Review: One Got Away (Nikki Griffin, #2) by S.A. Lelchuk

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★★★½

Flatiron Books | 2021

Filed Under: Charlie’s not a very social person


I’m not really sure if I love this series, because there are aspects to it that are not my thing. But they might be yours! That is the joy of a review that involves negative points. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as the saying goes. So while I might be like meh, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.

With that in mind – the first novel in the Nikki Griffin series started well for me, but ended up becoming a bit ridiculous near the end. My suspension of disbelief was hanging on by a thread. With this second installment, I’ve figured out that’s just the way this series is going to be – kind of ridiculous and hard to believe. Are you into that? Then you’ll like this.

One Got Away has a Charlie’s Angels kind of vibe to it. Not so much the original show, but the Drew Barrymore version where there’s a lot of action, but it’s also silly.

I’m not sure if this series is totally pulling off that very specific kind of action style, but I also didn’t hate reading it so there’s that.

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Review: Blood Parish by E.J. Findorff

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★★★

Neutral Ground Publishing | 2021

Filed Under: Benny might think I’m a rat.


To be fair, I’m not really into mob shit. I’m not sure why – that’s a lie. I am sure why, but I would never dare to go off on the mob online where my identity is easily determined lest I end up in cement shoes, swimming with the fishes or whatever it is the mob does to you. Shoot you in the head and stuff you in a trunk and leave the car down by the docks? What docks? Any docks really.

But, for sure, organized crime stories are just not my thing.

Did you ever see that episode of Family Guy where everyone finds out Peter doesn’t like The Godfather and they are all flabbergasted? Their house is flooding but they can only talk about Peter not liking The Godfather.

Peter says, “It insists upon itself.”

And that’s basically it. I am Peter in this. Like, Oh, tough guys doing tough guy shit outside the law, killing people and controlling all the unions and all dressing the same. Where’s my gold chain?

But also please don’t kill me, mob people reading this.

That said, this novel is fine. So, let’s keep some perspective here between you knowing I’m a terrible person and that it takes a lot for me to give four and five stars. It is what it is. Meatballs.

Angel Blondeaux is an FBI agent who just so happens to come from a mob family. They’ve disowned her, because duh. You can’t have an FBI agent in a mob family. The Blondeaux et al clan run a Louisiana parish. They own the cops, the lawyers, fucking everyone is on the payroll, so good luck doing anything legit or fair or legal. But also, is that so bad? Are we really doing law and order well? LOL NO. Unless you’re Dick Wolf, then yes. But we don’t have time to get into all that…

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Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

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★★★½

Minotaur Books | 2021

Filed Under: Patrick Swayze’s subway ghost friend


If you wouldn’t spend a weekend camping in a probably haunted abandoned town with a nefarious past then we can’t be friends.

I’m not saying it’s at the top of my travel bucket list, but it’s definitely on there. Chernobyl? Yes, please! You wouldn’t want to go there? Minus all the radioactive nuclear issues and other terrible shit that happened, it’s got to be interesting and creepy. Perfect vacation destination! Or like just a stop on the itinerary. Please don’t make me sleep there.

Going into abandoned homes, snooping through all the stuff left behind like a time capsule – that’s a dream! A dream I’ll probably never get to do in real life, so a novel might be as close as I can get.

The Lost Village is all of these things, so fucking duh I was going to read it.

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Review: Possession by Katie Lowe

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★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2021

Filed Under: Whispers of your dead husband


This is another podcast-meets-unreliable narrator thriller. It’s not my favourite I’ve read in that very specific new subgenre, but it was okay enough.

What this novel did do well was capture living in an abusive relationship and the trauma that it leaves behind. For me, that was the best part of the plot and I could have done without the podcast shit almost entirely. But that would make this an entirely different book, so ignore me.

Hannah’s husband was murdered while she was sleeping right beside him. She doesn’t remember what happened, but lots of people start to believe she’s guilty of his murder when, ten years later, a popular podcast starts looking at the case and questioning whether the right man has been convicted, Serial style.

It upends Hannah’s life because Oooo boy, the court of public opinion these days is filled with loud, entitled fucking idiots.

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Review: Dark August by Katie Tallo

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★★★½

HarperCollins | 2020

Filed Under: A Polite Canadian


I normally wouldn’t pick up a book like this because it’s thicc and sounds more like a contemporary with hints of suspense, but it’s set around my hometown in Niagara, Ontario so how and why would I pass up reading that? Obviously, I wouldn’t because here we are.

Do you know how many books are based in the Niagara area? Like, one. This one. Why? Because let’s get real, Niagara isn’t a thriving metropolis.

Maybe it used to be, but by the time I left most areas had nicknames like “the armpit of Niagara” or “the butthole of Niagara.”

Where did I live? The fucking taint. 

Like a taint, this novel is dark and gloomy; a family mystery wrapped around some community politics.

Augusta “Gus” Monet is basically a poor, aimless girl with little to her name and an abusive, shady AF boyfriend. When her grandmother dies, Gus comes into a little (seriously, very little) inheritance in the form of her grandmother’s house and whatever is inside of it, including an old dog named Levi. And the dog is honestly the best part of the whole novel, but I did spend a lot of time being paranoid something terrible was going to happen to him. If you’re the kind of person (like me) who needs to know if the dog dies going into a story, let me know and I’ll totally spoil it for you, no questions asked.

