Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar

Book Description:

Published: May 2, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Pallavi is an aspiring writer living in California. Her mother, Usha, is thousands of miles away in Delhi – and obsessed with finding her daughter a husband.

In Madhuri Shekar’s ingenious Evil Eye, hilarious back-and-forth via phone and social media takes a shocking, supernatural twist when Pallavi meets the perfect man – leading to a climactic showdown that will leave listeners on the edges of their seats.

Review –

“Usha is convinced that the Evil Eye, a curse that brings continuous misfortune, was cast upon her daughter, Pallavi, in the womb. What else could have possibly left her driven, career-oriented daughter edging closer and closer to 30 without a prospective husband? Determined to set Pallavi on the right path, Usha arranges date after date with potential suitors—but after yet another setup fails, it seems her efforts are proving fruitless. But in an unexpected turn of events, Pallavi becomes her own matchmaker when she meets—and quickly falls for—Sandeep, a young Indian-American entrepreneur. And though she expects her mother will be elated with her finally finding a man, Pallavi is distraught and confused to find her mother growing increasingly suspicious of Sandeep’s motives…and his true identity.

Told through a series of phone calls and voicemails, this Audible Original penned by award-winning rising star playwright Madhuri Shekar transitions seamlessly from a light-hearted family dramedy to an unexpectedly supernatural thriller. With an endearing cast of well-rounded characters, sharp, natural dialogue, and a shocking edge-of-your-seat climax, Evil Eye is a can’t-miss tale about cultural miscommunications, family secrets, and the lingering echoes of trauma.

Please note: This audio contains strong language, distressing situations, and descriptions of abuse and violence that some listeners may find upsetting. Discretion is advised.” Audible Originals

Fantastic short story that will keep you captivated from beginning to end.

 

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The Baby (The Boss #6) by Abigail Barnette

Book Description:

Published: November 10, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

When life unravels, someone has to wind it up again. Sophie Scaife has found herself in such a position one time too many. She should be celebrating a new year and bountiful success; instead, she’s trying desperately to hold her world together as it tears apart.

For Sophie and her husband, billionaire Neil Elwood, coupling the domesticity of marriage and their steamy games of Dominance and submission comes naturally. Rekindling their sinfully kinky affair with an old flame makes their passion burn hotter than ever, and Neil’s lust for Sophie is matched only by his drive in undertaking an ambitious new philanthropic venture.

But in the wake of Neil’s greatest triumph comes a staggering life change neither of them are prepared for. Overnight, Sophie finds herself in a new reality, wholly unlike the life she’d planned. As emotions run high, Sophie struggles to reconcile the husband she cherishes with a man she no longer knows; a man she loves too much to let go without a fight…

Content warning: contains mention of suicide and suicidal ideation, as well as recovery.

Review –

I will start by saying that this book GUTTED me.

It’s difficult to give you an overview of all of the emotions I have without entirely spoiling the book. I will simply leave you with this: Sophie’s growth as a character can only be matched by Neil’s own regression into a very difficult place. Even writing about this brings a little tear to my eye, because… in all of the eloquent phrasing I have at my disposal: FEELINGS is all I can write.

The pace of this book continues to be just quick enough to allow a breather between chapters before the plunge back into horror continues. That seems weird to write as I’m staring at a picture of the cover. As with all of her books, Barnette has this way of wrapping characters into your heart and then summarily tearing apart their lives. This book is no exception. In my minds eye, I can picture the scene that renders asunder Neil and Sophie’s lives playing out. Other events that play out…. later (aren’t you so happy I’m so spoiler free?) are even worse. It… It might be the most emotional book in the Boss series yet, and if you’ve read any of the other ones – you know that’s not an easy feat to beat.

By the title and the cover I thought Sophia would end up pregnant again and this time decide to have the baby. That is NOT what happens. I cried buckets of tears and had to stop listening for a while when I heard the horrific scenes and felt the heart break.

Later when Sophia finds the note I scream at her to HURRY,GET TO NEIL BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. More tears.

Best book of the series so far for all the FEELS.   Five stars!!!!!

You HAVE got to read this series, BUT start at the beginning to get the full picture.

