Mini-Review Roundup: Six Little Secrets, The Holdout, The Real Lolita & Truth and Lies

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Reviews in this post:

  • Six Little Secrets by Katlyn Duncan
  • The Holdout by Graham Moore
  • The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman
  • Truth and Lies (DI Amy Winter, #1) by Caroline Mitchell
Continue reading “Mini-Review Roundup: Six Little Secrets, The Holdout, The Real Lolita & Truth and Lies”

Mystery/Thriller New Releases for Q1 of 2021

Oh heyyyyyyy! How’s 2021 treating you so far? Like a sledgehammer to the head? Good, me too. Glad we’re on the same page.

I definitely slacked on my “new releases” posts last year and I’m fully aware of that. And by slacked, I very generously mean that I didn’t post a single fucking one.

But, as I’ve said on repeat, 2020 can eat a bag of dicks. Among its less egregious crimes is that it messed so hard with my motivation to do literally anything I typically like to do. All I had the attention span for was reality tv and changing out of one pair of leggings into an identical, cleaner pair of leggings. Stress levels increase = concentration levels decrease. It’s science.

And even though 2021 hasn’t been much better so far, and in fact seems to be impacting my mental health much harder the closer we get to the one-year anniversary of this shit, (shout out to crying jags over small inconveniences!) I’m going to muscle through like Christina Aguilera. She’s a fighter.

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If you’ve been luckier than me and have managed to actually read in this pandemic, number one – I’m jealous. And number two – I’m here to restock that TBR, because despite my jealously, I want you to be happy. Look no further than this list of new releases to find your next read.

If you’re having a hard time reading like yours truly, this list is still for you, booboo! As everyone should know by now – reading books and acquiring books are two totally separate hobbies. And if you’re even more like me then compulsive online shopping is one of the only things getting you through this shit lately. So, let’s buy some motherfucking books!

This is obviously not a comprehensive list of new releases, because I do not have the fucking time for that, but it’s a place to start. And I know I should have posted this a month ago, but hellloooooo did you hear what I just said about my mental health?

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Also, before you get confused, my “buzzed score” is really simple – the more emojis, the more into it I am. But moreover, it’s just a reason for me to put together different emojis to mean I’m smoking weed and getting high. Okay, let’s goooooooo!

Continue reading “Mystery/Thriller New Releases for Q1 of 2021”

Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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★★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2020

Filed Under: Sarah Keonig’s soothing tones


Remember when I was on the blog tour for this last August and said I’d have a review posted “soon?” Man, I’ve got some hilarious jokes.

Listen, I’m blaming everything on 2020. I’m double-digits deep on back reviews and triple digits up in unread ARCs because I just… couldn’t. And I didn’t know how to even explain what was wrong/is wrong with me. But it’s literally all the Pandemic’s fault. I have the science to back it up! Research shows that the high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that we have been producing extra for a prolonged period because of the pandemic, can inhibit perceptual learning and memory formation. This interferes with our ability to assimilate facts and focus on work. So, if you’ve been having trouble working, reading and or just general concentration has been difficult for you, then this is why. STRESS, bitch! That you got from a Panny!

I just learned this after a whole fucking year of screaming at my husband, “why can’t I do any of the things I like to do?”

Now I know.

I had big plans for last year. I was going to get my reading life organized, tons of reviews posted and make a serious dent in my ARCs, None of that happened. Now, we’re days away from the one-year anniversary of this goddamn pandemic. How can it be March 2021 when I’m still processing March 2020!?

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Anyway, it’s officially six months since I was supposed to review this book, so let’s get this shit posted.

Continue reading “Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin”

Review: Nothing to Lose (Ziba MacKenzie, #2) by Victoria Selman

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★★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2019

Filed Under: Déjà vu


Listen, I like this series!! Maybe it won’t sound like it for the bulk of this review, but I do. I like the character of Ziba. I think she’s interesting, layered and a tough female character in this genre. But this sequel to Blood for Blood persists in my biggest problem from the first book – Ziba, and the rest of the cops, are starting to seem really fucking dumb. Ziba is described as a highly skilled criminal profiler and ex-special forces badass, but she consistently whiffs on seeing the very obvious answer to a mystery. She takes FOR👏EV👏ER to pick up a clue the reader will catch immediately. That’s a problem.

This is mostly an author issue. The being, you think you’re writing something very twisty and hard to figure out, but objectively you’re not, so the highly-skilled main character doesn’t live up to the big description she’s been given. The reader will be screaming “HELLOOO!!! How are you not getting this?!” at Ziba about halfway through.

