Family Pictures by Jane Green

Book Description:

Published: March 19, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

NY Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed.

From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined. Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school. They’re both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like. They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected. But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart. As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves?

Review –

This book had it all – family drama, anorexia, verbal abuse, empty nest syndrome, bigamy, public shame, etc. – and then some.  I swear, when it seemed like people were finally making progress a new setback would rear its ugly head and bring everything crashing down once again.  It was crazy and was like listening to a LIFETIME movie!

Right away I knew the premise of the story , but the double life of a**hole husband was only the beginning. The real story was of the survival of the two, now broken, families and the happy ending they deserved.

Excellent read!

Pandemic (The Extinction Files #1)by A.G. Riddle

Book Description:

Published: August 5, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Around the world, a deadly outbreak spreads.

The CDC and WHO race to stop it, but they soon learn that this pandemic hides a dark secret. It may be the start of a scientific experiment that could alter the human race forever–and reveal a shocking truth about our future.

Experience the groundbreaking novel that will change everything you think you know about pandemics–and how to survive one.

“Reads like a superior collaboration between Dan Brown and Michael Crichton.”
The Guardian

Now an Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

A hundred miles north of Alaska, a US Coast Guard vessel discovers a sunken submarine at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. It has no national identification and doesn’t match the records of any known vessel. Deep within, researchers find evidence of a scientific experiment that will rewrite our basic understanding of the human race.

In Atlanta, Dr. Peyton Shaw is awakened by the phone call she has dreaded for years. As the CDC’s leading epidemiologist, she’s among the first responders to outbreaks around the world. It’s a lonely and dangerous job, but it’s her life—and she’s good at it. This time, she may have met her match.

In Kenya, an Ebola-like pathogen has infected two Americans. One lies at death’s door. With the clock ticking, Peyton assembles her team and joins personnel from the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the WHO. What they find in the remote village is beyond their worst fears. As she traces the origin of the pathogen, Peyton begins to believe that there is more to this outbreak—that it may be merely the opening act in a conspiracy with far reaching consequences.

In Berlin, Desmond Hughes awakens in a hotel room with no memory of how he got there or who he is. On the floor, he finds a dead security guard from an international pharmaceutical company. His only clue leads him to Peyton Shaw—a woman who seems to know him, but refuses to tell him how. With the police searching the city for him, Desmond desperately tries to piece together what happened to him. To his shock and horror, he learns that he may be involved in causing the outbreak —and could hold the only key to stopping it.

As the pathogen spreads around the world, Peyton and Desmond race to unravel the conspiracy behind the pandemic—and uncover secrets some want to keep buried. With time running out, they face an unimaginable decision.

Review –

Pandemic is a fantastic book to listen to in audio. It’s so exciting and suspenseful. The narrator of any audiobook can make the story come alive. Edoardo Ballerini reads this one with his expected skill. Well known and very popular as a narrator, he takes you into the story from the start. You don’t think about the narration, it simply suits the story. Great voice for an easy listen, and his variation for the voices keeps each clear as you listen.

The story surprised me—in a good way. A great read/listen was expected, of course, but there is far more than a pandemic happening in the book. There is also a complex mystery surrounding Desmond, whose life is revealed in pieces as missing memories jolt back to him at unexpected moments.

He know he must learn the answers quickly, if he can survive long enough to find them.

His past and present intertwine with Peyton Shaw. Other players also have a past with him; Avery, rescuer or a plant? His partner Connor, old friend–or is he? The way the many paths connect in the past and the present is intriguing to watch.

It is a terrific novel. Book one, at least, is not so much apocalyptic as it is the mystery behind the spread of the new epidemic. There is far more behind this outbreak. The author has a wa  developing well defined characters and I appreciated how he revealed the past of the characters. First when Desmond tells of his loss of memory now, then in flashback, as he describes his difficult childhood to Peyton.

Fantastic read!

 

The Vanishing Season (The Collector #4) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published: May 21, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

A recent abduction becomes an unexpected link to a decades-long spree of unspeakable crimes.

