Posted in Book Review

Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Read Dates: July 27, 2021 – July 28, 2021
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Source: Owned Hardback

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From Goodreads:

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Mercer. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mercers are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

When I see a Shari Lapena book available for preorder, I preorder it. I rarely even look to see what the book is about. This woman consistently brings the most amazing page-turners I have ever read. I finished this book in just three sittings… and I have a 14-month-old running around wrecking things all day. So they weren’t long sessions. But that’s how easy it is to read her books.

I may have said this before in a previous Lapena mystery novel review, but when you begin one of her books, you may think to yourself that there are too many characters and you’re not going to be able to keep up with who is who. There were only a couple, out of her now 6 books, that did that to me – where I felt I had to make a character sheet so I could quickly remember who I was dealing with and how they fit into the story. This book wasn’t one of them.

Lapena writes in such a way that you never lose sight of the big picture because of confusing variables along the way. She keeps things flowing smoothly and efficiently. I never got bored at any point of this book. Which became a real problem because I had to find a stopping point! But there aren’t any! This book was so amazing. It’ll keep you flipping those pages with the determination to finish the entire book in one sitting.

One of my favorite things about this book was that almost none of the characters were likable. One of them was slightly likable but none of them were likable enough for me to root for them or hope they weren’t the killer.

So, Fred and Sheila Merton are dead. The prime suspects? Their three children: Catherine, Dan, and Jenna. But WHO ACTUALLY DUN’IT!? Were two of them (or all of them) in on it together? Was it just one of them acting alone? Was it someone other than one of the three kids?!

I thought I had things all figured out. And I usually do. Butttt I didn’t. At no point in this book did I have anything figured out. Whether it be a side effect from my mom brain or the fact that I was in a trance reading this because of how captivating it was or maybe just because it was THAT well written? I cannot say because I truly have no idea. But this was such an amazing book that I didn’t really care, I was just happy to be along for the ride. This book just catapulted to the top as my favorite Shari Lapena novel to date. She really outdid herself on this one.

As for errors, I only found two. One was the use of “of” instead of “if”. The other was the use of the name Dan instead of Ted. I didn’t mark down page numbers or count against this book in terms of the rating because I simply didn’t have the capacity to do anything other than to hurry along the pages to find out who on Earth killed Fred and Sheila.

I can’t leave here without saying something about the ending. Obviously I’m not going to give anything away but let me just say… THAT ENDING. Omg. I was gaping at my book and then I was smirking and then I may have even giggled a little. I wish I could say more. I’m recommending this book to everyone I know so I can hear them all say, “Ok, but that ending, right!?” Even if I don’t know you, feel free to shoot me a message and give me a, “Girl, that ending though, right!?!”

If you’re a fan of whodun’it books with SO MANY TWISTS where there are no likable characters and they all could be the killer because they’re all terrible people… well then this is your book. What a delightful (but a little too quick, my bad) read.

I know it’s only been two days but I’m ready for the next one Shari! 😀

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

The End of Her by Shari Lapena

Read Dates: November 13, 2020 – November 30, 2020
Publication date: July 23, 2020
Source: Owned Hardback

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A young woman and her husband have recently added twins to their happy family. Though, raising twins as a stay at home mom proves to be difficult when Stephanie’s husband, Patrick, is only able to help from the late hour he gets home from work until his bedtime just a few hours later. His job is demanding… but so is hers. The twins are colicky and barely sleep. Soon, Stephanie begins to suffer from sleep deprivation and begins making a few careless mistakes she never thought possible of herself to make. Until, one day, an old friend of her husband’s comes to town and tells her she should be careful and accuses Patrick of the murder of his first wife. Before long, Stephanie begins to question the truth behind her husband’s first marriage and begins to wonder if maybe her careless mistakes, weren’t mistakes at all… and maybe she didn’t cause them.

Much like Lapena’s other novels, this one was incredibly hard to put down. I had my character list all made up by about a third of the way through and it was smooth sailing from there. I rather enjoy playing with my kid but I found myself getting sad when her naps were over (since I read while she’s napping).

The array of characters and the way they intertwine was incredibly satisfying. I always wonder when I pick up one of Lapena’s books how the characters will end up relating to one another. No single character is ever just some random, meaningless person. I LOVE THAT.

The book had me teetering back and forth on who I thought was truly behind things and where I thought the end of the book was headed. Though, the reason this book was only given 4 and not 5 stars is because… I saw the end coming… And all the little “twists” in the middle. I saw all of it coming. Maybe it’s just because there’s not a single book by Shari Lapena that I haven’t read and I’m incredibly familiar with her writing style, but, I knew.

However, that did not take away from the journey to the end that I knew was inevitably coming. It was still incredibly satisfying to watch the events that transpired with each character up until the very last chapter. This was one of those books, like all of the other Lapena books, that are told from multiple POVs. To me, it’s incredibly hard to pull off a story that way. It’s much easier for the multiple POVs to be the downfall in a book. Thankfully, Shari is a pro.

Stephanie was so relatable for me as I read this book shortly after the newborn stage with my own child. Though, that was ONE kid… not twins. Thank goodness. I loved reading about her friends and the play dates. I loved the way the characters overlapped without even knowing it. Being in the same places at the same time or being right down the way from each other.

There’s not really much I can say that I haven’t said before when reviewing a Lapena mystery. They’re so fun to read, even if you have everything figured out. She makes the story such a fun ride and this one was no exception. I will continue to sing her praises forever and ever.