Book Review: Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night by Riley Sager is a twisty thriller that takes you on a ride with a serial killer.  The twist keep coming and coming, some I could foresee but others will change the way you read this novel, making you go, What! Just happened!?!.  Every character in this book has a major change of how the reader perceives them.  He ending is non-stop the last 150 pages are on the edge of your seat as the twists keep coming.  The climax is very satisfying, I saw the final twist coming for a while but the actions after that were very satisfying.  The flaw of this novel is the beginning was hard to get into, it takes a little time for this book to get into rhythm, but when it does it is really hard to put down.  I have read all 5 of Riley Sager’s novels; I look forward to them every summer.  He is the king of summer thrillers.  Sager’s writing hooks me in by taking a horror trope and making it into a thriller, he as explored slasher, summer camp horrors, creepy apartments, haunted house and now a psycho-like road trip.  A big thanks to Netgalley and Dutton publishing for giving me an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Survive the Night.  Survive the Night is published on 7-29-21.

The Plot: Charlie is leaving school, she can’t handle the pressure of school and her roommate and best friend getting murdered by a serial killer.  The Campus Killer has killed a victim every year and Charlie’s roommate was murdered two months ago.  What makes it worst is the last conversations was a fight late at night between friends saying words they will regret the next day but there is no next day.  Charlie saw or thinks she saw the killer or at least the last person to see her alive, but cannot seem to make out the face.  Charlie has breaks in reality like she’s in a movie, and she can’t know if this is reality or a movie.  She post a ride share flyer and is approached by Josh a handsome stranger who is a little bit older. She agrees but once she’s in the car, she feels that something is not right, and that Josh might not be who he says he is, he might be a killer, or is it all in her head?

What I Liked: I liked that I was surprised of the direction this novel took, there were point where I thought I knew were it was going then thrown a curve ball.   The novel was all about finding your own power and not being the victim.  The non-stop back half of this novel is so fast paced an intense, I loved almost every minute of it. I liked a lot of the movie references being a movie buff and having seen most of the movies referenced.  I enjoyed the 90’s references especially Nirvana.  I liked the twist and how character’s actions were explained after the fact.  Charlie took a while to warm up to but I did root for her at the end. Marge the waitress was my favorite character.  I liked the final twist in the prologue that explained the events we witnessed.

What I Disliked: The beginning took a while to get into; I thought it was too much exposition, right at the beginning, which gave me a detachment to Charlie at first.   I saw one of the major twists coming really early about the Campus Killer’s identity, It was a man I wish I’m wrong about who this is, but I was right.

Recommendations: Nobody writes thrillers like Riley Sager, you have to experience this intense novel.  The only drawback is a really slow beginning but man is this book setting you up for a fast-paced ending.  I rated Survive the Night by Riley Sager 4 out of 5 stars.  My ranking of every Riley Sager novel from highest to lowest is: The Last Time I Lied, Home Before Dark, Final Girls, Survive the Night, and Lock Every Door.

Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager is a top notch thriller wrapped in a ghost story. Home Before Dark reminded me of why I love Riley Sager so much, good writing that for the most part keeps me guessing while adding that level of believability, that it could happen that way. I felt like this book was a good return to form after I was let down by Lock Every Door which was released last year. Home After Dark offers two accounts one of a book written 25 years ago that is a nonfictional ghost story called House of Horrors that written by Ewan Holt that tells of the Baneberry House haunting of him and his family; the other is Maggie Holt that was five at the time of House of Horrors returning after 25 years to see what was real as her family won’t speak of the book. This book is high suspense with more twist than a Tilt-A-Whirl.

The Plot: Maggie Holt has just been called to her father’s will reading. Maggie’s dad is infamous because he wrote a book 25 years ago called House of Horrors about him and his family buying their first home the Baneberry house. The family only last 25 days as they were haunted by ghost. Maggie has asked her father and mother many times through her life what was real? What really went down? Even on her father’s death bed when asked all he could say was he’s sorry? Maggie is shocked when goes to the will reading and the Baneberry house is in the will to her. She still can’t believe he had it in his name still for 25 years, and shocked further still when she finds out her father visited one day everyone of those 25 years. Maggie who is in real estate plans to fix up the house and sell it, while also investigating what is real or not. Maggie unearths secret after, secret, was every word written true? or a clever lie?

