Thomas & Mercer | 2020
Opening Hook: Get winter tires.
Main Character: I don’t remember.
Plot Twisty-ness: Small-town amnesia.
If you’re sick to death of this extreme heat, which I always am even before it starts, then this snowy thriller is the perfect read to cool off this summer. How’s that for a goddamn tagline, huh? I should do this shit professionally. Someone pay me. Oh, and today is the official pub day!
Alright, so I was offered this book by the author, Danielle Girard, in exchange for a review. These authors know what they’re getting into when they ask me to review their books, so I’m always honest even when it’s negative, and I don’t feel bad about it.
Fortunately for all of us, I don’t really have too much to say that’s negative about this first instalment in the Badlands series… except like two things… three things… four things… Okay, whatever, we’ll count them up at the end.
Continue reading “Review: White Out (Badlands Thriller, #1) by Danielle Girard”
Doubleday | 2020
Opening Hook: Vega’s Bat-signal.
Main Character: Doing underwear yoga.
Plot Twisty-ness: Bringing that 2020 vibe.
I loved Louisa Luna’s first book, Two Girls Down, with a fiery passion that tingled my loins. Ew, don’t say loins.
But for real, I loved that book. It was one of my top five reads of 2018. So I was totally on board for a sequel because Alice Vega is one of the most bomb-ass female characters in crime fiction right now. That’s not an exaggeration.
I love her aloof, serous and damaged personality. I love that she does yoga in her underwear for breakfast and will do full body tackles of men twice her size without hesitation for lunch. She takes no shit, doesn’t play nice and has no tolerance for bullshit. Plus, she’s smart AF and every time she gets herself out of a tricky pickle I am mildly aroused. What I’m saying is, I want to be her when I grow up.
Her relationship with quasi-partner, retired detective Max “Cap” Caplan, is sexually tense at the right levels, but also romantic and sweet in an honest way – nothing mushy or easy, or even overly-dramatic that would make me hope they both die alone.
Continue reading “Review: The Janes (Alice Vega, #2) by Louisa Luna”
Look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.
Mira | 2019
Opening Hook: That’s why her hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.
Main Character: She doesn’t even go here!
Plot Twisty-ness: The limit does not exist.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t sure how much I was really going to connect with a novel about rich Mean Girls attending an all-girls prep school and doing outdated secret society rituals, but you know me, I have to read everything J.T. Ellison writes.
I’m pleased a punchy-punch to say this book was actually a twisty AF little thriller with a vibrant, creepy atmosphere and a steady pace that held my picky attention. I never felt like I had to skim a paragraph or skip ahead to some real action. Everything about the plotting was masterfully deliberate.
By the blurb, it could possibly be mistaken for YA – which just isn’t for me – but this novel is totally adult, full of mystery, interesting characters with shady side hustles and a little bit of death. These Mean Girls girls are worth the read.
Continue reading “Review: Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison”
St. Martin’s Press | 2019
Opening Hook: Body parts in the desert.
Main Character: Clearly written by a man.
Plot Twisty-ness: What it lacks in thrills, it tries to make up using oral sex.
First things first, if you’ve never read Saul Black before (aka Glen Duncan) do not get to know him by reading this book. I would suggest reading the very first Valerie Hart novel, The Killing Lessons, and if the style works for you, then you’ve got a new thriller series to read!
I say this because Saul Black is a graphic and gritty author with dark plot points and character arcs that flow from book to book. It’s important to understand the whole character and how he writes the plot around that character, to know whether or not his writing works for you. But it works as a standalone as well, if you’re okay with missing some character building.
There’s also a lot of descriptive sex and violence. So…..
Those of us with more delicate sensibilities would call Black crude or vulgar, and it will knock you off balance if that’s not the kind of writing you are expecting or like. The rest of us will be into his writing style because it’s honest and visceral, and we like gross shit.
Continue reading “Review: Anything For You (Valerie Hart, #3) by Saul Black”
William Morrow | 2020
Opening Hook: Alien children???
Main Character: I would have divorced her.
Plot Twisty-ness: Off the rails but still moving.
Okay, listen, this book is weird AF. You’re either going to fall down the rabbit hole and have a great time with how nuts it gets, or you’re going to DNF that shit because you can’t take how unrealistic it is. It just depends on the kind of reader you tend to be or the state of mind you’re in when you read it.
For me, I am usually looking for something that’s so nuts and have never read before (fuck cliches!), and that’s exactly what I got, so I don’t mind too much that it was also off it’s goddamn rocker when it came to the plot.
This is my first novel by Sophie Hannah, but if this is any indication of the kind of crazy shit she can come up with, it won’t be my last.
Continue reading “Review: Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah”
“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.”
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.
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.
Continue reading “Review: The Great Pretender – The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan”
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 – he just gives you the creeps but it’s not like he’s done anything but be a man alone on a sidewalk. 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.
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”
“Nothing says “fuck off” like eyeliner as dark and heavy as my soul.”
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, just like the old woman from the Titanic.
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?”
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!
Continue reading “Review: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson”
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 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?
Continue reading “Review: Of Vengeance by J.D. Kurtness”
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.
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”