damppebbles #BookReview: Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing #LastTimeILied #20BooksofSummer

last time i lies

“Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

It was Emma’s first summer away from home. She made friends. She played games. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned. . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all. . .

A gripping new thriller that you won’t be able to put down with a plot that will keep you guessing. If you enjoyed A. J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window, you’ll love Last Time I Lied”

Of all the books in all the world that are due to be published in 2018, THIS book was my most eagerly anticipated read. I could not wait to get my paws on Last Time I Lied. Why, you ask? Well, dear reader, it’s because Riley Sager’s debut, Final Girls, blew my mind. It was my number one book of 2017, it’s claimed a top space on my favourite books of ‘ALL TIME’ list and it left me with the biggest book hangover I have ever experienced! I loved it. Actually, I more than loved it. I became quite obsessed with it. Have you read Final Girls? No? You REALLY should…

But this isn’t a review of Final Girls. This is its follow-up and I have a confession to make. I’ve had Last Time I Lied on my NetGalley TBR since the start of the year. I bet you’ve been there. You’re so looking forward to reading a book but you’re nervous too, really flipping nervous. Will it live up to its predecessor? Am I expecting too much? (Yes.) Have my expectations been blown wildly out of proportion? (Yes.) Will I cope if the book disappoints me? (Most probably not.) You know what I’m talking about, right?

I was nervous making a start, really flipping nervous. My nerves were somewhat calmed by discovering that our lead character is called Emma (brilliant name, more Emmas are needed in books! Might have said that before). The reader discovers that Emma attended Summer Camp at the tender age of thirteen. She made friends, learnt new skills, discovered boys and suffered one of the most devastating events of her young life. Her three cabin mates; Vivian, Natalie and Allison snuck out early one morning, never to return. Traumatised well into her adult life by the events and the guilt of 15 years ago, Emma turns to art and becomes a well-known painter. Each forest scene she creates contains the three missing girls, painted over in great swathes of green and brown oil paint. Surprisingly, her latest benefactor is Mrs Francesca Harris-White, multi-millionairess and head of Nightingale Camp where the devasting events of 15 years ago happened. Harris-White is reopening the camp and wants bygones to be bygones, so invites Emma to return to Camp Nightingale as an art instructor. Emma feels she wants to put the past behind her and returning to the scene of the crime will help lay the ghosts of 15 years ago to rest. But memories run long and someone knows that Emma lied all those years ago…

Before I go any further I want to get something out of my system. I enjoyed reading Last Time I Lied, it’s a great book and it will have an army of fans singing its praises, but I’m afraid it didn’t get anywhere near close to Final Girls in my opinion. I’m so upset, so sad that I didn’t love Last Time I Lied. This is proper #bookbloggerproblems territory here, people. I feel absolutely rotten that I didn’t love this book and I’m kicking myself for missing what others have seen and loved. So much so, I am – for the first time in a LONG time – considering re-reading in the next few weeks!

It’s weird, I didn’t really relate in any way to Quincy’s story in Final Girls (but loved everything about it) and I really struggled to connect with Emma’s story. I can’t quite understand what the massive difference is between these two books for me. What I do know is this book is not Final Girls. It was never going to be Final Girls. I just realised that too late and my experience of Last Time I Lied suffered because of it (hence the planned re-read!). It’s a good read, it just doesn’t compare to its mighty predecessor.

I found the ‘whodunit’ a little obvious. There were several times when the author made me doubt myself but I always came back to the same conclusion and in the end I was right. The story moved along at an enjoyable pace and I wanted to discover what was going to happen next, but I had moments where I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading or it all seemed a little too far-fetched. There was a wonderful twist towards the end of the book that I didn’t see coming and it really satisfied my need for something a bit darker to happen. However, the author skillfully uses flashbacks again in this book to tell his protagonist’s frightening tale and create a vivid picture for the reader of their palpable fear which I couldn’t fault.

