Review: I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan

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★★½

William Morrow | 2018

Opening Hook: Putting a cold case in the microwave.

Main Character: When bad men do evil in sweater vests.

Plot Twisty-ness: The reader gets Punk’d.


It’s such a bummer to read a book by an author you hear nothing but praise for, only to walk away from that reading experience thinking your time has been thoroughly wasted. All I have in my head is like why? And like don’t? And like why again?

When I’m reading a new-to-me author, I seem to have a habit of choosing the one book that makes all the fans go, “That one’s not their best…THESE OTHER ONES THOUGH!!”

Sure. Okay.

I’m not done with Macmillan just yet because I’m not a completely horrible person & also I think I spent real human dollars on another of her books and it’s currently sitting on my bookshelves… but this book is getting a big UGH from me.

Cody Swift has one of the hottest true crime podcasts around, Time to Tell. It focuses on his search for what really happened to his two childhood best friends twenty-years earlier when they were killed and the intellectually-disabled target of their bullying, Sidney Noyce, is convicted of their murders.

In the present day, Sidney Noyce (think Brendan Dassey, but slower,) has taken his own life in prison and then a new body is discovered at the same site the two boys’ were found decades before. Cody uses the renewed spotlight on the case to sell his podcast with the goal of finding the real killer.

I love the idea, but the execution is severely lacking for me as a reader.

Schitts Creek Comedy GIF by CBC
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Review: Evil – The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side by Julia Shaw

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★★

Abrams Press | 2019

Opening Thesis: Evil is just a misunderstanding.

Main Evil: Apparently pedophiles aren’t that bad?

Thesis Conclusion: Shockingly shallow.


I really wanted to like and I’m having a hard time with the rating, because I didn’t like this, and frankly parts of it are so off-putting I want to toss it out a window.

But it’s not a bad book either in terms of writing quality.

My biggest problem really comes down to the fact that this book is not about the science behind humanity’s dark side, as the cover suggests.

I wanted to learn about the brain, human chemistry, nature vs nurture; I wanted case studies and scientific journals and theories and experiments. What I got was the author explaining why evil is subjective and nothing is really bad because all humans fuck up. The overall theme boils down to “rethinking evil.”

While that may be a provocative topic to tackle, I wouldn’t have necessarily started the book with the argument that we should reconsider labelling Hitler as evil.

There is actually very little science-back study and explanation in this book. She invokes the Milgram Experiment to discuss the banality of evil, and then uses the Stanford Prison Experiment to explore group-think, but never mentions that many issues with that study that led to it being discredited. Shaw doesn’t do a very good job at tying the referenced studies to the points she’s trying to make; they are loosely thrown together and barely make a correlation.

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Review: Miao Dao (Dark Corners Collection) by Joyce Carol Oates

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★★

Amazon Original Stories | 2018

Opening Hook: Boobs are hilarious.

Main Character: Ride or Die for cats.

Plot Twisty-ness: Unpredictably weird.


Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh…

I don’t know what the fuck this is, but it’s weird and awkward and I do not like Oates’ writing style at all.

Usually, I’m pretty chill about writing styles and can adapt to mostly everything, but Oates writes like she wishes everything was poetry and I’m sorry, but some shit just isn’t poetic. Like a stepdad sexually harassing his 14-year-old stepdaughter and the lasting effects that can have on a person.

I was really hoping this short story was going to be some Carrie kind of shit, but with killer cats. Unfortunately, it’s following the same footsteps as The Tangled Woods, where the horror are the real-life issues we face in a messed up society, instead of escapist horror.

I think I’m finding that I’m not the kind of person who likes “reality horror.” I much prefer monsters and crazed slasher killers over sexual abuse and institutionalized racism. I read as an escape, not to be reminded about how much humans fucking suck.

star trek GIF
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Review: Crime Scene (Clay Edison, #1) by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

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★★½

Ballantine Books | 2018

Opening Hook: About as chill as dying in your sleep.

Main Character: Definitely used to be a frat bro.

Plot Twisty-ness: Tediously overwrought.


