Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls by Riley Sager

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BOOK INFO
Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: July 11, 2017
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.8

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls: Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second Final Girl, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.


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MY REVIEW
The Final Girls is a moniker used to label survivors of horror movie style attacks. While in college, Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with some friends. During their trip, the group was attacked and everyone was killed, except for Quincy. Being the lone survivor of the massacre made Quincy a Final Girl. There are only two other Final Girls, Lisa and Sam. Fast forward ten years… Quincy learns that Lisa, the first Final Girl, has died. Lisa’s death hits Quincy hard. Even though they had never met, the Final Girls have something in common that no one else can understand. Soon, Sam shows up on Quincy’s doorstep. As Sam inserts herself into Quincy’s life, she also pressures Quincy to remember the night of the attack. Quincy starts to realize that something is not right with her memories, Sam’s behavior, and Lisa’s death.

The story is told from Quincy’s point of view in the present day, but also contains flashbacks to the night she and her friends were attacked. Quincy had a very difficult time coping with the massacre, and between self-medicating and her desire to forget, she has managed to suppress her memories of the attack. A big part of the story deals with Lisa accepting her Final Girl status and remembering what happened.

A fun and exciting thriller. Unreliable characters. Twisty plot. Good for fans of psychological thrillers who enjoy the final girl trope. Entertaining and suspenseful.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: River Bodies by Karen Katchur

River Bodies by Karen Katchur

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BOOK INFO
Title: River Bodies
Author: Karen Katchur
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: November 1, 2018

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
A body just turned up in the small town of Portland, Pennsylvania. The crime is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old cold case: another victim, brutally murdered, found in the Delaware River. Lead detective Parker Reed is intent on connecting the two murders, but the locals are on lockdown, revealing nothing.

The past meets the present when Becca Kingsley, who returns to Portland to be with her estranged but dying father, runs into Parker, her childhood love. As the daughter of the former police chief, Becca’s quickly drawn into the case. Coming home has brought something ominous to the surface—memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who’s watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he’s more predator than protector.

In a small town where darkness hides in plain sight, the truth could change Becca’s life—or end it.


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MY REVIEW
Becca returns to her hometown of Portland, Pennsylvania, to be with her dying father. Becca has been living just across the river in New Jersey, but hasn’t been back to Portland to visit her father or old friends for 10 years. Her arrival in town coincides with a murder that is very similar to an unsolved murder that occurred 20 years earlier in the same town. Becca’s old friend Parker, who is now a detective, works to uncover who is behind the deaths. Meanwhile, Becca confronts old secrets in her and her father’s pasts.

Different viewpoints are used to tell the story, but Becca is the main character, and most of the story revolves around her. Becca is in a relationship with a man she has doubts about, she is estranged from her father, and she misses her old best friend Parker.

Becca’s father is on his deathbed, but he was once the police chief in Portland. The law enforcement in town has a delicate relationship with the town biker gang, the Scions. When Becca’s father was police chief, his stepbrother was the leader of the Scions. The stepbrother is now deceased and there is a new police chief, but old loyalties still remain, though some secrets are difficult to contain.

This is a mystery because of the murders, but it’s also a story about relationships. The descriptions of the area, the people, and the lifestyles are very well done. The characters are not particularly likable, but they are real. While the story does not have a lot of action, the various relationships between the characters is gripping.

This was my pick for Amazon’s First Reads in October 2018.

Book Review: Our House by Louise Candlish

Our House by Louise Candlish

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BOOK INFO
Title: Our House
Author: Louise Candlish
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: August 7, 2018

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern coparenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.


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MY REVIEW
A couple who, on the outside, seems to have it all – happy marriage, good kids, and the perfect home. As their marriage falls apart, Fiona Lawson, the wife, is determined to protect their home. They decide to have a bird’s nest custody of the house while going through their divorce. It seems like an idea that could work. Fiona will stay at the house with the kids during the week, and Bram, the husband, will stay there on weekends. It allows them to keep the house and not have to uproot the kids while going through a divorce. Things seem to be working out fine, until Fiona returns home one day and finds a new family moving into her house. Bram is nowhere to be found, and Fiona starts questioning what Bram has been up to.

Told using the alternating points of view of Fiona and Bram. Different formats are used to relay their perspectives. Fiona is doing a podcast to tell her story, while Bram is writing his experiences in a letter. The story also has flashbacks to recall the events that led to the big event of a new family moving into the Lawson’s home. Neither Fiona nor Bram is necessarily a reliable narrator, but Bram seems especially suspicious. In fact, Bram is not a likable character, but he has an interesting story to tell.

A twisty domestic thriller. The intriguing plot and unreliable characters make for a fast-paced read. Our House has it all – secrets, lies, adultery, real estate fraud, and murder.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

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BOOK INFO
Title: Cross Her Heart
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: September 4, 2018

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.

But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go.

But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa’s world explodes.

As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it’s up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.

But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.

Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren’t meant to be broken.


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MY REVIEW
Lisa has a quiet life that she enjoys with her daughter Ava. However, Lisa is a woman hiding from her past. When Ava saves a boy from drowning, Lisa’s past is brought into the spotlight. Ava’s life ends up in jeopardy because of the secrets Lisa has been keeping.

Told using multiple points of view – Lisa, Ava, and Marilyn (Lisa’s best friend). This story focuses on Lisa and Ava, but also includes some chapters from Marilyn’s POV. Since Lisa and Ava both have things going on in their lives that the other isn’t aware of, the different viewpoints really work. The addition of Marilyn’s viewpoint was interesting, but could go either way. On one hand, it could have been eliminated and the story would still work, but, at the same time, I wanted to know more about Marilyn and her story.

This book is twisty and does have a lot going on in it. For the most part, the reader is kept in the dark about what happened in Lisa’s past and who is behind the current troubles. A slow build up of the story, but a rushed ending. I was a little disappointed in the ending, mainly because it felt too abrupt, but this was still a good psychological thriller. Intense, suspicious, and twisted.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: The Other Sister by Sarah Zettel

The Other Sister by Sarah Zettel

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Other Sister
Author: Sarah Zettel
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date: August 28, 2018

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Everyone thought reckless, troubled Geraldine Monroe was the bad sister-especially when she fled town after her mother’s death twenty-five years ago.

But people don’t know the truth.

Marie Monroe knows. She was there for their father’s cruel punishments, the constant manipulation, the lies. Everyone thinks she’s the perfect daughter-patient and kind, and above all obedient. No one would suspect her of anything. Especially not murder.

Now Geraldine’s home again, and she and Marie have united in a plan for the ultimate revenge. But when old secrets and new fears clash, everyone is pushed to the breaking point . . . and the sisters will learn that they can’t trust anyone-not even each other.


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MY REVIEW
Geraldine and Marie’s mother died over twenty years ago, and Geraldine left shortly after her death. Their mother was an alcoholic, and Geraldine spent a good deal of time taking care of her. Though Geraldine left, Marie stayed in town and helped her father with the home and business. The father, Martin, was cruel and controlling. The home life of the girls was less than ideal, though they put up a good front that things were better than they appeared. Many years have passed, but with Geraldine back in town, old wounds are reopening.

Geraldine is back in town for her nephew’s graduation, and it looks like she’ll be staying for a while. Her sister, Marie, is happy to have Geraldine back, but their father, Martin, is suspicious of Geraldine’s reasons for being in town.

This book uses alternating points of view, plus multiple timelines. Most of the story takes place in present day, but a good deal of the book is devoted to flashbacks of when the women were young girls and teens. I found the alternating points of view to be fine, but the alternating timelines were not as well done. The story lost focus and too much was happening.

