Sassy, No Spoilers: Finlay Donovan is Killing it

book reviews, contemporary, funny, mystery

Author turned accidental murder investigator? Sassy babysitters? Yes, please.

Whew! It’s been a minute since my last review. After a particularly fun cross-country move to Texas (where I learned, wearing a tshirt and cloth shoes, that it does snow in Amarillo), I have found myself reading a lot of “fun” books, before the “serious books” take over my life in January (MFA low-residency program, here I come). This is one of those fun books.

The closest thing I have to Finlay’s wig scarf

Finlay Donovan is Killing it by Elle Cosimano was gifted to me by the fine folks at NetGalley. I am a real sucker for any story that features a fumbling protagonist, especially one that finds herself in the middle of a mobster/hitman situation. Poor Finlay, she just wants to write Thriller-Romance novels and pay her bills. But when someone overhears her talking about her work at Panera, of all places, Finlay finds herself in a real bad situation. A bad situation that would pay her $50,000 if it went well. That money could also help her win custody of her children against her evil ex-husband, and his even-more-evil fiance.

If she made good choices, the book would be a terrific bore. But of course, dear reader, Finlay fumbles (nervously) right into the thick of it. Will she get out of it with her money—and her life?

The things I enjoyed about this book were the humorous moments, the sassy babysitter, and Finlay’s tendency to always do the wrong thing, but for an honorable reason (her children). It’s a fun story, a little sexy, and you will find yourself glued to the pages as you wonder, well how the hell is Finlay going to get out of that?

I believe this is the first in what will be a series, and I look forward to seeing how Finlay gets out of the next pickle.

Such a fun and light read, I would recommend it to anyone needing a little escape from 2020. Also those who:

  • Loved Desperate Housewives (I am guilty of this, no shade)
  • Enjoy sassy true crime podcasts
  • Wonder what would happen if someone accidentally hired a housewife as a hitman
  • Need to laugh

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Sassy, No Spoilers: The Invention of Sound

book reviews, fiction

Secretive Foley artists? The perfect scream as a weapon? Washed out actresses? Yes, please.

To know me is to know I love, love, Chuck Palahniuk. I started reading his books in the late 90s/early 00’s, when I’d get made fun of in high school for carrying around books with dead birds on them (hello, Lullaby). But I didn’t care, and each Palahniuk release was (and still is) my escape into a chaotic (and often nihilistic) world full of characters that you’re not supposed to like, but somehow find yourself pulling for them anyway.

And The Invention of Sound is no different.

Have you ever wondered who makes all the screams in your favorite horror movies? Especially the old ones, where the screams sound eerily real? Well, our MC, Mitzi, might know all about the magic behind all that. She’s Hollywood’s favorite Foley artist, with a penchant for popping Ambien and throwing it back with wine. She’s got secrets, y’all. The family business is booming, but why does she feel like such a monster?

On the other hand, we have Foster, who has a deep and problematic obsession with finding his daughter’s kidnapper. He thinks he’s a vigilante for kidnapped children, but he’s really bad at it. When he gets a tip that might help him solve his daughter’s case, all hell breaks loose.

The dual narrative of Mitzi and Foster kept me on my toes, with the story tension relieved by excerpts from the memoirs of a Hollywood star, Blush Gentry. Can we take a moment to appreciate Blush Gentry? Is that not the absolute best name for a character, or what? I dare you to find a better one.

Without giving away anything, let’s just say this is a quick read, and you’ll find yourself googling things like “Foley artists” and “Wilhelm scream.” Just like any other Palahniuk book, the research is solid, and you’ll wonder what’s real and what isn’t—just like the characters in the book.

Palahniuk books are very special to me, as I’m sure anyone reading this has that author that they will follow to the end of time. His characters raise big questions about the way we view ourselves, and how we’re often wrong. His stories can (and will) make you laugh/cry. Just like I argue that Stephen King’s books are actually deep on a human (and often, cultural) level, so too are Palahniuk’s stories of people on the edge of civilization.

I recommend The Invention of Sound to people that are curious about reading a book that isn’t Fight Club, but want to dive into the very approachable voice and world of Palahniuk. Also, fans of:

  • The absurdities of Hollywood
  • Nerd-level research about things like Foley artists and sound engineering
  • Characters that are possibly nihilists, but don’t think they are, which leads to personal chaos and so. much. conflict.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sassy, No Spoilers: My Best Friend’s Exorcism

book reviews

Demons, cults, and teenage angst in the 80’s? Yes, please.

Deep in the throngs of editing my cult-based thriller, I decided to pick up books that might lend a helping hand in keeping things ~spooky~ but ~not too spooky~ because I like to sleep with the lights off and not thinking about what might be lurking in the closet (not that there’s much room in there for ghosts, I have a lot of craft supplies in there, sorry, Casper).

I first noticed My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix at my library. I work in a public library; I scan a lot of books every day. I scanned a copy of this one in a transit bin, and instantly gasped, called my coworker over, and Oo’d and Ahh’d, because it has the. Coolest. Cover. I have ever seen. I didn’t check out the book, because it had a hold on it elsewhere (and I wouldn’t cheat y’all like that, library folk do follow rules). And as a rule of thumb, if I think I will like a book, I buy it. (Support! Authors! And! Bookshops!)

*pencil pouch, legwarmers, and holy water not included

The author of this book isn’t a novice, but he’s just landed himself a lot of (deserved) attention with The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Which is sitting in my TBR pile glaring at me as I type this. He also wrote a satirical take on a haunted version of IKEA. I love finding authors that take horror and smash it against humor (True Blood, anyone?), and that’s exactly what Hendrix accomplishes with MBFE.

To stay true to my name, I won’t spoil anything about this book. But I will say, it’s about two best friends in the 80’s who stand by each other…no matter what. What would you do if your best friend suddenly started acting like a total demon? Typical teenagers, amiright? This book is a wild ride through all things nostalgia, exorcists that are super swole for Jesus, and the limitless things we do for best friends.

Judge this book by the cover, I give you library-lady permission, and I also guarantee the song-lyrics-as-chapter-titles will have you jamming John Hughes movie soundtracks for weeks afterwards.

Read this book if you enjoy:

  • E.T. references
  • Stranger Things
  • The entire wild ride that was the True Blood series by Charlaine Harris
  • 80s nostalgia
  • Stories about insanely strong friendships

Also, if you were traumatized by The Exorcist as a child like I was, then this book will make you feel a lot better about it. Legwarmers are optional.

Rating: 4 out of 5.