Eight-year-old Brooklyn Mercer has gone missing. And as accustomed as FBI agents Eliza Sterling and Brandon Eddison are to such harrowing cases, this one has struck a nerve. It marks the anniversary of the disappearance of Eddison’s own little sister. Disturbing, too, is the girl’s resemblance to Eliza—so uncanny they could be mother and daughter.

With Eddison’s unsettled past rising again with rage and pain, Eliza is determined to solve this case at any cost. But the closer she looks, the more reluctant she is to divulge to her increasingly shaken partner what she finds. Brooklyn isn’t the only girl of her exact description to go missing. She’s just the latest in a frightening pattern going back decades in cities throughout the entire country.

In a race against time, Eliza’s determined to bring Brooklyn home and somehow find the link to the cold case that has haunted Eddison—and the entire Crimes Against Children team—since its inception.

Review –

This is the fourth book in The Collector series by Dot Hutchison, which began with The Butterfly Garden.

The Vanishing Season starts when eight year old Brooklyn goes missing on her way home from school. The familiar FBI team (they appear in the other books as well) is put on the case, and soon it becomes clear that one of the agents is connected to the disappearance. Agent Eddison’s eight  year old sister went missing years ago and has yet to be found. Similarities between the cases start to unravel. 
The team starts piecing together the mystery of missing girls and disappearances of other girls with similar looks starts to unfold. In the meantime we are taken on a journey of backstories involving Eddison and other team members. It was a lot to keep track of but I didn’t think it took away  from the current case.
As always, the Butterfly girls and Priya make their appearances and visit the team to help support them through hard times. The author always makes them part of the background story line and this time they are there to tie all four  books together. 
This is really an emotional journey of the intertwining relationships of the FBI agents. If you are looking for shock value and unbelievable thrilling moments like in the previous books, you will not find it in this one. If you haven’t yet read the three previous books, don’t bother with this, as you will be so lost in a huge wave of keeping track of characters.
All in all, it was a fantastic ending to the  series. It was great to see where the characters I have come to love end up.
Not as much suspense and action in this installment but the emotional rescue and ending well made up for it!

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Book Description:

Published: October 17, 2017

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

Review –

One day at the gym, Amber Patterson drops the magazine she’s reading between her exercise bike and that of the woman who happens to be beside her, Daphne Parrish. As she bends to pick it up, Daphne notices that it’s the publication of a cystic fibrosis foundation. What a coincidence—Daphne’s sister died of cystic fibrosis, and, why, so did Amber’s! “Slowing her pace, Amber wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. It took a lot of acting skills to cry about a sister who never existed.” Step one complete. “All she needed from Daphne was everything.” Everything, in this case, consists of Daphne’s outlandishly wealthy and blisteringly hot husband, Jackson, and all the real estate that comes with him; Daphne can definitely keep her two whiny brats. Amber hates children. But once she finds out that Daphne’s failure to give Jackson a male heir is the main source of tension in the marriage, she sees exactly how to make this work. Amber’s constant, spiteful inner monologue as she plays up to Daphne is the best thing about this book. For example, as Daphne talks about the many miseries her sister Julie went through before her death, Amber is thinking, “At least Julie had grown up in a nice house with money and parents who cared about her. Okay, she was sick and then she died. So what? A lot of people were sick. A lot of people died.…How about Amber and what she’d gone through?” Meanwhile, poor, stupid Daphne is so caught up in the joy of finally having a friend, she seems to be handing Jackson to her on a platter. 

The reader watches with shock and delight as Amber cold-bloodedly manipulates Daphne and Jackson and lays waste to anyone else who stands in her way. Then, about halfway through, the point of view switches from Amber’s to Daphne’s, and we get a surprisingly different take on the story. To say any more would spoil all the twists that Constantine (the pseudonym of sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine) has in store along the way to a surprising and entirely satisfying ending.

Fantastic read!

Mine by Courtney Cole

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

Tessa was prepared for the hurricane. Lindsey was the storm she didn’t see coming.

When Tessa Taylor unlocked her husband Ethan’s iPad to discover nude photos from a twenty-six-year-old bombshell named Lindsey, her seemingly perfect life came to a screeching halt.

With a hurricane barreling toward Florida and Ethan stuck on a business trip, Tessa finds herself imprisoned in her own home with a choice to make: Does she ride out the storm until she can confront Ethan in person, or does she take matters into her own hands?

Increasingly restless and desperate for revenge, Tessa resolves to act. And when she lures Lindsey over a few hours later, there’s no turning back.

What ensues is a battle of wills between two well-matched opponents, blinded by love for the same man but driven by demons of their own. Like storm-ravaged Florida, neither woman will be the same when the skies clear.

Review –

Mine is told through alternating perspectives: Tess, Ethan’s wife and mother of his children, and Lindsey, Ethan’s younger mistress. Lindsey is also a mother, but her son is living with her mother while she figures out her life.

As with many thrillers, the timeline jumps around. I believe most of Tess’s chapters are told in the present, while Lindsey’s are told in the past and focus on how she and Ethan began their relationship and how it progressed.

In the present day, the book follows the events of one night. Once Tess discovers Ethan has been cheating on her (he is away for work), she invites Lindsey over to confront her over the affair during a hurricane. For the most part, Lindsey is fairly unapologetic about the whole situation. She knew Ethan was married and didn’t care. She blamed Tess for why the marriage fell apart and thought Ethan would be the perfect addition to her and her son.

For awhile you wonder if either woman would be alive at the end of the book. They are brutal!

If you read The Last Mrs. Parrish, you’ll see some similar moments/themes. However, outside of the idea of two women fighting over one man, I don’t think they were that similar.

Everything is fairly wrapped up by the end and I was happy with the conclusion. Mine definitely falls more into the thriller category over a mystery.

It was a quick and suspenseful read for a hot Spring day in Oklahoma!. (it was 101 degrees here today.)

 

My Torin by K. Webster

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

I’m a freak, a misfit, an odd end.
Abandoned and unloved.
But my happiness is so close I can taste it.

Until he shows up.

Gorgeous, expensive, and all man.
Sad brown eyes and a brilliant smile.
And he wants me to go with him.

His intentions are hidden.
His motives are unclear.
Yet, I leave with him because there’s no happiness here.

What he promises feels too good to be true…
A castle. A fortune. And horses too.

It’s too easy.
Nothing in my life has ever been easy.

What’s the catch?
There’s always a catch.

Review –

In this book we meet Casey Doe and brother Tyler and Torin Kline.

Casey Doe was abandoned by her crack addicted mother and as a result, Casey was brought into this world addicted to the same drugs her mother was taking whilst pregnant. Casey was raised by the system, moving from foster home to foster home and never really understanding the concept of family, love and warmth.

Casey felt unloved, unwanted and happiness was just a pipe dream that Casey would never have the chance to experience. Being born addicted to cocaine and abandoned, what chance did poor Casey Doe really have in this world?

That is until a wealthy man with sad eyes and a beautiful smile offers to whisk Casey away from the despair that she lives each day. He will give her anything her heart desires in exchange for one thing, herself, not for himself but for his brother, Torin. I’m not going tell you anything about Torin, because trust me when I say he is one character you have to experience for yourself.

My Torin was such a remarkable love story and unlike anything I have read to date. I went into this read completely blind and I urge anyone who reads it to do the same. It was sad and heartbreaking, but also beautiful and inspiring.

To sum it all up in a few words My Torin captures your soul, kidnaps your every thought, manipulates and crushes your heart as it quite literally takes your breath away.

Sorry for not giving you more details but you really need to experience it for yourself.

Excellent read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page or listen to the last sentence!

 

Park Avenue Player by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland

Book Description:

Published: September 23, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

It started out like any normal day.

Then the fender bender happened.

The guy I collided with drove an expensive car and was drop-dead gorgeous. Too bad he was also a total jerk. We argued over whose fault it was and any other thing that came out of his condescending mouth.

Eventually, the police came and we went our separate ways. The insurance companies would have to figure things out. I had a job interview to get to anyway—one I was excited about.

Though that excitement changed to disappointment the moment the person interviewing me walked in. The guy from the accident.

Whoops!

Yeah, so I didn’t get the position.