Would I recommend this book? I would. But I’d make sure you read Final Girls first as that is by far the superior book (IMHO). It’s an interesting tale, Emma intrigued me but became a little too whiny for my tastes at times. My heart was 100% with the devilishly devious Vivian and I could read about her all day long! I’m so glad I read Last Time I Lied. It was enjoyable, and I will recommend it in the future. There was a wonderful ‘horror movie’ element to Final Girls which I really missed in Last Time I Lied. It lacked a certain darkness that Final Girls had and I missed it enough for it to be a ‘thing’ for me. I’m sorry.

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I chose to read and review an eARC of Last Time I Lied. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Ebury Press on 12th July 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

pseudonym

Riley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Riley’s first novel, FINAL GIRLS (called “The first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King), was published in 2017 in the United States, the United Kingdom and more than twenty countries around the world.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

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#CaseClosed: #June2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles #booklove #20BooksofSummer

Hello my bookish friends. You nearly caught me out there, I was convinced Sunday was the last day of June! It’s currently Friday evening and I had sat down to a lovely chilled glass of wine after a busy week, only for the penny to drop – and cue one chilled out Emma dashing from the sofa ‘a là comedy moment stylee’ and flinging open the laptop. It’s true, I could have left posting until Sunday but that’s not how these things work and I would have been waaaaaay too twitchy. But it’s OK, everything is OK…phew!

A very warm welcome to June’s #CaseClosed post and for the first time, a #20BooksofSummer update. June has been an odd month at damppebbles HQ. I’ve been reading like crazy but the blog has been relatively quiet. I’ve even read two books this month that I haven’t (shock, horror!) reviewed. What has happened to me?!

During June I took part in five blog tours:

Four posts were reviews:
When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith | Perfect Dead by Jackie Baldwin | The Date by Louise Jensen | After He’s Gone by Jane Isaac |

And one was a guest post:
A Steep Price by Robert Dugoni |

I also managed a number of other reviews and posts:
Rubicon by Ian Patrick (book review) | Gone to Ground by Rachel Amphlett (cover reveal) | The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (book review) | The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond (book review) | Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge (book review) | The Caller by Chris Carter (book review) |

Plus I can’t forget to include the two books I have chosen not to review; a short collection from a well-known author and a crime thriller.

Here’s how my #20BooksofSummer list currently looks:
The Rule of Fear by Luke Delaney
The White Road by Sarah Lotz
Unsub by Meg Gardiner
Watching Edie by Camilla Way
The Dark Inside (Charlie Yates #1) by Rod Reynolds
The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
The Nightstalker by Sebastian Fitzek
Perfect Remains by Helen Fields
Rattle by Fiona Cummins
Sirens (Aiden Waits #1) by Joseph Knox
The Caller (Detective Robert Hunter #8) by Chris Carter
Heartman by M.P. Wright
Hide and Seek (DI Helen Grace #6) by M.J. Arlidge
Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Normal by Graeme Cameron
Blood City by Douglas Skelton
Cut To The Bone by Alex Caan
Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Not off to the best start but I hope to improve on that during July. I have a couple of books coming up that I would like to get reviewed for publication day, along with ONE blog tour read. Yup, just the one. Nothing scheduled for August at the moment so I’m feeling positive – I CAN DO THIS!

damppebbles blog tours has the MOST exciting week ahead. I have organised four absolutely cracking blog tours next week; three starting on Monday and one starting on Thursday. If you’re not already on my blogger database then please do sign up. And if you’re a crime author looking to promote your book then maybe I can help ➡️ damppebbles blog tours.

Which leaves only one thing left to do.

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My book of the month for June is…….

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The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven

the puppet show

“I have a bit of a thing for serial killer novels. They’re my favourite, particularly if they are a smidge on the gory side as well (which this book is). I also thoroughly enjoy books which make you think the plot is heading one way and then totally flips things over and makes you gasp in surprise when you end up somewhere you didn’t expect (which again, this book did). Another thing I love is a cast of well-written, individual, stand out characters who all add something to the story (yup, that’s The Puppet Show). I loved this book.

“Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely. If you’re a fan of crime fiction, if you can stomach a drop of blood or a pool of melted human fat (OK, it is a little grisly in places and you may need a slightly stronger stomach than I’ve alluded to in this paragraph, but for me I loved the gruesome touches to this book. Plus the author provides a wealth of information about burns and the effect of fire on a human body) then you will enjoy this well-written, engrossing crime thriller. I struggled to put it down and I’m left wanting more Washington Poe and more Tilly Bradshaw. I can’t wait for the next instalment.”

So there we have it! I can’t wait to find out what my book of July will be (although I do have a sneaking suspicion. I won’t say any more at this point!). That’s it from me for this month. Make sure you join me on Friday 6th July as I have a rather fabulous cover reveal to share with you. It’s an Orenda Books book, it’s written by Steph Broadribb and it features a certain bounty hunter (girl crush swoon!). Don’t miss it!

#BookReview: The Caller by Chris Carter @simonschusterUK #TheCaller #DetectiveRobertHunter #20BooksofSummer

the caller

“After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring. The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward. Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins.

Karen is gagged and bound to a chair in her own living room. If Tanya disconnects from the call, if she looks away from the camera, he will come after her next, the deep, raspy, demonic voice at the other end of the line promises her.

As Detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia investigate the threats, they are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear.”

I recently mentioned in another review that I was using the #20BooksofSummer challenge to catch up with a few series which I have fallen behind on. I am utterly ashamed to admit that I am behind in this particular series because of all the books in all the world, this one should have been at the very top of my TBR. I LOVE Chris Carter’s Robert Hunter series with a passion. Whenever anyone asks me for a crime thriller recommendation Chris Carter’s Detective Robert Hunter series is ALWAYS at the top of the list. No matter what, this is the series you must read…but make sure you haven’t eaten beforehand!

I was lucky enough to interview Chris Carter when The Caller was first published last year. Click HERE to witness my fangirling in all its glory!

The Caller is the eighth book in the series and I was thrilled to be reunited with Detective Robert Hunter once again. Things you should know about Hunter….he has an exceptionally high IQ, he has a Ph.D. in Criminal Behaviour Analysis and Biopsychology and he works for the LAPD’s Ultra Violent Crimes (UVC) Unit. Yup, you read that right, the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit (if you read my reviews often then you may be getting some idea why I love this series as I do!). Hunter works alongside Detective Carlos Garcia, the only other member of the UVC, and what a team they are! There is such a strong dynamic between the two characters, they complement each other perfectly.

Hunter and Garcia are only ever called in for the most violent and bizarre murders so when Tanya Kaitlin receives a shocking video call from her best friend, Karen, you know things aren’t going to end well for either of them! When a second victim is discovered following another terrifying video call it blows all of Hunter’s theories out of the water and the UVC are back to square one, struggling to discover the killer’s motivation before they strike again. One thing is for sure and that’s Carter knows how to write a depraved mind. His books tend to be gorier than many of his peers but I just flipping love that! I visibly winced at points in the book and I am always in awe of the new and inventive ways the author comes up with killing his characters off. This book and the others in the series are not for the faint-hearted, you have been warned.

I wasn’t able to spot whodunit but this is a tricky one to do that with (I won’t say any more about that for fear of spoilers). Carter’s books are always page-turners and this one is no different. I found that as I know the lead characters so well, it made The Caller all the more compelling. Is this the best book in the series? I wouldn’t necessarily say it is (that crown belongs to One by One in my opinion) but it’s another stonking addition to a thoroughly magnificent series.

Would I recommend this book? 100%, always. And every other book in the Detective Hunter series too. If you haven’t read any of these books yet then you are truly missing out. They’re edgy, thrilling and utterly compulsive reading. I love them. Chris Carter is my absolute favourite author and having read The Caller I now can’t wait to make a start on book nine, The Gallery of the Dead. I need more Detective Robert Hunter in my life. End of.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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The Caller by Chris Carter was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster UK on 27th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about the author3

Author photo

Biographies can be an absolute drag, so I won’t bore anyone with a long life story.

