G.P. Putnam’s Sons | 2020
Filed Under: The Honeymoon is Over
For the sake of clarity, this is in no way a thriller or horror or mystery or anything like I would usually read. It’s a fucking romantic comedy. Yeah, seriously. I know you’re wondering why I read it and why I’m reviewing it. The answer to both of those questions is: BECAUSE EVERYTHING SUCKS.
The world is a mess. People are sick and dying. Way too many people are stupid as hell. I mean, honestly, the amount of idiots that we have to co-exist with is just staggering. I haven’t seen friends or colleagues since March 2020 and, surprisingly, it actually makes me not like my job as much. Who knew the introvert would need to see people sometimes? Speaking of every day, it’s Groundhog’s Day Monday to Sunday, and back again, as I shuffle around my house doing the same little chores and tasks like an idiot. I celebrated my birthday alone and we snuck around to my parents’ places over the winter holidays like we were in a spy thriller, just in case the police gave us a ticket for being outside our house.
And yes, I readily admit we should have only celebrated the holidays with our immediate family – and many people stronger than I did this – but after a fucking year of pandemic bullshit, we decided to break some rules and have at least one good memory from 2020. We haven’t seen our families since, so back the fuck off.
Anyway… everything is terrible and I needed something sweet and happy to stabilize my ever-floundering mental health, if only for a couple of days. You Deserve Each Other fit the bill. It was romance, but it came with a kick so it wasn’t so ew. I am not a serious romance kind of woman.
Continue reading “Review: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle”
Minotaur Books | 2020
Opening Hook: A split-second that changes everything
Main Character: Losing it all and not handling it well
Plot Twisty-ness: Totally lives up to the title
I’m a fan of Jennifer Hillier even though I’ve previously only read one other book by her – Creep. It made such an impression on me that I’ve picked up her work a few more times, but being that my TBR pile is so fucking huge this is only the second book of hers I’ve gotten around to actually reading and not just looking at on my shelves. I will say, Little Secrets has done nothing but convince me even more that Hillier is one of the best psychological thriller authors out there.
This book is basically about two of my greatest fears – a cheating husband and a kidnapped child. And no I don’t have any biological children of my own, but I do have a dog and that’s basically the same thing… *waits for mothers to scream at me about how it’s not the same thing at all…*
Obviously, I know having a pet and having a child is not the same same, but I love my dog more than anything. He’s my baby proxy. And if someone kidnapped him I would LOSE MY FUCKING MIND. I would tear the space-time continuum to shreds until I got him back.
Now, if my husband cheated on me I would lose my mind as well, but in a much different way. It’s just in his best interest if he stays loyal.
Continue reading “Review: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier”
St. Martin’s Press | 2020
Opening Hook: Sarah Keonig’s soothing tones
Main Character: Not Joey Potter
Plot Twisty-ness: Like turning upside down in dark water
Remember when I was on the blog tour for this last August and said I’d have a review posted “soon?” Man, I’ve got some hilarious jokes.
Listen, I’m blaming everything on 2020. I’m double-digits deep on back reviews and triple digits up in unread ARCs because I just… couldn’t. And I didn’t know how to even explain what was wrong/is with me. But it’s literally all the Pandemic’s fault. I have the science to back it up! Research shows that the high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that we have been producing extra of for a prolonged period because of the pandemic, can inhibit perceptual learning and memory formation. This interferes with our ability to assimilate facts and focus on work. So, if you’ve been having trouble working, reading and or just general concentration has been difficult for you, then this is why. STRESS, bitch! That you got from a Panny!
Check out @silverpebble on Twitter for more information. I just learned this after a whole fucking year of screaming at my husband, “why can’t I do any of the things I like to do?”
Now I know.
I had big plans for last year. I was going to get my reading life organized, tons of reviews posted and make a serious dent in my ARCs, but basically, none of that happened. Now, we’re days away from the one-year anniversary of this goddamn pandemic. How can it be March 2021 when I’m still processing March 2020!?
Anyway, it’s officially six months since I was supposed to review this book, so let’s get this shit posted.
Continue reading “Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin”
Thomas & Mercer | 2019
Opening Hook: Déjà vu
Main Character: Not yet living up to her description
Plot Twisty-ness: Almost came from 4chan
Listen, I like this series!! Maybe it won’t sound like it for the bulk of this review, but I do. I like the character of Ziba. I think she’s interesting, layered and a tough female character in this genre. But this sequel to Blood for Blood persists in my biggest problem from the first book – Ziba, and the rest of the cops, are starting to seem really fucking dumb. Ziba is described as a highly skilled criminal profiler and ex-special forces badass, but she consistently whiffs on seeing the very obvious answer to a mystery. She takes FOR👏EV👏ER to pick up a clue the reader will catch immediately. That’s a problem.
This is mostly an author issue. The being, Selman thinks she’s writing something very twisty and hard to figure out, but she’s not, so the highly-skilled main character doesn’t live up to the big description she’s been given. The reader will be screaming “HELLOOO!!! How are you not getting this?!” at Ziba about halfway through.
I wish it wasn’t so. I truly do. Because this UK-based crime series is heads above other UK-crime series in a lot of ways – no recycled tropes or character types, and no fucking book covers of a woman in a red coat walking through some kind of goddamn field.
Where are you going, lady?! The crimes happened in central London! There’s nothing in that field!
Continue reading “Review: Nothing to Lose (Ziba MacKenzie, #2) by Victoria Selman”
Minotaur Books | 2020
Opening Hook: STEM stands for Soon They’ll End up Murdered
Main Character: Still waiting for that inanimate object to come to life
Plot Twisty-ness: Goes over the conspiracy top
Not that it matters in the long run, but I wish this had a single-word title. The first novel is Caged, the second is Buried. And the third one, Cut to the Bone, is fucking up the title flow for me. But whatever, I’m mildly neurotic so shit like this bothers me. I’ll talk to my therapist about it.
Then again, sticking too closely to a title gimmick can become fucking stupid. Just look at literally any series by James Patterson. At this point, most of his titles don’t even make sense to the plot. But enough about my arch-nemesis…
What really matters here is that Ellison Cooper is getting better and better at producing quality thriller stories with each new novel. Cut to the Bone is non-stop action from the very first chapter, and while some moments got a little too extra for me – things I won’t mention because of spoilers – overall this was an intelligent and intricately plotted novel that should be on every thriller fan’s TBR. I would, however, definitely suggest reading the whole series from the beginning because I feel Cooper’s strongest attribute as a writer are character arcs which evolve with each new novel. She really knows how to keep a long-game plot rolling.
Continue reading “Review: Cut to the Bone (Agent Sayer Altair, #3) by Ellison Cooper”
Wednesday Books | 2019
Opening Hook: You know when you get shipped to the woods so you don’t steal someone’s husband?
Main Character: Raging Feminist Buzzkill
Plot Twisty-ness: Doing magic mushrooms
First of all, every time I look at that cover, for a split second I see a vagina. It looks like the cover of the Vagina Monologues or something to me. Remember that shit? Anyway, I’m not sure if that’s on purpose because of what this novel is about or if my brain is officially fried, but here we are.
My vagina is a YA novel cover.
This book was a trip. It’s not perfectly executed, but it’s right on the cusp of being something perfect so I’m focussing on that.
The plot is literally so 👏 fucking 👏 good. If you’re like me – a raging feminist – you’re going to want to read this.
Basically, we’re in some M. Night Shyamalan The Village shit where girls are banished to live together at an isolated camp in the wilderness during the year of their 16th birthday. This is their Grace Year. The reason being, once a girl turns 16 she comes into the “magic” powers that all women hold over men that will end lives, destroy marriages and steal husbands away.
Continue reading “Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett”
Margaret K. McElderry Books | 2020
Opening Hook: False confessions as a pastime
Main Character: Twinning with a missing local
Plot Twisty-ness: Definitely thought LSD was involved
Okay, first of all, can we all take a moment to appreciate how much fun it is to say the author’s name? KIT FRICK. Saying it brings me so much joy. Or maybe pandemic lockdown is seriously getting to me. But, her name is like a little something extra to go with a really good book.
YEAH, I SAID.
It’s a YA mystery that was actually good! And no, I didn’t hit my head or get high while I read it. I’m as shocked as you are. (Lockdown is definitely getting to me???)
I mean, it’s not as if I never like YA novels, but it is a 1:10 ratio. There’s got to be something really different, honest or grounded about a YA mystery for me to get into it.
I Killed Zoe Spanos is all three of those things.
It’s set in the Hamptons but doesn’t heavily rely on that Hamptons’ vibe to move the plot, which I appreciated. It’s not gimmicky or cartoonish in its depiction of that Hamptons lifestyle, and it easily could have been. Frick put her focus on the main character of Anna Cicconi – how she felt, what she was doing, where she came from and how she viewed the world around her – to bring the setting to life.
And the vibe ended up being dead on.
Continue reading “Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick”
“Being psycho doesn’t make you bad, being bad makes you bad. Being a psycho and bad makes you dangerous.”
Bloodhound Books | 2018
Opening Hook: Face/Off without Nic Cage.
Main Character: At least she’s not on pills.
Plot Twisty-ness: Not your average YouTube makeup tutorial.
If you’re the kind of person who just can’t resist a UK crime procedural with a damaged main character and a twisted killer who masturbates a lot (like a lot,) then this is the book for you, you fucking weirdo.
Lucky for me, I’m a weirdo too, so I was totally into this first instalment in the Rosalind Kray series.
Rosalind is everything you want to be – drunk and eating junk food.
She’s also a single mother since her husband was murdered. Rosalind carries around survivor’s guilt by the butt-load, uses alcohol just to sleep, uses casual sex with her partner to numb the pain and investigates murder as a distraction.
So, you know, everything you don’t want to be.
Continue reading “Review: Faceless (DI Rosalind Kray, #1) by Rob Ashman”
Doubleday | 2020
Opening Hook: Vega’s Bat-signal.
Main Character: Doing underwear yoga.
Plot Twisty-ness: Bringing that 2020 vibe.
I loved Louisa Luna’s first book, Two Girls Down, with a fiery passion that tingled my loins. Ew, don’t say loins.
But for real, I loved that book. It was one of my top five reads of 2018. So I was totally on board for a sequel because Alice Vega is one of the most bomb-ass female characters in crime fiction right now. That’s not an exaggeration.
I love her aloof, serous and damaged personality. I love that she does yoga in her underwear for breakfast and will do full body tackles of men twice her size without hesitation for lunch. She takes no shit, doesn’t play nice and has no tolerance for bullshit. Plus, she’s smart AF and every time she gets herself out of a tricky pickle I am mildly aroused. What I’m saying is, I want to be her when I grow up.
Her relationship with quasi-partner, retired detective Max “Cap” Caplan, is sexually tense at the right levels, but also romantic and sweet in an honest way – nothing mushy or easy, or even overly-dramatic that would make me hope they both die alone.
Continue reading “Review: The Janes (Alice Vega, #2) by Louisa Luna”
Look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.
Mira | 2019
Opening Hook: That’s why her hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.
Main Character: She doesn’t even go here!
Plot Twisty-ness: The limit does not exist.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t sure how much I was really going to connect with a novel about rich Mean Girls attending an all-girls prep school and doing outdated secret society rituals, but you know me, I have to read everything J.T. Ellison writes.
I’m pleased a punchy-punch to say this book was actually a twisty AF little thriller with a vibrant, creepy atmosphere and a steady pace that held my picky attention. I never felt like I had to skim a paragraph or skip ahead to some real action. Everything about the plotting was masterfully deliberate.
By the blurb, it could possibly be mistaken for YA – which just isn’t for me – but this novel is totally adult, full of mystery, interesting characters with shady side hustles and a little bit of death. These Mean Girls girls are worth the read.
Continue reading “Review: Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison”