The Last Time I Lied

The Last Time I LiedThe Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Published by Dutton Books on July 3rd 2018
Pages: 384
ISBN: 1524743070
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four-half-stars

While reading my second book by Sager, I can’t help but think that he is an 80’s horror movie fan or at least grew up in the 80’s watching these flicks. His other book, “Final Girls” read like an 80’s horror film to me (which I loved!) and while reading The Last Time I Lied, I felt as if I was at Camp Crystal Lake….oops…I meant at Camp Nightingale. And no, there is no killer in a hockey mask chasing camp counselors through the woods here, but it does have that camp in the middle of the woods, campers tell each other rumors about the camp’s dark history. Is there any truth to these rumors or are the girls just trying to scare each other?

When Emma was thirteen years old her parents sent her to “camp rich bitch” a.k.a. Camp Nightingale. Since she arrived late, she is placed in a cabin called Dogwood with three older teens: Vivian, Allison, and Natalie. One-night Emma wakes to see the trio sneaking out and is told she is to0 young to go with them. The three teens are never seen again.

Fifteen years later, Emma is an artist who cannot stop drawing the images of the missing girls in her artwork. She is still haunted by that summer and the events which led up to the disappearance of the missing teens. When the camp owner, Francesca Harris-White, invites her to return to the camp for its re-opening, Emma is torn but eventually agrees to teach art lessons at the camp. Emma hopes this will help her move on and come to terms with the events of that summer and the disappearance of her bunk mates.

From the start, things don’t seem to be going according to plan. Emma is back in the cabin she shared with the missing girls fifteen years ago. This is only the beginning. Searching for the truth, she stumbles upon some clues left behind by one of the girls. Someone must not have warned her to “be careful what you wish/look for” What happens when what you’ve been searching for, comes looking for you? Will finding the truth set her free or make things worse? Can you ever go back again? YES, she does go back …but you know what I mean.

A lot of characters have secrets in this book – I loved this! The cabin mates loved to play “two truths and a lie”. I felt as if I were playing that game right along with them, trying to decipher what was real, what was a lie, who is lying (if anyone), who is being deceptive, who is reliable, etc. This was a fun and creepy (yes things can be fun and creepy at the same time!) jaunt through the woods! Ahhh, I could hear the twigs breaking underfoot, see the ripples in the lake and hear the birds chirping. What I couldn’t do was find those missing “mean girls.” I dare you..no wait..I triple dog dare you to try and figure this book out! If you do, then you are a better super sleuth that I am! I pinkie promise you that this book delivers on a few twist and turns.

There are a lot of characters in this book, but I never found this to be confusing. I found it easy to keep track of everyone. Some of the characters are likable, some not so much, some are mean, some seem too syrupy sweet, some will seem deceptive and some you may not trust. I love how he draw them to stir the plot and keep the reader guessing.

At first this book did seem a little slow to me, mainly because I wanted to be instantly grabbed by this book as I was Final Girls. But I found as I kept reading, I became hooked. Going back and forth in time, looking for clues, I was invested in learning what happened. I felt for characters and was suspicious of them, and then a character would do something or say something and then I suspected them. Thus, I was intrigued and HAD to know whodunit! The woods, cabin and lake were the perfect back drop for this riveting book about missing girls, the search for the truth, the pains of growing up, and the guilt of lies.

**There is nothing graphic or overly scary in this book. This has a horror vibe but really is a mystery.

I received a copy of this book from Dutton Publishing and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

four-half-stars

Final Girls

Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager
Published by Dutton on July 11th 2017
Pages: 352
ISBN: 1101985364
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five-stars

This is how you do a psychological thriller!!!

Quincy Carpenter is the lone survivor of a grisly crime. Ten years ago she went away with a group of friends to a cabin in the woods (sounds like the setting for a horror movie) to celebrate the birthday of a friend. She is the only one who came home alive. Everyone that weekend was murdered, Quincy was attacked as well, but survived her ordeal only to not remember what happened. She remembers arriving at the cabin with her friends, she remembers events leading up to the night of the murders, and she remembers being saved by a police officer as she ran through the woods covered by blood. The police investigating the murders don’t believer her when she does not recall the attack. How could everyone be murdered viciously and she survived with non-life threatening stab wounds?

Now the press has dubbed her a “final girl” She in not the only one with this title. Two other women who have survived vicious attacks have also been dubbed “final girls” by the media. The press and society are interested in how these women survived. The press wants to know everything about their attacks and what these “final girls” had to do in order to survive.

Quincy has made a life for herself since her ordeal. She lives with her boyfriend, she has a baking blog and gets through her day with the help of her Xanax prescription. She has also maintained a relationship with Coop, the police officer who saved her all those years ago. Even after ten years, she still can’t remember the massacre that occurred at the cabin.

Then she receives word that one of the other “final girls”, Lisa is dead, and the other final girl (Sam) shows up on her doorstep. Suddenly Quincy’s life is turned upside down and she starts engaging in activities that are out of the norm for her. Sam wants Quincy to remember what happened the night she was attacked. She tells her that knowing will set her free….but will it? Do you really want to remember your worst nightmare? Will knowing set your free or will it make things worse?

Soon Quincy begins to have her doubts about her new “friend” Sam, about the night her friends were murdered. She learns more details about Lisa’s death which make her even more concerned about Sam, her own recent behaviors and that horrible night all of those years ago. Suddenly the nice comfortable life she has built for herself begins to unravel.

Reading this book was like watching a really good horror film/psychological thriller and I do mean that as a compliment! This book had a lot of twists and turns. I like when a book can keep me guessing. There were so many ways this book could have ended and I think this book ended brilliantly. Quite a few times I thought I had this book figured out. I liked that it managed to shock me. I also loved how the Author wrote each character to be interesting – I didn’t like all of the characters but they had depth and felt real.

Everything unravels at the perfect pace. I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. I also enjoyed the way the story is presented. The reader is given glimpses into what happened ten years ago at the cottage as Quincy ,in the present day, is going about her life. As Quincy begins to remember more, the reader is shown more of the past. This was a very nice touch! As that “AHA” moment comes to Quincy it is also revealed to the reader. I felt like I was on the road to discovery with the main character. The story-line told at the cabin was very atmospheric. It was actually quite perfect and gave the story that “horror film” type feel to it. The atmosphere is foreboding, creepy and dark – this setting the “mood” for the massacre.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I wish I had the time to go back and read this book all over again. It really is that good! I have a feeling this book is going to be on my top 10 favorite books of the year list! I highly recommend!

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Group/Dutton publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (I honestly LOVED it btw!)

five-stars