Cover Image: Her Perfect Life

Her Perfect Life

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Eileen is surprised when she gets the call from her brother-in-law, Simon, that her sister, Claire, was found dead on the beach from an apparent suicide.  The news comes after the release of Claire’s latest book, A Perfect Life.  Eileen flies to California to help Simon with the funeral details.  Eileen has been jealous of Claire’s fame so hadn’t read many of her latest novels, but is there something hidden in the new one that will help her understand why Claire did what she did?

I thought this book was done really well.  It is told from three different perspectives – Eileen in the present day and Simon and Claire in the past.  I enjoyed all three points of views and liked learning about what lead to Claire’s suicide.  The author did a great job of showing Eileen and Simon’s grief without making it cheesy.  It was a very thoughtfully written book, and I look forward to reading more from this author.  

This book is tagged as a mystery/thriller, but it’s really not that at all so don’t go into it expecting some big mystery.  There is a small mystery that is pretty easy to figure out, but it does not take away from the story at all.  I would consider this more of a literary or contemporary fiction novel.  This was an easy read, and I highly recommend it.
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I was given this book by NetGalley for an honest review - - 
What an awesome book - I devoured it!  Two sisters leading very different lives, with the good and bad that goes with relationships.
Their mother a cop, there father an addict.  Claire has always kept journals and when she finally writes a novel and it becomes a success her world changes, money, an awesome house, and a husband who is her agent....
And then she is found with a self-inflicted gunshot on the beach.  Why would she kill herself?
Her sister Eileen picks up her last book she wrote to try to find the reason why?  and discovers the painful secret.  
This is a must read!!  I can't wait for this authors next book!!!
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3 ⭐⭐⭐

Eileen’s sister Clare has the perfect life, or so it seems to Eileen. Clare is a famous author. Her life is full of success and money. So when Eileen gets the shocking phone call from Clare's husband, Simon that Clare is dead, found on a beach with self-inflicted gun shot wounds the morning after the release of her newest novel, Eileen is determined to find out why! 

Eileen travels to Clare's home where the truth starts to unravel as Eileen reads Clare's latest novel and journals, kept since she was eleven years old. It becomes apparent that despite her success and everything she had, Clare didn’t have the perfect life Eileen envisioned at all.

The story had a good pace and it was an easy read however I went into this one expecting it to more of a thriller full of twists and turns. It didn’t quite hit the mark for me and I feel things could have connected better in the end. The major plot twist was predictable and fell flat for me but overall still an enjoyable read.
I would recommend more as a general/women fiction rather than thriller/suspense so if that’s what you are looking for definitely add this one to your tbr pile.  

Thank you Netgalley, Sourcebooks Landmark and Rebecca Taylor for the ARC in return for my honest review.
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Although you can see many of the surprises coming from pages away, it doesn't change the fact that "Her Perfect Life" is an interesting thriller that makes you wonder if you ever really know your loved ones. 

Taylor does a great job crafting dynamic characters - You will find yourself wondering about them and their futures long after you're done. 

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to enjoy this great book!
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Book blurb...
Do we ever really know the ones we love? Reclusive Clare Collins crafts her novels like she crafts her life: perfectly. So the world is stunned when the famous author is found dead on a beach from a self-inflicted gunshot -- the morning after her latest book hits the shelves. Her sister, Eileen, is at a loss. Clare led a charmed life: success, mansions, money... Why would she throw it all away? But while reading through her sister’s latest -- and greatest -- novel, Eileen discovers a clue that unravels the fiction and reveals the painful truth. Suddenly, the life that Eileen had envied doesn’t seem so sparkling... Her Perfect Life is a page-turning debut that reminds us that no matter the success, everyone has secrets. And some are more devastating than others.

My thoughts…

PLOT
While the overall story was engaging, I found the plot a little underwhelming.  Perhaps the blame is more laid with the publisher blurb as I was expecting intrigue. Ultimately however, the conflict was simply the discovery of something from the past which had little or no affect on Eileen’s life story in the novel.

PACE
Well-paced and easy to read but the plot lacked connectivity between the threads.  I expected things to weave together in the end, but it remained two stories and both came to their own end.

CHARACTERS  
The story was predominantly about two sisters, Eileen and Clare; both living very different lives. 

OVERALL FEELINGS ABOUT THE STORY
Re the plot? A little underwhelming.  That said, I did enjoy the story, but more detail around Clare and Eileen’s lives growing up, as well as the accident, may have created more intrigue.
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Another excellent book to add to your must-read list! 2020 has been a year (so far) of craziness, yes- but also of great books! Thank goodness, we really need books at this time, don’t we?

Her Perfect Life by Rebecca Taylor caught my attention right away. Clare Collins is a novelist with secrets. She lives her life out of the spotlight and when she is discovered dead on the beach, the first question is WHY?

Clare’s sister Eileen is confounded. Why would Clare kill herself after all of her success? The two sisters weren’t close but Eileen takes it upon herself to look for the truth behind what happened to her sister. What kind of secrets did Clare harbor?

Synopsis:

Do we ever really know the ones we love? Reclusive Clare Collins crafts her novels like she crafts her life: perfectly. So the world is stunned when the famous author is found dead on a beach from a self-inflicted gunshot — the morning after her latest book hits the shelves. Her sister, Eileen, is at a loss. Clare led a charmed life: success, mansions, money… Why would she throw it all away? But while reading through her sister’s latest — and greatest — novel, Eileen discovers a clue that unravels the fiction and reveals the painful truth. Suddenly, the life that Eileen had envied doesn’t seem so sparkling… Her Perfect Life is a page-turning debut that reminds us that no matter the success, everyone has secrets. And some are more devastating than others.

Flawed characters, infidelity, secrets, family…  it’s all here in this book. Her Perfect Life is out now so you can get it here and start reading.
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I loved this book about two sisters, ambition, marriage, and secrets. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in two days. Taylor’s expertise as a psychologist shines through in the relationships between the sisters. An amazing thriller.
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I loved this! Such a fast, thrilling book. Dark subjects though. 

I received a copy via netgalley just before the release. I read it so quickly; I just couldn’t put it down. 

I loved the characters. The main character especially; Eileen is so real to me. Most of the book is from her perspective and I really enjoyed reading it. It feels like everything is a spoiler in this book so I don’t want to give too many details. 

Clare was also very interesting. I loved reading about her past to try and dig out the mysteries. Some of them were obvious but others were more real and it was wonderful. 

This isn’t a happily ever after book, but that just made it so much more brilliant. Even if the ending was a bit corny, it felt so right. 

It’s a must read. It’s fast-paced without overwhelming you. It’s got a great mystery and fun to read about characters. I’m so glad I read this!
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Loved it! What a wonderful read- not too weighty, light or flighty, but not so depressingly serious and dramatic that it brings you down. Wonderful characters that seem to be very human- flawed and nuanced and sometimes drunk, but forgiving. 

Eileen and Clare are wonderful sisters - ones that were close but now have their own lives, and when Eileen is faced with the reality of trying to understand her sister’s motivations, Taylor takes us back through Clare’s journals and shows us her world, both real and fantasy. 
I know it’s silly, but I loved how Eileen looked into the mirror and said ‘come one Eileen’ - I haven’t been able to get that song out of my head; and I’m grateful Taylor did include that small reference as to not would have been a very sad missed opportunity. 

And I know this may not be the opinion of other reviewers, but given that this is my review, I’m going to say I liked how Taylor treaded lightly in the end. We are given closure to the story without having to be beaten over the head with Clare’s motivations.
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This plot was compelling and I found it hard to stop reading. The story explored the bonds of sisterhood, infidelity, suicide, and celebrity status. I was tempted to rush to get the answers at the end, but the journey was very good. 
Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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The day after publishing her latest novel, famous author Clare Collins commits suicide.  Her husband (and agent) and her sister try to figure out why.  This novel moves between the aftermath of that act and Clare's earlier life as a teenager in Wyoming.  Though I had a sense of where it was headed, there was still enough mystery to keep me reading.  Additional depth is provided by the secondary storylines of Clare's sister's rocky marriage and their mother's dementia.  Very good reading!
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A story essentially about two sisters. Clare was the award winning author and Eileen got to know that she committed suicide. But why? Clare had everything in her life.

My first book by the author, writing was thrilling in most parts. I got to know the lives of both the sisters and the secrets that revolved around them. Emotions were laid bare as the past and present intertwined. The mystery with its twist at the end was predictable. I couldn't connect much with the characters, but it was the story which got to me.

Overall, a fun read
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I REALLY dislike giving negative feedback in books.  I wanted so badly to love this book as the plot was very intriguing to me.  Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into it.  The characters were not like able at all.  The main character was a doormat and drove me crazy.  😬
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This book is several stories all mish-mashed into one.  It is Clare's sstory of her lost love and her writing career, it is Eileen's story of her marriage and it is Simon's story of standing alone without Clare.  I did figure out Ella's secret before the author revealed it, but that was OK because it was self-satisfying when Ella made her confession.  One thing that really did disturb me, however, was the death of the dog.  I am so tired of dogs dying in stories--I wish that authors would figure out another pivital event.  The other concern I had was the money that Eileen inherited...would she have left Eric without receiving 85 million from her sister's estate?  It would certainly not hae been as easy to make her decision.  But the book was a pleasant read--perfect for the summer.
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Her Perfect Life centers on the life of Clare Collins.  She is an award-winning author.  Clare and her sister, Eileen, were once close.  Now their lives couldn’t be any different.  Eileen is stunned to hear that Clare has committed suicide on the beach just as her last novel is coming out.  Eileen and Simon, Clare’s husband, read Clare’s last novel to try to discover what lead to the suicide. 
I personally enjoyed the book.  The sisters’ life while growing up was interesting.  Clare’s life in the spotlight was interesting too.  Eileen becomes very aware of the fact that appearances aren’t everything.  You don’t know what is going on in someone’s life.
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EXCERPT: 'Tell me a story, Clare.'

Her eyes flew open, the sound of Adam's voice still clear in her mind, but also, it was as if she had heard it in the room. His sound, his exact pitch and tone, the lifetime she'd lived with that voice - the eternity it had been since she'd heard it.

'Adam?' she whispered into the room. Only the sound of her own heart rushing in her ears answered her. Twenty years. In a few months, it will have been twenty years since that night. The thumb of her left hand pressed against his ring on her finger.

She opened the journal and stared down into her eleven-year-old handwriting. Looking at the loopy and irregular, slightly wild cursive that had improved only a little in the last twenty-seven years, Clare read the first line she'd ever put down into the world.

'Mama said Daddy isn't coming home.'

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Reclusive Clare Collins crafts her novels like she crafts her life: perfectly. So the world is stunned when the famous author is found dead on the beach from a self-inflicted gunshot -- the morning after her latest book hits the shelves.

Her sister, Eileen, is at a loss. Clare led a charmed life: success, mansions, money…why would she throw it all away? But while reading through her sister’s latest—and greatest—novel, Eileen discovers a clue that unravels the fiction and reveals the painful truth. Suddenly, the life that Eileen had envied doesn’t seem so sparkling . . .

MY THOUGHTS: You know those days when you've forgotten your lunch, so you stop and buy a sandwich out of the cabinet on your way to work, and it looks fine, but by the time you get to it, it's kind of dried out a little and curling round the edges? That was my experience in reading Her Perfect Life by Rebecca Taylor.

Unfortunately, I didn't become enthralled or captivated by either the characters or the storyline, which I had figured out early on.

This is a rags to riches story. Small town girl makes good - leaves behind her tragic past and triumphs over it. Only, you know what they say . . . you can run away, but you always take yourself with you.

The two sisters, Clare and Eileen, couldn't be more different, their only similarity being their artistic talents. Clare is beautiful, talented, a successful writer who churns out a number of bestsellers each year. She is ridiculously wealthy and adored by both her agent husband and her fans. Clare's daily life is filled with stillness and silence, her mansion home reflecting this. She is also complicated and secretive. A mystery. She keeps her life carefully compartmentalised. 'To know Clare, truly, was to accept the fact that you couldn't ever know what was swirling beneath her beautiful surface.' And this is, perhaps, her greatest attraction.

Eileen's life is constant chaos. It's filled with her children, her dogs, her phone and her husband. She struggles to make a living as a photographer, relying on taking family portraits to keep afloat. She is an open book.

The two sisters have never really understood one another and, as a result, have never been close.

The story is told by both Clare, narrating the years that led to her suicide, and Eileen, coping with the aftermath of Clare's death while also dealing with issues of her own.

This is a quick, easy read, but for me it wasn't a satisfying one.

😑😑.5

#HerPerfectLife #NetGalley

'Time hated her - and it was clearly personal.'

THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Taylor lives in sunny Colorado with her husband, two teens, and two tragically spoiled dogs. Her Perfect Life is her debut novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Sourcebooks, Landmark for providing a digital ARC of Her Perfect Life by Rebecca Taylor for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage
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This was a quick read that I stayed up way too late to finish! 
I loved the characters in this book and how real they were. The twist at the end I saw coming but it didn’t take away from the book. 
Overall, this is a great book that covers a lot of sensitive topics. 
Thanks to Netgalley for my ebook copy.
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This intriguing debut novel, “Her Perfect Life” by Rebecca Taylor explores the bonds of sisterhood in the aftermath of suicide. Eileen Greyden, was an overworked Colorado married mother of three when she received a call that her sister Clare Collins, a famous celebrity novelist had taken her own life on her private beachfront estate near San Francisco. Simon, Eileen’s distraught brother-in-law, could barely function-- she rushed to his side to help and make final arrangements.

Before leaving, Eileen found a packet of photos affixed to the windshield of her husband Eric’s car that she needed to drive to the airport. Eileen examined the shocking contents of the packet, which could permanently change and alter her family life. In California, Eileen and Simon were forced to contemplate why a multi-million USD bestselling novelist would end her life, at the peak of her success. There were no clues. Simon, also represented his wife as her literary agent, he adored her and their luxurious life of vast wealth and fame.

As the story progressed, it became apparent that Eileen and her sister were not close. Eileen and Simon consumed a lot of wine as they read and studied the stories, writing, and Clare's personal papers in hopes of unraveling the mysterious reasons surrounding her death.  As the story drew to a close, the reasons that led to Clare Collins death seemed to be based on speculation rather than reality or fact. It just seemed unlikely that a successful mega-celebrity novelist would or could hide glaring mental afflictions that often lead to suicide without clues or detection by loved ones. The real intrigue of this story wasn’t actually entirely about Clare Collins, but rather, Eileen, and how she would address the contents of the packet.  (3*GOOD)  ** With thanks to SOURCEBOOKS Landmark via NetGalley for the ADC for the purpose of review.
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I feel like the premise of Her Perfect Life started off strong, but by the 30% mark my interest started to wane. Other than Eileen, I never really felt a connection to any of the other characters. Especially not Clare, who I really think was not as fleshed out as she could have been. I also was able to guess the "big reveal" as soon as the accident was mentioned. I honestly almost gave up and DNFed at about 75% in, but figured I'd read it through just to see if I was right. And when it was finally officially revealed, it all just fell flat to me. Like no one was truly surprised, mirroring my own feelings at the time. I just found this novel to be more about relationships than the suspense/thriller novel it was supposed to be and I wasn't exactly pleasantly surprised by that revelation.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Claire is a famous writer who lives in a mansion with a husband who adores her.  Eileen is a photographer with three kids and a stale marriage.   After Claire's tragic suicide, Eileen struggles to determine why while struggling to make sense of the changes in her own life.
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