#BlogTour | #BookReview & #AuthorInterview: Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan @TitanBooks @Sarah_Mather_15 #GoodNeighbours #damppebbles

“A sudden tragedy pits neighbour against neighbour and puts one family in terrible danger.

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world. But when the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbours’ worst fears. Arlo and Gertie and their weird kids don’t fit with the way Maple Street sees itself. As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and neighbourhood Queen Bee Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mother’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

A riveting and ruthless portrayal of suburbia, Good Neighbours excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the Good Neighbours blog tour. Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan was published by Titan Books on 13th July 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats.

First up for you today I have an interview with Sarah Langan, followed by my review of this fabulous book.

Hello Sarah, welcome to damppebbles. First of all, please can you tell us about Good Neighbours

Hi! Good Neighbours is about a misfit family who scrimp for years to buy the most run-down house on a suburban cul-de-sac – a piece of the American Dream. But they’re greeted with hostility, and when a sinkhole opens in the middle of the block, a vicious neighbour spreads a rumour about them. The rumour’s so awful that the rest of the neighbours feel obliged to believe it, in order to protect their children. They become a mob, and by the end, an entire family is murdered in cold blood. Good Neighbours is the story of what happened, and why.

What three words would you use to describe Good Neighbours?

Engrossing. Funny. Scathing.

Which character was the most challenging to write? I really felt for the entire Wilde family – my heart broke for them as the situation spiralled out of control.

Rhea Schroeder, the alpha dog next door neighbour, was the most challenging character. I sympathize with her, but her thoughts get so incredibly ugly. It was hard to inhabit her, when writing those moments.

Where do you find inspiration for your books?

I think about the world, and current events, and I try to distil those things into a simpler metaphor. So, the radicalization of America is represented by a small cul-de-sac in Good Neighbours.

Do you have any rules for writing you would like to share?

None! No rules!

If Good Neighbours was made into a movie, which famous actors would play Gertie and Rhea? Have you cast any of the other characters in your mind?

We’ve now got a wonderful person attached to play Rhea and also produce, and I’ve very, very excited. We’re incredibly lucky to have her, and I wish I could brag about it!

As for the rest of the cast, what matters to me is that the actors engage with the role. I’d hate to narrow my options by naming anyone, specifically. I feel like it ought to be open – I’d love to be surprised.

*This is all if it happens. But maybe it’ll happen!

Which band would you choose to headline the soundtrack for the movie adaptation?

I’m so hopelessly out of touch that this is another one I should probably leave to someone more qualified. But I like David Bowie, Karen O, and Tobacco.

Who is your writing hero?

I love Megan Abbot, Jennifer Egan, EM Forester, and Somerset Maugham. I love work that is both unflinching and humane.

Which book do you always recommend to fellow readers/writers?

Mockingbird, by Waler Tevis. Also, When Late the Sweet Bird Sang, by Kate Wilhelm

What advice would you give to someone considering taking the plunge and attempting to write their first novel?

Don’t worry if you have no idea what you’re doing. None of us have any idea. Just write it.

If you could have a dinner party and invite three other writers (living or dead), who would you invite?

Jane Austen, Mary Shelly, and Edith Wharton. I’d be fascinated to see if and how they got along. And also, just utterly fascinated.

I’d be utterly amazed, too, if every woman represented in Judy Chicago’s Feminist Dinner (an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/dinner_party) suddenly appeared at the table.

What’s the one question you wish I had asked and what’s the answer?

I had Greek yogurt and pancakes for breakfast. I’m endlessly quitting coffee and then drinking it again. It’s a vicious cycle. My kids have been home from school for more than 400 days. I feel like I’ve been living in a cave since quarantine started. It’s making me a little slap-happy, and I really hope things get better soon.

Thank you so much for joining me today, Sarah. Read on to find out what I thought about Good Neighbours.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Good Neighbours but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Sarah at Titan Books for sending me an early copy and inviting me to join the tour.

I absolutely loved Good Neighbours. From the moment I saw the cover and read the blurb, I knew I had to read this book. Sometimes you just know, right? This is one of those books which called to me and I couldn’t wait to dive in. So much so, I started reading it the day it landed on the doormat! And from that point forward, I really struggled to put it down.

The Wilde family are new to Maple Street, Long Island. Gertie’s dreams of a settled suburban life are finally coming true. But the residents of Maple Street aren’t so keen on the new arrivals. They don’t quite ‘fit’ in their picture-perfect neighbourhood. Still, ex-beauty pageant queen, Gertie does her best to make it work for her and her family. She befriends top dog, Rhea Shroeder, and starts to feel settled. Life is finally good for the Wildes. That is until a sinkhole appears in the park opposite the close-knit community’s street and Rhea’s daughter, Shelly, falls in. Suddenly there’s a reason to blame the newcomers. The shocking news of Shelly’s disappearance opens the floodgates and before long, accusations are flying. Neighbour turns on neighbour. Friend on friend. As the hatred for the Wilde’s escalates, it’s down to Gertie to prove that not everything is as rosy as it may first appear in paradise…

Good Neighbours is a deliciously dark, visceral tale of suburbia which I devoured with utter glee. It’s so beautifully sinister, so packed full of menace, it was impossible to tear myself away from it. I was fully immersed in the drama of Maple Street and it’s living, breathing characters. I was sat on their shoulders watching, as step by step, the situation spiralled out of control. To the point where I had to put the book down a couple of times as the impending sense of dread and despair built, just to catch my breath and to prolong the inevitable. My heart was 100% with the Wilde family and I couldn’t see them getting out of this unscathed, if at all. And that very nearly broke me.

