Cover Image: The Elizas

The Elizas

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DNF @ 10%
This is my third attempt at Sara Shepard's novels.  I find it very difficult to read her books, as the characters seem to have that Gossip Girl attitude to them and I lose interest in the story. This will be my last attempt at Shepard.  It does sound like the synopsis is more interesting than the book itself.
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I really like the mix of present-day chapters and passages from the main character's novel. I was curious how the two would intersect which made it a really page-turning type of book. I'm a little tired of the unreliable narrator trope that for whatever reason just can't remember the previous night, event, etc. Even so, I thought it was well done and different from other thrillers I've read recently.
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The Elizas by Sara Shepard features Eliza Fontaine, who has been pulled out of the bottom of a pool and is suspected of trying to commit suicide. Everyone thinks she jumped into the pool on her own – and she can’t swim – but Eliza knows without a doubt that someone pushed her in. She felt the hands on her back! Adding to the suspicion, Eliza has tried to commit suicide multiple times in the past and basically has no credibility to her friends and family because of this and because of some other strange behaviors recently. She is desperate to prove that she is telling the truth, that she was indeed pushed. Since nobody believes her, Eliza decides to find out who tried to kill her on her own.

Alternating with the chapters narrated by Eliza, there are chapters from a book that Eliza wrote called The Dots, making this essentially a book-about-a-book. In The Dots, the characters have an eerily similar situation to Eliza going on and Eliza’s life seems to almost parallel the events of the characters in this book.

I loved the Pretty Little Liars series (the books, I haven’t seen the TV show) so I was pretty excited to read this book, which is a more mature psychological-thriller type story, written for an adult or even more mature-YA audience. There is definitely a psychological component going on, which I love, and there is mystery because it took a while for me to confirm (or not!) my theories about everything that was going on. I was right about a thing or two that seemed pretty obvious to me, but there are certainly some twists thrown in, which made the story fun and kept me on my toes. This is an easy, quick read and even though I didn’t really love Eliza as a character for the most part, I did enjoy trying to figure out what in the heck was going on.

Eliza is an unreliable narrator in that she really can’t be sure what happened to her. She feels like she knows, but when she tries to remember, it isn’t really clear if the things that she remembers are true or something that she made up. Now, add to that the characters’ stories from The Dots – and how they seem to be remarkably similar to Eliza’s own life – and things get a little tricky. Even when I don’t particularly love characters, I always feel bad for them when they can’t seem to get a grasp on reality, and I felt like I was watching Eliza become unhinged in her desperation for the truth. She had some behaviors along the way that I really made some faces at, but ultimately I really did enjoy this story.

I think fans of Sara Shepard’s work will enjoy this one too. I’m not sure if her solid fan base will like this one more or less than her famed Pretty Little Liars series. Personally, I just liked it differently. This was a much easier read than some of the more dark, thriller-y reads that I often pick up, and I really needed a book like that right now (after a fairly intense, darker read). So I think I would go as far as to recommend this one people that are typically YA or contemporary readers that want to try out some psychological suspense-thriller stories.

I would love to hear this one on audiobook! I’m curious how Eliza sounds and how her uncertainly translates to audio narration.
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This book was amazing! Seriously, if there is ever one book that you need to read, this is the one. I hated having to put it down to do other "adulting" things. I had to remind myself to slow down and actually take in all the words as I dove deeper and deeper into Eliza's plight.

The book starts with Eliza at the bottom of a hotel pool; she can't swim. Her family think she did this to herself and she swears she was pushed. No one seems to believe her and she decided to investigate it herself. Eliza's publication date for her debut novel looms closer and she is struggling to make sense of everything. She finds herself asking more questions than coming up with answers. Lest we forget that she is missing chunks of time with no memory. And now, her fictional novel is starting to feel more like it was real after all.

This book will keep you guessing 'til the end. It crescendos with excitement and frustration at the madness of Eliza trying to unravel fact from fiction. I can't say it enough, read it!
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The blurb enticed me, but I found the story itself to be kind of a drag. I ended up skimming most of the story and skipping to the end to see what happened. Not much to say other than it wasn't for me. Felt more like a drama than a psychological thriller.
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My first thought as I finished The Elizas is “this book was weird as shit”. And it was, but I couldn’t stop reading. The entire novel we’re led down a rabbit hole with an unreliable main character. Eliza is quirky, eccentric, and sees things that may or may not be real. She’d had a brain tumor that affected her in more ways than one. As her debut novel is set to come out, someone is after Eliza and  wants her dead. They won’t stop coming until the score is evened out. 

After a near-drowning sets everything in motion, the readers are sent on an adventure where nothing is as it seems and no one is trustworthy. Not even Eliza—especially not her. So many times I had to put the book because it was slow moving and I kept getting confused. I wanted to know the mystery so still read on. While I liked the book, it wasn’t a favorite of mine from Sheppard. I loved the first 8 books in the Pretty Little Liar series. 

I did love reading excerpts from the novel that Eliza wrote about Dot and Dorothy—fictional characters that looked eerily alike but bad things always happened around them. I wanted so bad to see how that story fit into the actual story I was reading, and while it was predictable, I liked it. The end was a cool twist. Sheppard knows how to keep a reader on their toes until the very end. Overall, if you’re a fan of PLL, fans wont want to miss out on this one. Sheppard does seem to follow similar storylines which I don’t mind.
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When The Elizas opens,  Eliza has just been found at the bottom of a pool, in what her family believes is another suicide attempt. When she wakes up, she insists she was pushed.  Eliza can't swim and she thinks this was an attempt to kill her.  She has a novel coming out that her family doesn't want her to publish.  Soon the lines between what is in her novel and real life begin to blur.

One of the best types of books to read is one with an unreliable narrator.  The Elizas features one of the best unreliable narrators that I have ever read.  I spent much of the book wondering if Eliza was sane or not. She has major gaps in her memory.  She isn't exactly likable, She's prickly and rude but I ended up rooting for her.  There was a little bit of a side romance with Desmond  that I could have done without though.  I'm not sure I felt any chemistry between them.  

The book is told through Elizas point of view and through excerpts from her novel about Dot.  As the story progresses, it's hard to tell which of the story lines is the real one. The pacing was slow at times, but at about the halfway mark it really gets moving along.   I loved the twist at the end.  It was a perfect way to end the book.  I do recommend this one.  It's a stand alone and definitely an adult thriller.
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Three and a half stars: A twisty little mystery with an unreliable narrator whom you just can’t trust. Eliza checks into the hotel and immediately raids the wet bar. She knows she shouldn’t drink, but just one or two drinks won’t hurt, right? The next thing she knows, Eliza is waking up in the hospital after nearly drowning in the hotel pool. Her family and doctors believe that Eliza once again tried to commit suicide, but Eliza is over the suicidal tendencies after overcoming  her brain tumor. Eliza is certain that someone pushed her, but who would push her why, especially right before her debut novel releases? Is someone out to get Eliza?What I Liked:The Elizas is a suspenseful mystery with two story lines. It follows Eliza, a debut novelist, who is certain someone tried to kill her. Then there is the secondary story arc that features the tale between the two Dots, which is the story in Eliza’s novel. I enjoyed the double story lines and the suspense in this one. Plus, add in Eliza, the unreliable narrator, and you have the makings for a solid psychological thriller. I enjoy a good unreliable narrator, and Eliza is definitely someone you can’t figure out. I wanted to like her, but she doesn’t even truly like her self. She engages in destructive behaviors, and her mental stability is questionable. She swims in a fog, and often appears delusional. Yet, there is so much more to her than meets the eye. It was fascinating to watch her overcome and learn the truth. At first, I wasn’t sure about the secondary story line of the two Dots, but the more I read, the more invested I became in this portion of the story. It was just as interesting as the main story line. There are some twists and turns, that I enjoyed. For the most part, the big reveal was easy to see coming, for me at least, but then there were a few other surprises that I didn’t anticipate. I liked that suspense and the reveals. The ending was satisfying, it appeared that all the loose threads were done up, and I was relieved at the outcome, but then the author throws in one final twist that leaves the reader wondering......I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Jayme Matler. This is my first time listening to Ms. Matler, and I would certainly listen to her again. She did an excellent job with the characters and the voices, I especially liked her depiction of Dot. And The Not So Much:I think the drawback for me with this one was that I spent the entire time clamoring for a character to latch onto and like. I could never really relate to anyone, and I ended up finishing the novel not liking any of the characters. It makes it harder to become invested in the story when you don’t like any of the characters. I was satisfied with the ending until the author threw in that final wrench. It felt that last twist was unnecessary and I didn’t like that it left me wondering. For me, it was easy to figure out how the two story lines were going to intersect, I wish that it had been more of a surprise. The Elizas is an entertaining mystery with a great deal of suspense and plenty of twists and turns. It features an unreliable narrator whom you want to like, but you just can’t. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but my one big hesitation with this book was that I ended up not liking any of the characters, and it is hard to truly invest oneself in a story when everyone remains unlikeable. Still it was an interesting read, one I would recommend for anyone who wants a good psychological thriller. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
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Having been a fan of the Pretty Little Liars series, I was really excited to jump into the authors newest standalone suspense novel. While most of the world building if believable, some of it is a bit extreme. 

