Appetite for Innocence by Lucinda Berry

Appetite for Innocence

Title: Appetite For Innocence

Author: Lucinda Berry

Publisher: Rise Press

Date of publication: April 11th, 2017

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Number of pages: 358

POV: Alternating 1st person

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

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 who’s 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 keys 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…

My review:

How do I start this review? Ok, maybe by saying that to date, this has to have been the creepiest book that I have read. Told from the viewpoints of Sarah and Ella and told in the past and present, I just got the chills from reading it. I just couldn’t place what was going to come next and there was some doozy of plot twists. I should also mention that there are several triggers in the book. So if you trigger easily, I wouldn’t read it.

Normally, I don’t like it when a book jumps from the past to present and back. Also, I don’t like it when there are many switches back and forth between characters. But, with this book, it worked and the author did a great job of letting you know when the book was in the past, when it was in the present and who was talking. The beginning of each chapter had the character’s name with (past) or (present) next to it. So there was no confusion about who was talking and if they were in the past/future.

I liked the warning that was throughout the book: Too much oversharing on any/all social media websites. That is what made it so easy for John to find his victims. He was able to track them, research them, through their Facebook profiles, their Instagram accounts and find out all about them. And since he wanted virgins, it made it easier for him to find those who took purity pledges. I have an 11-year-old and this is exactly my fear as she gets older.

My heart broke for Ella and you could see the change in her throughout her entrapment. She went from fighting with everything she had to just accept the inevitable to actually having the courage to do what Sarah couldn’t/wouldn’t. But what broke my heart, even more, was when she was rescued. She was so filled with guilt over what happened to Paige (even if it wasn’t her fault). Her depression and coping mechanisms, once she was home, was totally believable.

Sarah, however, I didn’t like. I mean, yes, I felt bad when I eventually found out what happened to her when she was younger and what she did to survive that first couple of years. But when other things were revealed, my feeling bad for her quickly evaporated and all I began to feel was disgust. Not going to get into what exactly happened but I was pretty shocked by the depth of her involvement in things at the house. Let’s just leave it at that.

The last few chapters of the book were a surprise and I was pretty happy with how things ended. But, I was a little creeped out by the last chapter.

How many stars will I give Appetite for Innocence: 4

Why: This is a genuinely creepy book that is going to give me nightmares. The characters were very well-developed and you couldn’t help but get attached to them.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes but with a warning about triggers that I will list below

Age range: Adult

Why: Violence and language. Scenes of child abuse, dog attack, and rape. These could be triggers for some people and I would recommend reading with caution if you are triggered by them.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

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Phantom Limb by Lucinda Berry

Phantom Limb: A Gripping Psychological Thriller

Title: Phantom Limb

Author: Lucinda Berry

Publisher: Rise Press

Date of publication: January 17th, 2017

Genre: Thriller

Number of pages: 260

Series: No

POV: 1st person

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

Emily and Elizabeth spend their childhood locked in a bedroom and terrorized by a mother who drinks too much and disappears for days. The identical twins are rescued by a family determined to be their saviors.

But there are some horrors love can’t erase…

Elizabeth wakes in a hospital, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak. The last thing she remembers is finding Emily’s body in their bathroom. Days before, she was falling in love and starting college. Now, she’s surrounded by men who talk to themselves and women who pull out their eyebrows.

As she delves deeper into the mystery surrounding Emily’s death, she discovers shocking secrets and holes in her memory that force her to remember what she’s worked so hard to forget-the beatings, the blood, the special friends. Her life spins out of control at a terrifying speed as she desperately tries to unravel the psychological puzzle of her past before it’s too late.

Phantom Limb is a character-driven mystery that begs to be read in a single setting. The shocking and shattering conclusion will make you go back and read it again.

My review:

Ever read a book that keeps you up at night because not only was it an incredibly hard read but it made you think. Well, Phantom Limb is such a book and I was up for a couple of hours after I finished it, thinking about what I just read and mentally trying to form my thought into a review.

When I say this book wasn’t easy to read, it wasn’t. There are very graphic scenes of neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, cutting, and suicide. I actually cringed during the scenes where Elizabeth was helping Emily clean up after cutting. And the scenes where Elizabeth was reliving the horrendous neglect/abuse that her mother and the special friends put the twins through, made me cry. Because, somewhere in the world, there is a child going through the same thing that the twins went through.

Elizabeth was the healthier, mentally, of the twins. She was going to college, had a steady boyfriend and lived with her twin, Emily, in an apartment off campus. Emily, however, was a mess. She rarely left the apartment and was in a severe depression. Any attempt to get her out of the apartment was met with resistance, she refused to talk to their adoptive parents and she was sliding into a very deep depression.

Elizabeth decided that she wanted Emily to meet her boyfriend, Thomas. Only thing….she hasn’t told Emily about him yet. When she did tell her, Emily was very excited and was making plans. Then Thomas tells Elizabeth that Emily showed up at his car and told him to leave Elizabeth alone. Furious, Elizabeth and Emily have a huge fight that results in Emily overdosing on pills and dying. Elizabeth finds her and, in hysterics, calls her adoptive parents for help.

Then the world goes black.

She wakes up a week later in the hospital and is later admitted into the psych ward.  It is there that she realizes that there are huge holes in her memory about Emily and the keys to remembering what really happened to Emily is to look into the past. Into the severe neglect and abuse that Mother put them through and the sexual abuse that their 5-year-old selves endured at the hands of the special friends that Mother brought home.

The friendship between Elizabeth and Rose, an anorexic, was sweet but there was a small part of me that wondered if she was going to transfer what her and Emily had onto Rose. Not going say if that happened. You need to read the book to find out.

There is a plot twist that blew my mind and looking back, it made so much sense about certain things that were mentioned in the book. The end of the book actually made me very sad and I wish it didn’t end the way it did. But, not every book can have a happy ending and with the trauma that Elizabeth endured…..it made sense why that happened.

How many stars will I give Phantom Limb: 4

Why: I will be honest, this isn’t a happy book. But the issues that it brings up: childhood abuse/neglect, mental illness, suicide, anorexia, and cutting are brought up in a way that I have rarely seen a few books do. The author doesn’t glamorize” mental illness (which, unfortunately, I have seen other books doing) and she also doesn’t offer a quick fix to Elizabeth’s issues (which, again, I have seen other books doing). Instead, this book is a very realistic book into the above-mentioned issues. Like I said above, not an easy read.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Child abuse/neglect, sexual abuse, cutting, suicide attempts, language.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**