Review: Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison

“The words I’ve heard in the past few days are ones I never expected – new, untried, untested. Casket. Body. Funeral. Viewing. Embalming. Autopsy. Severed. Seven-inch non-corrosive steel blade. Homicide.”

36839879★★★★

Opening Hook: Broken bones, broken dreams

Main Character: Shouldn’t keep blood secrets when your sister works with DNA

Plot Twisty-ness: Are coincidences considered twists?


Okay, okay, OKAY. Y’all know I love me some J.T. Ellison.

It all started with her Taylor Jackson series a damn decade ago (ugh, that makes me feel old) and I’ve been a loyal reader ever since. I love tough women writing tough women, it’s a thing.

Ellison’s move from series writer to standalones started with Lie to Me, which most people loved, except for yours truly.

What can I say? I’m a picky fucking reader.

I had a few issues with the pacing of Lie to Me (the second half sucked the life out of it) and with the ending (“it was all for nothing, just a giant misunderstanding” doesn’t really work for me. that’s not a twist,) but I’m happy to say that I liked Tear Me Apart a lot. I didn’t love it. It’s not the best thing I’ve read this year, but it’s a good read. It’s not a waste of your time, at all.

And we all know how much I hate wasting my reading time.

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Review: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

“On the morning of the exorcism, I stayed home from school.”

31713935★★★★

Opening Hook: Exorcist house field trip

Main Character: Untrustworthy, just the way I like them

Plot Twisty-ness: Don’t eat the pasta


Finding really good, disturbing, well-crafted horror novels is hard for me, even though I love horror. Obviously, this is probably because I’m a picky bitch but I regret nothing.

Paul Tremblay has been on my list of “horror authors to possibly trust” for a long time, but I think I put off reading his work to avoid the letdown.

But now that it’s officially “stick a pumpkin up my ass and spice everything” season, I figured what better time than now to find out if Paul Tremblay is a true horror author I should trust; to find out if I am a fan or not.

And I’ll tell you, I think I am.

I didn’t love this with an unbridled passion, like some other reviewers, but I did like it a lot.

Tremblay does an A+ job of weaving together some of my favourite horror elements. One, the general idea of possession and exorcism. And two, the more abstract idea of what is truly a supernatural event, vs. what is just a mental disorder presenting as a shit-your-pants-scary experience.

In real life, with my feet firmly planted on the ground, I am not religious and I do not believe in magic as an actual thing that actually exists. I suppose, technically, you’d call me an atheist (don’t worry, I’m not here to eat your babies or get all militant about it or whatever – live and let live is my thing,) but I don’t really like the idea of labelling the absence of something. There are no names for people who don’t believe in fairies or don’t accept the existence of leprechauns. So I don’t really use the term atheist very much.

michael scott atheism GIF

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Review: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

“I’d heard it before, of course, usually from my mother. A nasty, cold-blooded, selfish, grasping, uppity, ungrateful goddamn little bitch. And I know that to be true. I could feel the coldness in my own veins.”

40941435★★★★

Opening Hook: More like opening another button, amiright?!

Main Character: Your new best sociopathic friend #4eva

Plot Twisty-ness: Jane’s plot could have used a tab more plotting, but otherwise satisfying in a totally sexual way


I really really liked this.

On the surface it’s the story of a woman hellbent on revenge for the suicide of her best friend, Meg. Her target: Meg’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Steven.

Jane leaves her expensive high-powered lawyer life in Kuala Lumpur behind, and moved to Minneapolis, giving herself a month or so to infiltrate Steven’s life and make him wish he’d never been born.

LIKE OMG SO FUN.

So that’s the basic idea of the novel. And already I know you’re thinking, “I’ve always wanted to change my identity and ruin someone’s life. Revenge is the best. Sign me up.”

But when you look past the surface, when you go a little bit deeper, you see that this is actually a novel of patriarchy-smashing awesomeness, as well as a giant middle finger to the hypocrisy of Evangelical Christians.

And that last part just feels so right it turned me on a little bit.

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Review: It Takes One (Audrey Harte, #1) by Kate Kessler

“Doing a bad thing doesn’t make you a bad person. People do bad things for the right reasons all the time.”

28098777★★★★½

Opening Hook: Better classified as a “meltdown”

Main Character: Small town child murderer

Plot Twisty-ness: The definition of twisty


Audrey Hart left Edgeport years ago after being released from the local juvie, Stillwater, for killing her best friend, Maggie’s, father when they were teenagers. She doesn’t regret it for a second – Maggie’s father was a daughter-raping piece of shit, and killing him – and the consequences that followed – have made Audrey who she is today: a successful child psychologist and contributor to a true crime tv show, Kids Who Kill.

When Audrey gets a call to return home to Edgeport, she’s dreading it. The whispers, the glances – all eyes are always on her whenever she’s in town. That is certainly true when Audrey walks into the local watering hole to pick up her drunk-ass father and Maggie spots her. They speak for the first time in years and it’s not friendly. Audrey gets mean, Maggie gets nasty, gets pushed onto her ass and Audrey storms off. The next morning Maggie is dead on the beach and Audrey is a suspect. 

So begins all the twisted, romantic, dramatic events that will lead to the disturbing and twisted discovery of just what exactly happened to Maggie. And when I say twisted, I mean twisted. There is so much history to unravel, so many secrets and lies to uncover, that while there aren’t necessarily many “thrilling” or “dangerous” moments, you are totally engaged the whole time.

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Review: The Body Reader (Detective Jude Fontaine, #1) by Anne Frasier

28090850★★★★

Opening Hook:  The human equivalent of an animal caught in a trap

Main Character: Needs to get laid, but also doesn’t

Plot Twisty-ness: If a roller coaster was an onion


I have to say I really liked this. It’s dark. It’s interesting. There are so many layers to the story, to the mystery. It’s never what you think it is.

I’ve never read anything by Anne Frasier before, though I do have a few of her books on my TBR shelf. I will definitely be moving those books closer to the top of the list.

Det. Jude Fontaine makes a daring escape after 3 years in captivity. She’s not herself anymore. She’s been subjected to unknown tortures and horrors. She sees everything in the world with new eyes, including herself.

Clawing her way back to some semblance of mental health, Jude goes back to work as a Homicide detective, while trying to find new ways to just be alive. (Sleeping on the roof, for instance.) Everything about Jude is switched off after her return. She has no sense of humour, she is flat and unemotional. She doesn’t know how to exist anymore. And this starting point requires that the other plot elements, and secondary characters, have some A+ development. 

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Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

This is how you ends for you. “You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,” you threatened a victim once. Open the door. Show us your face. Walk into the light.

35068432★★★★½

Crimes: 12+ murders, 50+ rapes, 120+ burglaries

Crime Fighter: A true crime junkie who should be alive to witness the conclusion of her life’s work

Plot Truthiness: Everything you could want to know without being a cop on the case


This is a beautiful work of non-fiction/true crime.

The East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, the Visalia Ransacker, the Easy Bay Rapist, the Dollner Street Prowler, the Diamond Knot Killer…

This killer has gone by many names, but the one you’ll be hearing the most is the Golden State Killer. A term coined by the late Michelle McNamara, a true crime writer/junkie/amateur detective, whose life mission was to see this most prolific villain unmasked after a reign of terror that lasted more than a decade, and that he has been (was) getting away with for over 40 years.

Michelle McNamara died on April 21, 2016. She was nearly done her tome about GSK. Her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, as well as Michelle’s research partner and a journalist friend, finished the book for her. They knew Michelle needed to see this published. It was her life’s work, her greatest obsession.

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Review: Caged (Agent Sayer Altair, #1) by Ellison Cooper

36743024★★★★

Opening Hook: Jigsaw meets the Unabomber

Main Character: Baggage fees at the airport are getting expensive.

Plot Twisty-ness: Forgot to slip the reader some DMT.


Okay, here’s my issue, I really over-hyped myself for this one.

I heard “police procedural” and “FBI agent” and “serial killer” and just lost my ever-loving crime fiction booknerd mind, expecting to fall rapidly in love with this; for it to be everything I need a book with those descriptors to be. I consciously recognized that I was doing it, in the moment, and I made a decision to allow myself to be hyped for this. Which in any other circumstance, would have been against my better judgement.

…and almost immediately once I started reading, I needed to readjust my expectations because I knew I would be massively disappointed otherwise.

So no, this was not the mind-blowing read I wanted it to be. BUT it was still good and I’m definitely on board for this as a series.

It has a very dark atmosphere with a Criminal Minds vibe. Profilers and some bureaucracy, but mostly disturbing puzzles that need solving. And this completely connected with me, bringing together a lot of my favourite things, especially the psychology behind the murders.

It’s heavy on the procedural, medium on the twists (focused on the science side of the evidence, and less on physical events) and low thrills. But that’s pretty typical for procedurals.

There are some explosions, traps and tricks and disturbing content – namely puppies and kittens in danger that will definitely stir your feels if you are anything like me.

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Review: LoveMurder (Valerie Hart, #2) by Saul Black

31138734★★★★

Can I get a hallelujer, Lort?!

I’m not the religious type, but give me a book like this and I suddenly start worshiping the Gods of Literature. You know – Stephen King, Agatha Christie and J.K. Rowling.

Six years ago Katherine Glass abducted, heinously tortured and killed young women all over San Francisco…until Det. Valerie Hart caught her and put her away for life. *cue the sound of prison gates slamming shut*

…But Katherine didn’t commit her crimes alone, and her partner – The Masked Man – who is probably even more deranged than Katherine, was never caught.

Now, the murders have started again, and left with each body is an envelope, addressed to Valerie, containing complicated clues and ciphers that will point the police to the next victim. Figure out the puzzle fast enough, save a life. But only Katherine Glass has the personal insight to decode the Masked Man’s clues, forcing Valerie to work with a killer.

Katherine promises she only wants to help – she’s never forgiven the Masked Man for leaving her high and dry. She just wants time out of her cell, maybe some mental stimulation. But can Katherine really be trusted? (I mean, obviously the answer is “probably not”, but let’s just go with it.)

LoveMurder has a very Hannibal Lecter/Clarice Starling feel to it, which is probably every serial-killer-thriller fan’s favourite thing ever…Amiright?!

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Review: And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

“Rotting in your skin, rotting in your mind. You are rotting in this house. In this house you’ll die.”

31926619★★★★

This book is a love story between sisters. It’s a love story about a boy who can’t love. It’s a story about a teenage girl trying to decide what decisions are best, while carrying guilt and confusion and stumbling through her reality, unsure and uneasy.

…But mostly it’s creepy AF.

Silla Daniels, and her mute sister Nori, arrive at their aunt’s decrepit mansion, La Baume, after having escaped their abusive father. They are looking for peace, for a place to call home, and they have pessimistic hopes that La Baume will be that for them.

…But, you know, it’s not.

Because something is off. Their aunt is odd. The house makes noises that fill Silla with dread. And the woods surrounding the property seem to be moving closer to the house; woods where something dangerous lurks. Something that won’t let them leave. Could it be the Creeper Man? As the food supply runs dangerously low, Silla starts to lose her mind. Because at La Baume, nothing is what it seems.

“He’s out there,” I say, turning back to the window. “Always watching. Getting stronger.”

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Review: The Drowned Girls (Angie Pallorino, #1) by Loreth Anne White

31340014★★★★½

Opening Hook: Protect your lady-bits

Main Character: Sex-addict realness

Plot Twisty-ness: Procedural B+


I’m telling you right now, this book is the motherfucking shit.

Not even an exaggeration, honey.

And it’s the shit for one reason. Yes, it’s got murder. Yes, it’s got sex. Yes, it’s got a psycho serial killer. Yes, it’s hitting that fine line in the level of detail. Yes, it reads like real life honesty. Yes, it’s got gore. Yes, it takes place in C to the A to the N to the A to the D to the A…

Hold on, did I spell that right? *goes back to check* Yep.

CANADA!

But listen to me readers and lovers, without Detective Angie Pallorino as a lead character we would be sitting at a three star rating That’s just the truth.

Was there anything astonishing about the story line? Not really. It’s interesting, but at the end of the day it’s a police procedural. Extra points for taking place in Canada and getting my patriotic self a little hyped about that, because I’m always reading books that take place in the UK or the US – and quite honestly I’ve had just about enough of the United States at this CRAZY Trump Juncture – but, I’m pretty sure serial killers obsessed with religious bullshit has been done to death.

But do you know what’s not done to death?

Serial killers obsessed with religious bullshit who are being hunted by Angie Pallorino.

Alison Brie Kiss GIF by GLOW Netflix

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