Review: The Little Sleep (Mark Genevich, #1) by Paul Tremblay

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★★½

Holt McDougal | 2009

Filed Under: A Narcoleptic Fever Dream


I’ve tried a couple of times, with different authors, to read this kind of hard-boiled, noir private detective story and… it’s just not for me.

That’s putting it nicely, which is unusual for me.

So, to put it not so nicely, I think this particular genre is supposed to come across as classic, intense and pulpy serious. The private dick is a man of the streets and a man of law. He’s balancing his day-to-day life against the seedy underbelly he’s wrapped up in as he seeks justice and upholds the law by sometimes playing outside of its lines. Ugh, so gritty and dark.

But to me, it’s fucking goofy as hell.

All I can think about it “Fast Talking High Trousers.”

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You can’t tell me I’m wrong! You can’t!

But supposing I was…

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Review: You’re Next by Kylie Schachte

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★★½

Jimmy Patterson Books | 2020

Opening Hook: The first rule of teenage fight club is…

Main Character: Full of rage and vengeance

Plot Twisty-ness: Lost in the page count


Well, once again a YA thriller and I just do not get along. No one is fucking surprised.

I really don’t want to sit here and write a big negative review for this novel because it’s an LGBTQ+ rep YA that lots of kids will flock to and enjoy and feel represented in. So I’ll keep it short and sweet.

For me, this book just didn’t work. I didn’t really like it. I was relieved when it was over. And if I hadn’t been listening to it on audio, I would have DNF’d it. At the most, I’ll call it a mixed bag of good and bad pieces. But at the other end of the spectrum, I’d say the writing was subpar (but that might be because of my old age,) over-dramatic and the plot was way too convoluted.

And I think we can all agree this is just way too long. It’s nearly 500 pages and I have no idea why. There is literally no reason for that kind of nonsense. The base plot didn’t require that many pages and it literally destroyed the pacing. I chalk this up to it being a debut novel. The pattern seems to be that first-time authors don’t know when to fucking cool it on detail and plot lines.

This could have been trimmed down by 100 pages, making it more streamlined with pacing that doesn’t lag. Someone get a good editor STAT.

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Review: Nothing to Lose (Ziba MacKenzie, #2) by Victoria Selman

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★★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2019

Opening Hook: Déjà vu

Main Character: Not yet living up to her description

Plot Twisty-ness: Almost came from 4chan


Listen, I like this series!! Maybe it won’t sound like it for the bulk of this review, but I do. I like the character of Ziba. I think she’s interesting, layered and a tough female character in this genre. But this sequel to Blood for Blood persists in my biggest problem from the first book – Ziba, and the rest of the cops, are starting to seem really fucking dumb. Ziba is described as a highly skilled criminal profiler and ex-special forces badass, but she consistently whiffs on seeing the very obvious answer to a mystery. She takes FOR👏EV👏ER to pick up a clue the reader will catch immediately. That’s a problem.

This is mostly an author issue. The being, Selman thinks she’s writing something very twisty and hard to figure out, but she’s not, so the highly-skilled main character doesn’t live up to the big description she’s been given. The reader will be screaming “HELLOOO!!! How are you not getting this?!” at Ziba about halfway through.

I wish it wasn’t so. I truly do. Because this UK-based crime series is heads above other UK-crime series in a lot of ways – no recycled tropes or character types, and no fucking book covers of a woman in a red coat walking through some kind of goddamn field.

Where are you going, lady?! The crimes happened in central London! There’s nothing in that field!

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Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North

If your lonely, sad, and blue, the whisper man will come for you.

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★★★★★

Caledon Books | 2019

Opening Hook: Your kid’s dead imaginary friend

Main Character: Grief-stricken and raw

Plot Twisty-ness: We need Ghost Hunters to figure this out


I’m usually super hesitant to read a book that is making the rounds on the Hype Train Express. I tend to be disappointed; closing the book only to be like, “well, I definitely read this wrong? What is everyone talking about?” (But let’s be real, I’m not actually reading the books wrong.)

Either way, none of that applies this time. To quote Bailey Sarian: Nay, nay I say! The Whisper Man by Alex North gets an overly enthusiastic 5-stars from me. Like so enthusiastic, it’s almost sexual.

Toot-fucking-toot, bitches!

This book legit unnerved me and I can’t say that happens very often. Because I’m dead inside? Likely. Because I read so much dark fiction? Most probable. But with this one, I was turning on the lights and setting my home alarm. This was dark and twisty and creepy AF.

A few choice moments started to weave a seemingly supernatural theme into the plotline, but it was never blatant so I didn’t know what I was reading until it all came together. North kept me on the edge of my seat, tips of my toes and the end of my last nerve for the entire novel. I fucking loved it. I don’t feel like I have enough words to fully explain to you just how much I loved this, so, have this gif instead:

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This is the level I’m at.

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Review: Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

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★★

Ballantine Books | 2020

Opening Hook: Amnesiac beach bum

Main Character: Needs a hobby

Plot Twisty-ness: A flatliner


This is such a bummer for me. I really loved Steadman’s debut novel, Something in the Water (though I’m chalking up about 33% of that to the audiobook narration, which was fucking stellar,) so I was eager to get my hands on her follow-up, Mr. Nobody.

But… *fart noises*

This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed by a sophomore novel and it won’t be the last, but it’s still a bummer.

Mr. Nobody is the most vanilla – and slightly annoying – thriller I’ve read this year.

I know I can get a bit spicy like a Jalapeno when I write negative reviews, but then there are times like these where I’m just bummed out that I didn’t like something.

