The Girl in Cell 49B is a story about a girl battling her darkest demons. She has multiple demons: guilt, aggression, and rage. She also has a soft spThe Girl in Cell 49B is a story about a girl battling her darkest demons. She has multiple demons: guilt, aggression, and rage. She also has a soft spot for underdogs. Emily has a dark past – her mother and sister were raped and her family home was burned to the ground, nearly killing her in the process. She carries a lot of guilt around because she feels she should have somehow saved her family instead of running away, which ultimately saved her life. After changing her appearance and assuming a new identity and living as Alice for three years, her aggression gets the best of her when she witnesses a nasty bully abusing his girlfriend at a gas station. Unable to stop herself, she walks up to the bully and points a gun in his face. The bully stops his behavior and they drive off but not before the gas station employee reports her to the police and they capture her using the gas station security camera.
This lands her in juvenile jail where the authorities discover, after taking her fingerprints, that she’s the lost girl that disappeared after the horrific home invasion that killed her family all those years ago. She’s also a person of interest wanted in a murder in another state.
Once she’s in juvenile jail, she quickly learns how to navigate the various caste systems and befriends a few underdogs who she feels compelled to try and save. Once her own trial starts, she quickly learns that THE LAW could quickly make or break her and in order to give herself the best chance of surviving a “fair” trial, she begins using the law library in juvenile jail to teach herself how the law works and how she can make it work for her.
This is a story about grit, determination and self-perseverance. This character has had to adapt to a cruel world, learn how to fight and defend herself while somehow managing to keep her sense of self. She’s unusual in that she has a big heart and she can’t stand to see good people being treated unfairly. But she also has a dark side. A side that she finds hard to control and keep under control. Once that dark side of her is unleashed, she can be cruel, dangerous and unpredictable. Emily’s journey is just beginning and she intends to use her new-found interest in the law to help people who can’t help themselves while trying to keep her dark past from destroying her and those she cares about....more
*Disclaimer, I was permitted to read a ARC of this book through the NetGalley service!*
The Last Goodbye is a story of loss, grief, depression and the *Disclaimer, I was permitted to read a ARC of this book through the NetGalley service!*
The Last Goodbye is a story of loss, grief, depression and the power of human connection. It's been three years since Anna lost the love her life, her husband Spencer. He was killed by a drunk driver while running an errand for Anna. The story centers around Anna's depression and her inability, or unwillingness, to move on with her life. Anna's best friend, Gabi, tries hard to maneuver her friend out of the depression stage of grief but for every triumph her mother-in-law succeeds in sucking her back into the shadows of sadness. She knows she needs to move on, but she can't let go of her guilt long enough to give herself a chance to move past on.
On New Year's Eve, in sheer desperation and loneliness, she dials Spencer's number to listen to his voicemail message and is shocked when she hears a male stranger's voice pick up. At first, she thinks it's Spencer's ghost come back to haunt her, but she soon realizes that, in her grief, she forgot to pay Spencer's phone bill and the phone company had closed the account and had given the number to someone else. Unbeknownst to her, the man on the other end of the line is just as lonely and sad as she is and together, they form a precarious and curious bond. Anna continues to call the number and the man continues to pick up, to listen and offer her advice and they build an unusual friendship.
Gabi, in an attempt to help her friend to start living life again, signs them up for a salsa class and Anna meets Jeremy. She's surprised that she finds him attractive and she tentatively tries to build a relationship with him but she can't get past the notion that "he's not her Spencer." The relationship dies before it's given life but the experience teaches Anna that she's capable of living a normal life, however that may look for her.
Anna continues to maintain a relationship with Spencer's family though in a lot of ways, her desperate attempt to keep them in her life prevents her from moving forward and she continues to struggle to keep Spencer alive in her memory but desperately searching for normalcy.
Though the story moves slow at times, I feel it's necessary to show the reader the importance of coming to terms and dealing with various degrees of grief and depression. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that has had trouble navigating their own difficult journey with the death of a loved one. Lucas does a really good job of exploring and processing the stages of grief, specifically depression, guilt and the complexity of living one's life and moving on from a personal tragedy.
The characters are well rounded and the story is beautifully written. I appreciated Lucas' attention to Brody's story and dealing with the aftermath of his personal tragedy. In a lot of ways, this story begins as Anna's story and ends completing Brody's story. It's a lovely twist and I would highly recommend this book if you're looking for a story that deals with love, loss and new beginnings....more
Wow. There is so much to unpack here, I'm not really sure where to begin.
I initially gave this book three stars, then changed it to four stars. Here'sWow. There is so much to unpack here, I'm not really sure where to begin.
I initially gave this book three stars, then changed it to four stars. Here's why: The subject matter is disturbing and the character is gay.
There, I said it. It bothered me. This is not something I usually pick up and read, nor have any desire to read, but I wanted to challenge myself. I based my rating on my personal beliefs and views and that's not fair to the story, nor the author, so I changed it to four stars because the writing was well done, the story, though uncomfortable, was handled carefully and it's a subject that should be talked about and analyzed, not swept under the rug.
Again. It's about being fair, not about my personal beliefs concerning how the character lives her life nor the subject matter.
Rachel is an up-and-coming actress and though not famous, she is well-known enough in the area to be doing fairly well for herself. In an attempt to promote herself, her girlfriend makes a Facebook page and a Twitter account to promote her. Rachel's best friend (whose name escapes me right now), writes a lot of the plays she stars in and they are controversial, her latest being about abortion. When Rachel participates in a radio interview she dares to offer her real opinions on the matter which stirs up the crazies and she effectively puts a target on her back. When these haters learn that she's Jewish, that brings in the Antisemitism people and before long, they find out where she lives and puts that information on Facebook, maybe even Twitter.
They "doxy" her. Meaning, they publicize her personal information thereby making it easy for the haters to find her and terrorize her. This part bothered me because she could have reported the incident to Facebook and/or Twitter and they would have removed the post and most likely penalized the user as that goes against the terms of service. So Rachel's argument of not deleting her accounts, only the posts, because she didn't want them to win was a bit lame, in my opinion. Not reporting them only encouraged the haters to become more bold and obnoxious. And I got very impatient with Rachel for not deleting her accounts and instead, choosing to keep them and then torture herself by continuing to read the comments which only served to push her further down into her dark hole of self doubt and insecurities. You can't have it both ways, either delete your accounts if it bothers you that much and/or, report the jerks and delete/block commenters. I realize haters multiple like weeds, but if you choose to put yourself online, you have to expect there will be people who don't like you - it's inevitable. So make a decision, don't choose to continue to torture yourself and then feel sorry for yourself - I can't stand characters that choose to wallow in a cesspool of their own making.
Number one rule if you have an online presences, don't feed the trolls.
I actually couldn't stand Rachel. Not because she was a Jew, and not because she was gay but because she was a whiner. Everything was about her, about the way she felt, about everything going wrong in her life. She is stuck in a relationship with Liz, who is married to a man and has two children that require a lot of her time. Rachel is stuck because she knows that Liz is stringing her along but she can't cut her loose. Liz's confusion is not Rachel's problem. Cut. Her. Loose. The fact that Rachel wasn't strong enough to accept the fact that Liz was using her and continued to use her, really grated on me. I know it easier said than done to tell someone to cut someone out of his/her life but if that person brings more grief than joy, then it's best for everyone in the relationship to make the tough decision and get out.
And I lost a bit of respect for Rachel as well because she was, in essence, doing the same thing to Jo. Jo is a cop who drops everything to support Rachel when the threats against Rachel escalate. And Rachel takes advantage of that using Jo whenever she can because she can't rely on Liz to be there for her.
So, Rachel's clingy, insecure personality really turned me off.
As far as the Antisemitism aspect of the story, that was the most uncomfortable aspect of the story for me. I didn't really care that Rachel was gay, though the way she handled her relationships really frustrated me, but the Antisemitism attacks was another story.
She has a complicated relationship with her faith, or lack thereof. That dissatisfaction stems largely from her grandmother who was a devout Jew and was militant in ensuring that Rachel grew up practicing Judaism. She was also made to be ashamed of her heritage because the boy who lived next to her continually called her "Jew girl" and they played games where he was a Nazi and she was his prisoner. The games they played soon turned sexual in nature and that further served to shake Rachel's belief in her religion, and her sexuality.
I thought one of the more interesting aspects of the story was that the author made Stephen part of the story so the reader had a chance to see why Stephen believed he was a Nazi - because his grandfather was a racist bigot and going along with that belief gave him an excuse to get closer to his grandfather, who was the only person in his life who really cared or paid attention to him. Stephen really didn't know, nor understand what being a Nazi was, he just wanted a place where he belonged and since his grandfather was the only person who paid attention to him, immersing himself in that belief was what he needed to do.
This is also evident later in life when Stephen goes looking for his Antisemitism friends after being discharged from the military - because again, he needed to find someplace where he felt like he belonged. Where he was a part of something.
I really appreciated the author putting Stephen into the story because it serves to demonstrate that people that belong to hate groups are people too and there is usually a series of unfortunate events that molds them into thinking, and living, that way. I'm not excusing these people, but I think it's important that we remember that these haters are people who have likely been misdirected and that there is a misguided reason for them being the way they are. They are human, too.
I ended up feeling sorry for Stephen as he tries very hard to be something he's really not but because he's never been taught to believe anything else, he sticks to what he knows. He's just looking for someone to love him.
Gladys' story was an interesting element. Gladys' family was captured by the Nazis and killed, at least, it's presumed they are killed as Gladys never sees them again. But she ends up confessing her past to Stephen because Stephen reminds her of a Nazi soldier that her sister got quite close to. This was a way for Gladys to confess her past and perhaps make sense of it. This closeness confuse Stephen even more as she's a Jew and he's been taught to hate Jews but she's also one of the few people in his young life to pay attention to him so he has a sort of love/hate relationship with Gladys.
Honestly, I ended up liking Stephen more than Rachel as I felt like Stephen's character grew and evolved where Rachel just continued to feel sorry for herself. Rachel did end up growing a spine at the end and getting rid of Liz, but then she jumped right into another relationship with Jo. So, she learned something about herself but I didn't get the feeling her character actually grew into something better.
The author does a nice job of handling a difficult and sensitive subject. She was successful in playing fair to all parties and in showing the reader that life choices and our upbringing are often the reason we believe what we believe and the choices we make in life. I think it's a good reminder to all of us that we need to not judge so quickly, because everyone has a story to tell and often that story is what molds us in the people we become....more
The title says it all. I remember thinking this very thing when I was reading it - wow, I have no idea who the murderer is, all of the characters are The title says it all. I remember thinking this very thing when I was reading it - wow, I have no idea who the murderer is, all of the characters are shady and hiding a secret. It really could be anyone.
So Kerri, our main protagonist, is a detective who is married to her job. This obsession forced her self-centered husband away and he had an affair. Kerri found out about it and divorced him. Kerri has a 13-year old daughter who is bitter about the divorce and seeks her father's love and attention, only dad is busy with his new family to pay her much attention. As a result, the daughter lashes out and causes Kerri grief and anxiety which only adds to her difficult job.
I was glad the author didn't spend much time on this dynamic. I feel like she spent just enough time to give the reader a glimpse into her history thereby giving the reader a chance to get to know Kerri outside her job. It served to show the reader that Kerri was human after all and that she has to do what so many of us do on a daily basis - deal with home struggles while maintaining our professional lives as well.
Falco, her new partner, is a mystery. He's portrayed as a bad boy who was undercover for a while and his experiences while he was undercover somewhat "broke" him. Kerri is "saddled" with him and she's not sure how to feel about him, she certainly doesn't trust him. I liked the dynamic between Kerri and Falco - sparks didn't immediately fly. Instead, they seem to be slowly building a relationship, a professional relationship, though by the end of the book, Kerri is starting to trust him and she's allowing a few of her defenses down so that it's implied that something more for the two of them could potentially be coming down the road. I do wish Webb had written Falco a bit more brash. I liked the mysterious aspect of him but he's almost too nice too soon. Though it was nice to see her partnered with someone who had her back, I wish he had been a bit more rough around the edges thereby giving Kerri an opportunity to smooth those edges.
I really enjoyed the mysterious bitchy Cross character. I hope she makes more appearances in future stories. I liked that Falco uses her as a resource to help them solve the mysteries (because there is more than one, more on that later), and how he keeps saying "he owes her." I would like to see Cross cash in those favors in future stories perhaps placing Falco in a difficult moral dilemma later. I would actually liked to see a story about Cross - why is she the way she is? What sort of experiences made her into this character that we see now? Ms. Webb, if you're reading this ... *smile*
And speaking of characters, there were A LOT of characters in this story. Almost too many and I confess, I got lost a few times. I had to pause and think, "now who is this again?" However, I do feel like each character played a role and I didn't feel like Webb was inserting characters willy-nilly just to muddy the waters. Though I was frustrated by the sheer amount of characters, I will say that Webb did a nice job of interweaving all of these characters later in the story and by the end, their functions were all justified and I could forgive that aspect of the story. She introduced a lot of characters because there were several threads to this story: the main murder of Abbott and his mother-in-law, Sela's past, discovering Sela had a sister and wondering what happened to her sister, Sela's mother's mysterious illness, Amelia's disappearance, Kerri's best friend's affair and Kerri's sister's husband's secrets. All of these seemingly unconnected issues were actually all connected in various ways and I appreciated the way Webb kept me guessing and masterfully made all of these mysteries come together in the end. That's mainly the reason I bumped my rating from four stars to five stars because I could appreciate the complexity of the story and I admired the way she brought all of these storylines together in the end. Bravo. That couldn't have been easy to do.
I also liked the way Webb put Sela's perspective into the story as well. You know she's heavily involved in the murder of her husband and mother but you're just not sure what role she played in the murders. I thought that added a richness to the story and definitely gave the reader a peek at Sela's motivation behind the events. Sela ends up being a master manipulator and very clever and I would like to see Kerri cross paths with Sela again in future stories - perhaps Sela becomes a master criminal as predicted by her college professor. *cough-hint-cough*.
The plot moved forward slowly and I was as frustrated by Kerri's lack of progress as she was. However, with that said, I also appreciated the fact that every time Kerri made progress with the mystery, it only served to raise more questions. It was a frustrating process but also piqued my interest. I confess, I had no idea who the murderer was and by the time it was revealed it made sense on a level that I didn't see coming. Again, bravo.
As the mystery is slowly solved, the answers become more personal for Kerri. Quite a few characters, close to Kerri, are actually heavily involved in the mystery and I appreciated that personal aspect. It made solving the mystery that much more important for Kerri, and the reader. I felt invested in Kerri's journey.
The ending was very satisfying and the key characters deserved what they got.
Let's address a few one-star comments on Goodreads:
Abandoned! First the narration of the audio book was awful - whiny, everyone sounds the same and she sounds like a whiny teenager. Then the story: bunch of rich, entitled a-holes for the most part, the lead character who is undecided about most everything in her life (how could she get to be a lead detective?) and most everyone else unlikeable. I tried for 9 chapters and then sent the book back for refund. Not recommended for anyone.
This is why I don't listen to audio books. First of all, I get too distracted and lose my place whenever I listen to a book. I want to give the book my full attention and when I'm doing something else while listening to a book, I can't and that frustrates me. Kudos to those of you that can do that, I can't, apparently. Secondly, I don't want whomever is reading the book to sway my opinion as this commenter states. She couldn't get past the voice of the narrator and that automatically puts the story in a negative category for her - which is unfair to the story. She mentions she can't get past the rich a-holes in the story. Fine. To each his own. But that's precisely why I liked the story - because rich powerful people get away with crap the rest of us poor saps would never get away with. Unfortunately, these types of people exist today (Politicians) and it's so satisfying when these rich a-holes get what they deserve. Unfortunately, these types of characters DO exist - why exclude them from stories?
I will say, I do agree with the commenter on how Kerri seems undecided about most everything in her life. I got that vibe too and I too wondered how she got a reputation for such being such an outstanding detective when it seemed she was anything but confident most of the time.
The other one-star reviews basically complained of the story being too slow and I can't say I disagree with those observation. But overall, I really liked how Webb starts with one mystery and by the end of the book, Kerri and Falco end solving a 15-year old mystery as well as bringing rich, powerful a-holes to justice....more