Review: Blood for Blood (Ziba MacKenzie, #1) by Victoria Selman

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★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2019

Opening Hook: It’s a blasty-blast

Main Character: If Sherlock Holmes lacked a personality

Plot Twisty-ness: Technically good, missing the feeling.


*shakes fist at sky* I just want to read a legitimately strong female character! Just one!

Okay, so I liked this and it’s also a disappointment in some big ways so… *fart noises*

Here goes my ranty review. I’ll try to highlight the positive stuff, but we all know that’s not my strong suit.

I could give some line about my expectations being too high when it comes to female-led crime fiction, or it’s not the book, it’s me. But I won’t because I refuse to apologize for wanting to find a female character who isn’t desperately crippled by a man in some way which then doesn’t allow for robust characterization to occur within the pages outside of what revolves around that man. It’s fucking annoying me at this point.

Ziba MacKenzie is former special forces and an expert criminal profiler. SPECIAL FUCKING FORCES. She has a huge brain stuffed with lots of knowledge that is both practical and theoretical. Like, she can recite facts about serial killers but can also save lives in dire situations.

Continue reading “Review: Blood for Blood (Ziba MacKenzie, #1) by Victoria Selman”

Review: How To Date Dead Guys (The Witch’s Handbook, #1) by Ann M. Noser

How to Date Dead Guys (The Witch's Handbook, #1)

★★

Curiosity Quills Press | 2014

Opening Hook: Complaining about being insecure.

Main Character: A 12-year-old stuck in a grown woman’s body

Plot Ghosty-ness: Sparkly ghosts are just as interesting to me as sparkly vampires


In my quest to keep my New Year’s resolution of catching up on old ARCs from NetGalley, I went back to the very oldest books on my shelf. I apparently requested this one back in 2016 and, honestly, I have no fucking idea why.

YA and I are not the best of friends. I try. I really do. But, I have a hard time finding YA thrillers that aren’t super lame or cheesy, or that can exist in the real world without requiring the main character to be rich and parentless, and falling in love within a day, in order to move the story along.

And though I occasionally read supernatural thrillers, supernatural romance is definitely not my thing. It never has been. To each other their own, but I find the genre dumb AF.

homer simpson GIF

So, why the hell do I have this book? Was I high? What could I have possibly been thinking when I requested it? Whatever the reason, here were are. I read the whole thing. I didn’t like it, but I read it.

This didn’t work for me for a number of reasons. For one, the title is misleading. It’s cute, but not accurate. No one is dating dead guys in this book. There’s just a university student who acts like she’s 12, and keeps blushing at the male ghosts that she accidentally brought back from whatever purgatory they were stuck in.

Continue reading “Review: How To Date Dead Guys (The Witch’s Handbook, #1) by Ann M. Noser”

Review: Her Last Move by John Marrs

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★★★½

Thomas & Mercer | 2018

Opening Hook: A subway nightmare, and I’m not talking about Jared.

Main Character: Trying to do it all, failing.

Plot Twisty-ness: Twisty, but in a depressing way


I don’t know why I thought this was going to be a serial killer “thriller”… I mean, in some ways it is. There is a serial killer. And cops. And stuff is happening.

But, holy shit, this might be the most depressing crime fiction novel I’ve ever read. This just hit me right in all my sad feels like a British episode of This Is Us or some shit.

I don’t want to give up any spoilers, but I will say this: one of the main reasons I love crime fiction so much – besides the psychologically fascinating elements – is that the good guys win and the bad guys lose.

The world is shitty enough and bad guys seem to win a lot, especially lately. So, it’s nice to be able to immerse yourself in a world where the bad guy is going to get his just desserts. That’s why these stories work for so many people. We want to know, despite the evidence around us, that good will triumph over evil.

And for that to not necessarily happen in a way that feels satisfying like it usually does with novels of this kind, it’s a little bit of a punch in the gut.

Kudos to John Marrs for bringing everyone down, I guess.

episode 5 drinking GIF
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DNF Review: Murder on the Rocks by Clara Nipper

“I’m fighting crime with my twat.”

