Atria | 2020
Opening Hook: Drowning an entire village
Main Character: Can’t stop, won’t stop talking about dams
Plot Twisty-ness: Drowned along with the village
I’ll be honest, I read this book in July 2020 and it was so fucking boring that to write a review now is going to be difficult. All I know for sure is that it was a fucking snoozer when it was supposed to be a pee-in-your-pants supernatural horror/thriller.
So, we’re off to a great start.
Basically, the small village of Galesburg in upstate-New York was flooded a century ago to create the Chilewaukee reservoir – nicknamed The Chill – to provide water to millions of southern New Yorkers. Of course, Galesburg residents weren’t super psyched to have their hometown put underwater, which is totally understandable, but there wasn’t much they could do about it. It was a political decision that was moving ahead whether they liked it or not – their town was being confiscated.
That didn’t mean, however, that the townsfolk would go down without a fight. They banded together, starting a fierce rebellion that promised to kick ass and get revenge, no matter how many lives were lost along the way.
But, you know, government versus village rebellion means the government won.
Continue reading “Review: The Chill by Scott Carson”
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”
Ballantine Books | 2020
Opening Hook: Amnesiac beach bum
Main Character: Needs a hobby
Plot Twisty-ness: A flatliner
This is such a bummer for me. I really loved Steadman’s debut novel, Something in the Water (though I’m chalking up about 33% of that to the audiobook narration, which was fucking stellar,) so I was eager to get my hands on her follow-up, Mr. Nobody.
But… *fart noises*
This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed by a sophomore novel and it won’t be the last, but it’s still a bummer.
Mr. Nobody is the most vanilla – and slightly annoying – thriller I’ve read this year.
I know I can get a bit spicy like a Jalapeno when I write negative reviews, but then there are times like these where I’m just bummed out that I didn’t like something.
I’m Eeyore writing this fucking review right now.
That might change the further I get into writing this. Sometimes I can work up a bad attitude from nothing. It’s like magic.
Continue reading “Review: Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman”
William Morrow | 2018
Opening Crime: Bondage Cabin in the Woods
Main Psychopath: Toss-up between the pervert and the author
Plot Truthy-ness: Dear Diary…
This is the weirdest “true crime” novel I’ve ever read.
First, because it’s mostly a memoir about someone who was not involved in any crime at all. And second, because the crime is an attempted crime. Spoiler alert, I guess? While I’m sure it was traumatizing for the women involved, in the context of a true-crime novel, nothing happened that could fill up an entire book. And what’s weirder, the author uses the attempted crime against someone else to question-plague herself for twenty+ years about why no one ever tried to kidnap and rape her.
Like, I just…
Continue reading “Review: You All Grow Up and Leave Me by Piper Weiss”
G.P. Putnam’s Sons | 2020
DNF’d @ 67%
I really gave this the old college try, you guys. Honestly. I kept reading, pushing forward like… an… iceberg? No. That’s a terrible analogy. Whatever. I was waiting for this novel to get scary or interesting, but at a certain point – 67% to be precise – I just couldn’t waste my precious reading time anymore.
Side note: Where does “old college try” even come from? I guess I could google it. Hold, please.
…okay, it either came from college sports or from the idea of taking a few tries before you pass a college course.
Do you even care? I legit spent some time googling that and it was kind of anti-climatic. I guess that works for a review about a boring AF book, though.
I was looking forward to reading this supernatural account about the 1912 sinking of the Titanic and the fate of its sister-ship, the Britannic, which also fucking sank in 1916.
It really felt like nothing was happening that I gave a shit about, so eventually, I just couldn’t find a point in continuing to read this. It is packaged as a historical reimagined supernatural horror, but it actually reads more like historical romance wrapped up in a little bit of supernatural-ness.
Not my thing. Maybe it’s yours.
Continue reading “DNF Review: The Deep by Alma Katsu”
Blackstone Publishing | 2018
Opening Hook: Scared a little pee out of me
Main Character: Badass and damaged
Plot Twisty-ness: A fucking salty, twisted pretzel
Alright listen, I know this rating is not coming as a shock to many of you. If you have been paying any attention to my reviews and posts, then you know this one novel truth (pun intended) about me: I FUCKING LOVE MEG GARDINER. I cannot control my bias when it comes to her books, apparently. I love all of them. I think they’re all the best things I’ve ever read until I read the next one. She’s a fucking BRILLIANT writer and I want to be her when I grow up. That’s just the way it is. I’m not sorry.
But I understand why you might want to take my reviews of her work with a grain of salt. Honestly, I can’t even tell at this point how much my opinion has been influenced by total infatuation. My critical style seems to completely malfunction when I read her books. Or, there’s just nothing to be critical of. Who can say? It’s all so subjective.
But there it is. I’m putting it all out there for you before I start writing the actual review. Always keeping it honest.
I’m a total Gardiner fan girl and so far she can do no wrong in my eyes.
Continue reading “Review: The Dark Corners of Night (UNSUB, #3) by Meg Gardiner”
Lyrical Underground | 2018
Opening Hook: Don’t Dead, Open Inside
Main Character: Basically M.I.A
Plot Twisty-ness: Lost in the forest
Eh, so this was a bit weird. Not terrible, but not great either. Because I’m so behind in reviews, I read this months ago and honestly, I’m still not really sure how I feel about it outside of one thing: editor needed.
This is the second novel in the Kathy Ryan series, but it can be read as a standalone because she’s barely in it. And when she is, there’s no information presented about Kathy that has too much bearing on the novel as part of a series. Really, without this being strictly marketed as in a series starring Kathy Ryan, I would never have known.
Seriously, why is she not in this book at all until like the 50% point? The chapter plotting is just so fucking weird. I’m sorry. Whoever saw this book plotted out and thought, “yes, good job,” was on drugs. And not the good kind.
Continue reading “Review: Behind the Door (Kathy Ryan, #2) by Mary Sangiovanni”
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”
G.P. Putnam’s Sons | 2020
Opening Case: How much did Fatty Arbuckle actually weigh?
Main CSI: Gil Grissom maintains “old man crush” status.
Plot Truthi-ness: Beefs and peas in a dessert trifle.
You might think that you’re getting a novel about “murder, forensics and the birth of American CSI,” when you pick up this novel. That’s exactly what I thought. And also exactly what they put in the fucking title. But why should titles ever tell you what you’re really going to be reading about, I guess?
What you’re actually getting here is a choppy, mishmash of relatively boring cases and life stories about Oscar Heinrich, the “American Sherlock.” If I had known this was going to be about one man’s life, and not a historical rundown of the evolution of forensic sciences centred around different murder cases, I probably wouldn’t have read it.
But since I did, it’s necessary to note that I have no issue with a true-life story about a remarkable human who deserves to be applauded. It’s the execution of the telling of that life where it falls apart on this one.
I think this book is best described as the trifle Rachel makes on Friends. It was almost good, but something got fudged up so no one really wanted to eat it.
Continue reading “Review: American Sherlock – Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI by Kate Winkler Dawson”