HarperCollins | 2020
Filed Under: A Polite Canadian
I normally wouldn’t pick up a book like this because it’s thicc and sounds more like a contemporary with hints of suspense, but it’s set around my hometown in Niagara, Ontario so how and why would I pass up reading that? Obviously, I wouldn’t because here we are.
Do you know how many books are based in the Niagara area? Like, one. This one. Why? Because let’s get real, Niagara isn’t a thriving metropolis.
Maybe it used to be, but by the time I left most areas had nicknames like “the armpit of Niagara” or “the butthole of Niagara.”
Where did I live? The fucking taint.
Like a taint, this novel is dark and gloomy; a family mystery wrapped around some community politics.
Augusta “Gus” Monet is basically a poor, aimless girl with little to her name and an abusive, shady AF boyfriend. When her grandmother dies, Gus comes into a little (seriously, very little) inheritance in the form of her grandmother’s house and whatever is inside of it, including an old dog named Levi. And the dog is honestly the best part of the whole novel, but I did spend a lot of time being paranoid something terrible was going to happen to him. If you’re the kind of person (like me) who needs to know if the dog dies going into a story, let me know and I’ll totally spoil it for you, no questions asked.
Continue reading “Review: Dark August by Katie Tallo”
G.P. Putnam’s Sons | 2020
Filed Under: The Honeymoon is Over
For the sake of clarity, this is in no way a thriller or horror or mystery or anything like I would usually read. It’s a fucking romantic comedy. Yeah, seriously. I know you’re wondering why I read it and why I’m reviewing it. The answer to both of those questions is: BECAUSE EVERYTHING SUCKS.
The world is a mess. People are sick and dying. Way too many people are stupid as hell. I mean, honestly, the amount of idiots that we have to co-exist with is just staggering. I haven’t seen friends or colleagues since March 2020 and, surprisingly, it actually makes me not like my job as much. Who knew the introvert would need to see people sometimes? Speaking of every day, it’s Groundhog’s Day Monday to Sunday, and back again, as I shuffle around my house doing the same little chores and tasks like an idiot. I celebrated my birthday alone and we snuck around to my parents’ places over the winter holidays like we were in a spy thriller, just in case the police gave us a ticket for being outside our house.
And yes, I readily admit we should have only celebrated the holidays with our immediate family – and many people stronger than I did this – but after a fucking year of pandemic bullshit, we decided to break some rules and have at least one good memory from 2020. We haven’t seen our families since, so back the fuck off.
Anyway… everything is terrible and I needed something sweet and happy to stabilize my ever-floundering mental health, if only for a couple of days. You Deserve Each Other fit the bill. It was romance, but it came with a kick so it wasn’t so ew. I am not a serious romance kind of woman.
Continue reading “Review: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle”
Holt McDougal | 2009
Filed Under: A Narcoleptic Fever Dream
I’ve tried a couple of times, with different authors, to read this kind of hard-boiled, noir private detective story and… it’s just not for me.
That’s putting it nicely, which is unusual for me.
So, to put it not so nicely, I think this particular genre is supposed to come across as classic, intense and pulpy serious. The private dick is a man of the streets and a man of law. He’s balancing his day-to-day life against the seedy underbelly he’s wrapped up in as he seeks justice and upholds the law by sometimes playing outside of its lines. Ugh, so gritty and dark.
But to me, it’s fucking goofy as hell.
All I can think about it “Fast Talking High Trousers.”
You can’t tell me I’m wrong! You can’t!
But supposing I was…
Continue reading “Review: The Little Sleep (Mark Genevich, #1) by Paul Tremblay”
Mulholland Books | 2017
Filed Under: Makes Racists Afraid Again
This is a tricky review to write because there are two different elements to this book that require attention. The first is the atmosphere and setting and all the social issues that go along with it writing a novel set in a small one-horse Texas town with deep ties to America’s racist history.
The other is the mystery itself, because this is a mystery novel. Why were a black man and a white woman murdered together, and who did it?
The setting and the mystery work together and separately, propelling the plot forward while also giving the reader a glimpse into what small-town southern life is like when the local bar is full of Aryan Brotherhood members and up the road is a black-owned Jim Crow-era restaurant.
Honestly, is it just me or is the idea of travelling to the U.S. as an outsider just like, no thanks? I’m gonna quote Bowie here and say, I’m afraid of Americans. Obviously not all Americans, but let’s not parse this out like certain turds insist on doing with #notallmen. I’m married to a New Yorker and I love him and he’s wonderful. But still, as a whole? No, thanks. I think if I was going to travel to the U.S., I’d pick all the blue states for my destinations. I feel my risk of running into bigoted, racist assholes and people carrying guns for no reason is significantly lowered. I don’t want to die just because I wanted to see the Grand Canyon, you know what I mean?
But, I digress…
Continue reading “Review: Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59, #1) by Attica Locke”
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”