Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager #BookReview

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager. My thanks also to Anne Cater and Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing for the opportunity to be part of the tour.

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Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

Emma has. Her first summer away from home, she learned how to play the game. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned . . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all…

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I really loved how original and suspenseful Riley Sager’s first novel, Final Girls, was. It was in my top 10 of 2016 for good reason. Well the impossible is possible, he’s done it again! Riley Sager wrote a brilliant follow up novel that holds one’s own phenominally. If you liked Final Girls, you will like this one too, and that’s no lie!

When girls are disappearing without a trace, you can color me intrigued! Last Time I Lied was eerie, sinister and very very atmospheric thanks to the setting of Camp Nightingale. The summer camp mentioned in the novel is buried in the woods (think no cell phone reception!) with wooden cabins planted here and there and each cabin houses 3-4 summer guests. Lake Midnight, situated on the domain, was so ominous and dark, it felt like a character all on its own and I loved its own interesting and legendary past.

One night, Vivian, Natalie and Allison disappear without a trace, leaving 13 year-old Emma behind in the cabin. They disappear into the night, never to be seen again and it’s funny yet a genius idea to resurrect the feel of his first novel by making Emma a Final Girl or sole surivor in his sequel. Now – 15 years later – camp Nightingale is reopened. Some come back to forget what happened in the past and replace it with more pleasant memories but Emma comes back to remember, find out what happened and get rid of some of her guilt. Guilt for what exactly is something that’ll certainly eat at you as well when you’re following in Emma’s wake. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, she’s easy to sympathise with when they look at her like she’s a pariah, but I had to hold back a little bit and couldn’t give her my all because she didn’t show all the cards in her hand either.

Sager then expertly weaves two time periods with unmistakable similarities together. Before she knows it Emma is bunking with 3 young girls, Miranda, Krystal and Sasha and history seems to be repeating. Just like Vivian in the past, Miranda is also a leader type and the other two seem to parallel the girls from the past as well. There are 6 girls to keep track of apart from Emma but I didn’t have any problem following sporty spice and the others. It was pretty obvious as well who was really important and who wasn’t.

The author managed to keep the mystery going for a very long time without letting my attention wane for even a second. Last Time I Lied is a spooky story with suspects and red herrings aplenty. I was led astray numerous times and just when I thought I could reach my own conclusion, he had me tick off another name from my suspect list without a pardon. This happened multiple times and with every new suspect exonerated, I actually worried who would be the last one standing. I thought I knew better all the time and I actually knew nothing at all :-). I shouldn’t have been so surprised that I was completely unprepared for the way it ended. I was hit so hard when I found out what happened to the girls. The denouement came with a pretty big bang and I hung onto every word!

Riley Sager definitely knows what he’s doing and how it’s done right. He knows how to write a novel that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat!

I liked how the story was written but I loved the setting and the atmosphere. Last Time I Lied wasn’t too scary but I still consider it as bordering the horror genre. It’s so easy to imagine yourself at that summer camp yourself. If you enjoyed reading Six Stories, you should definitely add this one to your readlist.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke #BookReview

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A SENSELESS MURDER. A TERRIFYING LEGEND. A FAMILY HAUNTED.

1990: In the darkest woods, three girls devote themselves to a sinister figure.

2000: A young mother disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter.

2018: A teenage girl is charged with murder, and her trial will shock the world.

Three chilling events, connected by the shadow he casts.

He is the Tall Man. He can make you special…

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star three and a half

The Tall Man turned out to be a very creepy and unsettling read. I couldn’t make head or tale of what was going on and my mind was begging for the answer to that question which didn’t leave my mind for a minute when reading: who is The Tall Man? Is he someone real? Is it the legend that became ingrained in Sadie’s mind and is it possible he’s only a figment of her imagination that she takes for real? Is it linked to a  post-natal depression? The novel is set up to confuse and confuse it certainly did. I didn’t mind not knowing though and the author did a terrific job balancing that fine line, making me wonder. The suggestion was superb and your own fantasy and imagination will do lots of the work, which is of course the strength of the plot. Locke makes it easy enough with her smart writing, she really masters this and even I was not sure what to think and believe.