I’m Eeyore writing this fucking review right now.

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That might change the further I get into writing this. Sometimes I can work up a bad attitude from nothing. It’s like magic.

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Review: You All Grow Up and Leave Me by Piper Weiss

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William Morrow | 2018

Opening Crime: Bondage Cabin in the Woods

Main Psychopath: Toss-up between the pervert and the author

Plot Truthy-ness: Dear Diary…


This is the weirdest “true crime” novel I’ve ever read.

First, because it’s mostly a memoir about someone who was not involved in any crime at all. And second, because the crime is an attempted crime. Spoiler alert, I guess? While I’m sure it was traumatizing for the women involved, in the context of a true-crime novel, nothing happened that could fill up an entire book. And what’s weirder, the author uses the attempted crime against someone else to question-plague herself for twenty+ years about why no one ever tried to kidnap and rape her.

Like, I just…

Sassy Channel 9 GIF by Married At First Sight Australia
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Review: Behind the Door (Kathy Ryan, #2) by Mary Sangiovanni

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★★★

Lyrical Underground | 2018

Opening Hook: Don’t Dead, Open Inside

Main Character: Basically M.I.A

Plot Twisty-ness: Lost in the forest


Eh, so this was a bit weird. Not terrible, but not great either. Because I’m so behind in reviews, I read this months ago and honestly, I’m still not really sure how I feel about it outside of one thing: editor needed.

This is the second novel in the Kathy Ryan series, but it can be read as a standalone because she’s barely in it. And when she is, there’s no information presented about Kathy that has too much bearing on the novel as part of a series. Really, without this being strictly marketed as in a series starring Kathy Ryan, I would never have known.

Seriously, why is she not in this book at all until like the 50% point? The chapter plotting is just so fucking weird. I’m sorry. Whoever saw this book plotted out and thought, “yes, good job,” was on drugs. And not the good kind.

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Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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★★★½

Dutton | 2019

Opening Hook: Catching your BF bending someone else over a couch.

Plot Twisty-ness: The entitlement of the rich.

Main Character: Every millennial woman.


If I had never read Final Girls or The Last Time I Lied, would I be giving this a higher rating?? Maybe. Please don’t look at my less-than-enthused review as a reason to not read this book, because everything Sager writes is a book to read, imho.

However, this third novel by Sager is just not as strong an offering as his previous two. Again, just my fangirl opinion.

I truly do love Sager. He and I should obviously be best friends because we like all the same things. And he’s built a writing career around paying homage to those favourite influences in the most satisfying way for me as a reader.

Lock Every Door is Rosemary’s Baby meets the United States poverty gap and healthcare. There are some elements included in the plot that are a bit misleading – is it a ghost story? Horror? Is there something satanic going on? But Sager takes that part of Rosemary’s Baby and flips it on its head to create commentary about U.S. healthcare and income inequality.

Now there’s a horror story, she says in Canadian.

That’s all I’ll say about that because I don’t want to get into spoilers.

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Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus

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★★★

Delacorte Press | 2019

Opening Hook: Jamie Lee this Prom Queen ain’t.

Main Character: A Murderino Nancy Drew.

Plot Twisty-ness: Boiled chicken without seasoning.


Ughhhhhh…

Here we are again. Welcome to yet another edition of “Krystin tries to read YA!”

Aside from Undead Girl Gang, which I totally fucking loved, I feel like I’ve been trying for 84 years like that lady from Titanic to get into YA mystery/thrillers and it’s just one disappointment after the next.

That’s not to say that the books aren’t good. Okay? Calm your energy. I’m not here to shit on your genre of choice. In almost every case, it’s has been an “it’s me, not you” situation. I am just not the right audience for this genre.

I wish I was! I would love to relax with a YA thriller because the R-rated shit can get to be a bit too much. Being constantly inundated with the most heinous plotlines can warp a person who also watches too much news. This planet is a dumpster fire. Yes, I see a therapist regularly, thank you.

I feel like a YA thriller would really help me unwind. Alas, of the 55 books on my “young-adult” Goodreads shelf, I have like 3 of them.

THREE.

Overall, these books make me feel very much like…

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Review: First Cut (Jessie Teska, #1) by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell

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★★★★

Hanover Square Press | 2020

Opening Hook: This autopsy table is dirty.

Main Character: A forensic queen in the making.

Plot Twisty-ness: Don’t bring Bitcoin into this.


If you read my review for Working Stiff by Judy Melinek, then you may recall that I am 100% a Melinek fangirl. This woman is amazeballs. I love everything about her.

Where before she recounted her real-life experiences as a medical examiner in NYC (during 9/11 no less,) in her non-fiction work, First Cut is a work of fiction that focuses on a new medical examiner in San Francisco, Jessie Teska.

Considering that this is a debut work of fiction, it’s top-notch.

If you love procedurals that rely on the science and forensic side of investigation than this is going to be a must-read. It might feel a little bogged down in medical details to the casual reader, however.

Melinek uses all of her real-life experience as a medical examiner to bring Teska’s job to life. Honestly, it’s so authentic I could probably dissect a dead body at this point. And I definitely wouldn’t forget what jar and drawer tissue specimens were meant to go in.

Considering we’re in a current moment in time where we’re talking about defunding police, I’m pretty convinced after reading Melinek’s work that medical examiners could probably solve murders a hell of a lot better than most cops.

Just saying.

Continue reading “Review: First Cut (Jessie Teska, #1) by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell”