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review 2018-07-17 18:34
’Baby Teeth’ has a lot of bite and is not so sweet BUT it’s ‘un-put-down-able’
Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

This amazingly creepy story from debut author Zoje Stage has got a lot of bite. The ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ complex takes center stage as Hanna, a seven-year old (supposedly) mute girl plays nice-nice in her father Alex’s company, but when she is the company of her mother Suzette, she just about unleashes horns on her head and a devil’s tail.


I’m exaggerating a little bit: there are no supernatural horns or tails although it’s way to easy to imagine them on this devil child that Zoje has so well-written for this novel. And somehow Hanna only manages to talk, now suddenly in French, just in her mom’s company, never so her dad can hear.


For years, Suzette has had to sacrifice her career by staying at home to homeschool Hanna, as she has been thrown out of preschools for bizarre and nasty behavior, but it’s behavior that her parents felt she would grow out of, and that once she was school-age, she could be handled better by an elementary school. Suzette also struggles with Crohn’s disease, which often keeps her bedridden and very ill, but it’s something that Hanna only has so much patience for but luckily her husband Alex has been sensitive to over the years.
Hanna persists in showing only one side to her father, who is Swedish to a fault, following Swedish holidays and traditions, which is something Hanna loves, including the special names Alex gives her, like Lilla Gumman, and she delights in little things like jumping in this lap and bedtime stories, shows of affection she reserves only for her father.
Alex and Suzette have not ignored Hanna’s lack of speech and antisocial behavior over the years though; they’ve taken her to specialists and had tests done, MRIs and other scans but there are no medical reasons for these behaviors. The answers start to become clearer especially to Suzette, as the behaviors become more pronounced; she questions herself, her parenting, whether Hanna is possessed, but she starts to realize this is just Hanna.


Reading Hanna’s side of it (as the novel goes -effectively - back and forth between what is going on for Hanna and Suzette, as if they are making an argument for their case) is just so incredibly disturbing. As she makes ‘plans’ for things she is about to do, and as she reasons ‘why she should’ do things, you’re allowed to see inside a very sad and twisted mind. As the book progresses so does her negativity towards her mother, and her need to push her mom out of the way to get closer to her father becomes greater.


The methods she does it by made me literally gasp out loud and sent my own child running (with questions for me), so that’s a good sign for me when it comes to a book.
In terms of how Suzette and Alex were able to handle Hanna: I will say that if you’re not a parent, you may have the view that it would have been easy to think ‘call the police’, or do certain other drastic things at times, but once you’re a parent, your perspective changes. You try everything else first. You want to try and help your child and do what you can, or you don’t believe they’re doing these behaviors. Your love for your child makes you run through all other avenues of help first, or in Alex’s case, stay in denial or in oblivion.


For many readers, this book may have gone too far; I know of many reviewers who passed on it because of the subject material, and it wasn’t for them. But it was totally right for me. I had been waiting for a book to be this daring for a while, and if it turns some people away, then you’ve at least elicited a visceral reaction to your work, whatever it is. In this case, it was because it was something that was going to make them feel uncomfortable or scared. I’d read that some people also got the wrong idea about the book, that it contained sexual abuse: it’s a shame people jump to conclusions before they actually have any real information.
Even if I didn’t know that the author Zoje used to work in film (as I also did) I probably could’ve guessed, as this would hold up so incredibly well as a movie; I had so many scenes in my head when I was reading this! Pure magic for the camera. Especially with the right Hanna.
The characters were so fascinating, and well-written, and I loved all the little bits about Sweden, Zoje did a fine job making these characters unique, especially for a thriller in a crowded genre. But then again, the whole book is unique, right down to the crushed lollipop on the front of the book.


And since at the center of this book is the ‘Daddy’s Little Girl/Electra’ complex, I found this fascinating. I don’t think I’ve seen a book personally written about this to this degree. It made Alex so blind to his daughter’s behavior, although it also made me question whether the ending was realistic.
The ending did kind of peter out a bit but I was satisfied with it; overall the book was such a page-turner, and kept me so enthralled, it was thoroughly ‘unputdownable’. I want more of this from Zoje!


*Warning: it might make some people question whether they want a ‘Little Girl to spoil’ after reading.

**Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for my early copy! 

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review 2018-07-13 16:20
BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: 'The Last Time I Lied' by Riley Sager
The Last Time I Lied - Riley Sager

 

So Excited. That's been me since I discovered one of my most favorite thriller authors back when I read 'Final Girls', with its flashy red and black cover, back in the first week of July of 2017. I now like to pretend that author Riley Sager is releasing his books in time for my birthday each year, even though this time I was one of the lucky ones to get to read the book early.

This time I had to save my review for this tour, and deliberately chose this date (Friday the 13th), since it's the end of the tour, and so I could play around with some horror movie and books in my post. How could I not, when the plot of the book is set at summer camp in the woods, just like one of the most iconic horror movies of all time?!

 

And I'll unashamedly say right now that after finishing this book, the first two words out of my mouth (and originally onto social media, along with 5 stars), were 'Holy ***p, so you can probably tell I love the book. So with no surprise I can tell you now that the book is already on the New York Times Bestseller list, and has been optioned by Amazon Video to be made into a miniseries (at time of writing). I’m thrilled for Mr. Riley Sager!

 

My post for you below will be a review PLUS a ‘quick chat’ about some of the best horror/thriller novels that have been made into movie adaptations, thanks to the above news. I hope you can dive into the book recommendations! AND GOOD LUCK with the GIVEAWAY!!

 

 

ABOUT RILEY SAGER, THE AUTHOR

Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.

 

Now a full-time author, Riley's first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and interna-tional bestseller and was called "the first great thriller of 2017" by Stephen King. Translation rights have been sold in more than two dozen countries and a film version is being developed by Universal Pictures.

 

Riley's second book, THE LAST TIME I LIED, was published July 3rd. It was inspired by the classic novel and film "Picnic at Hanging Rock" and one horrible week Riley spent at summer camp when he was ten.

 

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he's not working on his next novel, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is "Rear Window." Or maybe "Jaws." But probably, if he's being honest, "Mary Poppins."

 

Riley's website is HERE

 

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK, 'The Last Time I Lied' by Riley Sager

Publisher: Dutton Press

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

 

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 young-est 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.

 

 

 

NOW IT'S MY TURN....

 

So by now, you have had the chance to read the synopsis of the book, and even better, may have already read the book. Usually for my blog tour posts, I do straight reviews, and immediately my response for the book, upon finishing it, I was blown away, and couldnt even write my review as soon as I had finished. I was speechless, and I then uttered a few curse words because Sager has written yet another bloody brilliant book.


In FINAL GIRLS, Sager blew us out of the water with a thriller that focused mainly on two girls , and the very concept that they were the final girls left from slasher killings (even without the book revolving around the killings themselves) was enough to get into the reader‘s psyches and make us all terrified. In THE LAST TIME I LIED, he manages yet again to take the reader to a very vulnerable place, alongside the main character Emma, this time back to when she was a teenager, self-conscious and needing to be accepted, but how could it be worse than back then?

Going back to the same camp as an adult where your friends went missing and you were accused of being responsible for it, that’s how. But Emma is going to figure out what really happened at Camp Nightingale all those years ago (Jason Voorhes had nothing to do with it). The book is absolute brilliance, in terms of pacing, use of different timelines (and we see this as a writing device a lot, but not always done well), depth of characters, and ultimately, the story has the best plot twist I could (never) imagine. One of my best (sorry, Sir Sager) compliments is that I could swear Riley is a female author because he writes female voices so well. I don’t know how he does it. 

 

So I never went to summer camp - this is something kids in America do, I learned this from watching movies and reading teen novels (I grew up up in Hong Kong and England; I’m a Brit, if you don't know this yet), so this American custom fascinated me when I was younger. I definitely didn't play two truths and a lie. Somewhat ironically though, my parents did send me away to boarding school all the way back in England while we lived in Hong Kong (actually at my request).
But I had an early fascination with ghosts and creepy stories, and actually chose my boarding school because of the history of the school, and because I was sure there would be ghosts there; I chose Battle Abbey, the building built by William the Conqueror on the site of his conquest in 1066. My fascination has continued to this day...


And so I wanted to talk about movies AND books (I just so happen to have a film degree and once upon a time, used to work in film production). As I mentioned, I also just happened to have heard the insanely awesome news that THE LAST TIME I LIED has been acquired by Amazon Video to be made into a series, and I couldn't be more excited.

I truly believe some of the best horror and thriller movie adaptations came from the best books that have been written so I want to make some recommendations to end this tour. Especially now that Riley has joined these ranks! Read the book AND watch the movie…

 

 

~ A little bit before going away to Battle Abbey back in the UK, I went to a sleepover and I saw a movie (adapted from a book) that changed me to no end (and made me want to bail and go home). I also just saw that Riley is a big fan of this one too, PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK by Joan Lindsay. About girls at a Victorian boarding school in rural Australia, several girls go missing to never be found ever again when a group goes on a picnic one day out at this huge rock formation. It terrified me. This is a must see and read.


~ Several books on this list will not be a surprise, perhaps because the films are so notorious (as is the author), but that's the thing - go and read the book and you will find out why they were able to make such a successful film: the book was good. You may have seen CARRIE by Stephen King, but have you read it? It's pretty short, just 305 pages (my copy), but the 'Carrie' you read may end up giving you a whole different perspective. First of all, did you know this was Stephen King's first novel?! Such immense talent from the get-go. And another author who was able to connect with his feminine side agnd create a female character that will NEVER be forgotten!


~ Another King book to read that was then filmed (by one of the best directors of all time, Stanley Kubrick), THE SHINING. To get lost in the depths of this book, is to get lost in the recesses of Jack Torrance's mind. The film has been dissected and mimicked, and has now become part of popular culture, but the novel came out a good 3 years before the film; why not read it and see what you make of it today? It reads differently from the film, but you can see why Kubrick (plus the excellent cast, and everyone from production design to location scouts) made couldn’t have gone wrong with this one. 


~ One of my all-time favorites is next: this novel was actually more popular than the film, selling over 4 million copies, making it the best selling novel of the 1960’s, where the success would help launch the "horror boom", where horror fiction would achieve enormous commercial success. Do you know what it is? ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin. This was Ira's second novel and he knocked it out of the ballpark with a story about a couple who move into a Gothic Revival style New York City apartment building, and end up finding out they are living next to leaders of a Satanic coven. I won't go further than there. I will then say that Roman Polanski's film, made just a year later, in 1968, starring Mia Farrow, is utter movie perfection. Ironically (or not), my son's name is Roman.


~ Last classic to read that has been adapted that basically needs no explanation or introduction, is PSYCHO by Robert Bloch (I choose this over THE EXORCIST, also by Bloch; as much as I love that film, this is a quieter book and film, and the methods by which the directors got their performances were very different, ie. Hitchcock vs. Friedkin).

It’s a much shorter book, and I think most readers will find a this a more satisfying read. Maybe play the soundtrack in the background while reading. That might be more infamous than the books or film for some people.

 

And since it's Friday the 13th, you should guess what I’ll suggest you should watch, even though it’s one of the cheesiest horror flicks out there...that’s right, switch over to Hulu tonight and watch the ‘campy’ horror flick from 1980 that started off a whole slew of horror movies in the same vein, the one and only original, starring Kevin Bacon himself, FRIDAY THE 13TH.  

It actually makes me laugh even though it still makes me jump (number 2 is better, when Jason starts doing the killings - sorry if I spoiled anything). But it will get you in the mood for Camp Nightingale and Riley’s excellent thriller in the woods. 

 

I don’t know what Riley Sager will come up with next time but I’m super appreciative the books release in time for my birthday, and even more so, that we have one of the best thriller writers of our generation right here, right now. Even Stephen King said so, not just me.

 

Now enter to win the book....

 

 

THE GIVEAWAY!!

* This time there's no Rafflecopter or anything like that; there's 1 finished copy per blog— that's right, you can WIN A COPY OF THE BOOK RIGHT HERE! Thank you to Dutton Books.

* US/Canada Only— sorry!!!

* Note: winners may only be chosen ONCE for the tour, meaning each person can only win from one blog and if they win on another blog they are to turn it down or be disqualified completely (you can enter on another blog but only win once).

* Ends: July 20th.

 

* All I would like you to do TO ENTER is a) FOLLOW MY BLOG

   and b) COMMENT below with what your favorite HORROR OR THRILLER MOVIE adaptation IS!!  (is it one of these???)

 

 

*You can follow all the Book Blogs on the tour HERE: The Last Time I Lied Blog Tour SCHEDULE

 

BUY 'The Last Time I Lied' (and 'Final Girls', while you're there)...

*Buy the book on AMAZON

*Buy the book at B&N.com

*Buy the book via Indiebound

 

I love feedback and I can’t wait to read your answers (I’ll be drawing a winner on the 20th)! Let me know what your favorite book is too, if you like.

 

And HAPPY READING, guys!! 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/36750068-the-last-time-i-lied
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review 2018-07-08 15:37
GIVE ME YOUR HAND by Megan Abbott
Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott

At 1:30 Saturday morning, I finished reading GIVE ME YOUR HAND. It was worth every one of those late minutes!

 

Kit Owens and Diane Fleming are not your normal teen girls. (I'm not sure if Megan Abbott has written any stories about normal teen girls, come to think of it.) They are good students and they both jog. They push each other to be better runners and they both come to realize that they want to be scientists. Every since the beautiful and mysterious Dr. Severin came to their school to talk about her lab work and what it meant to perform studies and to do research, they both dedicate themselves to their goal. Then Diane shares a dark secret with Kit, one that Kit can't get out of her mind-one that's eating her alive. But eventually Kit gets past it and they both graduate and move on with their separate lives.

 

Fast forward a number of years and Kit has achieved her goal. She works in Dr. Severin's lab and is vying for an important spot on a team studying PMDD, a horrible offshoot of PMS that causes all kinds of problems for women. She's almost certain to obtain that rare position-that is until she's told that Diane Fleming is also vying for the same spot. How will Diane's return affect Kit? Who will get those valuable positions on Dr. Severin's team? What about the secret they both share, how will it affect them now that they are together again? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Megan Abbott's writing is pure gold and this book is no different. Inside the warped minds of teenage girls and then again inside their heads as women, she nails it. Not only that, she unflinchingly depicts what it's like for women in the mostly man's world of scientific academia. With fierce competition at hand these men are respectful...until they're not. As a woman in a mostly man's world, (just cars, nothing hoity toity like science), I could identify with these women and what they went through. In the end though, a scientific world and some chauvinistic attitudes are only a small part of this twisted tale.

 

I felt that the pacing of this story was fast and I had a difficult time pulling away from it. Just when I thought I'd read one more chapter something else would happen and I was compelled to read on. This is my favorite Megan Abbott book so far, (though I still have a few to read yet), and it was partially because I'm a super fan of the THEN and NOW format and it worked beautifully here. It helped build the tension and suspense and just kept me going on. And on. And on...until the stunning denouement that floored me. Floored me, I say!

 

GIVE ME YOUR HAND was an excellent mystery/thriller/suspense novel full of interesting and mysterious characters and it was a BLAST! I highly recommend it!

