MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE by Matthew J. Sullivan (Audiobook)


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s upper room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. Bedazzling, addictive, and wildly clever, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a heart-pounding mystery that perfectly captures the intellect and eccentricity of the bookstore milieu and will keep you guessing until the very last page.​


Poor Lydia, she’s had a difficult life. As a child, she was the lone survivor of a murderer – the “Hammerman” – who was never caught. Estranged from her father, she now spends her days as a clerk in a Denver bookstore hiding from her past. When Joey, one of her favorite young patrons, kills himself in the bookstore, Lydia is shaken. Things get weirder when she finds out Joey has left his meager worldly possessions to her, and that they hold clues to why he committed suicide.

Quirky characters, a couple of twisty mysteries, devoted bibliophiles, and a bookshop, MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE had all the right elements to pull me in. While not a fast-paced read, this book is well worth waiting for the pieces of the puzzle to come together. Lydia’s search for the truth about the Hammerman and Joey’s death kept me guessing.

The audiobook was narrated by Madeleine Maby, whom I always love listening to. She did a wonderful job capturing Lydia’s disposition as well as the accents of other female characters, while the male characters were read a bit too slowly. Still, listening to the audio format was an entertaining experience.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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THE SIXTH VICTIM by Tessa Harris (Audiobook)


Publisher: Kensington/Blackstone Audio
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Source: Review copies from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


London’s East End, 1888. When darkness falls, terror begins.

The foggy streets of London’s Whitechapel district have become a nocturnal hunting ground for Jack the Ripper, and no woman is safe. Flower girl Constance Piper is not immune to dread, but she is more preoccupied with her own strange experiences of late.

Clairvoyants seem to be everywhere these days. In desperation, even Scotland Yard has turned to them to help apprehend the Ripper. Her mother has found comfort in contacting her late father in a séance. But are such powers real? And could Constance really be possessed of second sight? She longs for the wise counsel of her mentor and champion of the poor, Emily Tindall, but the kind missionary has gone missing.

Following the latest grisly discovery, Constance is contacted by a high-born lady of means who fears the victim may be her missing sister. She implores Constance to use her clairvoyance to help solve the crime, which the press is calling “the Whitechapel Mystery”, attributing the murder to the Ripper.

As Constance becomes embroiled in intrigue far more sinister than she could have imagined, assistance comes in a startling manner that profoundly challenges her assumptions about the nature of reality. She’ll need all the help she can get – because there may be more than one depraved killer out there.


A poor flower girl named Constance with the gift of clairvoyance is searching for her missing teacher on the streets of Jack the Ripper’s London in Tessa Harris’ historical mystery THE SIXTH VICTIM. At the same time, an upper crust lady enlists Constance’s help in finding her missing sister, fearing she may be the sixth victim of the deranged murderer.

This was an audio/eBook combo read for me. I enjoy Victorian mysteries, and this was a good one, definitely pulls readers into the dark and grizzly happenings of the time. Confusing at first, the book took me a few chapters before I felt comfortable with the characters and story, though overall I liked it. Constance is an intriguing and sympathetic character, and the perfect heroine for this new series.

The audiobook was performed by two narrators, Fiona Hardingham and Gemma Dawson. Their accents and inflections for the many characters helped make this an entertaining story. Eerie and gruesome!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley (eBook) and the publisher (audiobook) in exchange for an honest review.

THE RED HUNTER by Lisa Unger (Audiobook)


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


What is the difference between justice and revenge?

In this buzzworthy new thriller by New York Times best-selling author Lisa Unger, two wronged women on very different paths find themselves in the same dark place…

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house – one that, unbeknownst to her, has an ugly history and may hide long-buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past – and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course – because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.


“While seeking revenge, dig two graves – one for yourself.” This chilling quote (originally from Douglas Horton) plays heavily in Lisa Unger’s latest book THE RED HUNTER. The paths of two women – strangers – whose lives were altered by brutal attacks eventually collide in this suspenseful, atmospheric thriller. The puzzling question is how will their troubled stories intersect?

I enjoyed this book quite a bit, even though the tension put knots in my stomach! That’s a good thing, right?!?  Zoey, Claudia, and daughter Raven, are complex and flawed characters who easily pulled me into their stories. There are many layers to their haunting mystery, and hold on for a nail-biting ending. This is a stand alone novel, not part of The Hollows series, so no prior backstory knowledge needed.


Audiobook • 11 hrs, 5 mins • Julia Whelan, Narrator

I listened to the audio version which was narrated by Julia Whelan. Great performance! She did well with both the female and male characters, and her performance added to the suspense. One thing to watch out (or listen out) for are the time jumps in the story. A couple of times I was a bit confused as to what was going on, then realized that it was a flashback. Not a big deal as the story progressed and I got more familiar with the characters.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

June Is Audiobook Month (JIAM) Blog Tour #loveaudiobooks @Audiobook_Comm

Greetings! Welcome to my stop on the June Is Audiobook Month (JIAM) Blog Tour, organized by the Audio Publishers Association. Click HERE for a list of all participating blogs!

I started listening to audiobooks about 4½ years ago, and it was my blog buddy Felicia (The Geeky Blogger) who got me hooked on the format. I was hesitant at first, but then realized that audiobooks would let me read and do necessary non-reading things at the same time. Win-win! Yard work isn’t so bad when I can listen to a great book.

I’m an eclectic reader – or listener, as the case may be – so I’ve chosen a recommendation from a few of my favorite fiction genres. The samples below are linked to Audiobook.com.


PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

YOU by Caroline Kepnes
Narrator: Santino Fontana
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Why? YOU was a well written novel, unique, suspenseful, and full of pop culture references – I’ll forever associate YOU with IKEA – however, the BIG reason I enjoyed this book so much was the audio performance by Santino Fontana. His narration was brilliant, probably my all-time favorite on audiobook. Joe’s character was a total and complete sociopath, but dang it, Santino Fontana made me sympathize with Joe, even *gasp* love him in a crazy sort of way. He WAS Joe. Amazing… and chilling! Bonus: You can get a second helping of Joe in the sequel, HIDDEN BODIES.

WOMEN’S FICTION

THE SOUND OF GLASS by Karen White
Narrators: Therese Plummer, Susan Bennett
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Why? This was the first book I read by Karen White, and I was wowed! THE SOUND OF GLASS is a remarkable, character-driven story of mystery, family secrets, loss, second chances, and letting go. Narrators Therese Plummer and Susan Bennett did a wonderful job capturing the characters’ personalities, including stubborn Merritt, sugary sweet Loralee, and stoic Edith. This Southern family drama makes a perfect summer read.

MYSTERY

HE’S GONE by Deb Caletti
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
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Why? HE’S GONE is an intriguing blend of suspense and women’s fiction, with a puzzling mystery and emotional backstory to keep readers hooked. The story moves back and forth between the main character, Dani Keller, searching for clues to her missing husband’s whereabouts, and Dani’s introspective look at her life and what’s brought her to this point in time. Cassandra Campbell is one of my favorite narrators, and she was perfect as Dani Keller’s voice, capturing her personality and predicament very well.

HISTORICAL FICTION

MY NOTORIOUS LIFE by Kate Manning
Narrator: Terry Donnelly
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Why? The audiobook of Kate Manning’s MY NOTORIOUS LIFE was amazing. The notorious life in question is that of Axie Muldoon, a poor orphan who became a wealthy female physician and midwife in 19th century New York City. Axie’s character was inspired by the real life story of Madame Restell, a controversial family planning provider in the 1800s. This epic tale was brilliantly narrated by Terry Donnelly, who I believe was channeling Axie as she read her memoirs. Ms. Donnelly’s performance truly captured Axie’s passion and courage.

GOTHIC FICTION

JANE STEELE by Lyndsay Faye
Narrator: Susie Riddell
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Why? Like me, the character Jane Steele is a huge fan of JANE EYRE, and in many ways her life mirrors that of her favorite character. Only, Miss Steele is a wee bit of a sociopath, but in the best way possible! When she sees an injustice, she handles it in her own vigilante way. Retellings of classics can be tricky, but this one was clever and captivating, and I loved it. Narrator Susie Riddell’s performance made this an entertaining listen. The book was full of many characters with different accents, and she brought each of the players to life. I enjoyed every minute.

LITERARY FICTION

THE COLOR PURPLE by Alice Walker
Narrator: Alice Walker
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Why? What can I say about THE COLOR PURPLE? Wow. It’s the ultimate story of survival, even when everything in life is stacked against you. When Celie tells her sister Nettie to write, and Nettie responds “Nothing but death can keep me from it!” well, that’s when the tears start flowing. I’ve loved this book for 25 years, and just recently did I get a chance to listen to it on audio. It’s narrated by the author herself, Alice Walker, and her voice was perfect for Celie. I enjoyed it so much, and I think everyone should give this book a read or listen. Powerful!


Thanks so much for stopping by today! Have you listened to any of these audiobooks or narrators? What did you think? Any recommendations for me?

Before you go, please check out my social links below, and remember to visit the other JIAM Blog Tour participants throughout the month. Happy listening!

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