Review: Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane

It seems like everyone who settles down is miserable. They’re either broke or stressed or plagued with a sense of duty to someone who doesn’t appreciate them.

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★★★½

Bloodhound Books | 2018

Opening Hook: Kill your family for freedom!

Main Characters: Whiny bitches, but like, I totally get it.

Plot Twisty-ness: Twisty, but almost doesn’t make sense.

This book is going to cut with different women in different ways because the content is so heavily focussed on the various “caregiver” roles that women play. Wife, mother, friend, sister, lover.

It focuses on those roles with a decidedly negative lens. Like, suuuuuuuper negative. Like, if you were thinking about getting married, this will give you pause. If you were are on the fence about having kids, this will confirm your worst fears.

The story is told by four women – Jo, Shayla, Ellie and June – who all live on Oleander Way. Some know each other, some don’t, but they are connected by their neighbourhood.

We open on a murder. A husband and two children have been gutted in their home in the middle of the day. But who’s husband and children? And why did it happen? As the story unfolds, this mystery seemingly becomes less important than all the other crazy shit that happens to these four women.

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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: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

“What about the house? The pentacle? The empty coffins? The symbols written in blood?!”

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★★★

Double Day Books | 2017

Opening Jinky-Twist: Even the unmasked bad guys get parole, too.

Main Meddling Characters: We couldn’t have come up with anyone less annoying?

Plot Zoinx-y-ness: A dogshit-sized amount of non-stop action


Here’s a fun fact about me: one of my go-to stress relieving past times is getting high as a motherfucking kite and watching Scooby Doo.

I have always had an affinity for mystery-solving kids because I myself wanted to be a mystery-solving kid. But it turns out that I had really boring neighbours growing up, so I had to live vicariously through shows like Ghostwriter, The Secret World of Alex Mack and the Scooby Gang.

I suppose it says something about my love for Scooby Doo that I still watch it in my 30s (not taking into consideration that it’s readily available on Netflix.) It’s just that nowadays I’ve turned it into more of an adult activity.

So kick me in the crotch and spit on my neck if I wasn’t through-the-roof excited to find that someone had taken my Scooby Gang and turned it into an adult caper! Not only that, it’s mixed with a little Lovecraft flare?!

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED IN YOUR LIFE, my heart screamed.

Turns out, my heart jumped the gun and it is still firmly in the “cartoons and weed” category.

scooby doo smoke GIF

That’s not to say that this wasn’t a fun read. It totally was. It just didn’t live up to the hype or the nostalgia it so clearly was trying to honour.

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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: A Wolf Like Me (Thomas Spell, #1) by Andy Fitz

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★★★

CreateSpace Independent Publishing | 2017

Opening Hook: You know how you perform dark rituals sometimes?

Main Character: If a less zany Ace Ventura was a werewolf

Plot Supernatural-ness: A new world, but we’re keeping Merlin


Okay, first things first: I do not typically read werewolf fiction because I’m not a big fan of the werewolf mythos unless I’m playing Skyrim and become one to join the Companions, then it can come in handy.

Given the choice that we typically get, vampires or werewolves, pick one! I am much more into vampires.

Not the sparkly kind who fall in love and just want to do good even if their hearts are cold…awwwww. But like Gary Oldman’s Dracula, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or some 30 Days of Night absolute horror. That to me is so much more interesting and creepy. Vampires are the first horror monster to scare me as a child, making me pull the blanket up to my neck at night as if that would protect me.

People who turn into big, scary dogs is just kind of weird. But I get the appeal to horror fans.

That being said, this book is pretty decent even for a werewolf hater like myself.

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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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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.”

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★★

Quercus | 2018

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.

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