Jimmy Patterson Books | 2020
Opening Hook: The first rule of teenage fight club is…
Main Character: Full of rage and vengeance
Plot Twisty-ness: Lost in the page count
Well, once again a YA thriller and I just do not get along. No one is fucking surprised.
I really don’t want to sit here and write a big negative review for this novel because it’s an LGBTQ+ rep YA that lots of kids will flock to and enjoy and feel represented in. So I’ll keep it short and sweet.
For me, this book just didn’t work. I didn’t really like it. I was relieved when it was over. And if I hadn’t been listening to it on audio, I would have DNF’d it. At the most, I’ll call it a mixed bag of good and bad pieces. But at the other end of the spectrum, I’d say the writing was subpar (but that might be because of my old age,) over-dramatic and the plot was way too convoluted.
And I think we can all agree this is just way too long. It’s nearly 500 pages and I have no idea why. There is literally no reason for that kind of nonsense. The base plot didn’t require that many pages and it literally destroyed the pacing. I chalk this up to it being a debut novel. The pattern seems to be that first-time authors don’t know when to fucking cool it on detail and plot lines.
This could have been trimmed down by 100 pages, making it more streamlined with pacing that doesn’t lag. Someone get a good editor STAT.
Continue reading “Review: You’re Next by Kylie Schachte”
Minotaur Books | 2020
Opening Hook: A split-second that changes everything
Main Character: Losing it all and not handling it well
Plot Twisty-ness: Totally lives up to the title
I’m a fan of Jennifer Hillier even though I’ve previously only read one other book by her – Creep. It made such an impression on me that I’ve picked up her work a few more times, but being that my TBR pile is so fucking huge this is only the second book of hers I’ve gotten around to actually reading and not just looking at on my shelves. I will say, Little Secrets has done nothing but convince me even more that Hillier is one of the best psychological thriller authors out there.
This book is basically about two of my greatest fears – a cheating husband and a kidnapped child. And no I don’t have any biological children of my own, but I do have a dog and that’s basically the same thing… *waits for mothers to scream at me about how it’s not the same thing at all…*
Obviously, I know having a pet and having a child is not the same same, but I love my dog more than anything. He’s my baby proxy. And if someone kidnapped him I would LOSE MY FUCKING MIND. I would tear the space-time continuum to shreds until I got him back.
Now, if my husband cheated on me I would lose my mind as well, but in a much different way. It’s just in his best interest if he stays loyal.
Continue reading “Review: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier”
A girl from Pittsburgh came to Ellingham Academy and she wanted to see a dead body. She got her wish.
HarperCollins | 2018
Opening Hook: Youtube is a talent now, I guess
Main Character: Not a unicorn
Plot Twisty-ness: Like Hanson, it’s in the Middle of Nowhere
As you may have picked up by now because of all the not-at-all subtle clues I keep dropping that goes something like: “I hate YA thrillers!” and “I’ve never read a good YA thriller!” or “Please stop recommending me YA thrillers because I don’t like them!” – I am not a big fan of YA mystery/thrillers.
I’m not sure why I keep reading them other than the plot summaries and beautiful covers continue to reel me. I’m so goddamn naïve. “This one will be a good one!” I think to myself about a book I will end up not liking at all 🤡
Is that the case with Truly, Devious?
I’ve had my eye on this novel for a while mostly because of the goddamn plot summary. A private school famous for a decades-old unsolved kidnapping/maybe-murder suddenly sees a new murder and the possibility that the original Big Bad, know as Truly, Devious, is back to wreak havoc on the students and faculty of Ellingham Academy once more.
As concise as I wrote that, it’s actually a lot more interesting than what the plot turned out to be for my tastes. I typically hate private school shit. That setting is just an excuse to allow children to not have any real parental supervision like they would/should so they can do shit most teenagers would never fucking do. And I think I’m too old for that shit.
But, whatever. You all know I’m a grumpy reader.
Continue reading “Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1) by Maureen Johnson”
“Bitter, cold, barren. These are words thrown at women without children. Like we’re a Montana winter. Either we’re to be pitied or we’re to be blamed, depending on how much choice we had in the matter.”
