The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next DoorI’ve been looking for a quick mystery novel that isn’t too dark or gory; The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena was just the book I was in the mood for.

Marco and Anne Conti, new to parenthood, go to a dinner party at the house next door and leave their infant baby behind with a baby monitor. During the span of the party an awful crime is committed and as the story progresses, readers learn exactly what happened that night and what role everyone played, however unexpected.

What interested me the most in this book was the way that people can spiral out of control and dig themselves into a deeper and deeper hole in an effort to save their own skin. Situations in this story drive people to commit acts they never thought they were capable of.

Each chapter flowed smoothly into the next, the whole story only spanning a week or so. The book is told in third person from the perspectives of many different characters. The narrator seemed very removed from the characters and I noticed that each of the characters’ names were used a lot, almost so much so that it started to distract me. This style of writing isn’t a favorite of mine, but I thought it worked for this book.

The Couple Next DoorFor me, The Couple Next Door is a plot driven novel, rather than character driven, and a quick one-time read.

Here’s a quote I marked from the book:

“She knows how judgmental mothers are, how good it feels to sit in judgment of someone else.”

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in MoscowA beautiful piece of literature, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is a book that deserves to be savored line by line. Towle’s first book, Rules of Civility, is a favorite historical fiction of mine so I’d been anticipating his next book for years and it arrived in the form of A Gentleman in Moscow.

In 1922, The Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, Russia by the Bolshevik tribunal. He lives in a small cramped room in the attic and is forbidden from stepping foot outside the hotel. Although the story is told from within the walls of the hotel (for the most part) it’s not a small story. A Gentleman in Moscow spans over 4 decades of Russian history.

I couldn’t help but be charmed by this novel and the Count. Witty and extremely perceptive, he is the ultimate surveyor of the details in life. Throughout the story, we’re introduced to the various personalities of the people who live and/or work within the hotel. This includes Sofia, the child who ends up on the Count’s doorstep (or in this case, the hotel lobby). The interactions between these characters are fantastic dialogue. I was intrigued by the charming and the quirky characters alike, and was excited to see where the various personalities met.

For me, this wasn’t a quick read. I took my time and enjoyed the smaller details that eventually build up to the final scenes of the story when the Count’s life changes forever.

A Gentleman in MoscowI absolutely recommend A Gentleman in Moscow and hope that you enjoy it as much as I did! Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book so that you can get a taste of the story for yourself:

“’A king fortifies himself with a castle,’ observed the Count, ‘a gentleman with a desk.’”

“But imagining what might happen if one’s circumstances were different was the only sure way to madness.” 

“But time and tide wait for no man.”

“That sense of loss is exactly what we must anticipate, prepare for, and cherish to the last of our days; for it is only heartbreak that refutes all that is ephemeral in love.”

“…the thousand-layered complications of their hearts.”

“For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.”

Still Life by Louise Penny

still-lifeStill Life by Louise Penny is one of the books that has been waiting on my shelf for months and months. I finally had a chance to pick up this mystery detective novel and I’m happy that I did.

The story begins in the small town of Three Pines near Montreal when a well-liked woman is found dead in the woods. With an arrow wound on her chest, there’s no denying that her death wasn’t an accident…

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is the lead detective investigating the murder and I was impressed by his intelligence and perceptiveness. As many great detectives do, Gamache has the uncanny knack for finding the hidden pieces of the puzzle and fitting them together. He brings his team to the small town of Three Pines to get to the bottom of what happened.

Still Life is well written and kept me curious throughout the story. I will definitely read more of Louise Penny’s books!

My favorite quote from the book:

“Oscar Wilde said that conscience and cowardice are the same thing. What stops us from doing horrible things isn’t our conscience, but the fear of getting caught.”