After Anna by Lisa Scottoline #Review @StMartinsPress

afteranna

Maggie Ippolitti lost custody of her only child, Anna, when she was only a few months old. 17 years later, Maggie is overjoyed when she receives a call from Anna. After learning that her father has recently died and how miserable Anna is at her nearby boarding school, Maggie allows Anna to move into her home. Her husband, Noah, is thrilled Maggie reunited with her daughter, and welcomes Anna into the family. Their happy home quickly turns into a battleground, ending with Anna making terrible accusations against Noah. He denies everything, but is forced to move out—then Anna is killed, and Noah is accused of her murder. He swears he didn’t do it, but if Noah didn’t kill Anna, who did… and why?

What I Liked

The story is told in alternating chapters and told from the perspectives of Maggie and Noah. A nice twist on this dual perspective is that Maggie’s portion (Before) starts at the beginning (when she is first contacted by Anna), and moves forward in a linear fashion. Noah’s part (After) is the opposite—it begins near the end (on the tenth day of his murder trial), and moves backwards in time. The timelines sync around 3/4 of the way in, with time moving forward linearly for both characters. The way it’s structured may be off-putting to some readers, but I loved it. It worked exceedingly well for this story, and made it an even better reading experience.

Anyone who reads thrillers knows that when a situations seems clear-cut, it’s definitely not going to play out that way. I was expecting some sort of plot twist to happen, and when it came, you could have knocked me over with a feather—that’s how stunned I felt.

The ending was everything I hoped for, and I was thoroughly satisfied when I finished. I love it when a book leaves no loose ends dangling!

What I Didn’t Like

Umm… let’s see. Oh! I know! I didn’t like that it took me so long to read a book written by Lisa Scottoline. What was I thinking?! Other than that… yeah, I got nothing.

Final Thoughts

The way the story is structured is a bit unorthodox, but it adds an extra layer of suspense to an already suspenseful story. With its intricate plot, well-developed characters, and explosive twists, After Anna is a novel you won’t soon forget.

Scottoline’s writing is superb throughout, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her novels in the future.

Recommended for fans of suspense driven thrillers.

I received an advance reading copy of this book courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley.

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Author: Lisa Scottoline
Title: After Anna
Genre: Thriller
Published: April 10, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press
Rating: 4 stars

About the Book

Nobody cuts deeper than family…
Dr. Noah Alderman, a widower and single father, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie Ippolitti, and for the first time in a long time, he and his young son are happy. Despite her longing for the daughter she hasn’t seen since she was a baby, Maggie is happy too, and she’s even more overjoyed when she unexpectedly gets another chance to be a mother to the child she thought she’d lost forever, her only daughter Anna.
Maggie and Noah know that having Anna around will change their lives, but they would never have guessed that everything would go wrong, and so quickly. Anna turns out to be a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules, though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble brewing in a once-perfect marriage and home.
Events take a heartbreaking turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused and tried for the heinous crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her daughter, but the realization that Anna’s murder may have been at the hands of a husband she loves. In the wake of this tragedy, new information drives Maggie to search for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.
Riveting and disquieting, After Annais a groundbreaking domestic thriller, as well as a novel of emotional justice and legal intrigue. And New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline will keep readers on their toes until the final shocking page.
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The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth #Review @sallyhepworth @StMartinsPress

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Pleasant Court is a nice suburb where everyone knows everyone else, but it would be a stretch to say close friendships were formed. Essie, Fran, and Ange are all mothers of young children who take an interest in their new neighbor, Isabelle Heatherington, a woman who has neither husband nor children in a neighborhood full of families. It seemed a strange choice of residence to the trio of women, and they tried to learn more about Isabelle even as they concealed secrets of their own from everyone. One of the moms feels particularly drawn to Isabelle before the truth of her arrival is revealed, shattering someone’s entire world when their child is put in danger as a result of the revelation.