 

The Wicked King (The Cruel Prince #2) by Holly Black

Book Description:

Published: January 8, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Review –

Holy Crap,  High King Cardan, could you be more of an a$$hole?

One minute you think he might be a good guy and then he does the unthinkable and after marrying Jude and taking her to bed! (eye roll, head shake)

My first reaction on finishing was basically just: WHY DON’T YOU JUST PICK UP MY LIMP CARCASS AND TOSS IT 50 FEET  INTO THE SEA TOO. The story is excellent in the most beautiful, clever, and perfectly poisonous way. I am reeling and also want to s c r e a m myself into the next dimension because I seriously need book three, which won’t be out until November of this year.

A mortal raised in the realms of Faerie by the devious General Madoc, Jude Duarte has learned to play games of politics and intrigue quite well. By manipulating her onetime nemesis, Cardan (the titular Cruel Prince of the previous book, and Wicked King of this one), onto the throne and binding his will to hers for a year and a day, Jude has bought time for her young foster brother, Oak, whom Madoc would have thrust into power and controlled from the shadows. Using all of her resources — her spy net work, her inability to be glamoured, and her innate physical and intellectual talents — Jude manages to keep Cardan’s numerous rivals in check. The growing trust between Jude and Cardan blossoms into an unlikely romance and ultimately a clandestine marriage — but one final betrayal threatens to undo all of Jude’s plans. The plot itself twists, turns, and dovetails perfectly with the assured character development; in this way, Black proves herself a master storyteller. This book was dark, provocative, full of royal intrigue, and power plays galore

I can’t wait until November for The Queen of Nothing!

Five stars!!!!!!!

The Ex (The Boss #4) by Abigail Barnette

Book Description:

Published: November 22, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

Magazine editor-in-chief, bride-to-be, and soon-to-be-step-grandmother at twenty-six, Sophie Scaife is looking forward to married life with her fiancé and Dom, wickedly sadistic billionaire Neil Elwood. As they enter unexplored sensual territory, Neil leads Sophie to the very edge between pain and pleasure—and she discovers a surprising new side to her sexuality.

While Sophie balances her hectic work routine with her devotion to her unconventional family, Neil has to adjust to life as a retired mogul. With their big day drawing nearer, they have to forge through pre-wedding jitters, personal crises, and an unexpected houseguest to get to their kinky ever after.

But a decades old trauma still haunts Neil. When the private details draw public interest, Sophie learns that the scars of his past are greater than he let on—and he’ll need all of her love to heal them…

Review –

After the last book lulled me into a bit of rut with Sophie and Neil, they are back and more riled up than ever.  Our favorite pair is finally engaged and after the tease of the third book, the wedding is finally on the way. As a reader, I was ready for the wedding jitters, the dramatics of potentially leaving one another at the alter… I was not ready for rape to come into the picture. I didn’t fully realize that a small plot line that came up twice or so in the previous books would come to blow up in the way that it does in the fourth book in the series.

It is surprises like this that come completely out of the blue which truly make these books so special. I can jokingly say that I read them for the sex, and that’s not completely wrong. Where I sometimes deviate from that line comes in these moments. The author doesn’t hesitate to address issues like a dominant who rapes a submissive, when BDSM goes horribly wrong. She alternates between these very serious issues while leading the reader on a terrible journey of persistent wedding horrors with a side stop Losing Your Best Friendville.

In a way, it’s like getting sucker punching multiple times – each in a different muscle group so that you never quite recover.

Reading so far into a series makes the character development all the more satisfying, and this book is probably one of the best examples of that I’ve read in the recent year. From the first book, you watch Sophie grow from uncertain and pushed-around office girl to confident magazine editor and growing socialite. That doesn’t mean she isn’t immature in other areas, and you, as the reader, can watch her grow through them. Her sexuality is one of those issues. As Neil and her explore different depths in more ways than one, Sophie has to deal with reclassifying herself and learning that perhaps there is more to her sexuality than meets the eye. As per her usual self, she doesn’t take it “exceedingly” well. Neil’s own issues with his past rape dominate other parts of the book.

