The Girl I used to Be is a roller coaster of a ride

37563646Lately I have been reading a lot of psychological thrillers.  Each one has been slightly different, but all of them have been heart-pounding reads.  Psychological thrillers tend to stay with me.  I dream about the characters and what is happening to them.  I find this is a genre I have a hard time putting down and getting back to real life and I also have a hard time letting go of the characters for days, sometimes weeks.

In The Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen, Gemma Brogman is a real estate agent and her husband, Joe, stays home with their little boy Rory.  Gemma works long hours, seven days a week, not leaving Joe much time to have adult time outside of the house.  One day Gemma shows a nice looking man (David) several apartments as he waits for money from the sale of his house to hit the bank.

A few days later Gemma heads to London for a conference.  She decided to go a day early to have alone time away from her busy schedule and her family.  Instead of taking a bath and going to bed with a book, she decides to eat at the hotel restaurant.  While talking to other real estate agents, she sees her client David across the room.  To avoid an annoying acquaintance, Gemma decides to have dinner with David.

After dinner, they both head to their rooms located on different floors.  While on the elevator, Gemma is super tipsy and stumbles all over.  She doesn’t remember drinking that much so David helps Gemma to her room where he kisses her.  Gemma wakes in the morning with a horrible hangover and doesn’t remember the night after the kiss.

Now back home, Gemma starts to receive weird messages and photos that she doesn’t remember being taken while at the conference about situations she doesn’t remember.  Each photo is more horrible than the next.  Who is blackmailing her? And who is David who she can no longer contact?

Part one of the book moves along smoothly, slowly building the story.  We learn about Gemma and her husband and we meet her co-workers.  We learn that Gemma is not happy that Joe stays home all the time instead of going back to work so she can cut back on her work schedule and spend more time with Rory.  She’s jealous of Joe and how Rory goes to him first instead of her.

We learn that Joe wants to get out more with his friends and have more of an adult life. I think he secretly is jealous of Gemma with her work schedule keeping her away from the home all the time.  But Joe doesn’t seem like he wants to go back to work.  He’s almost a little annoying.  Part two really kicks up the psychological warfare.  We quickly learn who is involved with the blackmail and what is really happening.

Think about riding a roller coaster.  The first hill is super big.  It’s a slow climb to the top, making the riders’ nerves increase on what could be on the other side of the crest of the hill.  That’s part one.  Then think of what happens when you go over the crest of the hill and you pick up speed heading down the hill, hair blowing behind you, stomach dropping and you are probably screaming.  That is part two.

I had a really hard time putting this book down.  It was a good thing I had an ebook copy or I probably would have flipped to the back of the book because I couldn’t read fast enough to find out the who and why.  A good stormy day would have been nice so I could have curled up on the couch and read it in one sitting.  If my friends and family ask for a book recommendation, The Girl I Used to Be will be one of the first books I recommend.  Make sure you block off time because you will want to read The Girl I Used to Be in one sitting.

Book Description:
The acclaimed author of Gone Without a Trace returns with a new novel of twisting psychological suspense in which a woman is forced to face down her blackmailer.

Someone’s been sending Gemma compromising photos. Photos she doesn’t remember. She can’t recall much about that night during a work conference–she’d written off her headache the next morning as the result of too much drinking at the hotel bar. But then increasingly disturbing photos start appearing in her email, along with bills and other items she can’t account for. As the blackmailer grows bolder and events start to escalate beyond her control, Gemma fears for her already shaky marriage and worries that the truth of what really happened that night must be more twisted than she imagines.

Unable to go to the police for fear that she will lose her family, Gemma resolves to hunt down the blackmailer on her own. But not everyone in Gemma’s life is who they seem, and as she gets closer to the truth, she discovers just how far the shadows from her past can reach.

Until Next Time, enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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The Brand Demand is filled with twists and turns

Brand DemandI know a book is good when at the start the author is able to grab me by the front of my shirt and suck me into the story so fast that my feet are in the air and my arms are flailing around.  That is what happened when I started reading The Brand Demand by Johnny Worthen.

Johnny contacted me through Goodreads.com about reviewing his book.  Of course I said yes and I’m SO glad I did.  I was sucked into the story with the first couple paragraphs and didn’t come up for breath for several hours.  Johnny does a fantastic job weaving a story that keeps the reader guessing about what is going to happen, how people are connected and how people are going to act.  He didn’t give anything away until the end.

The main character Galen is fed up with what is happening in the world.  He is fed up with people who cheat on their spouses, cheat on their employer and cheat the general public.  So Galen quits his job and becomes a blackmailer.  He has assembled a team with different skills who helps research the marks to make sure he knows everything about the mark.  Once Galen feels comfortable that he knows everything there is to know about the mark, he confronts them and extracts money.

Galen decides his latest mark is Richard Brand and Richard is Galen’s ticket to taking down Richard’s father-in-law, the owner of CarsonCo.  Galen finds out that Richard is cheating on his wife and feels he needs to go after Richard even though he doesn’t know everything he should about Richard.  After Galen confronts Richard and makes his demands, Richard disappears and things start to happen that Galen wasn’t expecting.

If you like intrigue, suspense and a little bit of humor thrown in, then pick up this book.  You will not be disappointed.

Book description:

Galen is political. Galen is fed up. Galen is a blackmailer.

Brand is a jerk who has money. He had an affair and Galen found out. Now Brand has new problems.  A criminal and self-styled Robin Hood, Galen must face down a ruthless enemy who does not share his ideological limitations.

In the footsteps of Edward Abbey’s THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG, THE BRAND DEMAND follows a group of political activists who strike at the system with cunning and guile while getting rich doing it.  Galen takes risks and money, but when his plans go awry, he quickly learns that politics are no substitute for wits.

Galen has to come to grips with his own boundaries of action and love while running for his life in Southern Utah. He has to stay under the radar, dodging skinheads and corporate moguls, Latter Day Saints romance writers and cheating husbands and—of course and always—the authorities.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat