Books featuring a podcast

Since I just reviewed The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan a few days ago I thought today it would fun to share a few of my favorite books featuring podcasts. I really love books that have a podcast element and how they help tell a story in an interesting and fun way. Also if you are sensitive to anything then make sure you check out trigger warnings for all of them because I’m pretty sure that all of them deal with one or more difficult topic.

My thoughts: This is probably one of the most well known in the podcast trope/genre but it is truly incredible. The best podcast books actually feel like a real podcast and give a similar experience as listening to one which Sadie does perfectly. This is the only book on this list that I listened to as an audiobook and I loved the experience so I definitely recommend reading it that way as well.

Synopsis:

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

My thoughts: I have read three of the Six Stories series and these books are pretty much all podcast. They are called six stories because each podcast season (or book) is six episodes long and features a new witness/character to help solve the mystery. The third book is my favorite of the three that I have read. I would recommend that you read them in order because we do get to know the podcast host, Scott King, pretty well and things do happen related to him. However, if you are purely wanting to read a good podcast book then you may just want to read the synopsis of all the six currently published books and see which one is calling to you the most.

Synopsis (for the first one):

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

My thoughts: I love the way MacMillan used the podcast element to tell her story and I thought it was a unique take on what could have been the standard trope. While this book does feature a podcast it is also a detective novel and I enjoyed seeing those two things play off each other. This one does get a bit messy between the dual timelines and the variety of characters but it was still an entertaining read.

Synopsis:

From author Gilly Macmillan comes this original, chilling and twisty mystery about two shocking murder cases twenty years apart, and the threads that bind them.

Twenty years ago, eleven-year-olds Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby were murdered in the city of Bristol, their bodies dumped near a dog racing track. A man was convicted of the brutal crime, but decades later, questions still linger.

For his whole life, filmmaker Cody Swift has been haunted by the deaths of his childhood best friends. The loose ends of the police investigation consume him so much that he decides to return to Bristol in search of answers. Hoping to uncover new evidence, and to encourage those who may be keeping long-buried secrets to speak up, Cody starts a podcast to record his findings. But there are many people who don’t want the case—along with old wounds—reopened so many years after the tragedy, especially Charlie’s mother, Jess, who decides to take matters into her own hands.

When a long-dead body is found in the same location the boys were left decades before, the disturbing discovery launches another murder investigation. Now Detective John Fletcher, the investigator on the original case, must reopen his dusty files and decide if the two murders are linked. With his career at risk, the clock is ticking and lives are in jeopardy…

~Cassie

Books to read in winter

I’m here today to share some books that I think are the perfect read to curl up with this winter season. This winter seems especially cold and if you are stuck inside due to snow or just no desire to brave the cold temperatures these books will fully immerse you into their stories while you sip on your hot beverage of choice. Or, perhaps, you are on the other side of the world and are craving the reprieve cold weather will bring to your hot summer and are in the mood to check out some frigid reads.

My thoughts: If you have been around here for awhile then you know that I am not a big fan of how this book ended (because it had a good ending spot and yet went on for another fifty or so pages) but I still think Ruth Ware nailed the claustrophobic feeling that being snowed in can elicit. Disclaimer: I have never been snowed in so I’m only assuming that the feeling is similar.

Synopsis:

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

My thoughts: I only gave this book three stars when I read it a couple of years ago but when I think of books that would make a great weekend read this one comes to mind. I’m not a huge fan of young adult fantasy but the world that Christelle Dabos created is fascinating and the strongest part of the story.

Synopsis:

Long ago, following a cataclysm called “The Rupture,” the world was shattered into many floating celestial islands. Known now as Arks, each has developed in distinct ways; each seems to possess its own unique relationship to time, such that nowadays vastly different worlds exist, together but apart. And over all of the Arks the spirit of an omnipotent ancestor abides. 

