Review: The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The New Neighbors will be available April 10, 2018. 

I found The New Neighbors to be a pretty standard psychological thriller (and I’m using the word “thriller” loosely). The writing wasn’t bad, but I just found myself pretty underwhelmed with the plot and the characters.

I thought the synopsis sounded pretty intriguing. I thought the house and the neighborhood was going to provide a really creepy atmosphere. However, I don’t feel like the house played that big of a role. In the beginning there was a good deal of description of it, but I felt like after being told it was creepy a couple of times, that was kind of it. And the “grisly discovery in the attic” was a pretty big letdown, as well.

I’ve seen lots of reviews talking about the journal formatting, but it didn’t really work for me. In the first part of the book we get alternating 1st person POVs from Jack and Syd and we’re told they’re writing everything down so they can hand it over to the police. I was never sure if there were parts of those chapters that were supposed to be regular narrative or if everything we were reading was supposed to be a journal. With few exceptions, it just didn’t read like journal entries. It read as very straightforward regular narration. In the second half of the book they are done with the journaling and the style was not any different than the first half. I thought that Jack and Syd’s voices were very distinct in the very beginning, but as the book went on, they sounded exactly the same.

I didn’t think the “surprises” were done very well. A lot of things are alluded to throughout the book that are supposed to help build suspense, but when things were finally revealed I just didn’t find them to be very impactful or surprising. To be honest, I just felt let down by the direction the “mystery” went. I found the ending very underwhelming.

Overall, The New Neighbors was a little disappointing to me. The main idea and the writing itself weren’t bad, but the formatting, the characters, and the progression of the plot were lacking. I think people who don’t read a lot of this genre and like character-driven stories would probably enjoy this a little more.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

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Favorite Mysteries and Thrillers

This week on Good Reads is Mystery and Thriller Week, so I thought I’d celebrate by sharing some of my favorite books from the genre (links go to my reviews).

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Sharon Bolton is one of my very favorite authors and all of her books I’ve read have been great, but my two favorite books by her (and just favorites in general) are Daisy in Chains and Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1).

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The Imogen Grey series by Katerina Diamond is fantastic. Be forewarned that they are pretty dark, but they are so worth it!

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Ragdoll (Detective William Fawkes #1) by Daniel Cole. This book completely lived up to the hype and I am dying for the next in the series.

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Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. A different take on the serial-killer novel, smartly written, and just look at that cover!

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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen totally lived up to the hype for me. I thought I had it all figured out, but that twist completely got me.

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Lies She Told by Cate Holahan. The story within a story really worked for me and I loved this.

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I would be remiss to have a list about my favorite mysteries without including a book by one of my favorite authors, Linwood Barclay. I really enjoy his Promise Falls books and The Twenty-Three really stood out for the panic-inducing atmosphere the book starts out with.

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Another favorite author I need to mention is Karin Slaughter. I really love her Will Trent series, as well as her standalone titles.

Ok, I’m going to stop myself here because I could go on and on with this topic. If you want to find some more great mystery titles, I am going to refer you to my favorite Mystery blogger: Annie @ TheMisstery. Several of the books I mentioned above I discovered because of her. I feel like almost every blog post she writes results in me adding another book to my TBR.

And lastly, I’m going to leave you with this fun little game that is over on Good Reads. What is the name of your mystery novel? Mine is The Stalker on Flight 42

What are some of your favorite mysteries and thrillers? What was the title of your mystery novel?

Review: All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

 

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Harry Ackerson has always considered his step-mother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “other worldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, he returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help one another pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

I received a copy of this title from the publisher. It does not impact my review.

All the Beautiful Lies will be available April 3, 2018. 

This is one of those books where I feel like the synopsis doesn’t really describe the book that accurately. It didn’t bother me much, though, in this case because I found the book to be much better than what the synopsis makes it sound like.

All the Beautiful Lies is not a book with shocking twists, but many small reveals. There is one big reveal that might shock some readers that missed the clues early on about the identity of the killer, but I first suspected it at about 30%. I didn’t mind not being shocked by it, though, because I enjoyed everything leading up to it. The use of multiple timelines and POVs were really used effectively to build suspense and reveal things at the most impactful moments. I really never wanted to put the book down. I read the first half in pretty much one sitting.

