Hanover Square Press | 2020
Opening Hook: This autopsy table is dirty.
Main Character: A forensic queen in the making.
Plot Twisty-ness: Don’t bring Bitcoin into this.
If you read my review for Working Stiff by Judy Melinek, then you may recall that I am 100% a Melinek fangirl. This woman is amazeballs. I love everything about her.
Where before she recounted her real-life experiences as a medical examiner in NYC (during 9/11 no less,) in her non-fiction work, First Cut is a work of fiction that focuses on a new medical examiner in San Francisco, Jessie Teska.
Considering that this is a debut work of fiction, it’s top-notch.
If you love procedurals that rely on the science and forensic side of investigation than this is going to be a must-read. It might feel a little bogged down in medical details to the casual reader, however.
Melinek uses all of her real-life experience as a medical examiner to bring Teska’s job to life. Honestly, it’s so authentic I could probably dissect a dead body at this point. And I definitely wouldn’t forget what jar and drawer tissue specimens were meant to go in.
Considering we’re in a current moment in time where we’re talking about defunding police, I’m pretty convinced after reading Melinek’s work that medical examiners could probably solve murders a hell of a lot better than most cops.
Continue reading “Review: First Cut (Jessie Teska, #1) by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell”
“Psychiatry at its best is what all medicine needs more of—humanity, art, listening, and empathy—but at its worst it is driven by fear, judgment, and hubris.”
Grand Central Publishing | 2019
Opening Thesis: Everyone needs drugs.
Main Diagnosis: SCHIZOPHRENIA!
Plot Researchy-ness: Up to your eyeballs in straight FACTS.
Before you go into reading this book, you must first understand the true premise. It is NOT a history of psychiatry and psychiatric hospitals, though those things are discussed to fully understand what Dr. David Rosenhan was doing. But this book is almost totally about Dr. David Rosenhan and his study from the 1970s that looked to expose how psychiatry was functioning away from public knowledge.
I admit I was kind of disappointed once Nellie Bly was discussed for only a couple of paragraphs because that is shit I showed up for. I was expecting a novel that discussed people like Bly more in-depth. I was expecting something a bit more sinister and historical. Like, give me some Geraldo Rivera at Willowbrook kind of drama.
But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Once I got passed my assumptions, I did get into this nonfiction work, but not as much as I was hoping I would. It’s a pretty dense read, full of medical jargon, medical history (seriously, you go through the creation of all the DSM volumes) and a complete dissection and recounting of Dr. Rosenhan’s study, On Being Sane in Insane Places.
Continue reading “Review: The Great Pretender – The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan”
If you can’t handle me when I show you my gaping butthole, you don’t deserve the rest of me.
Random House | 2019
Opening Act: Eating mango sliced by a dude named Noah.
Main Lesson: The TV is taking care of the baby, okay?
Plot Jokey-ness: Doodoo and rat placentas.
Disclaimer: I love Ali Wong. Like a deep, spiritual love based on unabashed honesty, IDGAF attitude and vagina jokes.
But you don’t need to love Ali Wong the way I do to read and enjoy this book of raw, personal and unflinching essays that will give you her takes on life and love, and erectile dysfunction.
Speaking from my biased standpoint, you do want to know her opinions. I’m not saying she’s a genius, but at the very least, she’s one the most intelligent, open-minded, well-spoken and experienced women out there, and as a bonus, she uses words like “doodoo”, “caca” and “punani.” What’s not to love? She’s fucking disgusting and I look up to her like a fucking idol.
Maybe you won’t agree with all of her hot takes (I don’t always,) but you will learn and grow and laugh. Definitely laugh.
Continue reading “Review: Dear Girls – Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong”
Dey Street Books | 2019
Opening Killer: Mild-mannered, sunny disposition.
Main Psycho: Hiding in plain sight.
Plot Mindhunter-ness: Hunting all the minds!
Hands down, if you are a true crime nerd you want to read this book. It is a heavy fucking tome of information on the dark and depraved. It is written by the Godfather of criminal profiling and it focuses on cases that you’ve likely never heard of before unless you happen to be local to where the crimes happened.
We are not talking about circling the drain on Bundy and Manson. This is likely going to be brand new information that will have you cringing with every uncomfortable nerve exposed, while teaching you how the minds of the four twisted subjects worked, how Douglas dissected them during one-on-one interviews and how the killer’s traits represent the broader strokes of understanding criminal minds.
Be forewarned however, if you have issues with crimes against children, a significant portion of this book really explores that, unflinchingly.
Continue reading “Review: The Killer Across the Table – Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker”
“No one walks around holding their ugliest sin in the palm of their hand, staring at it.”
William Morrow | 2019
Opening Hook: *DRINKS*
Main Character: Too old to have not dealt with high school horrors yet.
Plot Twisty-ness: Like getting tangled up in scuba gear.
First of all, Joshilyn Jackson can write some vibrant AF characters. Shit, those personalities were strong, and it created a very cinematic reading experience.
Amy has a beautiful life – a new baby, a sweet husband, a stepdaughter who doesn’t hate her but might get finger-banged on the couch once in a while; a big house, a sweet career (hello, scuba instructor? who does that?) and good friends.
One night at the regular book club get-together, a mysterious and presumptuous stranger – Roux – invites herself in like some fabulous Disney villain wearing boots probably made of puppies and ready to steal your man, and starts some trouble with a game of Never Have I Ever.
You know that game. Someone says, “never have I ever… had car sex during my stepkid’s soccer tournament,” and anyone who has done that needs to drink.
Okay, maybe you don’t get that specific with your statement, but you get the idea.
Continue reading “Review: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson”
“We never joke about bunnies, Bunny.”
Viking | 2019
Opening Hook: A writing exercise.
Main Character: Every nerdy introvert who wants to experience being a Mean Girl.
Plot Twisty-ness: Purely demented.
This book hopped onto my TBR (hopped, get it? …I’ll show myself out,) after @readswithdogs on #bookstagram gave it a 5-star review over the summer. She called it Clueless meets Heathers and quite frankly, what millennial isn’t going to want to read that, like STAT? ASAP? OTHER ACRONYMS?
For the first quarter of the book, I was like, what is this actually??? It’s really weird and hard to classify its genre; where is it going and what is it doing, and I’m not sure what’s happening? SOMEONE HELP ME!?
I was growing concerned that @readwithdogs had betrayed our book friendship in such a deep way that we would never come back from that darkness, but I stuck with it and slowly, as you get into the heart of the story, it begins to make more sense (but also does not, purposefully.) And it turns out I wasn’t led astray. So, we’re cool.
Continue reading “Review: Bunny by Mona Awad”
Amazon Original Stories | 2018
Opening Hook: There’s always something under the bed.
Main Monster: Maybe it’s Pennywise in that spider body.
Plot Twisty-ness: Schrodinger’s monsters.
While I didn’t really LOVE Meddling Kids by Cantero the way I wanted to, I can tell that given the right circumstances, I could really be a fan of his, because I do enjoy his writing style.
He writes stories with a whimsical combination of goofiness and horror that reminds me of why I love this genre – there is so much room to play. And Cantero always seems to take full advantage of that space, even if I haven’t been bowled over by a full-length novel yet. I know it’s going to happen. I JUST KNOW IT.
There is a feeling of nostalgia to his writing that makes me feel a little less cynical and dead inside. He brings back those memories of when I was a kid and everything was scary and an adventure was just a thought away; where you could make something up and be totally convinced of it just by way of imagination.
When I was a single-digit tot, I used to believe vampires were out to get me, but if I kept my blanket up under my chin tight enough, I was safe.
I don’t have that kind of imagination anymore, and Cantero makes me wistful for that time, because now I’m old and grumpy and could tear down all the ways believing that neck protection from a blanket was goddamn ridiculous in 0.2 seconds.
Continue reading “Review: There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed (Dark Corners Collection) by Edgar Cantero”
Amazon Original Stories | 2018
Opening Hook: Never go on the run in a car that needs an oil change.
Main Character: Does not get stabbed in a shower.
Plot Twisty-ness: Unger does a lot with a little.
This is an adorable spooky short story in the Dark Corners Collection.
Eve is on the run in a shitty old car. She’s got a bag full of money, a gun and her piece-of-shit ex on her tail. It’s very much Psycho-esque in that way.
When Eve realizes she can’t run anymore on no sleep, she pulls into a roadside motel with lots of vacancies. She’s just going to spend one night and leave first thing in the morning. Through the night there are bumps and scrapes that convince Eve someone is staying in the room next door. But when she checks, it’s empty.
And I’m sorry, but I’m such a cheap whore for creepy motel shit. Honestly, I will watch or read nearly anything that takes place in this eerie setting. It’s just a so obvious, ripe-for-the-picking scenery and atmosphere.
Continue reading “Review: The Sleep Tight Motel (Dark Corners Collection) by Lisa Unger”
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 the audiobook, 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.) So, seriously, try the audiobook if you’re looking for maximum entertainment from this novel, because Catherine Steadman burns it down.
Continue reading “Review: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman”
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.
Continue reading “Review: Buried (Agent Sayer Altair, #2) by Ellison Cooper”