Audiobook Review – Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating


Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is a dual-POV romcom-ish tale of a chaotic girl with a guarded heart and an ordered guy reeling from a crash and burn relationship. To encourage each other to get back out there, they start going on double-blind-dates with mostly disastrous results.

The plot is cute, the leads are lovable, their relationship grows naturally, and I would totally watch the movie. (Although, I did think the epilogue goes a little overboard on the happily ever after, and they do seem to take quite a lot of time to recognize their feelings.)

All that said, it was a light, quick read with a few steamy scenes, but I didn’t see a whole lot that really set this one apart. If you liked the Unhoneymooners, you’ll almost certainly find this enjoyable… just maybe not terribly memorable.

 

⭐⭐⭐⭐

A good book to curl up with on a cold winter day.

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires


Okay… here we go. This review is chock full of spoilers, because there’s really no other way to talk (read: rant good-humoredly) about this book, but I’ve marked spoiler territory below.

The first thing I will say is that if the main characters were REALLY like those from Steel Magnolias or The Fried Green Tomatoes… this book would’ve ended a lot sooner. Also, I have not experienced this level of frustration in a book in a long time, but I did give myself a week or two to cool off. With that said, let’s rant!

So I picked up this audiobook from the library after my coworker recommended it. The Steel Magnolias meets Dracula piqued my interest, so I was definitely curious to dive in.

And it starts off so well. This book takes place in the late 80s/early 90s in South Carolina. Patricia is a housewife that meets with her other colorful housewife friends every week for their true crime book club. But…

*SPOILER AHEAD*
.
.
.

…After Patricia’s earlobe is bitten off by her elderly neighbor, her MIL is eaten by rats, the earlobe eater’s nephew’s van is linked to missing kids, and then she SEES this vampire feeding on a girl (with weird sexual undertones, not to mention the “insectoid appendage” in his mouth) – Patricia is naturally, a bit concerned.

So she tries to rally her book club to get rid of the child-molesting vampire, but the husbands step in, trying to convince them their minds have been rattled by all their true crime books. The wives are like, well I guess we have to obey our chauvinistic, manipulative (and in one case, wife-beating) husbands because they’ve gone into business with the child-molester.

AND THEN WE FAST-FORWARD TO THREE YEARS LATER.

Like… what?!??!

Okay. I can understand that maybe happening in the 1950s, but in 1990?! Come on. And maybe like one or two awful husbands & submissive housewives I can see, but all of them!? After Patricia’s earlobe was bitten off, the MIL was eaten by rats, and Patricia SAW the INSECT APPENDAGE?! She’s still going to let him into her house with her CHILDREN?!?!?!

Um no. The Steel Magnolia ladies would’ve pulled their guns out from under their mattresses and killed that guy right there.

But anyways, I digress. I figured I would stick in there, because surely the husbands get their just deserts in the end…

Double spoiler alert.
They don’t.
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.
.
*END SPOILERS*

Which is all to say, the book was ridiculous horror fun up until the midpoint. Then it took a dive into some 1950 twilight zone of WTF that was SO incredibly frustrating, and it did not redeem itself. Honestly, I’m getting angry again just writing this review.

I need to tack on trigger warnings for gore and rape, but I’d still give it 2.5 stars for the premise, the flowing, descriptive style of prose, and a well-narrated audiobook. That said, I can’t say I would recommend to anyone, unless you want to go rant to your coworker… and your extended family over thanksgiving… and then the internet.

⭐⭐½

Let’s review the notes… shall we. 😂

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Where the Crawdads Sing


I have a coworker that shares my love of library audiobooks that recommended this one to me. And although this isn’t my usual pick, I decided to give it a go.

Where the Crawdads Sing follows Kya Clark, “the Marsh Girl,” as she grows up mostly on her own in the backwoods marshes of North Carolina. The story follows her from age 6 to her 20s while alternating with the investigation into the death of popular townie during Kya’s adulthood.

Strangely, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this book. It was beautifully written, but slow, and I didn’t really fall in love with Kya in any way (although this might partially be because I found the narrator’s voice/accent for her to be a bit grating.) While I was rooting for her, I found it difficult to connect with her, and although I found the mystery of the death investigation interesting, I found the ending (though heavily foreshadowed) to be rather unsatisfying, and I guess I thought the themes to be kind of predictable.

If there’s ever a movie adaptation, I’ll pass, but I’d recommend this book to those that are interesting in imagery-rich prose that takes its time.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Nearly guaranteed to make you want to go get lost in nature somewhere.

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Fable


Fable was another solid read that I didn’t love. Fable is the story of a girl abandoned by her ship-captain father on a rough island where she desperately tries to scrape together enough coin to escape and confront her father.

I really loved the concept of this book along with the found-family themes on the rough and tumble high-seas and the subtle magic in an intriguing, unforgiving world. But I found myself really wishing for more connection between Fable and the other characters, particularly the love interest. Told from the first person, Fable seems to stay in her own head a lot, and although everyone in this world is supposed to be reserved and guarded, I really found myself wanting more inter-character interaction and connection.

I think part of the problem might be that this book does not stand alone in any way. I’d say it ends on a cliffhanger, but honestly it doesn’t really feel like an end. It feels like we got cut off in the middle of the book – so maybe the second book would bring that depth and satisfaction I was missing. The audiobook narrator wasn’t my favorite voice, but overall I enjoyed the listen, and would recommend to fans of seafaring YA.

If I see the sequel ever pop up in the library, I’d probably pick it up, but I don’t think I’ll be pining for it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I think Tula has begun to dread the possibility of a reading slump! Ever hopeful, we continue to search the horizon for new, amazing reads.

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Institute


I picked up this audiobook from the library after a coworker recommended it, citing big “Stranger Things” vibes. I have to admit, I was a bit reluctant, because I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King’s recent books (they’re a bit long and slower-paced for my personal taste), and when I saw this sucker was 15 hours long, I almost aborted.

But with a lack of any other audiobook ideas, I persevered, and honestly I can say it was a solid listen. The plot follows a *gifted* boy who’s stolen away to a cruel institute full of other gifted children, and basically has to figure out where he is, what they’re doing, and how to escape.

The writing was flawless of course, but everything else felt pretty average to me. The characters are likeable, although I didn’t fall in love with any of them. It had some tense moments, but the pacing, as usual was on the slower side, and I think it could’ve easily been about two hours shorter.

Overall, while it is HEAVY on the Stranger Things vibes, I guess I felt like the concept was a little tired, and I didn’t find my surprised by… well… anything. The narrator did a fabulous job bringing the book to life though, and there were times when he had me rapt. By the end, while I can say I enjoyed it, I don’t think it’ll really be sticking with me in any way.

Recommended to Stephen King and Stranger Things fans looking for a solid listen.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I asked my K-niece houseguest, Locke, for her thoughts… and I got this. Interpret as you will.

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Pursuit (Fox and O’Hare #5)


The Pursuit once again follows smooth ex-con Nick and intense FBI agent Kate on another one of their not-con (but very con-like) capers. Honestly, I think this one was a bit of a let down. Although of course there were more fun capers and banter, nothing really stood out with this one that was any different than the last four, and I was hoping for a little bit more of a satisfying conclusion for Lee Goldberg’s last entry in the series. While this has a been a short, light audiobook series, the formula does wear out after a while, and I don’t feel any need to continue the series. But now, I’ll have to spend some time exploring the library’s audiobook archives to find something new!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

So long Nick & Kate, it’s been fun!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Switch


The Switch follows a grandmother and her granddaughter as they seek to cope with a still-raw family tragedy and a recent divorce. They swap apartments for a few months in hopes of a change of scenery to help them with a fresh start.

If this plot sounds like a Hallmark movie, it’s because it definitely could be. Eileen and Leena are both sweet and so easy to root for, and in their new environments, they both manage to instill positive change while also discovering the much needed growth they were looking for. You’ll be able to see the romance coming from a mile away, but the romantic interests are also likeable and have a natural development. The audiobook was well told, with different narrators for the two MCs, and overall I definitely enjoyed this light, sweet romance.

Although there’s nothing very surprising or new here, if you’re a fan of Hallmark movies, you will almost certainly enjoy this one.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

But hey, who doesn’t like a good Hallmark movie now and then?

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Scam (Fox and O’Hare #4)


The Scam once again follows smooth ex-con Nick and intense FBI agent Kate on another one of their not-con (but very con-like) capers. All of our favorite side characters are back and we have a few more colorful bad guys to take down in a satisfying, smart action-packed adventure. Nick and Kate’s relationship continues to develop, and this time we even got a bit of a cliffhanger to take us into a Book 5 (which I already have downloaded, is the last book by both original authors, and the last I plan to read.) If you liked the first three books, and are looking for another light, fun bit of audiobook adventure, you’ll definitely like Book 4.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

On to the last book!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Anxious People


What an astoundingly beautiful book. A coworker recommended this audiobook to me, and I picked it up from the library with no idea of what it was about. I loved A Man Called Ove, but didn’t really like Bear Town, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, it tells you almost right away: “This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots.”

The tale is told in third person omniscient, and the narrator has the perfect tone that is both humorous without being distracting. The story follows a group of people involved in a “hostage situation.” The characters are so humorously but fully painted, and I really couldn’t help but love each one. The story holds a seed of mystery that kept me guessing, and I just enjoyed drinking in every word of this book. So quoteable, so heartfelt, so incredibly lovely, with a sweet ending that left me remembering why I love books so much.

Best book I’ve read this year. Maybe in the last two years, and I will be recommending it to anyone that will listen to me. Especially the audiobook. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Loved it sooooo much!!!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Book of Lost Names


Okay… this review is going to be a little different than the one I posted on Goodreads, because honestly, I’m still mad about the ending. While what I wrote on Goodreads still stands… I’m going to add a little extra because I just need to vent (but I’ll still refrain from spoilers). So here’s my Goodreads review:

A wonderful historical fiction of the forgers in the French resistance in World War II. I loved the characters, their romance, and their story but this definitely left me feeling heavy (which I suppose should be expected from a WWII novel). I picked up the audiobook from the library, and the narrator did a wonderful job with the accents. Although I think the ending technically would be classified as a happy ending, it was super bittersweet, and I still felt really sad for the MCs. I just loved them so much, I was really hoping for more for them. 😭 (No actual tears shed, but definitely a sigh.) Now I need to go listen to something happy. 😭

Okay… now here are my thoughts after stewing over it for a few days. Did I say bittersweet? I meant BITTERsweet. I mean, I did love like 95% of this book… but the whole time, I was basically twisting myself into a knot, saying: This BETTER have a happy ending. They can NOT just build me up like this. There has to be some kind of twist. Etc. Etc. Etc. And then the ending came and… it just wasn’t enough. The near-misses almost seem cruel, and with so much other sad stuff that happens in the book, we couldn’t just have one wonderful thing to hold onto?! I was talking to one of my other author friends… and basically I’m still not over it. If you’re into bittersweet… sure, give it a shot. Or, just stop at the 95% mark and make up your own ending.

⭐⭐⭐1⁄2

Rant over.
Do I feel better?
…Nope… still not over it.

Thanks for reading!