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Review: Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59, #1) by Attica Locke

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★★★

Mulholland Books | 2017

Filed Under: Makes Racists Afraid Again


This is a tricky review to write because there are two different elements to this book that require attention. The first is the atmosphere and setting and all the social issues that go along with writing a novel set in a small one-horse Texas town with deep ties to America’s racist history.

The other is the mystery itself, because this is a mystery novel. Why were a black man and a white woman murdered together, and who did it?

The setting and the mystery work together and separately, propelling the plot forward while also giving the reader a glimpse into what small-town southern life is like when the local bar is full of Aryan Brotherhood members and up the road is a black-owned Jim Crow-era restaurant.

Honestly, is it just me or is the idea of travelling to the U.S. as an outsider just like, no thanks? I’m gonna quote Bowie here and say, I’m afraid of Americans. Obviously not all Americans, but as a whole? No, thanks again. I think if I was going to travel to the U.S., I’d pick places where my risk of running into bigoted, racist assholes and people carrying guns for no reason is significantly lowered. I don’t want to die just because I wanted to see the Grand Canyon, you know what I mean?

But, I digress…

American Usa GIF by CTV Comedy Channel
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Review: The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman

“Bitter, cold, barren. These are words thrown at women without children. Like we’re a Montana winter. Either we’re to be pitied or we’re to be blamed, depending on how much choice we had in the matter.”

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★★★½

Crooked Lane Books | 2020

Filed Under: The horror of a baby shower invitation


If you’re looking for an easy read that will also satisfy your need for murder and mayhem, then I’m going to recommend this book. Honestly, it’s nothing special. It isn’t deep or complex, the plot elements are basic and it’s on the lower side for word count, but I actually mean none of that in a bad way for once in my life. Sometimes you just want to read a book in your preferred genre that isn’t going to require a lot of brainpower or emotional investment. And that’s this book.

It’s fun, it’s light, it’s a little bit sinister and it’ll keep your attention firmly on its fictional world instead of on our real sucky one.

In the middle of a stressful pandemic, that’s exactly what I was looking for. And it’s what I got. I mean, I’m not going to give it 5-stars just for that, but on a fantasy five-star scale that exists only for soapy-mystery novels? Sure.

The cherry-on-top is that Gehrman infused this female-centric, locked-room mystery with all the feminist sparkle and questions about expectations of women that I love and relate to.

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Review: The Return by Rachel Harrison

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★★★½

Berkley | 2020

Opening Hook: Not Reese Witherspoon in Wild

Main Character: Hopeful, despite the rotted teeth

Plot Twisty-ness: Unexpected body horror


This was definitely interesting. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that isn’t a bad thing this time. It’s a novel I won’t soon forget and the catalyst for my decision to not read horror novels involving teeth for the rest of my fucking life. Thank you very much.

This is hard to review because it’s essentially a spoiler minefield from beginning to end, but I’ll do my best to explain why you should read this book if you’re looking for, what I’m calling, Girls’ Weekend Horror.

Honestly, I didn’t hate this. I might have actually really liked it. I think my expectations were tempered by the abundance of disappointed reviews I came across before I ever cracked this one open – and by cracked open, I mean swiped open because #netgalley. I get some of the criticisms, but for me, I had a good time. And I wasn’t even high!

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Review: Behind the Door (Kathy Ryan, #2) by Mary Sangiovanni

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★★★

Lyrical Underground | 2018

Opening Hook: Don’t Dead, Open Inside

Main Character: Basically M.I.A

Plot Twisty-ness: Lost in the forest


Eh, so this was a bit weird. Not terrible, but not great either. Because I’m so behind in reviews, I read this months ago and honestly, I’m still not really sure how I feel about it outside of one thing: editor needed.

This is the second novel in the Kathy Ryan series, but it can be read as a standalone because she’s barely in it. And when she is, there’s no information about Kathy that has too much bearing on the novel as part of a series. Really, without this being strictly marketed as in a series starring Kathy Ryan, I would never have known.

Seriously, why is she not in this book at all until like the 50% point? The chapter plotting is just so fucking weird. I’m sorry. Whoever saw this book plotted out and thought, “yes, good job,” was on drugs. And not the good kind.

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Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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★★★½

Dutton | 2019

Opening Hook: Catching your BF bending someone else over a couch.

Plot Twisty-ness: The entitlement of the rich.

Main Character: Every millennial woman.


If I had never read Final Girls or The Last Time I Lied, would I be giving this a higher rating?? Maybe. Please don’t look at my less-than-enthused review as a reason to not read this book, because everything Sager writes is a book to read, imho.

However, this third novel by Sager is just not as strong an offering as his previous two. Again, just my fangirl opinion.

I truly do love Sager. He and I should obviously be best friends because we like all the same things. And he’s built a writing career around paying homage to those favourite influences in the most satisfying way for me as a reader.

Lock Every Door is Rosemary’s Baby meets the United States poverty gap and healthcare. There are some elements included in the plot that are a bit misleading – is it a ghost story? Horror? Is there something satanic going on? But Sager takes that part of Rosemary’s Baby and flips it on its head to create commentary about U.S. healthcare and income inequality.

Now there’s a horror story, she says in Canadian.

That’s all I’ll say about that because I don’t want to get into spoilers.

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