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

28815691

★★

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. 

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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.

40610803

★★

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

31450633

★★

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: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

“A smart girl is nobody’s pushover and nobody’s foe. A smart girl is both sword and smile.” 

35506211

★★

Doubleday | 2018

Opening Hook: I woke up like this (next to a dead body)

Main Character: Barely sober, mostly stupid

Plot Twisty-ness: Only twisty because she’s drunk and dizzy


Oh, boy this is super disappointing.

The Flight Attendant had been on my radar for a while. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the other reviews on the matter, but my ability to make a snap decision based on a good synopsis has been my downfall once again.

All I saw was “she wakes up next to a dead body,” and I was 100% on board with this. (That was a genuinely subtle plane pun.)

But Omigod, it was not at all what I was hoping it would be. The kick-off has so much promise to be suspenseful and thrilling, but it didn’t end up working for me.

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Review: Fellside by M.R. Carey

“Rough edges were what you needed because they were what you sharpened yourself against. Nobody ever got sharp from lying in a feather bed.”

26030697

★★½

Orbit | 2016

Opening Hook: Who knew arson could be boring?

Main Character: Could not be anymore self-torturing

Plot Twisty-ness: Good for insomnia


I was really interested in reading this book, but once I cracked this baby open my interest quickly petered out, giving way to an overall feeling of not really giving a shit mixed with annoyance and yawning.

Jess has been given heavy prison time for deliberately starting a house fire that not only destroyed her face and injured her asshole heroin addict boyfriend, but also killed a 10-year-old boy named Alex. Jess essentially martyrs herself, accepting her punishment with a heaping side of self-flagellation, deciding her time in prison will be short once she goes on a hunger strike/suicide mission. The only problem is, Jess can’t remember any of the sins she’s been told she committed, so she just takes everyone’s word for it (like you would.) As she withers away in the prison infirmary, dead Alex comes to her with an afterlife request – find out who really killed him, because he’s sure it wasn’t Jess and he can’t find peace without knowing.

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Review: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

34845523★★½

Opening Hook: Let my attention wonder to playing mindlessly on my phone

Main Character: Three times the boring

Plot Twisty-ness: Existing, but tamed


After all of the glowing reviews I’ve seen for Mary Kubica, this was actually a bit of a disappointment.

Whomp, whomp

Someone has paid to have Mia kidnapped. Colin, her kidnapper, is hired to do the dirty work. But instead of taking her to his boss, he whisks Mia away to a remote cabin and keeps her for himself.

As one would if they were kidnapping another human being.

My god, doesn’t it just seem like SO MUCH WORK? Who would want to kidnap someone?

Like, I get home from work and all I want to do is take off my bra and lay facedown on my mattress while I make ughhhhh ohhhsd nooooo noises and eventually my husband asks me what’s wrong and I can trick him into rubbing my back.

The LAST thing I want to do, is come home from work and have to take care of a person chained in my basement, stinking up the place. Getting their dirty, unwashed butt on stuff. Then you have to empty their piss pots and make them food.

No, thank you. You have to be a special kind of psychopath to want to abduct someone for the “joy” of getting to take care of an adult sized baby.

I am far too lazy for that.

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Review: Orange is the New Black – My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman

8141503★★

I, like most people with a Netflix account and a pulse, love the Orange in the New Black tv series. And it just so happens that the new season premieres this week!

I picked this book up for that reason alone – I was curious about the real story after binging the current season in 13 hours.

Consider me a fan of the TV show, only.

Where the show excels is in the treatment of each and every woman – their individual lives are honoured, never discounted, or treated as the token bit player to Piper’s privileged white girl. They are real and honest and palpable. All walks of life given equal value, time and courtesy.

But this book was…not that.

It came across as such: I’m just a white girl who made one mistake. What an oopsie-doopsie to get involved with drug dealers trafficking for an international drug ring. I didn’t mean to traffic drugs to other countries. Can’t you ever forgive me? Can’t you see how hard I tried to get my life back on track and stop being a lesbian? I met a nice boy, I got a good job and now I’m a productive citizen. Doesn’t that count for anything when the snitches open their big mouths and I end up in prison? No? Ok. I’m ever so scared of being in prison, but I won’t show it. I am a stoic warrior princess. I’ll bite my tongue and do my time surrounded by all these women of colour – some of them even like me even though I’m white. Blonde and white. Just call me ‘Blondie’ *wink*. The Latino girls say I have street smarts. All these ethnic ladies are actually really nice. And they’ve taught me so much about what it means to not be white. Which is totally fine with me, I promise. And I consider so many of them friends, that when I left prison I was kind of sad to leave them all behind to continue doing their years and years of time after my measly 15 months. I felt bad.

