The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager

36626748  4 Stars

Riley Sager won many fans last year with The Final Girls. I also read the book and I liked it a lot. But personally, I liked „The Last Time I Song“ better.

Emma attended a summer camp as a young girl. There she made friends with the 3 other girls in her hut. Especially with Vivien. One night, Emma sees them sneaking out of the hut. When she wakes up the next morning, she is still alone. The three girls have disappeared and never came back. Emma blames herself and is severely traumatized. In fact, she was not entirely innocent that the girls should not return to the hut. As an adult she processes this traumatic experience by painting the girls disappearing into the wood with great success. The holiday camp then remained closed. Now the owner wants to reopen it. And she wants Emma to return as an art teacher. After initial hesitation, Emma sees it as a chance to find closure. But soon things will get out of hand again.

The book impresses above all by its eerie atmosphere. Emma feels that somebody is watching her. She starts to investigate. Vivien seems to have left her clues. There is something wrong with this camp, with the lake that once flooded the valley. Emma senses a dark secret that Vivien wanted to uncover and probably costs her life.

I liked this dark mood very much. The book is gripping and both narrative levels are interesting. We learn early that Emma is not entirely innocent. It was she who wrongly accused someone. Or was she maybe right? What kind of dark secret was Vivien uncovering? There are a lot of red herrings and twists. Emma is a difficult character. She is an unreliable narrator and not really likeable. Her paranoia and her erratic conclusions are always very impulsive.

Emma is the reason why I do not give 5 stars. Although she is a classic unreliable narrator, the further I read, the more unsympathetic she became to me. She is very impulsive and is chasing a new suspicion every day . She does not hesitate to make hasty accusations. She is obsessed with Vivien and what happened then. Personally, I find that she often overreacts and is a drama queen. I found her increasingly exhausting, and I’m not sure she truly deserves all the understanding she has received over and over again. But somehow it makes her a very interesting and human character.

„The Last Time I Song“ is a complex, gritty and thrilling thriller which I enjoyed very much.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Jar Of Hearts – Jennifer Hillier

36315374  4 Stars

To tell you about the content of this book in a few sentences is hopeless. The blurb says enough. You should just dive into this book without knowing much about it. Like I did.

If you like creepy and twisted thrillers, you will love „Jar Of Hearts“. We meet Georgina when she is being tried for murder. She has to go to jail for 5 years. At first I thought I found myself in an episode of “Orange Is The New Black” and wondered if I was reading the right book. But this is so much more than the blurb promises. The story is full of twists and surprises. Layer by layer is exposed by the tragic story that happened at that time between Geo, Angela and Calvin. The true trick in this book for me is above all the figure of Georgina (Geo). You are always close to her, she is the main character. She is in court, has to go to jail. You know she’s complicit. But you feel for her. But gradually the full story unfolds and I have to say that in the end I was really shocked. The book contains some dramatic scenes. But I was more impressed by how light-footed the moral integrity of the characters is dismantled. Even more than the physical abuse, the human chasms of the characters shocked me.

 

If you like well-written, gripping, complex and fathomless stories, you should definitely put „Jar Of Hearts“ on your wish list. You will find hardly a better one.

You Were Made For This – Michelle Sacks

38905969  4 Stars

What a depressing story. If you are intend reading this book, be prepared for a very dark story. Almost a bit dreamlike the three main characters Merry, Frank and Sam tell us the story. Their perception of things is quite different. All three have their flaws and even serious mental problems. Nobody is sympathetic. In fact, they are all three very dreadful and disturbed personalities.

 

Sam gets his pregnant wife Merry to move with him to a small house outside Stockholm. Sam has just lost his job, although he tells everyone that he wants to change his career. Merry has had many different jobs. Basically, she drives through life and lets her respective partner influence her wherever she is going. She is a passively aggressive character. She likes other people to make decisions for her. Sam and Merry pretend to each other that they are the perfect little family with their little son and their nature-loving life in Sweden. Then Frank, Merry’s childhood friend, comes to visit them for a few weeks. The two have a toxic relationship. They bring out the worst in each other.

 

I found the story very depressing. Especially from the beginning I felt so incredibly sorry for the little boy. Whether Merry suffers from depression or lack of empathy, I do not know. All three characters are disturbed in their own way. And their relationship to each other is anything but friendly. The story is really appalling, but as a reader I was spellbound and kept reading. It’s not a fun read. But as a creepy and atmospheric psycho thriller, the book actually works very well.

 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Der Wille zum Bösen – Dan Chaon

37803865 4 Sterne

 

German review

„Der Wille zum Bösen“ ist ein höchst ungewöhnliches Leseerlebnis. Der Klappentext beschreibt einen relativ normalen Thriller. Dustins Eltern wurden ermordet als er ein Kind war. Sein Adoptivbruder  Rusty sitzt für diese Tat seit fast 30 Jahren in Haft. Er und seine Cousine Kate, deren Eltern ebenfalls getötet wurden, waren die Hauptzeugen. Nun kommt Rusty frei, da ein neues Urteil ihn für unschuldig erklärte. Dustin ist inzwischen Therapeut. Einer seiner Patienten ist ein ehemaliger Cop. Er ist besessen von der Idee, dass ein Serienmörder schon seit Jahren sein Unwesen treibt und junge Männer in Flüssen ertrinken lässt. Vielleicht ist es aber auch eine satanische Sekte. Dustin lässt sich in dessen Verschwörungstheorien hineinziehen. Währenddessen zerfällt seine Familie nach dem Krebstod seiner Frau. Was auch in meinen eigenen Worten wie ein relativ normaler Thriller klingt, ist tatsächlich eine ziemlich bizarre Geschichte.

 

Die Story wird aus der Sicht von mehreren Personen und auf verschiedenen Zeitebenen erzählt. Gemein ist allen Figuren, das sie unglaubwürdig sind und an ihrer eigenen Sichtweise der Geschehnisse beharren. Aber auch im Stil ist dieses Buch ungewöhnlich. Dustin hat die Eigenart, seine Sätze nicht zu beenden. Deswegen enden seine Sätze in Buch tatsächlich einfach so. Ohne Punkt hört plötzlich sein Satz auf. Auch meint man manchmal Schreibfehler oder formale Fehler zu finden, wie z.B. zu große Wortzwischenräume. Das Buch verwirrt nicht nur durch seine seltsame Story sondern auch durch seine Umsetzung. Die Kapitel sind oft sehr kurz, nur 1-2 Seiten lang. Manche Kapitel lesen sich, als ob jemand im Drogenrausch sie erzählt. Andere sind wiederum sehr normal. Manche Kapitel sind in einer Art Tabellenform erzählt. Man muss erst die erste Spalte lesen, über mehrere Seiten, dann die zweite und dann die dritte. Das ist alles höchst ungewöhnlich.

 

Trotz seines seltsamen Stils hat das Buch mich die ganze Zeit gefesselt. Alle Figuren haben ihre eigene Art, mit der Wahrheit umzugehen. Besonders Dustin ist sehr geübt darin, Dinge, die er nicht wahrhaben will, auszublenden. Er traut seinen Erinnerungen nicht, denn Erinnerungen können beeinflusst werden. Das weiß er als Therapeut sehr genau. Er ist zudem ein sehr leicht zu beeinflussender Mensch. Er ist zu vertrauensselig und der Ex-Cop, der sein Patient ist, weiß das für seine „Ermittlungen“ auszunutzen. Leider bleiben zum Teil einige Fragen am Ende offen. Wer hier wen manipuliert hat, das muss der Leser dann für sich selber entscheiden.

 

Wer sich auf dieses Buch einlässt, muss auf jeden Fall bereit sein, sich von den üblichen Stilmitteln zu verabschieden. Belohnt wird man mit einem sehr ungewöhnlichen Buch, das sich von der normalen Thrillerkost extremst abhebt

Don’t Believe It – Charlie Donlea

36296238  4 Stars

With only two books, Charlie Donlea has made it to the top of my personal favourites list. My first book I read from him was Summit Lake. It did not quite convince me at the time and I only awarded it with 3 stars. That was 2 years ago. But I have to admit that I still remember the story very well. I could retell it to the end. That’s something I can not say about many books. „The Girl Who Was Taken“ was a 5-star read for me and I really loved it. And now „Do not Believe It“. This book also impressed me.

 

The story revolves around Sidney, a young filmmaker. She has built a reputation for true crime drama. She already helped 2 wrongfully convicted men to freedom. Now she has taken the case of a young woman who has been imprisoned for 10 years for the murder of her boyfriend. The murder happened while staying in St. Lucia and that’s why the young woman, Grace, is in prison there. Sidney soon realizes that the investigation has adjusted the evidence to suspicion. She develops a documentary where she presents her current research every week. Every week, the audience knows as much as she has just found out. The show is a great success and Grace will be released. But as soon as Grace returns to the US, Sidney learns things that questions her investigation.

 

It takes a while for the story to get going. I’m more excited about the complexity and originality of the book than the execution. That is also the reason that I only give 4 stars. The tension is unfortunately very slow. The book is a little lengthy. At the beginning I was also irritated by the chapters dealing with Gus, a man in a hospital. It takes a while to figure out what he has to do with the story. I felt some things as something too long-winded. Sidney’s work as a filmmaker is interesting, but often very sprawling. The work of the doctor, who helps Sidney, is explained in every detail. I am also not sure if Gus needed such an expanded storyline. A retired cop who gets bored would have done it. Personally, I would not have needed his long healing process after illness to such an extent. It does not contribute to the actual story. A big minus for me is also the end. After having had so much time for so many aspects of the story, everything suddenly goes very fast. I figured out some of the resolutions before. The conclusions for some of the characters are very carelessly and not completely explained.

 

Despite my criticisms, I liked the book very much and above all very unusual. The story will stay with me, I am sure of that.  Charlie Donlea tells unusual and impressive stories. Very often, after a short time, I no longer remember the plot of many books that I read. Some I just read and forget quickly. This is not the case with Donlea’s books. They remain in my memory for a long time. Maybe because of those things that I have criticized. He just writes very intense and memorable. He writes in his own way very impressive stories. Even though I have my points of criticism, „Do not Believe It“ impressed me very much.

Bring Me Back – B A Paris

35857495   2 Stars
2 years ago I read „Behind Closed Doors“ by B A Paris and enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately, her next book „The Breakdown“ did not convince me anymore. And now I have to admit that I liked „Bring Me Back“ just as little.

The story is just absolutely irrelevant and implausible. As noted by previous reviewers, the plot is taken from a soap opera. The characters remain extremely flat. The resolution I have guessed quite quickly. The whole book seems somehow unfinished and still in its raw state. First, the smooth writhin stopped me from DNF. But especially towards the end it goes downhill. I do not like it when the characters roll questions over questions in their heads. It’s teeming with question marks on some pages. In the end, there is no action but everything is explained in a letter. Anyway, towards the end, too much is explained rather than at the expense of action. The whole story is extremely bizarre and implausible. This book would also go through as a penny dreadful.

I am not sure if I will give the author another chance. I liked her first book, but two such bad follow-up books make me think.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart

33843362  3,5 Stars

Like many other readers, I am a fan of „We Were Liars“. I rarely read YA books. Most of the writing style is too simple and the youth problems are too far away for me. But E. Lockhart convinced me in both books and was able to captivate me. Even though „Genuin Fraud“ does not match up to her other book.

 

In the beginning it was a bit difficult for me. I am always a bit confused when a book just throws me into its story without any explaining. I was aware that the story is told backwards. This is an interesting gimmick, but as a reader you have to be prepared to see events and people emerge that we can not classify. Jule is vacationing in a hotel in Mexico. There she meets a woman in the gym. But very soon she becomes suspicious, feels persecuted and flees the hotel. You can tell immediately that Jules is different. How she assesses and behaves the whole situation is very unusual. Especially for an 18 year old girl.

 

In flashbacks, we learn how Jules came to Mexico. Before that she is still in London, New York, Martha’s Vineyard. You should not know so much about the content, although sometimes I would have wished I knew more. As I said, at the beginning I found it difficult to get into the story and to remember that I’m reading something that happened before the previous chapter. But the more you learn, the better the whole thing becomes and you get to know Jules better and how she ticks. And so it gets more interesting but also more abysmal.

 

For me not all questions were clarified. The book is relatively short and an easy and quick read. The characters are a little bit sketchy, even Jules. But it grew on me from chapter to chapter. I give 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review