I forgot there is a reason I haven’t read Kellerman in a long time. His writing doesn’t work for me. I find it formulaic and boring as hell. And I know that’s sacrilegious for Alex Delaware fans, but whatever. I am who I am. You can’t change me!

Crime Scene was so boring to me that I read this book like a month ago and completely whiffed on writing a review. It just slipped from my mind, uneventful and easy to forget.

It doesn’t really seem to me that anything happened in this book.

You have Clay Edison, a death investigator – or something that’s not totally explained – for the coroner’s office, who gets caught up in the death of a man who very clearly seems to have died of natural causes. But because Edison fucks the dead guy’s daughter, he becomes borderline obsessed with the idea that there is something more sinister that took place.

I mean, of course, he’s right about the sinister bad stuff (otherwise there would be no book,) but the fact that it took penis-in-vagina to get his interest piqued and the plot moving, had my eyes rolling so far back into my head that I think I sprained an optic muscle.

schitts creek no GIF by CBC
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Review: The 18th Abduction (Women’s Murder Club, #18) by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

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★★½

Little, Brown & Company | 2019

Opening Hook: Where’s Waldo the War Criminal?

Main Character: Lindsay’s gonna Lindsay.

Plot Twisty-ness: Typical predictable Patterson


Let’s get this straight, Patterson and I broke up a long time ago. But just like every toxic relationship cycle, sometimes I go back to him.

Specifically, I go back when a new Women’s Murder Club instalment is released. I’ve been reading this series since the first book was published in 2001. I was fifteen, and at that time, I thought Patterson was the epitome of great crime fiction. It took me into my 20s, with exposure to crime fiction that was legitimately good, to realize that Patterson isn’t a very good writer, he’s just prolific. And I like a lot of people, confused “popular” with being talented.

That’s not to say people don’t genuinely enjoy his work. Obviously they do, but objectively it’s pretty bad.

Now, I don’t care if you’re the biggest Patterson fan around, I’m not interested in a debate. Go read, write glowing reviews for him to your heart’s content. It affects me zero percent. But my opinion is that he’s a terrible writer. TERRIBLE. But remember, it’s only one opinion. I am not the final say in the matter. So don’t fucking @ me about it.

Every year I make a resolution to not read any Patterson, and every year I break that resolution at least once. This is my one for 2019.

uh oh oops GIF by Workaholics
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Review: Cari Mora by Thomas Harris

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★★

Grand Central Publishing | 2019

Opening Hook: German sausage.

Main Character: Lisbeth Salander on Ambien.

Plot Twisty-ness: Twisted into boring knots.


I can’t believe I waited 13 years for the author who inspired my love of writing and reading and serial killers, to reenter my life only put me to fucking sleep.

I’m so sorry Mr. Harris, but girl what is you doing?

After such an extended hiatus, one would think the brilliant creator of Hannibal Lecter – arguably the greatest villain of all time – had come out from hibernation because he had a story that just needed to be written and shared.

After reading the blurb, I thought that was clearly the case here because the summary is straight fire so I needed this book immediately! ASAP. Pronto. Gimme!

Beneath an unoccupied Miami Beach mansion that used to belong to Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, there is rumoured to be millions of dollars worth of gold. Two men are in a race to get to the gold first. Don Ernesto, a Colombian mob boss, and Hans-Peter Schneider, a depraved “business” man who kills women and sells their body parts to wealthy buyers to satisfy whatever their particular sexual fetish is.

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Review: The Bedwetter – Journal of a Budding Psychopath by Lee Allen Howard

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★½

Three First Names | 2019

Opening Hook: Electric piss fantasy.

Main Character: What in the actual fuck?

Plot Twisty-ness: Twisted, not twisty.


This book is homophobic, misogynistic and gross-out horror for the sake of shocking the reader and has zero literary value. Straight up. It’s garbage for the people who like garbage. So if you do, then please, jump onto the pee-soaked bed! It’s waiting for you!

Me, I’m using the rubber cover. I’m not prudish or easily offended or sensitive by any means, and I usually have no issue with a book that includes offensive themes with purpose… but this book has no purpose.

