Review: The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith

“Money has an insidious way of making decent human beings behave in a most indecent way.”

Ancient Nine cover★★½

Opening Hook: A 1920s fence hopper

Main Character: Basically the author is just writing himself and it’s weird

Plot Twisty-ness: You have to read a research paper to get to them


You ever read a novel and can immediately tell it’s written by a first-time author because they don’t know how to chill the fuck out with descriptive passages and scenes that don’t further a plot?

Yeah. This book suffers from that in abundance.

The heart of the novel is that of Spenser Collins, a young black man attending Harvard in 1988. After becoming an unlikely candidate to join one of the University’s secret societies, The Delphic, Spenser and his buddy Dalton, stumble upon a fifty-year-old mystery – the disappearance of another young student in the 1920s, who was never heard from again after illegally entering the Delphic’s mansion in search of the answer to the question: Is there really a secret society within the secret society called the Ancient Nine who spend their whole lives guarding an invaluable secret?

I mean, part of me was thinking of the movie The Skulls circa 2000. You know, Joshua Jackson and Paul Walker getting into some deadly adventure after joining a secret society that will do anything to protect its secrets, protect its own, its power and its money? But sadly for me, this book hits a decidedly different tone, while maintaining that “boys club” feel and presenting the objectification of women as a good thing.

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Review: The 17th Suspect by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

35959639★★★

Opening Hook: A pretty standard for the genre death scene

Main Characters: TONE IT THE FUCK DOWN

Plot Twisty-ness: B for Beffort.


So, this is the first review I’m posting on my blog of this series, but here’s the sordid background on me and this series:

I have read every single one of the books in this series. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Even the novellas.

You can find all of my reviews of them on Goodreads if you’re so inclined to watch my descent into pure, unadulterated hatred.

Oh, yes, that’s right. Hatred. I am well-versed in the Women’s Murder Club. And I fucking hate-read this series with a fiery, binge-y passion. Truthfully, I hate mostly everything Patterson writes.

Gather around, children and listen to your elder millennial: James Patterson is a fucking awful writer.

AWFUL. Continue reading “Review: The 17th Suspect by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro”

Review: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

“I’d heard it before, of course, usually from my mother. A nasty, cold-blooded, selfish, grasping, uppity, ungrateful goddamn little bitch. And I know that to be true. I could feel the coldness in my own veins.”

40941435★★★★

Opening Hook: More like opening another button, amiright?!

Main Character: Your new best sociopathic friend #4eva

Plot Twisty-ness: Jane’s plot could have used a tab more plotting, but otherwise satisfying in a totally sexual way


I really really liked this.

On the surface it’s the story of a woman hellbent on revenge for the suicide of her best friend, Meg. Her target: Meg’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Steven.

Jane leaves her expensive high-powered lawyer life in Kuala Lumpur behind, and moved to Minneapolis, giving herself a month or so to infiltrate Steven’s life and make him wish he’d never been born.

LIKE OMG SO FUN.

So that’s the basic idea of the novel. And already I know you’re thinking, “I’ve always wanted to change my identity and ruin someone’s life. Revenge is the best. Sign me up.”

But when you look past the surface, when you go a little bit deeper, you see that this is actually a novel of patriarchy-smashing awesomeness, as well as a giant middle finger to the hypocrisy of Evangelical Christians.

And that last part just feels so right it turned me on a little bit.

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Review: The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper

“The human soul isn’t sold once but rather slowly and methodically and piece by piece.”

34329347★★

Opening Hook: A politician, a dead woman and a car walk into a bar drive off of a bridge

Main Character: A bowl of oatmeal wearing khakis

Plot Twisty-ness: If you turned Washington D.C. into a corn maze


A word of advice, don’t read books that are outside of your interests because you have an intellectual crush on the author.

What are my interests, you might ask? Why did this book fall outside of them? Well, I’ll tell you…

This novel is about Charlie Marder, a newly appointed US Congressman.

He’s married to a zoologist (for some fucking reason) with a baby on the way, marching into Washington ready to make some positive changes guided by his strong moral compass and naivete. He has taken over the seat for a disgraced politician who was found dead after charges of corruption and racketeering.

Then there’s a mysterious note, a shooting in the Capitol, lots of talk about communism. McCarthy makes an appearance, as does JFK and numerous other real-life players in 1950s D.C. A dead girl,  a car crash and more communism and J. Edgar Hoover and Senate hearings and lobbyists.

A shadowy network of secret societies, a nefarious group known as the Hellfire Club who will stop at nothing to get what they want, soon have Charlie in their clutches. After some codes to decipher and some deep national secrets to Nicholas Cage out of the Library of Congress, Charlie realizes he’s not just trying to save himself, but that the fate of the whole country rests in his hands! Gasp! Shock!

And then the N-word gets uttered a time or two. You know how those racial tensions were back when ladies knew their place! Am I right?!

Continue reading “Review: The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper”

Review: The Confession by Jo Spain

“That was us at the beginning of our fairytale. But here’s the thing about fairytales. Sometimes they’re darker than you can ever imagine.”

34941666

Opening Hook: As shocking as a golf club to the head

Main Character: I won’t be RSVPing to the pity party

Plot Twisty-ness: I guess anything can be called a thriller these days


I don’t think I’ve ever read a “thriller” this unimpressive before. And by that I mean, it’s like the author wasn’t even trying. For real, this was slowwwwwwwww. Boring, even.

I’m in the minority with my opinion, and that’s fine. But my opinion is the right one. HAHAHA just kidding (kind of.)

The Confession by Jo Spain is billed as a dark thriller, but it’s really more of a depressing autobiography of the main characters whose POVs we have to endure get to experience; how they got to that moment in 2012 when a banker is getting his head bashed in by a stranger with a golf club. These POVs take us all the way back to childhood in some cases, and quite honestly it was tedious as hell and in most cases, completely fucking irrelevant.

This approach to the storytelling drained all the energy out of the plot, making it feel sluggish, washing out anything that could be considered a shock or a twist.

There was something in the telling of events that lent itself more to realism, and while that is an accomplishment in contemporary novels, this was supposed to be a thriller. The goal being to thrill the reader with the shock of events we don’t experience in real life (hopefully.) This was anything but thrilling unless you consider your own yawns thrilling.

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Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

“People live through such pain only once; pain comes again, but it finds a tougher surface.”

15797848★★★

Opening Hook: Start your egg timers

Main Character: A fish-out-of-water, almost literally.

Plot Twisty-ness: Too busy writing characters making out to remember to write the twists


I’m going to try to be nice.

And I’m going to try to be nice because while I didn’t really love this like I wanted to, I also didn’t hate it on its face. It’s not a bad novel in terms of writing, in fact, I think Stephanie Perkins has a promising narrative voice, she just doesn’t know what’s she’s doing with a horror novel.

I read this as part of my search to find a YA thriller that I actually want to rave about after I finish the last page, and I had high hopes this would be that novel.

It’s supposed to be a horror/thriller. It’s supposed to be, as per the promotion, Scream meets YA.” The title, the cover – it’s all saying READ ME SO I CAN SCARE YOU!

You compare something to Scream and I say GIMME NOW.

I love Scream. I love all teen slashers. I grew up on that shit. It’s an important part of my developmental stages from child to teen to adult… which probably explains a lot.

awesome adventure time GIF

But this is only comparable to Scream in the most basic way.

Teens. Killer killing those teens. Small town scared. End of.

This is not a horror. Though it did start off with enough sinister vibe to really catch my attention, the rest of the novel failed to live up to that feeling of suspense.

This is, for all intents and purposes, a romance novel set against a horror story backdrop.

This is horny teens fucking and drooling over each other, and then in between some random characters, who you don’t give a shit about, die.

Continue reading “Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins”

Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

This is how you ends for you. “You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,” you threatened a victim once. Open the door. Show us your face. Walk into the light.

35068432★★★★½

Crimes: 12+ murders, 50+ rapes, 120+ burglaries

Crime Fighter: A true crime junkie who should be alive to witness the conclusion of her life’s work

Plot Truthiness: Everything you could want to know without being a cop on the case


This is a beautiful work of non-fiction/true crime.

