Ballantine Books | 2020
Filed Under: Amnesiac beach bum
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 chicken wing sauce 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”
Doubleday | 2018
Filed Under: Going off-grid
Wellllllll…. excuse the fuck out of me, but I didn’t really love this. It’s meh, but I get what it was going for. I’m definitely an outlier when it comes to my rating, so take it with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila.
I picked this up – an award-winning international best-seller – because the reviews are all like THIS IS BEST THING EVER! WORK OF ART! Blah, blah, blah… and I guess at this point I should know that my tastes are garbage and anything that is considered “art” is fucking lost on me.
I don’t like the classics.
I don’t like art-house.
I don’t like pompous shit that no one can get unless you’re some kind of eccentric intellectual.
I don’t like things that are extra for the sake of sounding smarter than the person reading it.
And I didn’t like this.
Continue reading “Review: Resin by Ane Riel”
“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”
Ballantine Books | 2019
Filed Under: Blow jobs weren’t on the curriculum.
This is a popular read with high ratings on Goodreads from other reviewers, but my overall opinion is basically WHAT THE FUCK THIS IS REALLY DUMB???
I don’t mind being one of only a few people going against the grain here, but honestly, I just can’t even with this book. I had to suspend disbelief in such an extreme way that I started to feel legit angry about it.
This was 400 pages about girls at a boarding school going all Sally Field-Norma Rae with shaved heads because they’ve somehow fallen into a secret game of giving blow jobs for points to all the popular boys at the school who have a yearly championship bracket.
All of the teaching staff knows kind of (the six of them running a school of hundreds of students,) but turn a blind eye because…I guess…rich parents? Or college admissions? Or reputation? Or whatever else rich people care about. Someone ask Lori Laughlin. I’m still a little fuzzy on why full-grown, educated adults dedicated to America’s youth would be all elbow patches and tweed, and please ignore our student sex ring.
I mean, there must have been a way to stop the abuse without putting “ran a blow job side-hustle his senior year” on school transcripts. Then again, maybe the Ivy Leagues would call it entrepreneurship.
Continue reading “Review: The Swallows by Lisa Lutz”
“No one walks around holding their ugliest sin in the palm of their hand, staring at it.”
William Morrow | 2019
Filed Under: 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
Filed Under: A writing exercise.
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”
“Money has an insidious way of making decent human beings behave in a most indecent way.”
St. Martin’s Press | 2018
Filed Under: The Skulls but boring and without Joshua Jackson
Have you ever read a novel and can immediately tell it’s written by a first-time author because they don’t know how to chill the fuck out with descriptive passages and scenes that don’t further a plot?
Yeah. This book suffers from that in abundance.
The heart of the novel is that of Spenser Collins, a young Black man attending Harvard in 1988. After becoming an unlikely candidate to join one of the University’s secret societies, The Delphic, Spenser and his buddy Dalton, stumble upon a fifty-year-old mystery – the disappearance of another young student in the 1920s who was never heard from again after illegally entering the Delphic’s mansion in search of the answer to the question: Is there really a secret society within the secret society called the Ancient Nine who spend their whole lives guarding an invaluable secret?
I mean, part of me was thinking of the movie The Skulls circa 2000. You know, Joshua Jackson and Paul Walker getting into some deadly adventure after joining a secret society that will do anything to protect its secrets, protect its own, its power and its money? But sadly for me, this book hits a decidedly different tone, while maintaining that “boys club” feel and presenting the objectification of women as a good thing.
Continue reading “Review: The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith”
“Rough edges were what you needed because they were what you sharpened yourself against. Nobody ever got sharp from lying in a feather bed.”
Orbit | 2016
Filed Under: Casper but in prison.
I was really interested in reading this, but once I cracked this baby open my interest quickly petered out, giving way to an overall feeling of not really giving a shit, mixed with annoyance and yawning.
Jess has been given heavy prison time for deliberately starting a house fire that not only destroyed her face and injured her asshole heroin addict boyfriend but also killed a 10-year-old boy named Alex.
Jess essentially martyrs herself, accepting her punishment with a heaping side of self-flagellation, deciding her time in prison will be short once she goes on a hunger strike/suicide mission. The only problem is that Jess can’t remember any of the sins she’s been told she committed, so she just takes everyone’s word for it (like you would.) As she withers away in the prison infirmary, dead Alex comes to her with an afterlife request – find out who really killed him, because he’s sure it wasn’t Jess and he can’t find his ghosty peace without knowing the facts.
The blurb is essentially Orange Is the New Black but with ghosts and mystery.
Continue reading “Review: Fellside by M.R. Carey”
★★★★★ (x infinity)
Harper Perennial | 2018
Filed Under: Stunning in its simplicity, ravenous in its message.
This book is unlike anything I have ever read, and I am utterly emotionally ruined by it.
Seriously. This book has fucked me up.
I started reading in the morning and I didn’t put it down until I read the last page that evening. I was completely obsessed, completely enthralled and emotionally enamoured.
I’ve taken a couple of days to think about this review because I want it to be coherent and not preachy, but I’m definitely about to go on a rant of epic proportions filled with long quotes, so buckle up buttercups.
This is the story of five men, all of whom have been the victim of a serial rapist known as Maude. It is the story of how the media handles rape, and how society handles rape. How we speak about it, how we shame, how we lay blame. It’s about the questions we ask, how we ask them, the assumptions we make and how we try to make ourselves feel more comfortable in the presence of someone else’s trauma. It’s about how survivors grapple with their new reality and their upended perception of themselves, their relationships, their bodies and the world around them.
It’s about gender equality and gender roles and gender assumptions. It’s about the groups we align ourselves with, the lines in the sand we draw as tribes. The hate we have. The resentment we have. How women feel about social history and how it doesn’t matter until it happens to a man. It’s about how blind we are to our shared wants and needs. And how if we just worked together we could change things.
It’s also creepy with elements of suspense.
Continue reading “Review: Any Man by Amber Tamblyn”
Scribner | 2017
Filed Under: Gonna need to go the bookstore for a boost of serotonin after reading this
I went into this book pretty blind. I wasn’t totally sure what it was about. Maybe a bookstore called Bright Ideas? Something to do with suicide? But it kept popping up on my feed and when a mystery novel has “bookstore” right in the title, how can a genre-lover like me resist? Plus, that cover! Come on!
It’s not often that I go into a book without a clear idea of what I’m about to read. I can be pretty particular in my reading criteria, so I’m not necessarily good at the whole “oh, just surprise me!” thing. My personal levels of neurosis start to kick in when I hear words like go with the flow or spontaneity.
This novel starts immediately. No dicking around. I was pretty hopeful that meant I was buckling in for a cozy little thriller with a side of dark sass.
Bookseller Lydia is closing up shop at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. She goes to look for regular “BookFrog” Joseph Molina, who hasn’t left the store yet. She finds him hanging. Suicide. She can’t figure out why Joseph would choose to commit suicide in her shop. But even more curious is why he died with a picture from her 10th birthday party in his pocket. The mystery becomes too much to ignore when she inherits Joseph’s belongings and finds coded messages directed to her inside his books.
Lydia’s attempt to unravel the mystery of just what was going on with Joseph leading up to his death, and what the hell she has to do with it, forces her to reexamine a tragedy from her childhood – a household massacre that only she survived.
Continue reading “Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan”
“Love blinds us all…”
Century | 2017
Filed Under: Had a point but lost it halfway through
I’m on the fence about this one.
It feels like it doesn’t know what it wants to be – a domestic thriller? A contemporary drama?
It touches on a lot of heavy subjects – domestic abuse, the justice system, the morality of the death penalty, wrongful convictions, motherhood and family and guilt and self-preservation. But it lacks the depth and analysis of all of those things, so it feels shallow and gimmicky. And it’s missing the suspense and sinister atmosphere to be a thriller. Ultimately, it leaves a lot of things exposed, but unexamined.
For a story about a single mother who has to plan a murder in order to save her family from her abusive new husband, this was exceptionally slow and, at times, straight-up boring.
The first 40% is all build-up, focusing on the story of Kristy and Lance – how they met, following the progression of their relationship from dating to marriage. I was not expecting this much emphasis on the romantic element. I experienced a cloud of confusion lingering around my reading experience. I kept thinking do I keep reading this? I didn’t want to read a romance? Is anything going to fucking happen?!
Continue reading “Review: The Walls by Hollie Overton”