The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Norma’s Review

Creepy, crafty, & atmospheric! Lisa Jewell sure knows how to tell a story!

THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS by LISA JEWELL is a dark, disturbing, twisty, and suspenseful page-turner that is so cleverly written. I’m thoroughly impressed with this one and it definitely kept me glued to the pages right to the very end. I love how cleverly subtle and obscure she is. She withholds just enough to keep you hooked and wondering, surprising you totally with the end reveals.

The story is told from three equally compelling points of view in short chapters that I absolutely loved and completely held my attention. The short chapters steadily ratcheted up the suspense for me and I was equally invested in each point of view while I was reading, never wanting to jump forward to the next narrator.

She has this ability to make you forget what you think you know…..her writing is very hypnotic that way. I was thoroughly entertained with this one and I would highly recommend it!

I purchased this with an Amazon Canada gift card that I won on Instagram. Thank you so much, Amelia!

Brenda’s Review

After seeing some mixed reviews for The Family Upstairs, I was a little worried one of my favorite authors has turned to the dark side in more ways than one. I am so glad I decided to give this a try for myself because I had nothing to worry about. Lisa Jewell continues to do no wrong with this devoted reader. 

Lisa Jewell is moving a little towards the darker side from what this “Lisa Jewell reader” has come to expect. However, I have moved a little ok a lot to the darker side myself, so I think she and I still make a great match. She still has all those significant elements that make for her signature suspenseful style with those well-layered unpredictable plots and reveals and twist that come just at the right time to figure some things out. 

The Family Upstairs is a compelling family saga with devilishly, deliciously chilling narrative along with disturbing dark characters. I enjoyed the three POVs along with the different timelines that had me questioning the reliability of some characters. The last few pages are so chilling and I loved every one of them. I was left feeling delightfully chilled to the bone with how it all came together. I highly recommend it. 

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley.

Lindsay’s Review

Deliciously dark, creepy and twisted!

Lisa Jewell does it again! I loved this highly suspenseful, spine-tingling tale! This author is SO extremely consistent in her writing. She has the ability to suck me into a storyline from the first chapter barely letting me up for air before the last sentence. This book was such a treat and a great escape during these stressful and isolating times.

The engrossing plot is dark and disturbing – it involves a wealthy family, an eerie old mansion house, a creepy cult and several strange and peculiar characters.

If you like edgy, dark, eerie stories filled with mysterious, foreboding atmosphere and secretive, intriguing characters, then this is the book for you! It was excellent! I absolutely cannot wait to see what this author comes out with next!!

Thank you to my lovely local library for the loan of this novel!

Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters by Anita Kushwaha #bookreview @HarperCollinsCa @MsAnitaKushwaha

Heart-wrenching, compassionate & an absorbing intergenerational tale!

SECRET LIVES OF MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS by ANITA KUSHWAHA was such a touching, emotional, dramatic, and powerful story that tackles the complex relationships between mothers and daughters. It is such a beautiful book filled with so much love, heart, desire, acceptance, and truth that I was immediately drawn into.

I have an absolute love for these types of tales that center around adoption and motherhood and the secrets we keep to protect our loved ones. And the mistakes that we make without realizing the hurt that those secrets can ultimately cause. It really plays on my emotions, making me really care for the characters, fully placing me right into their lives and the narrative.

ANITA KUSHWAHA delivers a complex, layered and beautifully written story here that weaves together seamlessly the stories of Veena, Mala, and Nandini, and a young woman named Asha, who connects them all. I was totally entertained and enthralled with all these compelling characters’ perspectives equally. I really needed to know how all of their lives were connected and was completely pleased and satisfied with the resolution.

I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience and I would definitely recommend this one!

Synopsis from Goodreads

For readers of Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s “Secret Daughter” and Nancy Richler’s “The Imposter Bride”, a breathtaking novel from Anita Kushwaha about the ties that bind mothers and daughters together and the secrets that tear them apart

Veena, Mala and Nandini are three very different women with something in common. Out of love, each bears a secret that will haunt her life—and that of her daughter—when the risk of telling the truth is too great. But secrets have consequences. Particularly to Asha, the young woman on the cusp of adulthood who links them together.

On the day after her eighteenth birthday, Asha is devastated to learn that she was adopted as a baby. What’s more, her birth mother died of a mysterious illness shortly before then, leaving Asha with only a letter.

Nandini, Asha’s adoptive mother, has always feared the truth would come between them.

Veena, a recent widow, worries about her daughter Mala’s future. The shock of her husband’s sudden death leaves her shaken and convinces her that the only way to keep her daughter safe is to secure her future.