I am struggling to find the point to any of the fucked up things I just read. It feels like it exists only to have put demented thoughts onto paper. It exists just to be awful. There is no reason or moral or satisfaction to the ending. And I guess that’s just not my thing at all when it comes to stories. No judgement if it’s yours, but I can’t do it.

hate wendy GIF by Channel 7
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Review: I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

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★★½

Flatiron Books | 2019

Opening Hook: Phone, keys, wallet

Main Character: JUST ANSWER THE FUCKING QUESTIONS!

Plot Twisty-ness: 👉👌


What in the actual fuck?

Why did you do this to me, Feeney?!

Sometimes I Lie was one of my more favourite reads last year, so I was pretty pumped up to read the second offering from this author, but unfortunately, I’m W-T-F-ing all over the place with this one.

I mean, seriously. Why? Why that ending?

I should have fucking known I was going to be disappointed by this.

Clue number one: some of the most reliable thriller reviewers around these parts (Dennis from Scared Straight Reads, I’m looking at you,) gave this book one fucking star.

Clue number two: My buddy Lori (@mylifewithbooksandbeans on Insta if you’re looking for a gem bookstagrammer to follow,) asked for my address and paid the costs to send me her ARC copy from the US, just because she wanted me to write a review.

People don’t want me to write reviews about books they think I’ll love, okay? I might not know where Brazil is on a map, but I know that much.

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Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

“Fear…is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway.”

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★★

Viking | 1959

Opening Spooky: THERE ARE TOO MANY DOORS

Main Character: Was crazy before she got there.

Plot Scary-ness: Underwhelming boos


The first time I ever came across this story was in 1999 when I was 14 years old and watched The Haunting for the first time.

Is it a good movie? Not really, but Catherine Zeta-Jones and Liam Neeson in a murderous, haunted house? That’s always going to be a yes from me. And that scene where Owen Wilson gets his head lobbed off? Scared the shit out of me twenty years… TWENTY YEARS AGO?! Omg. *vomits in mouth*

So, there’s some nostalgia linked to this for me in terms of shitty 90s horror movies that I still have a fondness for.

I later saw the original 1963 adaptation which just didn’t really work for me because I was just a dumbass teenager with a myopic view of entertainment and a shitty attitude.

In 2001, Scary Movie 2 pulled heavily from The Haunting and it has been seared into my brain ever since.

In fact, while I was reading this I suddenly had a desire to watch Scary Movie 2, so I did, and that was arguably a bad idea because for the rest of the book all I could picture was Chris Elliot with his gross tiny fucking hand.

david cross chris elliot GIF by IFC

Say what you want about quality, but the moronic movie is funny as hell.

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Review: The Fact of a Body – A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

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★★

Flatiron Books | 2017


I really wanted to like this. I didn’t want to write a negative review for a book that is, in part, detailing the author’s personal experience with molestation.

The heavy subject matter makes a negative review seem tacky, to a degree. And I didn’t want to be that asshole. But, that’s not where this review is coming from. At all.

I applaud the author’s use of writing to work through her trauma and to find an understanding of how trauma shaped her. If this book was a tool for personal peace (which I suspect it was,) then really, any negative review means nothing in the grand scheme of that healing.

But, I am a reader and book reviewer and so I’ll be honest about my reading experience, as I always am, beyond the personal aspects Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich bravely shares.

The Fact of a Body weaves two true life events. One: the re-trial of Ricky Langley, a confessed pedophile who was sentenced to death in 1992 for the murder of his 6-year-old neighbour, Jeremy Guillory. In 2003, he was awarded a new trial. The intention of his attorney, Clive Stafford Smith, was to reduce Langley’s death sentence down to life in prison. Clive the Lawyer runs a law firm which specializes in Death Row cases and he is staunchly anti-capital punishment, taking on many cases where the intention is only ever to reduce the sentence, not to prove innocence.

The author begins an internship at Smith’s law firm at the same time the re-trial is starting. During her orientation, Alexandria is shown Langley’s ’92 confession where he talks about his sexual attraction to children and what he did to Jeremy Guillory.

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