Ophelia lives on Anima, an ark where objects have souls. Beneath her worn scarf and thick glasses, the young girl hides the ability to read and communicate with the souls of objects, and the power to travel through mirrors. Her peaceful existence on the Ark of Anima is disrupted when she is promised in marriage to Thorn, from the powerful Dragon clan. Ophelia must leave her family and follow her fiancée to the floating capital on the distant Ark of the Pole. Why has she been chosen? Why must she hide her true identity? Though she doesn’t know it yet, she has become a pawn in a deadly plot.

My thoughts: This book is set a research center in Antarctica during the winter and you don’t get more isolated than that. I read this last year and have been sitting on my review for it which I will try to put up next week but this is a locked room type mystery that I think a lot of people will enjoy. The first half of the book is all set up though but once you get past that the plot moves at a pretty good pace.

Synopsis:

ONE DEAD BODY
TWELVE SUSPECTS
TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR DARKNESS

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the chance to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all. And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes for them all . .

My Thoughts: I’m sure you can tell by the cover that this is yet again another isolated snowy setting book. However, half of this book takes place in an isolated area in Scotland but the other half takes place in London and follows our potentially doomed couple’s marriage over time.

Synopsis:

Think you know the person you married? Think again…

Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife. 

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

Rock Paper Scissors is the latest exciting domestic thriller from the queen of the killer twist, New York Times bestselling author Alice Feeney.

My Thoughts: This book differs from the others because it doesn’t have a wintery feeling although it does partly take place in an isolated forest. I put this book on the list because if the goal is to find a book that you can curl up with over the course of a weekend than you don’t get much better than one of the Wesolowski’s Six Stories books. This is the first in the series of 6 (maybe more) standalone books that use the podcast format to tell compelling and fast paced stories. I have read three of them so far and each one I struggle to put down because I just want to know what is going to happen next.

Synopsis:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

~Cassie

Festive Read Recommendations: Mystery/Thriller

If you are looking for something festive or seasonal to read this time of year but you aren’t into the holiday romances that are so heavily popular right now than I have put together a list of mystery/thriller/suspense books that I have both read and are on my TBR. Or perhaps you are burned out on romance so late into the season and are wanting to switch things up. Either way I hope you find something up your alley on this curated list.

My thoughts: This is a fun collection of winter and holiday themed short stories featuring Christie’s most iconic detectives. I throughly enjoyed every story and this book is great if you want to just read a couple of stories every month this winter season.

Synopsis:

An all-new collection of winter-themed stories from the Queen of Mystery, just in time for the holidays—including the original version of Christmas Adventure, never before released in the United States!

There’s a chill in the air and the days are growing shorter . . . It’s the perfect time to curl up in front of a crackling fire with these wintry whodunits from the legendary Agatha Christie. But beware of deadly snowdrifts and dangerous gifts, poisoned meals and mysterious guests. This chilling compendium of short stories—some featuring beloved detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple—is an essential omnibus for Christie fans and the perfect holiday gift for mystery lovers.

INCLUDES THE STORIES:
– Three Blind Mice
– The Chocolate Box
– A Christmas Tragedy
– The Coming of Mr Quin
– The Clergyman’s Daughter/Red House
– The Plymouth Express
– Problem at Pollensa Bay
– Sanctuary
– The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge
– The World’s End
– The Manhood of Edward Robinson
– Christmas Adventure

My thoughts: This is on my TBR so I can’t tell you if it’s good or not but it sounds like it could be a good time for any fan of crime novels.

Synopsis:

As the snow begins to fall, the body count begins to climb…

DI James Walker is ready for a quiet family Christmas in the sleepy village of Kirkby Abbey.

But when he opens an early Christmas present left on his doorstep, he soon realises it is no gift. Inside is a gruesome surprise, and a promise – twelve days, twelve murders. Not long after, the first body is found, half frozen in the snow.

As the blizzards descend, panic spreads through the remote Cumbrian village – there’s a killer amongst them, and with eleven more victims to go, anyone could be next….

Can James stop the killer before they strike again?

The first in a new series, Alex Pine has written a dark, atmospheric crime novel, set in a snowed-in Cumbrian village, for fans of Val McDermid, Ross Greenwood and LJ Ross.

My thoughts: This is pretty light on a mystery aspect but if you are wanting a festive read with an aspect of historical intrigue then this might be one for you. It’s also filled with yummy holiday treats that might inspire you to get in the kitchen and give one a shot. If I remember correctly there is an eggnog cake that I would love to make for my family.

Synopsis: It’s Christmas many years ago, and topping young Hannah Swensen’s wish list is becoming the go-to baker in Lake Eden, Minnesota. But as Hannah finds out, revisiting holiday memories can be 
murder . . .

With her dream of opening The Cookie Jar taking shape, Hannah’s life matches the hectic December hustle and bustle in Lake Eden—especially when she agrees to help recreate a spectacular Christmas Ball from the past in honor of Essie Granger, an elderly local in hospice care. But instead of poring over decadent dessert recipes for the merry festivities, she instantly becomes enthralled by Essie’s old notebooks and the tale of a woman escaping danger on the streets of New York. Hannah’s surprised by Essie’s secret talent for penning crime fiction. She’s even more surprised when the story turns real. As Hannah prepares to run a bakery and move out of her mother’s house, it’ll be a true miracle if she can prevent another Yuletide disaster by solving a mystery as dense as a Christmas fruitcake . . .

My thoughts: Nothing could be a more festive mystery than a Hercule Poirot Christmas. I’m hoping to fit this one in during this last week before Christmas but if not then it will go back on my TBR for next December.

Synopsis: In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the holidays are anything but merry when a family reunion is marred by murder — and the notoriously fastidious investigator is quickly on the case. The wealthy Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons — one faithful, one prodigal, one impecunious, one sensitive — and their wives return home for Christmas. But a heartwarming family holiday is not exactly what he has in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults and finally announces that he is cutting off their allowances and changing his will. Poirot is called in the aftermath of Simeon Lee’s announcement.

My thoughts: This isn’t exactly festive but this highly suspenseful novel would be perfect for a quiet afternoon or night that you might get if you are lucky enough to get a holiday vacation. Or perhaps, in the quiet days after Christmas you are looking for a wintery read and this could be the perfect read.

Synopsis:

A thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

My thoughts: This sounds like a fun historical cozy mystery that is filled with the Christmas spirit. I don’t think I will get to this one this year but it is definitely going on my 2022 TBR.

Synopsis:

An English Christmas has mince pies, cheerful carols, a twinkling tree… and a murder? Thank goodness Lady Swift is on the scene!

Winter, 1920. Amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor Swift is feeling festive. She is playing host to the entire village at Henley Hall for gifts, games and gingerbread. She’s also purchased perfect presents for each of her household – not forgetting the biggest bone in the butcher’s shop for her partner in crime, Gladstone the bulldog – and is looking forward to celebrating her first English country Christmas.

As snowflakes fall, Eleanor is cheering on contestants in the traditional Christmas fun run in the grounds of the Hall. But tragedy strikes when one of the runners drops dead at the finish line. Dashing Detective Seldon is convinced it’s just a heart attack, but Eleanor isn’t so sure. When she finds a rather distinctive key where the man fell, Eleanor knows she’ll never rest until she finds out the truth about what happened in her own home.

Next the vicar is taken ill with what looks like poison and Eleanor starts to wonder if the two cases are linked. When someone tries to frame her by planting poisoned berries in her own kitchen, she knows speed is of the essence. But the entire village was at Henley Hall for the festivities and Eleanor has enough suspects to stuff a town full of turkeys. Can she nail the true killer and clear her name in time for Christmas?

Christmas won’t be complete without it! A festive treat for fans of Agatha Christie, TE Kinsey and Lee Strauss.

~Cassie