Review: Cari Mora by Thomas Harris

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★★

Grand Central Publishing | 2019

Opening Hook: German sausage.

Main Character: Lisbeth Salander on Ambien.

Plot Twisty-ness: Twisted into boring knots.


I can’t believe I waited 13 years for the author who inspired my love of writing and reading and serial killers, to reenter my life only put me to fucking sleep.

I’m so sorry Mr. Harris, but girl what is you doing?

After such an extended hiatus, one would think the brilliant creator of Hannibal Lecter – arguably the greatest villain of all time – had come out from hibernation because he had a story that just needed to be written and shared.

After reading the blurb, I thought that was clearly the case here because the summary is straight fire so I needed this book immediately! ASAP. Pronto. Gimme!

Beneath an unoccupied Miami Beach mansion that used to belong to Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, there is rumoured to be millions of dollars worth of gold. Two men are in a race to get to the gold first. Don Ernesto, a Colombian mob boss, and Hans-Peter Schneider, a depraved “business” man who kills women and sells their body parts to wealthy buyers to satisfy whatever their particular sexual fetish is.

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Review: The Bedwetter – Journal of a Budding Psychopath by Lee Allen Howard

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★½

Three First Names | 2019

Opening Hook: Electric piss fantasy.

Main Character: What in the actual fuck?

Plot Twisty-ness: Twisted, not twisty.


This book is homophobic, misogynistic and gross-out horror for the sake of shocking the reader and has zero literary value. Straight up. It’s garbage for the people who like garbage. So if you do, then please, jump onto the pee-soaked bed! It’s waiting for you!

Me, I’m using the rubber cover. I’m not prudish or easily offended or sensitive by any means, and I usually have no issue with a book that includes offensive themes with purpose… but this book has no purpose.

I am struggling to find the point to any of the fucked up things I just read. It feels like it exists only to have put demented thoughts onto paper. It exists just to be awful. There is no reason or moral or satisfaction to the ending. And I guess that’s just not my thing at all when it comes to stories. No judgement if it’s yours, but I can’t do it.

hate wendy GIF by Channel 7
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Review: Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

“I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.”

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★★★

Harper Perennial | 2014

Defining Feminist: “…a word that has, as of late, become a catchall term for ‘woman who does not tolerate bullshit.'”

Main Takeaway: “I’d rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

Plot Feminist-ness: Too much Scrabble, not enough feminist rants.


Omg, she read something that wasn’t about murder! Yes, yes, try not to pass out. I do consider myself a woman who strives to be well informed and well rounded, so when I’m not reading about the dark and twisty I do like to be enlightened or challenged.

That said, this book of essays was a mixed bag for me.

I was expecting a novel of feminist essays to expand my thinking on the topic and enlighten me about things I might not consider as a white female millennial who doesn’t know everything there is to know. I would say 50% of the book did that for me.

Roxane Gay spoke to my particular kind of feminism, which is that I might not be passing any purity tests conducted by the Twitter counsel, but I do my best and am always willing to learn, correct or just find peace in my choices even if they aren’t considered “good feminism.”

Gay presents herself as a bad feminist – someone who doesn’t fit the rigid definition we’ve set around ourselves, boxed ourselves into. She argues that feminism will always be flawed because people are inherently flawed and people run this movement. But that’s no reason to throw the whole thing away, to paint the whole thing with one brush or to participate in cancel culture over people’s individual missteps.

“When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.”

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Review: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

‘Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.’ 

★★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2019

Opening Hook: Team building at its most murder-y

Main Character: A James Bond glow-up

Plot Twisty-ness: Turning the heat up to 11.


Let me introduce you to my favourite revenge thriller of 2019. I mean, so far because it’s only July, but whatever. It’s not like my TBR is a cornucopia of revenge tales. Pretty sure it’s mostly serial killers.

The Escape Room is balls-the-walls wild, while still being grounded and realistic. I think that’s why I liked it so much – it was the perfect combination of over-the-top moments that exist just to be fun, mixed with a true-to-life high finance setting and realistic themes of suicide, loss, financial struggle and degrees of sexism.

The author took things that are honest and real, and that most readers will be able to find some thread of connection to, and kicked it up a notch with fantastical plot elements.

This debut novel is a tale of revenge that’s going to 100% fire you up to enact vengeance on your enemies. I’m looking at you, dude in my office who complained about the memes at my desk!

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Review: Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

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★★★

William Morrow | 2019

Opening Hook: No one cares about your sports trophies in real life.

Main Character: Catching a killer has never been so boring

Plot Twisty-ness: Over-the-top, yet done to death


The first book I ever read by Peter Swanson was The Kind Worth Killing and it totally impressed me enough to grab a four-star rating from my crabby, judgmental ass. Despite the characters being dull as hell, the plot was completely engrossing and the twists, duelling narrations and dark Strangers on a Train-like premise kicked me right in the crotch.

Since then, I’ve picked up Swanson’s work a few more times with optimistic expectations and have struggled with each reading. Fuck me for being positive, I guess. Before She Knew Him is no exception to that struggle. It’s better than All the Beautiful Lies (which was a goddamn snoozer,) but it’s still not touching me the way my first time with Swanson did…that’s what she said.

This, like a lot of Swanson’s work, seems to borrow heavy inspiration from Hitchcock, but just isn’t doing it as well as the original or adding anything new to the template. Before She Knew Him has serious Rear Window vibes when Hen and her douchebag husband, Lloyd, move to a small town outside of Boston so that Hen can find some peace and quiet while attempting to get the symptoms of her bipolar disorder under control. She’s an artist who works from home, and wouldn’t you just know it, she eventually suspects her neighbour, Matt, is a serial killer. BUT NO ONE BELIEVES HER dun dun dunnnnn…

no way wow GIF

Also, a serial killer named Matt? BRO.

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Review: Lost Girls – An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker

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★★★

HarperCollins | 2013

Opening Mystery: Seriously, WTF happened to Shannan Gilbert?

Main Creep: Peter Hackett has some attention issues

Plot Truthy-ness: A humanizing portrait


I’m pretty fascinated by the Long Island Serial killer case. It’s been some time since we had an evil, undetectable serial killer case to watch in real-time. Though it’s faded from news and been replaced by, well, mostly Trump for fuck’s sake… this is certainly a story to keep a light on. There are dozens of women whose lives have been cut short with zero progress towards justice of any kind.

The more cynical side of me might say that because they were escorts and sex workers that their cases are deemed “less important” to solve compared to other things cops are coming across every day involving people with more “societal value.” That’s the more cynical side.

I’ve seen a couple documentaries on this decades-old unsolved mystery, watched a few interviews and have a general idea of who is suspicious AF (I’m looking at you Dr. Hackett, you shady motherfucker,) so, I wanted to read this novel by an award-winning investigative reporter because I thought I would be getting a really in-depth overview of the case as it stood in 2013, and some theories about what the actual fuck is going on.

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Review: I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

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★★½

Flatiron Books | 2019

Opening Hook: Phone, keys, wallet

Main Character: JUST ANSWER THE FUCKING QUESTIONS!

Plot Twisty-ness: 👉👌


What in the actual fuck?

Why did you do this to me, Feeney?!

Sometimes I Lie was one of my more favourite reads last year, so I was pretty pumped up to read the second offering from this author, but unfortunately, I’m W-T-F-ing all over the place with this one.

I mean, seriously. Why? Why that ending?

I should have fucking known I was going to be disappointed by this.

Clue number one: some of the most reliable thriller reviewers around these parts (Dennis from Scared Straight Reads, I’m looking at you,) gave this book one fucking star.

Clue number two: My buddy Lori (@mylifewithbooksandbeans on Insta if you’re looking for a gem bookstagrammer to follow,) asked for my address and paid the costs to send me her ARC copy from the US, just because she wanted me to write a review.

People don’t want me to write reviews about books they think I’ll love, okay? I might not know where Brazil is on a map, but I know that much.

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Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

“Fear…is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway.”

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★★

Viking | 1959

Opening Spooky: THERE ARE TOO MANY DOORS

Main Character: Was crazy before she got there.

Plot Scary-ness: Underwhelming boos


The first time I ever came across this story was in 1999 when I was 14 years old and watched The Haunting for the first time.

Is it a good movie? Not really, but Catherine Zeta-Jones and Liam Neeson in a murderous, haunted house? That’s always going to be a yes from me. And that scene where Owen Wilson gets his head lobbed off? Scared the shit out of me twenty years… TWENTY YEARS AGO?! Omg. *vomits in mouth*

So, there’s some nostalgia linked to this for me in terms of shitty 90s horror movies that I still have a fondness for.

I later saw the original 1963 adaptation which just didn’t really work for me because I was just a dumbass teenager with a myopic view of entertainment and a shitty attitude.

In 2001, Scary Movie 2 pulled heavily from The Haunting and it has been seared into my brain ever since.

In fact, while I was reading this I suddenly had a desire to watch Scary Movie 2, so I did, and that was arguably a bad idea because for the rest of the book all I could picture was Chris Elliot with his gross tiny fucking hand.

david cross chris elliot GIF by IFC

Say what you want about quality, but the moronic movie is funny as hell.

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Review: The Fact of a Body – A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

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★★

Flatiron Books | 2017


I really wanted to like this. I didn’t want to write a negative review for a book that is, in part, detailing the author’s personal experience with molestation.

The heavy subject matter makes a negative review seem tacky, to a degree. And I didn’t want to be that asshole. But, that’s not where this review is coming from. At all.

I applaud the author’s use of writing to work through her trauma and to find an understanding of how trauma shaped her. If this book was a tool for personal peace (which I suspect it was,) then really, any negative review means nothing in the grand scheme of that healing.

But, I am a reader and book reviewer and so I’ll be honest about my reading experience, as I always am, beyond the personal aspects Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich bravely shares.

The Fact of a Body weaves two true life events. One: the re-trial of Ricky Langley, a confessed pedophile who was sentenced to death in 1992 for the murder of his 6-year-old neighbour, Jeremy Guillory. In 2003, he was awarded a new trial. The intention of his attorney, Clive Stafford Smith, was to reduce Langley’s death sentence down to life in prison. Clive the Lawyer runs a law firm which specializes in Death Row cases and he is staunchly anti-capital punishment, taking on many cases where the intention is only ever to reduce the sentence, not to prove innocence.

The author begins an internship at Smith’s law firm at the same time the re-trial is starting. During her orientation, Alexandria is shown Langley’s ’92 confession where he talks about his sexual attraction to children and what he did to Jeremy Guillory.

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Review: The Homecoming by Andrew Pyper

“When mom called to tell me the news, I was surprised at first that Raymond Quinlan was capable of something so human as dying.”

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★★★★

Simon & Schuster | 2019

Opening Hook: Daddy had secrets.

Main Character: A normal guy wearing a good guy suit.

Plot Twisty-ness: Lost in the woods without a sense of direction.


I’m a huge fan of Blake Crouch. And this book by Andrew Pyper is giving me some serious Crouch vibes and I’m not mad about it. This is the first book I’ve read by Pyper but it probably won’t be my last. The Homecoming was pretty much the shit if you’re into dark thrillers with a horror-sci-fi undertone.

The Quinlan family has lost their patriarch, the mysterious and absent Raymond Quinlan. He was a workaholic who left his children – Aaron, Franny and the youngest, Bridge – with some daddy issues. But all his work and bad parenting also left behind a few million in assets, so how bad can an absent father really be in that case?

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Belfountain is a huge estate in the PNW that includes cabins, a lodge and an old Christian summer camp on the grounds. It’s worth a cool thirty million in the right market conditions and it technically now belongs to the remaining Quinlans, But, in order for them to get their hands on their cut of their father’s will, they have to agree to spend 30 days on the estate, with no contact to the outside world.

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