Review – The Good Goodbye

The Good GoodbyeThe Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley

Published January 12, 2016

Bantam

 

 

My rating: 4.5 Stars

I previously read Carla Buckley’s book “The Things That Keep Us Here” and really enjoyed it. When I read the book blurb for “The Good Goodbye” I thought the plot was very unique and I was looking forward to reading it. And honestly I was not disappointed.

“The good thing about saying goodbye, is getting to say hello.”

The story is told from three points of view. Alternating between eighteen year old cousins, Arden and Rory and Arden’s mother Natalie.

Rory and Arden Falcone are cousins who have been very close since birth. Although they look very similar, their personalities and interests are very different. Arden struggles to fit in while Rory makes friends easily.

Their families are very close. Rory’s father and Arden’s mother even opened a restaurant together. However, recent events have caused a strain on all relationships. Financial difficulties have caused them to have to think seriously about selling their beloved restaurant.

The book starts with Natalie wondering why her daughter, Arden has not phoned her. She last spoke with her briefly on Skype as she was running out the door to work. Arden seemed a bit distracted. However, Natalie was in a rush and figured she would find out if something was bothering Arden when she spoke with her the next day.

Arden did not phone back the next day.

“Sending a child to college is drawing that line in the sand. Your child walks over it and she’s not your little girl anymore.”

***Possibly some minor spoilers ahead***

 

The next evening Natalie and her husband Theo are about to go out to celebrate their anniversary. When Natalie’s phone rings she immediately feels relieved as it must be Arden finally calling back. However, it’s not their daughter. It’s a man who tells her that Arden has been in an accident.

Natalie and Theo rush to the hospital. When they arrive, Gabrielle and Vince, Rory’s parents are already there.

Rory and Arden have both been admitted to the hospital and both are unconscious after jumping out the window after a fire started in the college dorm room they share together. Another student was killed in the fire and the police as well as the families want answers.

As they all wait together in the ER secrets old and new start to come to light and they struggle with the many difficult decisions that need to be made.

So many secrets…..

The story moves from past to present including flashbacks from all points of view.

We learn more about the months and days leading up to the fire. Rory is thrilled to find out that she’s been accepted to Harvard but her mother seems even more excited.

Arden will be attending an art school out in California. This will be the first time that the cousins will be living thousands of miles apart.

After celebrating her acceptance to Harvard with friends, Rory comes home to see that her parents have been waiting for her. They have terrible news. Her father, Vince has made a bad investment and needs to use Rory’s college fund to help pay back part of what he owes. The only good news is that Harvard will hold a place open for her for the following year. This is everything Rory has worked for and she is devastated…right?

This also affects Arden. She will also have to wait to go to Art school.

In the meantime the girls will spend a year as roommates at a local college.

The plan is that after one year, Rory will transfer to Harvard and will then go on to law school.

“I’m going to be a champion for the downtrodden, a righter of wrongs. It’s been the plan for as long as I can remember.”

Arden will transfer to Art school.

However what will happen now after this devastating blow to their family?

Will the girls survive? And even if they do how will this family repair itself?

Honestly I was pulled into the story very quickly. I did find that about halfway through it did stall a little bit, but not for long. I wanted to get to the end of the book to find out what was going to happen but at the same time I was terrified of how it would end. I could feel the tension as more disturbing truths came out and my heart broke as the family dealt with blow after blow. It kept me in its grasp until the very end.

In my opinion The Good Goodbye is a very interesting domestic suspense novel and I am looking forward to reading more from Carla Buckley.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review – Try Not To Breathe

Try Not to BreatheTry Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Published February 23, 2016
Ballantine Books

 

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Try Not to Breathe is Holly Seddon’s debut novel. A really good psychological suspense novel that pulled me in right from the start.

Alex Dale is a young journalist whose focus is mostly on trying to maintain her alcoholism. She rides the line between serious drinker and functioning alcoholic. After losing her job and her husband she’s barely hanging on.

Then Alex comes across Amy Stevenson….

While writing an article about a doctor who is researching brain scans showing signs of communication from patients in a vegetative state, Alex visits a hospital ward where these patients live. Among these patients is Amy Stevenson. Amy has been in a coma since 1995 after being brutally attacked. However, although it appears Amy is lost to the world she is still there, locked inside her body, and reliving the past.

 

***Although I always try my best there may be minor spoilers***

Alex feels a strange connection to Amy as she is similar in age and remembers when the horrific crime happened. She becomes obsessed with wanting to find out what happened to Amy and tell her story.

The story is told from multiple points of view. The majority is Alex’s view in the present. There is also Amy in dream like flashbacks from 1995 on, and a few other characters past and present. The story flowed fairly well. However, there were a couple of times mid chapter where something would switch and it would take me a moment to catch up to what happened.

I thought the plot was quite original especially how Alex’s alcoholism was portrayed. Her routine and rules of how to drink and when to drink etc. really showed the nitty gritty of what it’s like to have an almost all encompassing addiction to alcohol. All of the characters were very well developed. I especially thought Alex and Amy’s characters were well-written and completely believable.

“Some secrets never die. They’re just locked away.”

Even though I had some idea of who Amy’s attacker was I wasn’t dead on. Actually I think even if I had figured out who it was it wouldn’t have dampened my interest in the book as there was so much more involved.

The author indicated that she took artistic license when dealing with Amy’s condition. However, it felt as though she must have done quite a bit of research as descriptions of the neurological disability unit of the hospital and the patients felt very realistic. So although this book is fiction, I thought many of the descriptions and situations came across as very believable.

