Review: The Better Liar by Tanen Jones

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

When a woman conceals her sister’s death to claim their joint inheritance, her deception exposes a web of dangerous secrets in this addictive new thriller for fans of Megan Abbott, Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins.

“Like most of the dead, I want to be remembered.”

Robin Voigt is dead. If Leslie had arrived at her sister’s cramped Las Vegas apartment just hours earlier, this would have been their first reunion in a decade. In the years since Robin ran away from home as a teenager, Leslie has stayed in New Mexico, taking care of their dying father even as she began building a family of her own. But when their father passed away, Leslie received a rude awakening: She and Robin would receive the inheritance he left them together—or not at all. Now her half of the money may be beyond her grasp. And unbeknownst to anyone, even her husband, Leslie needs it desperately.

When she meets a charismatic young woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Robin—and has every reason to leave her past behind—the two make a reckless bargain: Mary will impersonate Robin for a week in exchange for Robin’s half of the cash. But neither realizes how high the stakes will become when Mary takes a dead woman’s name. Even as Mary begins to suspect Leslie is hiding something, and Leslie realizes the stranger living in her house, babysitting her newborn son, and charming her husband has secrets of her own, Robin’s wild, troubled legacy threatens to eclipse them both.

An electric, twisted portrait of sisterhood and the ties that bind, The Better Liar is a stunning debut with a heart-stopping, twist-after-twist finale that will beg the question: How far would you go to get what’s yours?

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

The Better Liar will be available January 14, 2020. 

I had really high hopes for The Better Liar. It sounded intriguing and suspenseful and multiple twists are promised in the synopsis. Unfortunately, none of those things ended up being true for me. Instead of the psychological suspense I was expecting, this book read much more like a Women’s Fiction story, focusing on two sisters with a dysfunctional childhood who turned into two dysfunctional adults. It’s also supposed to shine a light on postpartum depression, but I don’t think that was done all that effectively, even with the condescending Author’s Note about it at the end of the book.

The story is told from three points of view: Leslie, Robin, and Mary. I liked the multiple perspectives, even if they all sounded basically the same. The premise definitely had promise, but I found myself pretty bored for most of the book. I disliked all of the characters and found a lot of their actions a little unrealistic. I kept waiting for the multiple twists and when they finally happened I thought they were kind lackluster. I expected a really explosive, twisted ending and was left pretty disappointed.

Overall, The Better Liar was just not for me. While it had promise, it failed to live up to it. I think if this had been packaged as Women’s Fiction rather than Mystery/Thriller, I could have adjusted my expectations and enjoyed it more. However, I have seen many more favorable reviews on this than mine, so it may still be worth picking up for some.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 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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His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey. Read November 22-December 1. 3.5 Stars. 

It took awhile to get into this, but I did end up enjoying it overall. I had a hard time with Whitney for about the first half of the book, but I did ship grown up Whitney and Derek together and I liked the theme park setting.

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Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey. Read December 1. 4 Stars. 

I love a good Friends-to-More story and this was pretty cute. Sam was a little over dramatic, but other than that I found her likable enough and I liked Ian a lot. Though there were a few things I had issues with here and there, this is the first book in a long time that has really caught my interest and didn’t let go. I read it in a day, so it’s getting 4 stars from me.

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The Allure of Julian LeFray by R.S. Grey. Read December 1-3. 4 Stars. 

I enjoyed this. The characters were likable and I thought they went really well together. I honestly expected a lot more angst in their relationship than there was and I liked that. The one thing that brought it down for me was the whole “janitor gets put in a high fashion runway show” thing. Just a little too unbelievable. I also would’ve liked more of an epilogue for the relationship between Julian and Jo. I know that they’ll show up in the next book, but I’m a little hesitant to read it because of how much I disliked Lily in this book. I’m not sure I can take a whole book of her.

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Enemies by Tijan. Read December 6-7. 3.5 Stars

My first Tijan book. It took me a bit to click with her writing style, but I enjoyed the book, overall. Dusty was super frustrating, but she made some progress throughout the story. I thought the portrayal of depression and anxiety was really well done. And while I had issues with their relationship at times, I did ship Dusty and Stone.

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Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd. Read December 7-10. 4 Stars. 

I enjoyed this a lot. There was some great banter and plenty of cute moments. I thought Olivia and Asher were really good together and they gave me some The Hating Game vibes, which I loved. It did feel a little unfocused at times, though, and I could have done with Olivia being a less less pervy sometimes. Overall, though, it was cute and definitely one I recommend.

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Girl in Luv (In Luv Duet #1) by Jay Crownover and Rebecca Yarros. Read December 10-12. 3.5 Stars. 

First off, I absolutely love the cover for this so much. I thought the main characters were likable and enjoyed their fake relationship. I expected this to be really angsty, but it wasn’t and I liked that. I was kind of bored for large parts of it, though. There really wasn’t much to it, but it was an easy read. I do plan on reading the next book.

I do have one little rant, though. This series is on Kindle Unlimited right now, but apparently you originally had to pre-order a book from one of the authors to get it as a bonus and to get the second book in the series you had to pre-order a book from the other author. I don’t like that at all. What if you loved this story, but had zero interest in the book you had to pre-order to get the second half of this story? It just seems wrong to me.

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Inside Out by Demi Moore. Read December 16-17. 4 Stars. 

I’ve never been a huge Demi Moore fan, but I was still really looking forward to reading this book. She definitely has led a crazy life and has overcome a lot of dysfunction. I appreciated that she was willing to really lay everything out in the open. She did take responsibility for a lot of things she did wrong, but there were a few times where she really painted herself as the victim, much like her mother did, and didn’t seem to recognize that. (There were also many, many times where she was definitely a victim of an atrocity and I am not talking about those instances in her youth here.) Overall, I enjoyed this book and learning more about Demi.

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Boy in Luv (In Luv Duet #2) by Jay Crownover and Rebecca Yarros. Read December 18-19. 3 Stars. 

Pretty slow-paced and not a lot happened. It wasn’t bad, but this isn’t a series I would pick up again.

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The Boss Who Stole Christmas (Reindeer Falls #1) by Jana Aston. Read December 21. 3 Stars. 

This had some cute moments and for the most part I liked the relationship between the main characters. It’s a short book, though, and while that has it’s merits, I don’t feel like I got enough time to really get invested in them. There was also a sex scene in a church I found a little offensive. I don’t see myself continuing the series, but this wasn’t bad for a KU pick.

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The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen. Read December 22-23. 4 Stars. 

This author’s usual Romance books aren’t really for me, but Deanna suggested this YA book to me awhile ago and I finally gave it a try and I really loved it! It totally broke me out of my book slump. Very addictive writing with just the right amount of angst. There were plenty of frustrating moments – like the fact that Rachel and her father, Fredrick, don’t have an actual real discussion about why it took almost 18 years for him to meet her until after the 90% mark – but there were lots of cute and sweet moments that helped make up for it. I loved Jake a lot, especially his e-mails from the beginning. One thing I was missing, though, was the emotion from Rachel losing her mother. Maybe it’s because the story starts out after she has already passed, but I felt it should have been a lot more emotional than it was. For me, though, the emotional connection didn’t come until much later as she worked through her relationship with her father. Overall, this was a very different book than I expected it to be, but I really enjoyed it and am sorry I waited so long to read it.

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Kissmas Eve by M.E. Carter and Sara Ney. Read December 25-26. 2.5 Stars.

This was a short Christmas-Office-Romance. There were some funny moments, but overall I thought it was kind of cheesy and rushed and I didn’t really buy the romance.

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

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Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen. I really thought this would be right up my alley, but I had a hard time getting into it and only read two chapters. I do hope to give it another try some day, though.

*****DNF*****

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The Guy on the Right by Kate Stewart. DNF at 6%. Maybe if I wasn’t in such a mood I would give this one more of a chance, but I couldn’t even make myself finish the first chapter of this.

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The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan. DNF @ 4%. I thought there was a good probability I would DNF this book, but I didn’t guess it would be for political reasons. Too much of that in real life, I don’t want it in my books.

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Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. DNF @ 8%. I read one chapter and kind of hated everything about it. I was going to try to read at least one more chapter, but now my library loan has expired and I know I’m never going to request this one again.

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The Allure of Dean Harper by R.S. Grey. DNF @ 14%. Yeah, no. I tried, but I can’t do this one. A couple chapters in where Dean goes on and on about how he only hires attractive people to work in his restaurants and even says it goes looks first and then experience when it comes to the hiring process just came off as so disgusting to me. And then there’s Lily. I thought I was going to have problems with her based on the previous book and I was right. Anybody who has ever worked in the service industry knows that you are going to have to deal with a lot of horrible customers and that you have to suck it up and do your job, no matter how much of a jerk they are. And while Dean was deliberately trying to fluster her, I think he was 100% in his right to fire her for her behavior and it REALLY annoyed me that he came off as the bad guy in that scenario (and it was just before that that I decided he was disgusting and didn’t like him, so that really says something that I feel the need to defend him).

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A Billion Times No by Kenzie Reed. DNF @ 33%. I thought this sounded kind of cute, but it’s just really not for me. I don’t really care for any of the characters and there’s some major cheesiness going on.

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Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. DNF @ 19%. I thought this sounded cute and I have heard good things about it, but the main character is just driving me absolutely nuts.

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

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Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson – 3.5 Stars

The Better Liar by Tanen Jones – 2 Stars