Review: The Family Next Door – The Heartbreaking Imprisonment of the Thirteen Turpin Siblings and Their Extraordinary Rescue by John Glatt

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★★½

St. Martin’s Press | 2019

Opening Imprisonment: Bologna and chains.

Main Crazy Parent: Probably the dude with the bowl cut.

Cult Theology: Be the Duggars…but crazier.


I heard about the Turpins when they first made international breaking news headlines back in 2018 (which honestly feels like 100 years ago, at this point,) but I obviously didn’t pay enough attention to the whole story because the level of insanity is just jaw-dropping once all the details are laid out, as John Glatt does for you in this true-crime novel.

I mean honestly, this is some fucked up shit.

I must have brushed it off as just another set of weird religious parents doing weird shit to their kids in the name of their self-tailored beliefs – that is one way to chalk it up – but when we get into the real details, this is a banana-sandwich story turned up to eleven. Spinal Tap, amen.

If you’re looking for a story on how Louise and David Turpin went from falling in love to popping out 13 kids who they would regularly beat and chain up to their beds, only freeing them to brush their teeth or use the bathroom, then this is a book for you.

Continue reading “Review: The Family Next Door – The Heartbreaking Imprisonment of the Thirteen Turpin Siblings and Their Extraordinary Rescue by John Glatt”

Review: Bunny by Mona Awad

“We never joke about bunnies, Bunny.”

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★★★★

Viking | 2019

Opening Hook: A writing exercise.

Main Character: Every nerdy introvert who wants to experience being a Mean Girl.

Plot Twisty-ness: Purely demented.


This book hopped onto my TBR (hopped, get it? …I’ll show myself out,) after Tav of @readswithdogs (#bookstagram) gave it a 5-star review over the summer. She called it Clueless meets Heathers and quite frankly, what millennial isn’t going to want to read that, like STAT? ASAP? OTHER ACRONYMS?

For the first quarter of the book, I was like, what is this actually???? It’s really weird and hard to classify its genre; where is it going and what is it doing, and I’m not sure what’s happening? SOMEONE HELP ME!?

I was growing concerned that Tav had betrayed our book friendship in such a deep way that we would never come back from that darkness, but I stuck with it and slowly, as you get into the heart of the story, it starts to make more sense (but also does not, purposefully.) And it turns out Tav didn’t lead me astray. So, we’re cool.

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Review: I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan

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★★½

William Morrow | 2018

Opening Hook: Putting a cold case in the microwave.

Main Character: When bad men do evil in sweater vests.

Plot Twisty-ness: The reader gets Punk’d.


It’s such a bummer to read a book by an author you hear nothing but praise for, only to walk away from that reading experience thinking your time has been thoroughly wasted. All I have in my head is like why? And like don’t? And like why again?

When I’m reading a new-to-me author, I seem to have a habit of choosing the one book that makes all the fans go, “That one’s not their best…THESE OTHER ONES THOUGH!!”

Sure. Okay.

I’m not done with Macmillan just yet because I’m not a completely horrible person & also I think I spent real human dollars on another of her books and it’s currently sitting on my bookshelves… but this book is getting a big UGH from me.

Cody Swift has one of the hottest true crime podcasts around, Time to Tell. It focuses on his search for what really happened to his two childhood best friends twenty-years earlier when they were killed and the intellectually-disabled target of their bullying, Sidney Noyce, is convicted of their murders.

In the present day, Sidney Noyce (think Brendan Dassey, but slower,) has taken his own life in prison and then a new body is discovered at the same site the two boys’ were found decades before. Cody uses the renewed spotlight on the case to sell his podcast with the goal of finding the real killer.

I love the idea, but the execution is severely lacking for me as a reader.

Schitts Creek Comedy GIF by CBC
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Review: Evil – The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side by Julia Shaw

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★★

Abrams Press | 2019

Opening Thesis: Evil is just a misunderstanding.

Main Evil: Apparently pedophiles aren’t that bad?

Thesis Conclusion: Shockingly shallow.


I really wanted to like and I’m having a hard time with the rating, because I didn’t like this, and frankly parts of it are so off-putting I want to toss it out a window.

But it’s not a bad book either in terms of writing quality.

My biggest problem really comes down to the fact that this book is not about the science behind humanity’s dark side, as the cover suggests.

I wanted to learn about the brain, human chemistry, nature vs nurture; I wanted case studies and scientific journals and theories and experiments. What I got was the author explaining why evil is subjective and nothing is really bad because all humans fuck up. The overall theme boils down to “rethinking evil.”

While that may be a provocative topic to tackle, I wouldn’t have necessarily started the book with the argument that we should reconsider labelling Hitler as evil.

There is actually very little science-back study and explanation in this book. She invokes the Milgram Experiment to discuss the banality of evil, and then uses the Stanford Prison Experiment to explore group-think, but never mentions that many issues with that study that led to it being discredited. Shaw doesn’t do a very good job at tying the referenced studies to the points she’s trying to make; they are loosely thrown together and barely make a correlation.

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True Crime Tuesday: The Nun Killer

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these and it’s a bummer. I know. Really, I’m way behind in reading too. Everything is crashing down around me now that it’s the end of the year.

The truth is, October (to the end of the year) is a really busy time for me. I have my husband’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, three other family birthdays, then my own; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Shit gets crazy. Plus we had an election in Canada that ended last night (phew!) Suffice to say, my stress levels are through the roof most days. I no time, I spent too much money, our pet’s heads are falling off!

When I’m stressed out from it all, you will find me decompressing by way of isolation. I don’t do too much social media, I burrow myself in my bedroom and watch TV. So there’s no a lot of motivation to write reviews or research murder.

Cinderella Cheetos GIF by WENS

Today, it’s time to break the slump!

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Review: There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed (Dark Corners Collection) by Edgar Cantero

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★★★★

Amazon Original Stories | 2018

Opening Hook: There’s always something under the bed.

Main Monster: Maybe it’s Pennywise in that spider body.

Plot Twisty-ness: Schrodinger’s monsters.


While I didn’t really LOVE Meddling Kids by Cantero the way I wanted to, I can tell that given the right circumstances, I could really be a fan of his, because I do enjoy his writing style.

He writes stories with a whimsical combination of goofy and horror that reminds me of why I love this genre – there is so much room to play. And Cantero always seems to take full advantage of that space, even if I haven’t been bowled over by a full-length novel yet. I know it’s going to happen. I JUST KNOW IT.

There is a feeling of nostalgia to his writing that makes me feel a little less cynical and dead inside. He brings back those memories of when I was as a kid and everything was scary and an adventure was just a thought away; where you could make something up and be totally convinced of it just by way of imagination.

When I was a single-digit tot, I used to believe vampires were out to get me, but if I kept my blanket up under my chin tight enough, I was safe.

I don’t have the kind of imagination anymore, and Cantero makes me wistful for that time, because now I’m old and grumpy, and could tear down all the ways believing that neck protection from a blanket was goddamn ridiculous in 0.2 seconds.

difficult people eating GIF by HULU
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Review: Miao Dao (Dark Corners Collection) by Joyce Carol Oates

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★★

Amazon Original Stories | 2018

Opening Hook: Boobs are hilarious.

Main Character: Ride or Die for cats.

Plot Twisty-ness: Unpredictably weird.


Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh…

I don’t know what the fuck this is, but it’s weird and awkward and I do not like Oates’ writing style at all.

Usually, I’m pretty chill about writing styles and can adapt to mostly everything, but Oates writes like she wishes everything was poetry and I’m sorry, but some shit just isn’t poetic. Like a stepdad sexually harassing his 14-year-old stepdaughter and the lasting effects that can have on a person.

I was really hoping this short story was going to be some Carrie kind of shit, but with killer cats. Unfortunately, it’s following the same footsteps as The Tangled Woods, where the horror are the real-life issues we face in a messed up society, instead of escapist horror.

I think I’m finding that I’m not the kind of person who likes “reality horror.” I much prefer monsters and crazed slasher killers over sexual abuse and institutionalized racism. I read as an escape, not to be reminded about how much humans fucking suck.

star trek GIF
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Review: Crime Scene (Clay Edison, #1) by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

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★★½

Ballantine Books | 2018

Opening Hook: About as chill as dying in your sleep.

Main Character: Definitely used to be a frat bro.

Plot Twisty-ness: Tediously overwrought.


I forgot there is a reason I haven’t read Kellerman in a long time. His writing doesn’t work for me. I find it formulaic and boring as hell. And I know that’s sacrilegious for Alex Delaware fans, but whatever. I am who I am. You can’t change me!

Crime Scene was so boring to me that I read this book like a month ago and completely whiffed on writing a review. It just slipped from my mind, uneventful and easy to forget.

It doesn’t really seem to me that anything happened in this book.

You have Clay Edison, a death investigator – or something that’s not totally explained – for the coroner’s office, who gets caught up in the death of a man who very clearly seems to have died of natural causes. But because Edison fucks the dead guy’s daughter, he becomes borderline obsessed with the idea that there is something more sinister that took place.

I mean, of course, he’s right about the sinister bad stuff (otherwise there would be no book,) but the fact that it took penis-in-vagina to get his interest piqued and the plot moving, had my eyes rolling so far back into my head that I think I sprained an optic muscle.

schitts creek no GIF by CBC
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Review: Fifty Fifty (Detective Harriet Blue, #2) by James Patterson & Candice Fox

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★★★

Little, Brown & Company | 2018

Opening Hook: Stop writing down your murder plots.

Main Character: Drywall is not safe around her.

Plot Twisty-ness: Patented Patterson Predictability.


I’ve gone and done it again *said in Kevin Spacey John Doe voice* (if you don’t understand that reference, please leave, watch Se7en and then come back.)

Alright?! OKAY? I admit it! That makes that twice this year I’ve broken my New Year’s resolution to not read any Patterson at all.

I’m weak! I have issues. I need a 12-step program for letting shit go; for being okay with not knowing. It’s really my worst quality as a human being. My mental health agrees.

But whatever. It’s done. I read it. So here’s the review.

CONTENT! *does jazz hands*

While I didn’t necessarily think this book was anything amazing, I have to say, I can see Candice Fox all over the writing in this book and that makes it infinitely better than most Patterson publications. The chapters are still short, the content shallow and a lot of moments are overly dramatic, but the actual prose felt more mature, unlike what I’d typically classify Patterson writing as: juvenile.

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Review: The Sleep Tight Motel (Dark Corners Collection) by Lisa Unger

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★★★★

Amazon Original Stories | 2018

Opening Hook: Never go on the run in a car that needs an oil change.

Main Character: Does not get stabbed in a shower.

Plot Twisty-ness: Unger does a lot with a little.


This is an adorable spooky short story in the Dark Corners Collection.

Eve is on the run in a shitty old car. She’s got a bag full of money, a gun and a piece-of-shit ex on her tail. It’s very much Psycho-esque in that way.

When Eve realizes she can’t run anymore with a little bit of sleep, she pulls into a country motel with lots of vacancies. She’s just going to spend one night and leave first thing in the morning. Through the night there are bumps and scrapes that convince Eve someone is staying in the room next door. But when she checks, it’s empty.

And I’m sorry, but I’m such a cheap whore for creepy motel shit. Honestly, I will watch or read nearly anything that takes place in this eerie setting. It’s just so obvious, ripe-for-the-picking scenery and atmosphere.

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