Mini-Reviews #23: Family of Liars, How to Sell a Haunted House & Liar’s Beach

Mini-Reviews is a blog series where I’ll be sharing mini reviews of the books I’ve been reading lately.  Each post will include 3 books I’ve recently read and will be grouped by genre (though we’re bound to get a hodgepodge post every once in a while!).  Let me know if you’ve read anything I’ve talked about or if you feel inspired to pick anything up after hearing my thoughts!  I also want to note that I’m attempting to do away with half stars this year and I’m going to use the official goodreads rating system which is based on enjoyment level (1 star = didn’t like it, 2 star = it was okay, 3 star = liked it, 4 star = really liked it, 5 star = it was amazing).

Family of Liars by E. Lockhart – Eight years after the release of We Were Liars, E. Lockhart has revisited the little island off the coast of Massachusetts that readers know and love, but this time in the form of a prequel story following the lives of the Sinclair parents during their teen years on the island.  The story is told from Carrie’s POV and it’s important to note that it spoils We Were Liars, so DO NOT read this one first just because it’s a prequel.  I completely adored this book.  E. Lockhart’s writing captures the very essence of summer and the intense feelings that go along with teen angst.  She tackles some heavy topics, as she does in all of her works, but manages to interweave those moments seamlessly with the beauty of the setting.  You truly feel like you’re there, with the Sinclairs, fulfilling their yearly summer traditions and getting into trouble with the new group of boys visiting.  I’ve always had a thing for books about disturbed rich people and this one delivers.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would feel since it’s been so long since I read We Were Liars.  Thankfully, Family of Liars completely exceeded my expectations and pulled me out of a reading slump.  Upon finishing, I already had the urge to re-read it, but I’m going to instead revisit We Were Liars. If you’re looking for something to put you in a summer mood, look no further!

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix – I picked up a signed copy of How to Sell a Haunted House at an independent bookstore upstate (Grady drew a very cute ghost in my copy!) so I’ve been looking forward to diving in since it hit my TBR pile.  This is my second of his books and I will definitely be reading more.  How to Sell a Haunted House follows Louise and her brother Mark after their parents unexpectedly pass away in an accident.  Louise and Mark have had a strained relationship for years and they each have a different vision of how their parents’ affairs should be handled.  When it comes to the house, both are on board for selling, but they run into an issue with the broker who feels bad energy and says that she cannot put the house on the market while it’s haunted or it will ruin her reputation.  Louise is hesitant to believe that her mother’s puppet collection is terrorizing the house despite some firsthand experiences, and Mark believes it wholeheartedly.  There’s definitely a suspension of disbelief required to get into this book but if you’re able to do that, it ends up being a lot of fun, in a very campy way.  My favorite part of this book was the sibling relationship and how they’re forced to choose to come together to solve things or risk being terrorized forever.  Funnily enough, Pokemon of all things spoiled one of the twists for me and I can honestly say that reading about haunted puppets is not my thing.  So despite loving Grady’s writing style, complex characters, and story structure, this one isn’t a new favorite for me. But, I will definitely be reading (and catching up on) more of his books- next up for me will be My Best Friend’s Exorcism which I’ve been meaning to read for years now.

Liar’s Beach by Katie Cotugno – Let me start this review by saying that I will read anything Katie Cotungo publishes.  I think Katie is a really talented writer with a knack for tackling messy topics that a lot of other YA writers steer clear of. I’ve really loved all of her YA contemporaries and I am so thrilled to see her tackling a new genre (one of my favorite genres no less) while still bringing her classic Katie Cotugno charm to the characters and the setting.  Liar’s Beach is an Agatha Christie inspired YA mystery that takes place in Martha’s Vineyard where the rich go to summer.  We’re following Michael Linden, a scholarship student at a New England prep school, who was invited by his roommate Jasper to spend time at his family’s massive beachfront home August House, and is trying desperately to seem like he belongs there.  The morning following a big party, Jasper’s sister Eliza discovers an unconscious body floating in the pool and this is where the story really picks up.  Something seems off about the whole situation so Michael reconnects with Holiday, the daughter of the family his mother is a housekeeper for, and the pair begin investigating the attempted murder.  They uncover a ton of secrets, and strain relationships, including their own, along the way.  Going into Liar’s Beach, I think it’s important to note that this is definitely a YA contemporary leaning mystery and not a fast paced thriller.  The stakes never feel too high.  Overall I enjoyed the book- I was able to binge read 60% of it in one sitting which is a rarity for me these days.  My one gripe is that the dialogue felt a little cringey.  I’m not a teenager anymore. That might be how kids are speaking these days, but I much preferred inner monologue to audible conversations.  I think Katie took a lot of risks with this one between switching genres and writing from a male perspective so while I commend her for trying something new, it was not my favorite of her books.  However, should Liar’s Beach get picked up for a sequel as the ending would imply, you can bet that I’ll be grabbing myself a copy!

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One Response to “Mini-Reviews #23: Family of Liars, How to Sell a Haunted House & Liar’s Beach”

  1. I am always excited to read Grady Hendrix books as he always have the most creative concept lol. How to Sell Your Haunted House sounds great!

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