REVIEW: WHEN SHE WAS GOOD, BY MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

 

Criminal psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac return in this mesmerizing new thriller from internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham, a writer Stephen King calls “an absolute master…with heart and soul.”

Who is Evie, the girl with no past, running from? She was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Her ability to tell when someone is lying helped Cyrus crack an impenetrable case in Good Girl, Bad Girl. Now, the closer Cyrus gets to uncovering answers about Evie’s dark history, the more he exposes Evie to danger, giving her no choice but to run. Ultimately, both will have to decide if some secrets are better left buried and some monsters should never be named…


Alternating narrators tell the story in When She Was Good. From Cyrus, to Evie, the story unfolds. Another player shows herself along the way in the form of Sacha, the young woman who had found Evie hiding out in a closet.

A child with a dark past and no current connections to those who could fill in the blanks, little Evie is almost grown and still hiding from the truth about her past.

Who is still searching for her and trying to do her harm? Can Cyrus protect her by helping her hide the truth, or must he finally discover the answers?

A fascinating tale that was slow in revealing itself, the intensity builds toward the end. 4.0 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a new book from a favorite author:  The Book of Two Ways, by Jodi Picoult.

***

Book Beginnings:  (Prologue)

My calendar is full of dead people.

When my phone alarm chimes, I fish it out from the pocket of my cargo pants.  I’ve forgotten, with the time change, to turn off the reminder.  I’m still groggy with sleep, but I open the date and read the names:  Iris Vale.  Eun Ae Kim.  Alan Rosenfeldt.  Marlon Jensen.

***

Friday 56:  The muscle memory of our relationship has me moving out of my seat before my mind catches up.  I stand in front of Brian and stroke his hair, because I can’t stand to see him hurting, even if the reason is because he hurt me.

***

Synopsis:  Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways—the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices . . . or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?

***

Would you keep reading?  Are you caught up in the events as they unfold?

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “CUSTODY”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent acquisition of a book I read a few years ago:  Custody, by Nancy Thayer.

***

Book Beginnings:  (Prologue – September 5, 2000)

Some days, Kelly thought, are more important than others.  Some days you wake with your heart pounding and your hopes higher than the sky.  Some days you know you are exactly where you are meant to be.

***

Friday 56:  “I feel colorful,” she replied.  He came toward her, smiling.  She opened the closet door and ducked inside to grab her Rollerblades.  “Let’s go.”

***

Synopsis:  Ambitious, brilliant, and engaged to a wonderful guy, Kelly MacLeod feels like her dreams are coming true when she lands a prestigious appointment as a judge in the Massachusetts Family Court. A passionate advocate on behalf of children of divorce, she can at long last put her fierce intellect to good use in the courtroom.

But a chance meeting with a charismatic man forever changes Kelly’s life. Randall Madison is a successful doctor locked in a custody battle with his soon-to-be ex-wife. The two are soon swept into a passionate affair. But then Kelly realizes that a secret ties her inextricably to Randall’s case, and she finds herself torn between her moral judgment and her deepest desires.

***

Would you keep reading?  I know I did, and loved this book.

***

REVIEW: UNFOLLOW ME, BY CHARLOTTE DUCKWORTH

You can’t stop watching her.

Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-influencer, with three children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

Until the day she’s no longer there.

But one day she disappears from the online world—her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to Violet?

But do you really know who Violet is?

Her fans are obsessed with finding out the truth, but their search quickly reveals a web of lies, betrayal, and shocking consequences…


What is the pull that online fans have to Violet, a mummy influencer who is someone to envy? Do they really adore her, or are they just hoping she will fall on her face?

Initially, we meet a couple of fans: Yvonne and Lily. They each have their individual stories. One seems to be a true fan, but the other could be out to get Violet.

Alternating narratives lead us through the story and the pitfalls they each have stumbled over. Who has the most to gain by Violet’s destruction?

Something dark has happened to explain why Violet has disappeared, and as we peek into the world of fans Yvonne and Lily, we finally understand their motivations.

As Unfollow Me finally concludes, with many secrets revealed, each of the women we have followed along the way has faced major changes that scare them away from the world of online stalking. Will they redeem themselves,or just turn the page to a slightly different venue? 4.5 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “UNFOLLOW ME”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a new book: Unfollow Me, by Charlotte Duckworth.

***

Book Beginnings:  (December 2017)

It’s the best part of my day.  7:35 pm.  I sink on to the sofa, fish bowl of wine in hand, and reach for my laptop.  The coffee table is littered with relics from a rainy Sunday:  Archie’s latest work of art, his bright red cup—name scrawled on the side to stop his friend Tom from using it—a half-chewed breadstick and two lift-the-flap books in need of repair.  I push them to one side, and open the lid of my laptop.

***

Friday 56: (Lily)

“Let’s see what happens tonight,” Luke says, as we approach the steps up to the venue. “They haven’t announced anything about Violet not appearing, so maybe she’ll turn up and the mystery will be solved.” (56 %).

***

Synopsis:  You can’t stop watching her.

Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-influencer, with three children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

Until the day she’s no longer there.

But one day she disappears from the online world – her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to Violet?

But do you really know who Violet is?

Her fans are obsessed with finding out the truth, but their search quickly reveals a web of lies, betrayal, and shocking consequences…

***

Do you want to keep reading?  I know that I do.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “FINAL CUT”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is Final Cut, by S. J. Watson.

***

Book Beginnings:  (Then: Prologue)

She runs across the moor, as hard and as fast as she can.  The sliver of an old moon hangs above her and, somewhere far behind, the village lights shine anemic yellow.  But she keeps her eyes fixed forward.  She sees nothing but the road ahead and hears only the wheeze of her dry breath and the cawing of the gulls as they swoop and dive.

***

Friday 56:  But those memories are mine, I thought, they’re all I have.  And was that the journey I must’ve taken to Deal, or some other journey, from before?

***

A gripping new psychological thriller from S.J. Watson, the New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep, in which a documentary filmmaker travels to a sleepy fishing village to shoot her new film and encounters a dark mystery surrounding the disappearance of a local girl.

They tried to hide the truth. But the camera never lies…

Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to ordinary people.

It used to be a buzzing seaside destination. But now, ravaged by the effects of dwindling tourism and economic downturn, it’s a ghost town—and the perfect place for film-maker Alex to shoot her new documentary. But the community is deeply suspicious of her intentions. After all, nothing exciting ever happens in Blackwood Bay—or does it?

***

I love this author’s books, so I am eager to keep reading.  What do you think?

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “LITTLE DISASTERS”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent purchase that I have been eyeing for a while:  Little Disasters, by Sarah Vaughan.

***

Book Beginnings:  (Prologue)

The cry builds.  At first it is pitiful.  A creak and a crackle.  Tentative, tremulous, just testing how it will be received.

The doubt quickly flees.  The whimper becomes a bleat, the catch hardening as the cry distills into a note of pure anguish.

***

Friday 56:  He feels ill at the memory.  He’d never found any of his children like that before.  A trail of sick spooling from her mouth and pooling on the crib mattress; her eyes gleaming with tears.

***

Description:  You think you know her…but look a little closer.

She is a stay-at-home mother-of-three with boundless reserves of patience, energy, and love. After being friends for a decade, this is how Liz sees Jess.

Then one moment changes everything.

Dark thoughts and carefully guarded secrets surface—and Liz is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her friend, and about herself. The truth can’t come soon enough.

***

Would you keep reading?  I’ve been eager to dive into this one for a while.

***

REVIEW: CLEO MCDOUGAL REGRETS NOTHING, BY ALLISON WINN SCOTCH

Cleo McDougal is a born politician. From congresswoman to senator, the magnetic, ambitious single mother now has her eye on the White House—always looking forward, never back. Until an estranged childhood friend shreds her in an op-ed hit piece gone viral.

With seven words—“Cleo McDougal is not a good person”—the presidential hopeful has gone from in control to damage control, and not just in Washington but in life.

Enter Cleo’s “regrets list” of 233 and counting. Her chief of staff has a brilliant idea: pick the top ten, make amends during a media blitz, and repair her reputation. But there are regrets, and there are regrets: like her broken relationship with her sister, her affair with a law school professor…and the regret too big to even say out loud.

