ARC REVIEW: When She Was Good – by Michael Robotham

Title: When She Was Good
(Cyrus Haven #2)

Author: Michael Robotham
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
Finished reading: June 29th 2020
Pages: 352

“The three biggest lies in the world are these: it gets better; everything will be OK; and I’m here for you.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been wanting to try Michael Robotham‘s work for a while now… I just couldn’t resist requesting a copy of When She Was Good so I would have the perfect excuse to finally do so and pick up both Cyrus Haven books. I’m definitely glad I did now, as both books turned out to be more than solid reads. A little warning though: this is one of those series where you have to read the books in order, because you won’t understand the complicated relationship between the main characters otherwise. Trust me, it won’t be much fun reading the sequel without the knowledge of the events and character background in Good Girl Bad Girl! That said, if you enjoy a darker crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind twists getting a tad over the top, both books are recommendable.

So… When She Was Good. The first book kind of left me wanting to know how things would continue with Cyrus and Evie, and this sequel will without doubt explore more of Evie’s past. In When She Was Good there is no obviously separate case to investigate for Cyrus, but instead he will focus on discovering more about Evie’s past as things are spinning out of control. A metaphorical tripwire is somehow activated, creating a domino effect and a big pile of danger and plot twists are being thrown at the main characters as they fight to stay alive and unravel the truth. I have to be honest here and say I felt that the plot and plot twists ended up crossing the boundary of credibility for me and some of the twists were just too over the top to be believable. Sure, if you like plenty of action and a whole lot of dark twists and shocking details you will be in for a treat, but I don’t think this sequel was as good as my first meeting with Cyrus and Evie.

As for the writing… It took me a little while to fully commit to this story, mostly because the pace in the beginning is quite slow. Having just read the first book did make it easier to connect to the main characters, but somehow I felt that some of the spark of the first book was missing? The pace did improve as the story continued and the plot twists created a darker and even more dangerous environment… And there will be a lot of disturbing details revealed about Evie’s past before you reach that final page. But like I said before: I wasn’t too sure about the credibility of it all, and I wasn’t a big fan of the ending either as it left too many questions unanswered. And not only that, a certain detail of the ending felt too much like taking the easy way out… But that might just have been me.

In short, while I did prefer Good Girl Bad Girl personally, When She Was Good is still a solid read if you can look past the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and don’t mind a slower start. It was without doubt intriguing to learn more about Evie’s past!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #173 – Good Girl Bad Girl & The Sun Down Motel #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double thriller dose with Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Both turned out to be excellent reads!


Title: Good Girl Bad Girl
(Cyrus Haven #1)
Author: Michael Robotham
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 23rd 2019
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: June 28th 2020
Pages: 416

“Evil is not a state, it is a ‘property’, and when a person is in possession of enough ‘property’, it sometimes begins to define them.”

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I’ve been meaning to try this author for quite some time now, and being approved for an ARC of the Cyrus Haven sequel was the perfect excuse to finally do so. Good Girl Bad Girl is without doubt an engaging as well as twisted start of this series. The story uses a dual POV, where we switch between new lead character and psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie (a.k.a. Angel Face). Both have a disturbing background and it was fascinating to see the two matched and develop over time. The main focus of the story is on the new case Cyrus is called in to assist (Jodie’s murder), but both Evie’s past and her present situation play a big role too. The two different storylines mix as well as collide, and it was intriguing to see the different plot twists change the course of the story. I have to say that I was able to guess most of the twists early on, but one or two did hit the mark… The ending was quite open though and I definitely can’t wait to read the sequel to discover how things will continue. Recommended if you like a good crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind things getting pretty dark and twisted in points.


Title: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: February 18th 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: June 30th 2020
Pages: 336

“The person who could be truly alone, in the company of no one but oneself and one’s thoughts – that person was stronger than anyone else. More ready. More prepared.”

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about this title, and now I’ve had the chance to read The Sun Down Motel myself I can definitely understand the love for this story. This book is most definitely worth the hype, and it turned out to be just as good as I hoped it would be! It’s the perfect mix of paranormal mystery and crime thriller that had me literally racing through the pages. The Sun Down Motel uses a dual POV structure, where we switch back and forth between Vivian in 1982 and Vivian’s niece Carly in 2017. Both the POV switches and plot twists are brilliantly placed; they will keep you in the dark and only slowly reveal what Viv discovered in the past as well as what Carly unravels in the present. I loved both storylines equally, as both characters were easy to connect to and their stories managed to draw me right in. The paranormal aspect is again brilliantly handled; giving the story that creepy vibe as well as an ominous feel. On top of this, the story has the possible serial killer angle and the whole mystery around Viv’s disappearance in 1982… This story has more layers than an onion and you will love peeling away each one to discover the full picture. The Sun Down Motel turned out to be a fantastic reading experience and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who loves a little dose of paranormal with their crime thriller. Creepy, ominous and oh so engaging!


