Appetite For Innocence (Lucinda Berry)

34655417.jpg

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.

Last year I read a very special book called The Girl Before by Rena Olsen. Even though I did love it back then, it’s one of those that have been in my mind ever since. I’ve been searching for books dealing with similar themes and I often remember some of the scenes. When I came across Appetite for Innocence, I knew I had to read it because of the obvious similarities (not about the actual topic, but because of the protagonists).

This was not an easy book to read at all.  The writing (it flows, it’s simple yet compelling) but the theme is incredibly dark. Appetite for Innocence is about a man who kidnaps young virgins and tries to get them “ready” for him. What interested me the most was the fact that one of the girls, Sarah, had been with him forever and helped him kidnap and “groom” the other girls. She had been completely brainwashed, much as the woman from The Girl Before.

The psychology of what makes a young girl behave like that has always fascinated me. It’s easy to judge them, but I prefer to try to understand their motives and how they become that person. One thing that I really liked about this novel was how Ella’s mother felt so much for Sarah and wanted to help her despite her own daughter being against it. I could understand both of them and that’s something I’ve come to appreciate in books. The fact that not everything is black and white.

So yes, the book deals with a hard topic and features some dark scenes, one that I particularly hope I never have to read ever again. I swear I had to put the book down for a few seconds and those who’ve read the novel probably know which moment I’m talking about. However, you also know how much I admire an author that isn’t afraid to go dark and Lucinda Berry is clearly a writer to watch out for.

To be honest, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending, as I think it took the easy way out and I didn’t really like how the events played out. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t elaborate, but I was expecting something more complex and thought-provoking, not the classic thriller climax.

Buy Here

Rise Press, 2017

My Sister (Michelle Adams)

26853378

My Sister tells the story of Irini, who was given away by her parents at the age of three, whilst her volatile, destructive sister was kept within the family. Twenty years later Irini receives a phone call from her estranged sister to say that their mother has died, compelling her to return for the first time to the family home, and to uncover the shocking truth that has defined both their lives.

I admit I wasn’t so sure about this book at first, especially since I haven’t enjoyed psychological thrillers that much lately. Fortunately, My Sister was a truly unique and suspenseful read that not only managed to grab my attention but also made me feel unsettled and weird. And how I love it when books make me feel uneasy!

This was the tale of two different sisters, Irini and Eleanor. Irini was given away by her parents when she was three years old and she has never understood why they didn’t keep her instead of her sister. She went to live with an aunt that didn’t love her and has struggled with relationships ever since. When her mother dies, she returns home and reconnects with Elle while uncovering dark secrets about her childhood.

This was way more “psychological” than “thriller” and I think it’s precisely what made it so special. Forget about the classic domestic thriller, this was way more gothic and eerie, kind of like what I felt when reading The Roanoke Girls. Don’t you love it when books are not what you expected at all? When the plot captivates you even though you don’t even like most the characters?

Irini was a weird one, that’s for sure. I couldn’t understand most of her decisions, but at the same time I really felt for her and found her relationship with Elle fascinating. Elle was not a really good person but was nevertheless appealing and you couldn’t get enough of her. Impulsive and volatile, you just never knew what she was going to do next. She was unpredictable and a great character to read about. If you enjoy stories about toxic relationships, look no further.

The book revealed few secrets that caught me by surprise and while it didn’t feature a shocking twist, I was kind of grateful for that. My Sister didn’t need it. Michelle Adam’s beautiful writing certainly makes it stand out from the rest of books about family secrets that I’ve recently read. Prepare for a slow-burning creepy adventure!

Buy Here

ARC, Headline, 2017

Blog Tour | The Escape (CL Taylor)

32790943

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…” When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t. The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise. What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her. No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

I admit I had never read a CL Taylor book before, but The Escape had an intriguing and creepy cover that I couldn’t stop looking at. And that blurb? Mysterious and appealing…

This is one of those books that can easily be read in a sitting (I know I did!): fast-paced, addictive and easy to read. The perfect “escape”, ideal for a relaxing evening after a busy day at work. The genre? Psychological thriller, of course.

Jo Blackmore meets a woman on the street and she asks her for a lift. This woman seems to know who Jo is and claims her husband owes her something. She also threatens to harm their daughter if Jo doesn’t help her. But Jo knows nothing about this woman and her husband assures her he doesn’t know her either. What is going on? And why does she feel she’s being watched? Has someone been at their house?

The novel had two different parts, one more “suspenseful” and the other with a more “adventure” feel. I enjoyed both, although the first one offered a quicker pace and was more traditionally “psychological”. I guess it depends on what you prefer, but this is undoubtedly a fun book worthy of your time. I remember feeling tricked when I realized something I hadn’t even considered as a possibility. Yes, there was a small, clever twist (I wouldn’t say this is a book full of surprises) that caught me by surprise and made me enjoy the story even more.

I can’t say this is a unique read, as it follows the classic psychological thriller path (a woman feeling like she’s losing her mind), but it’s still a cleverly-plotted novel that manages to keep you completely hooked and never lets you go. I admit I was a bit confused by the ending, but I think I might have read too much into it.

Buy Here

ARC, Avon Books, 2017

BLOG TOUR.png

Gone Without A Trace (Mary Torjussen)

29758021

No one ever disappears completely… You leave for work one morning. Another day in your normal life. Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone. His belongings have disappeared. He hasn’t been at work for weeks. It’s as if he never existed. But that’s not possible, is it? And there is worse still to come. Because just as you are searching for him someone is also watching you.

Do you ever get nervous while reading a book? That feeling in your stomach, the anticipation… It usually happens to me when I’m reading one of those novels that I feel will lead to a powerful conclusion. What exactly is going on? Are my theories correct or have I been tricked?

From the moment I started Gone Without A Trace, I knew it was one of those books. They’re just so easy to read! You can get into the characters’ mind and try to decide what you would do if you were in their shoes. In this case, Hannah gets home and discovers that his boyfriend has disappeared without a trace. But why? They were getting along well and nothing seemed to indicate that he was about to leave her… And he hasn’t just left, he has also erased his pictures and messages from Hannah’s computer and phone, including his mobile number. He has even left his job and taken all his belongings with him.

I was full of ideas at first, although I later discarded them because I thought they were too convenient. Why had he left? Why hadn’t he said anything? Was he the one sending messages to Hannah? I couldn’t wait to know… As it usually happens with this type of books, I liked Hannah in the beginning and I felt sorry for her, but she began to behave erratically after a while. I don’t know why, but I always have a hard time reading scenes where the main character begins to obsess over something and starts messing up her life (in this case, work).

When I started reading it, I thought the book had some similarities to both Distress Signals and The Marriage Lie, although it ended up not resembling any. Gone Without A Trace pulled off a nice twist that I definitely didn’t see coming. At the same time, I can’t say that I felt completely satisfied with it. I think the issue wasn’t the twist itself but the fact that it came with other sudden revelations that I found a bit unrealistic. The book was just perfectly plausible up until that point, but by the time it reached 70%, it went a little too crazy for my taste. I don’t know if I like how it ended.

All in all, this was an addictive story that I highly recommend to fans of psychological thrillers. The conclusion is pretty shocking and, if you don’t mind things getting a little crazy, you will surely love this one a lot. The last line made me smile.

Buy Here

Netgalley, Headline, 2017

Never Let You Go (Chevy Stevens)

29939148

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband was sent to jail and she started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When her ex-husband is finally released, Lindsey believes she’s cut all ties. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But can he really change? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

I was trying not to read any more domestic thrillers, but sometimes I don’t know how to say no… And Chevy Stevens is one of my weaknesses. Even though I didn’t like her last novel that much, Still Missing & That Night are still two of my favorite books. Who can possibly resist her dark stories? After all, she’s so popular for a reason.

The plot in this one might sound a bit too familiar to some of you, as there have been plenty of similar books lately… Lindsey was in an abusive marriage years ago, but she managed to escape with her daughter. Her husband Andrew went to prison and she finally started a new life. But now, ten years later, Andrew is free and Lindsey begins to suspect her ex is playing games with her. And why does Sophie want to meet him? Can’t she see that he’s not to be trusted?

I liked that the story focused on Lindsey’s relationship with her daughter, but I must admit that her behaviour (Sophie’s) got me on my nerves more than once. I know, I know, I was also a teenager not so long ago! But when your mother tells you that someone is dangerous, how can you still ignore her? And it isn’t like there isn’t proof… What I enjoyed about this storyline is that, for once, Andrew wasn’t straight-up evil like in other similar books I read. Don’t get me wrong: he was the absolute worst; but in the present narration, he claimed he had changed and wanted to connect with his daughter. The problem is… can you trust him?

The book was simply unputdownable and that has always been one of my favorite aspects of Chevy’s writing. From the very first page, I know for sure that I won’t ever be bored. She writes great female characters, too (I quite liked Lindsey and understood how she felt) and the flashbacks gave us the context we needed to understand her present actions. Never Let You Go had two different narrators (Lindsey and Sophie) and three different perspectives (the beginning of their relationship, their marriage, and the present).

If you’ve read Still Missing, you were probably as surprised as I was with that crazy ending. I adored it. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about Never Let You Go. I don’t know if I’m getting too familiar with her writing, but I had no doubt whatsoever about what was about to happen. Obviously, I’m not going to discuss it here, but I was pretty disappointed when I found out I was right. However, there was still one detail that I didn’t expect and I believe that was a pretty smart move.

I’d recommend Never Let You Go to those who love psychological thrillers and books that focus on mother-daughter relationships.

Buy Here

Netgalley, St Martin’s Press, 2017