I wish it wasn’t so. I truly do. Because this UK-based crime series is heads above other UK-crime series in a lot of ways – no recycled tropes or character types, and no fucking book covers of a woman in a red coat walking through some kind of goddamn field.

Where are you going, lady?! The crimes happened in central London! There’s nothing in that field!

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Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North

If your lonely, sad, and blue, the whisper man will come for you.

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★★★★★

Caledon Books | 2019

Filed Under: Your kid’s dead imaginary friend


I’m usually super hesitant to read a book that is making the rounds on the Hype Train Express. I tend to be disappointed; closing the book only to be like, “well, I definitely read this wrong? What is everyone talking about?” (But let’s be real, I’m not actually reading the books wrong.)

Either way, none of that applies this time. To quote Bailey Sarian: Nay, nay I say! The Whisper Man by Alex North gets an enthusiastic 5-stars from me. Like so enthusiastic, it’s almost sexual.

Toot-fucking-toot, bitches!

This book legit unnerved me and I can’t say that happens very often. Because I’m dead inside? Likely. Because I read so much dark fiction? More likely. But with this one, I was turning on the lights and setting my home alarm. This was dark and twisty and creepy AF.

A few choice moments started to weave a seemingly supernatural theme into the plotline, but it was never blatant so I didn’t know what I was reading until it all came together. North kept me on the edge of my seat, tips of my toes and the end of my last nerve for the entire novel. I fucking loved it. I don’t feel like I have enough words to fully explain to you just how much I loved this, so, have this gif instead:

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This is the level I’m at.

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Review: The Return by Rachel Harrison

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★★★½

Berkley | 2020

Opening Hook: Not Reese Witherspoon in Wild

Main Character: Hopeful, despite the rotted teeth

Plot Twisty-ness: Unexpected body horror


This was definitely interesting. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that isn’t a bad thing this time. It’s a novel I won’t soon forget and the catalyst for my decision to not read horror novels involving teeth for the rest of my fucking life. Thank you very much.

This is hard to review because it’s essentially a spoiler minefield from beginning to end, but I’ll do my best to explain why you should read this book if you’re looking for, what I’m calling, Girls’ Weekend Horror.

Honestly, I didn’t hate this. I might have actually really liked it. I think my expectations were tempered by the abundance of disappointed reviews I came across before I ever cracked this one open – and by cracked open, I mean swiped open because #netgalley. I get some of the criticisms, but for me, I had a good time. And I wasn’t even high!

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Review: Cut to the Bone (Agent Sayer Altair, #3) by Ellison Cooper

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★★★★

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 weird 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…

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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, 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”

Review: Behind the Door (Kathy Ryan, #2) by Mary Sangiovanni

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★★★

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 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.

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Review: White Out (Badlands Thriller, #1) by Danielle Girard

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★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2020

Opening Hook: Get winter tires.

Main Character: I don’t remember.

Plot Twisty-ness: Small-town amnesia.


If you’re sick to death of this extreme heat, which I always am even before it starts, then this snowy thriller is the perfect read to cool off this summer. How’s that for a goddamn tagline, huh? I should do this shit professionally. Someone pay me. Oh, and today is the official pub day!

Alright, so I was offered this book by the author, Danielle Girard, in exchange for a review. These authors know what they’re getting into when they ask me to review their books, so I’m always honest even when it’s negative, and I don’t feel bad about it.

Fortunately for all of us, I don’t really have too much to say that’s negative about this first instalment in the Badlands series… except like two things… three things… four things… Okay, whatever, we’ll count them up at the end.

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Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.

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★★★½

St. Martin’s Press | 2018

Opening Hook: Wife turned ex turned stalker.

Main Character: Like a baby deer learning how to walk, but after being gaslit by a psychopath.

Plot Twisty-ness: More wavy, less twisty.


This book is the direction that The Last Mrs. Parrish should have gone instead of being the misogynistic piece of garbage it turned out to be. I don’t know why everyone likes that book so much, or why it’s being made into a movie, but I’m very disappointed in each and every one of you who back it as a good book. And I’m telling your fucking parents. Don’t @ me.

The Wife Between Us doesn’t fully realize it’s potential as a domestic thriller in a way that was satisfying to me. While the quite and calculating approach the authors seem to prefer worked really well in their other novel An Anonymous Girl, here it made the narrative less thrilling and more soap opera-ish than I would have wanted.

Where The Last Mrs. Parrish tried to convince the reader that domestic abuse is okay as long as the “replacement wife” fucking sucks enough to “deserve” it, The Wife Between Us pumped the breaks before completely going in that direction. Instead, there is a moment of, “Oopsie! I guess it wasn’t very nice of me to make that woman take my place in my abusive relationship.”

You think?!

Continue reading “Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen”