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: 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.

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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 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.

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Review: Bunny by Mona Awad

“We never joke about bunnies, Bunny.”

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★★★★

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.

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Review: There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed (Dark Corners Collection) by Edgar Cantero

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★★★★

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.

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Review: Crime Scene (Clay Edison, #1) by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

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★★½

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.

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Review: Buried (Agent Sayer Altair, #2) by Ellison Cooper

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★★★★½

Minotaur Books | 2019

Opening Hook: Skeletons as a crash pad.

Main Character: Made of cardboard, but good at her job.

Plot Twisty-ness: Mommy would be proud.


I read Caged last year, the first in this series featuring FBI agent/neuroscientist Sayer Altair, and my review basically came down to two things.

One: the twists were uninspired. While they did exist, it was the same thing over and over again and it became predictable and monotonous.

And two: the lead character of Agent Altair was boring AF. I’m sorry, but girl has the personality of a cardboard cutout.

For the second instalment in the series, I’m happy to say the author definitely fixed the first issue and clearly tried to make some headway with the second. That’s why this book gets half a star more than its predecessor.

That’s just the kind of generous reviewer I am.

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Review: The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson, #10) by Darynda Jones

“I’m married to a billionaire, like in all those books I read where the super rich guy falls in love with the poor chick who may not have much in the way of money but is wealthy in vivacity and sprightliness, and is really into bondage?” 

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★★★★½

St. Martin’s Press | 2016

Opening Hook: The ghost whose body is buried in the backyard.

Main Character: The only god I’d worship.

Plot Reaper-ness: Three cases and an exorcism.


What is there to say about this series that I haven’t said nine previous times already? Literally. I find it particularly difficult to write reviews for a series that has had very few missteps and never pisses me off…too much.

Really, writing harsh/critical reviews is where I feel that I shine as a writer and reviewer. I’m not good at being nice and heaping praise. And certainly, my kinder reviews are not getting the same traction as my more ranty ones.

I think there’s probably a whole psychological element to my life and personality that could be dissected because of this, but I don’t feel like holding up that goddamn mirror right now, if ever.

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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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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.

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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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