What I Liked:

The story is told through the perspectives of five women—Essie, Essie’s mother Barbara, Ange, Fran, and Isabelle—and this is something I’ve become a fan of over the last couple of years. With this format, you get a deeper sense of each of their personalities, and a better understanding about why they react the way they do much quicker than you would otherwise.

I really appreciated that motherhood was presented realistically, with all the sleep deprivation and frustrations that go along with it. I’ve read so many books where motherhood is presented as something that’s constantly rosy and wonderful, so it’s always nice to read something that mirrors reality, instead.

The mystery surrounding Isabelle was very well done. I had so many theories about her, but none were anywhere close to being correct. When all was revealed, it shocked the heck out of me, and the events that took place afterward had me on the edge of my seat, worried about what was going to happen next.

What I Didn’t Like:

I can’t recall anything that annoyed me.

Final Thoughts:

The Family Next Door is a compulsive page-turner with finely crafted characters and scenarios that will keep you reading ‘just one more chapter’ for hours. Hepworth is fast becoming a go-to author for me when I’m in the mood to read some high quality women’s fiction.

I’m highly recommending this book, and I hope that everyone who reads it will enjoy it as much as I did.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley.

 

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Author: Sally Hepworth

Title: The Family Next Door

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published: March 13th, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

Rating: 4 stars

About the Book

A gripping domestic page-turner full of shocking reveals, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Amanda Prowse and Kerry Fisher.

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn’t fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange’s compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won’t let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park – and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread – and they’ll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake #Review @AuthorRDrake @StMartinsPress

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What would you be willing to do in order to help a friend?

Alison, Sarah, Julie, and Heather have children attending the same school, and it wasn’t long before the four moms became friends, regularly meeting for coffee after they drop their kids of at school. Alison is concerned when she notices a bruise on Heather’s wrist, even more so after Heather hastily covers it and swears it’s nothing. When it becomes evident that Heather’s husband is abusive towards her, the women try to talk Heather into leaving, but she refuses. Her friends worry that Heather’s husband might kill her, given the signs of increasing violence, but Heather isn’t the one who ends up dead—and when she finally asked for help, it’s not the sort of request any of her friends ever expected to receive.

What I Liked:

The entire premise of this book was fascinating to me; basically taking the hypothetical question about what you’d be willing to do for your friends, and forcing the issue with a set of circumstances that demand immediate action without time to consider the consequences. The situation in the book is an extreme one, to be sure, but I think everyone can identify with being put on the spot by a friend who needs something immediately. You do (or don’t do) something in that moment, and don’t have a chance to think about consequences until later, and then you worry over whether or not you did the right thing. That being said, it was extremely easy for me to go along with the plot. I had no problem understanding why the women chose to do what they did, or why they worried themselves sick over it later.

The story is told from the perspective of each woman, and I liked having insight into each woman’s private thoughts on things, as well as their feelings about one another. The events of that night would put a strain on their friendship, and it was nice to see that reflected in each of them as the story progressed.

Every good story has shocking plot twists, and the big twist in Just Between Us was fantastic! I felt as if I should have known it was coming, in retrospect, but I didn’t have a clue and was left wide-eyed in shock when it came. I want to say so much more about this, but it would completely ruin the story for those who haven’t read it, so I’d better not. Trust me when I say it was excellent, and made me want to go back and re-read certain scenes now that I possessed this new knowledge.

What I Didn’t Like:

Umm… I didn’t like that the story came to an end… does that count?

Final Thoughts:

Just Between Us is a fabulous novel filled with suspense and intrigue. The characters are well-written and vividly detailed with a plot that is certain to keep the reader fully engaged and reading well into the night. Full of unexpected twists and a shocking reveal, Drake has written a domestic suspense that will leave you breathless.

Highly recommend this book! If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to add it to your reading list… and you can thank me later. 😉

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley .

 

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Author: Rebecca Drake

Title: Just Between Us

Genre: Suspense

Published: January 9, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

Rating: 4 stars

About the Book

Four suburban mothers and friends conspire to cover up a deadly crime in this heart-stopping novel of suspense in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and Lisa Unger.

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.