I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, I moved to the USA where I studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well-known glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. I toured the world several times as a professional musician.

A few years ago I gave it all up to become a full-time writer.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook |

#BookReview: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge @MichaelJBooks #DIHelenGrace #HideandSeek #20BooksofSummer

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“Prison is no place for a detective
Helen Grace was one of the country’s best police investigators.
Now she’s behind bars with the killers she caught.

Framed for murder
She knows there is only way out:
stay alive until her trial and somehow prove her innocence.

Locked up with a killer
But when a mutilated body is found in the cell next door,
Helen fears her days are numbered.

A murderer is on the loose.  And she must find them.  Before she’s next . . .”

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog you may be aware that I am a MASSIVE fan of a strong, kick-ass female lead character. Particularly police officers; senior female coppers are one of my favourite hooks when it comes to crime fiction. So when I decided to take on the 20 Books of Summer challenge it seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up with a few of my favourite detectives and with a number of series that I have unfortunately unwittingly fallen behind on.

DI Helen Grace has always been a firm favourite of mine. Hide and Seek is the sixth book in the DI Helen Grace series and my new favourite. Despite reading book five in the series, Little Boy Blue over two years ago, the plot and that breathtaking ending have been playing on my mind. Yes, it’s true, I have spent the last two years wondering about the general health and well-being of a fictional character! Book blogger problems taken to a whole new level, maybe?!

If you’re new to this series let me tell you, it is incredibly difficult to start this review as anything I say, anything I hint at could be (is) a massive spoiler regarding a previous book (the massive spoiler is also mentioned in the blurb so don’t look 🙈)! I will be as vague as possible and hope you don’t mind. Helen Grace finds herself somewhere no copper wants to be, in an environment as hostile as they come. I could make a couple of witty puns about a fall from ‘Grace’ but I won’t torture you, dear reader. I have been champing at the bit to find out what was going to happen to our battered and bruised hero and all I can say is wow, just WOW! I loved the environment Arlidge has immersed his lead character in, I really enjoyed the motley cast of characters she met on her journey into the pits of Hell and I’m sorry, I’m going to say it, I loved Helen’s fall from ‘Grace’, dangit!

Whilst Helen is otherwise engaged, her right-hand woman the tenacious DS Charlie Brooks, is out trying to right a few wrongs. The two plots run seamlessly alongside one another and I was compelled to keep turning the pages, flitting between the two investigations at breakneck speed. I had a fair idea of whodunit from early on in the book but I was completely wrong. The author has added some very believable red herrings which I fell for; hook, line and sinker.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s true – this is my favourite DI Helen Grace adventure so far. However, I’m not sure this book will work all that well as a standalone. There is a heck of a lot of history that won’t necessarily make sense to readers starting with Hide and Seek. My advice would be to start at the beginning and get to know Helen Grace from book one. I guarantee you will fall head over heels in love with her, just like I did. Oh, and don’t read the blurb. It gives far too much away in my opinion 😉

Four and a half stars out of five.

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Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 29th December 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including the prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and Silent Witness. Arlidge also pilots original crime series for both UK and US networks. In 2015 his audio exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a Number One bestseller.

His first thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek, and Love Me Not.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

Author image and bio © https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/m-j-arlidge/96806/

#BookReview: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #20BooksofSummer #TheMarriagePact #Giveaway

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“First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes your first big mistake.

How far are you willing to go for the perfect relationship?

Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered a mysterious wedding gift – membership of a club which promises its couples will never divorce.

Signing The Pact seems the start to a perfect marriage.

Until one of them breaks the rules.

The marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Because The Pact is for life.

And its members will do anything to make sure no one leaves . . .”

Michelle Richmond’s The Marriage Pact has been on my bookish radar for some time now. It was mentioned as part of my #R3COMM3ND3D2017 feature where I immediately added it to the TBR. I was then lucky enough to receive a paperback copy from the lovely Dead Good team as a Valentine’s Day treat (more about that later!). And then, of course, I kept seeing some really good reviews. Bearing all of this in mind, it was a natural addition to my #20BooksofSummer challenge.

I absolutely love the concept of this book. I love it when weird, life-altering, mostly catastrophic things happen to normal, run-of-the-mill people. Just me then? Oh… Anyway, the thought of a newlywed couple suddenly being trapped in a pact with a group of controlling strangers, having to live by the rules of the group (no matter how humiliating or demeaning) and managing to break the rules without even trying was something I had to read about. I’ll admit, the plot is a little far-fetched but d’you know what? I was just after an entertaining read, something a little different to my much-loved detective fiction and that’s exactly what I got with The Marriage Pact. A highly entertaining read.

When I was able to find time to sit down and read The Marriage Pact I found it an incredibly easy read, flying through the pages in great chunks and not realising that hours had passed. I was desperate to see what awful predicament Jake and Alice were going to find themselves in and what terrifying punishment they were to be subjected to. At times I found myself feeling really quite uncomfortable; as though I was intruding on a young couple’s most personal moments. I was also irked that many of the odd punishments were meted out to Alice, the wife, where little seemed to happen in the beginning to Jake, the husband, (he doesn’t get away scot-free but I do believe Alice suffers a lot more than her husband). I’m a huge fan of a strong female lead in my novels and Alice had so much potential with her punky, free-spirited background but she never really got going in my eyes. Was she diluted because of her marriage to Jake or was the pact to blame? I guess we’ll never know

I’m afraid I really struggled with the ending of The Marriage Pact. Things were going great guns and I was engrossed in the terrible punishments The Pact were dishing out to our beleaguered couple, but then the ending happened and I had a bit of a ‘huh?’ moment. For a thriller, the ending is quite sedate and I will be totally honest here and say I was a little disappointed. I had an inkling that the story was building up to ‘that ending’ but had hoped the author would pull something utterly mesmerising and unexpected out of the bag. It’s a well-written book with a nice ending. My black heart, unfortunately, wasn’t quite satisfied with a nice ending.

Would I recommend this book? I enjoyed 90% of The Marriage Pact and it’s only because I’m a fan of the darker side of fiction that I think I was a little disappointed with the ending. I would recommend this book but to readers who maybe err towards the gentler side of thriller fiction. It’s well written with a really interesting concept (although a little far-fetched at times) but most of all, I found this book entertaining and that’s exactly what I was after. I liked it!

Three out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Marriage Pact. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

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GIVEAWAY:
The lovely folk at Dead Good sent me a paperback copy of The Marriage Pact but I decided to read my eARC (it’s a long story which involves adjusting (or not!) to new varifocal glasses which I won’t bore you with!). So I have an unread paperback copy of The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond which I am going to give away to one lucky UK winner!

To be in with a chance all you have to do is leave a comment below. It’s that simple. The winner will be selected at random and will need to provide their postal address so I can send them their prize. The competition will close at midday on Monday 25th June 2018 and the winner will be notified shortly afterwards. There is no cash alternative. Good luck everyone!

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond was published in the UK by Michael Joseph Books on 14th December 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBooks formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels and two award-winning story collections. Her books include the 2017 psychological thriller THE MARRIAGE PACT, which has been sold in 30 languages and was a Sunday Times bestseller in the UK; GOLDEN STATE, the critically acclaimed novel that imagines modern-day California on the brink of secession from the United States; the international bestseller THE YEAR OF FOG; and the story collection HUM, winner of the Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Her novels are set in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives, and in the South, where she grew up. Michelle was born and raised in Alabama and has made her home for eighteen years in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and son.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Facebook | Instagram |

Author Image and Bio © http://michellerichmond.com/