The East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, the Visalia Ransacker, the Easy Bay Rapist, the Dollner Street Prowler, the Diamond Knot Killer…

This killer has gone by many names, but the one you’ll be hearing the most is the Golden State Killer. A term coined by the late Michelle McNamara, a true crime writer/junkie/amateur detective, whose life mission was to see this most prolific villain unmasked after a reign of terror that lasted more than a decade, and that he has been (was) getting away with for over 40 years.

Michelle McNamara died on April 21, 2016. She was nearly done her tome about GSK. Her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, as well as Michelle’s research partner and a journalist friend, finished the book for her. They knew Michelle needed to see this published. It was her life’s work, her greatest obsession.

Continue reading “Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara”

Review: Any Man by Amber Tamblyn

35068781★★★★★ (times infinity)

Opening Hook: Lorena Bobbitt-esque

Main Character: Exceptionally unique voices

Plot Twisty-ness: Stunning in its simplicity, ravenous in its message.


This book is unlike anything I have ever read, and I am utterly emotionally ruined by it.

Seriously. This book has fucked me up.

I started reading this in the morning and I didn’t put it down until I read the last page that evening. I was completely obsessed, completely enthralled and emotionally enamoured.

I’ve taken a couple of days to think about this review because I want it to be coherent and not preachy, but I’m definitely about to go on a rant of epic proportions filled with long quotes, so buckle up buttercups.

This is the story of five men, all of whom have been the victim of a serial rapist known as Maude. It is the story of how the media handles rape, how society handles rape. How we speak about it, how we shame, how we lay blame. It’s about the questions we ask, how we ask them and the assumptions we make. How we try to make ourselves feel more comfortable in the presence of someone else’s trauma. How the survivors grapple with their new reality, and their upended perception of themselves, their relationships and the world around them.

It’s about gender equality and gender roles and gender assumptions. It’s about the groups we align ourselves with, the lines in the sand we draw as tribes. The hate we have. The resentment we have. How women feel about our social history and how it doesn’t matter until it happens to a man. It’s about how blind we are to our shared wants and needs. And how if we just worked together we could change things.

It’s also creepy with elements of suspense.

Continue reading “Review: Any Man by Amber Tamblyn”

Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

36750068★★★★★

Opening Hook: This is definitely not Wet Hot American Summer

Main Character: Turning tragedy and schizophrenia into art

Plot Twisty-ness: Will light a campfire under your ass


I honestly didn’t think it was possible for me to love a Riley Sager novel more than I loved Final Girls, but then I read The Last Time I Lied and well, spit on my neck and kick me in the crotch, because this has usurped Final Girls as my favourite Sager read, if not one of my favourite reads ever. Period.

It’s true! I am crazy about this book! It makes me want to go to summer camp and investigate mysteries, but you know, it might look a little bit weird to be 32 at a sleep-away camp.

Dear Husband, I am homesick. But today I went in a canoe for the first time. The tweens here are looking at me funny.

30 Rock Hello GIF

Sager is a world-class writer. I do not say that lightly or without conviction, because if you know me or read my reviews, you know I’m a huge judgmental bitch. It’s okay, you can agree.

So, when I say Sager is the SHIT. I mean it. He breezes through the art of storytelling like it is the most effortless, natural thing in the world to him. An automatic bodily function.

Breathe. Beat heart. Write.

Continue reading “Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager”

Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore★★★

I went into this book pretty blind. I wasn’t totally sure what it was about…maybe a bookstore called Bright Ideas? Something to do with suicide? But it kept popping up on my feed, and when a mystery novel has “bookstore” right in the title, how can a genre-lover like me resist? Plus, that cover! Come on!

It’s not often that I go into a book without a clear idea of what I’m about to read. I can be pretty particular in my reading criteria, so I’m not necessarily good at the whole “oh, just surprise me!” thing. My personal levels of neurosis start to kick in when I hear words like go with the flow or spontaneity.

This novel starts immediately. Not dicking around. And I was pretty hopeful that meant I was buckling in for a cozy little thriller with a side of dark sass.

Bookseller Lydia is closing up shop at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. She goes to look for regular “BookFrog” Joseph Molina, who hasn’t left the store yet. She finds him hanging. Suicide. She can’t figure out why Joseph would choose to commit suicide in her shop. But even more curious is why he died with a picture from her 10th birthday in his pocket. The mystery becomes too much to ignore when she inherits Joseph’s belongings and finds coded messages for her inside his books.

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