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Reviews: The Good Sister & Her Dark Lies

 

Hi everyone!  Sharon here with another edition of Thriller Thursday. This week I am sharing my thoughts on Sally Hepworth’s domestic thriller, The Good Sister and J.T. Ellison’s mystery/thriller, Her Dark Lies. I am a fan of both of these authors and happy to say I loved both of these books.

 

Reviews: The Good Sister & Her Dark LiesThe Good Sister Goodreads

Author: Sally Hepworth

Publication Date: April 13, 2021

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

I have loved all of the books I have read by Sally Hepworth, so I was very excited to read her latest book The Good Sister and it did not disappoint. This book exceeded all of my expectations and is my favorite so far.

Fern and Rose are fraternal twins who are very different from each other. Rose is the responsible one and has always taken care of Fern and protected her from their mother. Fern is on the autism spectrum, she is very sensitive to loud noises and light, she doesn’t like to be touched too much or crowds. Fern and Rose are very close and will do anything for each other. Years ago Fern did something very bad and Rose has kept that secret. Now Fern has learned that Rose cannot have children and has decided that she is going to get pregnant and give the baby to Rose. But Fern starts to realize that Rose is not the good sister she thought she was and is now rethinking about giving her baby to Rose. And that decision will have dire consequences.

This book is told from the POV of Rose through her journal pages which give us a look into what their childhood was like and also from the POV of Fern in present day, as she goes about her life and mission to give Rose a baby.

I really felt for Rose reading her journal entries. The things she endured at the hands of her mother made my heart break for her.  But my impression of Rose changed as more things were revealed and it started to become clear that Rose may not really be that much of a protector of Fern as was first thought.

Fern was my favorite, I loved her. She works in a library, so right there she is high up on my list lol. She just warmed my heart and made me laugh. Fern saw the good in everyone. Even when she started to suspect Rose did not have her best intentions in mind, she still wanted to believe that everything Rose did was for Fern’s protection. Fern loved working in the library, the one job she hated though was when someone needed help with the photocopier. If someone came to her for help she would pretend like she heard someone call her or act like she was on the phone. It was when she did quirky things like this that would make me laugh.

It was in the library that Fern meets another character that I loved, Wally. Though his real name was Rocco, Fern called him Wally because the clothes he wore reminded her of the character from the book ‘Where’s Wally”.  He is also socially awkward like Fern and understood her sensitivity to light and sound so when they went out he would give her noise cancelling headphones and swimming goggles to wear. I loved watching their relationship grow and from the moment they met I was hoping that Fern would get a happily ever after with him.

I really cannot say much about this book because I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say that The Good Sister is a domestic thriller that was very beautifully written, full of characters that I loved, and had me turning the pages wanting to know more about them and what was going to happen.   4 ½ stars

 

Reviews: The Good Sister & Her Dark LiesHer Dark Lies Goodreads

Author: J.T. Ellison

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Publisher: Mira

J.T. Ellison’s new book Her Dark Lies was everything that I was hoping for.  From the amazing Italian setting to the secrets and lies and the dead body count, this book had everything that makes a great mystery thriller.

Claire Hunter is set to marry the wealthy Jack Compton on the Compton family’s remote island, Isle Isola, off the Italian coast. The night before they were to set off for the island someone broke into Claire and Jack’s home and Claire ended up shooting and killing the intruder. And then once they reach the island, skeleton remains have been found, Claire’s wedding dress was ruined by someone writing ‘whore’ in blood on the back of it, and more deaths occurred. It is safe to say that someone is trying to sabotage the wedding. But who? Claire and Jack both have secrets. When Claire was a teenager, her father died in a car accident that was Claire’s fault. And Jack’s first wife mysteriously died 10 years ago while they were on their honeymoon.

I loved the setting of this book and Ellison does an amazing job of describing the island and the Villa. I could picture it so vividly that it felt like I was actually there. I could imagine myself walking up the stone stairs to get to the Villa from the beach. And I could picture myself in the rooms. At times if felt like I was watching the book, rather than reading it.

We figure out early on who is behind all that is happening and to me that just added to the suspense. What are they going to do next? Why are they doing this? And the answers to those questions made this an edge of my seat read.  There was also so many twists and turns in this book that I didn’t want to put it down. Especially when the closer it got to the end, the more the body count was rising. All I could think of was “Damn! Who is going to make it off this island alive?”

The only issue I had was I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. I think they were well written, but I was so caught up in the setting of the book and all that was going on that they didn’t really pop for me. The only one that I can say had any growth was Claire. At the beginning of the book she annoyed me. Whenever something happened and she would get upset, Jack would tell her not to worry, that he and his family had everything under control, and she just went along with it and let him take care of things. But by the end of the book Claire turned into one bad ass woman. She had enough and was going to take down the person that was behind everything that was happening on the island. I actually found myself cheering for her at the end. You go Claire!   4 Stars

Review: THE MOTHER-IN-LAW by Sally Hepworth

Review:  THE MOTHER-IN-LAW by Sally HepworthThe Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
Also by this author: The Family Next Door
four-stars
Published by St. Martin's Press on April 23, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 
 
 
 
 
 

THE MOTHER-IN-LAW Review

 

Sally Hepworth is quickly becoming a go-to author for me when I’m in the mood for domestic dramas and mysteries.  Her latest novel, The Mother-In-Law is no exception, with Hepworth delivering both a compelling family drama as well as a riveting mystery.

The novel focuses on two women, Diana and Lucy.  Diana is Lucy’s mother-in-law and the two of them have a very uncomfortable relationship, to put it mildly.  Even though they have known each other for 10 years, Diana still treats Lucy like a stranger. Lucy can’t figure out why Diana seems to hate her so much and at a certain point, has just given up on trying.  Lucy and her husband Oliver have a good life together, only making contact with Diana when necessary, and such is their life.  That is, until a phone call from the police informs them that Diana is dead and that it is an apparent suicide based on some evidence found at the scene.  Lucy and Oliver are shocked because Diana is the most formidable person they’ve ever known and the last person they would expect to commit suicide.  When the coroner’s report comes back, however, the possibility that it was actually murder is suddenly on the table and the police begin investigating.

So many questions immediately start swirling about.  If Diana did take her own life, why?  If foul play was involved, who could possibly want to hurt her and why?

*****

If you like complicated characters, then this is your book because Diana is about as complicated as they come.  She has devoted much of her life to charitable causes and is a beloved and respected member of her community because of this.  Diana’s altruistic nature does not apparently extend to her actual family members. Even though she’s a very wealthy woman, Diana expects her children to stand up on their own two feet and make lives for themselves without handouts from her.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it certainly creates some uncomfortable and tense moments when her children find themselves struggling.  It doesn’t make Diana the easiest character to warm up to, but it definitely made me curious about her.

Where Diana is a character that is hard to warm up to, Lucy, on the other hand, is a character I loved immediately.  She lost her mother to cancer when she was only 13 years old, so when Lucy falls in love with Diana’s son Oliver and agrees to marry him, she’s over the moon about meeting Diana.  She can’t wait to finally have a mother-figure back in her life and goes out of her way to make sure she’s as likeable as possible at their first meeting.  Her dream is shattered immediately, however, when it becomes clear Diana has no interest in her.  It’s not that Diana is mean to Lucy because that’s not her nature, it’s more that she’s completely standoffish – as polite as she knows she has to be, but otherwise, basically a cold fish.  Their relationship starts off that way, and even after 10 years of marriage, it’s still pretty much the same.  This made me immediately sympathetic to Lucy and had me shaking my head at Diana and saying “OMG, why are you like this?”

Aside from the way Hepworth draws her characters, one of my favorite parts of The Mother-In-Law is how she weaves together her tale.  She effectively moves the story back and forth between the different characters’ perspectives, particularly Diana’s and Lucy’s, and between the past and present to gradually paint for her readers not only a complete portrait of Diana, but also toward the answer that we are ultimately all waiting for: what really happened to Diana.  I thought Hepworth’s choice of these elements was a perfect way to unravel both the mystery of Diana herself and of her death. Getting little glimpses into Diana’s earlier life gave me a much greater understanding as to why she’s the way she is, which in turn made me more sympathetic to her.

Other highlights of The Mother-In-Law for me were its quick pacing, its suspenseful plot twists, and the fact that the story was never predictable.  The ending, in particular, shocked me because I didn’t see it coming, not even for a single second!

Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-In-Law is a riveting read from start to finish.  Unraveling the mystery of Diana and why she is the way she is kept me turning the pages just as much as the desire to know what happened to her and if anyone else was responsible.  Hepworth’s books have been compared to those of Liane Moriarty, and I think the comparison is a good one.  If you’re into domestic dramas and mysteries with plenty of twists and turns, The Mother-In-Law is the perfect read for you.  It definitely made me appreciate how simple and uncomplicated my relationship with my own mother-in-law is.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Someone once told me that you have two families in your life – the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don’t choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…

From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships.

four-stars

About Sally Hepworth

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) and The Mother’s Promise (2017), and The Family Next Door (Feb 2018). Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.

Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 15 languages.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.