Now about the sex, the scenes that you’re all thinking of? Oh they are there, don’t you worry. Our favorite BDSM couple goes deeper (get it?) than before, and definitely explore uncharted territories that were not on the original ship manifesto. Somehow it doesn’t seem to matter what places the author takes them, because it is too hot to even care. Bring out the fans, readers – you will need them in this book.

Per usual, The Ex is trying to knock you out by mixing that heavy-laden mixture of real-life issues and overly sensual and well-written sex. Spoiler alert? They will suceed.

Now on to #5.

 

 

The Bride (The Boss #3) by Abigail Barnette

Book Description:

Published: March 24, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

After a tumultuous year, Sophie Scaife’s relationship with her boyfriend and Dom, billionaire media mogul Neil Elwood, is hotter and happier than ever. His sizzling Dominant side pushes Sophie to new and challenging heights of submission and erotic exploration as she follows her Sir’s every whim. But with his daughter’s impending wedding and a milestone birthday turning Neil’s thoughts toward settling down, Sophie faces a much different future than she’d planned.

Caught in a conflict between her new wealth and her desire for independence, Sophie fears she’s becoming just another Fifth Avenue trophy wife. With her fashion journalism career over and her new effort as a writer uninspiring, Sophie has to work harder than ever to prove her intentions to Neil’s family and friends.

Sophie isn’t the only one struggling to adapt to her new lifestyle. When private jets and designer labels threaten her bond with Holli, Sophie finds herself walking a fine line between the world she now inhabits and the past—and people—she fears she’s left behind. After a shocking revelation divides her loyalties, Sophie is in danger of losing her best friend or fracturing the trust of the man she loves.

Review –

Following on from the angst-fest that was The Girlfriend, this was a much lighter read, but it still cleverly deals with all the issues that remain – their twenty-five year age difference, his ex, his continued recovery, his need to take (as Sophie charmingly calls them) ‘boner tablets’, her lack of career, getting used to his money (yeah, like that would be challenging), her mother’s hostile reaction to Neil,and her daddy issues. There’s no overblown drama in this, the dramatic tension comes from subtle observations of people’s behaviour – oh and Sophie ‘s ongoing eavesdropping habit.
The sex scenes are incredibly hot – like, wow, a mix of scorching hot D/s scenes and lust-filled panty-burning intimacy. They get really kinky in this installment.
My favorite thing about this whole series and particularly this book is the relationship between Sophie and Neil, their in-jokes, how attuned they are to each other’s emotions. I could read books like this all day!

 

 

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Book Description:

Published: December 7, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.

Review –

It’s interesting (and amazing) when an author explores writing something that is completely different from what we are used to seeing from them.  And it also helps that I love reading thrillers as well.  Keep in mind if you are here for the romance, although there is one in this book, it’s definitely darker and grittier and I don’t think it’s really intended to be “romantic”.

There’s a deep, dark secret that Verity Crawford has been hiding.  She’s been in a serious accident and her publisher hired author Lowen Ashleigh to finish writing the three books left in Verity’s hugely popular series.  But when Lowen moves into the Crawford home to go through series notes she discovers some sinister secrets about Verity and her family life.  And she can’t help but feel an undeniable attraction to Verity’s husband, Jeremy.

The great thing about this is that the whole book seemed pretty straight forward.  I mean, awful in some parts, but straight forward.  It had some creepy, nail biting moments but I didn’t feel the need to solve the mystery at any point.  I thought I had it figured out.  I should’ve known better and kept my mind engaged in gathering clues if there were any. I have to give the author credit for making me so wrapped up in the story that first off, I didn’t want to stop listening and second, I just experienced it as it came. The shocker will come at the very end of the story and yes, I didn’t see it coming, (love when that happens)  Also, I think that’s the morally grey point of the book.  Where you question the characters actions and think back on the what’s right and what’s wrong.  There is an HEA but it may feel like a questionable one for people that fall on one side of that moral spectrum than others.

Nevertheless, Verity was a thrilling and exciting ride.  It’s dark and horrific at times but I couldn’t not continue listening.  I really hope that Ms. Hoover writes more in this genre because I’m definitely here for that side of her.

Five HUGE stars!

