Sister Dear

Sister Dear

Sister Dear (Thomas Nelson, April 2016)

All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?

Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

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  • Sister Dear is a good mystery. McNeill grabbed my attention from the very first page and never let it go. This book has it all secrets, deceit, betrayal, revenge, jealousy and murder. The characters were introduced and well developed.

  • “Sister Dear” by Laura McNeill is a heart-wrenching novel to read. I thought that this book was a great story. I had many theories about the murder as I read the book, and was on the edge of my seat towards the end.

  • In the Pages says:

    What if you were accused of a crime you didn’t commit? What if you spent years locked away in jail for that crime? Now you are out on parole and you want to clear your name and start a new life. This is Allie Marshall’s story in Sister Dear by Laura McNeill. This is truly a riveting story – you feel for Allie and her challenge of assimilating back into a small town that is having a hard time forgiving and moving on….even her own daughter wants almost nothing to do with her.

  • Family is always the most important thing, right? In this story that unfolds sometimes it is family that hurts us the most. This is a thrilling tale of lies, pain and what I would think is some undiagnosed mental health conditions.Sister Dear is an excellent novel from start to finish, where you never really expect the ending but find it mind-blowing none the less.

  • This book is full of suspense and twists, and mystery and backstabbing.

  • “Sister Dear” by author Laura McNeill is a book that you will not be able to put down once you start reading it until you finish the story.

  • I think Ms. McNeill has given us a highly complicated plot. “Sister Dear” is an excellent mystery filled with great plot twists, suspense and thrills. This is an exciting book, extremely well paced and suspenseful.

  • I really like this well plotted novel. It’s an intriguing mystery, a heart tugging exploration of family relationships, and a penetrating look at small town morals. I like how the plot developed, going back and seeing the events that led up to the murder. I like how the personalities of the characters were revealed as the novel progressed. This is a great novel about family and small town relationships. It is a graphic tale of the lengths people will go to get what they want, whether it’s a winning football team or another to take the punishment for a crime they committed. I highly recommend it.

  • Absolutely brilliant. Sister Dear kept me guessing to the end.
    Journey with Allie as she seeks to uncover the truth of that fateful night that she lost her freedom. There are people who want the truth to stay buried. Who can Allie trust?
    Love motivates people for good or for evil. Jealousy destroys. Forgiveness frees.
    Sister Dear is a fabulous journey to the truth.

  • Written from the point of view of Allie, Emma, and Allie’s daughter Caroline, Dear Sister is a mysterious and intriguing story that will hook readers from page one and keep them on the edges of their seats the entire book long.

  • Sister Dear is an unexpected thrill ride of ups, downs and wild turns. The story is told in varying points of view with a lot of unexpected twists. I was not expecting the emotions that this tale brought up in me.

  • I much appreciate Laura’s descriptive writing. Reading this book, it was as if I wore her characters’ skin, saw with their eyes, and heard with their ears. I’d try another of her books to experience that sensory-involved reading again. Second, the mystery. Whoa, did it hook me right in. I wanted to see how all the angles came together, how all the pieces added up.

  • Lots of emotions rolled through my mind as the book consumed my weekend. Distrustful of most characters, I found myself leaning toward one just in time to find a new fact about a different person. McNeill wound a tight thread of deceit, scandal, and revenge. This book has all the makings of a Lifetime movie!

  • The story captured me from the very beginning. The struggles that Allie faced were heartbreaking. McNeill wrote a thrilling mystery and telling any more of the plot would be a spoiler. It is a must read!

  • Sister Dear is chilling and is bound to keep you spellbound. It’s tight plot is balanced with brilliant characters and suspenseful twists.

  • In some ways, what a horrible but addictive story! I had a hard time putting this book down! The mystery was interesting and has quite a bit going on.

  • Buzz4Mommies says:

    This is a terrific mystery thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat for most of the book. I stayed up late one night just to finish and see if it would end the way I thought. I loved that it didn’t! Few stories surprise me and even though some plot areas were obvious, how it all unravels was not!

  • I think that Sister Dear has been very well written as far as the mysteries that surround the death of Coach Boyd. The story was dragged out a bit long but there are a lot of different pieces to it making it very complex. I feel like everything went together well and worked to create the story and back story.

  • Sister Dear by Laura McNeill was a book I wasn’t sure if I was going to like but I am glad that I had to review it because in the end I loved the book. This book was a slow start for me but like I said after I was a few chapters in I ended up loving the book.

  • What I love about this book is how Laura dropped little surprising nuggets of information throughout. Little puzzle pieces were found every few chapters that started forming the ultimate picture of what really happened to the town’s beloved football coach. Just when you think you cannot be surprised anymore, you get a new twisty tidbit to keep you reading.

  • While the plot of Sister Dear is interesting enough, its execution left me wanting more. While there were twists, they didn’t surprise me. I never caught myself saying, Wow, I didn’t expect that.

    The writer’s style may also be responsible for my emotional detachment. Stylistically, I found McNeill to lean more toward telling than showing, which caused me to struggle to feel the characters’ conflict from inside their own skins. Of course, my subjective take will vary from yours or anyone else’s. For good or bad, in books (as in life), I’m a feeler, and this guides my reaction as much (if not more) than my intellectual response.

  • Once in awhile, a truly unique story comes along and I believe “Sister Dear” is one of those. As the oldest of three sisters, I was intrigued by the story of Allie and her sister Emma. It was fascinating to read the different points of view both past and present from key characters. These helped build the story and helped me to understand what was really going on below the surface. As always, much more than it appeared.

  • This one…wow! The author does a great job with the characters and making them realistic. I liked the way the story switched from past to present and the way the story unfolded. I think this is definitely a story that will stay with you after you put the book down!

  • My Full Cup says:

    The characters were well-developed and a little over-done. The angst both sisters experience was a little over the top.

  • Moments says:

    Laura drew me into the story right on the very first page as Allie is preparing to be released from prison. Laura has a great style of writing as she teases the reader with little bits and pieces of information from the past along with developing the characters so that the readers become invested in the characters.

  • Suspenseful, powerful and telling story that is very compelling, but very unique to the fiction world.

  • McNeill’s strength is giving voice to the different character’s point of view as they tell the story from their perspective. There was some predictability to parts but that didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the overall book. Definitely worth a read for small town intrigue and sibling rivalry like you haven’t read before.

  • A mistake that shook their world, and a chance to the truth that can cause them their lives! Intense and twisted. Sister Dear by Laura McNeill is the kind of suspense that is obvious, yet still gives readers something to look forward to.

  • Can you imagine being accused of something you did not do? Can you imagine losing years of your life when you were innocent all along? I LOVE stories like this one! This book had me fully engrossed from the beginning and did not let go until the very end.

  • The plot is easy to follow despite there being various viewpoints. Secrets are slowly exposed to the reader, with flashbacks leading up to the night of Allie’s arrest. But, just when I thought the truth was totally revealed, there was one last surprise that I hadn’t foreseen. Overall, Sister Dear is a tight suspense exploring family secrets, tension, and forgiveness, and one I enjoyed reading.

  • I loved the way McNeill left bread crumbs for the reader to follow and how she slowly lead the reader through the story. Then, as the as the story slowly revealed itself, the suspense and thrill also increased. It was a roller coaster of a ride and the climax made me gasp.

  • To be honest, portions of Sister Dear did scare me a bit. It makes me wonder how far any of us are from being accused wrongly and never being absolved of the crime. While Allie’s conviction and sentence were due to her potentially uncovering a scandal, I still think things like this could easily happen in any small town, and even larger towns.

  • Laura McNeill draws readers into this intriguing story and keeps them turning the pages until the very end. Written from multiple points of view, the narrative twists and turns as information surfaces and secrets are revealed. A well-written and cleverly crafted tale, Sister Dear will appeal to fans of suspense and psychological dramas.

  • This was a pretty good book, I liked how there were many points of view, and each character had their own problems, and their own sort of secret life that they were trying to hide from the other characters. I only wish that the situation that sent Allie to jail was more impactful. I just felt like it was thrown together as a last minute idea, just to get the story rolling again. All in all, this was a book that kept my attention and the story kept pushing me in different directions which was a lot of fun to read. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

  • Sister Dear by Laura McNeill is a suspense filled drama that grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go until the surprising end. There are twists and turns along the way that caught me off guard. This is a deep, dark story filled with betrayal and lies.

  • Amandainpa says:

    A good story with an interesting plot, I love the cover of the book as well as the characters. Definitely recommended to fans of mysteries.

  • By The Book says:

    A powerful story, real-life characters, and excellent writing combine to make Sister Dear a highly recommended read. You need to put this one on your summer reading list! Highly Recommended.

  • What I do know is that this book captivated me from almost the very beginning. I wanted to know the truth behind what happened that night. All in all, I definitely enjoyed this story, as it definitely had me interested and dying to get to the resolution of the tangled mess Allie’s story had become.

  • I decided to expand my literary horizons with this book and I am so glad I did! The mystery, suspense and intrigue were intense and had me on the edge of my seat as I read! It made me not want to put it down until I found out every last detail of the story!

  • This is a suspense/mystery novel with a very slow burn. I consider this a good thing, because finding out the truth is as difficult for the reader as it is for the characters! There are multiple point of views from chapter to chapter, which kept my interest peaked. The writing was really well done. It caught and held my attention from the very first chapter!

  • I had a hard time with this book and was unable to finish it. I did not like the sexual innuendoes including the explicit sexual themes. I would not recommend this book to anyone. I think I was expecting something entirely different than I got. I was expecting one sister helping and caring for another. In this case, I should have chosen `a book by its cover`. The cover looks dark and dreary.

  • Ms. McNeill tells a good story with good writing and it was an easy book to get through but I did miss out a few key elements that I believe make a story great. I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes a good whydunit-because this story is full of hooks that keep you guessing why something happened. There wasn’t a strong faith element, God is only mentioned a handful of times but I didn’t find that distracting and thought it was a realistic inclusion of belief. There is some sexual innuendo and mild violence description leaving me to recommend this book for those 16+.

  • Laura McNeil is a revelation. Her manner of storytelling is gripping, surprising, and inspiring — all in the same breath. Sister Dear should not be missed. Put it in your summer reading list.

  • WOW!!!! AMAZING!!! I can’t say enough about this book! It grabs you, pulls you in and has you guessing all the way to the end. Laura does not disappoint and I can’t wait to read more from this amazing author. Her writing is suburb, her character dimension is amazing and her multiple story lines are perfectly written.

  • This is a fabulously told tale that captures the insidious nature of pride, the secrets that it keeps, and the manipulation needed to keep said pride intact! The totally sold out, I-don’t-care-who-gets-hurt belief that your own story/needs/desires trump everyone else. Oh my word!! This story nails it!!

  • “Sister Dear” was a trip from the norm for me in my reading materials. The cover snagged my attention (especially the cock-eyed “E” in “Dear” – genius design). Then the author’s name intrigued me. I’d heard of some controversy around her first novel because it was more of a cross-over — meaning: published by the CBA but not overtly inspirational Christian fiction and easily marketable to the general market.

    Laura McNeill has made her mark on my reading shelf. I am impressed with her writing, her thoughts, the emotions the characters evoked, and the interwoven spiritual impressions that made me step back and cautiously analyze who I was rooting for and why.

  • No matter how hard I tried I could not find an ounce of sympathy for Allie. None of the characters in Laura McNeill’s “Sister Dear” were very likable to me, and I did not really care whether or not the ending was favorable to Allie or her family.

  • I have such mixed feelings about this book. On one hand it was well written with well developed characters that are raw and real. On the other hand though this book was utterly depressing and sad, the premise that a sister could betray her own sister is utterly heartbreaking, having such a close relationship with my own sister I just really couldn’t relate.

  • I have very mixed feelings about the book, Sister Dear. It is a very interesting read and the story and characters are well developed. The writing is excellent. Following timelines ten years apart and written from the perspective or the main characters, it weaves an intriguing story that captivates the reader.

  • I almost read this book too fast! I was captivated and so wanted to find out who was a friend and who was a foe. I plan on reading it again now more slowly and diving into the character development of each person. This was a fantastic mystery, and a look at forgiveness. Taking place in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else business, or so they think.

  • 1 Six 1 Five says:

    This was a great mind twisty mystery. A bit slow in the first several chapters, but once you get into the heart of the story you’ll be flipping pages like nobody’s business. A great book for those rainy Spring days. Or one of those dark and rainy days in October. Laura really knows how to weave together a mystery that keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat. I am very much looking forward to Laura’s next book.

  • Sister Dear is one of those stories that goes from present to past and back again. It took some getting use to going back and forth but by doing so the author really told a great story of mystery and betrayal. I loved getting to know the characters. If you love a good mystery and want something to read this summer by the pool pick up a copy of Sister Dear.

  • Sister Dear by Laura McNeill is a book that captivates and intrigues as it weaves a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The shifting perspectives between different main characters as well as between the past and the present heightens the dramatic tension and allows for greater insight into the psychology of each character. As with all well-written psychological suspense, Sister Dear is less of a mystery and more of a chilling look into the twisted reality of a disturbed soul. Less time wondering who did it (although there were a couple of moments where I wondered exactly how deep this cover up extended) and more time watching for the thread that will cause it all to unravel.

  • This book started so strong for me. Allie is out of prison and determined to prove her innocence after all these years. All she wants is for her daughter to accept her and to get her life back. I immediately felt drawn to Allie’s character and rallied behind her as she began her investigation into the crime that put her behind bars.

  • McNeill has coordinated all these crucial elements of plot and characterization very well. As other reviewers have shared, finding the truth in this mystery does not mean having a happy ending. As in real life, deceit and jealousy are destructive emotions, as is the desire to win at any cost. McNeill has made that clear in this captivating tale.

  • I can’t even imagine going back to the town you used to live in after getting out of prison, especially if you know you’re innocent, but no one else believes that you are. It would be so difficult to get back to a semi-normal life with all of the hatred and judgement thrown your way. But Allie is a strong person, and she decides to do whatever she can to clear her name, and regain her relationship with her estranged daughter, instead of just running away and starting a new life somewhere else.

  • There are so many reasons that Sister Dear is a great read. The characters are interesting and well developed. Their stories unfold in varying voices alternating between chapters making it difficult to put down! The drama is a compelling puzzle that twists and turns. I wanted to fit all the pieces together in one sitting! The tone is delightfully chilling and keeps the reader guessing as to what will happen next. Perfect for a day in the sun or a night by the fire. I can’t wait to read more from this author!

  • SISTER DEAR is unmistakably a tension-building page turner that keeps your interest from the opening sentence. Be sure you have a lot of time when you begin SISTER DEAR because you won’t be able to stop reading.

  • What a brilliant and impressive novel! Set in Georgia’s beautiful coastal area, Sister Dear is a solid relationship drama that adds the suspense of a psychological thriller, and the result is an attention-grabbing story that never lets go. Laura writes in such a way that, rather than standing back and observing, I connected with these characters as if I was right there with them. I loved how, rather than being left in the dark until everything is explained at the end, Laura drops strategically-placed clues throughout, allowing readers glimpse hearts and motives in a story where nothing is quite as it appears at first. Highly recommended.

  • If you’re looking for a thrilling, chilling gripping suspense novel to keep you reading late into the night, Sister Dear is it!

  • When I saw Laura McNeill had a new book, I was immediately intrigued — especially since she has a background in journalism. Her work is different than her publisher’s usual (Thomas Nelson), and Sister Dear is no exception. A woman’s just been released from prison after being wrongfully accused, hoping to reconnect with her family and the daughter she barely knows after years of lost time. A murder mystery, a broken family, a twisted small town dynamic, and characters harboring chilling secrets make for a page-turning psychological read. The author deftly maneuvers multiple points of view that will keep readers on their toes for sure!

  • As much as I want to post some good words about this book, I just can’t. There is absolutely nothing Christian about this book. This book did not encourage me at all. Quite the opposite. I was highly disappointed and it just made me cringe all over.

  • “Sister Dear” is a page-turning suspense from Laura McNeill. The book begins with the main character Allie being released from prison for a murder she did not commit. As Allie tries to discover the truth the reader is in suspense until the very end. This book will keep you up at night because you won’t be able to put it down, and is a must read. I cannot wait for Laura’s next book.

  • When I was offered this book to review I was sincerely interested. I loved the story line and looked forward to a fictional story about a young woman stepping out of the darkness of being wrongly accused and a victim, turning her life around. What I received from this book was not what I hoped for or expected.

  • I have always enjoyed a good mystery. “Sister Dear” is the first book from Allie McNeill that I have ever read before. This book is told from five different viewpoints to give the reader several perspectives. This really helps in developing the characters

  • Jamie says:

    Overall I enjoyed this novel. Instead of one “big” conclusion given towards the end, McNeill dropped pieces throughout the pages and as a reader I was able to put together the puzzle, but I was still curious how the novel would fully pan out in the end.

  • This was the first Laura McNeill book that I have read, and it has left me wanting to read more! While I did find the book to drag just a little, it did not bother me in the least bit, because the character development and the detail really brought the book to life for me. I feel that this would be a great Summer read, or the perfect companion for those who travel!

  • Wow! This book was exactly what a mystery/suspense novel should be. It kept me guessing until the end and made my heart race a few time and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I loved all the twists and turns in this story and how the author throws you little tidbits without giving away the ending. This book is a wonderful psychological thriller and I loved every page of it! I highly recommend this book but be ready for a spine-tingling ride!

  • ‘Sister Dear’ is the first novel of Laura McNeill’s I have read, and she is now an author to which I will turn when I’m wanting to read something dark, mysterious, and intriguing.

  • The characters were believable and engaging. As I read and realized something was very amiss, I found myself reading faster and faster to find out what would happen and to see if my suspicions were correct. Gasp! Uggg! yes, I was right. A very good well written story.

  • Book by Book says:

    A page-turner full of secrets, lies, and betrayal, Sister Dear will keep its readers up late into the night. McNeill knows how to weave an excellently paced and plotted story – the intrigue around the various secrets and motivations is quite gripping and kept me captively reading until the satisfying conclusion. I can easily say that I enjoyed Sister Dear and now highly recommend it.

  • I don’t usually read suspense, but when I read about “Sister Dear” I was intrigued by the plot description. This book was definitely a page-turner. The use of different viewpoints, both past and present, added to the twists. If you enjoy a well-paced, character-driven suspense novel, you will appreciate “Sister Dear.”

  • I was in mixed minds when I chose to review this book. I’d heard the storyline before in many different ways and venues. Tv shows, movies, and even books. I hoped the ending wasn’t as obvious as it seemed – but it was. The book is well written but the storyline to me was predictable.

  • The book is written very well and I found that Allie as well as all of the other characters were very relate-able. I also loved the tension that the author creates so well throughout all of the battles that Allie faces as she gives her life to prove her truth. You will be rooting for her if not all the way through, certainly by the middle-end of the book. The more that gets uncovered about her sister Emma, the more you will be begging for Allie to get her justice. It is a book about fighting for what is right and just in the world and you will love the ride in this thriller.

  • Gosh guys. This book has more twists and turns than the curvy bluff roads I drive daily! And believe me they’re curvy! Sister Dear took me a bit to get into. But guys. I picked it back up. And after reading a few more chapters I couldn’t put it down! It’s definitely a slow starter for me but by the end I was on the edge of my seat and couldn’t put it down.

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