Review: Cackle by Rachel Harrison

“He fears me because he is small. I will not meet him there. I will not shrink myself down to his size, or anyone else’s, for their comfort. For their appeasement.”

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★★★★

Berkely Books | 2021

Filed Under: Feminist Witch Bitch Lit


Don’t let the synopsis and marketing for this book fool you. This is not horror. This is not a thriller. This is a cozy semi-mystery with Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic vibes and a feminist tilt.

While I might have been expecting horror initially, I adjusted my expectations and ended up really liking this. It’s fucking cute and reads like Rachel Harrison has found her writing niche with this novel.

I really liked Harrison’s first novel, The Return. That was definitely horror but with a heavy female-friendship theme that propelled the plot. Cackle follows in those footsteps, but abandons horror for delightful supernatural elements, like the friendly, top-hat-wearing spider that sleeps under a little blanket at night.

Cute Spider GIFs | Tenor
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Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

“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.”

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★★★★

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 is a 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.

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Review: The Dark Corners of Night (UNSUB, #3) by Meg Gardiner

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★★★★★

Blackstone Publishing | 2018

Filed Under: A demented, twisted murdery 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 this review.

I’m a total Gardiner fan girl and so far she can do no wrong in my eyes.

i love her premiere GIF by America's Next Top Model
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Review: Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

Look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

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★★★★½

Mira | 2019

Filed Under: That’s why her hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.


I’ll be honest: I wasn’t sure how much I was really going to connect with a novel about rich Mean Girls attending an all-girls prep school and doing outdated secret society rituals, but you know me, I have to read everything J.T. Ellison writes.

I’m pleased a punchy-punch to say this book was actually a twisty AF little thriller with a vibrant, creepy atmosphere and a steady pace that held my picky attention. I never felt like I had to skim a paragraph or skip ahead to some real action. Everything about the plotting was masterfully deliberate.

By the blurb, it could possibly be mistaken for YA – which just isn’t for me – but this novel is totally adult, full of mystery, interesting characters with shady side hustles and a little bit of death. These Mean Girls girls are worth the read.

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Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

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★★★★★

Quirk Books | 2016

Filed Under: Don’t take acid in the woods.


I 👏 FUCKING 👏 LOVED 👏 THIS.

I own Horrorstör by this author, but I haven’t read it yet. I only bought it for the cover and format, without any idea of what the book was about or if I liked the author. And honestly, I wanted to read My Best Friend’s Exorcism for the same reason. This is 100% a “#bookstagram made me do it” read.

The alternate cover is gorgeous VHS 80s goodness. And the yearbook format print that I had was goddamn adorable. I literally read every single message written on the front and back covers with unabashed nerdy glee.

Clearly, Grady Hendrix is killing the book format game and there’s nothing that turns me on more than someone who throws cliches out the window and walks a creative path less followed in writing. It’s like half the reason I married my husband, who wrote me bizarre poetry on the reg.

But, it turns out Hendrix is also killing the horror writing game because this is one of my most favourite books that I’ve read in a while. And I’m so bummed it wasn’t in my life so much sooner.

I STAN GRADY HENDRIX SO FUCKING HARD.

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Review: City of Windows (Lucas Page, #1) by Robert Pobi

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★★★★½

Minotaur Books | 2019

Filed Under: Excuse me, sir, your glass eye is upside down.


Okay, listen up! You want to read this book.

If I could tie you up for completely non-sexual sexual reasons, and force you to read this, I wouldn’t because I am a strong supporter of consent. But you should still read this, regardless of if I am exerting my will over you or not.

I’m going to go full Stefan right now and say this book’s got everything! Blood, guts, impressive sniper shots and lots of action. There’s a retired FBI agent with one eye, a prosthetic leg, five foster children, dead old rich lady flashbacks and a dope ability to solve crimes using mathematical algorithms that he does in his head just by looking at things. Seriously, he mental-MacGyver’s the fuck out of some crime scenes.

It’s like borderline dumb but also really cool, so I’m not mad about it.

There’s a terrible blizzard, right-wing anti-government bad guys that I love to see get bitch-slapped, lots of striking political commentary and current-as-hell themes tying the whole thing together.

Booknerds, you have to hear the words coming out of my metaphorical mouth right now: Robert Pobi is a firecracker writer!

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I’m beating myself up that I’ve not read him sooner.

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Review: No Exit by Taylor Adams

“The difference between a hero and a victim? Timing.” 

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★★★★★

William Morrow | January 2019

Filed Under: Did we learn nothing about isolated rest stops from Michael Meyers?!


This is my first five-star read of the year. And thank the god of thunder, because I was starting to get a little cranky as nothing has really been knocking my bits off. Whose fault is that really? Mine? Because of my choices? Get out of here! I don’t want to hear 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 maybe the plotting and timing of the story are just so fucking just good that the writing takes on a vibrant cinematic quality, and therefore, it 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 and regular readers 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 from someone who isn’t worried about feelings and blah blah blah.

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Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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★★★★★

Dutton | 2018

Filed Under: This is definitely not Wet Hot American Summer.


I honestly didn’t think it was possible for me to love a Riley Sager novel more than I loved Final Girls, but then I read The Last Time I Lied and well, spit on my neck and kick me in the crotch, because this has usurped Final Girls as my favourite Sager read, if not one of my favourite reads ever. Period.

This novel makes me want to go to summer camp and investigate mysteries, but you know, it might look a little bit weird to be a 30-something at a sleep-away camp for kids when you’re not one of the counsellors.

Dear Husband, I am homesick. But today I went in a canoe for the first time. The tweens here are looking at me funny.

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Sager is a world-class writer. I do not say that lightly or without conviction, because if you know me or read my reviews, you know I’m a huge judgmental bitch. It’s okay, you can agree.

So, when I say Sager is THE SHIT. I mean it. He breezes through the art of storytelling like it is the most effortless, natural thing in the world to him. An automatic bodily function.

Breathe. Beat heart. Write.

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Review: UNSUB (UNSUB, #1) by Meg Gardiner

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★★★★★

Dutton | 2017

Filed Under: I don’t reread books but I would reread this


I love Meg Gardiner. She is a favourite author of mine. Anything she writes I want to read. Anything she has to say about writing, I want to hear. She is a brilliant author with a talent for writing action-packed mysteries with perfectly placed twists.

UNSUB is, by far, my new favourite novel by her.

Hands down.

It takes elements from famous serial killers, both real and fictional, and boils it down into one epic, smart and intricate serial killer crime thriller.

Thor, have mercy on my mystery-book nerd soul!

A quick synopsis: Caitlin is a cop. Her dad is a retired cop and he’s gone coo-coo for Cocopuffs after hunting a madman, The Prophet, 20 years ago and never catching him. Present-day, The Prophet is back, killing again in bloody crazy fashion and it’s Caitlin’s turn to stop him.

Obviously inspired by the Zodiac killer, this also takes elements from things like Se7enRed DragonSilence of the LambsUntraceable… and those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my stoned head, though I am sure there are more.

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