The story is somewhat of a slow build but really delivers when it comes to the two big reveals.

It was a great idea to insert the documentary makers, reporting and questioning Sadie’s daughter Amber. She was tried for murder and Phoebe Locke left me guessing for so long about the identity of the person she murdered and the motive she had for doing so! Amber was for me the most interesting character of the novel. I was however a bit disappointed I didn’t get to find out more about the documentary makers following her. There’s no background story of Greta and Federica but I had the feeling there was something to tell there as well.. I’m sure they had some interesting secrets but they both held out so I didn’t find out.

I very much enjoyed how this novel ended, the final chapters managed to really blow up in my face, it was so good. The ending only threw me completely off balance. I did find it strange that the focus was on The Tall Man for so long and then in the final disclosure so much other stuff suddenly came to the surface, out of nowhere I might add, which became relevant to the story and was actually so great and astonishing to hear that it instantly became so much more intriguing than what Sadie saw or heard in the shadows. I felt a bit cheated by The Tall Man and his mystery became a bit anticlimatic. I’m sorry for being so vague but I certainly don’t want to spoil it all and you’ll have to read it for yourself to see what he’s made of.

I received a free copy of this novel through daily staves on The PigeonHole website. This is my honest opinion.

Never Go There by Rebecca Tinnelly #BookReview

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What if you found out that you’d been married to a stranger?

‘Never go there, Nuala. Please, never go there.’

Nuala knows nothing of her husband James’s past. He made her swear that she would never contact his family and never, EVER visit the place he was from.

But now James is dead, and Nuala is alone. Grieving and desperate, she decides to ignore his warning.

Nuala is about to find out that some secrets are better left buried – and that uncovering the truth about the man she married will have terrible consequences…

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After a brutal prologue, the intensity fortunately relented for a small stretch with Nuala’s arrival into James’ home town, looking for a place to stay and stumbling into Maggie’s pub, meeting Emma, Maggie’s help and niece. She doesn’t know it yet but I’m guessing she’d have made other choices in hindsight.. nobody wants her there :-). The plotline gives a different perspective from Emma, Maggie, Lois and grieving widow Nuala in turn and it’s kind of sad but all four of these women have had their own share of grief and heartache.

When Nuala meets James’ mother Lois she doesn’t find the comfort she expected to find though. As it turns out, she’s a bitter old woman. Enough for me to dislike her instantly BUT my perception of her started to change as I turned the pages and by the end of the novel I even felt a little guilty of being so prejudiced. Nobody is born a bitter person right.. you don’t just choose to be like this, you become bitter and the author gradually divulged what made Lois the woman she is today and how all she had to deal with changed her so drastically. It really made my heart bleed.

This is not a happy novel, it’s in fact pretty dark and there was so much that happened in the past that have consequences in the present. Sadness, secrets and revenge all play their part. There is plenty of tragedy to go round but I liked Maggie, who never really recovered from her own husband’s death and hits the bottle every night, most of all. She was described so perfectly that I could really see her before me. She’s such a good person, raising her niece Emma since she was fourteen when her stepmother died. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to stop everything from coming out. When the train has left the station there’s nothing you can do :-).

Never Go There already made me hungry with its brilliant title and really, that title was perfectly chosen.. she bloody well shouldn’t have gone :-). The story was very twisted, with a lot of sensitive themes and triggers and yes I’m going to say it again, it’s very tragic. It’s dark, disturbing and the complex backstory made it a very compulsive read.

This book made me feel anger, hatred, heartache and pity. I can’t find any faults, the characters were wonderfully fleshed out and my conclusion is that I can highly recommend this read if you like to unearth secrets of the past. Impressive debut!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Chosen Ones (DI Robyn Carter #5) by Carol Wyer #BookReview

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On a hot summer’s morning, a young father is found murdered in a cornfield, outside the quiet town of Colton. Tied to a post, arms spread wide; Detective Robyn Carter is reminded of the crucifixion, and she knows she’s looking for a killer with a twisted sense of right and wrong.

The victim’s girlfriend is devastated, unable to fathom how she will tell her sick little boy. Still reeling from her own loss, Robyn vows she will find the killer – no matter what.

