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What She Gave Away (Santa Barbara Suspense #1)
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What She Gave Away

(Santa Barbara Suspense #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  950 ratings  ·  125 reviews
Revenge is anything but sweet in this twisty thriller about two women with very different lives locked in the same deadly game.

Imagining the best way to destroy a person’s happiness is Crystal Love’s favorite game. Devious and unpolished, the plus-sized loan analyst couldn’t be more out of place in her new town of Santa Barbara, where the beautifully manicured women never
Paperback, 348 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Thomas & Mercer
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Cynthia Hamilton
It says a lot about an author when they can create wholly unsympathetic characters and still keep the reader riveted to the story. This is the case in “What She Gave Away”, the debut novel by Catharine Riggs. Shifting first-person narratives toggle between recently widowed Kathi Wright, a woman who had been essentially propped up by her environment her entire adult life, and Crystal Love, a malevolent schemer with a queen-size chip on her shoulder to match the rest of her plus-size figure.

It is
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Crystal Love is intelligent, devious, scheming, and fights any inklings of empathy or guilt that might pop into her head for the misfortune of others, whether she caused that misfortune directly or as collateral damage. Crystal is a large overweight woman and this fact is always in Crystal's mind, coloring how she views herself and how she knows others view her. The setting of Santa Barbara plays a part in how Crystal views herself because she is among the rich, whose view of others demands that ...more
Stephen Clynes
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Follow Crystal, a plus size woman, as she takes revenge on Kathi, the skinny wife of a bank’s president. This thriller is set in California and is about not only about Crystal’s revenge but size issues, lifestyle choices, workplace politics, corruption, misuse of power and banking.

I liked how this story is told in alternating chapters, so you get the story from both Crystal’s and Kathi’s sides. The main timeframe is just 2 years but frustratingly Kathi includes backstory from her old notebooks a
Julie Parks
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
With a very intriguing synopsis this was one of those books where you start with page one, then chapter one...then just a little bit more...just one more page...oh, my really? Well, I gotta see what will happen when she...oh, can't be, how did I not see it sooner...WTF...OK, one last page and then I'm going to sleep...OK, really? How can this be?...oh well, I guess with four more chapters left I better see this through to avoid any potential nightmares.

Yes, nightmares. This book gets rea
Aug 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, quick listen. A bit too predictable, however.
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: suspense fans
Talk about a quick read. I stayed up late reading this one and could not go to sleep until I'd finished. I'm giving no spoilers but I will say that as suspense reads go, this one plays the tension well throughout. Crystal and Katie are the dual narrators here that are thoroughly unlikeable (one is possibly very unreliable because she's downing boxes of wine like it's sport). The twists and turns come pretty quickly and so do the clues as to connections and where true blame should be assessed in ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I know that this book has received a LOT of praise. I did not enjoy it. I tried. I wasn't invested in any of characters, and there were a few things that REALLY got under my skin - like the bitter, angry fat-lady business. Crystal had plenty of actual reasons to be angry and bitter, so why did we need to be constantly reminded that she's bitter, angry and fat. And she eats when she's feeling extra bitter, so... you guessed it... she's fat. I dislike fat as a plot device. It feels so patronizing. ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
I listened to this on audiobook which I highly recommend against. The narration made me dislike all of the characters from the beginning. The story line is interesting but really handled poorly. It was difficult to like any of the characters which made continuing painful. One of the characters is so vapid it made me want to scream. Hopefully readers will enjoy this more than I did.
P.J. Vernon
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Catharine Riggs (whom I was lucky enough to meet at a conference) delivers a wallop of a debut in WHAT SHE GAVE AWAY. Told from alternating points of view, this novel delivers the twists and white-knuckle suspense we've come to expect, but at its heart is a story of two very complex and very different women. As Riggs deftly explores the unsettling patience of the past and its secrets, readers are left wondering when it will finally catch up - and just how bad the fallout will be.

While my heart
Andrea Guy
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
As far as Thrillers go, this one didn't feel quite as menacing as some, but there was something about the two detestable female lead characters that really pulled me in and made the pages keep turning.

I don't think I've ever read a book where I hated both main characters so much, and that's including Gone Girl. Crystal and Kathi are both just awful. Crystal for all of her revenge motives and Kathi for being a wishy washy poor excuse for a human. She is the wimpiest worst excuse for a female ever
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent book.. Fast paced and easy to follow for the most part as the story is told from two points of view but the two narrators are worlds apart in personality so their tales are easy to keep separate.
The ending was maybe a little too pat but in honsesty, I still highly recommend to anyone who likes a suspenseful story where the bad guy is fed some justice.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for a chance to read and review.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
CloudOfThoughts_Books Keirstin
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
What She Gave Away by author Catharine Riggs is a great thriller told from two points of view. I loved it!

Crystal Love is a bored bank financial analysts who likes to play dangerous games. Life ending games, tear people's lives apart and watch type of games.

Kathi is a rich newly widowed, she was Rich anyways. Now she begs publishers to look at the romance novels she writes. We read her side while she spirals down, and up, then down etc after the death and new shocking secrets her late husband h
Anita Housley
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What She Gave Me

In this case, the "she" is Catharine Riggs, who wrote this excellent story. She gave me new ideas, an exceptional plot and a number of hours spent entirely involved in reading an unusual story. My first thought is that I can't remember a novel in which the story revolves around a woman who is a "bad guy." And thereby hangs a tale. Since I was six, I've always been on the hunt for a really good story. This is that book. I won't summarize the plot. I don't think I could without rui
Ashley Dyer
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
I heard the author read from her work at a crime convention in Canada recently and was delighted by the protagonist's distinctive, snarky, delightfully wicked voice. I bought the book straight after the reading and was not disappointed. In fact, there are TWO equally distinctive voices in the narrative--Kathi, the privileged widow of a banker whose world is rapidly falling apart, and Crystal Love, an unloved (and possibly unlovable) financial analyst, who seems hell-bent on revenge. Highly enter ...more
Lots to unpack here. Review to come.
Susan Murphree
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This got my interest from the start and I could not do anything else until I finished it - great book
Nell Wackwitz
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Great first novel!

Catherine Riggs wrote an interesting page-tuner, which, while it doesn’t follow my idea of a thriller, really gets the reader involved in the tale. I enjoyed the ending very much!
Tessa Kaplan
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I received a free copy of What She Gave Away from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to like What She Gave Away. The synopsis alone was enough to make me completely rearrange me review schedule when it showed up in my email. I love psychological thrillers and I really wanted to read something with a manipulative sociopath at the center of the story.

There is nothing that will make me a lifelong fan than a writer that manages to make me root for a character I can’t stand. A
Shannon Dyer
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, arc
Round up to 3.5 stars. Review to come at AAR.
Reeka (BoundbyWords)
As seen on my blog:

There's a lot this book was trying to be, but it unfortunately only managed to be a few of those things. What She Gave Away was readable, and definitely entertaining. I'll admit that I flew through it pretty quickly, was able to maintain satisfaction with the way it wrapped up, but the shock value just wasn't hard-hitting enough for what I've come to expect from my thrillers.

Crystal Love opens this one up with quite the line: "I've targeted the sperm donor". She goes o
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adrienne B
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
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 underlyi
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Moving right along with my streak of completely unlikable and unsympathetic characters headlining novels, I've moved on to the fantastically dark and devious debut What She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs. Featuring two timelines and two first person points of view with female protagonists that are polar opposites, I highly enjoyed the manipulations and resulting devastation. Catharine Riggs ultimately explores whether or not your past will catch up with you--and if will it be your undoing.

Kathi Wr
Kay Kuever
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I have never hated characters more than I hated Kathi and Crystal.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get to the brass taxes. I hated everyone in this book. Literally. Everyone. Yet, here I sit, having finished the book no more than twenty minutes ago, strangely satisfied. Perhaps a bit refreshed as well?

So much of What She Gave Away is pretty quintessential to the normal “thriller” formula you’re used to, especially in the post Girl on a Train era. The bad guys are smarmy and bad. The
Sara Strand
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I was really excited to start this book and thankfully it was actually a pretty fast read. Instead of chapters it just flip flops between Crystal and Kathi's voice so you keep thinking you'll read one more section but then you realize you've just read half the book.

What's really interesting is there is so many reference's to Crystal's weight and Kathi's skinniest and I thought that was just really strange. I'm actually going through a body image boot camp and we talk a lot about that and societ
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book took me quite awhile to finish solely because I frequently lost interest and was predominantly bored while reading this.

I feel bad saying this about the author's book, but I was disgusted with every character in it; whether a major one or secondary. Most of the characters were absent of any type of personal growth and two of the major characters had minimum personal growth all the way to the finish. I couldn't get into or "root" along with any of the characters in this story, either.
Kristen Everetts
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So..... funny story (not the book, but what happened to me while reading this book.) I read this on my Kindle. I read the first chapter, no problem. I moved onto the second chapter, but my Kindle did something it's never done before. Unbeknownst to me Ii jumped all the way to the last chapter. At first I was confused, but I thought it was just the vibe of the book. So I kept reading right through the Epilogue. I thought it was strange that there was an Epilogue at the beginning of the book, but ...more
Victoria Johnson
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book so much I breezed through it in one day. It is written in a way that is easy to read and the chapters are nice and short so I didn’t even realize how quickly I was flying through it on my kindle. I was entertained throughout the book, which made it difficult to put down. I enjoyed the dual narration for Crystal and Kathi as well as trying to figure out how their stories were connected. However, it was a little confusing at times because their personal narratives were not occu ...more
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Reader. Writer. Hiker. Runner. Author of the twin thrillers WHAT SHE GAVE AWAY and WHAT SHE NEVER SAID. Rep'd by Rebecca Scherer of JRA.




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Santa Barbara Suspense (2 books)
  • What She Never Said (Santa Barbara Suspense #2)

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