CARRIE SOTO IS BACK by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In this powerful novel about the cost of greatness, a legendary athlete attempts a comeback when the world considers her past her prime – from the ‘New York Times’ best-selling author of ‘Malibu Rising’, ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’, and ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’.

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed 20 Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father as her coach. Javier – a former champion himself – has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At 37 years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked the “Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all: Carrie Soto is back for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet. 


Title : Carrie Soto Is Back
Author : Taylor Jenkins Reid
Narrator : Full Cast
Format : Audio
Page Count : 10 hours, 18 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Random House Audio
Release Date : August 30, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
This is a sports autobiography (or you would think)
Strangely compelling
Non-tennis lovers invited

Carrie Soto is Back was an odd read for me but I did enjoy it in some ways. I started the book with high hopes and TJR has a way of bringing you into a character’s world whole-heartedly. Carrie Soto and her father were 100% interesting and their world of obsession and drive was compelling.

About 25% into this listen, I was starting to think…is this going to be the tone of the whole book? I accepted that it was the case when at halfway I was still finding the same experience. This book was less contemporary fiction and it read exactly like a sporting autobiography, a gripping one but still…not what I would have expected from this author.

Carrie Soto herself was a generally unlikeable character but again, compelling to observe and listen to. She had that obsessive personality that elite athletes often have, the personality of a rock to outsiders and really there was only herself, her father and tennis in her world. In a much later part of the story, her world opened out a bit more to other friendships and relationships but you have to wait a long time to get to this.

The narration was a full cast but to be honest because this story is so Carrie-centric, the full cast isn’t featured that much. Nevertheless, the narration was very good.

Overall, I wasn’t wowed by this book but I was also puzzled why I still kept reading avidly. I can only surmise that TJR can write very well, so that she made me enjoy a tennis autobiography!

Thank you to LibroFM for the audio review copy.

https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9780593614167-carrie-soto-is-back

NAKED IN DEATH by J.D. Robb

THE FIRST NOVEL IN THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING IN DEATH SERIES

It is 2058, New York City. Technology now completely rules the world, but for New York Detective Eve Dallas, one irresistible impulse still rules the heart: passion…

Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she’s seen it all – and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire – and a suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it’s up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about – except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.


Title : Naked In Death
Author : J.D. Robb
Narrator : Susan Ericksen
Series : In Death #1
Format : Audio
Page Count : 10 hours, 17 minutes
Genre : Thriller/Romantic Suspense
Publisher : Brilliance Audio
Release Date : 1995

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

I thought it was about time I gave this series a go as I’ve been meaning to dip my toe in for years and I was reasonably content with the experience.

This is a futuristic world (circa 2050 I think) but it still shows it’s age in terms of tech because this book was originally published in 1995. I did like the world depicted, it made it a bit more interesting in terms of a romantic suspense/thriller vibe. The main selling point of this book and I believe of the series as a whole, is the couple – Eve and Rourke. Their whole developing romance was more interesting to me than the murders. As to the crime/murders, they were pretty gritty and vile. Please see my content warnings at the bottom.

I do want to make a huge note of kudos to the author regarding her mention a few times of the importance of trans rights, especially considering the date of publication. Nicely done Robb/Roberts.

I’ll definitely be carrying on with the series.

**Content warnings: rape, sexual crime, incest. There were a few later graphic depictions of incestual rape that I found hard to read and I would have preferred less detail.**

BELLADONNA by Adalyn Grace

For as long as Signa Farrow has been alive, the people in her life have fallen like stars . . .

Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her wellbeing – and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy.

Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger, and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.

Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer, though, is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful – and more irresistible – than she ever dared imagine.


Title : Belladonna
Author : Adalyn Grace
Series : Belladonna #1
Narrator : Kristin Atherton
Format : Physical ARC/audio
Page Count : 416
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : August 30, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Death is in the air
Family unwanted and found
Atmospheric

I read Belladonna by audio and physical copy because when I couldn’t listen to audio, I needed to carry on with the story; it was unputdownable. The whole book oozed atmosphere from the early pages right to the end.

Signa was an unwanted ward, shunted around families who didn’t want her but wanted her inheritance. Eventually, she found herself with an uncle and cousins who Signa actually felt some connection to. You know who else Signa had a connection to? Death…she saw the reaper whenever death was close or imminent. She hated him, wanted to be ignorant to Death’s work and his presence that she felt in chilling ways. But over time, Death had a usefulness in helping solve an urgent mystery of poisoning. Signa came to understand Death and like him. There’s a really compelling romance to root for.