What I Liked: The twist were really good I had a couple of the theories, but all were proven false, I liked the end. The narrative of bouncing back from Maggie to her dad’s voice was a little disjointed at first but I really enjoyed it as we would learn more about what was true. I liked the conspiracy theories that came out of the ending. I liked Maggie and the closure she got at the end. The snake scene is terrifying, both of them. I loved the ghost aspect.

What I Disliked: Petra and what was theorized especially in the beginning, and the justification being how much she is in the book, but she’s barely in the book. I thought there was going to be more than one alone time with Ewan, but that’s it. I liked everything else but I wanted more scenes of Ewan and Petra together.

Recommendations: I really enjoyed this one it’s a good mix of horror and mystery. The twist are good and through out, which makes for an easy fast paced read. This was my second favorite out of four that Riley Sager has written, and already can not wait until next summer to read another one. He remains the king of summer. I rated Home Before Dark by Riley Sager 5 out of 5 stars. Since I have read all other books written by Riley Sager here’s mr order of best to worst: The Last Time I Lied, Home Before Dark, Final Girls, and Lock Every Door.

Wrap Up: June 2019 Book Reviews

It’s wrap up time for June, and wow did I read some great books this month.  This is the most 5 star reviews I’ve ever given in a month.  I read 8 books this month, which is really good for me.  Two of the reviews Every Locked Door and Aquaman/ Justice League: Drowned Earth were given to me free in exchange for a honest review.

Five Star Reviews:

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – This one was an instant favorite for me.  What sets this mystery apart form all the other’s is the way that it is told.  The mystery gives you 8 days to solve the crime of who murdered Evelyn Hardcastle, the catch is everyday you are a different person full of their own personality and faults.  You can work together with your future selves, but beware two others are playing the same game. This mystery was really fun and sucked me in completely.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – on my half of the year review for books that came out this year, I have this at number 1 so far.  This is a well plotted thriller with no big twist but a lot of really clever small twist and turns that kept adding tension.  This follows a girl who lives in New York desperate for money to help her and her family just get by, ended up sneaking into a college study, and becomes the main test study for a manipulative doctor who desires their own result in a study that becomes very personal for both parties.

Batman: Cacophony by Kevin Smith – Kevin Smith is a write director famous for creating the duo Jay and Silent Bob, he is also a huge proud geek and the owner of a comic book. He is one of the fore fronts of geek culture.  He wrote this work adding great lines of dialogue asking question know  one thought to ask, He expanded on a villain he created in in a run on Green Arrow comics that’s brutal and wants a dead Batman’s cowl for his collection.

Goosebumps: Stay Out of the Basement by R. L. Stine – A great story that plays on a real life scenario of a father losing his job and going a little bit nuts to prove the people wrong.  In this story he’s a scientist and goes a little mad.  Just a fun story with a great ending that is truly creepy.

Four Star Reviews:

Aquaman & Justice League: Drowned Earth by Scott Snyder – A fairly good graphic novel with one of my favorite writer’s Scott Snyder.  Aquaman and the Justice League have to deal with alien gods of water that want to see Earth drown, and it’s citizen’s becoming sea creatures that they can control.

Three Star Reviews:

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager – This review hurt a little I’m such a fan of Riley Sager’s other two novels Last Time I Lied and Final Girls and remain so but this story of a hunted hotel had me wanting a lot more. The novel is still a page turner in terms of flow and the set up.

Alice by Christina Henry – This is the most divided I’ve been on a review in a long time. On one hand I found the plot a bit stilted on the other I wanted to find out where this went and was awed about some of the changes to characters from Alice in Wonderland.