This book is told in the first person point of view following Eliza Fontaine, a young woman with a record for attempted suicides by drowning in hotel pools.This book has an interesting take when comes to alternating through two separate stories. I don’t enjoy reading about characters with false memory so much because it makes the story slow going.

I found the whole plot was fairly predictable although there were some things I didn't learn until towards the end
Overall, I think this was a pretty good slow burn thriller and a fun read to take you away from reality for a little while
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I try so hard to like Sara Shepard books, but they all seem to be the same, theres some great mystery that takes forever to be solved, and then it's just really weird and not at all good.
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I tried on multiple occasions to get into this book, sadly I could not make it work for me. I felt very little empathy for the heroine, in fact, she's written to be unlikeable and well, the author nailed it! Ultimately I had to DNF this one around 50%.

I did not share a review on my site.
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I really liked this story but I also felt in some ways it drove me crazy. When I saw the premise, I was over the moon excited but the book ended up not meeting my expectations but perhaps I set them too high. I really enjoy the cover and think it suits the story well, as well. I am interested in checking out other books from this author and really loved the idea behind this story just felt the execution was good but also had it's low points. Thank you so much for this opportunity to review this novel!
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So, I clearly got approved for a lot of thrillers/mysteries on Netgalley lately, judging from my reviews this week. This one was very decent and engaging to read, and I finished it within 2 days of starting it. It's written by the same author who wrote the Pretty Little Liars series (which I've never read nor seen the adaptation of), but this one is not young adult. The story follows Eliza, a debut author who is rescued from a pool at a hotel late one night, drunk and suicidal (according to her family). Eliza, however, swears that she was pushed. No one believes her, especially given her suicidal history, so she sets out to prove them wrong and encounters a lot of twists and turns, and makes a lot of bad decisions along the way.

Reminiscent of The Girl on the Train's protagonist, Eliza is not exactly likable and she's not entirely reliable. She has a lot of gaps in her memories, and also drinks a lot of alcohol. It's easy to believe her family that maybe she is just troubled, but you still really want to give her the benefit of the doubt. The story is told from her perspective, which also kind of puts you in her corner, and it also alternates with the story of her novel, which has some interesting potential to intersect with her life, and it really kept me motivated to keep reading and see what happened.