Death’s character grew on me immensely and I think that was aided somewhat by the superb narration. Even though this was a single narrator, Kristin Atherton inhabited Death’s character and voiced him so well. I was intrigued but wary of Silas and I was willing the new family in Percy and Blythe to show Signa the familial connection she was so neglected of. So much went on in Thorn Grove, parties, intrigue, business, death, poisoning and sleuthing.

The whole piece had a gothic feel, it was dark but not heavy. The writing was a joy, pulling you in while keeping you on your toes. This story finishes with a ‘and then….’ feeling and we have a title for a new book. There’s plenty of wrapping up of plot however, so readers will feel okay with where this ends.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copies.

THE ARCTIC CURRY CLUB by Dani Redd

‘For my whole life I had been looking for home. But why would that be in a place that I’d left? Perhaps I had to keep moving forward in order to find it…’

Soon after upending her life to accompany her boyfriend Ryan to the Arctic, Maya realises it’s not all Northern Lights and husky sleigh rides. Instead, she’s facing sub-zero temperatures, 24-hour darkness, crippling anxiety – and a distant boyfriend as a result.

In her loneliest moment, Maya opens her late mother’s recipe book and cooks Indian food for the first time. Through this, her confidence unexpectedly grows – she makes friends, secures a job as a chef, and life in the Arctic no longer freezes her with fear.

But there’s a cost: the aromatic cuisine rekindles memories of her enigmatic mother and her childhood in Bangalore. Can Maya face the past and forge a future for herself in this new town? After all, there’s now high demand for a Curry Club in the Arctic, and just one person with the know-how to run it…

A tender and uplifting story about family, community, and finding where you truly belong – guaranteed to warm your heart despite the icy setting!


Title : The Arctic Curry Club
Author : Dani Redd
Narrator : Zoha Rahman
Format : eALC
Length : 10 hours 6 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Harper Collins UK Audio
Release Date : December 9, 2021

Reviewer :  Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Deep themes
Authentic anxiety rep
From Svalbard to Bangalore

This book was a bit of a travel feast with polar (there’s a pun there) opposite countries and a chef learning to cook the fayre of the places. I came into this book expecting a super light Christmassy romance, but what I got was so much more and better than that. The Arctic Curry Club was an empowering read of previous family trauma, mental illness represented well and woman finding her own feet to stand on.

Maya arrived in Svalbard (I enjoyed looking at photos of the place after reading the book) with her partner and her reaction to this extreme environment felt realistic. Finding your foot and purpose in a place like this was always going to be difficult. Relationships and friendships were key to this story but alongside this was a narrative of Maya’s family, her childhood in Bangalore and a trip back there. I really enjoyed the contrast of these two places.

Food, cooking, polar bears, illness and arctic foxes made for an entertaining read. The themes while deep, weren’t heavy and there was a lighter balance kept through the narrative to offset any emotional elements.

I listenend on audio and thoroughly enjoyed the narration (single pov).

Thank you to Avon Books UK for the review copy.

BLADE OF SECRETS by Tricia Levenseller

Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.

Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims’ secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.

Joined by a distractingly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely.

A teenage blacksmith with social anxiety accepts a commission from the wrong person and is forced to go on the run to protect the world from the most powerful magical sword she’s ever made.


Title : Blade of Secrets
Author : Tricia Levenseller
Format : Audio
Narrator : Emily Ellet
Duration : 8 hours, 53 minutes
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : May 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Unusual protagonist
Anxiety representation

I knew absolutely nothing about Blade of Secrets before I started it and so I was happy to be drawn into an unusual tale with an unusual protagonist for fantasy. Ziva was a smithy with powers, unpredictable ones but she also had anxiety with a range of symptoms. I was all woah to seeing that in fantasy and in a good way. I really appreciated Ziva being a strong female but not diminished by her anxiety, she was still a strong and gifted character.

The story centred on two sisters with virtually no other family but this tale brought a bit of a found-family trope which I liked. This troop of Temra, Kellyn (hellooo), Patrick and the Secret Eater were pretty interesting to read about. They went from smithy to on the run and I was here for the story developments.

There was plenty of banter, fun capers and peril. I am 100% invested in these weapons and I want all the Secret Eater info. There was definitely a slow burn element to budgeoning relationships and the end left me wanting more. I am looking forward to book two.

The narration was great, the different gendered dialogue worked well and felt convincing. The characterisation captured the colourful crew well.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for the review copy.

THE THERAPIST by B.A. Paris



The multimillion-copy New York Times best-selling author B.A. Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in The Therapist – a powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive….

As Alice is getting to know her neighbors, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem….


Title : The Therapist
Author : BA Paris
Narrator : Olivia Dowd & Thomas Judd
Format : Audiobook
Length : 9 hours, 23 minutes
Genre : Domestic Thriller
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : April 15, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Creepy storyline
Trust
Lies

I definitely enjoyed this listen of BA Paris’ latest domestic thriller and I couldn’t guess whodunnit, no matter how I tried to speculate, so there are ticks in those boxes. The conclusion was slightly disappointing and I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I leave the book behind glad that I’d read it.

Alice and Leo move in together, doing so in an exclusive development called ‘The Circle’. Immediately, I thought, those people are weird (chuckles). There’s a definite underlying premise to where the main character Alice finds herself and that is…don’t move in with someone too quickly (this is not a spoiler) but a general life lesson.

The story of The Therapist was intricate with little details that came back to prod you later. It was all about who to trust and the lies that people tell but ultimately, this was a whodunnit. Alice seemed to be a really niave character, damaged by her own traumas but easily led by others. Leo lacked some character development, I felt as I didn’t know him much by the end. The plot was a little far fetched at times but it remained pretty gripping.

As with any thriller on audio, the temperature and mood of the listen is particularly important and the narration was able to conjure some sinister feelings and sense of foreboding. This was a multiple POV with dual narrators that worked well.

Overall, a good story with a bit of fading towards the end. The format was definitely a winner.

Thank you to MacMillan Audio for the early review copy.

PAUSE by Kylie Scott

An unpauseable new romance from New York Times bestselling, Audie Award winning author Kylie Scott!

When Anna wakes up from a coma after a car crash, she discovers life has gone on without her. Her husband has been unfaithful—with her best friend—and she’s been long since replaced at work. While her old life is a distant memory, her new life feels like an empty shell. Then she meets the stranger who saved her life during the crash, and he changes everything.

Leif Larsen—tattooist, joker, and player—has his own scars thanks to the crash that put Anna in a coma. Helping her move on from her failed marriage, and create a new life, sounds like a perfect distraction. So when he needs a new roommate, he invites Anna to begin her new life with him.

Although their lives may have been put on pause, together they just might find a way to heal.


Title : Pause
Author : Kylie Scott
Narrator : Andi Arndt
Format : Audible Audio
Length : 6 hours, 17 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Audible
Release Date : April 13, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Accidents
Betrayal
Quick fulfilment

I feel like I’m the champion of Repeat by Kylie Scott, I loved that audio and I’ve since re-listened and re-read. So Pause had big shoes to fill and alongside that Leif wasn’t the easiest character like in Repeat having fouled up in his relationship choices bringing consequences.

Pause started with an accident and hospitals which felt reminiscent of Repeat but I didn’t mind that to be honest, as Anna’s story was different enough to feel new. The circumstances she found herself in however, were pretty vile.

I liked hearing about how Anna’s life unraveled and came back together, I perhaps wanted a bit more narrative about her recovery. Anna and Leif had chemistry but it felt pretty fast moving. I enjoyed the story but I wasn’t wowed by it.

This was a quick listen, I would say this is a perfect for a day or a weekend, with great narration. Andi Arndt excels at male dialogue, so while this is a single POV story, when Leif speaks, it feels so credible on the audio.

Thank you to Audible for the early review copy.

A HISTORY OF WHAT COMES NEXT by Sylvain Neuvel

Brought to you by Penguin.

Imagine everything you thought you knew about human progress was wrong. What would you do?

Mia is not sure what she is, but she isn’t human. Smarter, stronger than her peers, all she knows are the rules: there can never be three for too long; always run, never fight.

When she finds herself in Germany 1945, she must turn the Nazis’ most trusted scientist with an offer: abandon the crumbling Nazi party, escape Germany with your life, come to work for the Americans building rockets.

But someone is watching her work. An enemy who’s smarter, stronger, decidedly not human and prepared to do anything to retrieve something ancient that was long lost.

If only she had any idea what it was….


Title : A History Of What Comes Next
Author : Sylvain Neuvel
Narrator : Multi-cast narration
Format : Audiobook
Length : 9 hours, 23 minutes
Genre : Sci-Fi Thriller
Publisher : Penguin Audio
Release Date : March 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Unusual
Feminist scientists
Legacy

Take them to the stars, before evil comes and kills them all.

Honestly, it’s rather hard to describe this story but it was a rather brilliant series starter taking my love of sci-fi and combining it with a thriller. It was mostly set in the period of 1940’s with Mia and her mother but it had a retrospective view over the 99 previous generations of women and their daugthers with the sole purpose of getting the human civilisation to the stars. These women weren’t exactly human.

This was a sometimes gory, banter-ish story that gripped me to my headphones mostly over one weekend. At first, I had to go with the flow but I found my nerd-feet rather quickly and began to understand the facets of these women. They were excellent mathematicians and they were obsessed with rockets. Men were an important part of their lives but only to a point.

I loved how feminist this story felt but at the same time, I’m not saying that how the men were sometimes treated was okay but it was an interesting upside down perspective for that historical era. There were ecological undertones to the story too which didn’t quite get explained in this installment but I’m hoping for more embelishment on the next book.

This curious tale bought my allegiance to the series before half way through and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series. I can’t recommend the audio enough. It was a multi-cast narration with multiple POVs (but not too many). You even get some Slyvain Neuvel at the end with background research should your nerd-dom need that.

Thank you to Penguin Audio for the review copy #gifted/AD

ALL THE TIDES OF FATE by Adalyn Grace

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.

To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.


Title : All The Tides Of Fate
Author : Adalyn Grace
Series : All The Stars & Teeth #2
Format : ebook/audio
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books/MacMillan Audio
Release Date : February 2, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


3.5 stars

Headlines:
New roles
All at sea
Who needs a man?

This was ultimately a satisfying finale in this exciting duology from Adalyn Grace. I was fortunate to do both audio and the ebook, having review copies of both formats and I enjoyed both experiences. While this installment didn’t hit the heights of book one, I was still happy with the completion.

Amora seemed to have taken a few steps back initially in this book but she was in a new role and grieving. Expectations were heavy on her shoulders and she seemed to falter in decision-making, direction and leadership. Those early and mid-way wobbles made her believable but perhaps not as likeable. The whole, ‘search for a husband cover’ made me sigh heavily but the direction this went was a good outcome.

I felt happiest reading this book when the crew were back together on Keel Haul. I loved the voyages, the team, the banter and togetherness. One of the story directions killed me and I’m still not okay with that event.

This was a fast paced read/listen and pretty exciting with a great wrap up. The last 20% of the read was probably my favourite section. The narration was good with single pov narration that captured Amora, her age and her character well.

Thank you to Titan Books and Macmillan Audio for the early review copies.

FIRST COMES LIKE by Alisha Rai

The author of The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral returns with a story about finding love in all the wrong inboxes…

Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life? 


Title : First Comes Like
Author : Alisha Rai
Series : Modern Love #3
Narrator : Priya Ayyar & Neil Shah
Format : Audiobook
Length : 6 hours, 30 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Harper Audio
Release Date : February 16, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

First Comes Like was the clashing of two people, two cultures, two faiths, all in a romantic context. It was ambitious plan that worked. Added to this was a faux-mance storyline, catfishing, fame and fortune. I thought it was a clever plot.

I don’t think I’ve read a Hindu/Muslim romance before (probably shame on me for not searching this out) but it was nice to see and interesting to read this level of heat in that context. Alisha Rai executed this with careful handling and sensitivity to the protagonist Jia’s beliefs (I think, but I can’t currently see any own voice reviews and I’m interested in their take on this). I’ve been waiting for Jia’s story for rather a long time, since she was introduced in a previous series by the author.

There was a lot less of the three friends living together in this instalment which I missed. I essentially liked both the characters but I didn’t always feel their chemistry. The plot line was predictable but still good.

The narration was enjoyable in the main, I liked both narrators but didn’t enjoy when Dev’s character did Jia’s dialogue, his female intonation really didn’t work for me. I also wanted to feel a bit more from Dev’s character but in some ways, he was a little emotionally rusty and that facet was part of his development in the story.

This series has been generally enjoyable for me and while this one didn’t blow me away, I still appreciated the journey and especially the cross of cultures and faiths.

Please check out some own voice review on this book.

Thank you to LibroFM and Harper Audio for the early audio copy.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started