Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1) by Maureen Johnson

A girl from Pittsburgh came to Ellingham Academy and she wanted to see a dead body. She got her wish.

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★★

HarperCollins | 2018

Filed Under: Youtube as a career path


As you may have picked up by now because of all the not-at-all subtle clues I keep dropping that goes something like: “I hate YA thrillers!” and “I’ve never read a good YA thriller!” or “Please stop recommending me YA thrillers because I don’t like them!” – I am not a big fan of YA mystery/thrillers.

I’m not sure why I keep reading them other than the plot summaries and beautiful covers continue to reel me.

I’m so goddamn naïve. “This one will be a good one!” I think to myself about a book I will end up not liking at all 🤡

Is that the case with Truly, Devious?

Umm…

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I’ve had my eye on this novel for a while mostly because of the goddamn plot summary. A private school famous for a decades-old unsolved kidnapping/maybe-murder suddenly sees a new murder and the possibility that the original Big Bad, know as Truly, Devious, is back to wreak havoc on the students and faculty of Ellingham Academy.

As concise as a summary can be, the blurb was actually a lot more interesting than what the plot turned out to be for my tastes. I typically hate private school shit. That setting is just an excuse to allow children to not have any real parental supervision like they would/should so they can do shit most teenagers would never fucking do. And I think I’m too old for that.

But, whatever. You all know I’m a grumpy reader.

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Review: Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

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★★

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.

Eeyore GIF by memecandy

That might change the further I get into writing this. Sometimes I can work up a bad attitude from nothing. It’s like magic.

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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.

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Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

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★★★★

Margaret K. McElderry Books | 2020

Filed Under: I definitely thought LSD was involved


Okay, first of all, can we all take a moment to appreciate how much fun it is to say the author’s name? KIT FRICK. It brings me so much joy. Or maybe pandemic lockdown is seriously getting to me. But, her name is like a little something extra to go with a really good book.

YEAH, I SAID.

It’s a YA mystery that was actually good! And no, I didn’t hit my head or get high while I read it. I’m as shocked as you are. (Lockdown is definitely getting to me???)

I mean, it’s not as if I never like YA novels, but it is a 1:10 ratio. There’s got to be something really different, honest or grounded about a YA mystery for me to get into it.

I Killed Zoe Spanos is all three of those things.

It’s set in the Hamptons but doesn’t rely on that Hamptons’ vibe to move the plot, which I appreciated. It’s not gimmicky or cartoonish in its depiction of that Hamptons lifestyle, and it easily could have been. Frick put her focus on the main character of Anna Cicconi – how she felt, what she was doing, where she came from and how she viewed the world around her – to bring the setting to life.

And the vibe ended up being dead on.

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Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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★★★½

Dutton | 2019

Filed Under: The entitlement of the rich.


If I had never read Final Girls or The Last Time I Lied, would I be giving this a higher rating?? Maybe. Please don’t look at my less-than-enthused review as a reason to not read this book, because everything Sager writes is a book to read, imho.

However, this third novel by Sager is just not as strong an offering as his previous two. Again, just my fangirl opinion.

I truly do love Sager. He and I should obviously be best friends because we like all the same things. And he’s built a writing career around paying homage to those favourite influences in the most satisfying way for me as a reader.

Lock Every Door is Rosemary’s Baby meets the United States poverty gap and healthcare. There are some elements included in the plot that are a bit misleading – is it a ghost story? Horror? Is there something satanic going on? But Sager takes that part of Rosemary’s Baby and flips it on its head to create commentary about U.S. healthcare and income inequality.

Now there’s a horror story, she says in Canadian.

That’s all I’ll say about that because I don’t want to get into spoilers.

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

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★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2020

Filed Under: Get winter tires.


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 Janes (Alice Vega, #2) by Louisa Luna

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★★★★

Doubleday | 2020

Filed Under: Doing underwear yoga.


I loved Louisa Luna’s first book, Two Girls Down, with a fiery passion that tingled my loins. Ew, don’t say loins.

But for real, I loved that book. It was one of my top five reads of 2018. So I was totally on board for a sequel because Alice Vega is one of the most bomb-ass female characters in crime fiction right now. That’s not an exaggeration.

I love her aloof, serous and damaged personality. I love that she does yoga in her underwear for breakfast and will do full body tackles of men twice her size without hesitation for lunch. She takes no shit, doesn’t play nice and has no tolerance for bullshit. Plus, she’s smart AF and every time she gets herself out of a tricky pickle I am mildly aroused. What I’m saying is, I want to be her when I grow up.

i love her premiere GIF by America's Next Top Model

Her relationship with quasi-partner, retired detective Max “Cap” Caplan, is sexually tense at the right levels, but also romantic and sweet in an honest way – nothing mushy or easy, or even overly dramatic that would make me hope they both die alone.

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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: I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

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★★½

Flatiron Books | 2019

Filed Under: Phone, keys, wallet


What in the actual fuck?

Why did you do this to me, Feeney?!

Sometimes I Lie was one of my favourite reads of 2018, so I was pretty pumped to read the second offering from this author, but unfortunately, I’m W-T-F-ing all over the place.

I mean, seriously. Why? Why that ending?

I should have fucking known I was going to be disappointed by this.

Clue number one: some of the most reliable thriller reviewers around these parts gave this book one fucking star.

Clue number two: My buddy Lori (@mylifewithbooksandbeans on Insta if you’re looking for a gem bookstagrammer to follow,) sent me her ARC copy from the US – yes, literally PAID shipping to send me this book – just because she wanted me to write a review.

People don’t want me to write reviews about books they think I’ll love, okay? I might not know where most countries are on a map, but I know that much.

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Review: The Last Night Out by Catherine O’Connell

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★★½

Severn House Publishers | 2018

Filed Under: The horror of a one-night stand.


*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, on a technicality.

But, the reason why I didn’t figure it out is that the narrative is such a jumbled up mess, and is taken in the wrong direction at every feasible opportunity, that there was literally no way for most readers to find the clues and the red herrings, if there even were any.

i said what i said real housewives of atlanta GIF by Bravo TV
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