The story is set in 2027 and the reader watches as things slowly but surely fall apart for the Wildes. One accusation made in the heat of the moment, one word said in pure anger and frustration, one word meant to hurt and cause the deepest of wounds, begins the street’s campaign of unrelenting, unjustified hate. I was swept up into the story and completely mesmerised by what was taking place on the page in front of me. I loved it! In amongst the day to day drama of Maple Street in 2027, there are newspaper reports dated 10 years later which give the reader extra detail, along with snippets from a book where some of the neighbours get to explain their thinking at the time of the sinkhole. Truths are very much rewritten and memories are altered. Guilt is a funny thing.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Good Neighbours was a hugely enjoyable book which I loved losing myself in. The ending was perfect. The whole darn book was pretty perfect. If you’re a fan of intelligent psychological thrillers with characters who get under your skin, if you love books which make you feel something, then you’ve got to get yourself a copy of Good Neighbours. Absolutely beautifully written, divinely dark and chock full of delicious menace. I’m off to check out Langan’s back list as I can’t wait to read more books by this author. Highly addictive, highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Good Neighbours. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan was published in the UK by Titan Books on 13th July 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Sarah grew up on Long Island, got her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, her MS in environmental toxicology from NYU, and currently lives in Los Angeles with her family and house rabbit.

Her next novel GOOD NEIGHBORS is out now.

Bram Stoker award winner for outstanding novel in 2007 – The Missing. Bram Stoker award winner for outstanding short story in 2008 – The Lost. Bram Stoker award winner for outstanding novel in 2009 – Audrey’s Door.

#BookReview: The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn @HQstories #TheGirlsAreAllSoNiceHere #damppebbles

“Nice girls can do bad things…

When Ambrosia first arrives at prestigious college Wesleyan, she’s desperate to fit in. But Amb struggles to navigate the rules of this strange, elite world, filled with privileged ‘nice’ young women – until she meets the charismatic but troubled Sully, with whom she forms an obsessive friendship.

Intoxicated by Sully’s charm and determined to impress her, Amb finds herself drawn deep into her new best friend’s dangerous manipulations. But if she wants to play Sully at her own game, Amb has no idea just how devastating the consequences will be…

Deeply unsettling and compulsive, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a gripping exploration of the brutal lengths girls will go to, to take what they think they are owed.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn. The Girls Are All So Nice Here was published in hardcover, audio and digital formats by HQ on 1st April 2021. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Girls Are All So Nice Here which has in no way influenced my review.

I wanted to read this book because I’m struggling a little with my reading mojo at the moment and I was looking for something different to my usual fayre (of police procedurals and blood soaked horror). I was keen to shake things up a little and oh boy, this book was a perfect pick! The Girls Are All So Nice Here is an intoxicating tale of obsession and manipulation which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Ambrosia ‘Amb’ Wellington is ready to do whatever it takes to fit in at college: the exclusive Wesleyan. Her dream is to become an actor so she knows how to change her personality to fit in. She’s been doing it throughout her high school career so it’s no big deal. When she meets Sloane ‘Sully’ Sullivan, Sully’s charisma pulls Ambrosia into her web. Sully is different to everyone she knew back home and Amb can’t get enough of her magnetism. Ambrosia is desperate to stay in Sully’s orbit, she craves her approval, so transforms herself into Sully’s mirror image. But Sully is a deeply troubled young woman whose constant manipulations push Ambrosia to the limit. Reunited for the 10 year reunion, will Sully’s hold over Ambrosia still be as strong? And what exactly did happen that fateful night…?

Wow! Some of the characters in The Girls Are All So Nice Here are truly horrible people but I couldn’t help but enjoy their darkness (just a little). The author has created some devastatingly cruel and vindictive characters and I lapped it up! I found Ambrosia to be a fascinating character who despite not being solely responsible for her actions, seemed happy enough to accept her new life and just go along with everything Sully suggested. I still haven’t worked out if she’s insanely needy or if she arrived at Wesleyan with a dark streak of her own.

The story is told in the past – leading up to the devastating event which changed the lives of those living in Butts C – and the present – as Ambrosia reluctantly prepares to attend the 10 year reunion with her husband. Amb believes she’s not the same person she was in college, she doesn’t want to return to Wesleyan (she certainly doesn’t want her husband to discover her secret!) and refuses to even consider the reunion. Until an anonymous card arrives telling her she must attend as ‘they’ need to talk about what they did that night. I really enjoyed both the flashbacks and watching as Ambrosia’s present-day, perfect life began to unravel and the realisation of what really happened starts to take hold. I found everything about the book so intriguing and utterly compelling. I was desperate to find out what had happened to leave such a catastrophic mark on these young lives.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a well-written exploration of toxic, poisonous friendships and the lengths some people will go to to belong. The control Sully has over Ambrosia is very unsettling, makes for uncomfortable reading at times and I loved it! I found it interesting to see the same characters 10 years later as, despite Ambrosia’s claims, nothing had really changed. They still went to extreme lengths to cover their own backs. Brilliantly done. Utterly irresistible. Bold and fearless. Shocking, dark and full of menace. I’m still thinking about this one days after finishing it. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Girls Are All So Nice Here. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn was published in the UK by HQ on 1st April 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is a former model who lives in London, Ontario with her husband and their three children. She is the author of three young adult novels: Firsts, Last Girl Lied To and All Eyes On Her, under the name L.E. Flynn.

Her debut adult fiction novel, The Girls Are All So Nice Here, will be released in 2021. It has sold in eleven territories worldwide and has been optioned for TV by AMC.