• books

    Book review: The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager

    The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager“The time for lies is over.”

    Or is it?

    I absolutely love unreliable narrators. It’s fun retracing my steps to see all the ways they fooled me, the reader. I love guessing at whether they’re being truthful and if not, whether they even realize as much. It adds a delightful layer of mystery to a standard whodunit and increases the tension as I try to decide if I should in fact be suspicious of the hero/ine, rather than cheering them on.

    The Last Time I Lied uses the concept of an unreliable narrator to further the drama surrounding an unsolved disappearance as murky as the waters of the lake at Camp Nightingale, where a trio of teen girls vanishes without a trace. The last person to see them is thirteen-year-old Emma Davis, who watches the girls tiptoe out of their shared cabin late one night, never to return.

    Fifteen years later, Emma—now a breakout darling in the art world—returns to Camp Nightingale as a painting instructor at the behest of the owners. But what are their hidden motives for inviting her to return? Emma certainly isn’t showing all her cards, as she still suspects foul play in the disappearance of the girls. She hopes this trip will give her a chance to dig deeper into the mysteries of the camp.

    What secrets is the elderly Franny hiding? What about her sons, one of whom Emma originally accused of harming the girls? Other players lurk on the edges–staff, former counselors, fellow campers now returning as instructors.

    And maybe…Emma herself? Emma swears she’s done telling lies, but is that a lie, too? She has quite a few dark secrets of her own, as it turns out.

    I rocketed through this book in one sitting, and I suspect you’ll have trouble putting it down too: it’s hard to guess what’s going to happen until the very last pages. Sager is a master of red herrings. The way the book switches between past and present also ratchets up the tension, as new truths and falsehoods are slowly revealed.

    My recommendation: if you love twisty thrillers like Gone Girl, full of darkness and unreliable characters, do yourself a favor and clear out a weekend to binge-read this book! Just make sure you have a frozen pizza on hand, since you won’t want to stop reading to cook dinner.

    The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager (384 pages); thriller, mystery, suspense. Find it on Goodreads and don’t forget to follow me while you’re there for more book updates and reviews!

     

    Love thrillers? You may also want to check out The Silent Wife, by A.S.A. Harrison.

  • #30before30

    #30before30: Learn to make better small talk

    Learn to make better small talk and kiss that holiday party awkwardness goodbyeI hate small talk. It isn’t just that I run out of topics—I don’t have them to start with, thanks to a blend of social anxiety and garden-variety introversion. But somewhere in my twenties, I realized that learning how to make better small talk was an essential life skill that I needed to learn, fast.

    Why? For starters, there’s no magical formula for escaping awkward situations that lead to small talk. You will always find yourself at a work event seated next to someone you barely know, or at a party that’s comprised largely of strangers. No one likes someone who sits silently staring into space, and if you’re supposed to be networking, then it can do you some serious damage. “Quiet” translates too quickly to “standoffish”, to both workmates and potential in-laws!

    And I hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of situations when staring at your phone isn’t just considered rude, it might be physically impossible. (Back to those work events!)

  • books

    Book review: The Escape Room, by Megan Goldin

    The Escape Room, by Megan GoldinThe Escape Room intrigued me because of the premise: four hotshot investment bankers are lured to an abandoned office complex under the premise of participating in a team-building “escape room” exercise. Instead, they’re locked in an elevator, where clues and hints about their pasts create an atmosphere of suspicion.

    Who among them knows more than they’re letting on? Is it Vincent, alpha male and full of secrets? Sylvie, bitter over the unfair assessment of her worth versus that of her male peers? Or could it be Sam or Jules, both cash-strapped and desperate to outshine the competition in a season of small bonuses and large layoffs?

    And what does their plight have to do with a long-gone colleague named Sara, whose POV is intercut with the elevator scenes?

  • #30before30

    #30before30: Explore your passions

    Explore your passions! Selfie taken September 2018 on the beach at the Devils Punchbowl, Oregon

    In last week’s #30before30 post I talked a little about the inspiration for this blog series. It was also inspired by one of my favorite quotes, from the writer Douglas Adams:

    “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

    I definitely haven’t ended up where I thought I would at this age, but boy, have I seen some sights along the way! And looking back now, my view of goals, happiness and success have changed drastically. If I could go back in time and hand my younger self a new #30before30 list, it would look remarkably different from the bucket list of items I originally wanted to accomplish. There are a lot of lessons I’ve learned the hard way over the past few years, and I wish I could share that advice with younger me.