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Bold Stroke Books | 2016

Opening Hook: Bullets and blood and zero follow-up

Main Character: SUCH A DICKHOLE

Plot Twisty-ness: I mean, the butt plug was unexpected so…


Soooooo, honestly what the fuck is this? It’s been a while since I read something this cringe-worthy.

Part of my bookish New Years resolutions is to tackle my backlog of Netgalley arcs that I’ve been putting off reading. This is one of those books. And it’s going to be my first DNF @ 48%.

First of all, let’s talk about how this is presented to the reader – as a detective crime fiction novel. But, as far as I read, this book fits that category in only the most liberal sense of the genre.

The main character, Jill Roberts, is a detective. Check.

She visits a couple of crime scenes. Check.

Continue reading “DNF Review: Murder on the Rocks by Clara Nipper”

Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

This review was originally written and posted in August 2015. But considering the Netflix movie has just been released, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to migrate this over from Goodreads!

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★★★★

Echo | 2014

Opening Hook: Russia is once again fucking things up for the rest of the world.

Main Character: Last longer than I would.

Plot Twisty-ness: One of the more unique books I’ve ever read.

Yeah, okay, so I really liked this book.

While I was reading, I was reminded of an episode of Supernatural where Castiel reveals his true angel visage to a woman and her eyes burn out of her skull. Humans are simply not equipped to handle the overwhelming righteousness of these holy warriors’ true form. But this woman couldn’t help but look. She needed to see, couldn’t live in that moment without knowing. And so bad shit happened to her, even though she’d been warned. 

I feel like if I had been in this world, I’d be dead. For realsies. I give myself 3 minutes.

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Review: Marked for Life (Jana Berzelius, #1) by Emelie Schepp

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★★

MIRA | 2016

Opening Hook: A child’s jam-hand marks on a murder scene.

Main Character: A Swedish robot with advanced A.I.

Plot Twisty-Ness:  A by-the-book snoozer procedural 


I’ll be honest, the only reason I read this was because of the cover. It’s pretty sexy. 

Unfortunately, outside of that shallow element, this book didn’t work for me at all. And go figure, basing a decision on literally nothing of depth didn’t leave me fulfilled. Shocking.

I’ll chalk up my low-rating of this Scandinavian thriller to an all-encompassing “lost in translation” excuse. But in the nature of full disclosure, the other reviews I’ve read have said even the original language version is a sleeper. Proceed to TBR at your own risk. 

Continue reading “Review: Marked for Life (Jana Berzelius, #1) by Emelie Schepp”

Review: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

I expected marriage to be a door that we went through. Like a new house, you step into it, expecting it to be an unchanging space to inhabit. But, of course, I was wrong. Marriage is a living, changing thing that you must tend to both alone and together. It grows in all sorts of ways, both ordinary and unexpected.

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★★

Bantam | 2017

Opening Hook: The worst marriage present of all time

Main Characters: Met on Married At First Sight, apparently.

Plot Twisty-ness: Tom Cruise jumping on a couch-like levels.


Leah Remini is a personal hero of mine. 

I am endlessly fascinated with cults. And for someone to so publicly be trying to take one down despite the danger, gets all the applause from me. I love her. I think she’s amazing. 

With that in mind, I wanted to read this book because it had this Scientology-cult vibe in the synopsis. A newlywed couple, Jake and Alice, receive, as a wedding gift, an invitation to join The Pact – a group whose sole focus is to help marriages last forever. Soon Jake and Alice find getting out of that contract is not as easy as you would think it would be for adults who just don’t want to do a thing anymore. 

That has L. Ron Hubbard inspiration written all over it – minus the alien nonsense.

But I guess, in order to make a cult thriller thrilling without going all David Koresh on your ass, things have to be fucking ridiculous and leave reason and logic completely behind.

So, for that alone this didn’t really work for me.

First of all, from my experience being a newlywed once upon a time, if someone had come to me and my husband and said “here’s this thing to help you be good at marriage” I would have said, BITCH WE ARE THE BEST AT MARRIAGE WE HAVE SEX FIVE TIMES A WEEK WE SHOULD BE TEACHING CLASSES ON HOW TO BE AMAZING AT MARRIED LIFE.

Because when you’re a newlywed, you’re cocky AF. 

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Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

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★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2017

Opening Hook: Can’t a person just sit in their car anymore without being murdered?

Main Character: She is the Toby to my Michael Scott

Plot Twisty-ness: A predictable anxiety-fest


I’m pretty sure me and B.A. Paris need to break up.

I read and kind of enjoyed Behind Closed Doors, but I was not over the moon about it like most other reviewers were. Even now, when I think back on that reading experience the only things I remember are that 1) the main character was super annoying, and 2) *spoiler alert* it’s totally ridiculous to believe that a high-powered attorney who works 60+ hour weeks on huge cases, would also have enough time to be that on the fucking nose when it came to keeping his wife hostage.

You don’t want the things a reader remembers about your book to be just the illogical, annoying bits.

And I’m afraid The Breakdown is going to be another exercise in this for me.

B.A. Paris seems to have a habit of writing the most annoying female main characters – dumb, slow-on-the-upswing and insecure – who are married to the most obviously untrustworthy men. I can’t be the only one who is seeing the perfect, loving and thoughtful husband routine as completely shady? Maybe it’s because I’m married and 100% woke to the fact that even the most romantic of men are not going to be perfect. If they are, they are trying to bamboozle you, bitch!

So, basically what we’ve got here is Cass driving home one evening on a dark, twisty shortcut that is secluded, because of course it is. On her way, she sees a car parked with a woman inside. She considers checking if the woman needs help, but decides it’s too scary and dark and will call the police from home about the woman simply chillin’ in her car. As you would.

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Review: Guess Who by Chris McGeorge

“Today, we are going to be playing a little game of Murder.”

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★★★½

Hanover Square Press | 2018

Opening Hook: Basically a classic Kesha song

Main Character: If Maury and Robert Stack had a baby, but that baby was drunk all the time

Plot Twisty-ness: Jigsaw would be proud


I went into this novel with every intention of loving it completely. I swear to Thor. But okay, obviously I didn’t completely get there. Story of my life. No one is shocked.

Guess Who started off as a five-star read until I passed the halfway mark and that’s when things fell off the chart. For the first half of the book, it is very much SAW meets Clue, just minus the horror element. But it does create a sinister, frantic pace and tone that definitely had me hooked. It’s a locked-room mystery that feels both extravagant and desperate at first, at that definitely worked for me in a totally non-sexual sexual way.

Morgan Sheppard is a TV star who has made a living doing a Maury meets Unsolved Mysteries-style show called Resident Detective. As a child, he solved the murder of his math teacher and created a very successful career riding (read: exploiting) that wave. Through his fame, he’s turned into an alcoholic, drug addict and womanizer. The only problem is, Sheppard has been full of shit for a very long time. And someone knows it. And someone hates him.

This villain, known as The Evil Man who wears a goofy fucking horse mask, and locks Sheppard and five other people in a hotel room with a dead body in the bathtub. Sheppard has 3 hours to find the killer – one of the people in the room – and prove what kind of detective he really is, or the hotel blows up.

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Review: Wychwood (Wychwood, #1) by George Mann

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★★★

Titan Books | 2017

Opening Hook: Killer and Killee (?) running through the woods, Jason style.

Main Character: Drinks a shit load of tea

Plot Twisty-ness: Like a half-assed pretzel.


I’m wavering between 2 and 3 stars for this one because on one hand, it’s not a bad book. The writing is good, the characters don’t suck, the setting is kind of spooky and the crimes were unique, not something I’d ever read about before.

But then on the other hand, if I think about it, this book was super formulaic, there was nothing different about the plotting, the villain’s reveal. And although the crimes were in-depth and thought out with great detail, the ending was also pretty predictable (read: typical.)

Nothing about this book was outside the box, which is disappointing because it had every opportunity to be considering it was working with a partly supernatural storyline.

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