REVIEW: Temper

Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC.


Layne Fargo’s debut novel, Temper, is a thrill ride of obsession, passion, and what it means to be devoted to art more than well-being. Pitched in an email from NetGalley as something fans of the Darren Aronofsky film, Black Swan, would love, I figured I would give it a try and request. For the first time in a stupidly long time, I have been presented with a book that is exactly what I was told it would and so, so much more.

For fear of giving away any good stuff, I will make a lot of this vague, but the story follows two points of view, one from Kira and the other from Joanna. Kira is an actress fighting to make ends meet while she strives for her big break. Joanna is one of he two people behind one of the larger theatre companies in Chicago looking for what she truly wants. The one thing that ties these two together is a script written by an unknown author and the man who plays the lead, Malcolm Mercer.

When I say this book is like Black Swan, I am only talking about the aspect of passion, and striving for that perfection while being allowed to feel and move through a scene, through a performance as though it could be reality. That is really where the comparison ends and it because a dance of psychological warfare between unmovable forces. This is where I would compare it to the play adaptation of Venus in Fur (my favourite show of all time).

The way every character moves around the others is so complex as they all become intertwined to the point of being knotted in each others’ faces is hypnotic. The layers so carefully worked that even the predictable is set up as though that was the purpose of the moment. I saw the ending coming a mile away – the principle of Chekhov’s Gun is very real here – but I didn’t care because that didn’t change how beautifully executed it was. It’s a cyclical story of desperation and egos and arrogance while also one of desire, love, jealousy, and what it means to be obsessed with perfection.

I almost hate the degree these characters had me obsessing over them, but it has been a long time since a character like Malcolm Mercer has had my little queer heart racing. Even Kira had me wishing I was her more than once, while I’ve felt Joanna’s pain so viscerally it almost made me want to cry. I know these people, I want to be these people, I am afraid of these people, and I love all of it.

I know I am absolutely gushing without giving much substance here but this is a book I highly recommend going into as blind as possible. Don’t read the reviews on GoodReads. Skim the synopsis on the back. Pick this up and let it eat you whole. You won’t regret it.

REVIEW: The Perfect Girlfriend

Thank you to the publishers for providing Indigo Books & Music Inc. with an ARC for review as part of the selection process for the January Staff Pick of the Month.

This review does not reflect the views and opinions of Indigo Books & Music Inc. and are my own independent thoughts of the work being reviews.


I love a good domestic thriller, and am always open to supporting a debut author, so I was more than happy to pick up the ARC when I saw it on the break room desk a few months ago back when I was working for Indigo Books.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton is a domestic thriller following Lily – or Juliette, as she goes by now – as she seeks to get her ex-boyfriend back in a process that gave me a similar feeling to Single White Female. Starting with joining the airline Nate works for as a flight attendant, Lily seeks to convince him how deeply, madly in love with her he definitely must be and get her perfect life back on track.

There are a few other bits that are all tied up in her mission, including wanting to be more successful than a mean girl from her childhood (who happens to be Nate’s sister) as well as still dealing with the death of her younger brother and now her estranged mother. While these added aspects added something akin to depth to the story, they also felt more loose in terms of plot planning and weak justification for Lily’s behaviour.

You have probably guessed that I was not overly fond of this title, and you would be correct. While the writing itself was strong, it felt like a story I already read. As I mentioned above, Single White Female was only one of the films that popped into my head while reading, along with Fatal Attraction and Gone Girl (in terms of the open ending). I usually don’t mind “borrowed” ideas as influence is always going to be in our media, but it just didn’t work with this one.

The novel is told from Lily’s perspective which gave me a hard time since I had a hard time connecting with her. At one point in my life, I was also a badly bullied little girl, but the extremes that Lily went through to not only get revenge but also to justify her behaviour to herself. It wouldn’t be a domestic revenge thriller without murder and even that part had me more rolling my eyes and wondering why no one suspected how out of her mind this woman is. It all seemed just far too over the top for me.

As always, perhaps this book just wasn’t for me. If you like the films/books I’ve referenced in terms of “borrowed” influences, then you might enjoy this book. I hope Karen Hamilton keeps writing and I enjoyed her style enough to give her next book a chance. 2 out of 5 stars from me.


This book is available now at any Indigo, Chapters, or Coles location and has an official release of December 31st, 2018.

REVIEW: Lying In Wait

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


When I read Liz Nugent’s last novel, Unraveling Oliver, I felt that it was an interesting character study rather than the thriller I was expecting. Much can be said the same for this most recent novel.

The story follows three characters from two families as they come to terms with what has happened to a girl Annie Doyle once she is murdered. Lydia and Laurence are mother and son, and it was Lydia’s husband who murdered the girl. The third character to get POV chapters is Karen, Annie’s sister. Similar to Unraveling Oliver, the narrative is purely character driven and written in a style that reminds me of True Detective (season one, of course).

The way the story moves non-linearly, it reminds me of unreliable witness testimonies that featured into the story telling of True Detective or many true crime documentaries that are on Netflix. It’s a style that greatly appeals to me as it’s an interesting approach to the domestic thriller genre and having all three POVs written in first person also add to the atmosphere of the story. It is very much a psychological story where we really get to know the characters before we see them fall to pieces.

However, as much as I liked how the story was written, it wasn’t my favourite. I had no real sympathy for any of the characters and almost felt that it would have worked better as a novella that ends without resolution rather that a 300-page novel that feels to really drag on in the second act to the point where I almost stopped reading several times. The ending was worth pushing through, but I was disappointed that it felt like work to get there.

While I think her previous novel was more to my liking despite the problematic characters, this is by no means a bad book. If domestic thrillers are your thing, I definitely recommend picking up this book full of bizarre people and their strange lives.

A solid three out of five, in my opinion.