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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Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

“Never talk to strangers. If someone ever tries to take you, fight with everything you have. Scream as loud as you can. (He’d never told her what to do if the man was too strong and there was no one to hear her screaming.)”

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★★★

Touchstone | 2016

Opening Hook: Tediously attention-grabbing

Main Character: I see dead people-ing it

Plot Twisty-ness: How twisty can it be when everyone is a goddamn psychic?


I don’t know why I keep trying books with psychic characters, because I never like them.

Also, apparently this could technically be considered part of series called The Hollows, but I have zero experience with Lisa Unger or that series, so perhaps that’s why I’m not as jazzed about this book as other people have been.

This does read like a standalone for all intents and purposes, though.

Basically what you have here is a twenty-something who is a developing psychic, so she goes to live with her grandmother, who is an experienced psychic, to get her psychic abilities up to snuff. While she’s doing her psychic-training she starts to hear a persistent noise – squeak, clink – and her psychic grandmother is all, “that’s your psychic gift telling you to start doing psychic shit,” so she gets onto the case of a missing child, who has some psychic connections in her own life.

Basically, everyone is a goddamn psychic.

surprised mind reading GIF

And I’m not sure how a town full of psychics hasn’t been able to find the answer to “where’d that kid go?” but they haven’t and everyone is distressed; marriages are falling apart and life is just generally terrible.

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Review: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

“On the morning of the exorcism, I stayed home from school.”

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★★★★

Titan Books | 2016

Opening Hook: Exorcist house field trip

Main Character: Untrustworthy, just the way I like them

Plot Twisty-ness: Don’t eat the pasta


Finding really good, disturbing, well-crafted horror novels is hard for me, even though I love horror. Obviously, this is probably because I’m a picky bitch but I regret nothing.

Paul Tremblay has been on my list of “horror authors to possibly trust” for a long time, but I think I put off reading his work to avoid the letdown.

But now that it’s officially “stick a pumpkin up my ass and spice everything” season, I figured what better time than now to find out if Paul Tremblay is a true horror author I should trust; to find out if I am a fan or not.

And I’ll tell you, I think I am.

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Review: The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith

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

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★★½

St. Martin’s Press | 2018

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

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★★★

Little, Brown & Company | 2018

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.

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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.”

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★★★★

Lake Union Publishing | 2018

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.”

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★★★

Little, Brown and Company | 2018

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?!

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