Tag Archives: New Release Novels

“What She Gave Away” by Catharine Riggs; Should you trust the person sitting next to you?

Coming September 4, 2018!

Are you looking for a mild thriller that will not leave you too psychologically disturbed? Or maybe a Fall book for your Book Club? After reading this upcoming novel, you’ll never look at the library computer patrons the same way again and will want to go shred all those notes with computer passwords on them.

Here are my impressions on Catharine Riggs debut novel:

What She Gave AwayWhat She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In my opinion, What She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs is a mild psychological thriller. This story is packed full of murder, suicide, banking fraud and even more lies and manipulation. But who is at fault or is it just a series of unfortunate tragic events? The main characters, Crystal and Kathi, are both unreliable narrators which slightly complicates matters.

Crystal is an intelligent, conniving banker who seems to leave a trail of destruction behind her. Her actions are motivated by an underlying hate for everyone she comes in contact with. Crystal quietly plays a psychological game of “whats the worst that can happen” to anyone that might upset her. Often Crystal will manipulate circumstances resulting in harm to those around her.

Kathi is a naive trophy wife who drinks so much that she doesn’t even know how to formulate her own opinions much of the time. She struggles to survive and conform to society’s expectations of her. In the midst of complete financial disaster Kathi strives to keep some sense of normality in the life she has created. Her world is slowly collapsing around her and she has no idea how to help herself or who to trust.

The main conflict in the story is manipulated by Crystal’s actions. She is the catalyst behind everything that happens. Psychologically traumatized during her childhood, Crystal just wants to internally rage and secretly plot to destroy the lives around her. As the story progresses, Crystal gets more and more brave and her actions cause more and more harm. Add in a probation officer who has connected a few dots and is keen on investigating suspicious suicides and you have a story!

What are my overall impressions? I think the writing style is on point despite other reviewers complaints about the alternating point of view. That being said, I would have liked to know more about what Kathi was actually thinking. The novel has a first person point of view for Kathi but yet she doesn’t even seem to have an opinion much of the time so I found it hard to connect with her character. The length of the novel was appropriate and didn’t seem too lengthy. Crystal was sneaky and manipulative, but she could have come across as being more paranoid; she was too confident.

My two big criticisms of the novel are the suspense and the conclusion. There wasn’t enough drama and suspense for me to really say it was a huge thriller. It was more on point with say a John Grisham novel than of a nail bitting thriller.

Secondly, the conclusion was too lengthy and tidy for me. I would have omitted the Epilogue completely and just wrapped up the novel without it. And why jump to 2020? Without giving away the ending, why tie things up so neatly? Leave something for the imagination or unknown and don’t give us a happy, we are all friends ending to a story starring two characters who are morally corrupt and have a distorted sense of reality.

If thrillers are your thing, I say give it a chance! I enjoyed reading What She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs and if it were not for the ending and a bit more suspense, I would have given it 5 out of 5.

I also want to thank NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the chance to read and review the Kindle copy of this book.

Happy Reading!

View all my reviews

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Light Summer Reading and Spring 2017 New Releases

Sunset in Leduc copy

Spring has come and I am excited to get to spend more time outdoors. Gardening, going for walks or just stopping to take pictures of the beautiful Spring scenery has taken up more of my time than reading/blogging. However, I do want to give you some new (and a few old) release books that you may want to check out. I will be honest in saying that my reviews are not always positive and sometimes I just simply don’t engage with the plot or style of writing. BUT I have done some of the leg work for you which might help you decide between what new release books you may or may not want to pickup for your next camping weekend.

Also, next to come on my READ50 list for this year is The Last Neanderthal by Clair Cameron – I’ll let you know what I think when I am done!!

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (Release date March 2, 2017)

An Emotional and Tension Filled Glimpse of Life in Bristol During the French Revolution

Birdcage Walk

Baroque is the word that comes to mind after finishing Birdcage Walk . Drama, tension and poetic influence is how I would describe the book. I cannot say that I loved this new novel by Helen Dunmore. I felt the plot was missing some key climatic elements. I did not care for the heroine Lizzy, I was hoping for her to rise above her situation and so many times she let me down. Diner was very unlikable and controlling but yet Lizzy would throw herself into his arms again and again. Lizzy doubted herself so many times I struggle to call her the heroine. Lizzy’s half-brother seemed to be the best thing that happened to her in the entire novel, and yet when it came to a decision between her brother and her husband, she chooses her husband.

What I do feel Helen Dunmore excelled at was her descriptions and settings in the novel. She vividly captures what life was like in Bristol at that time in history. Her writing is poetic and sensual as she attempts to depict what emotional trials people might have faced during the French Revolution. However, Dunmore’s repeated insertion of political discussion into the dialogue felt forced and did not really add anything to the development of the characters or the narrative.

I would recommend this book to my friends but I am not sure I would reread it.

I do want to give my appreciation to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for a free ARC copy of Birdcage Walk . Thanks again.

Island Girls by Nancy Thayer (Also available as an audio book)

Island Girls

Island Girls was a fun read and the characters all had unique personalities. The plot kept along at a good pace and I think it would be a perfect summer read. However, this novel is not deep nor has overly complex character development.

As a stipulation to their deceased father’s will, three very different women find themselves stuck sharing their father’s Nantucket home for an entire summer. Arden, Meg and Jenny all begin the summer with their own agendas while trying to survive just a few months together as a blended family. Rory Randell was handsome and wealthy but left behind a mess of emotional drama between his three daughters, two ex-wives and latest wife. Rory’s three daughters have one summer to fix the drama and grievances they have with each other in order for them to inherit the family home. This is an enjoyable read but do not expect deep insights or believability. I liked it, but some things are just too good to be true in my opinion.

A Suitable Affair by Erica Taylor (Expected Publication June 6, 2017)

A Suitable Affair
You won’t be disappointed!

A Suitable Affair is a light-hearted and entertaining read. Lady Susanna Macallistar, the heroine of the story, finds herself with a large dowry but she is falling short in her search for eligible suitors. The one gentleman who has offered to court her is too compliant and boring, a stark contrast to her own vibrant and adventurous personality. After a random and potentially dangerous encounter with a stranger in Hyde park, Susanna finds herself drawn to the newcomer, Ian Carlisle, the handsome Earl of Westcott. Ian has trouble ignoring the magnetism between Susanna and himself but his affection is clouded by his troubled past and his quest to bring a murderer to justice. Susanna turns out to have a few secrets of her own as she struggles between society’s expectations of a Lady and her own ambitions.

The writing style at the beginning of A Suitable Affair is verbose in my opinion. The author uses too many words in the characters dialogue and some of the sentences and descriptions are awkward. Susanna does not need to describe in length her motivation behind everything and she often repeats the same thing in two different ways in one conversation. After the first few chapters the writing style becomes less forced and the characters conversations flow more smoothly. The plot is entertaining from the beginning with the murder mystery keeping the storyline complex and engaging. And of course the romance isn’t too bad either! I appreciate that Susanna’s character is not just adventurous and witty but she is also brave and intelligent. The more the plot progresses the more interesting and developed Susanna’s character becomes.

I would not hesitate to recommend A Suitable Affair to my friends and I think if some of the wordiness in the first few chapters could be edited out I would definitely rate it 5 out of 5.

I also want to thank Amberjack Publishing and NetGalley for a chance to read an advanced copy of A Suitable Affair .

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon (Release Date May 18, 2017)

The Last Piece of My Heart

So far so good! I have only read the Prologue and the first three chapters but I am left wanting more! I hope Bridget’s story continues along the path of being exciting and fun with hint of romance. There is a small chance that the plot of this novel will be predictable but as it is my first time reading a novel by Paige Toon I cannot say for sure one way or the other. I can say that so far the first three chapters are entertaining, convincing and witty and that Paige Toon’s novel has drawn me in. I can’t wait to read The Last Piece of My Heart in its entirety.

Thank-you also to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read a pre-release teaser of the novel.

And last but not least…..have YOU read Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and what did YOU think of it? And which do YOU prefer, The Girl on The Train or Into the Water

Happy Reading

~ Adrienne

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