Darling Rose Gold, by Stephanie Wrobel ~ Review


Darling Rose Gold
by Stephanie Wrobel

Genre: Thriller

Length: 320 Pages

Release date: March 17, 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Synopsis: 

Sharp Objects meets My Lovely Wife in this tightly drawn debut that peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships…

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

ratingfour

My thanks to Berkley and NetGalley for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 

Darling Rose Gold is filled to the brim with echoes of the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case, with lots of parallels in circumstances and even a main character whose name seems to have drawn inspiration from the case. If you’re as familiar with that case as I am, this book may feel almost cathartic. In real life, Gypsy Rose is currently sitting in jail for the murder of the mother who medically abused her for years; this novel opens with the abuser having just served a substantial prison term for her actions.

The novel alternates perspectives between Rose Gold and her mother, Patty, and being in Patty’s head can be genuinely unsettling and sometimes infuriating. She is filled with righteous indignation and truly doesn’t seem to feel she’s done anything wrong. The author seems to have done a lot of research on Munchausen syndrome by proxy (also known as factitious disorder, a form of abuse in which a caretaker, usually a parent, obtains unnecessary medical procedures for the person under their care by fabricating an illness).

Rose Gold, on the other hand, now has issues of her own, stemming from the years of abuse. Patty’s release from prison sets off a captivating game of cat and mouse. I will say that I have some reservations about this premise. I talk a lot about mental health in fiction on this blog, and I’m always wary of plots that involve abuse victims stepping into anything resembling a villain role. However, I thought this book did justice to Rose Gold as a character. She often acts in erratic and irrational ways, but even at her very worst, I always felt for her. Her years growing up with a warped example of what it means to love someone would inevitably lead her down some dark paths.

The plot is super fast paced and the book can easily be read in a couple of sittings. Despite the heavy inspiration drawn from a real case, the basic aspects of the plot diverged enough from it that I could not predict each next step based on my knowledge of that case. This dark story of revenge comes out in one week and I definitely recommend picking up a copy!

buy

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBoundjennabookish

Other places to follow me…
Tumblr | Facebook | Instagram | GoodReads

 

No Bad Deed, by Heather Chavez ~ Pub Day Review!

43721103
No Bad Deed
by Heather Chavez

Genre: Thriller

Length: 320 Pages

Release date: February 18,  2020

Publisher: William Morrow

Synopsis: 

Packed with the electrifying pacing and pulse-pounding suspense of Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner, a thrilling debut about a mother desperate to find the connections between her missing husband and a deadly stalker who knows too much about her own dark family history.

Driving home one rainy night, Cassie Larkin sees a man and woman fighting on the side of the road. After calling 911, the veterinarian makes a split-second decision that will throw her sedate suburban life into chaos. Against all reason and advice, she gets out of her minivan and chases after the violent man, trying to help his victim. When Cassie physically tries to stop him, he suddenly turns on her and spits out an ominous threat: “Let her die, and I’ll let you live.”

A veterinarian trained to heal, Cassie can’t let the woman die. But while she’s examining the unconscious victim, the attacker steals her car. Now he has her name. Her address. And he knows about her children. Though they warn her to be careful, the police assure her that the perpetrator—a criminal named Carver Sweet—won’t get near her. Cassie isn’t so sure.

The next day—Halloween—her husband disappears while trick-or-treating with their six-year-old daughter. Are these disturbing events a coincidence or the beginning of a horrifying nightmare? Her husband has been growing distant—is it possible he’s become involved with another woman? Is Cassie’s confrontation with the road-side attacker connected to her husband’s disappearance? With all these questions swirling in her mind Cassie can trust no one, maybe not even herself. The only thing she knows for sure is that she can’t sit back while the people she loves are in danger.

As she desperately searches for answers, Cassie discovers that nothing is as random as it seems, and that she is more than willing to fight—to go the most terrifying extremes—to save her family and her marriage.

ratingfour

My thanks to William Morrow and NetGalley for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 

Look at me, rating a thriller 4 stars. Wild. It’s been a minute.

No Bad Deed is fast-paced, deliciously wild, and has just the right amount of twists and turns. Like most thrillers, it will definitely require a certain degree of suspension of disbelief, but it never bends that to the point of breaking. And it’s a debut novel? I’m officially impressed.

The beginning of this novel throws is right into the action, with the protagonist, Cassie, interfering in an altercation between to strangers. I loved Cassie as a protagonist right away. She knows getting involved in a fight between a strange man and woman alone at night isn’t the best idea, but can’t bring herself to sit idly by while the police take who knows how long to get there. Cassie’s a Gryffindor for sure. Her desire to do the right thing ends up putting her at risk in more ways than she could have imagined, and the twists and turns that follow are utterly unpredictable.

