Review: Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager @riley_sager

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Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips. Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees. Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera–the only one on the property–pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.

My review:

First of all, I want to thank Inge, who encouraged me to read this book right away. Thanks to her, I spent one day consumed by this book and not thinking of anything else.

To be honest, I don’t even know why I didn’t read it when it came out. After all, I loved THE FINAL GIRLS by the same author. I guess I saw some reviews or read something that made me push it down the TBR… And I was so wrong to do that. LAST TIME I LIED instantly became one of my favorite reads of 2018 and I liked it even more than Riley Sager’s debut.

It’s no secret that I love teen horror movies, slashers and everything that Riley Sager seems to write about. So I guess it was obvious that the summer camp setting quickly captivated me and I suddenly couldn’t stop reading. Life happened, and I had to spend all day outside, but then the morning after, I raced through it and finished the rest of the book in a sitting.

This is a deeply atmospheric and twisty novel that follows a similar structure to Final Girls. The flashbacks, of course, tell us the story of Emma’s first summer at Camp Nightingale and the present story focuses on her investigation back at the same location where her friends vanished fifteen years ago.

There are many things I loved about this story. First of all, there was a chapter around the middle that literally made me gasp out loud. If you’ve read it, you probably know which one I’m talking about. It was so well done… so smart. And from that point on, the novel became unputdownable.

Secondly, the reason why Emma felt so guilty about the disappearance. The fact that she felt it was partly her fault. This reveal broke my heart and it’s exactly the kind of narrative that I love in stories. It was perfect.

Finally, I admit that while the present mystery resolution wasn’t as satisfactory, I can’t think of other option that would’ve made more sense. BUT. THAT. ENDING. I’m sure most of you were most invested in the disappearance of Vivian, Natalie and Allison. I know I was. Never in a million years would I have guessed what really happened. And when you think of it, all the clues were there.

This is how it ends... Goosebumps.

What did you think of this book? Did you like it better than his first? Were you as shocked as I was? 💙

Review: The Secret by Jennifer Wells @jenwellswriter @Aria_Fiction

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A tightly woven story full of secrets and lies with a breathtaking finale. London 1920 – Troubled young dancer, Lily, is invited to remote Elmridge House, home of the wealthy theatre benefactor Dr Cuthbertson to escape her troubled past. An isolated guest room and a surprise pregnancy leave her longing to return to the stage and her London life. She soon discovers that Elmridge House is not all that it seems – the house holds secrets which make it difficult for her to leave. Missensham 1942 – Young nurse Ivy Watts is called out to a patient at Elmridge House, home of the aloof Mrs Cuthbertson and reclusive Dr Cuthbertson. Ivy is entranced by the opulence of the house and its glamorous past, but when she tells her mother about Mrs Cuthbertson, her mother becomes fearful and forbids her from returning to the house. What secrets does Elmridge House hold? And why does Ivy’s mother live in fear of the mysterious Mrs Cuthbertson?

My review:

Ever since I read The Liar back in 2016, I have been waiting for Jennifer Well’s new book every year with eager anticipation. The Murderess was another great addition to her Missensham series last year. Don’t worry, even though these books are set in the same location and time period, the stories are completely independent (although there were mentions of The Murderess in this new book, which was super smart!).

The Secret is the new psychological thriller / historical saga by Jennifer Wells. It is a weird combination, but just like in The Cursed Wife by Pamela Hartshorne, there are some gifted writers that combine both genres beautifully. Jennifer is my favorite. She’s not only a wonderful writer, but she’s super nice and sweet if you reach out to her.

I don’t want to say much about the plot, only the basics. This is the story of Ivy, a young nurse who starts unconvering her mother’s life secrets when she meets Mrs Cuthbertson, a mysterious woman who lives at Elmridge House. But who exactly is Mrs Cuthbertson? And why is her mother so adamant that she never sees her again?

This book, like her previous two, has a somewhat complex structure with two different timelines narrated by two different characters: Ivy (the daughter) and Lily (the mother). And like in The Murderess, the book is filled with twists, so it’s quite an exciting adventure. I admit that I thought I had everything figured out when suddenly my suspicions became true at around 50%. And I thought: well, this cannot be it. Of course it wasn’t! How did I ever doubt Jennifer Well’s twisty talents? By the time I reached the ending, my mind was completely blown and I wanted to recommend this book to everyone.

I feel like some of you don’t give these books a chance because of the cover, but you are missing out on great suspenseful stories that will shock you more than once.

Have you read any of Jennifer Wells novels? Are you planning to do so? Let me know! 💙

Review: Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly @Connellybooks @orionbooks

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At the end of a long, dark night Detectives Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch cross paths for the very first time. Detective Renee Ballard is working the graveyard shift again, and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours only to find that an older man has snuck in and is rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is none other than legendary LAPD detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has got under his skin. Ballard kicks him out, but eventually Bosch persuades her to help and she relents. Bosch is investigating the death of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway who was brutally murdered. He crossed paths with her devastated mother while working a previous case, and Daisy’s story has seized hold of him.

My review:

Although I haven’t read the Harry Bosch novels, I have watched the tv series, so I believe I know him and his story well. And believe me, I love Bosch. On the other hand, I read the first book in this series The Late Show last year and really enjoyed it, especially because of the  main character, Renee, and the way she investigates the cases.

Renee always does everyting she can for anyone and she’s brave and relentless. At the same time, she barely has a personal life and she lives for the job, but she’s fierce and strong and I will continue reading her adventures for a long time. If she works with Bosch, then I’ll be even happier.

These books are heavy on the procedural aspect of police novels and I must admit I find that fascinating. If you prefer reading about the lives of police detectives outside their job, then this is not the right series for you. You won’t find any emotional moments, either. These are simply police procedurals and while it’s not an easy genre, but Michael Connelly certainly knows how to write them.

There are two main cases going on in this book, and then a handful of small crimes that our main character also comes across during her night rounds. I had never read a crime novel featuring a detective working on the night shift, so she’s a bit of fresh air. What I love about this series is that it feels more realistic than others, maybe because the characters go through a lot of clues and suspects before they eventually find the actual killer. They get it wrong many times before they get it right.

Have you read any of Michael Connelly’s books? Do you know the Renee Ballard series? If you love the genre, then this is a solid read for you! 💙

Review: Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante @LaPlanteLynda @BonnierZaffre

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The fourth in the bestselling Jane Tennison thrillers, MURDER MILE is set at the height of the ‘Winter of Discontent’. Can Jane Tennison uncover a serial killer? February, 1979, ‘The Winter of Discontent’. Economic chaos has led to widespread strikes across Britain. Jane Tennison, now a Detective Sergeant, has been posted to Peckham Criminal Investigation Department, one of London’s toughest areas. As the rubbish on the streets begins to pile up, so does the murder count: two bodies in as many days. There are no suspects and the manner of death is different in each case. The only link between the two victims is the location of the bodies, found within a short distance of each other near Rye Lane in Peckham. Three days later another murder occurs in the same area. Press headlines scream that a serial killer is loose on ‘Murder Mile’ and that police incompetence is hampering the investigation. Jane is under immense pressure to catch the killer before they strike again. Working long hours with little sleep, what she uncovers leaves her doubting her own mind.

My review:

The Tennison saga is definitely one of my top cop procedural series right now and this book was everything I needed. Murder Mile reminded me why detective novels are my absolute favorite and I could spend my whole life reading about cops investigating murders. How I wish I could do it for a living 🙃

Jane Tennison is not so innocent now that we’re on book #4 and even though she still suffers from discrimination, her colleagues respect her much more (although they’re all still pigs. Except Paul, I love Paul). Jane is now a WDS (Woman! Detective Sargeant) and she proves once more how great a detective she is. I really love how she interacts with all her colleagues and I would love her to be my friend. She’s awesome.

What I loved the most about this book is that I feel all interactions and dialogues feel realistc and thorough. The characters make mistakes and are not perfect and admit when they’re wrong: “I missed that”, “Oh, I hadn’t considered that option”. I also feel like Lynda’s strength is in creating multi-layered characters that you feel you’ve known your whole life. Do you know when a fictional characters speaks and you already know who it is based on what they’ve said? That’s precisely what happens when I read the Tennison series. All the characters are perfectly written.

And the plot was super intriguing as well. The investigation was thorough and detailed and that’s something I want to highlight. You must love this kind of stuff (and I know I do), because otherwise, the book might not be for you. It focuses on police dynamics quite a lot and although there are mentions of the characters’ personal lives, those are not so important.

Have you read any of Tennison books? I personally loved this one more than the second and third one. It might be my favorite along with the first! 💙

Review: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

411n3qI1+eL.jpgA masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer – the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorised California for over a decade – from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case. ‘You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.’ For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called the Golden State Killer. Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death – offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic – and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

My review:

During last December, I had a very non-fiction week where I read three non-fiction books, two of which were true crime. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark was a truly fantastic read and I found it incredibly thrilling.

I first knew about this book when Renee told me she was reading it and as soon as the real killer was caught last year, I knew I had to read it too. The case was too fascinating. I did buy it several months ago but it wasn’t until I stopped checking my “blogging calendar” that I was able to blindly pick a book from the shelves without worrying about what I should read next. It was an amazing experience.

I love how real and down to earth Michelle seems from what she writes. She’s a normal woman married to an actor, and who happens to be a bit -okay, REALLY- interested in serial killers and unsolved cases, particularly the Golden State Killer (a nickname she created, by the way).

Although you already know how the story ends, that doesn’t make this book less interesting. I find it super tragic that Michelle died before her work was published and that this book was published before the killer got caught -only some months later-. Isn’t life weird?

Even if you don’t usually read true crime, this is a great book that’s never boring and it keeps you turning the pages as if you were reading pure fiction.

Are you familiar with the GSK case? What did you think of this book? Would you ever think of starting an investigation on a cold case on your own? 💙