The Girlfriend (The Boss #2) by Abigail Barnette

Book Description:

Published: August 17, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Unemployed, blacklisted, and pregnant, Sophie Scaife’s life is totally upside down. Her relationship with publishing magnate Neil Elwood is on the rocks. Her best friend’s career is igniting. And Sophie is afraid she’ll make one of the toughest decisions of her life alone…

When a devastating diagnosis forces Neil to return to London, Sophie throws caution to the wind to follow her heart across the Atlantic. Keeping a scorching D/s affair as red-hot in sickness as it was in health is a challenge, even for two lovers as inventive as Sophie and Neil. But Sophie is more than willing to try anything her Sir commands, and their fantasies of control become a welcome refuge from the daily stress of illness.

While Neil’s wealth and privilege make adjusting to her new situation easier, Sophie finds herself rebuilding her life around an uncertain future. And while both of them face the changes between them head-on, they’re all too aware that their happiness may be fleeting—and Sophie could lose Neil forever.

Review –

The Boss ends with the cliffhanger that Sophie is pregnant, and The Girlfriend picks up from there. I pretty much guessed how that plot was going to be resolved by the blurb for this book, and I was right. Though I have no problem with the manner in which the situation was resolved, it was very unpleasant to read about it.Now, after finishing the book, I have to wonder why that sub-plot was even there to begin with. One of the author’s criticisms of “Fifty Shades of Grey” (in her wonderful “Jenny Reads Fifty Shades” series on her blog) was that there are pointless sub-plots that do nothing to really move the story forward. I think the pregnancy cliffhanger/subplot was pretty much the same thing. If anything it existed merely so that the author could point out just out feminist, PC, and not-FSOG this book is/tries to be. And really, that continues through the entire story.

There is a very REAL depiction of what it’s like to be a care giver to a cancer patient on high dose chemotherapathy and the changes mentally and physically that the patient can undergo. The book also talks about using the good days of cancer treatment to keep the relationship alive by having inventive sex. I feel  because this book is written by a female all of this information was done magnificently. A male wouldn’t have been as caring in the detail. There also is a description of an abortion that is very graphic and therefore could be a trigger for some readers or listeners.

I really liked this book more than the first because we came to see Sophia and Neil is much more depth.

 

 

 

 

The Boss (The Boss #1) by Abigail Barnette

Book Description:

Published: July 15, 2013   

Format: Audio/Audible

Sophie Scaife almost ran away once, trading her ticket to college for a ticket to Tokyo. But a delayed flight and a hot one-night stand with a stranger changed her mind, putting her firmly on track to a coveted position at a New York fashion magazine.

When the irresistible stranger from that one incredible night turns out to be her new boss – billionaire and publishing magnate Neil Elwood – Sophie can’t resist the chance to rekindle the spark between them… and the opportunity to explore her submissive side with the most Dominant man she’s ever known.

Neil is the only man who has ever understood Sophie’s need to submit in the bedroom, and the only man who has ever satisfied those desires. When their scorching, no-strings-attached sexual relationship becomes something more, Sophie must choose between her career and heart… or risk losing them both.

Review –

I believe this may be the first BDSM/contemporary romance written by a woman that Ive read and I found that not only are the sex scenes amazingly hot, but the characters are well developed and seem like real people, not caricatures. This book portrays a good relationship with proper communication, boundaries, and an equal partnership even with the economic/age disparity. The D/s aspects of the story make sure to stress concepts like consent, safewording, and aftercare. The wealth of likeable and love-to-hate characters span a wide range of diversity and don’t fall into the usual clichés you’d expect from this kind of story, which is refreshing and wonderful.

The build-up to the cliffhanger and the cliffhanger itself was expertly done and my heart is currently aching wondering how the heroine and hero will handle the next stage of their lives. I’m looking forward to the second book.

My recommendation is: if you can get over the age difference (twenty-four years), navigate through the sexual athleticism, and the fact of the cliffhanger ending, you’ll enjoy this novel.

This is a series of seven books and I don’t know if I will read them all, but I’m definitely reading the next one to see what happens.

 

 

The Dark Water Bride by Marty Ross

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Late Victorian London. When the most respectable of Scottish businessmen is pulled, dead, from the Thames, his daughter is drawn into an investigation which reveals a whole world of secrets and corruption and leads all the way to the tragic truth behind the ghostly legend of The Dark Water Bride.

An epic drama combining the genres of the Victorian mystery thriller with the equally classic Victorian mode of the ghostly tale.

Review –

OMG! This a mesmerizing , gory, dark little tale and I was completely absorbed listening to it.

I love a bit of mystery, gothic horror, and bloodthirsty murder and The Dark Water Bride combines all three delightfully. The business man’s daughter is a great character, feisty, determined, headstrong and not your typical simpering Victorian woman. I loved her determination to know the truth regardless of the cost.

The story starts out with a business man found dead in the river Thames. His daughter is told it was a suicide but she couldn’t believe it so travels to London to find out what happened to her father. Some uncomfortable truths and a local legend are revealed as the plot unfolds.

The story is very creepy, exploring the underbelly of London and it’s a dark dirty underbelly at that. This isn’t something for someone who is sensitive to sex and violence, there is quite a lot of both in it. In fact, most of the criticism I’ve seen about Darkwater Bride is the amount of sex and violence. I find it strange that this is the primary complaint about a story that explores the seedy, dark sides of the world.

There is certainly plenty of violence and sex but there’s also a good amount of intrigue, fright and suspense. Even a bit of rommance! This may disturb you, may upset you and might frighten you. But isn’t that what good horror is all about?

Overall the performances were all very good and convincing. The legend of the Darkwater Bride is fully explained , so no worries you won’t be left hanging.

The true story of the ghostly bride was heartbreaking.

If you have an Audible subscription and love creepy stuff, download this one and start listening, you’ll love it. Consider signing up for a free trial, would be worth it just to listen to this one!

Five stars !!!!!

 

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Book Description:

Published: April 23, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

l Know Who You Are is the brilliant tale of two stories. One is about Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress.

The next morning she goes for her morning run and then goes to her favorite coffee shop. But her card is denied. When she calls the bank they say her account has been emptied of $10,000. She immediately suspects her husband. But they say no, it was Aimee herself who closed out the account. And thus begins a bizarre rabbit hole into which Aimee finds herself falling where nothing is at it seems.

Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who wandered away from home. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers or bad things will happen. Well, bad things happen.

In I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney proves that she is a master at brilliantly complicated plots and twists after twists.

Review –

Usually when a debut author writes a second book I don’t really expect it to be as good as the first, BUT, Alice Feeney has written a second book that, in my opinion, out shines the previous Sometimes I Lie.

Holy H*ll !!! Just finished I Know Who You Are and my head is spinning.

Aimee,(the unreliable narrator) an actress whose husband has disappeared after an argument. The police notice she’s not very upset about it. Is she being gaslighted? Does she drink too much? Is she a killer? Yes, to all three.

Aimee is a wounded and insecure soul, born Ciara to a poor family in Ireland. Her mother died in childbirth, and both Ciara and her alcoholic father blame her for killing her mother.

Five-year-old Ciara runs away and is kidnapped by a manipulative numbers-runner named Maggie, who renames her Aimee, after another child who died in unclear circumstances (unsolved mysteries abound in this book). Maggie proceeds to treat Ciara/Aimee with such depraved cruelty that she makes Cinderella’s stepmother look like Mother Teresa.

Two episodes, in particular, stand out: One involves a McDonald’s Happy Meal that will make the treat hard to choke down on your next trip to the drive-through, and another involves a pet hamster and a deep fryer. Need I say MORE?

Aimee survives life with Maggie and John, her predatory partner in crime, until a robbery attempt ends in a bloodbath. Fast forward twenty years, and Aimee is a rising actress, able to shape-shift her way through various roles – an opportunity for the author to weigh in on the familiar symbolism of the masks we wear each day.

The ending isn’t a just twist, it’s a triple axel and depending on how seriously you take things you will be appalled by the “yucky” or “eewww” factor. Myself, I read for my pleasure and enjoyment and I always enjoy a well written book, no matter the subject matter or ending.

Be aware that there may be triggers for some because included in the book child abuse, marital rape and incest.

I gave the book 4 3/4 stars because there were too many questions left unanswered and I won’t spoil the book by saying what they were.