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WWW Wednesdays #275 – July 1st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally reading my second Spanish read of the year and pending Masa Crítica Argentina title: Entre Senderos De Lavanda by Mariela Giménez. It sounds like an interesting mix of mystery and romance and I hope it will be as good as the stunning cover! I’ve also started my upcoming blog tour read The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone, as I always like keeping a title on hand on my kindle whenever I’m not feeling like reading in Spanish and/or handling a physical copy.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver (4/5 stars) REVIEW 14/07
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour!!

2. The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey (4/5 stars) REVIEW 06/07
I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the comparison to A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I adored both books and its characters, and I just knew I HAD to meet Missy Carmichael to see if she could win me over too. The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael turned out to be both charming and heartbreaking at the same time. While I confess that it took me some time to warm up to Missy, once I did I found myself to be completely under her spell. I loved seeing Missy develop and blossom over time, and if you are craving a heartfelt contemporary with well developed characters and don’t mind shedding a tear or two, this debut is an excellent choice.

3. Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham (4/5 stars) REVIEW 11/07
I’ve been meaning to try this author for quite some time now, and being approved for an ARC of the Cyrus Haven sequel was the perfect excuse to finally do so. Good Girl Bad Girl is without doubt an engaging as well as twisted start of this series. Recommended if you like a good crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind things getting pretty dark and twisted in points.

4. When She Was Good by Michael Robotham (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 16/07
The first book kind of left me wanting to know how things would continue with Cyrus and Evie, and this sequel will without doubt explore more of Evie’s past. I have to be honest here and say I felt that the plot and plot twists ended up crossing the boundary of credibility for me and some of the twists were just too over the top to be believable. Sure, if you like plenty of action and a whole lot of dark twists and shocking details you will be in for a treat, but I don’t think this sequel was as good as my first meeting with Cyrus and Evie.

5. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 11/07
I’ve heard nothing but great things about this title and it turned out to be just as good as I hoped it would be! The perfect mix of paranormal mystery and crime thriller that had me racing through the pages. I loved the dual POV, with its clever use of twists to keep you in the dark and only slowly reveal what Viv discovered in the past as well as what Carly finds out in the present. Creepy, ominous and oh so engaging!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably picking up another 20 Books Of Summer title next: Fruit Of The Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. I’ve been wanting to read it for ages now! I also want to read The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel ASAP. Then it’s back to ARCs with an August blog tour read: Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks. My latest TBR jar pick is still Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend by Katie Finn, which I’m planning on reading some time this month.


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WWW Wednesdays #274 – June 24th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading upcoming blog tour read Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver and I’m definitely curious to see how I will react to this story after a surprising experience with book two. I’ll also be starting The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey as I’m in need of a little break from thrillers next…

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain (4/5 stars) REVIEW 28/06
This is already my final journey with Archie and Sheridan… After neglecting the series for years, I’ve finally stepped up my game and read the final four books in record time. I know that technically the author promised more books were yet to come, but as it’s been seven years since book six was published I don’t think that will happen any time soon. That said, while Let Me Go is not my favorite of the series and not as strong as the first books, it was without doubt still a thrilling read.

2. The Ten Thousand Doors Of January by Alix E. Harrow (5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/06
What an absolutely stunning and breathtaking read! I don’t even know where and how to start explaining this beauty of a story, as The Ten Thousand Doors Of January is one of those books where you should go in blind in the first place to fully explore and capture its magic. This story is complex, this story is stunningly written, this story fits so cleverly together once you have all the pieces… It’s an absolute masterpiece I cannot recommend enough.

3. The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond (3/5 stars) REVIEW 26/06
I admit that I was curious as soon as I read the blurb, and after seeing the first positive reviews I couldn’t resist requesting a copy. The Heatwave is not a bad read, but somehow it didn’t manage to convince me in the end… I found part of the plot quite cliche, especially the flashbacks were slowgoing and I thought the final reveals were a bit over the top and didn’t match the pace and intensity of the rest of the story? Either that or it’s time for me to take a little break from psychological thrillers, as I somehow didn’t enjoy this story as much as I thought I would.

