Review: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

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★★★★

Ballantine Books | 2018

Opening Hook: Basic bitch googles body burial.

Main Character: Good girl gone bad and gets a Swiss bank account.

Plot Twisty-ness: Call the gangster in prison to fix it.


What can I say? I fucking liked this. But it’s going to be a love it or hate it kind of book for readers because it’s different and crammed with multiple genres and plot elements. So, if you read it because I gave my elusive stamp of approval and walk away thinking I must have been high, then one: you’re right. and two: I’m also high right now.

Please don’t lose trust in me, but this worked for me. I readily admit that might have a lot to do with the audiobook quality because that shit was fucking FIRE.

The author narrates, and at first I was like that’s kind of weird, but then I found out she’s an actress who has been in things like Downton Abbey (never watched it, don’t act surprised.) Seriously, try the audiobook if you’re looking for maximum entertainment from this novel, because Catherine Steadman burns it down.

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Review: Buried (Agent Sayer Altair, #2) by Ellison Cooper

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★★★★½

Minotaur Books | 2019

Opening Hook: Skeletons as a crash pad.

Main Character: Made of cardboard, but good at her job.

Plot Twisty-ness: Mommy would be proud.


I read Caged last year, the first in this series featuring FBI agent/neuroscientist Sayer Altair, and my review basically came down to two things.

One: the twists were uninspired. While they did exist, it was the same thing over and over again and it became predictable and monotonous.

And two: the lead character of Agent Altair was boring AF. I’m sorry, but girl has the personality of a cardboard cutout.

For the second instalment in the series, I’m happy to say the author definitely fixed the first issue and clearly tried to make some headway with the second. That’s why this book gets half a star more than its predecessor.

That’s just the kind of generous reviewer I am.

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Review: The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson, #10) by Darynda Jones

“I’m married to a billionaire, like in all those books I read where the super rich guy falls in love with the poor chick who may not have much in the way of money but is wealthy in vivacity and sprightliness, and is really into bondage?” 

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★★★★½

St. Martin’s Press | 2016

Opening Hook: The ghost whose body is buried in the backyard.

Main Character: The only god I’d worship.

Plot Reaper-ness: Three cases and an exorcism.


What is there to say about this series that I haven’t said nine previous times already? Literally. I find it particularly difficult to write reviews for a series that has had very few missteps and never pisses me off…too much.

Really, writing harsh/critical reviews is where I feel that I shine as a writer and reviewer. I’m not good at being nice and heaping praise. And certainly, my kinder reviews are not getting the same traction as my more ranty ones.

I think there’s probably a whole psychological element to my life and personality that could be dissected because of this, but I don’t feel like holding up that goddamn mirror right now, if ever.

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Review: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

‘Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.’ 

★★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2019

Opening Hook: Team building at its most murder-y

Main Character: A James Bond glow-up

Plot Twisty-ness: Turning the heat up to 11.


Let me introduce you to my favourite revenge thriller of 2019. I mean, so far because it’s only July, but whatever. It’s not like my TBR is a cornucopia of revenge tales. Pretty sure it’s mostly serial killers.

The Escape Room is balls-the-walls wild, while still being grounded and realistic. I think that’s why I liked it so much – it was the perfect combination of over-the-top moments that exist just to be fun, mixed with a true-to-life high finance setting and realistic themes of suicide, loss, financial struggle and degrees of sexism.

The author took things that are honest and real, and that most readers will be able to find some thread of connection to, and kicked it up a notch with fantastical plot elements.

This debut novel is a tale of revenge that’s going to 100% fire you up to enact vengeance on your enemies. I’m looking at you, dude in my office who complained about the memes at my desk!

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Review: The Homecoming by Andrew Pyper

“When mom called to tell me the news, I was surprised at first that Raymond Quinlan was capable of something so human as dying.”

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★★★★

Simon & Schuster | 2019

Opening Hook: Daddy had secrets.

Main Character: A normal guy wearing a good guy suit.

Plot Twisty-ness: Lost in the woods without a sense of direction.


I’m a huge fan of Blake Crouch. And this book by Andrew Pyper is giving me some serious Crouch vibes and I’m not mad about it. This is the first book I’ve read by Pyper but it probably won’t be my last. The Homecoming was pretty much the shit if you’re into dark thrillers with a horror-sci-fi undertone.

The Quinlan family has lost their patriarch, the mysterious and absent Raymond Quinlan. He was a workaholic who left his children – Aaron, Franny and the youngest, Bridge – with some daddy issues. But all his work and bad parenting also left behind a few million in assets, so how bad can an absent father really be in that case?

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Belfountain is a huge estate in the PNW that includes cabins, a lodge and an old Christian summer camp on the grounds. It’s worth a cool thirty million in the right market conditions and it technically now belongs to the remaining Quinlans, But, in order for them to get their hands on their cut of their father’s will, they have to agree to spend 30 days on the estate, with no contact to the outside world.

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Review: Helter Skelter – The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

“You can convince anybody of anything if you just push it at them all of the time. They may not believe it 100 percent, but they will still draw opinions from it, especially if they have no other information to draw their opinions from.”

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★★★★

W.W. Norton & Company | 1974

Opening Brainwashing: The lowest of low hanging fruit.

Main Cult Leader: The folk singer with the swastika seems on the up-and-up

True Crimey-ness: Pop culture murder


Everyone and their mother knows the story of Charles Manson. Or at least the bullet points, because the bullet points are fucking insane. Crazy “hippie” cult leader who brainwashed otherwise normal young people into brutally murdering pregnant actress Sharon Tate and her house guests in the Hollywood Hills in 1969.

Everyone knows the blurb. Everyone knows the images of Manson and his craziest moments. Everyone has seen, at some point, that image of three happy girls singing on their way to their murder trial with swastikas on their foreheads. Everyone knows that Sharon Tate was pregnant because it’s those kinds of headline specifics that make your stomach turn or your jaw drop.

The famous imagines and soundbites are so robust and insane and sensational, and seared into pop culture by our own doing, that it led me to believe that I knew basically everything there was to know about this case. Or that I had enough of an understanding that reading this book was going to be just to say that I’d read it. It’s kind of a must for true crime fans, in my sometimes abrasive opinion.

But I was wrong.

There is so much information to be gleaned from this book by the prosecutor who convicted Manson, Vincent Bugliosi. Helter Skelter is a broad picture of Manson’s crimes, his early life and his followers that I found it utterly fascinating, even if the narrator of the audiobook sounded like he stepped right out of Fast Talking, High Trousers.

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Review: Stiff – The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

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★★★★

Penguin | 2004

Overall Grossness: You put that monkey head back where it came from, or so help me!

Best Cadaver: They were all beautiful, in their own dissected ways.

Plot Educational-ness: Thinking about your own expiration date has never been more fun!


I think if you’re into the macabre and that side of life, or death as it were, then this book is probably required reading.

And truth be told, I am not a science-brained kind of girl. Or history. Or geography. Or math. Really anything that requires a level of intelligence that is based on facts and an excessive amount of information and concentration.

These are just not my strong suits. And as much as high school teachers would want to make me feel bad about that with those shitty grades I kept getting, I’ve accepted myself now as an adult. I fully embrace that I will never be able to help my stepkid with science or math homework. He could ask me about English and art though. And I do appreciate logic and thoughtfulness.

I do have some intelligence, y’all!

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Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

“…we often mistake love for fireworks – for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm – and constant.”

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★★★★

Celadon Books | 2019

Opening Hook: You know how you want to kill your spouse sometimes?

Main Character: Creases his jeans, eats oatmeal, probably.

Plot Twisty-ness: A clever, tricky bitch.


There was a lot of hype surrounding this book’s release, and for the most part, it was deserved. I mean, it didn’t totally blow my tits off, and it wasn’t necessarily reinventing the wheel when it comes to thrillers with unreliable narrators. But, for a debut novel, it’s pretty impressive and I had a fun time reading it, so one erection eggplant up for Mr. Michaelides.

Alicia, an artist, killed her photographer husband. Shot him in the head repeatedly while he was tied to a chair, as a matter of fact. And she’s been silent every day since. Locked up in a psych hospital, she hasn’t uttered a word in nearly 7 years.

Theo Faber is a psychotherapist who is overly confident in his belief that he can crack Alicia’s silent nut, as it were. He takes a job in the hospital where she is locked up and starts his mostly one-sided conversations in the hopes of getting Alicia to finally explain why she did what she did to her husband, who by all accounts, she was madly in love with.

I don’t know about all of you, but while I jokingly say I’d like to murder the shit out of my husband sometimes, I don’t really mean it. …Well… mostly I don’t mean it. But I swear to Thor, when he clips his toenails in bed I could really, truly smother him with a pillow.

Anyway!

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Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

“You can’t judge someone’s internal state by their external attributes.” 

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★★★★

January 2019 | St. Martin’s Press

Opening Hook: Make-up artist seeks quick cash by being a liar

Main Character: Let’s her assumptions make her seem crazy

Plot Twisty-ness: Subtle and ominous


I’m a total sucker for anything that is psychologically leaning. And I don’t mean the trend of “psychological thrillers.” I mean real psychology, human nature, predicting behaviour and analyzing it. I’m a straight-up glutton when it comes to that kind of stuff and not for any sinister reason. It’s like not I’m trying to figure out the best way to appear human or some shit. If I was smarter, I probably would have been a psychologist. In another part of the multi-verse perhaps I am.

But in the here and now that we find ourselves trapped in (there’s been some kind of tear in the fabric of our universe and we ended up in a strange hell where Trump and Putin are going to destroy all life on Earth, I’m sure of it,) I’m just a girl with a deep fascination for dark psychology and no way to really express that except to watch endless true crime documentaries and read books like An Anonymous Girl, and have people think I’m weird.

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Review: The Dirt on Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson, #9) by Darynda Jones

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★★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2016

Opening Hook: Amnesia is a bitch

Main Character: Classic Charley, but Jane Doe

Plot Twisty-ness: Signature Charley adventures


I took a break from this series in order to catch up on some books that I owed reviews on, but since I was given the final book in the series through Netgalley, I’m back on the Charley Davidson bike, as it were. And I’m going to ride this son-of-a-bitch right to the finish line.

The ending of #8 was a little bit of a cliffhanger, but more than that it was just a bummer. Actually, the whole book was a bit of a bummer for me. I didn’t like how different it felt to everything else the series had been up to that point. It was a little heavier, a little too lovesick-romantic – just a little much all around, with not enough levity. It was like the series lost its way a little bit.

I’m happy to report, however, that #9 is a clear swing back around to Classic Charley. Only this time she has no idea who she is. She’s living a “just the essentials” kind of life as a waitress named Janey. She’s trying to figure out who she is, where her people are – she must have people, she has a wedding ring on after all! But she’s also just living her life without too much pressure.

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