Cover Image: For the Best

For the Best

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Member Reviews

I read the book until the last page, but it took everything I had. I just didn't feel this story. Almost unbelievable storyline. But don't go off my opinion, read it & make up your own mind about it.

Suspected of a murder she can’t remember, a troubled woman takes an unusual approach to proving her innocence in this gripping thriller from the bestselling author of Little Voices.

When Jules Worthington-Smith’s wallet is found next to a dead man, she becomes the prime suspect in his murder. After struggling for years to build the perfect family and career, she’s dangerously close to losing everything.

Sure of her innocence, Jules is desperate to clear her name. But there’s one big problem: she was blackout drunk when the murder took place and can’t remember what happened.

Unsatisfied with the police’s handling of the case, Jules embarks on her own gin-fueled murder investigation. As she uncovers fresh clues, she starts a true-crime vlog that becomes a viral sensation, pushing her into the public eye. It’s not long before the ordeal forces Jules to confront her demons, including her turbulent childhood and excessive drinking.

The deeper Jules digs, the more dirt she uncovers about the murder and herself. Unexpected truths pile up until she’s buried so deep even finding the killer might not be enough to set her free.
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3.5 ⭐️ Jules is accused of murder. She was so drunk that night that she has little memory of what happened and therefore she launches her own investigation. It’s a good plot and well paced with an interesting theme of restorative justice. But I just didn’t like Jules. As a mum some of her actions towards her child didn’t set well with me. I really struggle with books where I don’t like the protagonist so that let down this book for me (thinking of blood orange being the most recent). I think that’s a very personal thing as this book has been getting rave reviews so don’t let that put you off if it doesn’t normally!
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This one was not for me. I was bored and couldn’t get into it and stopped at about 20%. Skimmed to the end.
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Jules Worthington-Smith is surprised when cops show up at her door one morning. It seems her wallet was found next to a dead man lying in an alley. The alley just happened to run beside a local bar ... where she and the dead man had drinks ... many of them. So many that she has no memory of the night at all ... she was blind drunk. She has now become the prime suspect in his murder.

Unhappy with the way the police are investigating, Jules takes it upon herself to do something that will prove her innocence, along with the help of a true crime author who just happens to be an ex-boyfriend from many years ago.

She starts a true-crime vlog as they start looking into this murder. What is revealed may not be something she wants the world to know.

Did the victim have a girlfriend, one who was also at the bar that night? His wife was also there ... did she kill him in a fit of jealousy? And her father, of all people, were also in the bar with a lady friend. He already killed a young man years ago when he was drunk ... did he get drunk and bash the victim in the head? And then there is Jules herself ... police have a copy of a surveillance tape ... she was seen crying and possibly arguing with the victim. Is she actually guilty and just doesn't remember? But why would she even want him dead?

The deeper she digs, the more she discovers and she finds more questions than answers.

It's highly suspenseful from the very beginning and steadily increases with each twist and turn so cleverly inserted into each of the convoluted circumstances. It's an intricate plot with characters solidly drawn and who will be remembered long after the book reaches its final unexpected ending.  Jules, especially, is a polished character.  She's .. until now ... been a highly respected woman, has a loving husband and a young son .... yet never stops drinking even after her 'black out' night of drinking.

Many thanks to the author / Thomas & Mercer / Netgalley for the digital copy of this crime fiction. Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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This was a solid thriller novel. It had a lot of twists and turns and it definitely kept me interested in what was going to happen. It was a bit of a slow burn thriller but I really enjoyed it.

I would recommend this book if you enjoy a solid thriller.
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I enjoyed this slow burn of a suspense novel. I like that we jumped right into the action and Juliet has to piece together her night. I like the Vlogs and her dad’s online presence. I thought this was a good, enjoyable book. I liked the Providence, RI setting which I found refreshing.
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Have you ever gotten blackout drunk? If you have, you know it’s a pretty scary feeling. It happened to me once and I have made it my life’s goal to never drink like that ever again. Well anyway, what if you got blackout drunk, woke up the next morning with scrapes and blood on your legs, couldn’t remember a damn thing and then found out that your wallet was found next to the dead body of your colleague that you were drinking with? SHIT! You couldn’t have murdered someone right? Or could you? 

Juliet is in this predicament. She’s the only suspect in the murder and since she can’t remember a thing but is sure she couldn’t have killed her friend (right?!), she sets out to uncover the truth. 

Through a series of interviews for her vlog, Juliet starts to put the puzzle pieces together and around every turn, she learns something new about herself and the people in her life. 

I thought that this was such an fun concept. Investigating a murder, where potentially she could be the culprit takes a lot of guts. Taking thousands of viewers along for the ride to what might prove that she murdered someone... big brass balls. I spent the entirety of the book 100% confident that at least 5 different people did it. 

@vanessalillie kept me engaged the entire time. I couldn’t stop turning the pages.
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*received for free from netgalley for honest review*3.5  well, this book has a look of twists i didnt expect, not sure if i really liked where it went bc ive been reading a lot of books that turn out to be super similar so i knew were it was going but still an interesting read
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For the Best by Vanessa Lillie is a mysterious gripping thriller that will grab you on page one.  She mixes family secrets and complex relationships with murder and mayhem then adds some healing and justice in this fascinating thought provoking thriller.  If you enjoy riveting page turning reads, this one is for you!  I highly recommend this captivating book to anyone but I must warn you.......you will not be able to put it down!!!!

My Thanks to NetGalley and the author for an e-ARC of this emotional thriller in exchange for an honest review!
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I’m kind of tired of the unreliable woman trope especially because she was blackout drunk. The premise was still interesting and I enjoyed figuring out what really happened.
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For The Best is a fast paced thriller with intriguing characters, yet by the end you'll realize it's deceptively deep as it delves into quite a few serious issues. Recommended for fans of thrillers, mystery and suspense.
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After reading Little Voices last year, I was looking forward to this, and it's another good one!
Juliet "Jules" Worthington-Smith has worked hard to create an ideal family and career.
Her job as CEO of the Poe Foundation is at a high point as they bestow a grant to Terrance Castle, a professor at Brown University, to help him spread his restorative justice approach to crime.
The morning after The Genius Grant launch gala, Terrance is found murdered in a bar alley just blocks from her home. And Jules' wallet is found next to the body.
She's sure she didn't kill him, but she can't exactly remember since she blacked out from drinking too much. 
Because she is the police's number one suspect and they don't seem to be looking for anyone else, Jules decides to start a vlog to catch the real killer.
But as she investigates and brings more suspects to light, will she also dredge up some unfortunate information about her own life?
This thriller hooked me from the start by the author's great writing style as it just smoothly kept me turning pages to find out more!
Jules wasn't the most likable character, but I was sympathetic towards her and I wished she would stop drinking so much and quit putting herself into such crazy predicaments.
And the ending was definitely a suprise, what a great read this was!
Thank you Thomas & Mercer for the e-ARC via NetGalley.
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For the best
 After waking from a drunken stupor, Juliet finds her knees bloody and has no recollection of what happened the night before. Soon finds the police at her door, questioning why her wallet was found beside a dead body.
 She sets on a vlog quest to prove her innocence. And finds herself wondering if she really is. 
 I found this book a little slow in places, but the overall story was pretty interesting. I kept second guessing my decision on who was the guilty party. I didn’t really connect with Juliet, but was proud of how she handled everything in the end.
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Thank you Netgalley for the ARC - I really enjoyed this read.  The author reached out to me while reading so I was able to chat with her about it and that really made the reading more memorable.  Thank you 5 stars!
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*4 Stars*

Copy kindly received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I found this to be an interesting read. The characters were interesting and I would recommend.
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Vanessa, how dare you play with my emotions!!! 

Oh my god you guys, gals and them!  Remember when I complained about the continuous use of female lead characters having drunken amnesia as a plot point?  Well I eat (or maybe actually drink) my words!  Turns out - I don't mind if it's done right and Lillie has changed my mind.  Or rather, maybe Jules did!

What I absolutely loved about this book was the uniqueness in solving the murder of Terrance.  As we all know, in this day and age just about everything plays out through a lens to the public.  When Jules becomes the only suspect in the murder investigation, her name smeared on the news along with the loss of her job, she decides to take matters into her own hands and using her skills starts a vlog to start digging into clearing her name.  As this escalates, so does her drinking.... and soon truths outside of this murder start to pop up and wouldn't you know it, it would drive anyone to drink. 😉

Around the 200 page mark I said to myself, "Self, what if it's actually THIS?!"  Ding. Light bulb!  Turns out I was right about one part and honestly it made me so damn giddy.  However, I certainly didn't see another part coming and OMG, WTF?! (LOVE!)  Lillie had me glued to these pages.  My heart went out to Jules so much by the end of it all, even if she was a highly frustrating character at times.  

I did wish the light therapy was explained a bit more - I stupidly kept thinking it was "light" as in compared to hard therapy and couldn't figure out why that was such a thing DOH!  Turns out, it's therapy using lights.  The book explains it a bit better than I am doing here.  But outside of my stupidity here, this part did feel a bit glossed over and quickly thrown in.

This will be an interesting one I think for thriller lovers.  I love the uniqueness of it all and how it hits on some very important issues - child trauma, alcoholism, white privilege, complex relationships, etc.  I think some readers will have a hard time with Jules as a character and how while this read is twisty, it's also somber with quite a life lesson brought to the surface.  Personally, I loved it a lot for these reasons and I liked that it wasn't your typical thriller read.
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I tried hard to like this book but it just didn't do it for me. It had such promise too. I didn't like the way the vlog parts went especially. It's just hard for me to imagine that. 

The main character, Jules, was just not likable at all to me. She was a drunk and didn't want to take responsibility for anything she did. She had a good life it seemed. An adorable son and husband who loved her dearly. She had parents, though I can't say I liked her dad at all either. He came across as crass and in denial. 

Juliet was drunk and possibly involved with a murder. The murder of a good friend. But she can't seem to remember anything from that night. Blackout. Her mom wants her to see a therapist who can help her with remembering. The problem I have here is she remembered instantly. I just find that one hard to conceive. It could happen I suppose but it was just not believable to me. 

This book starts out good. It seems like it has a strong subject matter that will keep me turning pages. It lost me however when the author started adding the vlog posts. If it would have just been written differently it may have held my interest. I've read one other book that did this and found it to be one that I could not connect to either. 

I liked the premise of this book. The thriller part. I didn't like Jules, her dad, or anyone else except her husband and child. It was hard to connect and thus hard to read. I found myself skimming past the parts that didn't hold my interest and that is a huge NO for me.

Thank you #NetGalley, #VanessaLille, #Thomas&Mercer for this ARC. This is my own thoughts on this book

Only a 2/3 stars for me and I can't recommend this one. Sorry.
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Genre: Thriller/Mystery
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NO BS 💭: Only Vanessa Lillie can make me enjoy a thriller with an alcoholic unreliable narrator AND also find time to add an important message. Such an intelligently written story.
Highly recommend.
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———What’s it about?———
Jules is the prime suspect in man’s death but she was blackout drunk that night, so she creates a vlog to find the real killer.
•
What I loved:
• Important, thought-provoking social & racial commentary especially regarding privilege
• Cleverly introduced the idea of Restorative Justice
• That Backstory!! It was a mystery within a mystery!
• VLOG transcripts as a POV was super interesting (Vlog = video Blog)
• Humor! I chuckled a lot.
• Beautiful descriptive writing; truly painted the scene for me
• Strained family dynamics
• I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated Jules. My opinion of her kept changing. I love being kept on my toes!!
• Jules’ “I’ll figure this out myself” attitude was great!
• That ending. I’m here for it!
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What I didn’t love:
• Sorry editor, but I would have loved to have another POV. I think it would have helped me to have more empathy for Jules. I needed to see her through a loved-one’s eyes. 🤷‍♀️
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This book made me feel anger and frustration toward a couple of characters and to end in a way that made me go, “no way?!” means it was a great read in my book.⁣ A slow-burn read for me has to be written in a way that it keeps my interest throughout, and this book did that. Since Jules did her own investigation via a vlog, some of the chapters were broken up using the dialogue from the vlogs she’d post, which I liked. I was frustrated because the whole book started with Jules not being able to remember anything due to her being blackout drunk. You’d think she’d learn from that, but she kept on drinking – excessively. And her dad! Don’t get me started on him and how much he angered me. I kept going back and forth trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but what he did was unacceptable, which ultimately led to…well, I really can’t say because I don’t want to give anything away.⁣
⁣
Let’s just say the ending was NOT what I expected at all. Far from it actually. It left me really thinking, which is why it’s taken me a while to write this review. At first, I was angry and sad, but then as I thought about things, I realized it made sense.⁣ Overall, a great read and I recommend it to all my thriller readers out there!