The feel of the book is very Hitchcockian. You can never really tell who you should trust. It seems like everyone means well, but seeing things from Eliza's perspective also makes everyone suspect. She goes back and forth with theories, as did I. I didn't quite crack the whole case, but some of my suspicions ended up being true, and that's the fun of a thriller. Pretty much, this was a great diversionary read that kept me guessing and I had a lot of fun reading it. If you like fun thrillers that will keep you second guessing everything, you should definitely give this one a whirl.

Note: I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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"New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars Sara Shepard makes her mark on adult fiction with this Hitchcockian double narrative composed of lies, false memories, and a protagonist who must uncover the truth for survival.

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

Fans of Pretty Little Liars, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 will be drawn to the drama of feeling like no one is on your side, the high tension of not knowing who you can trust, the hair-raising truths hidden among lies, and a faceless, nameless presence controlling Eliza’s life from the shadows."

I'm all about this book, it's named after me, Miss Eliza right?
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4.5 Stars

'The Elizas' is wildly popular YA author Sara Shepard's foray into adult fiction - and a fine one at that! If you've read any other reviews about this book, you'll know that it's not going to be everyone's style. I felt like it was sort of a mystery inside a mystery due to the main character's unreliability and the almost surreal feeling surrounding the majority of the story. For me, however, this was right up my alley! I loved not knowing what was real, what wasn't, or maybe it was a distorted memory. One of the major characteristics of Eliza is her complete unreliability. Even she doesn't know what's real or what's happening most of the time. This definitely makes her a fascinating and confusing main character, but I think it added to her depth and even made her more realistic. A lot of people recall events differently than what actually happens - it's part of what makes witnesses unreliable in police investigations. That this was such an integral part of not only Eliza, but the entire book, was thought provoking and made this story stand out from others in the genre.

I don't do spoilers, so I try to refrain from saying much about the plot so I don't give anything away. It was full of twists and things you don't see coming. I love thrillers and always try to figure out the mystery behind it all before the main character does. This one actually kept me guessing until very late in the book, which surprised me in a very good way. The tension kept growing steadily throughout the story - along with the story's pace and twists - until all is finally revealed. There's honestly not much about this book that I didn't like. For me, it's definitely going to be one where I'll go back and re-read it to see if I can spot things I didn't pick up on the first time around. There are some other strange aspects of the story that made it unique - like the excerpts from Eliza's book "The Dots." It factors into the plot, but you don't get to know exactly how for quite a long time and it had me all kinds of confused and trying to figure out what it's purpose was. Overall, I found this to be a fast page-turner that I couldn't put down. (I picked it up and ended up reading the whole thing in a few hours without stopping.) Fans of mysteries, thrillers, suspense, crime fiction, contemporary, and fans of the authors should definitely give this one a shot. It might end up not being for you - or it just might blow your mind a bit.
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So I believe this is supposed to be Sara Shepard’s first adult novel, and I was a Pretty Little Liars fan… to an extent anyway. When I found out she was taking her crazy twists and turns into adult fiction, I was so excited! There was so much more potential with writing an adult novel, and I couldn’t wait to see her take advantage of that!

One of my favorite things about this book is the book within the book. I love that we bounce between The Dots book and the “regular” book. That is immediately interesting, it is such a unique way to go about the story. But now that my favorite thing is cleared, lets move on to everything else…

I love an unreliable narrator. That is my jam. I’m basically an unreliable narrator of my own life, so I just vibe with these type of stories. I love the unbalanced nature of the characters. I love not being able to trust them or their memories to the point that I have no clue what is happening. It’s also pretty exciting, as you never are sure what twists and turn may be waiting around the corner. Shepard seems to also be a fan of writing in this style, if you weren’t already aware. But Eliza was a whole different level of unreliable and unstable, to say the least.

As with any novel from Shepard, you can expect twists and turns, however predictable they may be at this point. For me, I think it was more of a matter of how they were connected. At times, when we start unraveling clues and making revelations, it was almost a bit much. Maybe too much too keep up with? Remember, not only are you keeping up with our main story, we are also keeping up with The Dots. Each time we think we have sorted everything out, something new came along. As much as I love the unreliable narrator attempting to right her memories and life, I also love to finally reach a point of clarity.

This book was unique to anything I have read before. The narrator was of the most unreliable kind. The plot kept me intrigued, I needed to know the resolution both to The Elizas and to The Dots. By the end, I feel like I didn’t completely get that. That may have been completely intentional by the author, of course, but that just didn’t leave me feeling satisfied. But should I leave such a book feeling satisfied? I don’t know. And now the book has me questioning my own sanity…

One other minor aspect that left me a little disappointed was that he author didn’t seem to take full advantage of the adult aspect of this novel. It never became sexy or had much intrigue as far as relationships or sex, when it absolutely could have. Not that every adult novel needs that, I just feel like it could have been included here in the right way, just to amp it up from feeling like another YA novel.

But overall I did like this book, I can’t say I loved it, but I would still recommend to the lovers of unreliable narrators and a unique way of story telling!
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I really liked the end of this book! I felt like the middle dragged a bit, but overall it was a mind-trip.
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Eliza is the kind of unreliable narrators that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I can't quite get a read on her. She's obviously unreliable but why? Is is intentional and I'm going to hate her? Or does she have good reason and I'm going to cheer for her? When I don't trust my protagonist or narrator, I naturally keep a bit of distance between us, which can make it hard to get fully invested in the characters. And it does take some time but Eliza eventually draws me in. While I don't find the story to really be plausible, I was cheering for Eliza by the end and don't regret my time spent with her.
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The Elizas by Sara Shepard has been promoted as a psychological thriller and I suppose there is an element of that present since most of the characters are a bit psychotic. Eliza Fontaine is the very strange protagonist who actually allows her stepfather to call her “chicken” as a pet name! This had me shaking my head and rolling my eyes before I got through the first few pages. Despite having a very spotty memory as well as other mental issues,  Eliza has managed to interest a publisher in “The Dots”, a book she has written  based on the pathological relationship she has with an aunt.. This is where things get blurred in the storyline. Are the strange events in Eliza’s life memories? Are they scenes from her book? Most of all, can she even trust any of the people in her life to tell her the truth?

I’m not sure what I expected from this book. In fact, I can honestly say I had no expectations since I haven’t read the author’s other work. I chose to read and review strictly based on what I thought was an interesting premise in the book description. I finished the book still finding it based on an interesting premise. I’m just not sure the author succeeded in selling what she proposed. Maybe it’s because I just finished another book with the same literary device — book within a book — which worked very well. Sadly, from my perspective, The Elizas was mostly confusing with the back and forth between truth and fiction. I couldn’t like Eliza and, for some reason, I couldn’t even feel sad for her many problems and her basically messed-up life. So, that means the author didn’t succeed in making what should be a sympathetic character, sympathetic. Maybe it’s a personal preference, but this book was just a little too tongue-in-cheek and light-hearted to feed my inner psycho addiction. Nevertheless, I would certainly recommend The Elizas to Ms. Shepard’s fans. It is well-written and even a bit humorous . . . but I had to turn off my implausibility alarm early on in order to finish.
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I am huge fan of <i>Pretty Little Liars</I>.  So when I saw that Sara Shepard was coming out with a standalone novel, I wanted it immediately.  Unfortunately, <I>The Elizas</I> fell a little short from my expectations. 

The story had a lot going on.  The main character, Eliza, was just as unreliable as promised from any description I read.  Having been dealing with a brain tumor that supposedly interfered with her memory, the reader was following along with her broken memories, discoveries and any other weird situation she found herself in.  There were no spoilers given.  The reader was just as much in the dark and as confused as Eliza.

I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the concept this book presented.  Eliza's life and her novel shared chapters. It was an interesting way to read and uncover the truth that Eliza was searching for.  

Although this book took me a lot longer to finish than I wanted to, I never gave up. I was invested enough in Eliza and her story to owe it to her to stick with it until she found out about her real self.
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