Goosebumps: Monster Blood by R. L. Stine – A haunted “flubber” like substance causes a lot of problems for teenager Evan and his dog Trigger.  This story seemed to have no direction and the ending was wrapped up to conveniently.

Book Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Lock Every Door By Riley Sager is his third new thriller. He wrote hands down my favorite novel of last year The Last Time I Lied and his debut for Final Girls had me on the edge of my seat in the first slasher/horror novel I’ve ever read. Lock Every Door follows adds a new horror in a hotel for the elite rich. The novel is dedicated to Ira Levin who wrote Rosemary’s Baby and this novel clearly used that as a starter for the hotel and it’s many super rich neighbor’s. The novel is tension filled having the character start off in a very dire situation and telling what lead to that situation. The theme of rich versus poor is vivid throughout and ask the the reader what would you do in this desperate situation. A special thanks to Netgalley, Dutton Publishing, and Penguin Group for an advanced copy of Lock Every Door by Riley Sager, for an honest review.  Lock Every door comes out in a month on July 2nd 2019

The Plot: Jules Larsen is hard up for a job, these past two weeks have been rough she got fired and caught her long term boyfriend cheating, she has no job and is crashing with her best friend Chloe, she is is in desperate need of a break ,and she receives one. A job through a craigslist ad offing to be an apartment sitter for The Bartholomew an upscale apartment all about privacy for the ultra rich staying there, there’s also a famous book Heart of the Dreamer that was a favorite of Jules and her missing sister Jane, that took place at the Bartholomew. The offer is this Jules stays in the place for a $1,000 dollars a week while the apartment is tied in litigation as a previous resident died and the family debates about what to do with the property, the catch is she has to stay over every night, can not bring anyone over, and can not speak to any of the residents. Jules agrees and is smitten with the glitz of the place and the atmosphere, Her friend Chloe has had reservations the whole time find and article about all the odd goings on at the apartments, Murder, suicide, and a sickness that killed many. Jules blows all this over until a fellow house sitter leaves unexpectedly, and nobody in the building seems to care why.

What I Liked: The history of the building was really well thought out and makes sense when all is revealed, there’s one really good twist that towards the end that played out really well, I saw it coming but Sager took it in a different way. The book really nailed desperation and the some times eyebrow raising choices you make during those times. I liked a majority of the characters especially Greta, Carlie, and Ingrid.

What I Disliked: I figured the main twist super early, the main villain wasn’t all that interesting, I was waiting for that mind blowing twist in all the previous Riley Sager novels and this one was just not there. I almost which the book wasn’t dedicated to Ira Levin because it follows a similar reveal to Rosemary’s baby if you know that novel at all you’re giving a way a twist, that I don’t know if my mind would’ve immediately went to with out the dedication.

Recommendations: I will recommend this novel I feel it’s the weakest out of the three but still a very good thriller that is very atmospheric. The twist that I came to love in Riley Sager novels are there, I guessed it but I think a lot of reader’s will miss what I read. I love Riley sager he still remains my favorite of the new authors and will eagerly await any new material he puts out. I can not recommend The Last Time I Lied enough. I rated Lock Every Door 3 out of 5 stars, it was close to 4 stars but felt it belonged in 3 stars.

Book Haul – Birthday Edition

Hey all you readers out there, this is my first Book Haul Post, I love book hauls and do them quite often, so expect book hauls in future post.  I just had a birthday on April 28th and here are some of the cool new books I got.  Also I just received an ARC of Lock Every Door By Riley Sager which wrote my top book of 2018 The Last Time I Lied, so that ARC is like a birthday present to me.

The Words of Radiance By Brandon Sanderson – Sanderson is on of my favorite science fiction writers, I think he’s always doing something interesting and adds a lot to the genre.  This is the second Novel in his Stormlight Archive series.  I loved The Way of Kings and rated it five stars, this novel is a behemoth and is over 1000 pages, I’ll try to time it when I have a lot of time.

Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke – This is one that I kept seeing on a lot of horror blogs that I follow about a father and son relationship, only problem is the kid is not his son, they only met a couple of days ago.  I have heard it is super creepy and wanted to check it out.  it’s a independent book and the library did not carry it.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero – This novel sounds like it is a cross between Stephen King’s IT and Scooby gang.  Cantero writes humor and a unique vision into his writing, Earlier this year I read his This Bodies Not Big Enough for Both of Us which through the wise cracking detective genre on it’s head, having two twin’s trapped in the same body one’s the detective and the other is the “wise cracker”.

Fellside, The Girl with All the Gifts, and The Boy on the Bridge, all by M. R. Carey – is all of his novel work, I was a big fan of his comic book work on Unwritten, Lucifer, and the X-Men.  Enough friends have said I will love it for me not to indulge.  I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and he gives an endorsement on the cover.  The girl with All the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge are both from the same universe.

The Troop by Nick Cutter – This novel is supposed to be half Lord of the Flies and half Zombie Apocalypse. I tried to get an ARC when I was still a newbie blogger and could not get one.  Stephen King, “calls it old school horror at it’s best.

Book Recommendations: Favorite of 2018, Most Surprising, Most Recommended and Most Under the Radar

 

My Favorite Book of 2018: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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The follow up to the excellent Final Girls that was last years hit, but year I feel he surpassed that learning excellent pacing and setting up two mysteries in different eras that are linked to each other. The end would definitely be in the running for most surprising, This is the only book I rated five out of five.

Runner Up: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Most Surprising Anytime: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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This was a book that was recommended to me and I figured out what I thought was the mystery early and thought why would people recommend this, then the third act gets there and blows me away as it changes everything. I’ve never been so surprised of a book it instantly made me think of the possibilities, and the novel continues to follow through with a couple.

Runner Up: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Most Recommended Anytime: Life After Life By Kate Atkinson

Life After Life

This book I read on a whim, and loved it.  It deals with Ursula Todd and her many lives, it is not reincarnation, but a woman who lives the same life over and over in 1910 usually to World War II , It is like the film Groundhogs Day, but over an entire lifetime, and she can’t remember the choices exactly but she has intuition to save herself from traumatic events in her life and family.  I really analyzes why we make the choices we do, and it made me immediately think of my own life and choices. I’ve personally recommended it slightly more than the excellent runner up.

Runner Up: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Most Under the Radar Anytime: The Wolf’s Hour By Robert R. McCammon

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Most people know him for Boy’s Life which is slowly becoming required reading at some high schools , and Swan Song was just nominated for PBS’s Hundred Great American Reads.  But I’m here to talk about The Wolf’s Hour published in 1989. The laughable premise is a werewolf that fights the Nazi’s during World War II, but what is so great is this novel is taken seriously. The werewolf (Michael Gallatin) was turned during World War I when his sister and mother are spared by wolves by a German stop where his father is shot dead. The wolves don’t take them out of the goodness of their heart but for the food storage. He watches as his mother is eaten by wolves and fights back getting bit.  The turn is a sickness that few survive.  His sister is turned for breeding pure werewolves.  We get flashback and him now as a Nazi Spy during World War II.  This novel is about heroics  and sacrifices, the horror of this novel is at the Nazi’s more than the horror of a werewolf.

Runner up: The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

 

I did want to get over 50 followers to do a recommendation post. So a personal Thank you to all of my followers, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions I love recommendations, so please feel free to recommend.

Book Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Wow will this book blow you away, I was a fan of Riley Sager’s last novel Final Girls, but this book is so much better!! There’s no genre mash-ups in this one it is a straight thriller, that is very well thought out and played on the theme of lies. The book is theme on the old sleepover/ camp game two truths and a lie. This piece of dialogue in referring to the game to truths and a lie is what makes this book so great, “What none of them understand is that the point isn’t to fool others with a lie. The goal is to trick them by telling the truth.” The twist are incredible, there was two gut punches of twist, I haven’t been hit this hard since the Gone Girl twist. I rated this book five out of five stars.

