Review: Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager

7

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. 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. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.  – via Goodreads

You know, last year I read Final Girls by Sager and quite enjoyed it, though I didn’t quite love it like most people did. When I saw he had a new book, I thought I would definitely have to check it out, and boy, this time I loved it, not just like.

Last Time I Lied slowly (read: excruciatingly slow) reveals Emma’s story. The book constantly flips between Emma as an adult, returning to Camp Crystal Lake Camp Nightingale as an instructor, and fifteen years before when she was a gangly young teen who was present when something awful happened, something that coloured every aspect of her life. Now, this flipping between the past and the present totally sets up the reveals, but is also so gradual that it gets under your skin because you just want the damn story already. Clever, because even as the fingers of frustration claw at you, the atmosphere wins out and you can totally deal with the mystery unfolding painstakingly.

I won’t lie, I got a super Pretty Little Liars vibe while reading this. Like, something awful happened at this camp, something terrible, and it is laced in secrets and people incapable of just revealing something and dealing with the consequences. Vivian also made me think of Alison diLaurentis, which is a cruel but accurate description. I quite enjoyed reading about all the suspense, the theories, the conspiracies, as well as digging into this mystery with Emma, because soon I, too, needed to know exactly what happened to Vivian, Natalie, and Allison (no, that is not lost on me).

There are some snags along the way, but nothing that detracts too heavily from the experience. A touch of predictability tossed in here and there, but nothing that made this eye-rollingly obvious and cliché. I truly enjoyed the characters as well as some of the feelings that were conveyed successfully here – the guilt, the confusion, the childishness at times, the betrayal, the anger, it all worked quite well.

All I have to say when all is said and done is that I was so hooked while reading Last Time I Lied. Sager crafts a mysterious, suspenseful story that will take you hostage. I raced through this book, and even thought about it when I was denied reading it because I have to adult and hold down a job (speaking of, what utter nonsense is that?!). I would highly recommend this read, especially if you enjoy Sager’s work. It is solid, thrilling, entertaining, and this is something I might very well return to in future.

Review: Skin Privilege – Karin Slaughter

0

skin privilege

Grant County #6

SYNOPSIS: Sara Linton–resident medical examiner/pediatrician in Grant County, Georgia, –has plenty of hardship to deal with, including defending herself in a heartbreaking malpractice suit. So when her husband, Police chief Jeffery Tolliver, learns that his friend and coworker detective Lena Adams has been arrested for murder and needs Sara’s help, she is not sure she can handle the pressure of it all.

But soon Sara and Jeffery are sitting through evidence, peeling back the layers of a mystery that grows darker by the day–until an intricate web of betrayal and vengeance begins to unravel. And suddenly the lives of Sara, Lena, and Jeffery are hanging by the slenderest of threads. – via Goodreads

GRADE 9Okay, just to clarify, this book is also known as Beyond Reach. You know, pesky publishers giving different UK/US titles. Moving right on. This book is amazing. Granted, it is told out of sequence and that might throw a few people (confuse them, that is, not put them off), but it is told precisely like it needs to be to convey the correct feeling and message. The book is highly emotional, what with Lena fighting past demons and the desperation of saving her uncle.

Then there is Jeffrey and Sara and their quest to adopt a child and start their very own family. This book is phenomenal, with a good story. You feel a part of it, the disjointed feel and not knowing what the hell is going on, so you totally understand how Jeffrey and Sara are feeling. Sara seems to be lacking a lot of her usual fiery self here, which is to be expected, too, what with her personal drama. I am really glad her and Jeffrey are married again though, they really work together. Ick, Ethan Green makes an appearance once more, and let me tell you, he is still a hateful animal, and totally ramps up the tension in this.

Man, Slaughter really went for some things in this book, some sore topics were breached, and, as always, the characters remained true to themselves and developed all the more. I was horrified to read that Hank had gone back to his old, junkie ways, as I have always viewed him as a much stronger character. I maintain Slaughter has fantastic characters, they are so well written that you get super attached to them all, and so feel for them throughout their trials, tribulations and joys.

The writing is, as to be expected, great, the story is solid, the events spine-tingling. The book draws you in completely and you go along with all the characters, seeing how the latest drama in their lives comes together and how it all fits, and what they will do. I thoroughly enjoy this book, and still think it a really solid conclusion to this series.

SPOILER: Goodness gracious me, but that ending :/ It totally crushed me, and yet I also thought it to be a ballsy move from the author. Well played Slaughter, well played. Now let me deal with my depression for a few days again and then I will move on with my life. Again. 

Review: The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

0

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong. – via Goodreads

I was intrigued by the sound of this when I read the write up, and thought it might be worth looking into. I quite enjoy a fantasy fairytale type story that deals with the fantastical in a particular manner, especially when it reels you in. From the off the vibe I got from this book made me think of one of my closest friends.

The Hazel Wood is, in a word, magical. Right in the beginning, when it starts, you wonder what it is that you are reading and where, exactly, it is going to go, and before you know it, an adventure barrels in and sweeps you off your feet, dragging you, whether you are ready or not, off into the Hinterland.

Melissa Albert builds a really good world, too. Alice is our protagonist, and her story unfolds slowly but surely, giving you bits and bobs and plenty more mystery than you know what to do with. Her search for her lost mother is conducted with the assistance of Ellery Finch, a character I quite enjoyed, as he brought a lot to the table in terms of diversifying the story. He knew things, so many things, and he was quite involved with helping Alice in her quest, and I quite liked the dynamic between Alice and Finch.

Albert seamlessly blurs the lines between Hinterland and the real world, and it is balanced so well, too. You know what is and what isn’t, and yet the story cleverly weaves between the worlds, the Stories, the characters. Sometimes not too many answers are provided, which I think added to the vibe of the book, though it is something that might irritate other readers.

The Hazel Wood is a dark, magical, crazy, weird story that is bound to sweep you up if you are into fantasy edged with grim fairy tales. The writing flows and the story engages, making this book well worth the read. I can see it is something I will revisit.

Review: The Dead Zone – Stephen King

4

SYNOPSIS: Johnny, the small boy who skated at breakneck speed into an accident that for one horrifying moment plunged him into The Dead Zone.

Johnny Smith, the small-town schoolteacher who spun the wheel of fortune and won a four-and-a-half-year trip into The Dead Zone.

John Smith, who awakened from an interminable coma with an accursed power—the power to see the future and the terrible fate awaiting mankind in The Dead Zone. – via Goodreads

I recently read It, after being in the mood for a King novel for ages. I thoroughly enjoyed it and read a few other books, but the King bug bit me again, and this time I ventured for The Dead Zone. Totally worth it folks, totally worth it.

The book is actually a rather quick read, and flows really well. The story is quite good, and draws you in from the beginning, though it does feel (especially when you get to the end) that you got a slightly more in depth snapshot of something that happened (like a moment in time), but served no real purpose, though you can also sit and think on that and see how it actually does mean something. This totally depends on what you take from the book, and everything will take something else.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Johnny and Sarah, his accident, his parents and how they (and Sarah) coped with Johnny’s coma after his accident. This is typical Stephen King, weaving some in depth characters to look at and chew on, and this book is no exception. Vera is a woman that starts off sounding like a woman with a bit of a stick up her ass, and then completely devolves into denial and some major mental health issues. Herb is a lovely man, and while he has some dark thoughts about Johnny, you can understand them, too.

The Dead Zone is proper psychological thrills. There are only few instances where there is some extreme violence and/or blood. The rest is all about Johnny and the “ability” he woke from the coma with. It is really interesting to read about Johnny’s recovery, and how this ability is something he fears, but is not something he can get rid of, and so it will haunt him. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how the people around him treated him, how they didn’t believe him, thought he was crazy, feared him, respected him, or were creeped out. There were some really nice characters in here, too.

Overall The Dead Zone is a pretty good read that zips on by rather easily. I was engaged throughout, and once again can appreciate King’s craft, he is really talented. The book is well written and engaging and has a solid story to chew on, whether you feel ultimately that it made you ask questions, or just gave you a snippet of a few years in a young man’s life, it is worth checking out. Man, all I want is some more King to read now!