But then a local doctor – a popular woman with a young family of her own – is found dead outside her surgery. There are similarities between her and the first body and Robyn must take another look at the picture-postcard town, where no one has any enemies.

Can Robyn untangle the hidden web of secrets, lies, and smouldering grudges, at the heart of this close-knit community, before another life is lost?

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I genuinly love every single novel in this series. Each one is a true book-sized treasure trove because it never fails to surprise you when you see where the story takes you. You know where it starts but boy you can never predict where it’ll end. So yes, I stayed up far past my bedtime to know how this one was going to be resolved.

The Chosen Ones was a tad more hard-hitting than the previous one and that makes my reader’s heart beat just a little faster. The crimes committed seemed just a little more graphic and violent than usual and I quite liked the darker tone. I also loved reading the snippets set in the past even if they were cruel and disturbing. I was frantically searching my mind who the little boy who had to endure such unfair punishment from his pious mother could be in the present but I failed to figure out who was so mistreated as a child. I can’t pinpoint the moment exactly when I finally caught on but somewhere over halfway I had a pretty good idea. I still didn’t understand why though. The author can brilliantly steer you in the right direction but still take its time to let all the puzzle pieces fall into place and it wasn’t any differently here.

The plotline went this way and that and the unwillingness of the first victim’s father to disclose his whereabouts at the time of death of his son certainly raised my suspicions but I also knew that it wouldn’t just be as simple and straightforward as that. Carol Wyer never makes it easy and it’s always deeper and more complex so I was anticipating an extraordinary resolve and I wasn’t disappointed at all, she delivered another brilliant whoddunit.

Even with the killer’s revelations, I have to admit the biggest shock for me in this novel came from an entirely other direction. How the, why the… ? I literally gasped and luckily nobody was around to see my state of distress. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes about what was happening and what she’d written but it was seriously jaw-dropping. It’s very daring what she did and I love the author for that, what a bold move! It made me suddenly love someone I grew to hate :-).

The Chosen Ones can be read as a standalone, but there’s a subplot running from book 1 all through the rest of the series, which is addressed in this novel again right at the end, giving another big jolt of excitement. The author just gave us a finger though and I’m ready to grab her whole hand now. I hope she’ll reveal more in the next novel because the details about what happened with her husband Davies and how she’ll carry on now are really killing me!

I was hooked from the first novel in the series, Little Girl Lost, but The Chosen Ones is definitely standing out in the whole series because it made me FEEL. It’s wonderfully mistifying. Overall it’s a cracking crime novel that I can highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

#Giveaway of The Accusation by Zosia Wand #BlogTour @zosiawand @aria_fiction

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for The Accusation by Zosia Wand. My thanks also to Melanie Price and Aria/Head of Zeus for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I have a free copy of this novel as a giveaway but first, let’s see what this novel is about, shall we?

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Who would you choose if you had to – your daughter or your husband?

Eve lives in the beautiful Cumbrian town of Tarnside with her husband Neil. After years of trying, and failing, to become parents, they are in the final stages of adopting four-year-old Milly. Though she already feels like their daughter, they just have to get through the ‘settling in’ period: three months of living as a family before they can make it official.

But then Eve’s mother, Joan, comes to stay. Joan has never liked her son-in-law. He isn’t right for Eve; too controlling, too opinionated. She knows Eve has always wanted a family, but is Neil the best man to build one with?

Then Joan uncovers something that could smash Eve’s family to pieces…

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Author

Wand Zosia

Zosia Wand is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. Her first novel, Trust Me, was published by Head of Zeus in 2017.

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A Woman Scorned / Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan #BookReviews @JackJordanBooks @CorvusBooks

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Are you afraid?
You should be.

The husband: in over his head with no way of knowing the truth.
The mistress: blinded by love, betrayed by her family…
The neighbour: will stop at nothing to protect the life he has fought to create.
The wife: a woman bent on revenge, but how far is she willing to go…?

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It seems like a lifetime ago that I was blown-away when I read My Girl, but even though it’s been a long wait for his new book, Jordan can take all the time in the world if it means he’ll deliver another phenomenal story like the one in A Woman Scorned.

I have no idea how to do this novel justice with my review but Jordan is such a master in writing amazing twists and turns into a story, it’s like I’m watching a David Blaine show. There are no frogs coming out of someone’s mouth just yet but let’s just say it’s a close call ;-). The whole story from beginning to end is delightfully twisted and I was surprised by new revelations with every new point of view. This was quite a rollercoaster read. It’s disturbing, frightening and so compelling that I really didn’t want to put it down. I couldn’t help it, it was just that good!

It’s no secret that I love my villains most when they look normal on the surface but calculating and cunning on the inside and you’ll know who you’re going to meet soon enough. It’s pretty obvious from the very start that Amber isn’t a woman to be toyed with. Only a few pages in and I knew she was a reckoning. Revenge is always a great motivator and when I met Amber and heard that she knew about The Mistress and kept it all in her pretty little head, well I knew she was dangerous, but how dangerous exactly? I was anxious and excited to find out :-). There was a lot more going on though, the story definitely doesn’t stop with Amber’s awesome yet disturbing introduction at the start of the story, far from it! Such fun to discover!

I only had one small disappointment, I wished it hadn’t ended so soon :-). Nah, I’m just kidding, the story wrapped up beautifully and I’m happy the way it ended!

If you enjoy psychological thrillers than this is a must-read so just go and read it already!

I bought an e-copy of this novel on Amazon. It’s currently on sale for 0.98 GBP. This is my honest opinion.

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She can’t see the killer
But the killer can see her…

Naomi Hannah has been blind since birth. Struggling with living in a small, claustrophobic town, Naomi contemplates ending her life. But then she stumbles across the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. She senses someone else there at the scene – watching her. Naomi may not be able to see the killer’s face, but she is still the only person who can identify him.

As the police begin hunting the person responsible and more victims are discovered, Naomi is forced to answer the question on which her fate hangs: why did the killer let her live?

In a town this small, the murderer must be close, perhaps even before her very eyes…

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What do you do when you turned the last page in a novel that gave you such a high? Exactly, you dive into the next one right away! I was so very happy that Jordan published two books, one novella and one full-length novel around the same time. Writing in pairs is such an excellent idea, I thoroughly enjoyed going from one novel to the next!

Both novels were vastly different though and alhough I really live for psychological thrillers that deliver twist upon twist, Before Her Eyes is more of a police procedural and made its own impact on me with a brilliant plot. Jordan makes the story that much more menacing by including a blind woman into the story and the tension ramps up when she crosses paths with a serial killer the moment she stumbles quite literally on the scene of a murder. This is stuff worth holding your breath for! She realises she’s not alone either and at his mercy she does make it out alive but wow, being so close and not knowing who’s in front of you must be terrifying and I got the goosebumps feeling how Naomi must have felt at that moment. Behind Her Eyes was a nerve-wracking novel, even I could feel the killer breathing down my neck. Naomi’s blindness was definitely a major advantage to the story and created the perfect amount of tension.. she feels like she might be in danger and I couldn’t blame her for one second. I’ve never seen the killer so close yet being unable to figure out who he or she was at all.

A missing person’s case of the past undoubtedly has something to do with the present case. It’s all pretty vague for the reader and for Detective Markus Campbell who’s told to drop this line of investigation but luckily, he’s like a dog with a bone and tries to find out more. At least one detective with common sense or is it true that there’s something to be said of corruption in the office after all?

I had no sympathy whatsoever for the killer after a particularly horrific action towards Naomi which made my heart bleed and made me want to shout some – not to be misunderstood – profane words. Detective Lisa Elliott wasn’t exactly on my friend list either. I hoped veritably that Marcus would be able to star as the hero of the day even if he had to pull a one man show. The picture of where to look was muddled though, Marcus struggled and couldn’t make heads or tails of the killing spree and I was none the wiser either but I was certainly drawn into the story and let it unfold with a few surprising and shocking revelations, ruling out suspects and getting new ones in my sight as I went along, only to find them killed unceremoniously with the progression of the story. Jordan has written a complex story with a clever plotline, a past that runs through into the present and where everyone has their own set of motives. Some of it was set up to distract and I fell victim to this as well so eyes on the prize if you want to do better than me :-).

Then, just when you think Jordan has given it his all, he adds that one perfectly amazing touch and that one final sentence that just hits the ball out of court. Oh yeah, talk about ending on a high note! It makes me want mooore!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

If you want to check out his earlier work, you can also read my reviews of Jordan’s previous novels by clicking the links : My Girl and Anything For Her

Dead and Gone by D.L. Michaels #BlogTour @QandA with DI Annie Parker

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Welcome to my turn of the blog tour for Dead and Gone by D.L. Michaels. My thanks also to Melanie Price and Aria for the opportunity to be part of the tour.

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In a world bulit on lies, who can you ever trust? A nail-biting thriller introducing DI Annie Parker. For fans of Angela Marsons and Tess Gerritson, Dead and Gone delivers twists at every deliciously unredictable turn.

Paula Smith could have had it all. Hugely successful in her fashion business, she lives the kind of life she could never have imagined. Her world should have been an idyllic one if it weren’t for her husband Danny who is resentful of her success and increasingly prone to alcoholic rages. Paula knows she should leave him but she if she did, he would pick up the phone to the police and her life would come crashing down around her.

Sarah has found the kind of happiness with Martin she never thought possible. He is everything she could have wished for in an man. Caring, sensitive and loving, yet he has a secret that could threaten everything they share. But he is not the only one with a secret….

DI Annie Parker, mother, grandmother and widow, has plenty of baggage of her own, but she’s still determined to be the best police officer she can be. When she and her sergeant Nisha Patel hear about a 20-year-old murder that nobody knew about, nothing will stop them from tracking down the killer, even if it brings them up against one of the most dangerous crime families in the country.

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Author

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D.L. Michaels is a former award-winning TV executive, who married in Tuscany, has one teenage son and lives on an old converted farm in the Peak District. Favourite writers include Harlan Coben, Patricia Cornwell and Nicci French.

QandA

Have you always wondered about the life of a Detective as well? Well, I know DI Annie Parker doesn’t have a lot of time so I asked her 5 quick question before she had to dash out of the police station again:

1. Do you ever have sleepless nights about a case you’re working on?
I never lose sleep over an offender, but I do over victims. The type of crimes I deal with tend to be committed by career criminals, people who know everything about their offences, the risks involved in committing crimes and are prepared to give up their liberty if they are caught. Their victims though are completely unprepared for what happens to them. They not only suffer at the moment of the offence but they carry on suffering for the rest of their lives. And I lose sleep knowing that even when we have caught the person who hurt them, their ordeal isn’t over.

2. Are you a night owl or a daybreaker?
Depends what case I’ve been working and what’s happening in the family. In recent times, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends because both professionally and personally, life has been challenging. When it comes to fun, I’m a night owl. I don’t want a good day every to end. I want to squeeze every bit of happy juice out of a fun moment. The one thing that life teaches you is that good times aren’t guaranteed. Poor health, tragedy, criminal activity and bad luck can strike at any time. Make the most of the good times.

3. What is your drive? What made you want to become a detective?
On leaving school, I applied for three jobs. A vet’s assistant, a stewardess and a police officer. My first choice was stewardess, but I got turned down for that, and for the job at the vet’s! So, you could say that I stumbled into the career. But I love the job. Loved it from the moment I made my first arrest, from the moment I first gave evidence in a Crown Court and saw someone convicted on evidence that I had gathered and hard work that I had put in.

4. Do you think it’s possible to be a brilliant detective and still have a stable and well-balanced family life?
I’d like to think so. I had a long, happy marriage until an accident killed my husband, Jack. I’m sure if he were still alive he’d tell you that we’ve had our ups and downs, but I was worth sticking with.

5. What is your biggest vice?
Anything made of grapes and fermented. I’d even drink homemade wine. It’s my release valve. I don’t have to get drunk, but just uncorking a bottle, glugging it into a glass and letting it hit my taste buds washes away the stresses of the day.

Quick extra question: 6. How do you relax after a hard day’s work in the field?
Gradually. I like the drive home. It gives me time to mentally file things. Once I get through the front door, I get the news of the day from my son, Tom and if I’m lucky time-wise a hug, kiss and bedtime story with my granddaughter, Polly. After that, a glass of wine, some telly (anything but the news) and a book by the bed usually gives me the strength to face whatever the next day can throw at me.

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