Mira | 2023
Filed Under: Throw the whole man away.
Well, well, well, how the turntables…
I don’t know, I just wanted to quote Michael Scott, it’s not really relevant other than I’m high and The Office is on.
What I wanted to say is well, well, well, I think this may be my favourite standalone that J.T. Ellison has put out. Like ever. I mean, of all time.
Maybe that’s saying a lot? I don’t know. I don’t want to give myself too much importance here, but I’ve been around for a while and she’s always an auto-read author for me.
I’ve been reading Ellison for like fifteen years. And that’s ugh, oh god what is time? Where does it go? Cotton-Eyed Fucking Joe. So, fifteen years. One. Five. That’s that. And I feel like this novel is such a perfect example of an author just getting better and better.
There’s something very special about this one. It starts out immediately with the prologue – the prose kicking everything off is seriously captivating. As you settle into the actual narrative, it feels more connected and emotional and honest than the typical domestic thriller. There is life here. The author clearly poured real emotions onto the page. And in the end, everything comes together with a perfect twist.
Did I like any of these characters? No, I didn’t. But I did like reading them and how they navigated this totally bananas Our Father-ish plot. But seriously, minus half a star because no one punched Park in the throat. I would have really loved to see that.
Continue reading “Review: It’s One of Us by J.T. Ellison” →
“It turns out the real you is a quilt, made up of the light and the dark. The life you’ve lived in sunshine and your shadow life, stretching underneath the surface of your mind like a deep underwater world, exerting invisible power. You are a living, breathing story made up of the moments in time you cherish, all strung together, and those you hide. The moments that seem lost. Until the day they’re not.”
Sourcebooks Landmark | 2021
Filed Under: What fucking knife?!
Were you kind of a loser in school who now sometimes daydreams about going to a class reunion and showing all your stupid fucking peers that you’re a cool adult now with heavy “I don’t give a shit what you think anymore” vibes, even though you obviously do care or why would you even fantasize about triumphantly walking into the reunion to Venus by Bananarama like Romy and Michelle after they change into their blue and pink dresses?
No, me either.
Okay, but do you love twisted thrillers with vibrant, unlikeable characters who drive a plot with drama and secrets and murder and a little bit of oral sex? Hey, me too!
There was so much hype around this book that I was fully expecting to not like it because that’s usually how it works for me, but I was pleasantly proven wrong because I loved this.
It was so much fun and everybody was so awful in the most delicious ways that it’s a good time to hate them and watch bad shit happen.
If you want to binge-read a totally entertaining thriller over a weekend, then read this. Because honestly, the only thing I didn’t like about it is that there are scissors on the cover next to the word knife. Thanks, I hate it.
Continue reading “Review: In My Dreams I Hold A Knife by Ashely Winstead” →
“…social media was responsible in that it was continually etching lines of demarcation between every discernible demographic, cutting the social fabric into smaller and smaller swatches. And things were getting worse as people started seeing the world in terms of us versus them.”
Minotaur Books | 2020
Filed Under: That industrial system getting folks uppity again
The first book in the Lucas Page series by Robert Pobi, City of Windows, was one of my top reads of 2019. And, as you know, I’m fucking picky.
So, was it a fluke? Beginner’s luck? Fucking magic? And could Robert Pobi pull it off a second time with me? Well, I’m here to report that no, it wasn’t a fluke because this sequel novel is just as fucking good, if not better.
And Robert Pobi has me wrapped around his… finger. Finger! I was going to say finger! I never considered saying anything else.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m a fan and this is a bomb (pun intended) thriller/procedural.
I am begging you to give Pobi’s novels a chance. Put them on your TBR. Put them on your wish list. Put them on hold at your local library. Whatever you have to do, let’s get our shit together here. As thriller readers, we are sleeping on this author.
Continue reading “Review: Under Pressure (Lucas Page, #2) by Robert Pobi” →
Berkley | 2022
Filed Under: Serial killers with BDE.
This novel is fucking ridiculous, but I read it in one sitting, staying up until 4am to finish it. I was exhausted and grumpy the next day, but I drank an iced coffee the size of my head as a remedy and then it was all worth it.
I just could not put this down even though it is kind of dumb… but dumb in a fun way. Like, it just made me happy how bananas the whole plot was. When book nerds say something is a popcorn read, this novel is the definition. It’s pure entertainment without any real rhyme or reason for why any of it is happening. You just know you’re having a good time.
This is Desperate Housewives meets Fatal Attraction meets The Boy Next Door.
Continue reading “Review: My Summer Darlings by May Cobb” →
“But if all of this has taught me one thing, it’s that it ain’t about me and what I get. It’s about letting people be who they are. And being who you are shouldn’t be a goddamn death sentence.”
Flatiron Books | 2021
Filed Under: Life is short, don’t be a fucking asshole.
Well, this ruined me emotionally, thanks so much.
Two gay men – an interracial married couple with a young daughter – are murdered in what appears to be a hate crime. Their fathers – Ike and Buddy Lee, boomers with nothing in common but anger and bigotry – seek out their sons’ killers under the influence of a maddening desire for revenge and their own redemption.
Oooh boy, talk about some heavy, emotional shit in this plot!
It nearly took me out, honestly. And I, like, never say that. I don’t mean that to be precocious or all teehee I’m dead inside. No seriously, I never say that about books.
I literally cried at the end. Cried. Me! Ugh, Razorblade Tears are no joke, baby!
Look, maybe you don’t know me well enough to understand that I am emotionally internal like 98% of the time, but really I would rather put a campfire out with my face than cry in front of anyone. It’s a nightmare for me to be visibly emotional. But of course, crying is good for you, so I will occasionally make plans for total privacy and then put on dog rescue videos to release some pressure on the valve, you know what I mean?
Or apparently, I’ll read the ending of this book.
Continue reading “Review: Razorblade Tears by S.A. Crosby” →
Doubleday Books | 2021
Filed Under: Apparently, there’s not a lot of bathing in a bathhouse
Honestly, can we get more gay thrillers, please!
“Popular” mystery/thriller fiction is lacking in LGBTQ+ centred stories and we all know it or a book like this wouldn’t be such a breath of fresh air. And that makes no fucking sense to me, if reactions to this book are any indication – there is obviously an audience for these stories in the thriller world. Like, the only difference between Bath Haus and a typical mainstream thriller is that the sex was hotter.
This novel was all juicy drama and twists, and I was totally enthralled. It was near perfection, except for oThis novel was all juicy drama and twists, and I was totally enthralled. It was near perfection, except that it takes its sweet time hitting the gas in the plot. Like there’s a whole scene of a medical conference speed. Zzzz I don’t care. But once you get past the first 100 pages, the story really settles into its stride.
Oliver, a reformed drug addict with a shady past, and his doctor husband, Nathan, have a beautiful life from the outside – a gorgeous renovated home, money and successful careers. But just like a perfectly curated Instagram account, looks can be deceiving. Nathan is controlling and Oliver is bored. So as the saying goes, when the cat’s away the mice will play.
While Nathan is away at a conference, Oliver and his wandering eye take a trip to a private, sexy bathhouse called Haus. Oliver ends up being terrifyingly assaulted by a perspective hook-up and that’s when shit really goes off the rails.
Continue reading “Review: Haus by P.J. Vernon” →
“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.”
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.
Continue reading “Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager” →
Flatiron Books | 2021
Filed Under: Charlie’s not a very social person
I’m not really sure if I love this series, because there are aspects to it that are not my thing. But they might be yours! That is the joy of a review that involves negative points. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as the saying goes. So while I might be like meh, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.
With that in mind – the first novel in the Nikki Griffin series started well for me, but ended up becoming a bit ridiculous near the end. My suspension of disbelief was hanging on by a thread. With this second installment, I’ve figured out that’s just the way this series is going to be – kind of ridiculous and hard to believe. Are you into that? Then you’ll like this.
One Got Away has a Charlie’s Angels kind of vibe to it. Not so much the original show, but the Drew Barrymore version where there’s a lot of action, but it’s also silly.
I’m not sure if this series is totally pulling off that very specific kind of action style, but I also didn’t hate reading it so there’s that.
Continue reading “Review: One Got Away (Nikki Griffin, #2) by S.A. Lelchuk” →
Gallery Books | 2021
Filed Under: The horrors of American health care
This is a story that can only take place in the United States. Almost anywhere else it’s like, “Oh you have cancer? Your medical treatment will not require you to remortgage your home, go bankrupt or start selling meth to pay for it.” Or in this case, write and sell opioid prescriptions in a rapidly evolving drug ring you were not at all prepared to be involved in.
But in the U.S., if your kid has rare and aggressive leukemia, you need to jump through hoops made of red tape – and also the hoops are on fire – before you even know if your insurance company is going to allow you the chance to save your child’s life.
Who thought that was going to be a solid, practical health care system? I just…
Continue reading “Review: Do No Harm by Christina McDonald” →
“He wasn’t afraid of me…That was his first mistake.”
Gallery/Scout Press | 2020
Filed Under: A stress ball shaped like balls.
You’ll have to excuse me – I’m coming off of a conversation today where I learned some very disturbing things about two friends of a friend who are both going through new separations from their husbands. When I tell you both of these ladies are being emotionally abused and mistreated by pieces of TRASH – ugh. So anyway, my feminist rage is absolutely chaotic at the moment and that might come out in this review.
Why? Because this novel is a dark, feminist revenge fantasy and it was amazing.
It’s Dexter meets Hard Candy meets Thelma and Louise.
I fucking loved it. Let’s drive over the cliff, baby! But let’s kill some fucking sexist bastards before we go!
If that sounds like your kind of thing, please read this novel. It’s deeply satisfying.
“Killing a man is so much more satisfying than fucking a man could ever be.”
Scarlett Clarke is an English professor at Gorman University by day, and by night she’s a serial killer. So fun. We all need hobbies. Much like Dexter, Scarlett only targets those that she believes deserve to be murdered – however much someone can deserve to be murdered is an abstract moral question that we just do not have time to get into around here. I have things to do.
Continue reading “Review: They Never Learn by Layne Fargo” →