Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sleeping Dogs Lie by Samantha Downing

Title: Sleeping Dogs Lie
Author: Samantha Downing
Narrators: Melanie Nicholls-King, Lindsey Dorcus
Publisher: Audible Original
Release Date: April 1, 2021

From the internationally best-selling author of My Lovely Wife and He Started It comes a twisted, entertaining novella about a dog walker swept into a criminal investigation when her client winds up dead.

Shelby works as a dog walker in Northern California, and she’s just finished up her biweekly trip to the park with a husky named Pluto. When she brings him back to his house, she finds his owner—Todd Burke, a well-known local businessman and founder of an organic supplements company—dead on the bathroom floor. As a detective interviews Shelby, a medical examiner inspects the body, and more cops search Todd’s home, it becomes clear that the victim’s life was less picture-perfect than his clean-cut persona might lead you to believe.

Great short audible original!

Shelby is a dog walker. On this day, she is walking Pluto with other dogs as usual but what is different is that after their walk and while returning Pluto home, she makes a gruesome discovery.

Detective Grady is in charge of investigating the crime. She is the one who will follow the crumbs to find the murderer.

Sleeping Dogs Lie has two quite interesting female main characters. The dog walker, Shelby and Detective Grady.

The dual POVs gave me the chance to understand both characters. 

The best thing was the reveal. I can’t say much because it will be a spoiler. I almost wish I could.

The narrators did a good job at keeping it entertaining. It was the perfect novella for my commute.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Lost Manuscript by by Cathy Bonidan

Title: The Lost Manuscript
Author: Cathy Bonidan
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: January 12,  2021

The Lost Manuscript is a charming epistolary novel about the love of books and magical ability they have to bring people together.

When Anne-Lise Briard books a room at the Beau Rivage Hotel for her vacation on the Brittany coast, she has no idea this trip will start her on the path to unearthing a mystery. In search of something to read, she opens up her bedside table drawer in her hotel room, and inside she finds an abandoned manuscript. Halfway through the pages, an address is written. She sends pages to the address, in hopes of potentially hearing a response from the unknown author. But not before she reads the story and falls in love with it. The response, which she receives a few days later, astonishes her...

Not only does the author write back, but he confesses that he lost the manuscript 30 years prior on a flight to Montreal. And then he reveals something even more shocking--that he was not the author of the second half of the book.

Anne-Lise can't rest until she discovers who this second mystery author is, and in doing so tracks down every person who has held this manuscript in their hands. Through the letters exchanged by the people whose lives the manuscript has touched, she discovers long-lost love stories and intimate secrets. Romances blossom and new friends are made. Everyone's lives are made better by this book--and isn't that the point of reading? And finally, with a plot twist you don't see coming, she uncovers the astonishing identity of the author who finished the story. 

Usually, I don't enjoy books in epistolary narrative but maybe because I did it as an audio, I was able to truly enjoy it.

A manuscript has been found in room #108 and the person staying there, Anne-Lise Briard has tracked down the author. The author confesses writing it when he was twenty and losing it thirty years ago while in Montreal. Additionally, he also lets her know that he didn't write the second part of the story.

Anne-Lise and her friend Maggie decide to track the manuscript's movement from the present to the past with the idea of finding the person responsible for writing the other half. 

Every new discovery brings another interesting person to the mix whose life was affected in one way or other by the manuscript. 

Soon finding Waldo is a must! 

So many good stories in this book! I love how persistent Anne-Lise was about finding the people who at some point had the book. David's story made me sad while Maggie's journey made my romantic heart happy.

From France to Great Britain to Montreal to the USA, the author takes us on a trip down memory lane for many.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews

Title: Who Is Maud Dixon?
Author: Alexandra Andrews
Publisher: Little, Brown And Company
Release Date: March 2, 2021

Florence Darrow is a small-town striver who believes that she's destined to become a celebrated writer. 

When she stumbles into the opportunity to become the assistant to "Maud Dixon," a celebrated-but anonymous-novelist (think: Elena Ferrante), she believes that the universe is finally providing her big chance. The arrangement feels idyllic; Helen can be prickly, but she is full of pointed wisdom on both writing and living. She even invites Florence along on a research trip to Morocco, where her new novel is set. Florence has never been out of the country before; maybe, she imagines, she'll finally have something exciting to write about herself.

But when Florence wakes up in the hospital after a terrible car crash, and Helen is dead, she begins to imagine what it might be like to 'upgrade' into not only Helen's life, but also that of Helen's bestselling pseudonym, Maud Dixon...

When I started reading Who is Maud Dixon? I was worried I wasn't going to like it. The protagonist, Florence Darrow brought no sympathy from me. She felt cold and dry. Thankfully, I continued reading and I started appreciating Florence's character.

Florance Darrow is a young woman who is working at Forrester Books, a publishing house when the story begins. Florence seems to be an outcast but she doesn't really care. She's an editorial assistant but her plan is to write a novel and hopefully be as successful as Maud Dixon.

Maud Dixon is the pseudonym of the novelist who wrote Mississippi Foxtrot, the highly acclaimed novel of the year. Everyone who is anyone has read it and can't stop talking about it. 

After losing her position, Florence receives a call from Maud Dixon's agent. Florence can't believe her luck. She is to become the assistant to the famous author. Her job will entail handling all of Helen's mail, transcribe her new book, and pay her bills. Without a second thought and after signing an NDA, she leaves NYC and moves to Helen's home in the small town of Cairo. The isolation and peace make Florence feel the beginning of true happiness. 

Soon after, Helen decides that she must go to Morocco to look for inspiration and Florence must come with her. The next thing she knows, she is in Marrakech and what happens next is nothing short of crazy.

Maud Dixon is highly engaging with its disturbing plot. Florence was unlikable for most of the book but it was hard to pull me away from her machinations. 

I love the twists and bends the story carried especially on the Morocco side of things. I found it was the perfect ambiance with its descriptive surroundings and darker tone.

One thing I found profoundly unlikable was the author's constant attack on Florida. I didn't care for it one bit.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Title: Shiver
Author: Allie Reynolds
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: January 19, 2021

In this propulsive locked-room thriller debut, a reunion weekend in the French Alps turns deadly when five friends discover that someone has deliberately stranded them at their remote mountaintop resort during a snowstorm.

When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, a cozy ski resort in the French Alps, she’s expecting an intimate weekend of catching up with four old friends. It might have been a decade since she saw them last, but she’s never forgotten the bond they forged on this very mountain during a winter spent fiercely training for an elite snowboarding competition.

Yet no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. The resort is deserted. The cable cars that delivered them to the mountaintop have stopped working. Their cell phones—missing. And inside the hotel, detailed instructions await them: an icebreaker game, designed to draw out their secrets. A game meant to remind them of Saskia, the enigmatic sixth member of their group, who vanished the morning of the competition years before and has long been presumed dead.

Stranded in the resort, Milla’s not sure what’s worse: the increasingly sinister things happening around her or the looming snowstorm that’s making escape even more impossible. All she knows is that there’s no one on the mountain she can trust. Because someone has gathered them there to find out the truth about Saskia…someone who will stop at nothing to get answers. And if Milla’s not careful, she could be the next to disappear.

As someone who has tried snowboarding before, Shiver was just up my alley. 

Mila receives an invite to the ski resort in the French Alps. She has not been back in a decade and she has not seen her other four friends, Curtis, Dale, Heather, and Brent since then. A terrible thing happened the last time she was there and putting some distance was the only way to deal with her memories.

Saskia disappeared ten years ago. Saskia was Curtis's sister. She was also not so nice. She played games and loved to see her attacks deliver the punch she intended. Saskia was an excellent snowboarder and Mila was worried about competing against her. Mila knew she needed to train harder, be faster, and have some tricks under her sleeve to win a spot.

Then Saskia disappears the day of the competition.

At present and soon after arriving at the resort, they discovered they are stranded. Their phones have been taken. No one else is at the resort except for them. No help is coming!

There are so many questions:

Who is doing this to them and why? 
Is it Saskia? 
Is it revenge? 
And the biggest one,  Is one of them a killer?

Great debut for this author! I truly enjoyed listening to the audio. The two timelines and the plot were well done. I could feel the snow, the impending storm, the fear, and the suspense. Yes, I did guess most of the twists but I was still unsure of a few.

I also liked that Shiver gave me some insight into what snowboarder competitors go through. The training, the injuries, the falls are all so intense and cutthroat. 

Personally, I believe snowboarding to be hard. Going down the mountain can be exhausting. Falling is hard and painful. My rotator cuff and my knee can attest to it.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan
The Roommate #2


Title: The Intimacy Experiment
Series: The Roommate #2
Author: Rosie Danan
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: April 6, 2021

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won't hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city's hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they'll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems--until they discover a new one--their growing attraction to each other. They've built the syllabus for love's latest experiment, but neither of them expected they'd be the ones putting it to the test.

I was unprepared for this! My fault since I didn't read the blurb. 

The couple is an unlikely pair: A rabbi and an ex-porn actress.

Ethan Cohen is the rabbi of a new congregation. Unfortunately, his census is very low and in order to keep the synagogue open, he needs to find a way to attract young people to it. He decides to hire a professional to do a seminar in intimacy. 

Naomi Grant is a successful businesswoman. Her company is doing extremely well. Yet, she feels like she could do more. She knows about sex and she wants to be able to help couples. When Ethan offers her a chance to do live lectures, she wants to say no at first but her interest is piqued, and not only for the seminar but because of the rabbi too.

This was such an original romance. I didn't read the Roommate so I had no clue about Naomi. I ended up loving her and of course, who wouldn't love Ethan. They complemented each other so well. 

I love when a novel keeps on making me smile and this one did the trick. The steam was just enough too.

I will find time and read the first book in this series. I think Josh and Clara sound awesome too.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Berkley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez
The Friend Zone #3


Title: Life's Too Short
Series: The Friend Zone #3
Author: Abby Jimenez 
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: April 6, 2021

A brilliant and touching romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of The Friend Zone and The Happy Ever After Playlist.

Vanessa lives life on her own terms — one day at a time, every day to its fullest. She isn’t willing to waste a moment or miss out on an experience when she has no idea whether she shares the same fatal genetic condition as her mother. Besides, she has way too much to do, traveling the globe and showing her millions of YouTube followers the joy in seizing every moment.

But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter, she is housebound, on mommy duty for the foreseeable future, and feeling totally out of her element.

The last person she expects to show up offering help is the unbelievably hot lawyer who lives next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. But as they get closer, Vanessa realizes that her carefree ways and his need for a structured plan could never be compatible for the long term. Then again, she should know better than anyone that life’s too short to fear taking the biggest risk of all. . .

Well, Abby Jimenez, has done it again. I have fallen in love with this couple in the most charming way.

Life's Too Short is full of humor, sweet moments, and awareness. We only have one life to live and you have to make a decision on how you want to live it.

For Vanessa Price, the answer is simple. She wants to live in the now and in the fullest way possible. She wants to travel and do things that make her happy. She has lost loved ones and with her sister's death, she knew she had to make a change. 

Vanessa quits her job, cashes in her savings, began a Youtube channel, and went on living. Now, she has loyal followers in the millions who support her (for the most part). Then, her traveling ceases completely when her half-sister falls into drugs again and Vanessa must take care of her niece until she is clean again.

Adrian Copeland is a lawyer. He owns the building where Vanessa lives and he's her neighbor. When a child's constant crying interferes with his night, he will knock on Vanessa's door for the first time. Vanessa looks overwhelmed with a crying child in her arms, and Adrian will offer to help her while she cleans up. After this exchange, a friendship will blossom until they realize they want more from each other.  

Can they take the next step? 

I love how Abby Jimenez introduced these two characters. Everything that they did together that included the baby and the dog was wonderful. I laughed so much reading it but I also shed a few tears. 

Life is Too Short is wonderful in all the ways that matter and Abby Jimenez has become one of my must-read authors.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Forever via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune


Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: T.J. Klune
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: March 17, 2020

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

What a wonderful story this one is!!

The House in the Cerulean Sea is remarkable in all its greatness. From start to finish, there was nothing more that I wanted to do but to keep on listening. 

The characters all became dear to me in every way possible. They were all so charming in their own special way and I love how Linus was able to give them something while getting something back in return.

Linus Baker is a man that likes order. He abides by the Rules and Regulations and has the book to prove it. Linus has been in the same job for almost two decades but has never wanted a supervisor job. As part of the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, his job is to investigate the orphanages housing magical children and to make a recommendation as to keep them open or closed for good. 

When Linus gets a memo from Extreme Upper Management and he's asked to travel to investigate Marysas Island Orphanage, his shock is real. He has never heard of the place. It's even worse when his assignment takes him (and his cat Calliope) to the island and he meets the children living there and the man supervising them, Arthur Parnassus.

Linus has four weeks to learn more about the children and Arthur. As the days pass, to say the children were not what he was expecting would be a lie. Yes, they can be perceived as dangerous but exactly to who?

The House in the Cerulean Sea is a moving story with magnificent characters, wonderful humor, and love in all its manifestations. Quite priceless.

Simply put, it was cerulean magic.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

The One by John Marrs

Title: The One by John Marrs 
Author: The One by John Marrs 
Publisher: Random House Audio

How far would you go to find The One?

A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner the one you are genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…

A word-of-mouth hit in the United Kingdom, The One is a fascinating novel that shows how even the simplest discoveries can have complicated consequences.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The One is a futuristic novel with enough interesting characters to keep you turning the pages, or in my case listening to every chapter. 

A discovery has been made. A gene has been found that can tell you who is your soulmate. When you meet the One, you know they are it for you. With Match Your DNA, now anyone can find that special someone who will make your life the happiest. 

Yet, not everyone is happy. Match Your DNA has broken marriages and relationships left and right. Then, of course, there are so many questions.

What if your match has decided not to run the test? 

What if the person you matched is not morally bound like you are? 

What if the test ruins your life?

The One will follow five characters' "love stories" after finding their match. 

How could anything go wrong?

John Mars does a wonderful job at making us think about the implications of something like this happening in our time. There is a scene in the book where two characters are debating the pros and cons of Match Your DNA. I thought it brought solid points to the table for both sides.

If you asked me to pick a favorite "match" couple, I will have to go with Nick's match undoubtedly. 

I read the next two books in this world and I'm glad I went back to listen to this one. I was happy to follow the characters through each of their personal ordeals and knowing what the future held was a plus.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs