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review 2018-07-15 20:44
Literary horror novel 'The Grip of It' leaves me with too many questions...or does it?
The Grip of It: A Novel - Jac Jemc

This book was a pick for my Litsy horror postal book club, and the second in a row that had the theme of a haunted house (this came on the back of the classic 'The Haunting of Hill House', which almost isn't fair, since that book is so well-known, and it was hard not to think of it).
'The Grip of It' was on my radar for a while after I noticed its cover, which is covered in the 'drawings' that show up mysteriously inside the house that the young couple, Julie and James, buy when they move to a small town outside of the city. There are lots of things that mysteriously go on inside the house (or do they?), after they move in, and the couple learns of the family that used to live there (or was it next door?), and they have so many questions that they start to run together...and largely are unanswered. ALL the way through to the end of the book. That was ultimately my biggest problem with 'The Grip of It': not ever feeling like questions were answered. The two main characters were also so similar (and weak, in my opinion), that their perspectives ran together, so the storytelling device of different chapters being their alternating different voices was ineffective. Whether or not this was intentional or not as a device to show that they were becoming of 'one mind' as the house took over, it was very confusing to read as the book continued.
I mostly enjoyed the literary prose and new approach to a 'horror' novel but occasionally I was a annoyed with the short sentences, which broke up some very beautiful writing, and very quotable prose.
And like most horror stories, the couple, Julie and James do frustratingly keep going back to this house that is obviously causing them to drift apart and for Julie to become ill (ergot poisoning? seizures?), yet the house sells quickly, so even though it seems that in general we have a no-nonsense 'literary' horror novel, we still have these silly tropes that don't make sense after all.
And what on earth happened to Rolf? ?
Still, I read this quickly, and it was a page-turner, it kept me engaged. It just could've been so much better.

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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!! 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/36750068-the-last-time-i-lied
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review 2018-06-13 01:34
Ruth Ware has done it again with this gothic mystery; Agatha Christie would be proud!
The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware

Ruth Ware has done it again! 'The Death of Mrs. Westaway' is even better than her last book, 'The Lying Game', and for me, that's saying quite a bit. I completely fell for Ware's writing and storytelling with that book (bonus points were given for taking me back to my boarding school days in Sussex), and I knew I had found my new favorite mystery author.

 

'The Death of Mrs. Westaway' takes the reader to Sussex again, this time to 'sunny' Brighton, where Hal - Harriet Westaway - has a job as a tarot card reader on the pier, which is what her mother used to do before she was killed suddenly by a car, leaving her alone and scraping by. As the bills are piling up and the dodgy 'bill-collector' keeps popping up, so does a letter saying that she has inherited a large sum of money by a mysterious and very old Mrs. Westaway. Although Hal realizes there is some mistake with the connection to her and her mother, she decides to go to the funeral at the Trespassen House out by Penzance. She wants a chance at just a bit of that money, and to figure out some family secrets that she feels her mum left behind.

 

Now that's a very rough, short synopsis. Since I'm from England, I have the fortune of reading Ruth Ware's books and imagining the English countryside, the Brighton pier, the foggy desolation around the abandoned mansion that is Trespassen House. But what is so glorious about Ware's writing is that she is able to create such atmosphere and mood, that she can conjure up imagery (I'm pretty sure) so effectively that it envelopes the story entirely, without having had to have been over there. In 'Westaway', the mansion and the grounds basically become a character of their own, and the gothic and dark images of Trespassen House are so well-written they come alive.

 

What also makes this novel so successful are the other family members make for a great ensemble, the secrets that swirl around slowly reveal themselves throughout the novel at the perfect pace, and Ware shows the reader what happened in the past without seeming contrived. It all fit so perfectly. And I never saw that ending coming! My biggest complaint was that I read it too quickly because once I picked the book up, I couldn't put it down.

 

It’s no coincidence that the current ‘Mistress Of Mystery’ has been so heavily influenced by Agatha Christie (and Daphne du Maurier) because Ware feels like the Christie of today.

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review 2018-05-25 18:07
‘VOX’ is the kind of dystopia that feels unnerving because it feels so familiar; hints of Atwood and Orwell, in this utterly compulsive read
Vox - Christina Dalcher

This was so good that it was one of those books I just could not put down. Being thrown into a dystopian nightmare that doesn’t seem so far-fetched is thoroughly unnerving because it’s feels entirely too familiar. We’ve read and seen a lot of imagined dystopias lately where women are quite brutally subjugated, but reading ‘VOX’ felt more subtle and thus a little more frightening.

 

‘VOX’ centers around Dr. Jean McClellan, a former doctor and professor who studied aphasia (loss of speech), and her family, and we quickly see how the new Government ‘rules’, and the ‘Pure’ Movement have affected her family. ‘Bracelets’ have been placed on all females’ wrists, and they track words spoken each day; the word counter allows them only 100 words in 24 hours and beyond that, they’ll receive electric shocks. Jean’s daughter has got to the point to where she barely speaks at all. Women can’t work anymore, use birth control, read, write, spend their own money; men have the ultimate say in everything. There are also stiff punishments for extramarital and premarital sex, even exiling and humiliating teenagers on public TV.

 

Jean is eventually called up by the very Government that has put all of this in place, for her help and expertise. The President’s brother suddenly has lost his ability to talk after an accident and they need her help, as one of the top experts in the country on aphasia. Her rather meek and quiet husband, who works for the Government, encourages her to do it, and she’s motivated by the deal of having her daughter’s word counter removed.

Does this all seem too convenient? Maybe. There are a few plot points that work out a little too easily. But it’s compulsive reading. As well as being one of those books that doesn’t feel so far away from being our truth, it’s hard not feel like this could happen to your family.
That makes it successful.

 

And the fact that we are drawn in by all the hints of other great dystopian novels written by Margaret Atwood, Naomi Alderman (just recently), or even George Orwell, so be it. There are some great action scenes in here, grand questions about how we should be living our lives, a huge argument that is playing now with the ‘Pure Movement’ concept (getting back to basics, and the religious right), and that is really why feel like Dalcher has hit the nail on the head with this. Great read!


*Thank you Penguin for my First Read! Having an early digital copy has not affected my ability to give an honest review.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/37796866-vox
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review 2018-05-10 18:42
Solid new mystery from B.A.Paris with nothing too groundbreaking, BUT resounding sense of sorrow and sadness at ending
Bring Me Back: A Novel - B.A. Paris

I love a good mystery and especially ones that are set in England (where I am from), written by British authors, and somehow they keep making their way to me for review; pretty convenient actually. I say keep them coming honestly. I'm a pretty good litmus test for whether the Brit lingo is going to work well here (plus it always wins bonus points from me).

So Bring Me Back, with its beautiful bright yellow cover, along with some standout pink font, is the the third novel from B.A. Paris, and judging from her past successes, this will catch the eye of many mystery fans for many reasons beyond the cover.
It has a very simple premise really: a couple is away on holiday, skiing in Megeve, France, and then are driving back home through France to England. They make a stop for the toilets (at a rest area) at night, and that’s when Layla goes missing, and Finn goes looking for her, and reports her as missing…she is never seen or heard from again, and in some minds, presumed dead. Finn is cleared as a suspect, but it seems that could be from some of the embellishments he told the French police.
The novel is written from Finn's perspective, at least at the beginning; we are given accounts of Before Layla, and Now/After Layla. He is now, at least in theory, years away from what happened at that rest stop, and is about to marry Layla's sister Ellen, but it seems that he is still obsessed with Layla's disappearance, as well as it being obvious he's not wholly in love with Ellen. Finn isn't the most endearing character, since he is not entirely trustworthy and too neurotic to be that type of protagonist. But as the reader, we realize he doesn’t know the full truth about what happened that night at the rest stop.
Suddenly, these tiny (Matryoska) nesting Russian dolls start appearing in Finn's life, popping up in the strangest of places, at the bar of the local pub, on the wall outside their house; these are a sign of something that Ellen and Layla shared as children, and when Finn starts getting cryptic emails from someone, it's all too much. He has too many theories. Is Layla alive?

After about halfway through the book the tone and pace change, and while I felt a few dragging parts (Finn's neurotic brain!), the mystery unfolds evenly, with a great big thunderbolt at the end. My heart really left this book feeling so very sad, for so many reasons; there was a horrific crime of of the past, a number of mistakes of recent past, and then sad stories of the present. Even if you guess towards the end what is happening, I urge that fully read through to the end because that’s where it all comes together in all its sweet sorrow.
Some of the mystery tropes may be familiar (I can't name for spoilers) but this was an engaging, if heart-wrenching at the end, read.

*Note: I received a wonderful surprise early copy of this from St. Martin’s Press. Thank you! This does not affect my views or opinions.

 

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