4. The Switch by Beth O’Leary (4/5 stars) REVIEW 30/06
I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Switch after that, especially when I discovered it involved an older main character as well as a life swap element. I must say that I had an excellent time with this story, and she is now officially another of my to-go-to authors when I’m in the mood for the genre. I think I might have enjoyed The Switch even a tiny bit more, mostly due to the focus on the relationship between the three generations of Cotton women and both Eileen’s more specifically.

5. Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 06/07
I’m a fan of Peter Swanson‘s writing and I’ve been looking forward to dive into Eight Perfect Murders ever since I first heard about it. I love books with bookish elements and I love my crime thriller stories, so the premise of this newest story sounded absolutely fantastic. The structure of the plot is brilliant, the writing engaging, the character development fascinating, the many bookish elements including the bookshop and Nero the cat simply divine… I had heaps of fun reading Eight Perfect Murders!

6. The Collector by John Maher (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 04/07
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour!!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham is the second to last title on my June TBR as well as a book I need to read in preparation for the ARC of the sequel that is due next month. Afterwards I will most likely pick up that same sequel When She Was Good to help further decrease my pending NG ARC pile. This is also the last pending title on my June TBR! After that, I will probably finally start my second Spanish read of the year and pending Masa Crítica Argentina title: Entre Senderos De Lavanda by Mariela Giménez. It sounds like an interesting mix of mystery and romance and I hope it will be as good as the stunning cover! My newest TBR jar pick is still Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend by Katie Finn, which I most likely won’t be able to pick up until July.


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WWW Wednesdays #273 – June 17th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain so I can cross off another series on my unfinished series list. I know that technically the author promised more books were yet to come, but as it’s been seven years since book six was published I don’t think that will happen any time soon. I was also thinking about starting upcoming blog tour read Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver, but I might put it on hold until next week so I’m hopefully in a better headspace to enjoy it… And read some non-ARCs instead to reduce the reviewing pressure.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain (4/5 stars) REVIEW 21/06
Kill You Twice is book number five and marks the return to the spotlight of Archie’s nemesis Gretchen. After being mostly absent in book four, this sequel benefits from her strong presence once again and it has been interesting to see the dynamics between Archie and Gretchen develop further. Kill You Twice is not my favorite of the series though (which might be due to the explicit adult scenes, which are always a turn off for me), but overall I still enjoyed this one.

2. The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 07/07
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour!!

3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (4/5 stars) REVIEW 21/06
Wow, what an absolutely breathtaking read! I already fell in love with Elizabeth Acevedo‘s writing last year in With The Fire On High, but The Poet X has completely blown my socks off. Beautifully rendered, raw and simply stunning, The Poet X is simply slam dunk when it comes to poetry and the story itself is completely written in verse. I think the only reason I didn’t give it the full 5 stars is because of the focus on religion, mostly because I have a personal aversion to this element in stories… I know this exploration of religion was mentioned in the blurb, but I confess that I like going in blind and I didn’t investigate before reading this one.

4. The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 08/07
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour!!

5. How To Save A Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/06
I knew I wanted to read How To Save A Life as soon as I read the blurb and saw the mention of the Groundhog Day element. It reminded me of one of my all time favorite books The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle and I was immediately curious how this element would be developed into the plot. It’s without doubt also the reason this story will stay with me for quite some time! The Groundhog Day element gives the story a surreal touch as well as raising an interesting question as mentioned in the blurb: how far would you go to save the life of someone you love?

6. Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 24/07
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour!!

7. Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver (3/5 stars) REVIEW 20/06
Right… I’m not sure what happened here, but somehow I didn’t actually enjoy this one? I’m still flabbergasted myself, because the first book blew me away and I fully expected to have a repeat experience with the sequel… But somehow the writing style this time around didn’t do it for me. And no, my less than positive reaction wasn’t even due to the sheer twistedness, the mass suicide element and the fact that it’s basically partly a manual on how to start your own fact cult and kill as many people as possible. That part my twisted mind actually did appreciate. xD

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’ll be taking a little break from thrillers next with my third 20 Books Of Summer title The Switch by Beth O’Leary… I really enjoyed The Flatshare last year, so I have high hopes for this one. I also want to read Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham, which would be 20 Books Of Summer title number four as well as a book I need to read in preparation for the ARC of the sequel that is due next month. Afterwards I will most likely pick up that same sequel When She Was Good to help further decrease my pending NG ARC pile. My newest TBR jar pick is still Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend by Katie Finn, which I most likely won’t be able to pick up until July.


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