Review: The Bone Collector – Jeffery Deaver

2

Lincoln Rhyme #1

SYNOPSIS: Lincoln Rhyme was once a brilliant criminologist, a genius in the field of forensics — until an accident left him physically and emotionally shattered. But now a diabolical killer is challenging Rhyme to a terrifying and ingenious duel of wits. With police detective Amelia Sachs by his side, Rhyme must follow a labyrinth of clues that reaches back to a dark chapter in New York City’s past — and reach further into the darkness of the mind of a madman who won’t stop until he has stripped life down to the bone. – via Goodreads

I have wanted to read this book since I watched the movie way back in the day. I loved that movie, it was something I watched over and over. Recently I stumbled across this and decided it was finally time to take the plunge and look into the book once and for all. Plus I figured if it was worth a read, I would have a new series to pursue, which I always enjoy.

Right out the gate, I really enjoyed Deaver’s writing style. It flows, doesn’t beat around the bush, and it is fast paced. The Bone Collector grabs you early and draws you in and keeps you hooked. Deaver also introduces a fantastic character with Rhyme, one who is surly and grumpy and angry with the world, and you can totally understand why. He is ridiculously smart, too, and I think that is great. Amelia Sachs is also a character you cannot help but like, and the interactions between her and Rhyme are fantastic. The slew of side characters are also solid, definitely contributing to the book.

I particularly appreciated the humour in this book – it is witty, sharp and very sarcastic, which definitely appeals to me. There were a few times where I felt the smile taking over my face. The Hardy Boys, especially, brought in quite a bit of comedy, as well as the interactions between Thom and Rhyme. The novel barrels along and drags you, the reader, along for the ride, missing no beats and entertaining throughout. Amelia and Rhyme have a complex relationship, too, which I respected throughout. The dynamics were not simple ones, and they clicked really well. It did not come across as forced.

The Bone Collector is a suspenseful read that is well worth your time. Deaver creates an remarkable character with Lincoln Rhyme and presents a gruesome, yet intriguing unsub, and the back and forth between Rhyme and his investigation and the killer’s point of view work for this. I truly look forward to seeing where these adventures will lead.

Review: The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

2

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever… – via Goodreads

I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about receiving a book from NetGalley for review, ever! Karin Slaughter, as you probably know, is my favourite author. Hands down. The woman is phenomenal and her work is totally up my alley – it is so dark and brutal and unforgiving, and you get so hooked on her characters, they just draw you in. When I was granted access to this, I pretty much did my nut. But enough about that. How did the book hold up for my excitement?

W.O.W. This was one hell of an amazing read! Really. I was drawn in from the first few opening pages, and got hooked on these characters within moments. Slaughter delivers, once again, a solid story, told with such finesse. You get drawn in. The characters become genuine, real people to you, the women are strong (I will always appreciate this), and you never feel like you are reading a book. It is like someone is telling you this story.

I was a big fan of the characters in the book. Sam, Charlie, Rusty, Lenore and Ben all brought a distinctly unique voice to the book, and I appreciate that. You always knew who was who and what was going on. You could identify with each and every one of them. Rusty is described in such a way that even though the town hates him on principle, you cannot help but like the man. He is witty and entertaining and loves his kids. Lenore is strong and stands her ground. Charlie, while totally damaged, is difficult to hate, though originally you think you are going to. Sam, brusque and stubborn as she is, has such a brilliant mind. Ben is absolutely adorable, and a strong, supportive man. I really liked it.

The story that Slaughter tackles here is a heavy one, something I know Americans are particularly touchy about – school shootings. They are vile things, and a horrible, tragic occurrence. Slaughter delivers the goods here again in terms of story – we have a truly savage, brutal back story for the Quinn family, and to see how they all come together again 28 years down the line over a school slaying is quite something. Slaughter gets right up to her elbows in the narrative. The writing flows smoothly and is genuine.

I barrelled through this book. I did not want to put it down. I was engrossed for every single second, and thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the story. I was hooked, plain and simple. Definitely one of Slaughter’s strongest novels, and very interesting to see a story told from the perspective of the sisters. Absolutely a solid read and well worth it, I highly recommend this standalone novel from such an accomplished writer.