Crooked Lane Books | 2020
Opening Hook: The horror of a baby shower invitation
Main Character: Flirty, Thirty and Thriving
Plot Twisty-ness: This is why I hate baby showers
If you’re looking for an easy read that will still satisfy your need for murder and mayhem, then I’m going to recommend this book. Honestly, it’s nothing special. It isn’t deep or complex, the plot elements are basic and it’s on the lower side for page count, but I actually mean none of that in a bad way for once in my life. Sometimes you just want to read a book in your preferred genre that isn’t going to require a lot of brainpower or emotional investment. And that’s this book.
It’s fun, it’s light, it’s a little bit sinister and it’ll keep your attention firmly on its fictional world instead of on our real, sucky one.
In the middle of a stressful pandemic, that’s exactly what I was looking for. And it’s what I got. I mean, I’m not going to give it 5-stars just for that, but on a fantasy five-star scale that exists only for soapy-mystery novels, it would get a full fist. Wait… no. Forget I said that. Ew.
Anyway, the cherry-on-top is that Gehrman infused this female-centric, locked-room mystery with all the feminist sparkle and questions about expectations of women that I love and relate to.
Continue reading “Review: The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman”
St. Martin’s Press | 2020
Opening Hook: Sarah Keonig’s soothing tones
Main Character: Not Joey Potter
Plot Twisty-ness: Like turning upside down in dark water
Remember when I was on the blog tour for this last August and said I’d have a review posted “soon?” Man, I’ve got some hilarious jokes.
Listen, I’m blaming everything on 2020. I’m double-digits deep on back reviews and triple digits up in unread ARCs because I just… couldn’t. And I didn’t know how to even explain what was wrong/is with me. But it’s literally all the Pandemic’s fault. I have the science to back it up! Research shows that the high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that we have been producing extra of for a prolonged period because of the pandemic, can inhibit perceptual learning and memory formation. This interferes with our ability to assimilate facts and focus on work. So, if you’ve been having trouble working, reading and or just general concentration has been difficult for you, then this is why. STRESS, bitch! That you got from a Panny!
Check out @silverpebble on Twitter for more information. I just learned this after a whole fucking year of screaming at my husband, “why can’t I do any of the things I like to do?”
Now I know.
I had big plans for last year. I was going to get my reading life organized, tons of reviews posted and make a serious dent in my ARCs, but basically, none of that happened. Now, we’re days away from the one-year anniversary of this goddamn pandemic. How can it be March 2021 when I’m still processing March 2020!?
Anyway, it’s officially six months since I was supposed to review this book, so let’s get this shit posted.
Continue reading “Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin”
Thomas & Mercer | 2019
Opening Hook: Déjà vu
Main Character: Not yet living up to her description
Plot Twisty-ness: Almost came from 4chan
Listen, I like this series!! Maybe it won’t sound like it for the bulk of this review, but I do. I like the character of Ziba. I think she’s interesting, layered and a tough female character in this genre. But this sequel to Blood for Blood persists in my biggest problem from the first book – Ziba, and the rest of the cops, are starting to seem really fucking dumb. Ziba is described as a highly skilled criminal profiler and ex-special forces badass, but she consistently whiffs on seeing the very obvious answer to a mystery. She takes FOR👏EV👏ER to pick up a clue the reader will catch immediately. That’s a problem.
This is mostly an author issue. The being, Selman thinks she’s writing something very twisty and hard to figure out, but she’s not, so the highly-skilled main character doesn’t live up to the big description she’s been given. The reader will be screaming “HELLOOO!!! How are you not getting this?!” at Ziba about halfway through.
I wish it wasn’t so. I truly do. Because this UK-based crime series is heads above other UK-crime series in a lot of ways – no recycled tropes or character types, and no fucking book covers of a woman in a red coat walking through some kind of goddamn field.
Where are you going, lady?! The crimes happened in central London! There’s nothing in that field!
Continue reading “Review: Nothing to Lose (Ziba MacKenzie, #2) by Victoria Selman”
If your lonely, sad, and blue, the whisper man will come for you.
Caledon Books | 2019
Opening Hook: Your kid’s dead imaginary friend
Main Character: Grief-stricken and raw
Plot Twisty-ness: We need Ghost Hunters to figure this out
I’m usually super hesitant to read a book that is making the rounds on the Hype Train Express. I tend to be disappointed; closing the book only to be like, “well, I definitely read this wrong? What is everyone talking about?” (But let’s be real, I’m not actually reading the books wrong.)