The problem was, I really wanted it. No, I needed it. Anything to get me out of my current career and back into working with kids.

So, even though Hollis LaCroix was as intimidating as he was devastatingly handsome, I went back to see him and begged for a chance.

To my surprise, he gave me a shot taking care of his troubled niece.

At least my attraction to him wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. I wasn’t about to jeopardize my job or the strong bond Hailey and I formed.

But resisting the magnetic pull between us wasn’t that simple. (Then there was our little underwear game—don’t ask.)

We continued to flirt without crossing the line—until it finally happened.

This is the part of the story where we fall in love and live happily ever after, right?

Well, life has a way of throwing some major curveballs.

Ours was one I didn’t see coming.

Review –

Elodie is confident, sexy, and sassy. She would love to get back into working in childcare as she’s pretty over her current job. Elodie is independent and may be ready to get back into dating after being burned in her last relationship.

Hollis is a workaholic. He’s sexy, driven, demanding, and goes after what he wants. He’s also struggling to adjust to taking care of his niece. Hailey is a handful and Hollis is determined to remain single. He doesn’t need or want more than his causal hook-ups.

Elodie and Hollis immediately face-off over who is at fault for a fender bender. They give as good as they get during their exchange and never expect to see each other again. Shortly thereafter, Elodie turns up to interview for a position as none other than Hollis’ nanny. She eventually gets the job, which is great since she and Hailey immediately hit it off.

They are like fire and ice and it shows in how they bicker and banter. Hollis does come to rely on Elodie for advice, guidance, and clues on how to handle his niece. They need to develop a functional working relationship for Hailey, but it’s complicated by their very mutual attraction. They tempt, tease, and taunt each other until finally acting on their chemistry. However, they are tested with surprises they couldn’t have seen coming.

Park Avenue Player has it all: banter, heat, humor, heart, heartbreak, and surprises. Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland hooked me from the beginning with witty dialogue, great characters, and ALL the feels. The authors once again delivered another book I didn’t want to put down. 

Keep a box of Kleenex handy, you’re going to need them.

 

The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros

Book Description:

Published: February 26, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Beckett,

If you’re reading this, well, you know the last-letter drill. You made it. I didn’t. Get off the guilt train, because I know if there was any chance you could have saved me, you would have.

I need one thing from you: get out of the army and get to Telluride.

My little sister Ella’s raising the twins alone. She’s too independent and won’t accept help easily, but she has lost our grandmother, our parents, and now me. It’s too much for anyone to endure. It’s not fair.

And here’s the kicker: there’s something else you don’t know that’s tearing her family apart. She’s going to need help.

So if I’m gone, that means I can’t be there for Ella. I can’t help them through this. But you can. So I’m begging you, as my best friend, go take care of my sister, my family.

Please don’t make her go through it alone.

Ryan

Review –

The Last Letter is the story of Ella MacKenzie and Beckett Gentry and the people they both call family. He is her brother’s best friend and brother in arms. When the war claims Ella’s brother, Ryan, Beckett finds himself doing everything he can to fulfill his best friend’s wishes. Ella needs someone to lean on as she keeps everyone and everything else going full steam ahead, and all Ryan asks is for Beckett to go be a solid force for her to find strength.

There is absolutely zero shortage of feelings associated with this book. I have been through all the stages of grief, along with about 1,000 stages of happiness, and also anticipation and worry and disbelief and pure, pure joy. This is the kind of book you start on a rainy Saturday morning and spend all day cuddled up with. Just make sure you keep a cozy blanket and the tissues handy. Lots and lots of tissues.

Ella is a great heroine. She’s a little stubborn, a lot independent, and a fierce and ferocious mama bear, desperate to keep her little ones safe from anything that could do them harm. That includes any man that shows up with intentions of wooing her. While Beckett’s initial motive is to fulfill Ryan’s last wish, Ella is too much of a force of nature for him to resist her pull. He enters her orbit and is lost to her gravity, even if she pushes him away with equal fervor.

Beckett is kind of the perfect man… with a flaw or two, of course. He is ready to uphold his end of the bargain and be there for Ella and the kids even after things don’t go his way. He betters their lives in infinite ways. I honestly kept reading his chapters and falling more and more in love with him. Ella never stood a chance. Hell, I’m impressed she resisted him for as long as she did.

Besides all of the tears and sadness, there’s so much hope and laughter, and while the sad parts do pack a punch, so does the happiness. I love that no matter what comes their way, neither Beckett nor Ella ever say quit. They both know what it’s like to lose, so their determination is all the more heartening and reassuring.

The only negative thing I’ll say is that the last tragedy could have been left out and the story would have been just as good or maybe better, but the author choose to shock us one more time, and it almost did me in. (more tissues, please)

 

Too Much by Ella Miles

Book Description:

Published: April 6, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

A romance that starts at the end, and ends at the beginning.

He’s not coming.
He promised.
He swore.
He said he would always be here for me.
Except this time, when I really need him to be here, he isn’t.
He isn’t fucking here.

Quinn met Hunter five years ago at age eighteen. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, it was the complete opposite. But they did make a promise that day. If times ever got shitty again, all either of them had to do was text each other for help. For five years, they had always been there for each other until…they weren’t.

A standalone, new adult romance, contemporary romance.

Review –

This was the most confusingest book I have read. I never understood what was going on between the characters one minute they were together and the next they could never be together. And one minute Quinn had Ava and the next she didn’t. It wasn’t until the very end that I understood how all the characters were connected. My brain was literally discombobulated.

The idea of going backwards in their relationship before giving them a HEA was aggravating and I didn’t like it. I think it would’ve been good to have some of the flashbacks, but to also have more from the present to counteract it. The book was entirely about their past with just a few short parts about their present, and I just didn’t feel like it was enough.

There is a bit of “soap opera” drama and I felt the end was rushed. Nuff said.

 

When It Rains by Lisa DeJong

Book Description:

Published: September 25, 2103

Format: Audio/Audible

One night changed my life forever.

Beau Bennett has been my best friend since I can remember. He was my first crush before everything came crashing down, and now he wants more, but it’s more than I can give him. Things are different now. I wish I could tell him why, but I can’t.

I haven’t told anyone.

I never knew how much I really needed him until the day he left for college, and I was completely alone.

Then one day, Asher Hunt rides into town with his dark, captivating eyes and cocky grin. He doesn’t care who I used to be, he’s simply breathing life into what’s left. People warn me to stay away from him, but he helps me forget the pain that has held me hostage for so long; something I thought was impossible before he walked into my life.

I’ve been hurt.

I’ve been saved.

And I’ve found hope.

I thought my story was written that night, but now I know it was only a new beginning. Until one secret turns my world upside down…

Again.

Review –

The basic story line follows the heroine, Kate, who has grown up living next door to a guy, Beau. They’ve been inseparable best friends and as they got older, they both knew in their hearts that they were each other’s forever. Unfortunately, one rainy night without Beau there to protect her, a guy rips away a part of Kate’s life, taking something from her that she could never get back.

Ashamed and confused, she kept her nightmare hidden from everyone in her life for over two years not even telling Beau despite how desperately he cared for her and tried to get her to open up to him about it. He knew something was wrong but he didn’t know what and he was willing to wait for her, be there for her and support her no matter what.

But Kate didn’t feel worthy of his love and kept pushing him further and further away… and finally when he left for college, she severed nearly all their ties wanting him to go on and find his happiness without her.

At this point in her life, Asher walks in. Gorgeous, mysterious and totally into her, he pushes her to face her fears and get back the pieces of her life that were stolen from her. For whatever reason, he is the one she can accept help from and she falls hard for him. But he is hiding a huge secret… one that that quite literally changes everything… … and that he doesn’t reveal until it’s too late. Faced with the tragic outcome of his secret, Kate turns back for support to the one person who has been there all along for her and never stopped loving her, Beau.(que the tears)

The ending is bittersweet but, people aren’t perfect and life certainly isn’t a fairy tale. Sometimes it throws curve balls that change everything you’d planned, and sometimes it hands you a lifeline that helps you survive. Overall, the writing is beautiful, and the story is very well put together and truly made me feel

Excellent read, but be sure to keep Kleenex handy.