Review: A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman @mastermanbecky @MinotaurBooks


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Release date: March 21, 2017

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 

Blurb: 

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, “the most original female character to anchor a crime series in years,” (The New York Times) is back—on a case staking family, friendship, and a man on death row.


Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, now happily settled in Tucson, doesn’t go back to visit her family in Florida much. But her former partner Laura Coleman, whose life she has saved and who saved her life, is living there now. When Laura calls about a case that is not going well, Brigid doesn’t hesitate to get on a plane.


On leave from the Bureau, Laura has been volunteering for a legal group that is trying to prove the innocence of a man who is on death row for killing his family. Laura is firmly convinced that he didn’t do it, while Brigid isn’t so sure—but the date for his execution is coming up so quickly that she shares Laura’s fear that any evidence absolving him from the crime may come too late.


Edgar Award and CWA Gold Dagger finalist Becky Masterman’s third Brigid Quinn novel is the masterful follow-up to Fear the Darkness and Rage Against the Dying. 

Review: 

I’m sadly wrapping up my Becky Masterman binge here, I reviewed Rage Against the Dying and Fear the Darkness earlier this week, and though I LOVED my experience with this series, I’m bummed that I’m now caught up and I have to wait along with everyone else to see what Brigid Quinn gets up to next. This series is fantastic, the more I read, the more I loved Brigid and the third installment revealed so much more about her personal life and brought a deeper understanding of who she is and what drives her.

All of the books in this series have some seriously gripping prologues, but this one is my favorite thus far. It’s 1980 and a young Brigid is about to witness her first execution, a man on death row is about to be killed in the form of the electric chair. She talks about the odd feelings she has while simply sitting and watching as a man dies despite everything on the inside screaming at her to help him, its unnatural and goes against every instinct she has. It was very chilling and set the stage for the story perfectly.

Brigid leaves Arizona and heads to Florida when she receives word that her father is sick and in the hospital. While I missed the setting of AZ, I also appreciated seeing Brigid back home where it all began. Laura Coleman from Rage Against the Dying is back and it was nice to check in and see how she was recovering after the events that happened in that book. Coleman is working to exonerate a man named Marcus Creighton who was sentenced to death after the murder of his wife and the disappearance of his three children. 

I’ve had a kind of morbid fascination about cases where an innocent man (or woman) is incarcerated for awhile now, so the premise for this one intrigued me. In 2015 alone, 149 people in US prisons were exonerated and released after their innocence was proven. On average, they spent 15 years behind bars. 15 years for something they didn’t do. Can you even imagine? It’s a terrifying thought, and while I won’t reveal if Creighton was actually innocent or guilty, I will say that this one gave me plenty of food for thought. 

I don’t quite know how, but Brigid’s voice just gets stronger and more distinctive with each book. Maybe it’s because as the series progresses Masterman delves deeper into her character and peels back more layers of her personality, or maybe it’s because by now I’ve grown rather attached to her, but whatever the case is, my connection with this sarcastic, bullheaded, amazing woman continues to grow. She doesn’t just skirt the boundaries of the law when it suits her, she stomps on them, grinds them into dust and never looks back. She is one seriously tough, intimidating woman and if she was real, I would be tempted to knock on her door with a cup of coffee in my hand, the stories she could tell… The glimpses inside her head as she struggles to work out a case always draws me in, it’s like watching an extremely complicated puzzle being put together. Sometimes you think you have everything in the right spot until just a couple of pieces don’t fit exactly right, but then, you have an AHA moment and it all makes sense. Brigid always fits it all together faster than me, and that’s exactly how I like it as I don’t want to be able to figure it all out alone. Masterman is now an autobuy author for me and I can’t wait for book four, what a brilliant series this is. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Minotaur Books for my review copy. 

Review: Fear the Darkness by Becky Masterman @mastermanbecky


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Release date: January 20, 2015

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 

Blurb: 

Ex-FBI Agent Brigid Quinn thinks she has a second chance at life. After too many years spent in the company of evil, she’s quit the Feds and is working out what normal is meant to feel like. She’s swapped serial killers, stakeouts and interrogation for a husband, friends and free time. But when you’ve walked in darkness for so long, can you stand the light? When a local teenager dies in a tragic drowning accident, the community thinks Brigid might be able to help comfort the family. But when she does so, something doesn’t add up. And it’s no easier at home: after a bereavement in the family, Brigid has reluctantly taken in her niece to give her a break before she starts college. Brigid’s ever-patient husband Carlo tells her they must go easy on Gemma-Kate, the grieving youngster. Which is fine, until she starts taking an unhealthy interest in dissecting the local wildlife. For Brigid, death still seems to be wherever she turns. But as she herself starts to feel unwell, it’s her own mortality that is the most troubling. And as she tries to get to the bottom of a series of allegedly accidental deaths and increasingly gruesome occurrences at home, she slowly realises that maybe this time, she’s let the darkness inside the only place she ever felt safe. Sometimes, death is closer than you think. 

Review: 

There’s something special about this series, I don’t remember being this excited about discovering a new to me author, or bingeing a series in record time since I picked up Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter. (I then proceeded to race to Goodreads where I found out she had a series and I never looked back) Anyway, my Becky Masterman binge has been amazingly fun and I have to thank Chelsea (again) for putting this phenomenal series on my radar. 

Things pick up shortly where the first book ended and Brigid Quinn has slipped back into her peaceful existence in Tucson, Arizona and is still married to Carlo. I may be developing a bit of a crush on him, he has the patience of a saint and as much as I like Brigid, she would be very hard to be married to. She’s taking on some cases as a PI as she physically can’t just stop investigating and life is pretty great. Then her sister in law dies and despite some reservations, she honors her promise of taking in her teenaged niece, Gemma Kate so she can establish residency for college. 

I fell more in love with Brigid in this book and it’s just as strong as the first one. She has such a powerful voice, and Masterman delved deeper into her psyche this time around. I liked finding out more about her family and though they only make a brief appearance, the insight explained a whole lot about who she is. She narrates the story in hindsight, which was so clever as she would drop subtle hints about the events to come that piqued my curiosity without giving anything away. 

This time around Brigid isn’t hunting down a mad killer, she’s searching for a danger very close to home. She’s extremely paranoid and I found myself very wary of all the characters and their motives as well. The plot twist stunned me and was executed to perfection, as this point, I don’t think Masterman can do any wrong, she’s an incredibly talented writer and Brigid is the type of character that stays on your mind long after you turn the final page. I can’t wait to dive into book three, but what will I do when I’m done, there’s no book four yet?!

Overall rating: 5/5

Review: Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton 


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Release date: April 20, 2017

Publisher: Transworld

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 
Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor. 


She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime. 


Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . . 

Review: 

If someone would have told me yesterday that I would be raving about a book with hot air balloons, peacocks, nuns, and human trafficking, I would’ve laughed in their face. The combination sounds totally insane, just reading the above sentence makes me think of a light cozy mystery or something similar. But when a book by Sharon Bolton combines all of these elements you can rest assured that the last thing you’ll feel is cozy, this was chilling, compelling, and raised my blood pressure more than a few times. 

I’m keeping things vague here, this won’t be an in depth review. This isn’t because I don’t have much to say, it’s because the less you know about the plot, the more I think you’ll enjoy the experience. Thank goodness I had Renee at It’s Book Talk to chat with as soon as I finished, she was also sweet enough to send me her copy. This isn’t even out in the US until September, we totally couldn’t wait that long! 

There are a few things that I will say, beginning with this is the definition of a compulsive read. It has multiple narrators, enabling you to see several sides to the same complicated story, it flips back and forth from the past and present, which is always something I like. There were so many times where I thought, how in the hell is this all going to fit together?! Well, it fit seamlessly in ways that I couldn’t guess. Ok, so I guessed one of the twists, but I didn’t care when I was right, it was that good anyway. But there were several additional turns that I didn’t work out and my head was spinning in the end. My favorite moments were the opening chapters with the hot air balloon disaster and the nuns, so brilliantly funny. Yes, I laughed quite a bit in between moments of anxiety. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Huge thanks to Renee for sending me her copy, you’re the best my friend!

Review: Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman @mastermanbecky


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Release date: March 12, 2013

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 

You have never met an (ex) FBI agent like Brigid Quinn


“Keeping secrets, telling lies, they require the same skill. Both become a habit, almost an addiction, that’s hard to break even with the people closest to you, out of the business. For example, they say never trust a woman who tells you her age; if she can’t keep that secret, she can’t keep yours. I’m fifty-nine.”


Brigid Quinn’s experiences in hunting sexual predators for the FBI have left her with memories she wishes she didn’t have and lethal skills she hopes never to need again. Having been pushed into early retirement by events she thinks she’s put firmly behind her, Brigid keeps telling herself she is settling down nicely in Tucson with a wonderful new husband, Carlo, and their dogs.


But the past intervenes when a man named Floyd Lynch confesses to the worst unsolved case of Brigid’s career—the disappearance and presumed murder of her young protégée, Jessica. Floyd knows things about that terrible night that were never made public, and offers to lead the cops to Jessica’s body in return for a plea bargain.


It should finally be the end of a dark chapter in Brigid’s life. Except…the new FBI agent on the case, Laura Coleman, thinks the confession is fake, and Brigid finds she cannot walk away from violence and retribution after all, no matter what the cost.


With a fiercely original and compelling voice, Becky Masterman’s Rage Against the Dying marks the heart-stopping debut of a brilliant new thriller writer. 

Review: 

I’m way late to this series, but one of the advantages to this is that I don’t have to wait for a new book to be released! When Chelsea at The Suspense is Thrilling Me asked if I had read Becky Masterman and I said no, she was sweet enough to send me the first two books. Then I recently received the third from the publisher and figured it was about time I started reading about Brigid Quinn. I’ve been hopping into a lot of new to me series in the middle, but I’m so glad I started at the beginning as this was such a fantastic read. 

Brigid is one of the most interesting and original protagonists that I’ve come across in a long time. She has such a multifaceted personality, there are so many layers to peel back to find out who she truly is inside, but what Masterman revealed in this series opener was a woman who is tough, determined, sharp, raw, and wholly relatable. She was also really quirky and when she’s uncomfortable or just trying to dodge a pointed question she deflects with black humor, I love that characteristic. Having a more mature woman as the lead in a crime series is clever and I really appreciated it. 

Brigid is a retired FBI agent living in Tucson, Arizona and reading a novel set in a familiar place was really fun. Masterman captured the rugged beauty of my home state perfectly and being able to recall places I’ve been to myself was fun! The fact that Brigid is no longer employed by the FBI made for some tricky investigative maneuvers on her part which added another breath of fresh air to this already highly original story. 

This was pretty violent and graphic, think Karin Slaughter in terms of the visual descriptions. The writing is fluid and Brigid narrates in a very conversational style that makes you feel like you’re chatting with an old friend. The plot twists were unexpected and I devoured this in a few hours, it was that gripping. I’m really glad I decided to binge this series straight through as I’m dying to know what happens next. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Review: Sleep Tight by Caroline Mitchell @caroline_writes @bookouture


Release date: April 20, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery/Thriller 

Blurb: 

Their worst nightmare is his perfect fantasy


A killer stalks the streets of East London. 


All over the area, murdered young women are discovered, their dead bodies mutilated into a sickening recreation of fairytale princesses.


Detective Ruby Preston is determined to hunt down a killer who is using the women to fulfil their twisted fantasies. 


But when the body parts of one young woman are found at the home of her lover, Nathan Crosby, Ruby is torn between her job and her heart. 


Convinced that Nathan is being framed, Ruby must catch the killer before her lover becomes the number one suspect. But as more victims are found, their faces transformed into perverse fairytale heroines, it becomes harder to prove his innocence. 


Ruby is in too deep, knowing that the cruel individual is getting ever closer, looking for his next beautiful victim. But can she stop a killer whose horrific fantasies are being played out on the streets of London? 


Because some fairytales can cause nightmares…

I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to be helping to kick off the blog tour for Sleep Tight! Happy publication day to one of my favorite authors. 😍


Review: 

A new Caroline Mitchell book is always cause for celebration for me and I’ve been impatiently awaiting the second book in her Ruby Preston series from the moment I finished the first book. As usual, Ruby is working to catch a killer and this time it may be her toughest case to date. A highly disturbed individual is killing prostitutes and recreating scenes from fairytales at the murder scenes; Snow White, The Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty to name a few. These fairytales don’t have a happy ever after ending though, as he’s not modeling them after the Disney versions, but rather after their original tellings, complete with abhorrent violence. As if all of that isn’t enough, Ruby’s sometime boyfriend, Nathan is the number one suspect when extremely incriminating evidence is found at his house. 

I’ve been dying to delve deeper into Ruby and Nathan’s relationship and this book provided that opportunity in spades. Even though the evidence against Nathan is stacking up at a rapid pace, Ruby just doesn’t believe it. She knows this man inside and out and truly believes he’s being framed, all she has to do is prove it. That’s easier said than done, especially when other members of her team seem to also have personal connections to the case, which complicates things at an alarming rate. The addition of the teams private lives being connected to this case allowed me to really find out more about them making my connection to these characters deep. The upheaval in the teams personal life was game changing and dramatically increased the pressure on Ruby as well as amped up the intensity of the plot.

Mitchell has the unique ability to highlight the pressures and strain police officers face bringing such a sincerity to the characters. Ruby nearly buckles under the pressure, and who could blame her? She’s a female working in a highly dominated male field and now her boyfriend is the number one suspect? Most of her coworkers don’t even know about her relationship with Nathan as he’s generally on the other side of the law and keeping this quiet is not only a huge risk but an additional stressor she does not need.

The killer is revealed very early on, but the game of cat and mouse he plays with the police is exciting and intense. Mitchell always has plenty of tricks up her sleeve and even though you know who the bad guy is, you don’t know why or how. This killer is creepy and sadistic and since he doesn’t stick to just one method of killing, you never know exactly what to expect. The things he did to his poor victims was enough to send a cold chill up and down my spine and I was flying through the pages at a frantic pace. This was another solid book in the series and I’m in awe of Mitchell’s dark and twisted mind and ability to create such creepy killers and chilling murder scenes. Another winner from Mitchell, the killer in this book will blow your mind with his insanely depraved methods and dark, twisted motivations. I already have a huge aversion to rats and I dare anyone who reads this not to develop one by the time they’re done. Shivers. The fantasies he’s recreating will turn you off from classic fairytales forever, trust me. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Review: Forks, Knives, and Spoons by Leah DeCesare @LeahDeCesare


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Release date: April 18, 2017

Publisher: Spark Press

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary 

Blurb: 

There are three kinds of guys: forks, knives, and spoons. That is the final lesson that Amy York s father sends her off to college with, never suspecting just how far his daughter will take it. Clinging to the Utensil Classification System as her guide, Amy tries to convince her skeptical roommate, Veronica Warren, of its usefulness as they navigate the heartbreaks and soul mates of college and beyond. Beginning in 1988, their freshman year at Syracuse University, Amy and Veronica meet an assortment of guys from slotted spoons and shrimp forks to butter knives and sporks all while trying to learn if the UCS holds true. On the quest to find their perfect steak knives, they learn to believe in themselves and not to settle in love or life.” 

Review: 

This was such a fun, feel good, lighthearted read! I love books set in the eighties, there’s something about the nostalgia I experience when I’m reading something set in that time period, and DeCesare brought the eighties back to life! She went into detail about the fashions, music, movies and stone aged technology and it was such a funny blast from the past. 

It begins in 1988 when Amy is getting ready to start her freshman year of college. She quickly bonds with her new roommate, Veronica and immediately tells her about the advice her dad left her with. The USC says that every guy can be classified as a piece of silverware. The perfect catch is a steak knife, while a shrimp fork or slotted spoon is a dud. It sounds silly, and it totally is, but it was also extremely fun. As a hopeless romantic, Amy takes the USC seriously, while the more realistic Veronica is skeptical. The book goes on to follow the girls as they graduate and move to NYC and mainly focuses on their dating adventures. 

I loved both Amy and Veronica, they were completely different in many ways, but they’re both loyal friends and hard workers. Their friendship was awesome and I always like to see some girl power in a book. They support each other through breakups, makeups, cheating, school pressure, and the stress of being out on their own as adults for the first time. Amy’s dad was also a really great guy, her mom died when she was a newborn so it’s always been just the two of them and their bond was adorable. 

This is like a more innocent Sex and the City, mostly because DeCesare captured the innocence of the late eighties and early nineties so well. Even though it follows the girls as they navigate the dating world it’s light on the romance and heavy on their friendship, which I appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of dating going on, but the focus was more on friendship and family. I was happy with how things ended but I’m also hopeful the author is considering a sequel?! I want to know what happens to Amy and Veronica next. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy. 

Review: White Sand, Blue Sea by Anita Hughes 


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Release date: April 11, 2017

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Genre: Women’s Fiction 

Blurb: 

Olivia Miller is standing on the porch of her mother and stepfather’s plantation style villa in St. Barts. They have been coming here every April for years but she is always thrilled to see the horseshoe shaped bay of Gustavia and white sand of Gouverneur’s Beach. This trip should be particularly exciting because she is celebrating her twenty-fifth birthday and hoping that Finn, her boyfriend of four years, will propose.


The only person who won’t be here is her father, Sebastian, who she hasn’t seen in twenty years. He’s a well-known artist and crisscrosses the globe, painting and living in exotic locations like Kenya and China. When Sebastian walks unexpectedly walks through the door and floats back into Olivia’s life like a piece of bad driftwood she never knew she wanted, she starts to wondering if her world is too narrow. She questions the dreams and the relationship she’s always thought she wanted. But there seems to be more to the story than an innocent fatherly visit, and Olivia must decide if love is more important than truth.


Set on St. Barts, the jewel of the Caribbean, WHITE SAND, BLUE SEA is a heartwarming story about romance and adventure, and most importantly, about knowing yourself, and what makes you happy.

Review: 

Based on the blurb/cover combo I was expecting a total beach read, something to escape into and that’s exactly what I got. This is pure entertainment and not to be taken too seriously, there were parts that would’ve bothered me a bit more (though there were a few issues I still couldn’t get past) if I was expecting a book with more depth, but if you take this book at face value (just look at that cover, makes me wanna dive in) then it’s a pretty fun read. 

Hughes paints such a pretty picture, the setting is definitely the strong point of this book. I could feel the sand between my toes, smell the flowers mixed with salty air and gorgeous scents of exotic food, it was so easy to conjure up an image of St. Bart. I had heard that a Hughes book was comparable to Elin Hilderbrand’s books and I’m a huge fan of her work, but besides the beach setting, I’m not really thinking that’s entirely accurate, this book lacked even a bit of the substance that Hilderbrand’s have. 

The characters were pretty unlikable, and not in a, are they good or bad type of way. More like a, they’re all pretentious, spoiled snobs type of way. Olivia is turning 25 and she’s extremely immature and naive. She comes across as selfish and vulnerable, but not in an endearing way, it was annoying. Her dad, Sebastian is awful, he’s flighty, pampered and egotistic and I found him utterly boring. I did like Felix, Olivia’s stepfather though, he wasn’t as pompous as the rest. 

This wasn’t a bad book, I actually did like it in a weird way, the location was amazing and Hughes is an excellent writer in terms of creating and capturing a fantastic atmosphere. I expected a little bit more romance and excitement and instead was thrust into the lives of some vapid, shallow characters who I couldn’t relate to at all. I would read another book by Hughes though, next time it’ll be on a beach while I’m drinking though so I can overlook the lack of substance and just take it for what it is.

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Review: The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White @KarenWhiteWrite


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Release date: April 11, 2017

Publisher: Berkley Publishing 

Genre: Southern Fiction, Historical, Mystery

Blurb: 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Flight Patterns comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems….

 

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

 

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

 

Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather’s world.

 

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women….

Review: 

Let’s start with that cover, I just LOVE it! It’s gorgeous and though the ebook version (which I read) is pretty enough, I’m ordering a physical copy too. The Night the Lights Went Out is a perfect blending of genres with a southern flair, it has drama, intrigue, betrayals, history, a small dose of romance, truly something for everyone. Plus, it’s set in Georgia which always makes a fantastic setting in my opinion. 

Merilee moves into a new home following her divorce with her two young children, Lily and Colin. She rents a place from Sugar, a life long resident of Sweet Apple, Georgia. Though these two seemingly have little in common, their proximity allows them to strike up an unlikely friendship and discover they may have a whole lot more in common than meets the eye. 

I felt for Merilee right from the start, we’re the same age and imagining trying to start my life over in a small, tight knit is terrifying. Especially when it’s a small town in the south, some of the grown women in this book were worse than Regina George in Mean Girls! Sugar took me a little while longer to warm up to, she’s a bit crotchety but as she slowly shares her past with Merilee, I begin to really empathize with her. Both women were so deeply developed, resulting in characters that will stay with me for a long time. 

I simply loved everything about this book, it was super entertaining, magically blending past and present as Merilee and Sugar both narrated sections. There are also sections from an anonymous blogger who only will reveal they’re a neighbor, preferring to keep their identity a secret, but they dispense some great life lessons and hilarious southern sayings. I did figure out a plot twist, but I was having such a fun time reading this, I didn’t even care. It beautifully captures small town Southern life and had enough gossip and whisperings to make it even more juicy. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Review: Appetite for Innocence by Lucinda Berry


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Release date: April 11, 2017

Publisher: Rise Press

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb: 

Be careful what you post online. Your next check-in might lead him right to you… 


A serial rapist is kidnapping teenage girls. But he’s not interested in just any teenage girls—only virgins. He hunts them by following their status updates and check-ins on social media. Once he’s captured them, they’re locked away in his sound-proof basement until they’re groomed and ready. He throws them away like pieces of trash after he’s stolen their innocence. Nobody escapes alive. 


Until Ella. 


Ella risks it all to escape, setting herself and the other girls free. But only Sarah—the girl whose been captive the longest—gets out with her. The girls are hospitalized and surrounded by FBI agents who will stop at nothing to find the man responsible. Ella and Sarah are the key to their investigation, but Sarah’s hiding something and it isn’t long before Ella discovers her nightmare is far from over. 


Fans of The Butterfly Garden and The Girl Before will devour Appetite for Innocence 


Warning: Contains sexual violence which may be a trigger for some readers.. 

Review: 

This is the third book I’ve read by Berry, if you missed my reviews here are the ones for Phantom Limb and Missing Parts. I feel like she’s really found her niche as an author and she’s consistently publishing books with dark, but totally fascinating subject matter that are extremely addictive reads.

This is told from two viewpoints, that of Ella and Sarah and it flashes back between Then and Now. Then details the two teenagers time when they were kept prisoner after being kidnapped by a sick and sadistic man named John. Now covers the timeline following when they escaped and are trying to acclimate to life after horrific events. He stalks his victims using social media and he has a very specific type, he only wants pure and innocent virgins. As always, the basic plot sucked me right in and grabbed my attention from the get go.

This is extremely fast paced, there were no moments of boredom and no chance of me losing interest. Berry slowly reveals the girls backstory and you eventually learn how they were kidnapped and how they managed to escape. There were several smaller twists that kept me on my toes and the writing was very dark and graphic. There are multiple scenes portraying abuse,  it was hard to read but still really gripping.

As always I love the look into human psychology that Berry brings with her background as a clinical psychologist, it fascinates me. Her books are pure entertainment and wild rides, packed with tension and intrigue, and while they’re on the shorter side, I love being able to devour a book in one sitting.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Skintown by Ciaran McMenamin


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Release date: April 6, 2017

Publisher: Doubleday Books

Blurb: 

‘We’re in the back of a car belonging to the men our mothers told us to never get in the back of a car of. I close my eyes and wonder how many girls will come to my funeral.’

Vincent Patrick Duffy has already checked out. Trapped between Skintown’s narrow horizons, he chops ribs and chickens in a takeaway, dreaming of escape, joint after freshly rolled joint.


A mindless act of kindness leads to the unlikeliest of business opportunities. Where the government has failed, might the second summer of love and a little pill with a dove on it be the broom to sweep away the hatred and replace it with love, so much love?


Skintown is Vinny’s drink- and drug-fuelled odyssey through fighting, fishing, rioting, romance, reconciliation and acid house. Bristling with a restless energy and drunk on black humour, this superb debut is a wild ride. 

Review: 

I don’t even really know to start with this one, I can’t even properly classify it’s genre I’m so lost! I felt like reading this was hearing the thoughts of someone on one long ass acid trip, it was so bizarre! Despite that description it wasn’t as unenjoyable as you would think. It had it’s strong points and great moments, but unfortunately it just really wasn’t my style. 

Vinny is the narrator and he was a truly great character. He’s an eighteen year old kid living in Ireland in the nineties and he doesn’t have a pot to piss in. The premise is all about how he has a chance meeting with two drug dealers who cut him in on a deal where he can make enough money to get out of his crappy town and start over in Belfast. It was engaging enough for me from the synopsis but I really wasn’t a fan of listening to the philosophical conversations (the kind that only two seriously messed up people have) that happened again, and again between him and his friend Jonty. It was too much of a trip for me. 

It was one long, drug fueled adventure peppered with black humor and odd situations. The writing was vivid and strong, but again the plot left something to be desired to me. Had I not connected so well to Vinny and Jonty and had the writing not been so great, this would’ve been rated lower. If you like wacky reads, raves, explicit language and sexual situations, this may be your cup of tea. 

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to Doubleday Books for my review copy.