No Bad Deed is a great choice for thriller fans who love unpredictable twists and an easy to root for protagonist. Great for fans of Mary Kubica, Christina McDonald, Sarah Pekkanen, and Greer Hendricks!

buy

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thank you for reading! What was the last book that pleasantly surprised you? Let me know in the comments!

jennabookish

Other places to follow me…
Tumblr | Facebook | Instagram | GoodReads

 

Behind Every Lie, by Christina McDonald (Review)

46407837. sy475
Behind Every Lie
by Christina McDonald

Genre: Thriller

Length: 336 Pages

Release date: February 4, 2020

Publisher: Gallery Books

Synopsis: 

If you can’t remember it, how do you prove you didn’t do it?

Eva Hansen wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and discovers her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street. She can’t remember what happened but the police are highly suspicious of her.

Determined to clear her name, Eva heads from Seattle to London—Kat’s former home—for answers. But as she unravels her mother’s carefully held secrets, Eva soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. And with violent memories beginning to emerge, Eva doesn’t know who to trust. Least of all herself.

Told in alternating perspectives from Eva’s search for answers and Kat’s mysterious past, Christina McDonald has crafted another “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) domestic thriller. Behind Every Lie explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships, family trauma, and the danger behind long-held secrets.

ratingtwo

My thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 

This is yet another review that I must preface by saying I’m in the minority opinion when it comes to this book. At the time of this writing, it has a perfectly respectable 4.16 average on Goodreads, so maybe I was just the wrong reader for this book. I read McDonald’s last novel, The Night Olivia Fell, and had a pretty mediocre experience with that book. I thought I’d give her writing a second chance, because a big part of my problem with The Night Olivia Fell was that it bore a pretty stunning similarity to another book I’d already read, leaving the whole book feeling like watching a rerun of a crime drama. After reading Behind Every Lie, however, I think it’s clear that this author’s work just isn’t for me. Soooo, take this review with a grain of salt, I guess.

For starters, the novel felt like a bit of a jumble of over-used tropes. I’ll omit discussing some of them here to avoid getting into spoiler territory, but I can talk freely about the amnesia as that’s discussed in the synopsis. We have a protagonist in a thriller suspected of murder who can’t defend herself because she has no memory of the night in question. Familiar tropes like this can be fun and offer a great way to subvert the reader’s expectations by doing something new and fresh with it. McDonald really didn’t do that (unless you count the novelty of amnesia brought on by a lightning strike, I guess. Bonus points for that?)

This is also yet another thriller with a middle class, white, female protagonist whose boyfriend/husband is clearly terrible, hyper-controlling, and suspect from the very beginning of the story. Whether the significant other is actually guilty of anything (and in 90% of these thrillers, he is) this dynamic has just gotten terribly boring. I feel like I’ve read about the same couple over and over and over, existing in slightly diverging parallel universes.

Finally, there is a sub-plot which emerges in the flashback scenes (told from her mother’s point of view) which is too predictable to every hold any tension. I really wanted to like this book. If you’ve read this author’s other work and enjoyed it, don’t let me dissuade you, but I think it’s safe to say this will be my last Christina McDonald novel. buy

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Do you have any tropes specific to mystery/thriller books that are major pet peeves for you? Tell me about them in the comments!

jennabookish

Other places to follow me…
Tumblr | Facebook | Instagram | GoodReads

 

Review – An Anonymous Girl, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen


An Anonymous Girl
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Thriller

Length: 375 Pages

Release date: January 8, 2019

Synopsis: 

The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us.

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.

Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding.

Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?

As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone. rating

four

“In every lifetime, there are pivot points that shape and eventually cement one’s path.” 

I was really hesitant to pick this up because I wasn’t crazy about The Wife Between Us, from the same authors, but I’m glad I gave into the hype. An Anonymous Girl is a fast paced and super fun and twisty thriller which follows the story of Jessica, a young and struggling 20-something makeup artist who worms her way into a psychological study after she hears they’re offering a suspiciously high compensation for participation. What does she have to lose?

The nature of the experiment is a bit foreboding from the very beginning. Jessica is prompted by a computer to respond to various questions about her personal history and sense of morality. Some of her more superficial answers are rejected as she is urged to dig deeper. Jessica’s answers hint at a dark secret in her past that the reader is not yet privy to. Meanwhile, her entanglement with the experiment and the psychologist in charge of it becomes more and more involved as the story progresses.

As with a lot of thrillers, it’s difficult to say much without giving away plot points which are best discovered organically. Suffice it to say that An Anonymous Girl has a healthy balance of foreshadowing and surprise, a protagonist who is flawed without being ridiculously unlikable, and a villain who, despite being just as over-the-top as one comes to expect in a thriller, has a believable backstory and motivation. An Anonymous Girl is a roller coaster ride that will keep you speeding through pages to the end.

“How do you know if you can really trust someone?” I finally ask.
“If you need to ask that question, then you probably already know the answer,” he says.

Purchase links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thank you for reading! What was the last book that pleasantly surprised you? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Capture2

Other places to follow me…
Tumblr | Facebook | Instagram | GoodReads