I went into this book pretty blind. I wasn’t totally sure what it was about…maybe a bookstore called Bright Ideas? Something to do with suicide? But it kept popping up on my feed, and when a mystery novel has “bookstore” right in the title, how can a genre-lover like me resist? Plus, that cover! Come on!
It’s not often that I go into a book without a clear idea of what I’m about to read. I can be pretty particular in my reading criteria, so I’m not necessarily good at the whole “oh, just surprise me!” thing. My personal levels of neurosis start to kick in when I hear words like go with the flow or spontaneity.
This novel starts immediately. Not dicking around. And I was pretty hopeful that meant I was buckling in for a cozy little thriller with a side of dark sass.
Bookseller Lydia is closing up shop at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. She goes to look for regular “BookFrog” Joseph Molina, who hasn’t left the store yet. She finds him hanging. Suicide. She can’t figure out why Joseph would choose to commit suicide in her shop. But even more curious is why he died with a picture from her 10th birthday in his pocket. The mystery becomes too much to ignore when she inherits Joseph’s belongings and finds coded messages for her inside his books.
Continue reading “Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan”
“Love blinds us all…”
I’m on the fence about this one.
I feels like it doesn’t really know what it wants to be – A domestic thriller? Or a contemporary drama?
It touches on a lot of heavy subjects – domestic abuse, the justice system, the morality of the death penalty, wrongful convictions, motherhood and family and guilt and self-preservation. But it lacks the depth and analysis to be an emotional drama. And it’s missing the suspense and sinister atmosphere to be a thriller. Ultimately, it leaves a lot of these themes exposed, but not examined. And that felt unfinished to me.
For a story about a single mother who has to plan a murder to save her family from her abusive new husband, this was exceptionally slow and, and at times, straight up boring.
The first 40% is all build up, focusing on the story of Kristy and Lance – how they met, following the progression of their relationship from dating to marriage. I was not expecting this much emphasis on the romantic element. I experienced a cloud of confusion lingering around my reading experience. I kept thinking do I keep reading this? I didn’t want to read a romance? Is anything going to fucking happen?!
Continue reading “Review: The Walls by Hollie Overton”
“People turned a blind eye, though, didn’t they? No one liked to think about the fact that the water in that river was infected with the blood and bile of persecuted women, unhappy women; they drank it every day.”
My favourite book of 2016 was The Girl on the Train. And yes I know that’s such a cliché thing to say in starting this review. And it’s such a shit thing to do – to compare these novels. And it’s not like I want to compare them, and I’m trying really hard not to, but I read this novel because I wanted to consume The Girl on the Train in order to have it inside of me I LOVED IT SO MUCH (shit movie though.)
So honestly I’m going to try to divorce myself, as best I can, from my previous experience with Paula Hawkins and just focus on the merits of this novel as a standalone piece of fiction, *whispers* but at the same time, I’m only here because of her first novel…
That said, I did like this. But I didn’t LOVE IT.
Quick synopsis: Small UK town. Nel Abbott is writing a novel about the many deaths in a local river nicknamed The Drowning Pool. Nel dies in The Drowning Pool. Was it suicide or murder?
“Beckford is not a suicide spot. Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women.”
I got off to a shaky start because of the sheer volume of characters and changing POVs. I think there are 10 different voices, as well as excerpts from Nel’s manuscript, that are essentially quick POVs of each of the women who have died in The Drowning Pool, bringing the grand total up to 14 voices (if I’ve not forgotten anyone.)
Continue reading “Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins”
“It was growing dark, and somehow the shadows made it feel as if all the trees had taken a collective step towards the house, edging in to shut out the sky.”
This is an atmospherical oddball psychological mystery suspense novel that I liked….and at the same time I fucking hated? Like I’m so torn. Save me.
Here’s the problem. The main protagonist, Nora, is a fucking loser. I’m just going to put it out there. She’s a loser.
She’s 26 years old and still pining away for the boyfriend she had when she was 16. Come on! Ok, sure, it was a messy breakup, he broke your heart into a million tiny teenager girl shaped pieces and you never got closure. But how does someone never move on, like at all? Has she ever had sex with someone else? Gone on a date? Apparently not. So just…come on!
How many grown ass women are out there decidedly becoming Bridget Jones re-virginanized spinsters because their high school sweetheart peaced-out during a difficult time in your life? SHOW OF HANDS PLEASE…I won’t judge, despite what this review might suggest. I just need a headcount and to tell you to get over it! Find a man (not a boy) that knows how to work a G-spot and you’ll be over that high school flake in no time. Gotdamnit, NORA!
“I have not spoken to him for ten years, but I thought of him every single day.”
Continue reading “Review: In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware”
I am feeling pretty meh about this whole thing.
I don’t know if it was the hype, or my standards are at some level not even I understand, but you guys seemed to effing love this and for me, it fell short of “special.”
It got off to a slow start. There’s an obvious underlying thread of unease to Grace and Jack’s marriage – her the beautiful housewife and him the successful lawyer – that you are quick to pick up on, but it takes quite a while to get around to just how nefarious Jack actually is. And by the time his true self is revealed, the story has taken on a stagnant quality.
Oh, more threats about Millie? Great. Did you want to use the word “perfect” a few hundred more times? Excellent. Grace’s friends are going to continue to think nothing is fucking weird as all hell? Okie-dokie.
So much focus is put on the small interactions, the paranoia Grace experiences in trying to figure out just how to act, and just what to say, in order to “win” against Jack, that it becomes quite tedious to read. And the plausibility is laughable (unless you’re really into it, which you might be!) – a high powered attorney who wins big and has his face splashed on the news, who probably works 60 hour weeks, also has time to monitor every single thing Grace does, to intercept all interactions, to feed her and care for her like a pet? How would any regular person have the energy for this – let alone a successful, busy attorney? …Even if he is a fucking looney-toon.
Continue reading “Review: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris”
“They built a life on lies.”
Okay, if you say so.
I was expecting a dark domestic noir thriller, and instead what I got was two assholes who married each other and could have avoided a lot of shit if they’d just, I don’t know, talked like people who got married for a reason. Failing that, try therapy.
Their marriage issues were all tales as old as time. Nothing really shocking – he has a wandering eye, she can be cold and distant. They don’t communicate well. Sometimes they love each other, sometimes they want to chuck plates at each other’s throats. Big deal, that’s marriage for a lot of people.
What’s not life for most of us, however, is the amount of money these two assholes have. Or the death of their child. Or the sinister events that engulf their lives very quickly.
Much of the more mundane “crumbling marriage” tropes take place in an over-sized, fantastical world of good looks, success, wealth and travel – extremes that are not realistic for the general population. So, somewhere between the banal (for the genre) issues of their marriage and the over-the-top baseline for their way of life, is where you will find me still deciding whether or not this book resonated with me.
Continue reading “Review: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison”
Opening Hook: Dumpster baby.
Main Character: PTSD and inappropriate work places romance.
Plot Twisty-ness: Given away in the synopsis, because I guess why the hell not?
This was pretty enjoyable, I have to say. For a debut in a series it hit mostly all the right notes. But at the same time, it was missing aspects that I look for to really make a procedural more than just the typical.
The story boils down to an abandoned baby, a woman who’s been missing for four years (who is the mother of that baby,) and one seasoned, but borderline PTSD, detective on the case.
You hear all of that and you think, yes gimme! It sounds like the perfect recipe. But I’m left feeling a little bit like Gordon Ramsey on Master Chef when someone brings up a beautiful looking dish and he tastes it, gets a funny look on his face and says: “It looks fantastic, but where’s the seasoning? Did you salt the fucking chicken?”
Carla Kovach forgot to salt the fucking chicken on this one.
It’s a minor mistake in the grand scheme of things, but it means something is off the whole time you’re eating.
…I don’t know why I’m doing a food metaphor, honestly. I hate food metaphors. And I had such a big lunch that I don’t even want to think about eating ever again. Ugh.
Continue reading “Review: The Next Girl (DI Gina Harte, #1) by Carla Kovach”
Welcome to another edition of Krystin Struggles To Write A Review For A Book That Was Just Okay!
These are my least favourite reviews to write. I think I’m a person who creatively operates best under strong swings on the emotional spectrum. Writing a review for a book that didn’t get me fired up either way is kind of like being asked “how was your weekend?” by an expectant colleague and struggling to come up with an answer because all you did was lay around in your PJs mindlessly watching repeats of Live PD.
That Dan Abrams sure does like him some tightly fit sweaters. And I am not complaining.
I don’t know, guys… Do you want to talk about this book or do you want to talk about Dan Abrams’ wardrobe? I’m leaning more towards wardrobe. Blue is really his colour.
Alright, alright! I’ll stop.
Continue reading “Review: Dark Game (DI Kelly Porter, #1) by Rachel Lynch”
This novel reads like the author really likes to watch the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime movies. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you’re into that.
Lort knows, I’ve binged all of the Aurora Teagarden movies like a fucking champ.
The Vanishing Season ticks off a lot of boxes on the “Cozy Lifetime Mystery Checklist.”
That’s a thing. Let’s go through it…
In a small town (✔️), Abigail Hathaway, who now goes by Ellery and escaped a serial killer as a teenager, (✔️) is now a cop herself (✔️). But no one knows about her dark past (✔️) and she intends to keep it that way. Ellery, with knowledge no one else has (✔️) connects three seemingly unrelated missing persons’ cases that she’s never worked on (✔️) and decides there must be a copycat killer in her tiny town (✔️), but no one believes her (✔️) and won’t, unless she outs her true identity (✔️). What this killer really wants is her (✔️)! The killer starts to leave her notes and packages to let her know he knows who she is, and is watching her (✔️).
Ellery calls for backup in the form of a disgraced FBI agent (✔️), who also happens to be the same agent that saved her from certain death all those years ago (✔️).
Continue reading “Review: The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen”
I hate writing reviews for novels that didn’t get me fired up one way or the other.
Gushing reviews are easy. Angry reviews are fun.
But a blah review?
I mean, it’s well, blah, and it doesn’t give me the creative spark to live up to my potential as a sassy reviewer ’round these parts.
Sooooo yeaahhhhh….I’m having a hard time deciding how I feel about this offering by T.R. Ragan.
You’ve got all the makings of success in my eyes, typically: A female P.I., a personal mystery, an interesting sub-plot and a serial killer on the loose.
Those are some big plot lines that have half the magic built right into them, all the author needs to do is throw in a little glitter and fire. Somehow this novel manages to be just okay – it’s missing the glitter and fire.
I see a lot of reviews calling it a fast-paced thriller and um…
Continue reading “Review: Her Last Day (Jessie Cole, #1) by T.R. Ragan”