2019 Book #86 – The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

41xn3v0LgqL.jpgTitle: The Family Upstairs
Author: Lisa Jewell
Date finished: 11/4/19
Genre: Thriller/suspense
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Pages in book: 349
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone 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.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

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My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read a couple of this author’s books in the past and enjoyed them, but this one really blew me out of the water. The twists and turns were outstanding, even the ones I saw coming and especially the ones that I didn’t. All of them really were “gasp-worthy,” I thought this was a really well done mystery. I also thought the book was really well paced. The chapters were short so it felt like the story was flying by, though there were a couple areas where I found it a little dry. Many of the characters were flawed but they were supposed to be. Henry’s character especially was intense and really mysterious – even after finishing the book I’m not sure that I trust how he portrayed himself in the chapters he narrated. Overall this was a really interesting story that absorbs the reader and keeps them engaged even after the book has ended. I really enjoyed it and I’d definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #67 – Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

512C5hRsk8LTitle: Are You Sleeping
Author: Kathleen Barber
Date finished: 8/10/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 333
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Josie Buhrman and her family, and how their lives are all turned upside down (again) when a woman starts a podcast to reexamine the murder of Josie’s father, Chuck. Thirteen years ago, Chuck Buhrman was murdered in his home with his twin girls in the house. A man named Warren Cave was arrested, tried and convicted on scant evidence that he had killed Chuck, and now Poppy Parnell, an “investigative journalist,” is using the case as a subject matter for her true crime podcast. Josie and her twin sister Lanie were both affected in different ways by the murder of their father and their mother’s subsequent abandonment. And after all that happened too, Lanie did some very awful things to her sister that cause Josie to run away and basically abandon her whole life. After traveling abroad for 5 years, she returns to the States and settles in New York City with her boyfriend Caleb. The podcast though, is bringing a lot of truths to light and there will be unfortunate consequences.

Overall I liked this book. There were some pieces of it that I couldn’t buy into (Josie’s reaction and the running away to Europe seemed extreme and I thought Lanie should’ve actually like apologized without trying to also be manipulative) but overall I didn’t want to put this book down. I was dying to find out who the real killer was and what would happen in the end. And maybe it was that build up of extreme tension throughout the book that made the ending kind of seem slightly anti-climactic but I think that’s how I ended up feeling. I was so intensely into the story but then at the end I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never really did. And none of the characters in the book were particularly likable, they all had so many flaws and many of them were actually awful not nice people. Even with these draw backs though I still really liked the story and I would recommend it!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book and I couldn’t wait to see how the ending turned out. That being said I was the slightest bit disappointed in the ending because I thought it was just a tad flat. I still really liked the book though and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #59 – The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass

61x4fmYyKmL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Cresswell Plot
Author: Eliza Wass
Date finished: 6/5/16
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Pages in book: 272
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.
Castella Cresswell and her five siblings-Hannan, Casper, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem- know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my Book Riot 2016 Read Harder reading challenge, marking off the “read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)” since this book features a family involved in a cult-ish doomsday religion. Castella Cresswell is one of the six children in the Cresswell family. Everyone in town gives the family a wide berth since they are so odd. The patriarch of the Cresswell family has started his own weird religion that is extremely strict and foretells that their family is the only pure one left and therefore they will be the only ones to get into heaven. The more the reader learns about the family though, the more we learn that the patriarch is really just a crazy abusive dad with a short temper. Cass is a junior in high school who makes a new friend in her drama class, and when she starts learning more about who she is as a person and that she wants to have more of what is a normal life, she begins to stand up to her father. Unfortunately, circumstances are not great for the Cresswell family since the mother and father both don’t work, and the father counts on God to provide for the family. When things become bleak, the father decides that it is time for the family to take their rightful place in God’s kingdom, and yes that is as sinister as it sounds.
Overall I thought this was a good idea for a book and I liked the book. I thought that the story line could have been organized a tad bit better and the characters could have been a little better developed but the book itself was dark and thrilling and also a little sad. There was a wealth of emotions in the writing and as a reader I was looking to empathize more with the main character but I couldn’t connect with her enough to feel a lot of emotions towards her. I still think it was an interesting idea for a book though and I would recommend reading it. Although I would add a warning that if you get scared or freaked out easily this may not be something to add to your to read list.

The bottom line: I liked the idea behind this book but I thought it could have been developed a little better. It was a good story but I had trouble connecting with some of the characters. I would still definitely recommend it with a forewarning that it is a little horror-ish.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #79 – Awake by Natasha Preston

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Title: Awake
Author: Natasha Preston
Date finished: 8/2/15
Genre:  Young adult, thriller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Of course, the dress was white. This is what I’m supposed to die in, I thought. Not many people knew what their last outfit would be.
I pulled it over my head. It fit me perfectly. It had long, loose fitting sleeves, a modest neckline, and waves of material on the skirt. I hated it.
There were no shoes, and I was afraid I’d have to run through the forest barefoot but there weren’t a lot of options. Besides, I’d run barefoot over a bed of nails to get away.
“Scarlett, are you ready?” he called.
I looked in the mirror and took a deep breath. Time to fight for my life.
Scarlett Garner doesn’t remember anything before the age of four-until a car accident changes everything. She starts to remember pieces of a past that frighten her. A past her parents hid from her…and a secret that could get her killed.

My rating: 3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #1 on list from my sign up post. I have seen this book around a lot in the past couple months, seems like a lot of other blogs I follow have read this one as well. This book is about a girl named Scarlett who falls in love with a boy named Noah. This coming of age tale isn’t what you’d usually expect to find though, since Scarlett (unknowingly) has been on the run from a cult since she was a small child. I don’t want to say too much more about the plot since it will give away all the good twists and turns of the story but I will say that there is definitely enough going on in this story to keep you on your toes.
I thought that the story being told from two points of view gave this book an additional facet and really made the story more well-rounded. You see what is happening from both sides and as crazy as it sounds you can start to understand how a person who grew up in the cult would see the world and how they might process a human sacrifice. I mean if you’re raised to believe that the color blue is actually purple, then that’s what you believe right? Even if someone told you that no that’s actually blue you’re wrong, would you really be able to renounce what your parents have taught you for all those years?
Overall I did really liked this book, it was definitely different from the other young adult books I’ve read, mostly because I’ve never read anything involving a cult. I thought the author did a really great job of portraying just how sick and twisted some of the people in a cult can be, and how they end up sometimes blindly following their leader into dangerous territory. I almost felt like the ending was somewhat of a cliff-hanger though, I wonder if there is going to be a follow up story? Even if there isn’t I think I’m definitely going to read other books by this author!
The bottom line: I thought this was a really interesting book, I would recommend it. Some parts were a tiny bit slow but overall I think it was a good book.
Favorite Quotes: 
“Sacrificing someone for your own sake was selfish, no matter how it was dressed up.”

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page