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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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 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 that 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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