No time for reading? Why not try an audio book? It's no secret that I absolutely love them. I listen to them everywhere - whilst doing the dishes, walking the dog, driving to and from work. They make the most boring chores enjoyable. Here are some beauties I have listened to recently. And the best news is, they are all available for free from your library on the Libby and Borrow Box apps.
GOOD PEOPLE HERE by Ashley Flowers
love thrillers in which an adult protagonist returns home to a small country
town and starts investigating a crime that has traumatised them in their
younger years – this trope never gets old for me! In ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE,
Margot returns home to the small town of Sarakusa, Indiana, to care for her
uncle, who has recently been diagnosed with dementia. When a young child goes
missing, Margot is reminded of the disappearance and murder of her best friend
when they were six years old, a crime that has haunted her for two decades. Are
there similarities between the two crimes? Hoping both to lay old demons to
rest and perhaps revive her flagging career as a small town journalist, Margot
starts asking questions …
listened to the audio version of ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE and the story immediately
drew me in, even though (or perhaps because of?) parts of it were slow burning
character studies rather than an action-fuelled thriller. Carrying the burden
of a childhood trauma, a dysfunctional family background and the stresses of
caring for a sick loved one, Margot made for an intriguing and sympathetic
character that was easy to root for. Her flashbacks to her childhood and the
murder of her best friend made for two interesting stories running parallel to
one another, and I was invested in finding out the answers to both.
GOOD PEOPLE HERE was an intriguing small-town mystery linking two separate
crimes through the eyes of one protagonist. I really enjoyed the small town
atmosphere and – even though this will be polarising – thought the ending was
very cleverly carried off. I hope to read more from this author in future.
THEY FIND HER by Lia Middleton
the best and the worst of parenthood into a taut psychological thriller made
WHEN THEY FIND HER a nerve wrecking and heart breaking read from beginning to
end. Savoured slowly through the (excellent) audio narration allowed me to
immerse myself deeply in the novel’s flawed characters, a journey that is not
for the faint of heart.
an incident that is not revealed until much later in the book, Naomi Williams
has not only lost her marriage but also custody of her four-year-old daughter
Freya. Finally, she has managed to persuade her ex-husband Aiden to allow Freya
to spend a night with Naomi at her remote farmhouse. That night, whilst Naomi
is under the influence of heavy sleeping pills, something terrible happens to
little Freya. Having no memory of the night, and trying to protect herself,
Naomi reports her daughter as missing to police, starting a landslide that can
only end in more tragedy …
can see that no matter how this story pans out, there can be no winners at the
end. And yet the journey to the answers was so cleverly woven and so intriguing
that I couldn’t stop reading until I had all the answers. Love Naomi or hate
her, she is an unreliable narrator of the best kind, always casting a shadow of
doubt over everything she is willing to share with the reader.
you are a reader who expects lots of action, then perhaps this won’t be the
right book for you. Yet for those of you who, like me, can appreciate an
excellent, in-depth character study of mental illness and addiction casting
shadows on marriage and parenthood, then this book should definitely be on your
list. With Naomi’s hazy recall of events, her denials and her excuses and her
erratic decision making, the journey was both harrowing as well as utterly
intriguing. The ending may also surprise you!
was my first book by the author but it definitely won’t be the last.
THIS TIME TOWMORROW by Emma Straub
Time travel books can go either way
for me and the secret is usually whether the plot is clever enough to help me
suspend disbelief. In THIS TIME TOMORROW, Straub focuses not so much on the
intricacies of time travel, but on the emotional theme of second chances and
our desire to help those we love most. As Alice tries time and time gain to
save her father by turning back the clock and changing a few details of that
fateful night when she was sixteen, we are instantly reminded of losses we have
experienced ourselves. Who would not want to turn back the clock to have the
chance to save one of loved ones? Having lost both my parents, I would give
anything just to spend a few more moments with them and tell them how much I
If you have any misgivings that this
story would be overly emotional or soppy, rest assured that Straub doesn’t
dwell there but lets her story flow easily from the pages, allowing the reader
to fill in the gaps with their own emotional baggage. I found the book moving
in a way that never crossed the line into melodrama, which is not an easy
balance to achieve with themes of love, loss and grief. I was also pleasantly
surprised that the teenage Alice was as easy to relate to as the adult one,
again highlighting the author’s skill at characterisation. All in all, I
thoroughly enjoyed THIS TIME TOMORROW, reminding me to treasure the time I have
with my loved ones and the memories of those who have passed. A touching story
that prompted reflection and may have made me shed a tear or two.
