“No one walks around holding their ugliest sin in the palm of their hand, staring at it.”
William Morrow | 2019
Opening Hook: *DRINKS*
Main Character: Is too old to have not dealt with high school horrors yet.
Plot Twisty-ness: Like getting tangled up in scuba gear.
First of all, Joshilyn Jackson can write some vibrant AF characters. Shit, those personalities were strong, and it created a very cinematic reading experience.
Amy has a beautiful life -a new baby, a sweet husband, a step-daughter who doesn’t hate her but might get finger-banged on the couch once in a while; a big house, a sweet career (hello, scuba instructor? who does that?) and good friends. One night at the regular book club get-together, a mysterious and presumptuous stranger – Roux – invites herself in like some fabulous Disney villain wearing boots probably made of puppies and ready to steal your man, and starts some trouble with a game of Never Have I Ever.
You know that game. Someone says, “never have I ever… had car sex during my stepkid’s soccer tournament,” and anyone who has done that needs to drink.
Okay, maybe you don’t get that specific with your statement, but you get the idea.
Continue reading “Review: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson”
“Where else was I fundamentally wrong about life and the universe and how everything worked? Is life a cycle of us realizing how stupid we are over and over again until we die?”
November 2019 | Turner
Opening Hook: Eric Andre screaming “let me in!”
Main Character: 100% that skeptic.
Plot Twisty-ness: A total three-way.
While I love horror as a genre in any form, I admit I don’t read as much of it as I would like. And when I do read it, I find I’m disappointed that things just weren’t as scary or twisted as I wanted them to be. Maybe my expectations are just too high. I’m 100% that bitch reader. But I am making an
concerted effort to read more horror until I find my lane in the genre.
That said, for me, Twelve Nights at Rotter House is on the slow-burner end of the horror spectrum. For much of the middle of the book, I wondered if anything really scary was ever going to happen and I could feel my typical disappointment start to brew. There are some disembodied screams, unexplained noises, figures that disappear, and of course the quintessential dumbwaiter that never reveals anything good, but none of it was really getting my heart rate up.
The main character of Felix was a little overwrought in how skeptical he was of everything, and his extreme rationalizing aided in creating a slower atmosphere for me. Scary moments were consistently downplayed, sucking the spooky guts out of the story and lending itself to my question of if anything truly scary was going to happen because any time I thought something creepy was afoot, Felix came in and just Debbie Downer’ed all over the place.
He’s a dream killer, is what he is.
Continue reading “Review: Twelve Nights at Rotter House by J.W. Ocker”
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”
“We never joke about bunnies, Bunny.”
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.
Continue reading “Review: Bunny by Mona Awad”
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!!”
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.
Continue reading “Review: I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan”
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.
Continue reading “Review: Evil – The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side by Julia Shaw”
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.
Continue reading “Review: There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed (Dark Corners Collection) by Edgar Cantero”
Amazon Original Stories | 2018
Opening Hook: Boobs are hilarious.
Main Character: Ride or Die for cats.
Plot Twisty-ness: Unpredictably weird.
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.
Continue reading “Review: Miao Dao (Dark Corners Collection) by Joyce Carol Oates”
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.
Continue reading “Review: Crime Scene (Clay Edison, #1) by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman”
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.
Continue reading “Review: Fifty Fifty (Detective Harriet Blue, #2) by James Patterson & Candice Fox”