Review: The Great Pretender – The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

“Psychiatry at its best is what all medicine needs more of—humanity, art, listening, and empathy—but at its worst it is driven by fear, judgment, and hubris.”

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★★★★

Grand Central Publishing | 2019

Opening Thesis: Everyone needs drugs

Main Diagnosis: SCHIZOPHRENIA

Plot Researchy-ness: Up to your eyeballs in straight FACTS


Before you go into reading this book, you must first understand the true premise. It is NOT a history of psychiatry and psychiatric hospitals, though those things are discussed to fully understand what Dr. David Rosenhan was doing. But this book is almost totally about Dr. David Rosenhan and his study from the 1970s that looked to expose how psychiatry was functioning away from public knowledge.

I admit I was kind of disappointed once Nellie Bly was discussed for only a couple of paragraphs because that is shit I showed up for. I was expecting a novel that discussed people like Bly more in-depth. I was expecting something a bit more sinister and historical. Like, give me some Geraldo Rivera at Willowbrook kind of drama.

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But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Once I got passed my assumptions, I did get into this nonfiction work, but not as much as I was hoping I would. It’s a pretty dense read, full of medical jargon, medical history (seriously, you go through the creation of all the DSM volumes) and a complete dissection and recounting of Dr. Rosenhan’s study, On Being Sane in Insane Places.

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Review: The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan

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★★★

Spiderline | 2017

Opening Hook: Just hanging around

Main Character: Seeming guilty might be a fetish

Plot Twisty-ness: Too much soda


Okay, so this wasn’t exactly a grab-you-by-the-tits kind of thriller. If that’s what you’re expecting, temper your expectations accordingly. This is slower, but eerie, like a guy walking behind you and he just gives you the creeps but it’snot like he’s done anything but be a man on a sidewalk alone. Depending on your mood, this is either going to hit you as slow and boring or as a slow-burner that is chilling and twisty.

For me, when I read this, it was slowwwwwww like watching a sloth cross the street, which in any other circumstances I would love to do because sloths are my favourite.

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That said, I feel like it’s totally on me being in a bad headspace for a slow-burning thriller considering I’ve been stuck in the fucking house since mid-March. I can’t do slow or boring or any combination therein. I need my thrillers to be genuinely thrilling, mysterious and wild if I’m going to forget I’m looking at the same walls every day, all day. HOW MANY MORE WALKS CAN I TAKE MY DOG ON? We’ll find out…

Listen, I’m very grateful for all the people doing the front-line and essential work. But also, I’m getting cabin fever so let me express that, thank you and fuck off.

Continue reading “Review: The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan”

Review: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

“Nothing says “fuck off” like eyeliner as dark and heavy as my soul.”

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★★★★★

Razorbill | 2018

Opening Hook: Crawling out of your own grave

Main Character: REPRESENT

Plot Witchy-ness: Wiccans do it better


FINALLY! It’s been 84 years… Okay, no it’s only been like four or five, but it’s true! I have FINALLY found a YA novel that I genuinely LOVED.

Thank you, Lily Anderson. It’s been a fucking struggle to get here.

This novel is part murder mystery, part witchy supernatural fun, and part teen drama but with none of the cheesy dialogue or after-school special bullshit that is usually the reason I’ve disliked every YA novel I’ve tried to read.

There’s none of that here. This is mature in the writing, appropriate for teens but not annoying to adults. It has relatable plot points for every reader, with a mystery element that takes the spotlight instead of things like “we held hands once, are we dating now?”

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This is a passionate, fun, interesting and original YA story that everyone should be reading. Maybe everyone already has and I’m late to the party, but still, read it!

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Review: Of Vengeance by J.D. Kurtness

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★★½

Dundurn | 2019

Opening Hook: Self-awareness via murder.

Main Character: An anti-hero minus the hero.

Plot Twisty-ness: A straight-forward diatribe.


*shakes fist* THIS COULD HAVE BEEN SO GOOD! I’m disappointed that I’m disappointed in this story.

Of Vengeance starts with an unnamed female narrator telling the reader she sees a cold-blooded killer every day when she looks in a mirror.

Oh really?! Do go on….

She recounts her life, starting at the age of 12 when she discovers that she really likes murdering terrible people after accidentally killing the worst bully at her school. It’s like a revenge fever dream that you might have popped into your head for the briefest of moments when you think back to that time Andrew put a basketball under his shirt in Grade 7 and said: “Look, I’m Krystin!” because you were a chubby 12-year-old.

But what do I know?

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Review: The Killer Across the Table – Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker

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★★★★½

Dey Street Books | 2019

Opening Killer: Mild-mannered, sunny disposition

Main Psycho: Hiding in plain sight

Plot Mindhunter-ness: Hunting all the minds!


Hands down, if you are a true crime nerd you want to read this book. It is a heavy fucking tome of information on the dark and depraved. It is written by the Godfather of criminal profiling and it focuses on cases that you’ve likely never heard of before unless you happen to be local to where the crimes happened.

We are not talking about circling the drain on Bundy and Manson. This is likely going to be brand new information that will have you cringing with every uncomfortable nerve exposed while teaching you how the minds of the four twisted subjects worked, how Douglas dissected them during one-on-one interviews, and how the killer’s traits represent the broader strokes of understanding criminal minds.

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Be forewarned however, if you have issues with crimes against children, a significant portion of this book really explores that, unflinchingly.

Continue reading “Review: The Killer Across the Table – Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker”

Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

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★★★★★

Quirk Books | 2016

Opening Hook: Don’t take acid in the woods.

Main Character: The power of Christ compels her.

Plot Twisty-ness: E.T. attending an exorcism.


I 👏 FUCKING 👏 LOVED 👏 THIS.

I own Horrorstör by this author, but I haven’t read it yet. I only bought it for the cover, and format, without any idea of what the book was about or if I liked the author. And honestly, I wanted to read My Best Friend’s Exorcism for the same reason. This is 100% a “#bookstagram made me do it” read. The alternate cover is gorgeous VHS 80s goodness. And the yearbook format print that I had was goddamn adorable. I literally read every single message written on the front and back covers with unabashed nerdy glee.

Clearly, Grady Hendrix is killing the book format game and there’s nothing that turns me on more than someone who throws cliches out the window and walks a creative path less followed in writing. It’s like half the reason I married my husband, who wrote me bizarre poetry on the reg.

But, it turns out Hendrix is also killing the horror writing game because this is one of my most favourite books that I’ve read in a while. And I’m so bummed it wasn’t in my life so much sooner.

I STAN GRADY HENDRIX SO FUCKING HARD.

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Review: The Remedy by Adam Haslett

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★½

Amazon Original Stories | 2018

Opening Hook: Apparently lobotomized before I could read it.

Main Character: Needs help, but not this kind.

Plot Twisty-ness: Twisted, and not in a good way.


My backlog of reviews is so long that it’s starting to give me just a smidgen of anxiety. But then I remind myself this is all just my humble opinions on books and saying ‘fuck’ a lot, so I’m not going to take it too seriously. Anyway, I’m back on my bullshit and here’s a review to prove it…

I have to say, the Dark Corners collection from Amazon was definitely disappointing overall. I read this compilation of seven “scary” short stories for Halloween and there were three included works that I ended up liking.

The Remedy was not one of them.

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Review: The Swallows by Lisa Lutz

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

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★★

Ballantine Books | 2019

Opening Hook: Blow jobs weren’t on the curriculum.

Main Character: Good at flowcharts.

Plot Twisty-ness: Needs some spit on it.


This is a popular read with high ratings on Goodreads from other reviewers, but my overall opinion is basically WHAT THE FUCK THIS IS REALLY DUMB???

I don’t mind being one of only a few people going against the grain here, but honestly, I just can’t even with this book. I had to suspend disbelief in such an extreme way that I started to feel legit angry about it.

This was 400 pages about girls at a boarding school going all Sally Field-Norma Rae with shaved heads because they’ve somehow fallen into a secret game of giving blow jobs for points to all the popular boys at the school who have a yearly championship bracket.

All of the teaching staff knows kind of (the six of them running a school of hundreds of students,) but turn a blind eye because…I guess…rich parents? Or college admissions? Or reputation? Or whatever else rich people care about. Someone ask Lori Laughlin. I’m still a little fuzzy on why full-grown, educated adults dedicated to America’s youth would be all elbow patches and tweed, and please ignore our student sex ring.

I mean, there must have been a way to stop the abuse without putting “ran a blow job side-hustle his senior year” on school transcripts. Then again, maybe Yale would call it entrepreneurship.

Continue reading “Review: The Swallows by Lisa Lutz”

Review: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

“No one walks around holding their ugliest sin in the palm of their hand, staring at it.”

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★★★★

William Morrow | 2019

Opening Hook: *DRINKS*

Main Character: 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.

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Okay, maybe you don’t get that specific with your statement, but you get the idea.

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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 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 the book for you.

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