 

Available everywhere on July 17th, but you can pre-order your copy here: GIVE ME YOUR HAND

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-07-03 14:57
COLD IN JULY by Joe R. Lansdale
Cold in July - Joe R. Lansdale

It's July, but it's anything but cold here in New England. In fact, we're smack in the middle of a nasty heat wave, so it was a great time to park myself by the pool and read. COLD IN JULY was perfect for the occasion. 

 

Hearing a noise during the night and grabbing his gun to go investigate, Richard Dane ends up killing an intruder in his living room. Understandably he's rattled and feeling a bit guilty. As such, he decides to attend the funeral of his victim and winds up meeting the dead man's father, Ben Russell. Russell is upset and seeking revenge. If this were any other author, the reader would be safe in assuming that the rest of the tale was going to be about Russel and Richard coming to terms. But we're talking Joe Lansdale here, and this story turns in a completely different direction.What happens next? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I loved the characters in this book, most especially Jim Bob, a redneck expert in the martial arts, who drives a cherry red boat of a Cadillac, and is a private investigator. His down-home sayings were hilarious and it provided that twisted humor Lansdale is known for. I also loved how the story changed throughout and how the characters developed.

 

I'm not sure why this book was available through NetGalley at this time, since it originally came out in 1989, but I hopped on the chance to read it for free. There is also a film of it, starring Don Johnson as Jim Bob, and I believe that is something I MUST see. 

 

COLD IN JULY is a fast paced crime novel, with humor and horror mixed in as well as a well developed sense of honor. Set in LaBorde, a place Hap and Leonard fans will recognize, this is a Texas story, told by a Texan in the most entertaining way possible. I highly recommend it! 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2018-07-03 09:44
‘Broken Things’, a YA thriller, comes off as a bit....broken
Broken Things - Lauren Oliver

I’ve read a lot of great thrillers lately, and despite the fact that this has a great premise (young girls accused of murdering their best friend five years ago, reunite back in the small town that still calls them the ‘Monsters Of Brickhouse Lane’), it just falls short. Putting it another way, this was a thriller that really did end up feeling broken.

 

Five years ago, the case against Mia and Brynn is dropped, and Owen was acquitted in court, after they were accused of brutally killing their friend Summer in what looked like a ritualistic murder. Now that a memorial has brought them back together, the three of them (along with their new tag-along friend, and so-called YouTube fashion sensation Abby), plus Brynn’s second cousin Wade, are now going to solve the murder. 

 

This plot reads immediately like it has been done before and only recently (I do not like comparing to specific books so I won’t). 

I will however, point out how the girls’ obsession with the book ‘The Way Into Lovelorn’ (‘fan fic’ made me do it!), and the similarity of this obsession we see in the real life ‘Slender Man’ killings came off as all too familiar, and so it didn’t seem original or clever for me very early on. I also found myself wanting more from these passages from ‘Lovelorn’ as they gave me few answers as to why I should believe any behaviors should come from this book. As the crux of ‘Broken Things’, these passages needed to be way stronger for me to be convinced that it had anything to do with the killing, the girls’ obsession, and their friendships. 

 

Lauren Oliver is an established and fluid writer; conversations flow well, nothing really seems ‘wrong’ in terms of how the story ‘works’, but I had a hard time getting myself through this, and at times the story seemed to be meandering. Aside from the fact that Summer, the murdered ‘best friend’, seemed to be a nasty piece of work anyway, so I didn’t really care that the others may well have bumped her off, the twist and subsequent Scooby-Doo ‘unmasking’ gave me zero payoff. I felt badly that the characters hadn’t been given more action, especially with how long the book is. 

 

Many will enjoy this thriller but sadly I have to say it’s too long, and has too much jumping around between the two main characters, Brynn (who I just can’t believe would get away with ‘living’ in rehab like she did), and Mia, and the two timelines. The relationships are half way there, and the general ambiance is generally right, but this is a very full genre right now, so I had much higher expectations for this one.

 

*Plus a cat was killed. 

 

 

 

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