“Life’s fucked up. It just is. It’s got ups and downs and I say it’s worse not appreciating the good things, because then what’s the point? It’s like the Native Americans used to say, right? Gotta use all of the buffalo. Life is a whole damn animal, and you can’t waste any part of it.”
Del Rey Books | 2021
Filed Under: It’s only missing Voldemort
Oooo shit, this is one hell of a novel.
Coming in at nearly 600 pages, it looks like an intimidating read and ya girl is definitely not a fan of thicc novels, but let me tell you, this does not read like a big ass book.
There is so much happening all of the time in every single chapter, that the pace never takes its foot off the gas. You fly through this fat-bottom girl like… I don’t have a metaphor for this, but whatever. It’s a fast read is my point. You get it. And that’s a testament to Wendig’s plotting and writing voice.
I’m calling Wendig the Tolkein of horror because this book is an epic. This couldn’t be a movie. It would need to be a TV series to fit in every scene – they are all important and if anything was cut out I would fucking riot. Don’t get it twisted though, I don’t mean Tolkein in the boring, over-detailed way J.R.R. does fantasy.
Don’t come for me Tolkein stans! I don’t care! You know reading about thirty different kinds of rocks and trees is boring AF.
“Every house has a story. Ours is a ghost story. It’s also a lie. And now that yet another person has died within these walls, it’s finally time to tell the truth.”
Dutton Books | 2020
Filed Under: I’m not in the habit of blaming Satan for every phenomenon.
I wish this had fully been a horror story because, from the bottom of my bottom, I know Riley Sager could totally kill a haunted house horror novel.
But, this is like haunted house horror adjacent. It’s intentionally walking that line of fact or fiction, skepticism or belief. You never really know what you’re going to get with each new chapter.
Home Before Dark isa little bit spooky with a touch of Amityville vibes and lots of that signature Sager misdirection and twisty-twists. But it does read like more of a mystery-thriller.
When Maggie Holt’s father dies, she inherits the haunted house she lived in for 15 days when she was 5-years-old, totally unaware that her father still owned it. She and her parents fled in the middle of the night from Baneberry Hall and never returned, claiming the house was going to murder them, basically. Her father even wrote a bestseller about it that gained the family national fame and scorn. Just like the real Amityville – who many believe was a long-con by the family – not everyone believes the Holt family’s claims. Not even Maggie.
Now a house-flipper and designer, Maggie was too young to really remember what happened, but she’s sure her father’s book is whole ass bullshit. Any time she’s tried to get the truth from her parents they are dodgy and shady AF. Now her dad’s gone and her mom is all “I’m leaving for Paris!” so if Maggie wants the truth, she’ll need to search for it herself.
What is one to do with an abandoned haunted manor that probably holds the key to all Maggie’s questions? Flip it and sell it, obviously. But to do that, Maggie needs to move back in. And she’s like I ain’t afraid of no ghost! and she moves the fuck in even though her father used his final words to be like don’t fucking do that. She did it.
“What Keyes was describing was the textbook progression, from childhood, of a sadist and a psychopath. Torturing and killing small animals, pets especially, is experimentation in controlling and killing another living thing for pure pleasure. It is practice, the last step before graduating to humans.”
Viking | 2019
Filed Under: Gen X Serial Killer
Like so many who have read this true-crime book, I am shocked and confused as to how I’d never heard of Israel Keyes before. He does ask the police to keep his serial killing ways on the D.L. so that his family (particularly his daughter) never finds out what he did as a hobby, but like, dude – they were going to find out one way or another. You don’t kill three people (possibly eleven) and keep that a secret after you’ve been arrested.
It’s also kind of a strange concern to have considering he’s a psychopath. Like does he really care about his daughter’s emotional and mental well-being? I highly fucking doubt it. Most of these guys want to be famous. And it’s a real shame that even after death, we keep making Ted Bundy movies.
This book was a surprise in all the right ways for all the wrong reasons. Those reasons being serial murder and committing general criminal chaos. There is nothing better than being shocked and appalled while learning about a true-crime case for the first time. Well, there are lots of things better than that, but you know what I mean. If that makes me sound weird, so be it. I don’t know how else to explain it.
All of the –
– and –
– and –
– that comes with reading some fucked up shit for the first time can’t be duplicated. Kind of like a first kill that serial killers keep trying to replicate. See what I did there? Comparing myself to a serial killer? Shit. Alright, this going off the rails. Let’s just start over.
Filed Under: “Everything all right?” / “Yep, two corpses, everything’s fine.”
If you are looking for a modern Agatha Christie/Clue style locked-room mystery, may I suggest this fucking book to you?
Because I’m gonna.
This novel is such a throwback and I ended up liking it a lot… once I got past my assumptions of what the novel was going to be.
Apparently, it’s very easy for me to get used to the vibe of those fast-paced thrillers that are constantly trying to outdo the previous new release with twists and shocks. Read enough of them and I guess I can forget about the beauty in a subtle, classic mystery. Death in the Family was a needed reminder for me.
When I first started this, the tone and pace weren’t working for me. But that’s because I’m a stupid bitch. And almost immediately I realized I was looking for that other kind of thriller in the writing, which is actually really shit of me. Obviously, I need to switch up my current genre choices because it’s clouding how open I am when I start a new book.
I mean, not to get too fucking deep about it, but yeah…
“What is all the suffering for if not so we can see how alike we are, and not alone? Where will the mercy come from, if not from us?”
Ballantine Books | 2021
Filed Under: Hello darkness, my old friend
Well, I tell you what, if you’re in an emotional funk or mentally teetering on the edge of another bout of panny depression, do not read this book for the love of Thor and Loki’s butts in those toit-like-a-tiger outfits. Because this novel is sad, bitch.
I needed a nap and some serotonin by the time I was finished with it.
Detective Anna Hart is going through a hard time. She’s lost a child, lost herself and is about to lose her marriage. Hart decides the only way she might be able to find some perspective and some healing is if she leaves her current situation behind. She needs space to get herself together if there is any chance of moving past her grief and keeping her family.
She leaves San Fran for the small, country town of Mendocino, California where she grew up. Her dark present is about to compete with the tortured ghosts of her past in Mendocino. I mean, honestly, someone take this woman to an amusement park for the day. Just give her a reprieve from trauma. Everywhere you look with her it’s like dead parents, abandonment issues, dead foster parents, dead child, broken marriage, dead high school friends…
I’m not sure I’ve ever read a novel where one character was getting all of the dark shit, all of the time.
I haven’t read a police procedural this pure and detailed since Meg Gardiner’s last release. And y’all know how much I love Meg Gardiner. And if you didn’t, now you do because I just said it again.
If you are a fan of serial killers… wait, I don’t mean like a fan fan. That’s just weird. Get better idols, as Bailey Sarian would say. No, I mean if you are a fan of serial killer fiction – of the mystery and the pursuit and the suspense and the twisted games – then you want to read this novel.
It is a fucking fabulous police procedural. And I don’t say shit like that very often.
You want gritty? You got it. You want fucked up? It’s coming in hot. You need detailed and immersive? Buckle your seatbelt and keep your hands in the ride at all times.
But listen to what I’m saying, this is a procedural. If you do not like being in the narrative passenger seat of a police investigation, this probably isn’t going to be for you. And that’s totally legit. Why? Because all of this shit is subjective, Donna! It’s okay that we don’t all like the same things! That’s life.
Let’s get that through our collective skulls, shall we? But I digress…
This is not a thriller. This is an investigation. And in my opinion, novels that pull off a really good procedural plot with this much perfection are few and far between. And it’s a debut novel? Fucking insanity.
This is a story that can only take place in the United States. Almost anywhere else it’s like, “Oh you have cancer? Your medical treatment will not require you to remortgage your home, go bankrupt or start selling meth to pay for it.” Or in this case, write and sell opioid prescriptions in a rapidly evolving drug ring you were not at all prepared to be involved in.
But in the U.S., if your kid has rare and aggressive leukemia, you need to jump through hoops made of red tape – and also the hoops are on fire – before you even know if your insurance company is going to allow you the chance to save your child’s life.
Who thought that was going to be a solid, practical health care system? I just…
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.
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.
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 wrong 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 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!
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, 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.
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, you think you’re writing something very twisty and hard to figure out, but objectively you’re 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!