Mala struggles to balance her dreams and ambition with her mother’s expectations. She must bear a secret, the burden of which threatens her very life.

Three mothers, bound by love, deceit and a young woman who connects them all. Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters is an intergenerational novel about family, duty and the choices we make in the name of love. 

Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey @SimonSchusterCA @NetGalley #bookreview

Action-packed, intense, & thrilling!

WOMAN ON THE EDGE by SAMANTHA M. BAILEY is a gripping, captivating, and suspenseful thriller that weaves quite the palpable and emotional story. I was immediately hooked and was so gripped with what I was reading that I was frantically swiping those pages as fast as I possibly could to reach that very satisfying conclusion.

SAMANTHA M. BAILEY delivers a foreboding, complex, intriguing and propulsive read here with quite the compelling and realistic characters. I was emotionally connected to both of our main characters here and the storyline. Nicole’s anxiety really rang true and I totally felt for Morgan. And I definitely needed to know what the connection was between them. I was definitely rooting for a happy ending for both Morgan and Quinn.

The story is told from alternating timelines and perspectives which definitely kept me interested and fully immersed in this tale.

This story is not perfect by no means as there were some little things here and there that I thought could have been a little bit better portrayed but all in all I was thoroughly entertained, intrigued and engaged.

To sum it all up it was a brisk, interesting, entertaining, and enjoyable read with a very satisfying ending that definitely kept me on the edge-of-my-seat. I would recommend it!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada, and Samantha M. Bailey for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. It was an absolute pleasure!

Book Blurb from Goodreads

A moment on the subway platform changes two women’s lives forever—a debut thriller that will take your breath away.

A total stranger on the subway platform whispers, “Take my baby.”

She places her child in your arms. She says your name.

Then she jumps…

In a split second, Morgan Kincaid’s life changes forever. She’s on her way home from work when a mother begs her to take her baby, then places the infant in her arms. Before Morgan can stop her, the distraught mother jumps in front of an oncoming train.

Morgan has never seen this woman before, and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life. She also can’t understand how this woman knew her name.

The police take Morgan in for questioning. She soon learns that the woman who jumped was Nicole Markham, prominent CEO of the athletic brand Breathe. She also learns that no witness can corroborate her version of events, which means she’s just become a murder suspect.

To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically retraces the last days of Nicole’s life. Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia or was she in danger? When strange things start happening to Morgan, she suddenly realizes she might be in danger, too.

Woman on the Edge is a pulse-pounding, propulsive thriller about the lengths to which a woman will go to protect her baby—even if that means sacrificing her own life. 

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle @goodreads @AtriaBooks

Soul-stirring, striking, & an unexpected gem!

IN FIVE YEARS by REBECCA SERLE is an engaging, touching, heartwarming, and absolutely beautiful story of love and friendship that I was immediately drawn into and quickly devoured. The storyline definitely kept me intrigued and took me on an emotional rollercoaster ride right to the very end.

REBECCA SERLE delivers a fantastic, captivating, emotional and beautifully written story here with some startling twists and turns that will definitely give you all the feels. The characters are so relatable and genuine that it is extremely easy to get emotionally attached to them and be fully absorbed in their lives. I was thoroughly impressed with the storytelling here and the direction that this story took was downright ingenious. You think you know what is going on but wait, what just happened? Totally surprising the reader, well me anyway. There were definitely some aspects to this story that kind of ruffled my feathers a little bit but on reflection I thoroughly enjoyed how everything played out.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: N/A this time around because my ARC didn’t have a finished cover.
Title: Intriguing, effective, relevant, emotive, meaningful, and a significant representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, witty, engaging, readable, and beautiful. I absolutely loved the writing style!
Plot: Intriguing, unpredictable, poignant, emotional, twisty, heartwarming, touching, moving, thought-provoking, insightful, entertaining, captivating, and steadily-paced.
Ending: An emotional, thought-provoking, and slightly vague ending which I thought worked out very well.
Overall: 4.5 Stars rounded up! Our main character here, Dannie totally captured my heart and fully consumed my thoughts while I was reading this story. I highly recommend it!

This book is available now!

Thank you so much to Mimi from Goodreads for the ARC.

Book Blurb from Goodreads

Perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day—a striking, powerful, and moving love story following an ambitious lawyer who experiences an astonishing vision that could change her life forever.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen @SimonSchusterCA #bookreview #travelingsistersreads

Unsettling, stunning, & evocative!

PLEASE SEE US by CAITLIN MULLEN is a raw, edgy, dark, eerie, distressing, and compelling psychological thriller that absolutely enthralled me. I was immediately taken and entranced with how mesmerizingly poetic the enigmatic narrative was that I couldn’t put this book down.

It’s a storyline that appears to be something that we have all read before but let me tell you this is nothing but as there is something a little different here that makes this quite the impressive and immersive read. There is nothing cheery here it’s a pretty bleak and hopeless story.

CAITLIN MULLEN delivers a fantastic, suspenseful, vivid, richly detailed, well-crafted and well-written story here with interesting and compelling characters. The story is told in alternating perspectives between a few key players here. The first is Clara, a young psychic, Lily who returns to her hometown of Atlantic City, and Luis who watches and knows things. Also, we hear from a set of absolutely fascinating characters the six “Janes” who are lying in the Marsh. I absolutely loved how the author gave these dead women a voice to tell us their own stories. That was so clever and such a unique spin to the storyline.

Another aspect that I thoroughly enjoyed was Clara’s visions and her tarot card readings. I find that sort of thing totally fascinating and it just adds in this extra layer of intrigue and mystery to the storyline for me.

Expected Pub Date: March 3, 2020

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eye-catching, enticing, mysterious, ominous, creepy, intriguing, emotive, and an effective representation to storyline.
Title: Intriguing, effective, relevant, emotive, and an extremely meaningful and fitting representation to storyline. The meaning behind this title is absolutely brilliant! Love it!
Writing/Prose: Well-written, mesmerizing, engaging, readable, and beautiful. I absolutely loved the writing style!
Plot: Intriguing, eerie, evocative, emotional, suspenseful, heartbreaking, unsettling, moving, disturbing, entertaining, captivating, and fast-paced.
Ending: I thought the ending was imperfectly perfect and that’s all I’m going to say.
Overall: 4.5 Stars rounded up! Once I started reading it I was hooked and so absorbed in this richly detailed storyline that I was flipping those pages as fast as I possibly could. I highly recommend it!

Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for my ARC!

Book Blurb from Goodreads

In this sophisticated, suspenseful debut reminiscent of Laura Lippman and Chloe Benjamin, two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.

Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face. If they can put the pieces together in time, they may save another lost girl—so long as their efforts don’t attract perilous attention first. Can they break the ill-fated cycle, or will they join the other victims?

Evocative, eerie, and compelling, Please See Us is a fast-paced psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.

Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West @BerkleyPub @kwestbooks #BookReview

Timely, relevant & compelling!

MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES by KATHLEEN WEST is a fascinating, artful, and captivating debut novel that immediately grabbed my attention and held strong right to the very end. There is a full cast of characters here but mainly revolves around Julia Abbott a stage mom who is your typical helicopter parent and a school teacher, Isobel Johnson who Julia is harassing. The soap opera antics of Julia Abbott made this quite entertaining, amusing and definitely a fun one for me to read.

There are quite a few subjects explored here and characters to follow along with but surprisingly this wasn’t a heavy read by no means for me and I didn’t seem to have a problem with keeping everyone straight. The multiple character perspectives made this quite interesting and an easy book to read that I zipped right through.

KATHLEEN WEST delivers an intriguing, witty, and well-written story here that was extremely readable. I really appreciated that while I would say that this was more of a lighthearted tale it did have a substantial amount of truth and value to the storyline. The author did a wonderful job of fully immersing me into this story and keeping me interested. I can totally see this story being made into a movie.

Brenda’s review

Another winning from our “not our normal read” stack of books that Elisha from Berkley sends our way!!

Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West was such a great surprise for me and I loved the different take she took on high school politics, the privileged bubble and those overbearing parents known as helicopter parents. She takes an interesting and sharp look through helicopter mother who becomes the gossip of the school and teacher Isobel whose teaching methods come under fire by those helicopter parent. They find themselves each with a different conflict that catches up to them on social media and through the students’ POV, we see how they become the ones with the voice of reason.

The clean pose and tight plotting around the adults behaving badly keeps the drama low and there is no teenage drama, allowing the story to be fun and entertaining from start to finish.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eye-catching, relevant, intriguing, impactful and excellent representation to storyline.
Title: The title immediately intrigued me and I think it is a fitting representation to storyline. There was definitely plenty of drama to be had here and some catastrophic decisions that’s for sure.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, readable, straightforward, easy to follow, and captivating.
Plot: Engrossing, lighthearted, relevant, funny, shocking, thought-provoking, interesting, steadily-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: A satisfying, fun, pleasing, and neat resolution.
Overall: This was a very good, fun, entertaining, and lighthearted book with some substance that I thoroughly enjoyed. Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing for kindly gifting us a copy of this book.