Thomas & Mercer | 2019
Opening Hook: It’s a blasty-blast
Main Character: If Sherlock Holmes lacked a personality
Plot Twisty-ness: Technically good, missing the feeling.
*shakes fist at sky* I just want to read a legitimately strong female character! Just one!
Okay, so I liked this and it’s also a disappointment in some big ways so… *fart noises*
Here goes my ranty review. I’ll try to highlight the positive stuff, but we all know that’s not my strong suit.
I could give some line about my expectations being too high when it comes to female-led crime fiction, or it’s not the book, it’s me. But I won’t because I refuse to apologize for wanting to find a female character who isn’t desperately crippled by a man in some way which then doesn’t allow for robust characterization to occur within the pages outside of what revolves around that man. It’s fucking annoying me at this point.
Ziba MacKenzie is former special forces and an expert criminal profiler. SPECIAL FUCKING FORCES. She has a huge brain stuffed with lots of knowledge that is both practical and theoretical. Like, she can recite facts about serial killers but can also save lives in dire situations.
Continue reading “Review: Blood for Blood (Ziba MacKenzie, #1) by Victoria Selman”
Three, and they label you a serial killer.
Doubleday Books | 2018
Opening Hook: Rub-a-dub-dub, cleaning blood out of a tub
Main Character: Don’t miss The Amazing Doormat! Watch as she makes terrible decisions!
Plot Twisty-ness: It’s all given away in the title.
I don’t really know how to rate this book totally, so I’m giving half of five stars because that seems the most fair. I mean, honestly, the cover deserves one of those stars just on its own. Talk about fucking gorgeous! I don’t even need words to read after that, honestly.
But when it comes to the words, this wasn’t really what I thought it would be, or what I wanted it to be. It wasn’t bad, it just seemed like the hammer missed the head of the nail. It felt outside of my usual book choices when it comes to fiction even though it really should have been right up my alley.
The gist is: Korede is a nurse who also has a passion for cleaning, or rather a talent for it. She’s also an older sister. She finds herself constantly cleaning up her younger sister Ayoola’s, messes, as older sisters tend to do. But these particular messes come in the form of men that Ayoola has had to kill in the name of self-defence. Each time Korede helps her little sister get rid of a body and finds herself cleaning up blood, her rational brain gets a little bit louder: maybe Ayoola just likes to kill. Maybe she’s a serial killer. Maybe she’s taking advantage of Korede.
When Ayoola starts dating a doctor with whom Korede is secretly in love with, she starts to worry he might be Ayoola’s next victim. A war inside Korede starts to brew between doing what is objectively right and doing what is right as a sister.
Continue reading “Review: My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite”
“You’re a big sister now, Korede. And big sisters look after little sisters.”
“The difference between a hero and a victim? Timing.”
William Morrow | January 2019
Opening Hook: Did we learn nothing about isolated rest stops from Halloween?!
Main Character: Lady McGuyver
Plot Twisty-ness: Hold-onto-your-bits thrills with a side of snow.
This is my first 5-star read of the year. And thank Thor, because I was starting to get a little cranky since nothing has really been knocking my socks off. Who’s fault is that really? Mine? Because of my choices? Get out of here! I don’t want to here it!
Reading No Exit was an exercise in cinematic writing. It would be easy to say it was written with a movie option in mind (and maybe it was,) but my gut tells me that what actually happened here is that the plotting and timing of the story are so good, that it comes across in vibrant cinematic scenes in the reader’s mind. And therefore, seems like it should be a movie. And it definitely should.
I would honestly give this five stars just based on the writing skill alone, it was that seamless and riveting. And my friends here know I don’t give out my stars easily. You have to earn this shit from me. You want easy stars? Go to the reviewers who aren’t dead inside with a stick up their ass.
It’s all ass sticks here, baby!
I do it because I love you and I want you to have an honest opinion that isn’t worried about feelings and blah blah blah.
Continue reading “Review: No Exit by Taylor Adams”
Viking | 2018
Opening Hook: Full “once upon a time” style.
Main Character: A young stepmother who my step kids should be nicer to!
Plot Twisty-ness: As slow as watching kids warm up to dad’s new wife.
Just like other reviews aplenty will tell you, this novel is inspired by another classic novel and blah blah blah. I don’t know the book. I might know the author’s name? I’ve never read it and I didn’t know any of this “inspiration” shit going into the book so it really makes zero difference to me whatsoever.
Look, I never claimed to be a refined reader.
I read this novel purely for the gothic feel of the synopsis and because I’m a stepmother married to an older(ish) man and those themes resonate with me. I haven’t found many stories centring on stepmothers/second wives, which are actually mystery/thrillers that don’t paint people like me as some ridiculous evil creature to be feared and ousted.
I wagered, because this book was told from the stepmother’s point of view, there was a good chance she wasn’t the villain per se. And thankfully, I was right! The stepmother isn’t the villain for once! She’s more of a saviour, which is totally how I see myself, just with less like doing things that make anyone’s life better and more being peeved that I never get to play my PlayStation anymore that I bought a second one out of passive aggressive spite. It’s how I roll.
Continue reading “Review: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele”
“You can’t judge someone’s internal state by their external attributes.”
January 2019 | St. Martin’s Press
Opening Hook: Make-up artist seeks quick cash by being a liar
Main Character: Let’s her assumptions make her seem crazy
Plot Twisty-ness: Subtle and ominous
I’m a total sucker for anything that is psychologically leaning. And I don’t mean the trend of “psychological thrillers.” I mean real psychology, human nature, predicting behaviour and analyzing it. I’m a straight-up glutton when it comes to that kind of stuff and not for any sinister reason. It’s like not I’m trying to figure out the best way to appear human or some shit. If I was smarter, I probably would have been a psychologist. In another part of the multi-verse perhaps I am.
But in the here and now that we find ourselves trapped in (there’s been some kind of tear in the fabric of our universe and we ended up in a strange hell where Trump and Putin are going to destroy all life on Earth, I’m sure of it,) I’m just a girl with a deep fascination for dark psychology and no way to really express that except to watch endless true crime documentaries and read books like An Anonymous Girl, and have people think I’m weird.
Continue reading “Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen”
Severn House Publishers | 2018
Opening Hook: The horror of a one night stand.
Main Character: Crying in the shallow end of the pool.
Plot Twisty-ness: Twists are wrapped in unnecessary information, inside of personal drama and cemented in my disappointment.
*deep, heavy sigh* Goddamnit, you guys. I really wanted to like this. I have been intrigued by this one for a while. I received a copy from NetGalley and then the author sent me a signed copy. Ms. O’Connell said she liked my honest, to the point reviews and then dared me that I wouldn’t be able to figure out the twist in this one. I said, “challenge accepted.”
So, I hate to write a negative review, but I’m going to anyway because Ms. O’Connell was probably at least half prepared for it. I will say this though, I didn’t figure out the twist until just before it started to unfold.
One point from Hufflepuff.
In my defence, the reason why I didn’t figure it out is because the narrative is such a jumbled up mess, and is taken in the wrong direction at every opportunity, that there was literally no way for most readers to find the clues and the red herrings… if there even were any.
Continue reading “Review: The Last Night Out by Catherine O’Connell”
St. Martin’s Press | 2016
Opening Hook: Amnesia is a bitch
Main Character: Classic Charley, but Jane Doe
Plot Twisty-ness: Signature Charley adventures
I took a break from this series in order to catch up on some books that I owed reviews on, but since I was given the final book in the series through Netgalley, I’m back on the Charley Davidson bike, as it were. And I’m going to ride this son-of-a-bitch right to the finish line.
The ending of #8 was a little bit of a cliffhanger, but more than that it was just a bummer. Actually, the whole book was a bit of a bummer for me. I didn’t like how different it felt to everything else the series had been up to that point. It was a little heavier, a little too lovesick-romantic – just a little much all around, with not enough levity. It was like the series lost its way a little bit.
I’m happy to report, however, that #9 is a clear swing back around to Classic Charley. Only this time she has no idea who she is. She’s living a “just the essentials” kind of life as a waitress named Janey. She’s trying to figure out who she is, where her people are – she must have people, she has a wedding ring on after all! But she’s also just living her life without too much pressure.
Continue reading “Review: The Dirt on Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson, #9) by Darynda Jones”
Curiosity Quills Press | 2014
Opening Hook: Complaining about being insecure.
Main Character: A 12-year-old stuck in a grown woman’s body
Plot Ghosty-ness: Sparkly ghosts are just as interesting to me as sparkly vampires
In my quest to keep my New Year’s resolution of catching up on old ARCs from NetGalley, I went back to the very oldest books on my shelf. I apparently requested this one back in 2016 and, honestly, I have no fucking idea why.
YA and I are not the best of friends. I try. I really do. But, I have a hard time finding YA thrillers that aren’t super lame or cheesy, or that can exist in the real world without requiring the main character to be rich and parentless, and falling in love within a day, in order to move the story along.
And though I occasionally read supernatural thrillers, supernatural romance is definitely not my thing. It never has been. To each other their own, but I find the genre dumb AF.
So, why the hell do I have this book? Was I high? What could I have possibly been thinking when I requested it? Whatever the reason, here were are. I read the whole thing. I didn’t like it, but I read it.
This didn’t work for me for a number of reasons. For one, the title is misleading. It’s cute, but not accurate. No one is dating dead guys in this book. There’s just a university student who acts like she’s 12, and keeps blushing at the male ghosts that she accidentally brought back from whatever purgatory they were stuck in.
Continue reading “Review: How To Date Dead Guys (The Witch’s Handbook, #1) by Ann M. Noser”
Thomas & Mercer | 2018
Opening Hook: A subway nightmare, and I’m not talking about Jared.
Main Character: Trying to do it all, failing.
Plot Twisty-ness: Twisty, but in a depressing way
I don’t know why I thought this was going to be a serial killer “thriller”… I mean, in some ways it is. There is a serial killer. And cops. And stuff is happening.
But, holy shit, this might be the most depressing crime fiction novel I’ve ever read. This just hit me right in all my sad feels like a British episode of This Is Us or some shit.
I don’t want to give up any spoilers, but I will say this: one of the main reasons I love crime fiction so much – besides the psychologically fascinating elements – is that the good guys win and the bad guys lose.
The world is shitty enough and bad guys seem to win a lot, especially lately. So, it’s nice to be able to immerse yourself in a world where the bad guy is going to get his just desserts. That’s why these stories work for so many people. We want to know, despite the evidence around us, that good will triumph over evil.
And for that to not necessarily happen in a way that feels satisfying like it usually does with novels of this kind, it’s a little bit of a punch in the gut.
Kudos to John Marrs for bringing everyone down, I guess.
Continue reading “Review: Her Last Move by John Marrs”
“Little girls are different from little boys: they’re made of sugar and spice and scar for life.”
Flatiron Books | 2017
Opening Hook: It’s probably a lie.
Main Character: Unreliable narrator meets Weekend at Bernie’s.
Plot Twisty-ness: Everything but the kitchen sink.
Truthfully, I only read this because I found out Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ellen are turning it into a mini-series. And I am not the kind of Buffy fangirl to ignore a Sarah Michelle project. So here were are.
I’m so sorry to my more discerning thriller friends who really didn’t like this and were hoping I’d be busting in here with a signature snotty review about how crap this book is; how it took every element of a thriller novel it could possibly fucking think of and used all of them on one character in a short 260-page sitting.
But I’m not.
Because this entertained the fuck out of me.
Maybe I’m still feeling the holiday glow that’s keeping my heart three times its normal size, like the Grinch, but this book hit me in all the right psychological thriller sweet spots. I was so enamoured that I read it over one Saturday afternoon.
Continue reading “Review: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney”