Review: Finlay Donovan is Killing It (Finlay Donovan, #1) by Elle Cosimano

“And to think you were worried about a damn shower curtain. Nothing says ‘serial killer’ like a chest freezer in a garage.”

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★★★★★

Minotaur Books | 2021

Filed Under: Contract killer is yoga pants


This must be the year where I just can’t take anymore terrible shitty shitty shit, that all of my favourite things have become fun, light, optimistic good times. I’m as shocked as you are, I’ll creep it real.

I did not see this shift in my life coming, I just know it’s here so I’m leaning into it. If we want to get all therapy-lite about it, I definitely know it’s a response to these COVID times.

I’ve had it up to my double chin with this planet, so all the things that have lit my feelings on fire in 2021 have been good good stuff, you know?

For the last couple months, there hasn’t been a true-crime doc or horror movie insight. I’ve rewatched Notting Hill and You’ve Got Mail like half a dozen times.

Ted Lasso? I am fucking IN LOVE with him. I wait for Friday nights like a child waiting for Saturday morning cartoons. Not because I’m excited for the weekend, but because I need me some Lasso sweetness and Roy Kent grunts. Simple as that.

And when it comes to books? Finlay Donovan is Killing It might just be my favourite read of 2021 (so far – it’s only September, so who knows what the end of the year will bring.) Trust me when I tell you, I was not fucking expecting that when I borrow this from the library, but here we are.

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Review: One Got Away (Nikki Griffin, #2) by S.A. Lelchuk

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★★★½

Flatiron Books | 2021

Filed Under: Charlie’s not a very social person


I’m not really sure if I love this series, because there are aspects to it that are not my thing. But they might be yours! That is the joy of a review that involves negative points. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as the saying goes. So while I might be like meh, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.

With that in mind – the first novel in the Nikki Griffin series started well for me, but ended up becoming a bit ridiculous near the end. My suspension of disbelief was hanging on by a thread. With this second installment, I’ve figured out that’s just the way this series is going to be – kind of ridiculous and hard to believe. Are you into that? Then you’ll like this.

One Got Away has a Charlie’s Angels kind of vibe to it. Not so much the original show, but the Drew Barrymore version where there’s a lot of action, but it’s also silly.

I’m not sure if this series is totally pulling off that very specific kind of action style, but I also didn’t hate reading it so there’s that.

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Review: Blood Parish by E.J. Findorff

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★★★

Neutral Ground Publishing | 2021

Filed Under: Benny might think I’m a rat.


To be fair, I’m not really into mob shit. I’m not sure why – that’s a lie. I am sure why, but I would never dare to go off on the mob online where my identity is easily determined lest I end up in cement shoes, swimming with the fishes or whatever it is the mob does to you. Shoot you in the head and stuff you in a trunk and leave the car down by the docks? What docks? Any docks really.

But, for sure, organized crime stories are just not my thing.

Did you ever see that episode of Family Guy where everyone finds out Peter doesn’t like The Godfather and they are all flabbergasted? Their house is flooding but they can only talk about Peter not liking The Godfather.

Peter says, “It insists upon itself.”

And that’s basically it. I am Peter in this. Like, Oh, tough guys doing tough guy shit outside the law, killing people and controlling all the unions and all dressing the same. Where’s my gold chain?

But also please don’t kill me, mob people reading this.

That said, this novel is fine. So, let’s keep some perspective here between you knowing I’m a terrible person and that it takes a lot for me to give four and five stars. It is what it is. Meatballs.

Angel Blondeaux is an FBI agent who just so happens to come from a mob family. They’ve disowned her, because duh. You can’t have an FBI agent in a mob family. The Blondeaux et al clan run a Louisiana parish. They own the cops, the lawyers, fucking everyone is on the payroll, so good luck doing anything legit or fair or legal. But also, is that so bad? Are we really doing law and order well? LOL NO. Unless you’re Dick Wolf, then yes. But we don’t have time to get into all that…

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Review: Possession by Katie Lowe

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★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2021

Filed Under: Whispers of your dead husband


This is another podcast-meets-unreliable narrator thriller. It’s not my favourite I’ve read in that very specific new subgenre, but it was okay enough.

What this novel did do well was capture living in an abusive relationship and the trauma that it leaves behind. For me, that was the best part of the plot and I could have done without the podcast shit almost entirely. But that would make this an entirely different book, so ignore me.

Hannah’s husband was murdered while she was sleeping right beside him. She doesn’t remember what happened, but lots of people start to believe she’s guilty of his murder when, ten years later, a popular podcast starts looking at the case and questioning whether the right man has been convicted, Serial style.

It upends Hannah’s life because Oooo boy, the court of public opinion these days is filled with loud, entitled fucking idiots.

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Review: They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

“He wasn’t afraid of me…That was his first mistake.”

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★★★★½

Gallery/Scout Press | 2020

Filed Under: A stress ball shaped like balls.


You’ll have to excuse me – I’m coming off of a conversation today where I learned some very disturbing things about two friends of a friend who are both going through new separations from their husbands. When I tell you both of these ladies are being emotionally abused and mistreated by pieces of TRASH – ugh. So anyway, my feminist rage is absolutely chaotic at the moment and that might come out in this review.

Why? Because this novel is a dark, feminist revenge fantasy and it was amazing.

It’s Dexter meets Hard Candy meets Thelma and Louise.

I fucking loved it. Let’s drive over the cliff, baby! But let’s kill some fucking sexist bastards before we go!

If that sounds like your kind of thing, please read this novel. It’s deeply satisfying.

“Killing a man is so much more satisfying than fucking a man could ever be.”

Scarlett Clarke is an English professor at Gorman University by day, and by night she’s a serial killer. So fun. We all need hobbies. Much like Dexter, Scarlett only targets those that she believes deserve to be murdered – however much someone can deserve to be murdered is an abstract moral question that we just do not have time to get into around here. I have things to do.

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Review: Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59, #1) by Attica Locke

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★★★

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 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 as a whole? No, thanks again. I think if I was going to travel to the U.S., I’d pick places where 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…

American Usa GIF by CTV Comedy Channel
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Review: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

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★★★★

Minotaur Books | 2020

Opening Hook: The First Wives Club


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.

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.

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Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1) by Maureen Johnson

A girl from Pittsburgh came to Ellingham Academy and she wanted to see a dead body. She got her wish.

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★★

HarperCollins | 2018

Filed Under: Youtube as a career path


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?

Umm…

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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.

As concise as a summary can be, the blurb was 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.

But, whatever. You all know I’m a grumpy reader.

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Review: The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman

“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.”

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★★★½

Crooked Lane Books | 2020

Filed Under: The horror of a baby shower invitation


If you’re looking for an easy read that will also 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 word 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? Sure.

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.

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Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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★★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2020

Filed Under: Sarah Keonig’s soothing tones


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 wrong 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 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!

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, 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!?

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Anyway, it’s officially six months since I was supposed to review this book, so let’s get this shit posted.

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