But with risk comes reward, and as Cleo makes both peace and amends with her past, she becomes more empowered than ever to tackle her career, confront the hypocrites out to destroy her, and open her heart to what matters most—one regret at a time.

Politics do not mesh well with an ordinary life and a journey moving forward, which sometimes means fixing the mistakes of the past. In Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing, we meet a determined thirty-something woman who has suffered losses and in spite of them, decides to change her life. We get to see what fixing one’s life looks like up close and personal.Cleo is a delightful character who could have been your next-door neighbor or a best friend from high school, but her career in politics has made everything more intense, more focused. To make up for the void in her life, she has made her career and her teenage son the center of her life, to the exclusion of everyone else.The startling op-ed piece written by her former high school friend turns her life upside down and she finds herself determined to fix everything. Even if it means looking at that long list of regrets she created over the years.

I liked Cleo, in spite of, or maybe because of those errors in judgment. I didn’t like MaryAnne Newman, who turned a competitive action in high school into something so much more…and then wouldn’t let it go. But then again, she had made their competition into something that meant the whole world to her and explained everything that went wrong in her life. Teenage angst can linger long into adulthood, and in Cleo’s case, picking up the pieces became a goal. Something to work toward. Making amends and changing how she moved forward. Even confronting one of her biggest errors in judgment.

Social media and the hashtag experience figured into Cleo’s path forward and kept the story relevant and interesting. 4.5 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “CLEO MCDOUGAL REGRETS NOTHING”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists! What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a new book from an author I enjoy:  Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing, by Allison Winn Scotch.

***

Book Beginnings:  Cleo McDougal is not a good person.  She does good, yes, but doing good and being good aren’t the same thing, now, are they?

Cleo McDougal did not see the op-ed or this opening line in said op-ed on the home page of SeattleToday! until approximately seven fifteen a.m., after she had completed her morning at-home boxing class, after she had showered and meticulously applied the day’s makeup (a routine that she admitted was getting lengthier and more discouraging at thirty-seven, but Cleo McDougal had never been one to shy away from a challenge), and after she had roused her fourteen-year-old from his bed, which was likely her day’s hardest ordeal.

***

Friday 56:  “Hey, Cleo!” From behind MaryAnne, Oliver Patel, her sole defender on that ruinous Facebook post, offered a wave.  “It’s so cool to see you here!”

***

Synopsis:  Cleo McDougal is a born politician. From congresswoman to senator, the magnetic, ambitious single mother now has her eye on the White House—always looking forward, never back. Until an estranged childhood friend shreds her in an op-ed hit piece gone viral.

With seven words—“Cleo McDougal is not a good person”—the presidential hopeful has gone from in control to damage control, and not just in Washington but in life.

Enter Cleo’s “regrets list” of 233 and counting. Her chief of staff has a brilliant idea: pick the top ten, make amends during a media blitz, and repair her reputation. But there are regrets, and there are regrets: like her broken relationship with her sister, her affair with a law school professor…and the regret too big to even say out loud.

But with risk comes reward, and as Cleo makes both peace and amends with her past, she becomes more empowered than ever to tackle her career, confront the hypocrites out to destroy her, and open her heart to what matters most—one regret at a time.

***

I am enjoying this book so far.  What do you think?

***

REVIEW: IMPERFECT WOMEN, BY ARAMINTA HALL

 

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, an adoring husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous, wealthy, and cherished by those who knew her—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, and maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question Who killed Nancy?


They met at university, and for years, as their lives intersected, they were more closely entwined than siblings. Imperfect Women could have been an apt description of who they were and who they became, as their bonds seemed to unravel over the years, until finally, one of them would permanently alter the course of their lives.

Their stories alternated, but not in the usual way. Three sections were devoted separately to each of the women: Eleanor, Nancy, and Mary, in turn, would offer varying perspectives until we finally have the answers to the quandary of who murdered Nancy.

A dark story that reminds us that we “do have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and to feel precious despite our failings. Because that’s how you learn there is no such thing as perfect.” A thoughtful journey that earned 4.5 stars.

***