Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book Review

Posted June 11, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book ReviewBirthday Suit by Lauren Blakely
Series: Sexy Suits #2
Published by Lauren Blakely Books on January 17, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 306
Source: Audible
Add to Goodreads
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5 Stars

There is no rule in the Man Code as unbreakable as this: no matter how beautiful, smart, clever, and witty she is, do not—under any circumstances—fall in love with your best friend’s woman.

Yeah. So there’s that.
Look, it’s not like I didn’t know I screwed up by falling for her.
Also, for the record, unrequited love sucks big time.
And, I might have cut myself some slack by now, given everything that went down in the last few years, but Lulu just walked back into my life in a big way.

***

There are three things I've never been able to resist—my friends, my family, and chocolate.

Leo Hennessy? He was nowhere on that list. He's been a true friend—a friend who walked through hell and back with me.
Now, I'm stepping into my new future. I didn't expect it to include a riddle-filled, race-against-the-clock scavenger hunt across New York City.
With Leo.
Suddenly, I'm looking at this man with new eyes...
But my life spun out because of a man once before, and I can’t risk my fresh start, no matter what the temptation. And Leo is most definitely a temptation of the sexiest, sweetest, and most dangerous variety.
More irresistibly delicious than chocolate...

I will admit, I grabbed this immediately after loving and finishing the first book in this series, Lucky Suit (a novella). And yes, I loved that book a lot, but I think loved it more than I if I had actually read it with my eyes because of the narrators. So when I saw the huge cast of narrators for Birthday Suit (which includes Shane East/Steve West, my love) and read the synopsis (YES), I decided to shove all current plans aside and listen to this immediately. Boy, am I a good decision maker.

Things I Liked:

  • The narrators. Each character in Birthday Suit has their own narrator and, instead of alternating chapters like some audiobooks do with narrator duets or trios, this one was read like it was a TV show! Lulu (Andi Arndt) and Leo (Sebastian York) narrate alternate chapters as a whole, but then whenever any of the characters have anything to say, the narrator assigned to that character reads their lines. It’s SO much fun. This is an AMAZING cast of narrators, and each one brought so much life and personality to their characters. It felt like an episode of Friends. I will actively seek out full casts from now on, and already have a bunch on my wishlist.
  • I have to hand it to Lauren Blakely, because she obviously wrote the book to facilitate the kind of narration we got. It was amazing. The snark and personalities that she created gave the narrators amazing content to work with. All those full cast audiobooks I mentioned above that are now on my wishlist? Yeah, they’re all by Lauren Blakely. I think I’m a total fangirl. I ran to her website to sign up for email notifications so I’ll know exactly what to wish for next.
  • Lulu is a chocolatier with big dreams. She’s divorced after a rather toxic marriage to a guy who had a better relationship with alcohol than he did with her. I really, really like Lulu. She can do hard things and make hard decisions. She puts her best interests ahead of everything else, yet she’s still so caring and compassionate. I really loved reading her story.
  • Speaking of her being a chocolatier… this book will make you crave chocolate. Trust me on this and have some handy while you read because you’re going to be hearing about chocolate recipes and truffles and chocolate fountains… sea salt and caramel… SO MUCH CHOCOLATE.
  • Leo is awesome. He works for a company called Heavenly that is all about chocolate. He immediately recommends Lulu for their Rising Star event, and they bring her on to the team to develop a new line of chocolate treats. Leo has been in love with Lulu since before she married his best friend, and the two of them have the cutest friendship. But, of course, he wants so much more with her. His pining and infatuation with her was very sweet. I loved how he looked out for her and protected her and loved her while also trying to respect his friendship with her ex-husband. He really had to suffer, and I felt for him. He’s got some baggage and some emotional turmoil going on in his head, and he’s so torn on some decisions he has to make.
  • Lulu and Leo have a very cute romance, too. I loved their flirtiness and their backstory as a duo. And their riddles. They love to do riddles together, many of which they make up on their own, and I thought that was so cute!
  • There’s a lot of depth and intense underlying issues going on, which added some interesting layers. I liked the light-hearted romance and chocolate and scavenger hunt, but I also liked the growing and healing and moving on that some of these characters are having to do.
  • The supporting characters are great. Lulu and Leo both have wonderful and supportive friends.
  • All the loose ends are tied up, and things are so swoony and sweet!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • This is hard, because I’m not sure there was anything I didn’t like! I think my only disappointment is that I didn’t get more info on Ginny’s romance. Ginny is one of the supporting characters that I loved. I hope she gets her own book.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Definitely get your hands on the audio if you can! I know it made the story so much better for me. And at the end there’s a 1-hour bonus interview between Andi and Sebastian that was really fun. Listeners learn what recording was like, and rituals of audiobook narrators. They talked about lots of fun things.
  • I could EASILY re-listen to this. I’m not much of a re-reader, but this was so much fun that I know I’ll go back to it again someday.

All in all, this was a total win for me and I’m a Lauren Blakely fangirl! I can’t wait to listen to/read another one of her books! Highly recommended, and a brand new favorite!

5 Stars
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Top Ten Books I Want to Read but Forgot Why

Posted June 8, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 24 Comments

This week’s TTT was stolen from Louise @ Foxes & Fairy Tales because I thought it was so funny! I think we book lovers tend to add books to our to-read lists and then forget about them all the time. Have you ever scrolled through your to-read list, seen a cover or title, and gone “Wait. What’s this about again? When did I add this to my list?”? I know I have! So those are the books I’m sharing today: books I once wanted to read (and probably still do), but can’t remember why I added them to my to-read list (aka what are these books even about?!). If you see a book I need to be excited about, let me know!

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Must’ve Done Something Good by Cheryl Cory
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler
Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi
House of Shadows by Darcy Coates
Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet

Can anyone tell me why I wanted to read these?

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Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book Review

Posted June 4, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely | Book ReviewLucky Suit by Lauren Blakely
Series: Sexy Suits #1
Published by Lauren Blakely Books on July 1, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 129
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Add to Goodreads
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5 Stars

Kristen Leonard is done with setups. She’s not interested in your son or your nephew or your butcher or the guy who mows your lawn, thank you very much, grandma! After all, she’s a modern woman—she’ll take her chances on the algorithms of online dating to find her ideal man. Before long, she meets a man who might just be the one—he’s hilarious, quick-witted, and full of heart. And when she meets up with Cameron in real life, he certainly looks exactly like his profile picture…but something’s not quite right.

There’s really no telling what brought them together and all bets are off as to whether or not they can trust their hearts over their heads. After all, can you fall in love with someone you’re not sure you really even know?

Lauren Blakey might be one of my new favorite authors! After reading Lucky Suit and its sequel, Birthday Suit, in less than a week’s time (and giving both of them 5-star ratings) I’m eager and excited to read more from her! Lucky Suit was a free Audible Original about a year ago, so I grabbed it because I’m a huge lover of romance (as you know). This one was short and sweet, just how I like them sometimes!

What I Liked:

  • I loved the narrators. Andi Arndt and Zachary Webber have both rocketed their way into my very favorite narrators ever. They were both so much fun to listen to, and really brought the characters to life. I’m going to keep an eye out for books read by both of them in them in the future. Andi’s got this sassy, sweet voice and can really bring the snark and sarcasm. And Zachary has this swoony, sexy voice that made me totally fall for Cameron. He’s also great at infusing personality into the character.
  • Kristen and Cameron are both such great characters. I love Cameron for how sweet he was with Kristen’s grandma, playing online poker and talking fancy cars with her. I can just picture him winking and humoring her, and I love guys like that. He’s also funny and charming and so sweet!
  • Kristen is super relatable. She’s skeptical of dating and finding the right guy, and I totally agree with her. She’s very smart and completely analytical about a lot of things.
  • Jeannie, the grandma, is a HOOT. I love her so much!
  • The pranks in this story are top notch. No spoilers, so I won’t expound on this!
  • No sexytimes, which I appreciate because they make me blush on audio!!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Honestly, I just wish the story was longer. I wanted more romance, more online chats, more Jeannie antics, more everything! But it’s a favorite of mine just as it is, so I’m not that upset!

Additional Thoughts:

  • Definitely read this one before you read Birthday Suit. Even though it’s tiny, and basically a novella, Cameron shows up in Birthday Suit and I was excited to see him again. You appreciate him more in BS if you’ve read LS, at least in my opinion. Although, I’m pretty sure Lucky Suit takes place DURING Birthday Suit because we never hear about Kristen, just a “mystery woman”. But anyway! Do it for Cameron.
  • Must find more books read by Andi and/or Zachary!
  • Must go browse Lauren Blakely’s other books and find more swoony stories!

All in all, this was so much fun and I highly recommend it! If you can listen to it, do it, because I think it made me love it even more.

5 Stars
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Top Ten Books That Give Off Summer Vibes

Posted June 1, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 20 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! And happy summer! I can’t believe summer starts this month. Have we been quarantining for 7 years yet? I’ve chosen to share 5 books I loved that give off summery vibes and 5 from my TBR that look like the pages will drip sunshine. Some have summery covers or titles, and some just have very summery content. I’m looking forward to browsing some of your books this week. Goodness knows I need a little vacation to a tropical paradise right about now!

Summery Books I Loved

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – Hawaiian unhoneymoon!
On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves – An island!
Well Met by Jen DeLuca – Summer Renn Fair
Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton – Italy!
Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins – Look at that boating cover!

Summery Books On My To-Read List

Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras
Around the World With My Ex by Maxine Morrey
Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes
Finding You by Jo Watson
Well Played by Jen DeLuca

 

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New-to-Me Author Summer Bingo Event Announcement

Posted June 1, 2020 by Jana in Blog Event / 16 Comments

I’m so excited to announce that Jessica (Reading with Jessica) and I are hosting a fun summer reading event called New-to-Me-Author Summer Bingo! We’ve both been wanting to collaborate on something on our blogs, and since we’ve both been meaning to start branching out and exploring the works of authors we’ve never read before this event was born. We hope you’ll join us!

The Basics:

  • This event lasts from June 1st-August 31st, which is perfect because it won’t overrun any other reading challenges you’re participating in or books you’re excited to read that don’t fit this challenge’s parameters.
  • You can only count books towards the bingo card if you have not read that author before.
  • A bingo can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. You can also go for multiple bingos or blackout if you’re feeling ambitious.
  • Use the hashtag #nasbingo to share updates on your progress and tell us what you’re hoping to read.

I cannot wait to participate with you all summer!!! Jessica and I will be hosting reading sprints on our Twitter pages (@ArtsyReaderGirl and @ReadingwJessica), so be sure to follow us there to join in!

Here is the bingo card with all the prompts, as well as a blank one if you’d like to fill in the books on your TBR or update it once you’ve read. Feel free to share this challenge with others!

 

 

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Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid | Book Review

Posted May 28, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid | Book ReviewNeanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
Series: Knitting in the City #1
Published by Cipher-Naught on July 1, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 404
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
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4 Stars

There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris:
1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved,
2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and
3) She doesn't know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can't help wondering what new torment fate has in store.

To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan—aka Sir McHotpants—witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can't afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn to make her an offer she can't refuse.

I’ve had my eye on Penny Reid’s books for quite some time now, but I kept not reading them! There was never a big reason why, there were just always other books to read instead. Then I was talking with my romance book club about fun books and Penny popped up in the conversation and I knew it was time to make time for her! Neanderthal Seeks Human was a JOY to read!

What I Liked:

  • This. Was. Adorkable.
  • Janie is such a sweet and wonderful heroine, and might be one of the most unique characters I’ve ever read about. She has not street smarts whatsoever, but she makes up for it in book smarts. She knows every useless fact you didn’t know you wanted to know. Socially, she’s a little off and awkward… but get her talking about a topic she’s interested in and you can’t get her to be quiet. She comes up with some of the goofiest, most random questions and discussion topics. She spouts off the funniest thoughts. She’s also incredibly insecure, aloof, and has some of the worst luck ever. Oh, and she thinks cell phones are evil and will not use one. She just warmed my heart. I loved her because I could relate to and empathize with her.
  • Quinn is the large and in charge, burly, no-nonsense, gruff, cynical hero and I was here for him. He’s a man of very few words, with a lot of secrets, sarcasm, and snark. He’s a complete and total alpha and has no idea how to date someone because he’s always been the one-night-stand kind of guy. Everyone fantasizes about being wrapped up in some big teddy bear, and that’s what I think of when I think of Quinn. All he needed was to find a girl that he felt strongly enough about to motivate him to work through his crap and become the man he wants to be. He’s so sweet and loves all of Janie’s quirks. It takes a special someone to fall for an oddball, and he is just the right guy for her.
  • Together, Janie and Quinn have some of the best witty banter I’ve read. Their disagreements and debates are hilarious. Their deep and not-so-deep-but-full-of-useless-facts discussions plastered a smile on my face often. They’re just such a fun pair, and they’ve got amazing chemistry.
  • The knitting group… so funny. There’s a little drama and some trouble comes looking for Janie and Quinn, and the knitting group intervenes in a way you will never expect. I can’t wait to read the stories of the other women in this group. Janie has some wonderful friends, and I am so jealous!
  • Penny’s writing is awesome. And she’s incredibly smart to be able to write such a smart heroine! I didn’t know smart romances were my thing, but apparently they are!

What I Disliked:

  • Ho boy, this book was HUGE and it dragged in a few places. I kept being amazed at the small dents I was making in this book as I read.
  • That being said, the book started off pretty slow but once things really got moving I enjoyed the ride.
  • Sometimes Janie’s thoughts and questions and ramblings went on a little too long. But I love her anyway.
  • At times I had a hard time believing what was happening because it just seemed too outlandish or over-the-top.

All in all, this was so cute and the kind of light-hearted fun I needed during this crazy time of quarantine. Janie and Quinn are a couple to root for, and I’m so excited to read about the rest of the women in Janie’s knitting group! I also can’t wait to dive into the sequel to this one, Neanderthal Marries Human, and read more about Janie and Quinn!

4 Stars
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Christmas In July Gift Exchange Announcement and Sign-Ups

Posted May 26, 2020 by Jana in Blog Event / 3 Comments

Hi everyone! We know that during this time we could all use a little extra kindness, magic, and fun! Since Santa is off at the beach sipping fruit punch and getting a tan, he has enlisted our help in spreading a little Christmas magic! So, we are very excited to announce the Christmas in July gift exchange!

Below you will find all event info, including the rules for the exchange, sign up directions, and a questionnaire so the person shopping for you can get to know you better. PLEASE read through this entire post thoroughly before deciding if this event is right for you. 

The Details:

  • Sign ups are open until 11:59 PM EDT on June 17th and I will be sending matches out on June 18th. I’m hoping to give you as much time as possible to gather your goodies for your recipient!
  • This event is open to residents of the USA ONLY. With each country having different rules and plans in place to keep people safe we think this is the best decision. There are so many unknowns, and coordinating internationally would be quite challenging. We’re so sorry to disappoint.
  • This is a commitment. Please only sign-up if you are committed to sending off your gift(s) on time.
  • What you sign up to send is what you will receive. I will be grouping people up based on box type and monetary tier so that everything is fair.
  • Shipping does not count towards the monetary value of the gift.
  • Please note that this is not a swap. The person who will be sending to you is not the same person you will be sending to.
  • The event hashtag is #GiftmasInJuly. Please use it lots because the friendships that form around events like there are the best!

If you have any questions or concerns before or during this process, please reach out! You can simply write to ChristmasInJulyExchange@gmail.com or DM one of us on Twitter (@ArtsyReaderGirl and @BrookeWorm33).

The Box Types and Monetary Tiers:

Digital ONLY Box: This box includes ONLY digital gifts. Audiobooks, ebooks, digital albums/movies, e-gift cards, etc. Since this option does not include any physical mail (and, therefore, no enclosed note or card), please email your recipient a note to go along with the gifts you’re sending them. Please do this after you’ve sent them all you’re planning to send, so they know they’ve received everything.

  • Digital Tier 1: $10-$15
  • Digital Tier 2: $15-$20
  • Digital Tier 3: $20+

Mixed Box: This box includes the option to send both digital (ebooks, audiobooks, egift cards, etc.) and physical items shipped DIRECTLY from retailers (amazon, book depository, Barnes & Noble, book outlet, Society6, etsy, target.com, etc.). Digital items are not required if they do not apply to your recipient. Since this option does not include any mail sent directly by you (for example, no notes or cards), please email your recipient a note to go along with the gifts you’re sending them. This allows them to respond/thank you. 

  • Mixed Tier 1: $10-$15 (excluding any shipping costs)
  • Mixed Tier 2: $15-$20 (excluding any shipping costs)
  • Mixed Tier 3: $20+ (excluding any shipping costs)

Curated box: This box is basically a traditional gift swap box (like OTSPSecretSister and TBTBSANTA). You will put together a physical box of goodies (along with a note to reveal yourself), preferably wrapped, and send it directly to your recipient. 

  • Curated Tier 1: $10-$15 (excluding any shipping costs)
  • Curated Tier 2: $15-$20 (excluding any shipping costs)
  • Curated Tier 3: $20+ (excluding any shipping costs)

Signing Up:

Please send the following completed questionnaire to ChristmasInJulyExchange@gmail.com. The more detailed you are, the easier it will be for your sender to spoil you! (Please do not attach a Word (or other) document to the email. Instead, please paste your answers directly into the body of your sign-up email.) 

1. Box Type and Tier:

a. Digital Tier 1: $10-$15
b. Digital Tier 2: $15-$20
c. Digital Tier 3: $20+
d. Mixed Tier 1: $10-$15 (excluding any shipping costs)
e. Mixed Tier 2: $15-$20 (excluding any shipping costs)
f. Mixed Tier 3: $20+ (excluding any shipping costs)
g. Curated Tier 1: $10-$15 (excluding any shipping costs)
h. Curated Tier 2: $15-$20 (excluding any shipping costs)
i. Curated Tier 3: $20+ (excluding any shipping costs)

2. Do you live in the USA? This event is only open to residents of the USA (even the digital-only box type).

3. Name, mailing address, and email address (if you’re signing up for the digital tier, do not include your mailing address. The email address you include must be the one you will be receiving digital gifts to, if applicable. It will also be the one you’ll receive a note from your sender, if applicable.):

4. Age:
Under 18
18+

5. Where can we find you online? (Blog URL, Insta/Twitter handles, etc. You must be active on social media to participate.):

6. Your wish list(s) (Please provide links to any wish lists you have. If you don’t have an online wishlist, please make one. It’s much easier than listing out what you’d like here. These wish lists must remain exclusive to the Christmas In July Gift Exchange until you’ve received your gifts.)

7. Tell us about your digital preferences. (Do you have an e-reader? Which one? Would you enjoy getting an Audible credit? Do you want any online subscriptions or gift memberships? Where do you prefer getting MP3 albums from? If you’re not a digital person, explain that here.)

8. How do you practice self care? Tell us about the things you do that make you happy.

9. What do you collect?

10. What are some of your favorite genres/authors?

11. What won’t you read?

12. What fandoms do you belong to?

13. What are you always in need of?

14. What are your favorite things?

15. Do you have any allergies? What can’t you receive?

16. Tell us anything else we need to know about you that was not covered by the questions above.

17. Please provide the contact information (twitter handle and/or email) of 1-2 buddies that your sender can contact with questions about you or information they need relayed to you. (This person does not need to know you well, they just need to be willing to be the go-between between you and the person sending to you. If you have nobody to ask, post to the event hashtag and ask for a volunteer.)

Things to Do:

  • Please send your digital, mixed, or curated box by Monday, July 27th at the absolute latest.
  • Once you’ve sent all of your gifts, please email us (ChristmasInJulyExchange@gmail.com) any pertinent information. This can include tracking numbers, screenshots of online orders, etc. We just want proof of purchase/sending to ensure that if things get lost we know you fulfilled your commitment. Please send just one email with ALL gift information.
  • Once you receive ALL your Christmas in July gifts, please email us to let us know! A simple, “I got my gifts and my sender wrote to me!” email is enough.
  • Be sure to thank your sender in some way, whether through social media or email.
  • Please utilize the event hashtag #GiftmasInJuly to ask questions, post hints, share in your shopping/gifting/receiving/sending process! Show us what you got! This makes the event so much fun!

 

Gift Giving Guidelines:

Please keep in mind that ARCs, swag, and shipping DO NOT count towards the monetary value of the gift

Due to everything going on in the world right now, please do not send homemade food items. Pre-packaged, store-bought foods are fine (and encouraged!). 

Be thoughtful! You don’t have to stick to a person’s wish list at all, but please pay attention to their questionnaire answers and send your recipient things you think they’d like.

Have so much fun shopping and spreading some holiday magic during this crazy time in the world!
Any questions? Ask in a comment below so you can help others. :)

The palm trees in the event logo were created by photographeeasia at Freepik.com. The rest of the design was created by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday Link-up 5/25/20

Posted May 25, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 8 Comments

Welcome to TTT! I flaked this week… So sorry! Quarantine brain, I suppose. Anyway, the topic for the week is “Opening Lines” and you can interpret this any way you want. Best, favorite, funny, unique, shocking, gripping, lines that grabbed you immediately, etc. Sometimes I can throw together a post in 15-20 minutes when TTT slipped my mind, but this one takes a lot more thought than some. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to think! I’ve been VERY busy planning two fun things for this summer, though, so get excited about those and watch this blog over the next week!

Which books have particularly noteworthy opening lines?
And have you been plagued by quarantine brain any over the last two months?

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The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | Book Review

Posted May 21, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | Book ReviewThe Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on August 6, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 337
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

I really love books set in creepy buildings… and I love them even more if isolation is thrown into the mix, so The Turn of the Key had my name written all over it. And Riley Sager, author of my favorite creepy building book: Lock Every Door, recommended it to me when I reached out on twitter so I was EXCITED. And I was so engrossed. I quickly became very addicted to the story and could not stop myself from reading long into the wee hours of the night.

What I Liked:

  • I listened to the audio, and Imogen Church is an amazing narrator.
  • Ruth Ware is SO GOOD at the atmospheric, suspenseful feelings. This book is eerie and dark and tense in a very subtle way that works itself into your very being. I’d read about a creepy sound and then feel sure I’d just heard that sound in my own house. I was afraid to run across the hall to go to the bathroom at 2 AM. I wouldn’t say the book is scary, it’s just got this underlying sense of foreboding like anything could happen at any moment.
  • The Turn of the Key is written as a letter from Rowan to a solicitor she hopes will represent her in her murder trial. I enjoyed reading a book in this format, and felt it brought some added intrigue to the situation. Rowan is currently in prison for murdering one of the girls in her care, but she swears she’s innocent. I loved unraveling her story and trying to figure out what really happened. 
  • The setting was exactly what I hoped it would be. I was so creeped out and uncomfortable reading about this isolated smart home with cameras and voice controlled everything (and I mean everything). Lights turning on on their own, doors locking themselves on their own, secret locked doors with who knows what behind them, a do-I-trust-him-or-not groundskeeper who seems to be very nice but might actually be a serial killer. I was so unsure of everything.
  • During the day Rowan and the girls explore the grounds a little bit, and discover a bit of the house’s history. CREEPY. I’d love a prequel book to get the story of the original inhabitants of the house in more detail. 
  • All the previous nannies could not handle living in Heatherbrae House, and I really loved trying to figure out the mystery of why. This book was really one mystery within another, and I liked all the layers that gave me to work through. I was never bored.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I feel like we never get a heroine who is strong and level-headed in a Ruth Ware book. Unreliable narrators are a Ware hallmark, it would seem, and sometimes I don’t love it. Rowan put herself into some pretty sucky situations and then didn’t trust herself enough to be able to handle them. She never stuck up for herself. She never put the bratty, misbehaving girls in their places. I got a bit annoyed at how spineless she was, and how quick she was to believe that’s she’s going insane instead of the victim of someone other than herself.
  • The ending is VERY unsatisfying. So much is left up in the air and, after everything I had gone through as a reader, I wanted more answers. Be prepared to Google for other readers’ theories or find someone to chat with when you’re done (I’m happy to DM on twitter if you need someone to listen to your theories or discuss things!).

Additional Thoughts:

  • I really want to read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James now and see what the original story is like!
  • Imogen Church has to mimic a creaking floor in her narration, and oh man. It gave me goosebumps.
  • I never, in a million years, would have guessed the ending. Ruth Ware always tricks me and I never get it right, so that’s obviously one of the main reasons I keep coming back for more! She’s a very entertaining storyteller and a great writer.

All in all, The Turn of the Key was creepy and atmospheric and so engrossing. The ending drove me insane and I still think about it all the time, but I guess that serves Ruth Ware well! She’s always marinating in the back of my head. I keep telling myself I need to stop reading her books because I always come away slightly frustrated, but perhaps that’s her goal. And… I know I’m going to read more of her books. lol. So great. More torture on the horizon for me!

4 Stars
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Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Audiobooks

Posted May 18, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 31 Comments

Before I begin, I’d like to ask you to please excuse any typos you might find in this post. I have a cat laying across my hands as I type, and he is demanding attention. He keeps putting his paw on my laptop’s touch pad and pressing keys. It’s adorable and frustrating! Anyway… today’s TTT gives you lots of flexibility to write about basically anything you’d like: “Reasons Why I Love [insert your favorite book title, genre, author, etc. here]”. I’ve fallen in love with audiobooks lately, so that’s what I’ve decided to post about!

Photo by Findaway Voices on Unsplash

1. I can read any time ever! I can read while I’m in the shower, while I’m doing my hair and makeup, while I’m driving somewhere, while I’m working out, etc. I can even read when I’ve got a horrible headache and must lay in the dark with my eyes closed. Oh, and my cat here would like me to add that handless reading is his favorite because then he gets double the pets.

2. So, by extension, audiobooks allow me to read MORE books overall!

3. The narrators! It took me a while, but I have found some narrators I LOVE. Good narration can make a book even more exciting, suspenseful, romantic, funny, etc. They bring the characters and the stories to life. And if a favorite narrator is reading a book by a favorite author, you’re doubly winning!

4. Full cast narrators. Sometimes there’s a duet or trio of narrators that rotate reading chapters, but I just finished Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely last night, which had 5-6 narrators and it was SO MUCH FUN! Every character had their own narrator, and these narrators read the lines for their individual character every time the character spoke. It felt like an episode of Friends. They laughed when their character did, they sounded sarcastic when they were supposed to… I just loved it so much.

5. Music and sound effects can be added! I’ve listened to a few books that included music and sound effects before, which is very fun. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater even included music composed by Maggie herself!

6. This is how I read classics, because a good narrator can make a heavier or less action-packed novel completely bingeworthy. I’ve been working my way through the Sherlock Holmes books, and I just found Jane Eyre read by Thandie Newton on Audible’s free stories for kids (a limited time offer due to COVID-19) that I really want to listen to. The sample sounds amazing!

7. This is also how I re-read my favorite books. I have so many books to read and so many that I want to be reading, that sometimes I feel guilty re-reading my favorites or refreshing my memory on previous books in a series before starting the next one. Audiobooks are bonus books for me because I’m always reading one or two physical books in addition. I also think it’s fun to rediscover my favorites or see them in a new light by listening to them the second time around. It makes an old-to-me story feel new again.

8. I find audiobooks to be very soothing and comforting. Who doesn’t love being read to? I think it’s so relaxing.

9. Scary books are made less scary when there’s a voice in your room instead of quiet stillness. If I’ve got someone reading to me and there’s a particularly creepy moment in the story, I’m listening to the narrator instead of the creeks in my settling house or the wind brushing a branch across my window.

10. I think listening to audiobooks and being able to grasp what you’re hearing is a great skill to have. I was a crummy audiobook listener when I first started listening to them, and it took a lot of practice and determination for me to learn how focus on the story (especially while doing other things). I had to zero in on the book instead of letting my mind wander, and I honestly think I’m a better listener than I used to be.

Do you love audiobooks, too? Why or why not?
What topic did you choose for this week’s TTT?

 

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