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!
Continue reading “Review: Nothing to Lose (Ziba MacKenzie, #2) by Victoria Selman”
If your lonely, sad, and blue, the whisper man will come for you.
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.
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:
This is the level I’m at.
Continue reading “Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North”
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.
That might change the further I get into writing this. Sometimes I can work up a bad attitude from nothing. It’s like magic.
Continue reading “Review: Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman”
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…
Continue reading “Review: You All Grow Up and Leave Me by Piper Weiss”
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.
Continue reading “Review: Behind the Door (Kathy Ryan, #2) by Mary Sangiovanni”
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.
Continue reading “Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager”
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.
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.
Overall, these books make me feel very much like…
Continue reading “Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus”
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.
Continue reading “Review: First Cut (Jessie Teska, #1) by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell”
If you can’t handle me when I show you my gaping butthole, you don’t deserve the rest of me.
Random House | 2019
Opening Act: Eating mango sliced by a dude named Noah.
Main Lesson: The TV is taking care of the baby, okay?
Plot Jokey-ness: Doodoo and rat placentas.
Disclaimer: I love Ali Wong. Like a deep, spiritual love based on unabashed honesty, IDGAF attitude and vagina jokes.
But you don’t need to love Ali Wong the way I do to read and enjoy this book of raw, personal and unflinching essays that will give you her takes on life and love, and erectile dysfunction.
Speaking from my biased standpoint, you do want to know her opinions. I’m not saying she’s a genius, but at the very least, she’s one the most intelligent, open-minded, well-spoken and experienced women out there, and as a bonus, she uses words like “doodoo”, “caca” and “punani.” What’s not to love? She’s fucking disgusting and I look up to her like a fucking idol.
Maybe you won’t agree with all of her hot takes (I don’t always,) but you will learn and grow and laugh. Definitely laugh.
Continue reading “Review: Dear Girls – Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong”
Doubleday | 2018
Opening Hook: Going off-grid
Main Character: Just doing her best
Plot Twisty-ness: Encased in resin
Wellllllll…. excuse the fuck out of me, but I didn’t really love this. It’s meh, but I get what it was going for. I’m definitely an outlier when it comes to my rating, so take it with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila.
I picked this up – an award-winning international best-seller – because the reviews are all like THIS IS BEST THING EVER! WORK OF ART! Blah, blah, blah… and I guess at this point I should know that my tastes are garbage and anything that is considered “art” is fucking lost on me.
I don’t like the classics.
I don’t like art-house.
I don’t like pompous shit that no one can get unless you’re some kind of eccentric intellectual.
I don’t like things that are extra for the sake of sounding smarter than the person reading it.
And I didn’t like this.
Continue reading “Review: Resin by Ane Riel”