Good Girls Lie, by J.T. Ellison

Short Take: Get in loser!! (You totally want to go for this ride.)

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(*Note: I received an advance copy of this book for review.*)

Hello my lovelies! I am pleased to announce that after drowning in winter doldrums, we had a freakish seventy-degree day here over the weekend, meaning I was able to go out with the Spousal Unit and Junior Nerdling for some much needed fresh air and today I feel MARVELOUS. So I’m here to bring some of that joy to all of you, or, you know, to tell you about the book I just read which is pretty much the same thing, right?

Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the Goode School began a century ago as a boarding school for unwed mothers or other types of incorrigible, socially unacceptable girls, the kind of girls who read novels and had opinions. Now it’s where the best of the best go to work their perfect little hineys off in exchange for a golden ticket – admission to the college of their choice, followed by a lifetime of success in their chosen field.

Of course nothing that fabulous is easy, as Ash Carlisle will soon discover. When both of her parents die suddenly, she leaves Oxford in hopes of Starting A New Life at Goode. Although the dean of the school, Dr. Ford Julianne Westhaven (and omg y’all THAT NAME) is willing to help her with the transition, and Ash is smart enough and disciplined enough to keep up with the work, there’s a whole ‘nother pack of problems in the form of the 199 other girls at Goode.

Let me be the cleverest nerd in the world, and point out that although these are Goode girls, they are not necessarily good girls. Despite a strict honor code, there’s drinking, drugs, secret societies whose over-the-top hazing is pure teenage girl sadism and the occasional dalliance with cute townie boys – and not just for the students. Ford also longs for escape (Ford Escape?) from the school, despite a many-years tradition of its leadership being passed from mother to daughter.

Of course, Ash herself has a few secrets of her own that could Cost Her Everything. As both Ash and Ford (seriously FORD) struggle with their place at Goode and in the larger world, keeping each other’s secrets while maybe also hastening each other’s downfall, one student then another is killed, the truth starts to dribble out, and the final set of twists slams it all home.

Good Girls Lie was a seriously fun, twisty book, with incredibly rich characters, a setting I couldn’t get enough of (I read way too much stuff that takes place in suburbia), and a killer (heh) pace. Ms. Ellison has a knack for cranking the tension, bit by agonizing bit, until everything inevitably explodes and I do love me a good tension explosion.

I really have only one complaint with this one, and it’s put me in a bit of a conundrum. There’s a character who is just TOO mastermind-y, too difficult to believe for a lot of reasons that would be spoilers. So I’m going to break one of my most iron-clad rules here, and just say that this character didn’t work for me, without explaining why. I hate to do that, because I like to imagine that I’m important enough for all authors to care about my opinion (by the way, Stephen, CALL ME! I have some very important feedback on that last one!), but this was a book I genuinely enjoyed despite that one little blemish, and I wouldn’t want to ruin anyone else’s good time with it. Because it really IS a good (or Goode)(heh) time!
The Nerd’s Rating: FOUR HAPPY NEURONS (and a shot of dresser-drawer vodka. Is it spring yet??)

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