None of the characters were very likable, but I did feel pretty invested in all of them. Poor, stupid Harry was probably my favorite. I felt so bad for what he was going through, but some of his decisions just frustrated me. I wish we would’ve gotten more of Alice’s POV in the present timeline. Her past timeline POVs were kind of fascinating as we learn how she became the person she is, but I would’ve liked to have heard what was going through her head during some of her interactions with Harry.

Overall, I really enjoyed All the Beautiful Lies. I loved the use of multiple timelines and POVs. The writing was really addictive and the book was hard to put down. This is my first book by Swanson and I’m planning on reading more from him in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

March 2018 Recap

Every year I feel that March = Spring and the weather should improve and the sun should shine. Then every year March decides to remind me that it is mostly still winter and it’s still snowy and dark and cold. I’m really hoping that April will decide to act like Spring, but you never know with Ohio. In books news, I read a decent number this month. There was a deal on Kindle Unlimited to get 2 months for $0.99, so I signed up. So far I’ve read 4 books and am part way through two others, so I’ve definitely got my money-worth. I’ll do a little review post on the whole experience once the two months is up. In life news, work is very anxiety-producing. I try to remind myself that I’m still learning things and it’s ok not to know what I’m doing all the time, but it doesn’t always work. I do like the extra $$$ in my paycheck, though!

Books Read: 13

Adult: 8
YA: 5

Favorite Books I Read This Month:

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Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay.

  Books Reviewed: 5

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer – 4/5 Stars

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh – 4/5 Stars

Starry Eyes by Jen Bennett – 4/5 Stars

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata – 4/5 Stars

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris – 3/5 Stars

Books Read in 2018 Overall: 36

Funny Fridays:

You've been warned...

March 9

March 16

March 23

Other Posts:

Back from Hiatus

Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2018

How I Read Book Tag

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Romance Novels

Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2018

How was your March?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2018

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Cracked Kingdom (The Royals #5) by Erin Watt. Read March 1-3. 3 Stars. 

***BEWARE OF MILD SPOILERS***
This had all the guilty pleasure drama I expect from a Royal book. It was a decent end to the series, but I didn’t LOVE it. I wish the whole head trauma issues were written with a little more care. Though it’s never explicitly said that Sebastian has a TBI, that’s what it sounded like. TBI’s are no joke and I thought they could’ve talked a little more about it than the page or so towards the end of the book. I liked that there was resolution in regards to Steve and with Hartley’s dad and with the bomb he dropped regarding Easton at the end of the previous book – though, again, I wish there was a little more about that. As fans of the series know, the authors really rushed to get this put out by their self-imposed deadline, but I would’ve been ok with waiting just a little longer so some of the typos and few continuity issues were edited out beforehand. Overall, though, I liked Easton and Hartley together and I liked that Ella and Reed were included in the ending.

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Parting Shot (Promise Falls #4) by Linwood Barclay. Read March 1-4. 4 Stars. 

I thought The Twenty-Three was the end to the Promise Falls series, but was quite pleased to find out there was another one! After the end of this one I thought for sure there would have to be even more, but I did some research and it looks like this will be the last book set in Promise Falls (at least for a good long while). I wished we got some more of David Harwood in this book. Poor, often stupid David Harwood makes so many awful decisions, but I have always enjoyed reading about him and the previous book left his storyline kind of on a major cliffhanger. There was a cameo mention that tied things up with him, but I still feel like I wanted more. However, there was enough going on in this book without him. The book centers around Cal Weaver and Barry Duckworth and their cases. I’m always amazed by how Barclay can tie all of his many threads together and I loved how it all turned out in this one. This book reminded me why he is one of my favorite authors. The ending was more open-ended than I would’ve liked, but I still really enjoyed this book.

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Wesley James Ruined my Life by Jennifer Honeybourn. Read March 5-7. 3 Stars. 

