Review: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

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Expected publication: March 13th, 2018 by Flatiron Books

 

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

 

1. I’m in a coma.

2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.

3. Sometimes I lie.

 

Amber Reynolds wakes up and doesn’t know where she is. For a moment she wonders if it might be a hotel. But then she realizes she’s in a hospital. She doesn’t know how she got there.

Why can’t she open her eyes?

She knows her name, that she’s thirty-five years old, and that she’s married to Paul. Memories come but she pushes them away. Something very bad has happened but she can’t remember what or when.

“Why isn’t he here?”

But she may already know the answer.

She screams but no one can hear her.

“I just need someone to switch me back on”

There is a word that she doesn’t like. She’s alone with the word. She can’t move. She can’t speak.

Coma

She wonders how badly she’s injured. She’s all there in body and mind. She’s starting to have a hard time separating dreams from reality. Time has a different meaning. She counts seconds. She realizes just how long she’s been alone.

She doesn’t know what happened to her…

Now HE’S there. He’s crying. She doesn’t want to be alone with him but she doesn’t know why.

“Hold on,” he says.

So many questions…

Why is he lying?

Another person comes in …another voice.

“You did this to yourself”

Whoa!  My head is spinning. What a mind-bending and engrossing read! I had been hearing great things about this novel, and I’m happy to say that for me, it absolutely lived up to the hype.

So many things I didn’t see coming. I thought I had things all figured out until something would happen that had me second guessing myself. Nothing is as it seems. With so many great twists and turns, you have no idea who you can trust.

Sometimes I Lie” is Alice Feeney’s debut novel and what a debut it was!  This was a well-written and compelling psychological thriller. I can’t wait to see what Alice Feeney writes next.

 

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REVIEW – The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

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Expected publication: March 6, 2018, by St. Martin’s Press

 

This is my second read from Sally Hepworth. I wondered if I could possibly enjoy this novel as much as I enjoyed her previous novel, “The Mother’s Promise”.  Well I did, I absolutely loved this novel.

“Do you ever really know your neighbours?”

The suburb of Pleasant Court really lives up to its name. It’s a perfectly pleasant place with perfectly pleasant people. An ideal place to raise children.

Essie Walker had quite a hard time adjusting to motherhood the first time around. In fact, one day almost ended in disaster. Thankfully, disaster was averted, and Essie improved. Now it is three years later, and Essie has another daughter, Polly. Things have been easier this time around and Essie is lucky to have her mother living next door, able to help out. Polly had been quite an easy baby at first. However, lately, she’s been waking almost hourly and almost never naps. Essie’s mother and husband are a little worried about how Essie is handling things.

But now everyone is distracted by a newcomer to Pleasant Court. Isabelle Heatherington has apparently moved to Melbourne for work. But why would a single woman with no children rent a four bedroom home for just her to live in? And why is she asking so many questions about her neighbours and their children?

When Essie meets Isabelle she feels an instant connection. She could use a new friend. Though she gets along with her neighbours, Fran and Ange, they aren’t what you would consider friends…more like friendly acquaintances.

 “If Ange was the image of the life you wanted to lead, Fran was the image of the person you want to be”

But there’s more to Fran and Ange than meets the eye….

Fran constantly has the feeling that her life is a moment away from unraveling completely. Her husband, Nigel wonders why she is constantly breaking down in tears. Fran runs for miles every day until her legs and chest burn. It’s almost like she’s punishing herself, literally running herself into the ground.

Then we have Ange and her gorgeous husband, Lucas. The perfect husband and father…though she can never seem to find him when she needs him. Why won’t she ask the questions that continue to plague her? Are the pictures she constantly posts on Instagram really to show everyone how great her life its? Or is she #tryingtoconvinceherself

So many secrets!!!

During this Melbourne summer heat wave, things definitely start to heat up around Pleasant Court.

PHEW! As I said at the beginning of my review, I LOVED this novel. Sally Hepworth has a remarkable ability to create stories with relatable characters that are completely entertaining. The story is told from multiple points of view, which can sometimes be hard to keep up with, but I honestly had no problem keeping things straight.

This novel deals with many different issues, some that I wouldn’t have expected, and I can clearly see that the author has done her research. It made me think about the things we will do to keep the peace. The questions we don’t ask. How complicated marriage, relationships, and parenthood can be.

While reading the last few chapters, nothing short of a 911 emergency would have made me put this book down. I HAD to know how things were going to turn out. Everything is revealed at a perfect pace. We learn what’s happening in each household, and it all comes together in what I thought was a fantastic and satisfying way.

Sally Hepworth has written another thought-provoking and entertaining novel with the perfect amount of intrigue and suspense.  A story of love, family, secrets, lies, forgiveness and so much more.

“The Family Next Door” was one of my top ten most anticipated reads for 2018 and I can honestly say that although it’s still the beginning of the year, I’m pretty sure that this book will be on my top ten best reads of 2018.

I can’t wait to see what Sally Hepworth comes up with next!

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

REVIEW: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

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Published July 1, 2017 by Thomas & Mercer

 

I’ve been trying to stay away from reading any new series until I finish the ones I’ve already started. However, I’ve been seeing “Stillhouse Lake” pop up everywhere lately, and after reading the description and a few reviews, I had to admit,  I was intrigued. I decided I had to read it… and I’m really glad I did.

Normally, Gina Royal is home at three in the afternoon, but her husband, Mel, has called and asked her to pick up the children as he has a work emergency. He was sorry to have disturbed her routine. He was kind that way, the “best, most charming man”.  A great father to seven-year-old, Brady and ten-year-old, Lily.

“Normal life. Comfortable life. Not perfect, of course. Nobody had a perfect marriage, did they? But Gina was satisfied, at least most of the time.”

She’s looking forward to watching a movie with Mel and the kids that evening. Family time is one of Mel’s favorite things. His other favorite thing is spending time in his workshop, working on his projects. Gina never asks what he’s working on.

When Gina gets back with the children, the street is filled with police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks.  She sees that her bushes are flattened, as well as her mailbox. Then she sees the SUV embedded halfway into the garage—Mel’s workshop.

Now Gina’s life is about to come crashing down around her.

When she gives her name to the police their attitude towards her becomes aggressive. She thinks they must have her mixed up with someone else. She is read her rights and she feels like she’s in a nightmare….this can’t be happening. Then the police officer shows her the garage…and what Mel was really doing in his workshop….and she starts to scream.

Four years later…..

New Names, new state, new home, and a new life. They are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Gina Royal no longer exists…she’s now Gwen Proctor. And there are a LOT of differences between the two. Where Gina was weak and submissive, Gwen is strong and dominant.

Gwen wants to set down some roots, give the kids a sense of stability and safety. She wants to leave Gina and everything else behind…The accident. The arrests. The trials.  THE EVENT.  However, there are people who just won’t let that happen. People who believe that she really was “Melvin’s Little Helper”.

The Sicko Patrol” is what they call Gwen’s daily internet searches. She needs to keep an eye on what’s being said about her and her children, in case the trolls aren’t just blowing off steam. She forces herself to read just how much people hate her and the vile things they say.

 “On and on and on. I leave Reddit, go to Twitter, find more threats, more hate, more vitriol—just in concise, 140-character bites.”

But some are more dangerous than others….

“The ones who are more interested in us, in Melvin Royal’s missing family…those are the ones who are dangerous.”

All she wants to do is survive and keep her kids safe. She runs crisis drills. They have an escape plan. They have an alarm set at all times, and Gwen is armed to the teeth!

Melvin is in jail but why does Gwen feel like things aren’t done?

And then the police come knocking…

“Something very bad has just begun”

Well, this was quite a read! I’m surprised at how quickly I flew through this novel. I devoured it in just two days. There is some violence; I did have to skim a few parts, but not enough to spoil the book for me.

“Stillhouse Lake” is an intense and action-packed thriller. A dark and twisted story of betrayal and murder. The ending had me rushing to find book two of the series as I was desperate to find out what was going to happen next.

A killer read!

Review: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

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Expected publication: March 27, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

 

Another outstanding read from Jessica Strawser!!

 

Having previously enjoyed Jessica Strawser’s debut novel “Almost Missed You”, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read her new novel “Not That I Could Tell”.

“Ever wonder what your friends really think of you?”

Although Izzy is new to Yellow Springs, Ohio, she’s been getting to know her neighbors and even spent Saturday evening overindulging in wine and conversation with five other women from the neighborhood.  Izzy doesn’t usually overdo it on alcohol, but got caught up in the excitement of the other women. With the exception of Izzy, all of the other women are married with children, and they were happy for the opportunity to relax around the fire without being interrupted every two seconds by a child wanting their attention.

Izzy is surprised when the soon to be ex-husband of one of the women flags her down as she gets home Monday to ask her if she’s seen his wife, Kristen. Izzy hasn’t seen Kristen since Saturday evening. Paul tells her that Kristen didn’t show up for work and didn’t drop the children off at school.  All three of them are gone…

Clara Tiffin was the host on Saturday evening and her and her husband Benny live right next door to Kristen. Clara is a stay at home mother to four-year old Thomas and thirteen-month old, Maddie. Clara’s son Thomas goes to school with Kristen’s twins.

When a detective stops by and asks Clara when she last saw Kristen, she is immediately concerned.

“We’re trying to account for her whereabouts, Mrs. Tiffin. She didn’t show at work today, and Abby and Aaron never arrived at school.”

Kristen Kirkland is the mom who always seems to have it together. She’s very involved in her children’s school activities. She’s the mom who always helps decorate for holiday parties, brings the fanciest snacks, and knows the name of everyone – teachers, parents and children. So when Kristen and her twins go missing, everyone is stunned…especially the neighborhood women who thought they knew her best.  However, the more they start to learn about Kristen..the more they wonder if they really knew her at all.

Suddenly the neighborhood turns into a media circus……

Though we learn about all of the women from the get-together, the story-line focuses more on Clara and Izzy; the personal issues they are struggling with, as well as their reaction to Kristen’s disappearance.

Where is Kristen?  Where are the children?

I really enjoyed this novel and I was drawn to many of the characters. I found them very relatable… flaws and all. I was also completely taken in by the little ones, their interactions with each other and adults were adorable. I could “see” little Maddie as she chased after her brother. A game of hide-and-seek between Clara and her four-year old son had me laughing out loud.

“Mommy, you count to ten and I’ll go hide behind the curtains in the dining room. Ready, go!”

“Thomas, hide-and-seek only works if you don’t tell me where you’re going to hide. I’ll count and you pick a new place, okay?”

“But the curtains are a great hiding place!”

“But you just told me you’re going to be there. I already know”

“Okay. Close your eyes-no peeking! I will go hide now—and do not look behind the curtains.”

“Ready or not, here I come”

Maniacal giggling came from the dining room….

Jessica Strawser is a tremendous storyteller. With fantastic characterization, a compelling story-line, “Not That I Could Tell” is another awesome read that kept me gripped from start to finish.  I was thrilled with this novel and I’m already looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next!

Highly recommended!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing a copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.