All in all this was a really good debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Holly Seddon.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Review : How Will I Know You

How Will I Know You?How Will I Know You? by Jessica Treadway

Published December 6, 2016

Grand Central Publishing

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

This is my first novel from Jessica Treadway. I’ve had “Lacy Eye” on my list for quite some time but for some reason I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. However, after enjoying this novel, I am excited to get my hands on her previous books as soon as possible.

When sixteen year old Joy Enright’s body is found in the woods, it’s not long before an arrest is made. Martin Willett is a black graduate student at the local art college and is accused of killing Joy. Susanne Enright, Joy’s mother is a professor at the same school and Martin is her teaching assistant.

The book begins after Joy’s body is found. We are introduced to Harper Grove. Harper was Joy’s best friend and the police are there to ask her some questions about what happened the last time she was with Joy. She’s nervous as she wants to please the police by saying the right thing…but she’s also holding something back. The police are eager to close this case. Especially Police Chief Doug Armstrong.

Tom owns “The Shack” a store near the pond where the kids hangout. He’s also a rescue diver and the son-in-law of the police chief, Doug Armstrong. Tom’s wife, Alison was one of Joy’s teachers. Alison is a bit of a daddy’s girl which causes some strain in their relationship as Tom already feels like Doug doesn’t respect him.

Next is the man accused of killing Joy. Martin Willett is sitting in jail having just been arrested. He seems to be in shock. We learn more about his life and some of his interactions with other characters in the book.

Who could have done such a horrible thing. Who killed Joy Enright? Was it Martin Willett? Or was is someone else? A stranger? Other strange things had been happening in town…could those things have anything to do with her murder?

At first I had a hard time getting a good grasp on what was happening or had happened. It was a bit confusing as it’s broken into parts (before and after). It’s also told from the four different points of view….. Suzanne Enright. Martin Willett, Harper Grove, and Tom Carbone.

It wasn’t always clear whose point of view I was reading. It didn’t take a long time to figure out but it slowed me down a bit at first. At the same time it was really interesting hearing the different perspectives.

Definitely a character driven novel, but I found them all interesting. I think the author did a great job developing each of the characters, their relationships, and how they related to each other. Whether it was mother and daughter, teenagers, husband and wife etc. I felt like I was in their heads as the investigation unfolded. What their motivations were for doing what they did. I felt for the most part that things rang true although there were a couple of times that I wondered how something could possibly have gone that way.

This was a great psychological suspense book that I read in just a few sittings. I will definitely be reading more from Jessica Treadway.

Thank you NetGalley, Grand Central Publishing, and Jessica Treadway for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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Review : Burnt Paper Sky

Burnt Paper SkyBurnt Paper Sky by Gilly Macmillan

Published February 5, 2015

Piatkus

 

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has two titles Burnt Paper Sky and What She Knew. It has caused some confusion as many (including me) thought it was two different books by the same author.

Anyhow, I don’t care if it has 67,562 names, I am just glad I came across it and that I read it. It was a phenomenal read that I read in just a few sittings.

Rachel Jenner and her eight-year-old son, Ben and their dog are taking a walk though Bristol Park. This is something they often do together. Ben asks if he can go ahead a bit on his own, Rachel says yes and off he goes. After a short time Rachel calls for Ben and he doesn’t answer. As she searches for him she starts to panic, in only moments her worst fear, any parents worst fear has happened….

Ben has vanished.

Immediately everyone begins to search for Ben but to no avail. Police are called in and search parties are sent out. When the dog comes back alone and there’s still no sign of Ben everyone starts to realize that Ben has not just gotten lost somewhere in the woods.

Where is Ben?

A press conference is organized where Rachel is to appeal for help in finding Ben. However, Rachel doesn’t follow the script she’s been given. It’s meant to be non-threatening, to humanize the situation. She feels that the words are too tame and submissive. She tries to read the script but then suddenly changes her mind. Instead she speaks aggressively and threatens that she will hunt down whomever has taken Ben and make them pay. Rachel assumed that people watching would understand that she was a mother who just wanted her child back. Unfortunately the public doesn’t see the terrified and worried mother.

“They see a freak show. I frightened people because I was someone to whom the worst was happening, and they turned on me like a pack of dogs.”

After the press conference, Rachel is treated horribly both by the public and the press. Many indicate that she must have had something to do with Ben’s disappearance. It’s awful how judgemental we can be when something like this happens, although of course in some cases judgement is well deserved. But it seems that we often judge a parent for being either overprotective and too controlling or too easy and/or uninvolved.

The story is told from alternating points of view. Rachel’s and Detective Jim Clemo. As well there are therapists reports, blogs, online identities and comments, facts from missing children guides, newspaper articles etc. interspersed throughout the novel. Some are fictitious but some are from real resources from papers and websites. For example www.missingkids.com, “When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide” and many more.

There was a whole lot more going on in this novel, all of it kept me very interested. A lot of good characters that were not only part of the case but had their own interesting story-lines. Detective James Clemo, the family liaison Officer Emma Zhang, Rachel’s sister Nicky and more.

I thought that the author did a fantastic job of portraying how differently people could react in this situation. I may have done some of the same things that a few of the characters did. Emotional and gripping I couldn’t stop reading.

I wanted to know what happened to Ben.

When my daughter was younger I had nightmares about something like this happening. Paranoid of all kinds of things. Who am I kidding? I am still paranoid and hover over her in my helicopter. Joking aside I know she can’t live in a bubble and has to gain independence in order for her to have a successful life. But as I watch her grow it’s still scary! When you hear these stories both real and fiction about a parent looking away for a moment and their child disappearing it makes you want to put your kids back in the bubble.

In my opinion this was an amazing debut psychological thriller. I am absolutely looking forward to more from Gilly Macmillan.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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