Review: White Out (Badlands Thriller, #1) by Danielle Girard

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★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2020

Opening Hook: Get winter tires.

Main Character: I don’t remember.

Plot Twisty-ness: Small-town amnesia.


If you’re sick to death of this extreme heat, which I always am even before it starts, then this snowy thriller is the perfect read to cool off this summer. How’s that for a goddamn tagline, huh? I should do this shit professionally. Someone pay me. Oh, and today is the official pub day!

Alright, so I was offered this book by the author, Danielle Girard, in exchange for a review. These authors know what they’re getting into when they ask me to review their books, so I’m always honest even when it’s negative and I don’t feel bad about it.

Fortunately for all of us, I don’t really have too much to say that’s negative about this first instalment in the Badlands series… except like two things… three things… four things… Okay, whatever, we’ll count them up at the end.

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Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus

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★★★

Delacorte Press | 2019

Opening Hook: Jamie Lee this Prom Queen ain’t.

Main Character: A Murderino Nancy Drew

Plot Twisty-ness: Boiled chicken without seasoning.


Ughhhhhh…

Here we are again. Welcome to yet another edition of “Krystin tries to read YA!”

Aside from Undead Girl Gang, which I totally fucking loved, I feel like I’ve been trying for 84 years like that lady from Titanic to get into YA mystery/thrillers and it’s just one disappointment after the next.

That’s not to say that the books aren’t good. Okay? Calm your energy. I’m not here to shit on your genre of choice. In almost every case, it’s has been an “it’s me, not you” situation. I am just not the right audience for this genre.

I wish I was! I would love to relax with a YA thriller because the R-rated shit can get to be a bit too much. Being constantly inundated with the most heinous shit can warp a person who also watches too much news. This planet is a dumpster fire. Yes, I see a therapist regularly, thank you.

I feel like a YA thriller would really help me unwind. Alas, of the 55 books on my “young-adult” Goodreads shelf, I have like 3 of them.

THREE.

Overall, these books make me feel very much like…

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A 16-year-old will say something like “I’m not a child!” And I’m just thinking, bitch you are so?!? Like what are you even talking about?

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Review: Anything For You (Valerie Hart, #3) by Saul Black

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★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2019

Opening Hook: Body parts in the desert.

Main Character: Clearly written by a man this time around.

Plot Twisty-ness: What it lacks in thrills, it tries to make up using oral sex.


First things first, if you’ve never read Saul Black before (aka Glen Duncan) do not get to know him by reading this book. I would suggest reading the very first Valerie Hart novel, The Killing Lessons, and if the style works for you, then you’ve got a new thriller series to read!

I say this because Saul Black is a graphic and gritty author with dark plot points and character arcs that flow from book to book. It’s important to understand the whole character and how he writes the plot around that character, to know whether or not his writing works for you. But it works as a standalone as well, if you’re okay with missing some character building.

There’s also a lot of descriptive sex and violence. So…..

Those of us with more delicate sensibilities would call Black crude or vulgar, and it will knock you off balance if that’s not the kind of writing you are expecting or like. The rest of us will be into his writing style because it’s honest and visceral, and we like gross shit.

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Review: The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan

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★★★

Spiderline | 2017

Opening Hook: Just hanging around

Main Character: Seeming guilty might be a fetish

Plot Twisty-ness: Too much soda


Okay, so this wasn’t exactly a grab-you-by-the-tits kind of thriller. If that’s what you’re expecting, temper your expectations accordingly. This is slower, but eerie, like a guy walking behind you and he just gives you the creeps but it’snot like he’s done anything but be a man on a sidewalk alone. Depending on your mood, this is either going to hit you as slow and boring or as a slow-burner that is chilling and twisty.

For me, when I read this, it was slowwwwwww like watching a sloth cross the street, which in any other circumstances I would love to do because sloths are my favourite.

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That said, I feel like it’s totally on me being in a bad headspace for a slow-burning thriller considering I’ve been stuck in the fucking house since mid-March. I can’t do slow or boring or any combination therein. I need my thrillers to be genuinely thrilling, mysterious and wild if I’m going to forget I’m looking at the same walls every day, all day. HOW MANY MORE WALKS CAN I TAKE MY DOG ON? We’ll find out…

Listen, I’m very grateful for all the people doing the front-line and essential work. But also, I’m getting cabin fever so let me express that, thank you and fuck off.

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Review: Resin by Ane Riel

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★★★

Doubleday | 2018

Opening Hook: Going off-grid

Main Character: Just doing her best

Plot Twisty-ness: Encased in resin


Wellllllll…. excuse the fuck out of me, but I didn’t really love this. It’s meh, but I get what it was going for. I’m definitely an outlier when it comes to my rating, so take it with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila.

I picked this up – an award-winning international best-seller – because the reviews are all like THIS IS BEST THING EVER! WORK OF ART! Blah, blah, blah… and I guess at this point I should know that my tastes are garbage and anything that is considered “art” is fucking lost on me.

I don’t like the classics.

I don’t like art-house.

I don’t like pompous shit that no one can get unless you’re some kind of eccentric intellectual.

I don’t like things that are extra for the sake of sounding smarter than the person reading it.

And I didn’t like this.

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Review: Oak Avenue by Brandi Reeds

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★★★½

Amazon Originals | 2018

Opening Hook: HGTV meets Shutter.

Main Character: No one wants to raise a baby with ghosts.

Plot Twisty-ness: Creepy but on uppers.


I did it! Here it is! My last review of the Dark Corners collection! It also happens to technically be my first read of 2020, so that means I’m caught up on all of my 2019 reviews. It’s New Year’s miracle!

Alright, for real I never thought I’d say this, but I’m kind of disappointed that this isn’t a full-length novel…because it was too fast. *gasp, horror, shock* I KNOW. Am I taking crazy pills? Seriously, I never thought “the plot moved too quickly” would be a complaint I would ever have in my life. My feelings about this story have totally caught me off guard.

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I liked this and I liked Brandi Reeds writing style, but my rating reflects what didn’t work for me. Though the creepy atmosphere is set immediately, the plot was too rushed and stilted to fit the short-story criteria.

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Review: Twelve Nights at Rotter House by J.W. Ocker

“Where else was I fundamentally wrong about life and the universe and how everything worked? Is life a cycle of us realizing how stupid we are over and over again until we die?”

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★★★½

November 2019 | Turner

Opening Hook: Eric Andre screaming “let me in!”

Main Character: 100% that skeptic.

Plot Twisty-ness: A total three-way.


While I love horror as a genre in any form, I admit I don’t read as much of it as I would like. And when I do read it, I find I’m disappointed that things aren’t as scary or twisted as I want them to be. Maybe my expectations are just too high. I’m 100% that book bitch. But I am making an concerted effort to read more horror until I find my lane in the genre.

That said, for me, Twelve Nights at Rotter House is on the slow-burner end of the horror spectrum. For much of the middle of the book, I wondered if anything really scary was ever going to happen; I could feel my typical disappointment start to brew. There are some disembodied screams, unexplained noises, figures that disappear, and of course the quintessential dumbwaiter that never reveals anything good, but none of it was really getting my heart rate up.

The main character of Felix was a little overwrought in how skeptical he was of everything, and his extreme rationalizing created a slower atmosphere for me. Scary moments were consistently downplayed, sucking the spooky guts out of the story and lending itself to my question of if anything truly scary was going to happen because any time I thought something creepy was afoot, Felix came in and just Debbie Downer’ed all over the place.

break up lol GIF by What We Do in the Shadows

He’s a dream killer, is what he is.

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Review: Fifty Fifty (Detective Harriet Blue, #2) by James Patterson & Candice Fox

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★★★

Little, Brown & Company | 2018

Opening Hook: Stop writing down your murder plots.

Main Character: Drywall is not safe around her.

Plot Twisty-ness: Patented Patterson Predictability.


I’ve gone and done it again *said in Kevin Spacey John Doe voice* (if you don’t understand that reference, please leave, watch Se7en and then come back.)

Alright?! OKAY? I admit it! That makes that twice this year I’ve broken my New Year’s resolution to not read any Patterson at all.

I’m weak! I have issues. I need a 12-step program for letting shit go; for being okay with not knowing. It’s really my worst quality as a human being. My mental health agrees.

But whatever. It’s done. I read it. So here’s the review.

CONTENT! *does jazz hands*

While I didn’t necessarily think this book was anything amazing, I have to say, I can see Candice Fox all over the writing in this book and that makes it infinitely better than most Patterson publications. The chapters are still short, the content shallow and a lot of moments are overly dramatic, but the actual prose felt more mature, unlike what I’d typically classify Patterson writing as. Read: juvenile.

Continue reading “Review: Fifty Fifty (Detective Harriet Blue, #2) by James Patterson & Candice Fox”

Review: Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

“I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.”

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★★★

Harper Perennial | 2014

Defining Feminist: “…a word that has, as of late, become a catchall term for ‘woman who does not tolerate bullshit.'”

Main Takeaway: “I’d rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

Plot Feminist-ness: Too much Scrabble, not enough feminist rants.


Omg, she read something that wasn’t about murder! Yes, yes, try not to pass out. I do consider myself a woman who strives to be well informed and well rounded, so when I’m not reading about the dark and twisty I do like to be enlightened or challenged.

That said, this book of essays was a mixed bag for me.

I was expecting a novel of feminist essays to expand my thinking on the topic and enlighten me about things I might not consider as a white female millennial who doesn’t know everything there is to know. I would say 50% of the book did that for me.

Roxane Gay spoke to my particular kind of feminism, which is that I might not be passing any purity tests conducted by the Twitter counsel, but I do my best and am always willing to learn, correct or just find peace in my choices even if they aren’t considered “good feminism.”

Gay presents herself as a bad feminist – someone who doesn’t fit the rigid definition we’ve set around ourselves, boxed ourselves into. She argues that feminism will always be flawed because people are inherently flawed and people run this movement. But that’s no reason to throw the whole thing away, to paint the whole thing with one brush or to participate in cancel culture over people’s individual missteps.

“When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.”

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Review: Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

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★★★

William Morrow | 2019

Opening Hook: No one cares about your sports trophies in real life.

Main Character: Catching a killer has never been so boring

Plot Twisty-ness: Over-the-top, yet done to death


The first book I ever read by Peter Swanson was The Kind Worth Killing and it totally impressed me enough to grab a four-star rating from my crabby, judgmental ass. Despite the characters being dull as hell, the plot was completely engrossing and the twists, duelling narrations and dark Strangers on a Train-like premise kicked me right in the crotch.

Since then, I’ve picked up Swanson’s work a few more times with optimistic expectations and have struggled with each reading. Fuck me for being positive, I guess. Before She Knew Him is no exception to that struggle. It’s better than All the Beautiful Lies (which was a goddamn snoozer,) but it’s still not touching me the way my first time with Swanson did…that’s what she said.

This, like a lot of Swanson’s work, seems to borrow heavy inspiration from Hitchcock, but just isn’t doing it as well as the original or adding anything new to the template. Before She Knew Him has serious Rear Window vibes when Hen and her douchebag husband, Lloyd, move to a small town outside of Boston so that Hen can find some peace and quiet while attempting to get the symptoms of her bipolar disorder under control. She’s an artist who works from home, and wouldn’t you just know it, she eventually suspects her neighbour, Matt, is a serial killer. BUT NO ONE BELIEVES HER dun dun dunnnnn…

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Also, a serial killer named Matt? BRO.

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