I did enjoy the excerpts of Geraldine’s book on fairytales that she is writing. Her excuse for staying in town is because she is writing a book, and her field of study is fairytales. This added to the atmosphere of the story, and gave it a little bit of an eerie feel.

The story about the sisters is intriguing. They have difficult pasts and uncertain futures. This was more of a slow burn story, but things do pick up toward the end of the book. Dark, convoluted, and treacherous.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: The Wife by Alafair Burke

The Wife by Alafair Burke

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Wife
Author: Alafair Burke
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: January 23, 2018

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look—at both the man she married and the women she chose not to believe.


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MY REVIEW
When Angela met Jason in East Hampton, she thought it would be a summer romance, but Jason continued to woo her, and they soon married. She and her son moved to New York City, where Jason worked at NYU. It was a great new beginning for Angela, and gave her an opportunity to get away from her tragic past. Now, it’s six years later and Jason is a hotshot in his field. When a woman accuses Jason of sexual harassment, Jason maintains his innocence. When a second woman comes forward, Jason and Angela’s world is turned upside down.

This story is told with alternating points of view – Angela and Corrine. Angela is married to Jason, who has been accused of committing crimes that have dire consequences for their family. Corrine is the detective working to build the case against Jason.

This was a fantastic story. The plot was well paced and intriguing. The characters were complicated and compelling. The writing drew me into the story, making this book hard to put down. There was a lot going on, and everyone had secrets.

A great read for fans of domestic thrillers. Complex, chilling, and suspenseful.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

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BOOK INFO
Title: Let Me Lie
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: March 13, 2018

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Last year, Tom and Caroline Johnson chose to end their lives, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents’ deaths, unwilling to accept the verdict of suicide.

Now with a baby herself, Anna feels her mother’s absence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as she digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her.

Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie….


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MY REVIEW
Anna’s parents both committed suicide two years earlier. As the anniversaries of the deaths approach, Anna is missing them even more than usual now that she has a baby. When she receives a note that suggests her parents deaths may not have been suicides, she starts to question the past and the investigation into her parent’s deaths.

This book uses multiple points of view – Anna, Murray, and an unnamed narrator. Anna is a woman in her twenties. She has lost both of her parents to suicide, and has trouble reconciling their deaths with the parents she remembers. Murray is the detective who worked the cases of her parents deaths. The unnamed narrator is a little different, and one that adds a lot to the story.

This book starts as a slow burning suspense, but has an exciting, twisty ending. The alternating chapters work for this book. Each narrator has something different to offer to the story, but it takes all viewpoints to pull the story together. Topics covered in this book include relationships, motherhood, and domestic abuse.

A twisty psychological thriller. Clever, dramatic, and suspenseful. Good for fans of domestic thrillers.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Lies We Told
Author: Camilla Way
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: October 9, 2018

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
A daughter
Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behavior, the apparent delight in hurting others…Sometimes Beth is scared of her and what she could be capable of.

A son
Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend, Clara, is desperate to discover what has happened to him.

A life built on lies
As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke’s long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke’s life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. Can Clara find him before it’s too late?


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MY REVIEW
This novel is told using two timelines. The present day story is about Clara looking for her boyfriend, Luke. At first, people think he’s left her and will show up again soon, but Clara knows Luke has been receiving some threatening messages. The past timeline is about Beth and her daughter Hannah. Hannah is a disturbing child who gets pleasure from inflicting harm on the people in her life. Both timelines involve secrets, and some are much more daunting than others.

The characters are well developed and very intriguing. Clara is a normal woman who has her life turned upside down when her boyfriend goes missing. As we learn more about Luke, he seems like a cad, but still, he is missing, and what the heck happened to him? In the second timeline, Beth is upset with her daughter’s behavior, and at a complete loss as to how to handle raising Hannah. Hannah though. Wow. She’s one creepy kid. Total sociopath.

A twisty psychological thriller that kept me guessing. The story does get a little too twisty toward the end, but, overall, this is a great read. Mysterious, dark, and suspenseful.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

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BOOK INFO
Title: Open Your Eyes
Author: Paula Daly
Publisher: Grove Press
Publish Date: October 9, 2018

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Jane Campbell avoids confrontation at any costs. Given the choice, she’ll always let her husband, Leon―a bestselling crime writer―take the lead, while she focuses on her two precious young children and her job as a creative writing teacher. After she receives another rejection for her novel, Leon urges Jane to put her hobby to rest. And why shouldn’t she, when through Jane’s rose-tinted glasses, they appear to have the perfect house and the perfect life?

But then Leon is brutally attacked in their driveway while their children wait quietly in the car, and suddenly, their perfect life becomes the stuff of nightmares. Who would commit such a hateful offense in broad daylight? With her husband in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, as well as the secrets that have been kept from her. Although she might not like what she sees, if she’s committed to discovering who hurt her husband―and why―Jane must take matters into her own hands.


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MY REVIEW
Jane is married to Leon, a successful crime writer. Jane takes care of their two young children, teaches creative writing, and dreams of being a writer. They seem to have a great life, but that all comes crashing down one day while getting ready to head out. Leon and the kids are in the car and ready to go, but Jane heads back inside for a few minutes. When she returns, she finds Leon brutally attacked.

Told from Jane’s point of view, she first deals with the shock of her husband’s brutal attack, and then tries to piece together who would do such a thing. Following the attack, Leon is in a coma, so he is unable to help the police find who attacked him. The children were preoccupied and didn’t see what happened. Jane is left to wonder who could be behind the attack – an angry neighbor, a disgruntled fan, or something more sinister.

This novel looks at the difficulty a family faces when their lives are forever changed by a brutal attack. Life after Leon’s attack is forever changed for not only Leon, but his wife and children. It is an extremely difficult situation, and Jane handles it somewhat better than most people probably would.

Jane does do a little snooping on her own to find the attacker, but she’s not especially organized about it. One of the things I didn’t like was that Jane only questions things after someone else points stuff out to her. She seemed like a smart individual, so I would have preferred her to be more of a self-starter and question things on her own.

This is an entertaining and addictive read. It does lean a little on the unbelievable side, but not overly so. A fast-paced read for fans of domestic thrillers. Clever, intriguing, and unpredictable. This is my first time reading this author, but I will definitely pick up more by Paula Daly in the future.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Witch Elm by Tana French

The Witch Elm by Tana French

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Witch Elm
Author: Tana French
Publisher: Viking
Publish Date: October 9, 2018

BOOK BLURB
Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.


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MY REVIEW
After returning home from a night out, Toby is attacked when he surprises two burglars in his place. He is severely beaten, and has a long road to recovery. During his recovery stage, he moves to his family’s ancestral home where his uncle resides. One day, when the whole family is gathered there for one of their routine family get-togethers, a skull is discovered in the trunk of an elm tree. As detectives investigate, Toby realizes his past may not be quite like he remembers it.

Toby is a happy and pretty lucky guy. Before the attack, things always seemed to work out for the best in Toby’s life. In some ways, that made his friends and family upset with him, because he didn’t necessarily recognize or understand when they had struggles in life. However, things change for Toby after his attack. This book covers a lot of topics – privilege, bullying, sexual harassment, memories, identity, and family loyalty.

The writing, as usual with Tana French’s books, is superb. The story is slow though. It’s mostly a good slow, but there was a portion of the book where nothing really happened. This book relies heavily on the characters. Other than the attack on Toby and a mysterious skull in the yard, very little other action occurs. I was really into the first part of this book, but then things slowed down. Real slow. Then, a skull was found in a tree. Ooh, a mystery. Then slow, again. I kept waiting for something to finally happen. And then it did happen. And it was glorious. Okay, maybe not glorious, but I was happy with how things unraveled.

A slow burning psychological thriller. Detailed, atmospheric, complex, and tragic.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.