Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

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

The Family Upstairs will be available November 5, 2019. 

This book was excellent! Lisa Jewell’s writing is so ridiculously addictive. It did take a few chapters to hook me, but once I was in I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The gothic atmosphere of the house really added to the overall sense of dread that infused the story. Jewell does such a fantastic job of writing families full of dysfunction and secrets that are both intriguing and kind of horrifying.

I am really fascinated by cults and while this is not exactly a cult story, it has some of the same elements. A charismatic personality moves into the house and he slowly takes all control. He indoctrinates several members of the household, gets them to give him all their possessions, and imposes strict and crazy rules. I felt so sorry for the kids that had no say in what was happening and should have been protected by their parents, but weren’t.

The story is told through three points of view. Libby has just found who her birth parents are and wants to know the full story of what happened to the family she’s never known. Lucy is basically homeless with two kids and is desperately trying to find a way back to England. Henry’s is the only POV told through first person and he recounts everything that happened from when his family was wealthy and relatively normal, all the way through present day. He’s not always the most reliable of narrators, but his chapters were definitely the most compelling to read.

Overall, I loved reading The Family Upstairs. It was at turns tragic, horrifying, fascinating, and hopeful. I am so impressed with Jewell’s writing and how compulsively readable it is. My only complaints were that I found it just a little slow to start and the ending was not as dynamic as the rest of the story. However, everything else more than made up for it. I definitely recommend this one to fans of character driven mysteries.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: September 2019

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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The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. Read September 9-13. 2 Stars.

Um, did I read a different book from everyone else? It was not nearly as creepy as I expected it to be and the two big twists before the ending shouldn’t even be called twists. There were SO MANY hints that they seemed super obvious from very early on in the story. I can’t believe there are many people that would be surprised by them. The ending was not at all surprising either. The excruciatingly slow pace almost made me DNF this several times and I kind of wish I did.

Obviously I am in the minority here, though. 🤷‍♀️

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Part-Time Husband (Trophy Husbands #1) by Noelle Adams. Read September 13-14. 4 Stars.

I’ve been having a lot of book-ADD lately and have been struggling to get through anything. I knew I needed something quick and cute and Part-Time Husband was just right. I love a good marriage of convenience story and Noelle Adams always does them well. Though there were a few too many graphic scenes, it was sweet and romantic and Melissa and Trevor had some good banter.

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The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley. Read September 15-16. 3 Stars.

This was cute, had some sweet and funny moments, and quirky characters. The main character wasn’t always likable, though, and there were lots of communication issues that drove me a little crazy.

*****Re-Read*****

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The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord. I decided to re-read this before starting the long awaited sequel. I enjoyed it just as much the second time around. There was bonus content in the version I read this time that had all of Paige and Max’s e-mails from their summer apart which were pretty cute. It made me excited to read the next book.

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I got into a book slump and couldn’t decide what sounded good, so I decided to re-read Take a Bow, which is one of my favorites. I loved it just as much the third time around.

*****DNF*****

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The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts. DNF-ed at 21%. This was occasionally humorous, but the main character was really unlikable and I was not invested at all.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Blitzed (Playbook #3) by Alexa Martin – 3 Stars

The Map from Here to There (The Start of Me and You #2) by Emery Lord – 3 Stars

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters – 4 Stars

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – 4 Stars

Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3) by Lauren Layne – 4 Stars

WWW Wednesday: September 18, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

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Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters. I am really enjoying this one so far!

What did you recently finish reading?

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The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware, Part-Time Husband by Noelle Adams, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord, The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley. Since it took me a whole work week to finish Turn of the Key, I’ve been binging on quick and easy contemporaries.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I really want to work on my ARCs and The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell is the one with the next closest release date.

What are you reading?

Review: Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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A copy of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Watching You will be available December 26, 2018. 

Normally with my reviews I share the synopsis of the book, but I’m not going to do that for this one. I do have a warning, though. Apparently the edition I marked as “Want to Read” on Goodreads was the one edition that had a very inaccurate synopsis. It very clearly stated which character is murdered, however that character is not the victim. I was kind of livid about this synopsis and couldn’t understand why no other review I found was complaining about it. And then after checking 3 different book seller sites and the other editions of the book on Goodreads, I realized this was the only place I could find this wrong synopsis. So my warning to you, don’t read the synopsis on Goodreads in case you get the wrong edition (though I’m hoping this will be corrected before the book is published).

Ok, now that my little PSA is done, let’s get on to the book. Watching You follows the intertwined lives of residents in a small English town. Joey is kind of a hot mess who moves in with her brother and sister-in-law when she returns home with a new husband in tow. When she first notices her neighbor, charming and charismatic Tom, she develops an instant crush. Freddie is Tom’s son and he likes to spend his time watching and keeping tabs on the townspeople from his bedroom window. He doesn’t believe his father is the great man everyone in town seems to think he is. Jenna is a student at Tom’s school. Her best friend has a crush on Tom and Jenna finds his interactions with her friend a little inappropriate. Additionally, her mother has paranoid delusions that Tom has initiated gang stalking of her and wants everyone in town to know what a fraud he is.

I’ve read some reviews that said there were way too many people to keep track of in this book, but I have to disagree. I did not have trouble keeping the characters straight at all. Jewell is excellent when it comes to writing character development and that skill is on full display here. However, I do have to say that I did have kind of a hard time connecting to any of the characters. I didn’t feel a real attachment to any of them. I wanted to find out what happened, plot-wise, but didn’t care that much about what kind of fall out the characters faced. There were a couple of side character I did enjoy, though. Joey’s brother, Jack, and her husband, Alfie, were both really sweet. I wouldn’t have minded getting to see more of them.

Overall, Watching You kept me turning the pages, but the mystery was not as satisfying as I hoped it would be. I did like how the story showed how easily our personal perceptions could be wrong and Jewel’s writing is always enjoyable. I just felt like the conclusion was a little lackluster and the book didn’t have much of the creepy “You’re being watched” vibe that I was expecting. I also think that my overall feelings for the book were negatively impacted by that incorrect synopsis I read. I still recommend this one to Lisa Jewell fans, though, and fans of character-driven mysteries.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

My Blog’s Name in Books

I saw this tag over on Fictionophile not too long ago and thought it looked fun. The basic rules are to use your current TBR list (no cheating!) to spell out your blog’s name. This might take awhile, folks.

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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

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Exposed (Rosato & DiNunzio #5) by Lisa Scottoline

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Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

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Hangman (Detective Williams Fawkes #2) by Daniel Cole

A

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

I

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It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

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The Echo Killing (Harper McClain #1) by Christi Daugherty

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Silent Scream (D. I. Kim Stone # 1) by Angela Marsons

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Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

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One Small Thing by Erin Watt

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Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

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Rolling in the Deep (Rolling in the Deep #0.5) by Mira Grant

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Each Little Lie by Tom Bale

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Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong

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It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

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The Ever After by Sarah Pekkanen

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Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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Still Me (Me Before You #3) by Jojo Moyes

Do we have similar books on our TBRs? Did you find anything you wanted to add to yours?

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to play.

Review: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, a woman crosses paths with a charming single father whose young child feels eerily familiar, in this evocative, suspenseful drama from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell—perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Liane Moriarty.

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

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

Then She Was Gone will be available 4/24/18. 

Lisa Jewell does it again. I was so consumed with this story that I finished it in less than 24 hours.

Every time I read a book by Lisa Jewell I wonder why I have not read more from her. Her writing is so addictive that I never want to put the book down (and I very rarely did). She effortlessly weaves together past and present timelines and multiple POVs. I love how character-driven her stories are and Then She Was Gone was no exception.

The book focuses mainly on Laurel, a woman whose daughter has disappeared many years ago. She does not have a very good relationship with her remaining children and has been separated from her husband for awhile. When she finally gets some closure on the missing Ellie, she meets a charming man and finally begins to get her life back. When she discovers a connection between Ellie’s disappearance and Floyd’s young daughter she begins to investigate to try and figure out what really happened to her daughter.

I have to say that I did not find any part of the mystery that mysterious. It did not take me very long at all to figure out what happened to Ellie and how various characters connected to it. I didn’t really care that I wasn’t surprised, though.  The play of alternating timelines and how the information was revealed, as well as the character development really made up for any lack of twist.

Overall, I really enjoyed Then She Was Gone. Once I started it I never wanted to put it down. I loved the character development and the use of multiple POVs and timelines. Lisa Jewell is such a wonderful writer and I really need to start reading more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unrevewied: February 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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The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon. February 16-17. 4 Stars. 

Love. Love. Love.  Amy Harmon writes beautiful books.

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My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris. Read February 17-18. 3 Stars. 

love this concept! I read through the book several times choosing different scenarios and feel like I only scratched the surface on the possibilities. Full review to come.

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Then She was Gone by Lisa Jewell. Read February 18-19. 4 Stars. 

Lisa Jewell does it again. I was so consumed by this story that I finished it in under 24 hours. Full review to come.

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Honeysuckle Dreams (Blue Ridge Romance #2) by Denise Hunter. Read February 19-21. 3.5 Stars. 

I enjoyed this, though the added drama at the end did bring it down a bit for me. I liked the characters for the most part and the Marriage-of-Convenience theme. I look forward to continuing the series. Full review to come.

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Runaway Groom (I Do, I Don’t #2) by Lauren Layne. Read February 21-23. 4 Stars. 

Such a fun book. I really liked both Ellie and Gage. I enjoyed the “The Bachelor” type setting, too, though I thought it could have been played up a bit more. I’m really looking forward to the next one.

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What You Want to See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka. Read February 24-25. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was well-paced and well-written, with a really interesting mystery. I also love that this book is set in Columbus, OH and I recognized a lot of the areas mentioned. I definitely recommend this series to Mystery fans and am looking forward to reading more from Lepionka in the future. Full review to come.

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

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After finishing Iron Gold I fell into a book slump and decided to re-read the original trilogy, which I failed to do prior to reading Iron Gold. I still loved them all the second time around (third time for Red Rising). I had forgotten how completely epic Morning Star really is.

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Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks #1) by Miranda Kenneally. This was recently free on Kindle. I pretty much have all the same issues with this book as I did the first time I read it. However, I think I may have enjoyed it slightly more this time around. It’s a pretty quick read.

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

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Books from the library that I never started before they expiredFragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda, A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis, and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

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Books from the library that I started and couldn’t get into: Fake Wife by Stacey Lynn, Moonlight Sins by Jennifer Armentrout, Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. I usually love a good fake relationship story, but I read several chapters of Fake Wife and just couldn’t get into it. I think I want to try it again someday, though. I read about a chapter and a half of Moonlight Sins and again, just couldn’t get into it. I used to love everything by JLA, but all but one of her last several books have been ones I didn’t like or didn’t finish. I’m not sure if I’ll ever give this one a chance again. Truly Devious seems promising, but I was in a mood when I started it and then I realized it was the first book in a series and not a standalone, so I think I’ll wait until more books are published before I read it.