I liked the premise of this book, but it fell a little flat for me. I expected Wesley to have done something horrific to Quinn in the past, but what he did to make her “hate” him wasn’t really that big of a deal. It reminded me a little bit of Lola and the Boy Next Door in that regard. Quinn just way overreacted. I thought she was kind of psycho when it came to her vendetta against him. And while I wanted to ship their romance, I just didn’t get it. There weren’t even really any cute moments between the two of them until the end. I didn’t feel like Quinn fell for him. It felt like she just had a childhood crush on him that never ended, but she tried to deny it for awhile. I didn’t really understand why Wesley was so interested in her, either. I did like the medieval restaurant setting, though, and there were a couple funny moments. Not one I would pick up again, though.

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The Lonely Hearts Club (The Lonely Hearts Club #1) by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read March 7-8. 3.5 Stars.

Last year I discovered Elizabeth Eulberg and have really enjoyed several of her books. I find her writing pretty addictive. There’s lots of character development and plenty of cute moments. I did have some issues with this book, though. Penny really frustrated me sometimes. Whenever she “stood up for herself” it included tearing someone else down. She said a lot of really rude, unnecessary things to people and it was almost always praised by those around her. I also thought she and all her friends were really shallow about 95% of the time. That said, I did still like Penny at the end of the day and am going to go on to read the next book.

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We Can Work it Out (The Lonely Hearts Club #2) by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read March 9-10. 3 Stars. 

A quick, addicting read, even though it didn’t feel like a lot actually happened. I felt like all the drama Penny dealt with she brought upon herself and it wasn’t really necessary. I liked the cute moments between her and Ryan, though. I’m glad I finally got to this series, but I don’t think it’s one I’ll want to read again.

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Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine. Read March 11-12. 3 Stars. 

I think this fell victim to being over-hyped. I had such high expectations for it and it did not come close to meeting them. It was sloooooow, the chapters were long (and we all know how much I hate that), and I felt about zero suspense until about the last quarter or so of the book. I guessed who the bad guy was very early on. However, the writing wasn’t that bad, if a little too repetitive and I did enjoy that last quarter of the book. I’ll still check out the sequel since I’m trying out Kindle Unlimited right now.

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. Read March 17-18. 4 Stars. 

Just before this book I read Dear Aaron and I thought nothing could melt my cold heart like that did. I was wrong. I absolutely adored the relationship in this. It started out rough and Jasmine was VERY hard to like, but as it went on and their friendship grew and Ivan was So. Freaking. Sweet., I just fell in love with it. That’s not to say it was a perfect book because I did have a few issues with it, but I don’t even really care enough about the faults to write about them. The one thing I’ll say is that I wish we got to see more of Ruby and Aaron in this one, but I did like the little bit we got.

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Under Locke by Mariana Zapata. Reach March 18-22. 1 Star.

I’m going to preface this by saying I really should have just DNF-ed this book and moved on with my life. I feel like this type of book is for a very specific audience and I am not at all that audience. I do not really like the Alpha-Male-You-Belong-To-Me-I’ll-Kill-Anyone-Who-Looks-At-You thing. I didn’t really find the relationship between Dex and Iris romantic. I felt like most of the big “romantic” moments were #MeToo movement scenarios. I just couldn’t get behind it. No means no, not “keep going until I finally give in”.

I also just didn’t find the story that interesting. The conclusion to the situation with Iris’ father was really anti-climatic. I think this book just goes to show that liking one book by an author does not mean you will like all books by him/her.

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Wish You Were Mine by Tara Sivec. Read March 27-29. 3.5 Stars

I loved the way this started out with the past and present timelines and the dual 1st person POVs. I felt like when the past timeline ended, though, it went a little bit downhill for me. I felt like the main characters just kept repeating themselves over and over. The main issue in the story is based on a miscommunication, as well, which always kind of bugs me. I also didn’t love Cameron and her short temper all the time. However, there were lots of good moments in the book and I did like Everett and his brother, Jason (wish we would’ve seen a little more of him, though). I would probably recommend this one to Romance fans.

********Re-Reads********

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Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg. I loved this book just as much the second time around. Once again, I read it in a day. I just adore pretty much everything about this.

********Removed from the TBR********

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Meet Cute by various authors. I got this from the library, but I only ended up reading one story out of it. Most of the reviews I read said the JLA story was the best and I, unfortunately, was not really impressed by it so I decided not to read anymore.

********Back on the TBR********

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Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. I made it about 17% through this and just couldn’t get into it. I don’t see me finishing it before it’s due back at the library.