Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan [Book Review]

Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more info, read my Disclosure Policy.


BOOK INFO

Title: Good Neighbors

Author: Sarah Langan

Publisher: Atria Books

Publish Date: February 2, 2021

Genre: Domestic Suspense

Series: na

My Rating: 4/5

Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan

BOOK BLURB

Celeste Ng’s enthralling dissection of suburbia meets Shirley Jackson’s creeping dread in this propulsive literary noir, when a sudden tragedy exposes the depths of deception and damage in a Long Island suburb—pitting neighbor against neighbor and putting one family in terrible danger.

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world.

But menace skulks beneath the surface of this exclusive enclave, making its residents prone to outrage. When the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbors’ worst fears. Dad Arlo’s a gruff has-been rock star with track marks. Mom Gertie’s got a thick Brooklyn accent, with high heels and tube tops to match. Their weird kids cuss like sailors. They don’t fit with the way Maple Street sees itself.

Though Maple Street’s Queen Bee, Rhea Schroeder—a lonely college professor repressing a dark past—welcomed Gertie and her family at first, relations went south during one spritzer-fueled summer evening, when the new best friends shared too much, too soon. By the time the story opens, the Wildes are outcasts.

As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mom’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

A riveting and ruthless portrayal of American suburbia, Good Neighbors excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.


Purchase Links: Amazon


MY REVIEW

A picture perfect neighborhood with successful and happy families. Of course, not everything is as it appears. Dark secrets, lies, and fears are in every household. Complex characters and an intriguing story combine for an enthralling read.

Good Neighbors is a new domestic suspense novel by Sarah Langan. I’ve read horror novels by Langan before, so I was expecting a creepy read… and I wasn’t disappointed. Good Neighbors definitely has a creep factor that makes it a little uncomfortable to read. However, the horror and discomfort is in a psychological way, not in a monster way. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for books set in neighborhoods/households where everything seems perfect, but is more complicated than it appears.

A slow burning novel. Recommended for fans of Little Fires Everywhere and Big Little Lies. Disturbing, contemporary, and compelling.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Books by Sarah Langan:
  1. The Keeper
  2. The Missing
  3. Audrey’s Door
  4. Good Neighbors

Book Review: Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more info, read my Disclosure Policy.


BOOK INFO

Title: Happy and You Know It
Author: Laura Hankin
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: May 19, 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Series: na
My Rating: 4/5


BOOK BLURB

A dark, witty page-turner about a struggling young musician who takes a job singing for a playgroup of overprivileged babies and their effortlessly cool moms, only to find herself pulled into their glamorous lives and dangerous secrets….

After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for wealthy infants on New York’s Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.

There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom and just needs to find a way to keep her flawless life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the stylish women who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets and betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.

Filled with humor and shocking twists, Happy and You Know It is a brilliant take on motherhood – exposing it as yet another way for society to pass judgment on women – while also exploring the baffling magnetism of curated social-media lives that are designed to make us feel unworthy. But, ultimately, this dazzling novel celebrates the unlikely bonds that form, and the power that can be unlocked, when a group of very different women is thrown together when each is at her most vulnerable.

Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin
Purchase Links:
Amazon | Books-a-Million


MY REVIEW

Claire is in her late twenties and struggling with the loss of her music career. Her former band replaced her just before they hit it big. She still has bills to pay though, so she takes a gig as music leader for a playgroup. As Claire gets to know the moms, she is surprised that she starts to like them. The moms seem to have it all together, but there are secrets under that glossy exterior.

The mom group consists of six women. Whitney is the group leader and has a picture-perfect lifestyle. Amara is the mom struggling with the loss of her career. Gwen is the one with parenting advice. Vicki is the peaceful hippie. Meredith and Ellie are mostly interchangeable and don’t bring much to the group. Claire is the outsider. She’s single, childless, and the group’s new music leader. Claire is not a mom, but she starts to connect with the other women and care about them.

A contemporary novel about motherhood and friendship. Humorous and twisted. There are moments that go deeper and reveal a darker side, but overall, this was fun and light read.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: The Mother-in-Law
Author: Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: April 23, 2019
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.2

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
A twisty, compelling new novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in death…

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.

It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?

Fractured relationships and deep family secrets grow more compelling with every page in this twisty, captivating new novel from Sally Hepworth.


Buy from Amazon
Add to Goodreads

MY REVIEW
Diana, Lucy’s mother-in-law, has died in an apparent suicide. As the police investigate her death, it seems she may have been killed… and everyone in the family is keeping secrets.

Told with alternating points of view, both Lucy and Diana’s stories are told. Lucy and her mother-in-law, Diana, have never been close. While Lucy wishes they could have a better relationship, Diana has always kept her distance. Diana is a woman who believes her adult children should manage their own lives, especially their finances, and not rely on her.

I very much enjoyed getting Diana and Lucy’s viewpoints. It showed miscommunications and misunderstandings, and how there is often more to the story. Diana’s POV shows her background and helps explain why she views things the way she does. Lucy is probably the most likable character in the book, and it was hard for her to have a MIL with a cold and impersonal demeanor. That said, Diana wasn’t intentionally mean, but she did have different priorities than others in her family. Sadly, her family could have used her love and support, and she was not providing that.

I wouldn’t really consider this novel a mystery or thriller. While there is a mystery involving Diana’s death and what happened to her, the majority of the book is family drama. For me, this read as women’s fiction. This is my first Sally Hepworth novel, so I had no idea what to expect. Based on the book blurb, I was expecting something more along the lines of a domestic thriller. It’s an enjoyable novel and I want to read more by Hepworth, but if you’re in the mood for a domestic thriller, look elsewhere.

A compelling read about the complexities of family relationships. Not only MIL/DIL, but other family relationships too. I was drawn into the story, and was curious how things would end.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly

Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: Little Lovely Things
Author: Maureen Joyce Connolly
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: April 2, 2019
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 4.38

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
If only things had been different

It is the wrong time to get sick. Speeding down the highway on the way to work, her two little girls sleeping in the back seat, medical resident Claire Rawlings doesn’t have time for the nausea overtaking her. But as the world tilts sideways, she pulls into a gas station, runs to the bathroom, and passes out. When she wakes up minutes later, her car—and her daughters—are gone.

The police have no leads, and the weight of guilt presses down on Claire as each hour passes with no trace of her girls. All she has to hold on to are her strained marriage, a potentially unreliable witness who emerges days later, and the desperate but unquenchable belief that her daughters are out there somewhere.

As hopeful and uplifting as it is devastating, Little Lovely Things is the story of a family shattered by unthinkable tragedy, and the unexpected intersection of heartbreak and hope.


Buy from Amazon
Add to Goodreads

MY REVIEW
Claire Rawlings gets sick while driving with her young children in the car. While her girls sleep in the back seat, Claire pulls over at a gas station. When Claire comes out of the bathroom, her car, and her girls, are gone. The guilt of leaving her children alone and the search for them weighs heavily on Claire. Her health, marriage, and work all suffer as the search for her daughters seems to go nowhere.

Told with alternating points of view, which allows the reader to not only be aware of Claire’s experiences, but also what happened to her girls. A tragic story of two missing children and the impact of their loss on their parents. This book doesn’t look too closely at the investigation into the girls’ disappearance, but instead looks at the people and relationships involved.

An emotional story of every parent’s worse nightmare. The idea of your children disappearing, and having no idea what happened or where they are, is heart-wrenching. A heartbreaking story of guilt, loss, and hope.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more info, read my Disclosure Policy.


BOOK INFO

Title: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: November 6, 2018
Genre: Contemporary
Series: na
My Rating: 4/5


BOOK BLURB

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
Purchase Links:
Amazon | Books-a-Million


MY REVIEW

Nine people attend a health resort. Each person is looking for change in their life, but Tranquillum House’s unorthodox practices are not what the guests were expecting. As their stay progresses, the guests get to know each other a little better, and they are all skeptical of the eccentric owner of Tranquillum House.

This book has a lot of characters – nine guests plus three resort staff. Multiple viewpoints is a tricky thing, and I’m usually wary of this type of book. With twelve POVs, I really wasn’t sure about this one. However, I’m happy to say that it is easy to distinguish the characters from one another and follow the story.

Each of the characters is interesting in some way. The guests are Frances, Ben, Jessica, Lars, Tony, Carmel, Napoleon, Heather, and Zoe. Frances is a writer looking to reboot her life after a downturn in both her professional and private lives. Ben and Jessica are a young, wealthy couple who are having marital problems. Lars is a divorce attorney and an avid visitor of health resorts. Tony is a former athlete looking to lose weight. Carmel is a single working mother with low self esteem. Napoleon, Heather, and Zoe are a family (father, mother, and daughter) dealing with a tragic family loss. The resort staff includes Masha, Yao, and Delilah. Masha is the owner and director of Tranquillum House. Yao and Delilah are the personal wellness consultants to the guests during their stay. Most of the book is about Frances – she rates 23 of the 79 chapters in the book.

The book starts off slow, but once the characters and setting are set, it picks up. With so many characters, there are a variety of topics touched on in this book. Some of the characters have serious and devastating stories, and some of them have more common, or even a little frivolous, issues in their lives.

Liane Moriarty’s writing style flows so easily, and makes for a quick and absorbing read. As usual with Moriarty’s books, there is a mix of humor along with the serious stuff. Nine Perfect Strangers is an engaging and entertaining read.