The Plot: Emma, 28, is an artist, she paints dark forest scenes, but little do people that buy the paintings know is there is a secret image hidden in the paintings, three girls buried under the forest, the girls are Vivian, Natalie, and Allison. 13 years all the girls were bunk mates at Camp Nightingale, only Emma is the only one still here, the rest of the girls went missing without a trace that fate full day. The adopted son of the owner was questioned after Emma accused him, but was never charged. the fallout resulted in the camp being closed down. Now fifteen years later the camp is reopening and they want Emma to be the art director, and to come for her own closure. She finally agrees, but when she gets there things are not as they seem, and she has to confront a lot of demons and face the truth. She ends up getting placed in her old cabin, Dogwood cabin, with three new teen campers, Miranda, Sasha, and Krystal. Will they suffer the same fate is Emma cursed. Can we the audience trust Emma, our narrator.

What I liked: The female characters are written really well, especially Emma and Vivian. The theme of two truths and a lie is used well through out the book. The twist are really good, and your emotions are played with really well. The secrets are great and almost every character has them. The flashbacks are written really well, and I never got lost on what was past and present. This novel is easy to read and really fast paced, if I didn’t have work I would have definitely read this faster.

What I disliked: there’s one thing that’s spiolerish I will say I wish one character had a more thought out plan, that’s really all.

I recommend this to lovers of thrillers and mystery. This is a stand alone and not connected by any events in Final Girls, but if you liked that story then you have to check out this book. AJ Finn of The Woman in the Window calls it breathtaking, which it totally is!

Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls is one hell of a debut. It is the first Slasher/Horror book that I can think of and for the most part pulls off. It had an incredibly intense beginning that is an homage to Slasher films of the eighties all the Prom Massacre titles and of course Friday the 13th (which is today by the way)  and an incredible nail-biting finish full of twist after twist. I picked this book out because Stephen King called, “the first great thriller of 2017” I rate this 4.5 out of 5.  I just borrowed The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager from the library and will posting that review soon.

The Plot: Quincy is the survivor of a Jason Vorhees camp Crystal Lake-like massacre, where a man escaped out of mental intrusion murdered all of her college friends making her a Final Girl. Quincy was saved by Coop a police man who shot and killed he murderer, only problem is she has no memory of the events. Now ten years later she is married to Jeff, a criminal Lawyer and Coop is still in her life as a guarding type role. She started a food blog and is slowly getting her life back together when Coop calls with news that a Final Girl has been killed. The have been three massacres leaving as the media dubbed a “Final Girl” one was Quincy’s at a camp, and one was Lisa who survived a sorority massacre and Samantha who survived a motel massacre. The girls all surviving the same fate have never met in person but have kept in loose contact through the years, Samantha has been off the grid for a few years now. Lisa is found dead ruled a suicide, but she emailed Quincy earlier telling her to be careful. Samantha hearing of the death of Lisa shows up on Quincy’s door, and makes her life instantly difficult as the press is there capturing the moment. Samantha is full of lies and an agenda she doesn’t believe Lisa committed suicide either. The plot thickens with bring Samantha into her life Quincy starts to remember what happened that night at the cabin, making her question her choices and memory. This novel is filled with a lot of twist and turns the author is good at making you question which person is not telling the truth.

What I Liked: it’s an ode to horror massacre and slasher movies. The flashbacks are done really well, adding a new element every time Quincy remembers. the mystery is really good and the final two twist are really surprising.  I always judge a novel’s twist by how much sense that they make, and this book does a great job of it.

What I Disliked: I really didn’t care for the husband Jeff and felt his character was really waisted, he is a court appointed lawyer defending criminals to get a fair trial, and he’s got a big case, it looked like the novel was going to use this then kind of wimps out on it. I felt this novel stalled a little bit in the middle, and was fighting to stay interested for 70 pages or so.

Recommendations: All in all I recommend this novel to fans of slasher horror and mystery, if you do want a novel that keeps you guessing until the end this is it! I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars.