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: 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.

REVIEW – Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard

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Expected publication: January 30, 2018

Park Row Books

 

After previously enjoying “The Drowning Girls” by Paula Treick DeBoard, I was excited to have the opportunity to read this novel.

This was another fantastic read.

October 2016

Lauren Mabrey is desperate to attend a press conference that’s about to begin. It’s not open to the public and the guard at the door tries to turn her away. However, when Lauren whispers that she’s family, the guard takes pity on her, and lets her inside. The press conference begins and a woman says…

“I’m here today to tell you what happened to me fourteen years ago, and why, for far too long, I’ve kept silent.”

1998-

Megan Mazeros always promised herself she wouldn’t get stuck living in Woodstock. Originally she was to attend Kansas State but that wasn’t to be. But now, Megan is finally getting out. She’s getting away from everything and everyone in Woodstock…and for that she’s thankful.

Lauren Mabrey comes from a very well known, powerful, and influential family. To say they are well-off is an understatement. With houses in different states and even a private island, Lauren has never wanted for anything…financially anyway. As Lauren says “We’re the all-American family on steroids.” However, Lauren knows she doesn’t fit the “Mabrey mold”. She’s nothing like her perfect siblings; she’s a disappointment…the “wild child”.

“You’ll never get anywhere in life like this”

Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey both end up at the all-girls school – Keale College in Connecticut. They are both there for very different reasons. When they meet, they realize right away that they don’t have much in common. Megan had a very modest upbringing and Lauren is the daughter of a senator. But despite their differences, they grow a friendship so strong that they feel comfortable sharing their deepest darkest secrets, things no one else knows.

Megan enjoys some of the perks that come with having a friend who has money. However, there are times when the differences in their backgrounds are made very apparent, times when Megan thinks that she doesn’t belong in Lauren’s “other life”.

“I was only a guest in this life, an actor pulled in for a bit role. I was supporting actress to the golden girl”

However, Megan isn’t the only one with insecurities. But their friendship continues to grow. They make plans for the future, positive that they will always be in each other’s lives.

Then comes the night when everything changes. Guilt and shame. So many secrets…so many lies.

But eventually something happens that makes it impossible to keep quiet any longer.

What really happened all those years before?

The story-line moves between the past and present, alternating Lauren and Megan’s point of view. Well-written and engaging, the story was easy to follow, and I had no problem figuring out whose point of view it was.

Reading the description, I had an idea of what was to come. However, I still found the journey getting there so interesting. I felt like much of what happened came across realistically. This is a story that explores family dynamics, the complications of friendship, and the power of secrets and lies. There were some very emotional moments, but I feel that the author handled these sensitive issues with great care.

Paula Treick DeBoard’s writing makes me ask myself some tough questions. I thought a lot about my own friendships.  I wondered how I would react in situations like the ones in this novel. What can a friendship survive? What does it mean to be brave?

I really enjoyed this novel and I’m hoping I don’t have to wait too long to read more from Paula Treick DeBoard.

Thank you to Park Row Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.