THE LAST PARTY by Claire Mackintosh
Mackintosh is one of my go-to
authors when I want to read a good slow-burning mystery, and even though THE
LAST PARTY wasn’t my favourite by the author, it still made for an intriguing
read. Extra credits go to narrator Chloe Angharad Davies, without whom I would
never have known how to pronounce the Welsh names and quotes in the story – and
who brought each character to life for me.
Popular singer Rhys Lloyd is dead,
and half of the locals of the small Welsh community of Cwm Coed seem to have a
motive for murder. With so many people hating the man, solving the crime won’t
be easy, even involving two murder squads, one from England and one from Wales.
With an extensive ensemble cast,
multiple timelines and suspects galore, this police procedural allowed for
plenty of armchair sleuthing. Unfortunately I found Rhys, the victim, so
repulsive that I almost wanted to give a medal to his killer for ridding the
community of a menace (or is it politically incorrect to admit this?). I did,
however, really enjoy the chemistry between the two main investigating
detectives, DC Ffion Morgan and DC Leon Brady. The picturesque Welsh lakeside
setting made for a wonderful backdrop, and I was longing to take a plunge into
its icy waters.
With this being the first of a
series, we are bound to see more of Ffion and Leo, and I am very interested to
see how their relationship will develop and what other crimes they will get to
THE PINK HOTEL by Liska Jacobs
Sometimes you just have to go into a
book blind without overthinking whether you would like it or not. THE PINK
HOTEL is probably not my usual choice of story, but I do love a good social
critique and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the antics of the super-rich in a
luxury hotel whilst around them the world is on fire. Some scenes oddly
reminded me of scenes out of Titanic – the band plays on whilst the ship is
sinking, i.e. the staff keep serving drinks so people don’t have to think about
their imminent death. The Pink Hotel prides itself on giving in to its guests’
every whim, and we certainly meet an eclectic bunch here, all catered for by
its dedicated staff.
This is the place young married
couple Kit and Keith (Mr and Mrs Collins) find themselves in on their
honeymoon. The Pink Hotel wasn’t Kit’s idea of a romantic getaway, and the
couple certainly don’t fit the demographic, but Keith has met the hotel’s
manager on a previous occasion and is hoping to secure a job here to provide
them with a better future than their humdrum existence in rural Florida. Whilst
Keith is easily mingling with the rich and famous and even working unpaid
shifts in the hope of ingratiating himself with the hotel manager, Kit feels
like a fish out of water, which is soon putting their marriage under strain.
Meanwhile, outside the hotel’s lush grounds, wildfires are raging and riots are
destroying homes, but the guests of the Pink Hotel party on, choosing to stay
ignorant about anything that does not directly affect them.
I thought that THE PINK HOTEL was a
well-written, dark social satire exploring both the fascination with the rich
and famous as well as the unspoken class system that is ruling our society and
our response to outside events. The characters, whilst sometimes a bit over the
top, provided some entertainment and cringes, but were always strangely fascinating.
Jacobs’ writing style is descriptive, which painted a vivid picture of the
hotel’s lush gardens and its guests. The audio version of the book helped me to
immerse myself in its atmospheric setting and stay engaged. Whilst there was
little action as such (I lie – there was a gory scene involving a wildcat), the
dark undertones and the characterisations were intriguing and kept me
interested. I think that this book may not be for everyone, but readers who
like a dark social critique should definitely give it a go. I certainly enjoyed
it as something different from my usual reading choices, and characters that
made me scrutinise my own feelings and choices in our times.
NEXT OF KIN by Kia Abdullah
NEXT OF KIN was my first book by Kia
Abdullah and a difficult one to review. It’s well written and immaculately
researched, and yet I felt conflicted. This story is grim! Even if you get past
the sheer tragedy of a child’s death from being left in a hot car in the middle
of summer, there are more blows yet to come. As an ED nurse I’m not easily
shocked, but the final few chapters felt like a punch in the gut and left me reeling.
On one hand I applaud the author for her courage to tackle such a difficult
matter, on the other I found the final reveal detracting from its initial
premise even though it certainly added shock value and that “killer twist” that
has become so popular in thrillers.
I can’t quite put my finger on why I
didn’t love this book more than I did, other than finding the pacing a bit
inconsistent and struggling to connect to either one of the sisters (which
perhaps made more sense as the story progressed). Purely as a family drama some
of the emotional dynamics seemed a bit off to me, even though those also made
more sense in the light of the “mystery” element. Gosh, it’s so hard to talk
about this book without giving spoilers! I feel an intense need to discuss this
with someone. So perhaps it would make a great bookclub book, if the audience
can stomach some of the more gruelling elements. I really liked Kia Abdullah’s
writing style though and will definitely read some of her other books.
🌟🌟🌟1/2 sitting-on-the-fence stars from