 “When Jules’s wallet’s found next to a dead man, she becomes the prime suspect in his murder. Sure of her innocence, Jules is desperate to clear her name. But there’s one problem: she was blackout drunk when the murder took place and can’t remember what happened. Unsatisfied with the police’s handling of the case, Jules embarks on her own gin-fueled murder investigation through a vlog that pushes her into the public eye. It’s not long before the ordeal forces Jules to confront her demons, including her turbulent childhood and excessive drinking. The deeper Jules digs, the more dirt she uncovers about the murder and herself. Unexpected truths pile up until she’s buried so deep even finding the killer might not be enough to set her free.”⁣

Thank you @vanessalillie pub and @netgalley for sending me this ARC copy in exchange for an honest review
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Pacing is one of those elusive elements that can make or break a novel. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all optimum pace. Some novels require a slow, methodical storytelling method, while others benefit from having a more frantic tempo serve as a foundation for the plot. In addition to that, the way an author manipulates pace has countless permutations as well. For example, chapter length, volume of dialogue, placement of action set-pieces, and vocabulary choices can all affect the reading rate. Fortunately, whether the intention is a meandering rumination or a rollercoaster race to the end, readers can often sense when the pacing is handled successfully, even if it is challenging to pinpoint the true reason. Take for example, Vanessa Lillie’s new novel, For the Best. It will not take crime fiction fans long to realize that even though the book has a typical page-length for this style of suspense tale, for whatever reason this is a novel that begs to be read at breakneck speed, and is written by an author with the technical skills to capitalize on this instinct by ratcheting up her technique in order to make that desire reality.

When Terrance Castle, an advocate for restorative justice, is found murdered after a huge fundraiser for The Poe Foundation, the police quickly put their crosshairs on Jules Worthington-Smith. Not only was she responsible for getting Dr. Castle entwined with the Foundation, but eyewitnesses place her in the bar with him shortly before his death. Couple this with the fact that her wallet was found next to the body and things are not looking good for Jules. It certainly does not help that Jules was blackout drunk the night of the murder and has no recollection of anything related to that evening.

The police and general public are more than willing to view Jules as their prime suspect, after all, her father was once responsible for the death of another innocent victim, so it just goes to follow that his daughter would have no concept of the true value of life either. But Jules is convinced that she would never do such a heinous act and decides to launch a true crime vlog in order to conduct her own investigation while eliciting help from her viewers.

Vanessa Lillie leverages the vlog format to surprising heights given that this is a novel and that platform is strictly a visual one. By interrupting her prose narrative with sections that convey in script-writing style the content of Jules’ vlog posts, other television reports, and police interviews, readers are privy to the knowledge they need to draw conclusions about the case.

Some readers will no doubt approach For the Best hesitantly, given that there have been many novels which rely on the actions of a drunk narrator to cause confusion and mystery to their plot. The difference with Jules Worthington-Smith is that she is aware of the complications this causes for her life and never tries to justify her addiction – even when there are times that the reader will understand. Once the investigation gets underway, there are more than enough potential suspects to keep readers on their toes trying to figure out what occurred outside the bar the night Dr. Castle was murdered.

Vanessa Lillie populates her story with a diverse cast of characters without ever calling attention to this fact. Just as in life, people from all backgrounds mingle and interact, never feeling like token representation in order to follow trends. This is refreshing for readers and makes the novel feel all the more believable. When the truth is finally revealed, it successfully straddles the line between surprising and inevitable. Readers will appreciate that Vanessa Lillie never takes the expected route to this conclusion and refuses to deflect the difficult positions she has placed her characters in. Murder is a devastating act and For the Best never downplays the long-term effects for those left behind.

With both Little Voices and now For The Best pleasing readers, Vanessa Lillie has quickly established herself as a name to trust in the crime fiction genre.
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