrolling and tapping while leaving many feeling empty and lonely. Add to that family commitments, work that is accessible around the clock, and overscheduling, and you have a life that can feel unmanageable and frantic…even running on empty.
Best-selling author and founder of Simplified Emily Ley shares how to live a life of more in a world that often overwhelms to the point of burnout in When Less Becomes More. Emily empathizes with mothers in the throes of exhaustion and provides tools for nourishing their spirits and achieving a life where less becomes more. Getting to more might require some outside-the-box changes, some unraveling of the patterns listeners have adopted, and some reworking of the day to day. Listeners can build a life based on their core values instead of slipping into a life dictated by society or what’s “normal”. Because we weren’t made for normal. We were made for more – for a life of fullness, dreaming, and lasting joy.
My rating: 3/5
I loved Emily’s first book, but this is the book that could have been a podcast (but I get why it’s a book, it’s a business after all!) Maybe because the audiobook was about 3 hours long, it felt like a waste of an Audible credit (that’s on me!) Overall I loved the message of the book and I think it’s good to reflect on ways we can all slow down (which honestly I think the pandemic forced most of us to do, anyway!)
The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson
Synopsis: Two women are watching each other. Phoebe Miller isn’t sure when the rusty car started showing up in the cul-de-sac she calls home, or why its driver would be spying on her. What could be interesting about an unhappy housewife who drowns her sorrows in ice cream and wine and barely leaves her house? Only one knows why.
When a new family moves in across the street – the exuberant Vicki, who just might become the gossipy best friend Phoebe’s always wanted, and her handsome college-bound son, Jake, who offers companionship of a different variety – Phoebe finds her dull routine infused with the excitement she’s been missing. But with her head turned she’s no longer focused on the woman in the car. And she really should be….
My rating: 4/5
This book is of the thriller variety and it kept me interested from the first chapter. I read this one quite some time ago, so I truly don’t remember every detail, but I remember wanting to finish it because I just needed to know what happened.
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Synopsis: When you listen to this audiobook, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are listening to a story about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing.
Twisted and deliciously chilling, The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love. Listen for the truth between the lies.
My rating: 4/5
I really enjoyed this book and how the story was told from both women’s perspectives. There were definitely twists and turns and it’s one of those page-turners that keeps you engaged. I know some people don’t love the predictable “woman vs. woman” reads, but I liked this one a lot.