The Good Neighbor

51DtjhH7PVL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_March’s Book: The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner

Note: I got this book free as a Kindle Unlimited monthly first pick.  Normally, I would think that Amazon is giving these books away for a free download because they aren’t high quality, but the last free book I read turned out to be really good, so I have high hopes!

Plot Summary: Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And one October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah’s happiness.

Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love?

My Thoughts: The Good Neighbor earns a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It started off a little slow and repetitive… I feel like every other sentence was the main character second guessing herself (i.e. “I really trust him! or do i really know him?”).  I understand the author was trying to set the scene for a thriller, but I felt like it was getting to the point where it was more comical than suspenseful. I enjoyed the story line enough to keep going though, and by the time I was about a third of the way through, it was hard to put the book down.  I think I ended up reading the book in about 3 days.

Without giving too much away, the story is about Sarah and what happens to her after a fire inexplicably burns her neighbors house down.  There are a few shady characters (including her own husband at times!) and a few pleasant friends and new neighbors who try to help her recover from the traumatic experience, but in the back of her mind, she can’t shake the feeling that something is still wrong.

There are a lot of thriller books where the end becomes somewhat to very predictable by the middle of the book, but I was actually very surprised by the climax and the resolution, I did not see it coming, and I did not even suspect the right people to be involved.

I am again pleasantly surprised by the FREE book of the month offered to Amazon Prime members… that’s two for two so far that have turned out better than a lot of the novels I’ve been purchasing recently! I definitely recommend this book for readers who like a good suspense story.


Love Letters to the Dead

loveletterstothedeadFebruary’s Book: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Plot Summary: It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more — though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was — lovely and amazing and deeply flawed — can she begin to discover her own path in this stunning debut from Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead.

My Thoughts: I would give Love Letters to the Dead 3 out of 5 stars. I’ll start with the things I liked about the book, the first being that it dealt with a lot of dark issues.  The book touched on rape, sexual harassment, suicide, depression, mental illness, relationships, drugs, alcohol and coming out as gay.  It definitely wasn’t a happy book, it wasn’t even a book with ups & downs… it was just down most of the book until Laurel is finally able to open up and even then things don’t instantly get better. It was an honest look as how messed up life can get and how sometimes you just have to keep moving forward one breath at a time even if you don’t feel like you can.  I also liked the format… the book was written as a series of letters from the view point of Laurel.  It allows the reader into Laurel’s mind and gives a lot of description of the challenges that she faced both internally and externally.  I also liked that, through the letters, the reader was also able to learn more about the famous person that Laurel was writing too.  Learning about River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse and Judy Garland was very interesting. I knew who all these people are, but I wasn’t aware of their life out of the spot light and some of the struggles they went through… I found it very eye opening.

One of the things that I didn’t care for was the character development.  The reader gets to know Laurel through letters, but I feel like I wanted to know more and I couldn’t really relate to any of the characters (except maybe Kristin). I wasn’t really attached to the characters, so I didn’t truly care what happened to them at the end of the day.  I also felt like the love interest story line was pretty cliche and cringeworthy at times.

Overall, I would recommend the book to someone who just wants an easy read with an interesting, and often times dark, storyline.  Also, someone who has lost people close to them or who has struggled through depression may enjoy the honest perspective of the book and find the read comforting.