The Couple Next Door: A Novel by Shari Lapena – #Audiobook Review – #psychologicalthrillers

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

(Amazon) Editors Pick 

Book Blurb:

An instant New York Times best seller

“I read this novel at one sitting, absolutely riveted by the storyline. The suspense was beautifully rendered and unrelenting!” (Sue Grafton, New York Times best-selling author of X)

It all started at a dinner party…

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors – a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives….

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all – a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story. Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. 

Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years. What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family – a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

My Review:

Of course I’d heard of this author for some time but didn’t have an opportunity for a book. This time I saw an audiobook copy for this one, released in 2016. Mercy!

The Couple Next Door by Shari LapenaBeing an older book and armed with the blurb, this gripping tale doesn’t need a lot of introduction. A young couple with a new baby backed by rich parents (hers), they have the home, a business, and the appearance of “having it all.”

Maybe.

Behind closed doors, however, is a young husband worried about his business, a new mom who is having difficulty coping with a fussy infant, and parents with attitude. It is the tangled story of couples keeping secrets from each other, the new mom feeling unattractive, her husband neglected and attracted to Cynthia next door. It is during Cynthia’s dinner party that Anne and Marco’s baby is abducted. Marco had assured her that in the absence of the babysitter, a last-minute cancellation, they could use the baby monitor and check in on her every half hour. After all, they were only next door.

Anne is a fragile personality suffering postpartum depression. Marco wanted a few more drinks, time to flirt with Cynthia, and it was late when they returned home to find Cora missing from her crib.

Here is a case for unreliable narrator. The storyline spins a lot of effort justifying leaving the baby, Anne is crazy over the top with guilt, the parents are incensed. Then there is the police who are having a problem swallowing any of it.

Something doesn’t add up.

Not easy to cozy up with any of the characters. Marco is beside himself for another reason, as are her parents. There is a lot of deceiving, misconception, and tension that intensifies into the plot. It might be faster paced were it not for the same theme of guilt and justification repeated so many times, each time, however, adding an additional little wrinkle.

Not just one or two twists but then the bomb, the final well placed bulls eye in the conclusion that totally knocks the reader off their rocker. What? NO! I hated that one and couldn’t believe that was how it ended.

Well, phooey. I didn’t expect that. Definitely a slow burning thriller with a killer (get it?) ending.

Did you read this one? Disappointed in the ending as I was? Shocked? So was I.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Fiction, Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B01IIABQYC
Listening Length: 8 hrs 40 mins
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Couple Next Door [Amazon]

 

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

 

Shari Lapena - authorThe Author: Shari Lapena

 

Kirsten Potter - narratorThe Narrator:  Kirsten Potter, a graduate of the Boston University School for the Arts, has performed on stage, film, and television, including roles on MediumBones, and Judging Amy. An award-winning audiobook narrator.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Happy Thursday!

August Rosepoint Reviews Recap—Welcome September!

Rosepoint Reviews-August Recap

The hunt for a house for our daughter continued through July and after several offers and two failed home inspections exhausted the inventory in Missouri. The hunt for a home then progressed into Michigan. The available homes in the southern area of Michigan and slightly more temperate winters than the extremes of the Upper Penisula was very narrow and also quickly exhausted. Then, last week, the kids found a home in the southern area of Illinois.

Definitely NOT where I’d ever expected they would find the home that checked off most of their boxes. Still, it’s a cute little “dollhouse,” (real estate speak for LITTLE house) with some acreage, perfect for the two of them and their needs. The home just passed the home inspection with flying colors. Hopefully we’ll be in moving mode within weeks (even given the current crazy real estate climate which is apparently nationwide and now spreading into the rental market as well).

I’ve been trying to keep a somewhat regular posting review schedule, but social media and my graphics have suffered with little attention to either. Shamefully, I’ve resorted to shortcuts. 

We posted seventeen book reviews for August that included ARCs from NetGalley, author requests, and audiobooks from our local library.  

Funny Farm by Lauri Zaleski The long Call by Ann Cleeves Love in a Time of Hate by Matthew Langdon Cost The Ghost Camper's Tall Tales Striking Range by Margaret Mizushima The Good Guy by Dean Koontz Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward Olmsted Murder on Honky-Tonk Row The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly The Final Days of Abbot Montrose by Sven elvestad Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connolly The Sea Bandits by Amanda Hughes The Harp and the Rose by Jean Grainger Frigate by John Wingate The Necklace by Matt Witten Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney Target Churchill by Warren Adler

Funny Farm by Laurie Zaleski
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves – audiobook
Love in a Time of Hate by Matthew Langdon Cost
The Ghost Campers Tall Tales by Elizabeth Pantley–Paranormal–blog tour
Striking Range by Margaret Mizushima
The Good Guy by Dean Koontz – audiobook
Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward Olmsted
Murder on Honky Tonk Row by Rita Morea
The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connelly
Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly – audiobook
Target Churchill by Warren Adler
The Final Days of Abbot Montrose by Sven Elvestad
The Sea Bandits by Amanda Hughes
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney – audiobook
The Harp and the Rose by Jean Grainger
Frigate by John Wingate
The Necklace by Matt Witten

Reading Challenges

I still haven’t been able to keep up with my challenges. At a 127 count on Goodreads, I am well ahead of the game on that one. And my Historical Challenge has been met, anything now is gravy. Don’t forget to check them out at #histficreadingchallenge. You can check out my challenges progress (however far behind it is) by clicking on my Reading Challenges page.

In the meantime, WordPress did another number on their free bloggers and suddenly I was unable to update any of my widgets. I have several dynamic widgets, the most active being #comingsoon and totally locked out of it, frantically wrote the “happiness engineers” a number of times before one of them finally realized what I was asking.

I don’t WANT to do block widgets but seems they are bound and determined to force the block editor. Finally, managed to get in and update the top widgit a couple days ago. Have you experienced the same problem? Finally succumbed to using blocks for everything? Am I the last holdout?

Welcome to my new followers and thank you again to all my active followers, I so appreciate your continued participation and hope this new wave of Covid and all it’s variants are not impacting you and yours.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

 

March Rosepoint Reviews Recap—Hello April—and Spring Snow Showers!

 

We certainly aren’t clear of snow forecasts (have one for tonight). Spring doesn’t happen here as early as the southern states and it’s still plenty cold. March is usually a celebration, however, in that it is Reading Ireland Month, Women’s History Month, and my birthday. A huge surprise in store for me this year when our son and Croatian son joined forces to get me a new cell phone. OMG!! I haven’t had time to play with it yet, but already so jazzed with the amazing colors, photos, and speed. Maybe it’ll read my books for me now!

The CE and I read nine books for #readingirelandmonth21 and I read two for #womenshistorymonth.

We posted seventeen book reviews for March, which included ARCs from NetGalley as well as author requests and my audiobooks from our local library.

The Shortest Day (shortest book – #begorrathon21 *)

The Pull of the Stars *

Murder in an Irish Bookshop *

Long Island Iced Tina

A Matter of Life and Death

Lying in Wait *

Dead Even

The Castilions

First Love *

Normal People *

Last Port of Call *

Vagabond Wind

Alley Katz *

The Chain *

The Cotillion Brigade (longest book)

Search for Her

The Hiding Place *

I hit 97,000 views in the month of March, still working toward my goal of 3,000 followers with a ways to go. My schedule has become overwhelming, however, and I’m thinking of taking a breather by exclusively posting reviews from the CE in a concentrated effort to clear the backlog of his reads.

March and April filled up fast and I’ll be laying out a new plan shortly to post reviews. (The CE reads faster than I for sure!) Despite my backlog of his books, I’m still running at 94% on NetGalley and well ahead of my 175 book goal on Goodreads.

Four books for the Audiobook challenge, bringing the total to 12 for a goal of between 20-30—Binge Listener.

Historical Fiction – Four books in March and two considered for Women’s Historical Month.

NetGalleyNine additional books in March bringing my total to 27 in a goal of 75.

You can check out my challenges progress by clicking on my Reading Challenges page.

Please let me know if you’ve read one of the above listed books or put them on your TBR and I’m always open to title suggestions.

Apologies to my readers for the awkward format of this post. WP is having fun with me again and has refused my access to the “classic” word editor (again!) I don’t do “blocks” well.

As always, welcome to my new followers—and those who continue to support the blog through your participation, likes, and comments. You help me grow and keep me going. Thank you!

(c) V Williams

Deep South (Anna Pigeon #8) by Nevada Barr – An #Audiobook Review – Cultural Heritage Fiction -#ThrowbackThursday

“You stick your finger in the water and you pull it out, and that is how much of a hole you leave when you’re gone.” (Finger in the water test–Multiple sources)

Deep South by Nevada Barr

Book Blurb:

Nevada Barr‘s ever-popular Anna Pigeon series is consistently praised as “exceptional” (Denver Post), “stunning” (Seattle Times), and “superb” (New York Times Book Review). In Deep South, Park Ranger Anna Pigeon heads to Mississippi, only to encounter terrible secrets in the heart of the south…

Anna Pigeon finally gives in to her bureaucratic clock-and signs on for a promotion. Next thing she knows, she’s knee-deep in mud and Mississippi. Not exactly what she had in mind. Almost immediately, as the new district ranger on the Natchez Trace, Anna discovers the body of a young prom queen near a country cemetery, a sheet around her head, a noose around her neck. It’s a bizarre twist on a best-forgotten past of frightening racial undertones. As fast as the ever-encroaching kudzu vines of the region, the roots of this story run deep-and threaten to suffocate anyone in the way, including Anna…

My Review:

My second book by Nevada Barr in her Anna Pigeon, US National Park Service series and I enjoyed this one possibly even more than my first, Hunting Season. While we are working through the trope of the lone female in a normally male bastion, the park service, I greatly appreciate the strong, independent woman portrayed as Anna Pigeon.

Deep South by Nevada BarrWilling to tackle just about anything (while admitting in some circumstances fear), she still plows through as if being a female doesn’t matter. In this case, a white woman and a Yankee in a new promotion as District Ranger on the Natchez Trace of Mississippi. Oh, and new to the south as well, she has several strikes against her before she even begins.