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Review: All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

“People hate to see other people happy. Remember that.”

35407871★★½

Opening Hook: It must have fallen off a cliff.

Main Character: Wears polo shirts for the fashion, and eats oatmeal because he thinks it tastes good.

Plot Twisty-ness: Laced with Xanax.


For someone who has never read Peter Swanson before and casually likes to pick up a psychological thriller every now and again, this book will probably seem like a win.

But for someone (this girl!) who has read Peter Swanson before and been blown away but how he weaves a story, and also spends a lot of her time reading this particular genre, All The Beautiful Lies was a big ol’ *fart noises* letdown.

I’m coming away from the reading experience wondering “what was the point of this?” To be thrilling? To be thought-provoking? To be emotionally stirring? To be commentary on inappropriate relationships? It seemed to have aspirations to be all of those things, but the execution was sub-par, leaving the ideas undeveloped and abandoned on the page.

You read a thriller for the crazy plot twists, the adrenaline rush and the excitement of being immersed in a situation that is not likely to happen in real life. This novel is billed as a thriller but it was pretty ho-hum, straight forward. No twists to be found or rush to be felt. Although it was crazier than typical real life, it relied too heavily on the “passing down” of pedophilic tendencies (as each child victim became an adult,) for me to connect emotionally with the characters or even want to allow myself to get too close to this story. It was too uncomfortable, an odd and passive “normality” given to the concept through the prose.

disgusted raising hope GIF

Despite this, I kept reading, waiting for something to exciting to happen. There was an anticipation I was building for myself because something had to happen, right? It was a Peter Swanson novel after all. It wouldn’t just be dull, would it? Apparently, yes.

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Review: The Lies They Tell by Gillian French

35887572★★½

Opening Hook: Rich people get lit (on fire.)

Main Character: A copy of a copy of a copy…

Plot Twisty-ness: Kiddie-rollercoaster levels.


I was really hoping this was going to be sweaty, atmospheric summer thriller. But I only got 1 out of 2 from that list.

Depending on what’s important to you – the atmosphere or the thrills – you’re either going to love this or not.

Immediately upon starting this I got a Revenge meets Gossip Girl meets Riverdale vibe. It’s got that spoiled teens with no adult supervision in the Hamptons thing going on.

It’s very rich versus poor. The pool owners and the pool cleaners. The haves and the have-nots.

The novel opens with a bang, so to speak, when the Haves suffer a tragedy the year prior – the Garrison estate goes up in flames, killing four members of the family. The only survivor is their teenage son, Tristan. The town is straight shooketh, casting blame and suspicion on the members of the Have Nots, because of course the poor people want to kill the “elites.” Right, ‘Murica?

the kingsmen laughing GIF by Collider

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Review: A French Quarter Violet by E.J. Findorff

34340697★★½

Opening Hook: Vague and underwhelming

Main Character: Way too focussed on the tingles in her hoo-ha

Plot Twisty-ness: A disconnected jumping of the shark


This book was super frustrating for me because it has the bones of something that could have been really, really good. But the execution was off; the focus was not on the right things so choices in the plot felt clunky, and out of place.

Set in New Orleans, I was desperately seeking to be overwhelmed with that atmosphere. To feel the weather, to hear the culture, to have the architectural city streets  at the forefront of the scene creation. But it never came. The author brought in some Voodoo elements, but it didn’t fit with the rest of the book. Either go full New Orleans – dark and magical and historic – a Skeleton Key tone. Or follow the erotic, police procedural lane that 75% of the book was in – a Double Jeopardy tone. The two didn’t mesh well.

Honestly, I would have totally preferred a dark and magical New Orleans thriller, with voodoo and a sexually deviant serial killer. Like I said, the bones were there and it should have hit the gas in that lane instead of coasting in and out of the lines.

It just never came together the way it should. It didn’t feel like it knew what it wanted to be, hence the “clunky”.

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