Hello everyone!

I am here with another blog tour, this time it is for With Malice by Eileen Cook! I really enjoyed this book, and was so pumped to be working again with Raincoast Books on this blog tour!

Once again, I was able to ask the author a question about the book, and because the thing about this book that intrigued me the most about this book was the ending, I decided to ask her about it.

Without spoiling anything for those who haven't read it yet, at the end of the book, two verdicts are reached, Jill's sort of internal realization and the judge's ruling. Why did you decide to have this opposing ending and how did you come to the conclusion you wanted the book to end this way?

I tried out different options for the ending, but one of the things that was the most interesting to me when writing this book was exploring the idea of “what am I really capable of doing?” The main character Jill has to really think about what kind of person she wants to be, what kind of person she is, and what kind of person other people view her to be. Because Jill has lost her memory of what happened she doesn’t have an easy answer—but I believe even for people who haven’t lost their memory—it’s very common to remember things inaccurately. We tend to remember the bits that match with how we want to see the world and forget the parts that don’t fit. Reality is in part a matter of perspective. Any time you’ve discussed something that happened with the past and been shocked to realize that someone else remembers the situation completely differently you’re confronting this fact.

One hope I have for the book is that when people finish reading it they are compelled to call a friend and ask them what they think “really happened.” It’s the discussion that I find interesting.

As part of this blog tour, I read and reviewed an advance copy of this book. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for providing me with that eARC. As always, all opinions are my own.

Wow. I was not expecting that ending to turn out the way it did. I am still sort of in shock.

Let's start at the beginning of this book, Jill wakes up in a hospital after a car accident in Italy that killed her best friend and badly injured herself. She has no memory of these last 6 weeks, including any of the events that happened in Italy. The book is about her trying to piece together what happened as well as battle against her parents and overbearing lawyer to avoid being sent to jail in Italy for murder.

I'm calling it The Lizzie McGuire Movie gone wrong.

Jill was a very interesting character. I got a vague, unreliable narrator vibe from her, because many times in the book she and her doctors mention how she can't trust that the things she thinks are memories to be memories, and not just images planted by a picture or statement someone makes. Because of these characteristics, it is hard to fully determine when Jill is lying and when she is actually telling the truth.

Throughout this book, interwoven with Jill's perspective, are news articles, interview transcripts and talk show scripts of various outside sources on the fairly well know story of Simone and Jill. I really enjoyed these elements, I always love some non-traditional additions to a novel, but these were especially interesting in seeing an outsiders opinion (whether it was agreeing with or disagreeing with Jill's innocence). Because of her unreliability, you have to use these interviews and articles to figure out for yourself whether or not Jill killed Simone.

I really enjoyed the premise of this story, and I think it is one that people, especially those who are loving the thrillers like I am, will enjoy. It is a bit of a slower burn, there are twists along the way but for the most part you don't find out until the very last chapter if Jill is guilty or innocent. And believe me, when you get to that ending, you will be in shock. I still can't believe how it ended. Without saying too much to spoil anything, in a way, it ended just as I thought it would, and also simultaneously, completely differently than what I could ever have imagined.

This story, in addition to the major issue of the crime, dealt with some other common topics, such as domestic abuse, physical rehabilitation and hospital experiences as well as divorce and remarriage. These ideas were interwoven into the story and helped break up the mystery, and provide some background.

I didn't give this book a full 5 stars because of a few reasons. Perhaps the biggest is the ending. Yes, there is a definitive answer as to if she is guilty or not, but I think this book could have benefited from a epilogue, to show where Jill was 6 months, or even a year later. Yes, we find out the result, but I feel like we can't see how that affects her or her family's lives longer term. I also felt like some characters were made out to be more negative than they needed to be. Dr. Weeks in particular was a kind person in the beginning, but later Jill felt she couldn't trust her, or perhaps didn't want to tell her anything, for fear of letting her down. These negative thoughts, however, could be a result of the unreliable narration. Perhaps Jill's perception of the doctor changes because of what she learns and recalls.

Overall, I still very much enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it if it seems up your ally. Plus, the cover is gorgeous!!