Either way, none of that applies this time. To quote Bailey Sarian: Nay, nay I say! The Whisper Man by Alex North gets an overly enthusiastic 5-stars from me. Like so enthusiastic, it’s almost sexual.
This book legit unnerved me and I can’t say that happens very often. Because I’m dead inside? Likely. Because I read so much dark fiction? Most probable. But with this one, I was turning on the lights and setting my home alarm. This was dark and twisty and creepy AF.
A few choice moments started to weave a seemingly supernatural theme into the plotline, but it was never blatant so I didn’t know what I was reading until it all came together. North kept me on the edge of my seat, tips of my toes and the end of my last nerve for the entire novel. I fucking loved it. I don’t feel like I have enough words to fully explain to you just how much I loved this, so, have this gif instead:
This is the level I’m at.
Continue reading “Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North”
Berkley | 2020
Opening Hook: Not Reese Witherspoon in Wild
Main Character: Hopeful, despite the rotted teeth
Plot Twisty-ness: Unexpected body horror
This was definitely interesting. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but this time that isn’t a bad thing. It’s a novel I won’t soon forget and the catalyst for my decision to not read horror novels involving teeth for the rest of my fucking life. Thank you very much.
This is hard to review because it’s essentially a spoiler minefield from beginning to end, but I’ll do my best to explain why you should read this book if you’re looking for, what I’m calling, Girls’ Weekend Horror.
Honestly, I didn’t hate this. I might have actually really liked it. I think my expectations were tempered by the abundance of disappointed reviews I came across before I ever cracked this one open – and by cracked open, I mean swiped open because #netgalley. I get some of the criticisms, but for me, I had a good time. And I wasn’t even high!
Continue reading “Review: The Return by Rachel Harrison”
Atria | 2020
Opening Hook: Drowning an entire village
Main Character: Can’t stop, won’t stop talking about dams
Plot Twisty-ness: Drowned along with the village
I’ll be honest, I read this book in July 2020 and it was so fucking boring that to write a review now is going to be difficult. All I know for sure is that it was a fucking snoozer when it was supposed to be a pee-in-your-pants supernatural horror/thriller.
So, we’re off to a great start.
Basically, the small village of Galesburg in upstate-New York was flooded a century ago to create the Chilewaukee reservoir – nicknamed The Chill – to provide water to millions of southern New Yorkers. Of course, Galesburg residents weren’t super psyched to have their hometown put underwater, which is totally understandable, but there wasn’t much they could do about it. It was a political decision that was moving ahead whether they liked it or not – their town was being confiscated.
That didn’t mean, however, that the townsfolk would go down without a fight. They banded together, starting a fierce rebellion that promised to kick ass and get revenge, no matter how many lives were lost along the way.
But, you know, government versus village rebellion means the government won.
Continue reading “Review: The Chill by Scott Carson”
Minotaur Books | 2020
Opening Hook: STEM stands for Soon They’ll End up Murdered
Main Character: Still waiting for that inanimate object to come to life
Plot Twisty-ness: Goes over the conspiracy top
Not that it matters in the long run, but I wish this had a single-word title. The first novel is Caged, the second is Buried. And the third one, Cut to the Bone, is fucking up the title flow for me. But whatever, I’m mildly neurotic so shit like this bothers me. I’ll talk to my therapist about it.
Then again, sticking too closely to a title gimmick can become fucking stupid. Just look at literally any series by James Patterson. At this point, most of his titles don’t even make sense to the plot. But enough about my arch-nemesis…
What really matters here is that Ellison Cooper is getting better and better at producing quality thriller stories with each new novel. Cut to the Bone is non-stop action from the very first chapter, and while some moments got a little too extra for me – things I won’t mention because of spoilers – overall this was an intelligent and intricately plotted novel that should be on every thriller fan’s TBR. I would, however, definitely suggest reading the whole series from the beginning because I feel Cooper’s strongest attribute as a writer are character arcs which evolve with each new novel. She really knows how to keep a long-game plot rolling.
Continue reading “Review: Cut to the Bone (Agent Sayer Altair, #3) by Ellison Cooper”