Mini-Review: The Poor Man’s Guide to Suicide, 14, Shallow Pond

Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

The Poor Man’s Guide to Suicide

Title: The Poor Man’s Guide to Suicide
Author: Andrew Armacost
Genre: Black Comedy, Crime, Noir
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

THE POOR MAN’S GUIDE TO SUICIDE is a powerful, slashing, terrifying, hilarious, explosive, sarcastic, misanthropic and lyrical black comedy about losing your will to live—and possibly getting it back.


Wesley Weimer, a twice-divorced prison guard and failed father of two, realizes that his life has grown lifeless. Child support payments suck him dry and so he’ll never finish that degree. Most of his free time is spent tending to his crippled mother or else writhing through painful visits with his children.

So with Christmas right around the corner, Wesley persuades a prisoner to strangle him for ten thousand dollars—this way, at least his kids can cash in on the life insurance. The only problem is, he doesn’t have ten thousand dollars…

THE POOR MAN’S GUIDE TO SUICIDE is a noir why-done-it that shoves a microscope into the guts of a bleak yet fascinating subculture while managing to throw a spiritual life-ring to a drowning demographic: non-custodial fathers.

Review: It seems this book is either loved or hated by its reviewers. I liked the dark comedy, noir tone. The book was certainly different, and Wesley Weimer served as an intriguing protagonist. However, rather than depressed, he came across as disgruntled most of the time, and he was annoying at times. An engaging and enjoyable read though. The sarcasm worked great.


Title: 14

Author: Peter Clines

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches.

There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment.

Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much.

At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends.

Or the end of everything…

Review: The plot of 14 is great, and certainly not what I expected. I liked how the characters could talk about the strange things going on – they didn’t just ignore it, or try to solve it themselves, like what happens in most horror novels. However, the characters were stereotypes at times, and never really reached beyond their stereotypes. So while the plot and writing was great, the characters lacked personality.

Shallow Pond

Title: Shallow Pond

Author: Alissa Grosso

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Sisters uncover an unbelievable family secret

Barbara “Babie” Bunting is constantly mistaken for her sisters, but she’s determined not to end up like her family. She doesn’t plan to stick around Shallow Pond after graduation, and she certainly won’t be ruined by a broken heart. That is, until fellow orphan Zach Faraday walks into the picture, and Babie can’t deny their chemistry.

When her oldest sister, Annie, comes down with a mysterious illness—initially dismissed as “love sickness”—Babie and Zach start investigating what exactly killed the girls’ mother and why their late father became so consumed by grief. What they find changes everything.

Review: The first chapters were repetitive, and I struggled to get to the first chapter of the book. But then it picked up, and I found myself enjoying Babie and Zach’s world. The big twist was unexpected – I hadn’t seen it coming at all. An engaging read, don’t let the slow pacing of the first chapters fool you.


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