Review – The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next DoorThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Published August 23, 2016

Penguin Audio

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I still haven’t listened to very many audiobooks. While I prefer to read on my e-reader or read a book, I really do like having the option to listen to an audiobook now and then. It’s a nice change and I can close my eyes (as long as I’m not driving). But I don’t close my eyes often as usually it doesn’t matter how exciting the audiobook is, I could very well fall asleep.

However, I didn’t have that problem with this one. I was pretty into it and it was very unlikely that I was going to fall asleep.

Anne and Marco Conti are new parents to a six-month-old baby girl named Cora. It seems they have it all. The are financially comfortable, they have a great marriage and now they have a beautiful baby.

Everything is perfect.

Since having Cora, the couple don’t go out very often. So when their friends/neighbors invite them over for a dinner party they are excited to go, well Marco is. Anne Conti would prefer not to go, especially since the neighbors, Cynthia and Graham Stillwell don’t want children at the party. Anne agrees to go and they schedule a babysitter. But the night of the party the sitter cancels leaving them with no one to watch Cora. Anne tells her husband she’s fine staying home with the baby. Marco really wants her to come, he thinks it would be good for her to go.

“It will be good for you to get out, you know what the doctor said”

Eventually Anne agrees to go, but only if they take the baby monitor and check on Cora every half hour. They arrive at the party but Anne just can’t seem to enjoy herself. She has some wine but even that doesn’t help. She’s miserable…especially as she watches her “friend” flirt with Marco. Cynthia is gorgeous and beside her Anne feels horrible about herself, she’s very insecure about the baby weight she is still carrying.

On top of that, lately it seems that something has been off with her husband. She’s not sure if it’s her imagination or something else. Is he keeping something from her?

By one in the morning, Anne has had enough and wants to go home. Marco wants to stay for another drink. Quickly she becomes tired of waiting and tells him she’s leaving with or without him. Marco decides to go home with Anne.

As they walk up to their from door, they notice that it’s open. Anne is positive she shut the door when she was last there to check on Cora.

They both immediately run up the stairs and into the baby room. They look into the crib and Anne screams…..

I will leave it at that as I really don’t want to spoil anything.

I really enjoyed this audiobook. A great domestic suspense that honestly pulled me in right from the start. The plot was great and I thought the story flowed well. I didn’t have any trouble keeping up or keeping track of who was who like I sometimes do with audiobooks.

I’m finding that the right narrator can make all the difference when it comes to listening to any audiobook and I think the narrator for “The Couple Next Door” was great.

I look forward to more from Shari Lapena!

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Review – No Kiss Goodbye

No Kiss GoodbyeNo Kiss Goodbye by Janelle Harris

Published September 2, 2015

 

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was incredible!

Whoa..

It seems like I’ve been saying that a lot lately. But sometimes it’s the only word that fits.

This is one heck of a psychological thriller in my opinion.

I like how the blurb didn’t give away a lot of the plot but at the same time it sure made me want to read it.

Especially:
My husband wants to take the kids.
My husband thinks the accident was my fault.
My husband thinks I need help.
But I think he wants rid of me.

In regards to the plot I’m going to leave it at that, I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything.

I went through a wide range of emotions while reading this book… I was on-edge, anxious, surprised, shocked and sometimes quite confused having no clue to what was happening. But I couldn’t stop reading… I had to know what was going on!

At first I thought that the author had made some huge mistakes because one and one was definitely not equaling two…. it was more like twelve. However, as I kept on I realized it was all intentional and I was compelled to keep going. This may not sound like a good thing but it was, it really really was!
Who’s the good guy? Who’s the bad guy? I couldn’t figure out who to trust and my mind kept changing every few pages!!

The suspense kept up all the way from start to finish…

This novel was suspenseful, powerful but also emotional and heartbreaking. A novel that I won’t soon forget.

I highly recommend this book!!!!

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Review – At Risk

At RiskAt Risk by S.G. Redling

Published September 20, 2016

Thomas & Mercer

 

My rating: 3.5 stars

This was my first S.G. Redling book. From the description I thought it sounded like a book I would really enjoy.

Colleen McElroy comes from a wealthy and privileged family. But despite that, life hasn’t always been easy. She barely survived her first marriage to a brutal man who not only beat her so badly that she required surgery, but stripped her of all of her confidence and self-worth. But meeting Patrick McElroy changed all of that. Patrick is kind, calm and gentle with Colleen. A solid and respectful man. He played a big part in helping her build up her self-esteem, and helped her heal.

Patrick McElroy and John Mulroney met in a foster home when they were in their teens. Both suffered from abuse and neglect but what Patrick lived through was beyond horrific. Because of how tight-knit they were they eventually became known as the Macaroni Brothers and now run a freight company. However, they are most proud of the work they do with at risk youth. When they were young they promised themselves that if they ever had the money that they would build a home for children that was clean and safe but would also provide education and training for successful futures. They built Green Fields Youth Home, and it’s been a great success. John’s wife, Bix also grew up in foster care and is an integral part of the Macaroni Brothers business. Green Fields means everything to the three of them.

Colleen has always believed that she’s completely safe with Patrick. But lately things are starting to shake that belief. She often hears Patrick and John fighting, but when she asks her husband what’s going on he doesn’t give her a satisfactory answer. On top of that some of the people Patrick and John are in business with are definitely cause for concern. It’s not long before she starts to feel like the safe new life she’s made for herself with Patrick is being threatened. Is she looking for problems where there are none or does she have reason to be worried? Can Colleen truly rely on anyone but herself?

I had conflicted feelings about Colleen. At first I found her way too passive. I definitely felt bad about what she had been through but some of her decisions seemed odd. Especially when it came to her friendship with Bix. Loud and hot-headed, Bix could be a good friend to Colleen one minute but then the next minute she would be making passive aggressive comments to her, even downplaying what Colleen went through in her first marriage. Many times I wanted Colleen to stand-up for herself.

I have to say I could never have predicted how things would turn out. I liked not knowing what was going to happen but it almost seemed to come out of left field. After a rather slow beginning it built up to a frenzied pace in the last few chapters….my head was spinning. It almost felt like someone flipped a switch and everything (and everyone) went berserk. It did get quite graphic and although we aren’t left hanging at the end, it did feel like it was a bit rushed.

All in all I thought this was a good read. I was intrigued from the start and read it rather quickly. Despite some mixed feelings with how it all played out, I did think that it had quite an original and interesting plot and I think I will enjoy reading more from S.G. Redling.

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer, and S.G. Redling for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review – What Lies Between Us

What Lies Between UsWhat Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

Published February 16, 2016

St. Martin’s Press

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know if I just started paying more attention to book covers or if they have just gotten so much better but I’ve seen some fantastic covers recently. I love the cover on this one. Gorgeous!!!

The book begins with an unnamed woman sitting in her jail cell. She confesses to us how she has done the unthinkable, that she is the worst thing possible. That she is a bad mother. However, she tells us that we only think we know her story and why she did what she did. That she will tell us her story but in her time, her words from the beginning, when she was the child and not yet the mother.

This book made me think about motherhood in ways I’d never have expected.

“Motherhood is, if anything, the assumption of perfection”.

She says how many mothers can sit back and judge her because she has committed an act so horrendous that other mothers are relieved because they have not failed in the way she has.

The narrator was born and lived in the hill country of Sri Lanka. We still don’t know her name but she’s often referred to as Baby Madame. On the surface her childhood looks idyllic. She has the love of her mother and father. She plays in the beautiful country, eating guava fresh that she’s pulled right off of the tree. She learns how to swim with her father. Spends time at school getting an education and spends time playing games like hide and seek with her friends and cousins. It’s not long though that we begin to see the cracks in this “perfect childhood”.

Her mother, who has moods that swing back and forth, leaving the child to wonder what her mother will do next. Will she sing and dance with her laughing and playing? Then all of a sudden push her away because the child’s feet aren’t in perfect rhythm. Will her mother make her breakfast or stay locked in her room for days at a time. She knows during these times that she must be quiet, must not make any noise, and let her mother rest. Her father tells her that her mother is “delicate” and that she needs to be treated carefully. Her father who prefers to hide in his study with his glass of arrack.

The anxiety that all this would create in a child. I can see how this would cause a child to fear disappointing her mother. Would do anything to keep her mother from looking at her with disapproval. That she would keep secrets instead of trusting that her mother would help. The delicate mother. Instead she will continue to keep quiet, not disturb, and be good.

“You could pretend certain things weren’t happening even when you had seen or felt them. Everything done can be denied”.

When tragedy strikes, child and mother move to America. They will start over, a new life. She will live as a normal American teenager and have a normal life. However, the secrets and trauma from her childhood stay with her. Haunting her as she tries to live her new life.

How much does childhood trauma affect our adult lives?

I’ve often thought of how lucky I am. So many things that I can’t even imagine happening. For example living in a place where if you are in the wrong area you can be stopped and only watch helplessly as a family member is dragged away or even being dragged away yourself. A place where as a woman you have no rights. Where you can bring shame down on your family so easily.

“Shame is female; shame is the price I must pay for this body”

Reading this novel I felt as though I was put through an emotional wringer. At times I was horrified, angry, sad and completely heartbroken. It provoked thoughts in me that I wasn’t expecting. Dark and horrifying but at times also beautiful and hopeful. I knew from the description that I was in for an emotional read but I was in no way prepared for just how emotional it would be. There is no doubt that this book will remain with me for a very long time.

“This is the story of what it means to be both a child of a mother and a child of history”

Exceptionally well-written with such well-developed characters. It gripped me from beginning to the very end. This is the first novel by Nayomi Munaweera that I have read but it won’t be my last.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and  Nayomi Munaweera for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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