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The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones, Clare Corbett (Narrator)

Published August 3rd 2021 by Macmillan Audio

3 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐

This is one of those books that has some high points, but there are so many twists, unlikable characters and people lying that I was often wondering what else could happen. There were times I got into the story, especially at the beginning, but then things got strange. There are two married couples Rachel and Jack and Paige and Noah, who have been invited to a wedding in Portugal. They are great friends, with Rachel and Noah having become BFFs at university. Will, is Jack’s brother and he is marrying Ali. Ali is not a favourite of this group and they consider her a flake. She used to work for Jack, but has moved to another position. They all want Will to be happy and Ali seems to be the one that does make him happy, so they accept it. She is also gorgeous and she knows it and flaunts it. The other women seem jealous and don’t treat her all that well. After arriving in their villa in Portugal though Rachel begins to discover secrets that have her questioning not only Ali but her husband, Jack, as well. The story is full of secrets and unreliable narrators. I wasn’t quite sure who was telling the truth, who was sleeping with who and whether this wedding would even happen. I kept hoping this book would get better and I did read it all, but the ending????? Huge twist and somewhat unbelievable. I don’t know what else to say about this story. It definitely blindsided me and had me shaking my head. If you enjoy unreliable narrators, unlikable characters and books with a huge twist, then this one is for you. I did listen to the audiobook narrated by Clare Corbett. I did enjoy her performance with her expression and emotion, which is probably another reason why I finished this one and may have enjoyed it a bit more than some others. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this audiobook, the rating and opinions shared are my own.

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Stolen by Tess Stimson, Narrated by Stephanie Racine, Indra Ove, Colin Mace, Aysha Kala, Beth Eyre, and Josie Dunne

Published August 5th 2021 by HarperCollins UK Audio, Avon

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A mother’s nightmare. You go to a destination wedding of a close friend, and your daughter is in the wedding party. She is only three, but as she leaves the ceremony to head to the reception, you are not worried. You ask someone in the wedding party to watch out for her and you go off for a bit to enjoy yourself. An hour later, she is missing. Did she wander off? Did someone take her? Alex knows her daughter would never wander off with someone she doesn’t know. Why didn’t she watch Lottie every second?

This is an emotional, twisty story. Anytime something happens with children, the first person looked at are the parents. If they didn’t do it, then it’s still their fault for not watching their child closer. Media plays a part in this story both vilifying and supporting Alex. Every time there is a sighting, off she goes to see if it is Lottie. I felt for Alex, especially as time goes on. The other person that plays a huge role in this story is Quinn, a journalist. She uses her contacts, investigative skills and her tenacious attitude to continue to search for Lottie long after her employers and the police have given up. Tess Stimson does an amazing job with this story, keeping my emotions at the surface all the time. I was sure I knew who had taken Lottie, I was positive and I was wrong.

The characters in this story were wonderfully developed and described. They were not all likable, but they were realistic. The missing child, Lottie, is spoiled, stubborn, manipulative and a glutton. Alex, her mother, was happy as a wife, but did not want a child. When she was born, her husband Luca looked after her until their divorce and death when he was in a bridge collapse. Of course, she did love her and Lottie had become her world. Quinn, the journalist, is an alcoholic. She was involved in a bombing a few years earlier and became an amputee. She is bitter and angry, but when she gets a tingling in her spine when she is assigned to cover Lottie’s abduction, she never gives up. This is a well-written story with tense moments, twists that were unexpected and hope that Lottie will be found unharmed. I was chewing my nails as this story progressed and finally came to a stunning end. Well done Tess Stimson. The cast that narrated this one also did a wonderful job. Some roles were short, such as a podcast announcer, and others took on major roles, but all did a great job adding to my enjoyment of this story. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.