It’s apparent immediately she isn’t wanted, welcome, or tolerated. Still, before she can really settle into the new position or thoroughly meet her subordinates, she encounters the murder of a sixteen year old girl. The girl’s body is left with racial implications.

Dealing with the investigation, the road blocks thrown up by her deputies, and confronting an attraction for one of the men, she manages each confrontation with calm and intelligence and is making headway in the mystery.

I love the information regarding the historic area of Mississippi, the Natchez Trace being an ambitious trail from Natchez to Nashville, some 444 miles and three states. Underlying the Trace information is the Civil War stories that permeate the area in general and the Trace in particular.

Anna is well developed, we can see who she is without having read the seven prior to this entry, and in this episode, strong interpersonal relationships are borne of the circumstances that create engaging support characters.

These narratives set an early hook, reel you in, and don’t let go. It is a well-plotted and fast paced storyline that keeps you reading (in this instance—listening) and hard to pause.

Hard push into the explosive conclusion and the calming collective following. An oldie but a goodie that rallies interest in the remaining books of the series—nineteen in all. A good mystery with culture cues. The narrator does an excellent, even superb job of narrative—forcing the pace, either faster or that ease into another discovery, or possible perp. Who was it killed that girl? I won’t tell.

Book Details:

Genre: Cultural Heritage Fiction, World Literature, Women Sleuth Mysteries 
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B0002QUWQY
Listening Length: 12 hrs 8 mins
Narrator:  Barbara Rosenblat
Publication Date: July 22, 2004
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Deep South [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Nevada Barr - authorThe Author: Nevada [Barr] was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.
Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers — Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.
Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada’s experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.
The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada’s books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List — and more — will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.

Barbara Rosenblat - narratorThe Narrator:  [Barbara Rosenblat] has recorded over 600 audiobooks in a distinguished career that has garnered 8 Audie Awards, 50 plus Earphone Awards from Audiofile Magazine for exceptional recordings and numerous  accolades over the years. She has been inducted into the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame. One critic wrote, ‘Barbara is to audiobooks what Meryl Streep is to film’. Her book, ‘Audiobook Narrator- The Art of Recording Audiobooks’ provides personal guidance for those pursuing this avenue of art and is a direct result of answering many questions at personal appearances and at her masterclasses about the craft.

Barbara has also done a lot of animation, anime, and video games as well as documentaries and commercials. (Bio and pic from Hasty Book List.)

©2021 V Williams

Six Fun, Fast, and Easy Challenges for 2020 (Wink, Wink)

Six Fun, Fast, and Easy Challenges for 2020

(Cause, what, you don’t need more work?)

Yes, I know, I know–late to the party again. And these won’t be anything new for you if you participate in challenges, but after I dropped the Alphabet Challenge, I went a little overboard and signed up with a new one–and then another new one. Last count is six. What have I done?! My white knight, as previously noted, has come to the rescue with a few reads and reviews of his own. Even if the same book, we often have differing opinions.

  1. Let’s start with the Audiobook Challenge since I’m learning to love these for errands, working around the house, and exercising. It would seem there is more time for listening than reading and I’ve apparently hit a slump in reading lately. Easy to sign up, if you haven’t already. Pick your level listener of the eight listed. I chose Stenographer, 10-15.
  2. GoodreadsI know y’all are already doing this one. Watch the Goodreads widget in the right column for progress. (I’ve set the bar at 200 since my associate reviewer is included in this count.)
  3. Historical FictionYou read a few or more historical fiction. Right? Well, here is your chance to post your reads for posterity. Again, choose your level from one of six. I chose Renaissance Reader, 10. Don’t forget to add the tag: #2020HistFicReadingChallenge
  4. Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge -Thinking this would not be a challenge, forgetting I read a wide variety of genres; not just all murder mysteries. My cards are pretty bare but it’s only January. Still, there are four cards: Weapons, Crime Scenes, Clues and Clichés, and Red Herrings. Everybody loves Bingo. Right? Check it out. (I see fellow blogger Tari of Cuddle Up With a Cozy Mystery already has two cards!)
  5. The NGEW2020 Challenge keeps a count of your NetGalley or Edelweiss novels. Go ahead, choose a goal. If you need to, you can always add or subtract. (Life has its little interruptions.) I’m going for 75 again–and that WAS a challenge. Always use the hashtag: #NGEW2020 (and my associate reviewer is included in this count.)
  6. Reading IrelandReading Ireland Month occurs in March (of course), and I won’t have that link or banner until posted this year. Check out my post from last year here.

Several of these include the MrLinky widget to upload your links and keep you honest. Also, I’ve updated my Reading Challenges page (it’s all clean and bright) laying out all the above challenges and adding a few details, but for all the instructions, you may wish to link directly to the challenge. (I’ve also listed these linked challenges in the right-hand widget column.)

Going into the weekend, hope yours is special and IF you have time, look at a few challenges to liven up your reading year! I’d love to hear which ones you are doing or how many of these you are doing. Or drop me a comment with “NONE.”

©2020 V Williams V Williams