Review: Sidetracked (Mindf*ck Series, #2), by S. T. Abby

Sidetracked (Mindf*ck Series Book 2)Sidetracked by S.T. Abby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Sidetracked’ is the second serial in S. T. Abby’s ‘Mindf*ck’ series and it proves to be just as exciting as the first. To this point, there hasn’t been a dull moment in this series. I could not read these quick enough. I devoured every twisted detail as Lana and Logan continue to court danger.

In spite of their hectic schedules and Lana’s secrets, the couple continues to grow closer. They are quickly falling in love, even as Lana knows that she should distance herself from Logan. The man who is bringing her back to life is also the man who will cost her everything.

Logan is increasingly busy working two high-profile cases. Aside from his unknowing hunt for Lana, he is also trying to pin down a serial rapist and murder that is dubbed the “Boogeyman”. As she continues to avoid detection, Lana provides some insight and assistance to Logan on his other case.

When things heat up with the Boogeyman, Logan’s notoriety makes him a target for the killer. Only, the Boogeyman plans to get at Logan through the woman he loves. As a result, security for everyone on Logan’s team and Lana is beefed up.

Needless to say, having a 24/7 law enforcement presence proves to be a challenge for a serial killer trying to fly under the radar. The fact that Logan does not truly know Lana is never more obvious. Despite the added scrutiny, Lana manages to continue her plans for revenge with a few modifications.

More and more, Logan tries to get Lana to open up about her past to no avail. Meanwhile, readers are given tidbits of information, but are still left largely in the dark with Logan. It is clear that Lana’s survived an incredibly traumatic incident in the past, but the full extent of that trauma is yet to be revealed.

However, enough of Lana’s story has been revealed to make her plight sympathetic to readers. I am still rooting for her. She has yet to kill anyone that I didn’t think had it coming.

As expected, this second book ends with another huge cliffhanger. If I thought that the cliffhanger at the end of the last book was anxiety-inducing, I hadn’t seen anything yet. I dived into the third installment of this series immediately.

I am completely and totally hooked on this series. It is dark, twisted and has everything that I love in a suspenseful story. I am dying to know how everything works out. I have no doubt that I won’t stop until I’ve finished this entire series. I love it!

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Review: The Risk (Mindf*ck Series, #1), by S. T. Abby

The Risk (Mindf*ck Series #1)The Risk by S.T. Abby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy hell! This book was fantastic! I had never heard of S. T. Abby before now, but she has blown me away with this book. This is one twisted and fascinating story. I will be one-clicking her releases from this point forward.

The first in a series of five serials, ‘The Risk’ was suspenseful and utterly addicting. I could not put this super short book down. Once you’ve finished the first one, you’re going to want to delve into the next book immediately. Luckily, the entire series has been released, so you don’t have to live with the anxious anticipation for long.

Logan Bennett is a very successful FBI criminal profiler. His team is the FBI’s “dream team” of sorts. They get assigned the toughest cases, tracking down and capturing the country’s worst murderers. He is the quintessential “good guy” and a real-life hero.

Lana Myers is his polar opposite. Her life experiences have taught her that good does not always prevail. She is no longer a young girl with illusions of a criminal justice system that is fair and just. She knows all to well that there is true evil in this world. She has no qualms about handing out her own special brand of justice to those that she deems deserving of punishment. I can’t say that I disagreed either. Lana is quite possibly one of my favorite leading female characters ever…and she’s a serial killer!

When Logan and Lana cross paths, sparks fly immediately. One chance meeting at a coffee shop sets a chain of events in motion that will change the lives of these two forever. I was completely glued to this story. I knew that things were bound to get really ugly, but I couldn’t tear myself away.

Lana knows that the last thing she should ever do is pursue a romantic relationship with an FBI profiler. However, she just can’t deny herself the happiness that she feels with Logan. For his part, Logan is completely clueless about Lana’s true identity or what she does when she’s away from him. He has no idea that the serial killer he’s been hunting is actually warming his bed at night.

From start to finish, I could not pull myself away from this story. Despite being polar opposites, S. T. Abby managed to make both Logan and Lana characters that were endearing. I loved them both, even as I feared the heartache that I know has to be looming in the distance.

This story was dark, twisted and thrilling. This first serial ended with a big cliffhanger, that had me jumping into the next one immediately. I was blown away by this story.

If you’re a fan of dark, suspenseful stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time, then you need to read this series. The first book is free, so you’re not losing anything if you don’t like it. If you’re like me, you won’t even want to come up for air until you’ve read all five. This series was phenomenal!

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Review: The Butterfly Garden (The Collector Trilogy, #1), by Dot Hutchison

The Butterfly GardenThe Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whew! This was one of the creepiest stories that I’ve read in a long time. It was just so damn sick that I can’t wrap my mind around it. This one was disturbing and bizarre, but I loved it!

This story is told from the POV of Maya, a young woman that has just been rescued from a serial killer, and the FBI agents that are interrogating her. Maya refuses to be rushed as she recounts her tale, to the utter frustration of the agents. The story alternates between the past and present, as Maya provides the horrifying details of her abduction and captivity.

While this type of storytelling, with frequent flashbacks, often seems disruptive and disjointed to me, it really worked for this story. In fact, I’m not sure that I would’ve enjoyed the story if it hadn’t been broken up between the past and present. Too much time in the garden all at once might have been too much to handle. Regardless, I think that the way this story was told, gradually revealing the secrets of the garden, was brilliant.

Maya, along with several other girls, lived for years in captivity. They were abducted by a man they refer to only as “The Gardener” and kept as living “butterflies” in a fully enclosed “garden”. The Gardener is, not surprisingly, one very sick individual. He repeatedly rapes the girls and eventually murders them, preserving their bodies in glass cases. Yet, he has convinced himself that he has “saved” these girls and that he has somehow honored them in death.

As if The Gardener weren’t enough to handle, he has two sons. Avery, is feared by all of the girls. He is sadistic and cruel, taking pleasure in the suffering of the butterflies. Like his father, he is one sick individual. The younger son is less violent, but disturbed in his own way. While Avery relishes the taboo activities that take place in the garden, his younger brother struggles with the brutal reality.

Despite the dark nature of this story, I did not find the abuse to be incredibly graphic or detailed. It is clear that the girls are repeatedly raped and abused, but most of the details are left to readers’ imagination. Believe me, the details of the abuse are not required. More effort was put into describing the aftermath of the abuse, describing the physical effects of the abuse rather than the actual incidents, giving a pretty clear picture of what transpired.

Since most of the girls are taken as teenagers, child abuse is clearly a prevalent theme. Toward the end of the book there is one particularly disturbing account of abuse that is especially difficult to read. If these are topics that you cannot handle, then you might want to reconsider reading this book.

Although the scenario painted in this book is possible, it is very implausible. This is the type of story where you have to be willing to overlook some of the details that are highly unlikely. I questioned many things, as I listened to Maya’s account of her captivity.

For example, there are around 20 girls between 16 and 21 years of age. Yet, they never try to fight back or gang up on any of the 3 guys, even though they are usually alone and unarmed. Okay, maybe they’re just so damn broken and conditioned that they wouldn’t even try.

Then there’s the fact that the police search the grounds at one point, but never even go into this huge “garden” within a garden. How exactly do you make a structure with 20+ bedrooms and an indoor atrium with water features completely disappear? I don’t buy it.

I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it was a bit too convenient for me. I didn’t think that the “connection” made was necessary at all. It was just one more thing that was too hard to swallow for me.

That being said, I very much enjoyed this story. It was dark, disturbing and creepy as hell. It kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, waiting to see how Maya and the others came to be rescued as I took in the horrifying account of their time in captivity. It was fascinating and brilliantly told.

I listened to the Audible version of the book and the narration was pretty good. I liked the female narrator more than the male narrator, but since his parts were fewer it was not a big factor for me. Overall, it was a great book.

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Review: Pretty Lost Dolls (Pretty Stolen Dolls, #2), by Ker Dukey and K. Webster

Pretty Lost Dolls (Pretty Stolen Dolls, #2)Pretty Lost Dolls by Ker Dukey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Pretty Lost Dolls’ picks up right where ‘Pretty Stolen Dolls’ left off. Jade is once again at the mercy of Benny, aka Benjamin. She is reliving her worst nightmare. Only, this time around Benny hasn’t taken a young, passive girl. He’s taken a grown woman that has spent years training to take him down and he will have a fight on his hands.

Much light is shed on Benny’s past, making him a far more human character. There’s no question that he’s crazy. However, his story called to me and I found myself feeling sorry for the boy that grew into a monster. Poor Benny. My heart broke for him, even as I knew that there was no redemption for him.

Jade is reunited with Macy, but finds that she’s no longer the sweet little sister that she left behind. Her time as Benny’s captive has irrevocably changed her for the worse. All of Jade’s hopes of rescuing the sister that she left behind are turned upside down as she realizes that Macy may be worse than Benny. He’s turned her into a monster, just like him.

I also found myself growing even more fond of Dillon. He may have started off as a jerk, but he really proves himself to be a stand-up guy in this book. He is unfailingly loyal to Jade, even when his own life, and the lives of his loved ones, are placed in danger.

This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. It was dark and oh so twisted. Where book one hinted at Benny’s depravity, this book will submerse you in his disturbing world. I was equal parts terrified and curious to see what would happen with each flip of a page.

This was a fantastic, dark read. If you love dark, suspenseful stories that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, then this is a great choice. If you are the type of individual that is triggered by abuse, sexual assault, or diabolical psychos, then steer clear. This is the type of book that will give you nightmares…and I loved every minute!

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Review: Sugar Daddy (Sugar Bowl,#1), by Sawyer Bennett

Sugar Daddy (Sugar Bowl, #1)Sugar Daddy by Sawyer Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I loved this one! This book had my full attention from start to finish, so much so that I found myself sneaking in a few pages every chance I could get while vacationing with my family. I couldn’t help myself, it was that good!

As you can gather from the blurb, this book centers on a woman’s quest for revenge. Sela Halstead was only sixteen years of age when she was drugged and brutally raped by a group of men at a party. This event left her broken and sent her life into a downward spiral, resulting in a suicide attempt, psychiatric hospitalizations and years of counseling.

When Sela sees one of her rapists, Jonathon Townsend, on TV ten years later, she sets out to kill him. In order to get to him, she decides to infiltrate his life through his company, a dating service that connects rich, older guys with younger, beautiful women. If becoming a “sugar baby” is what she has to do to get close enough to kill him, she’s more than willing to do it.

Although she fails to hold JT’s interest when she first sees him again, she draws the attentions of his business partner, Beckett North. Willing to use him to get closer to JT, Sela does not anticipate that she will fall in love with Beck. Eventually, she must choose whether her need for revenge or her love for Beck is stronger.

I absolutely loved this story! Sela and Beck were perfect together. As their relationship grew increasingly intimate, there was a sense of impending doom in the background. I knew that the truth would come out and that there would be hell to pay when it did. I just wanted to live with Sela and Beck in the perfect little bubble that had been created. I was terrified, waiting for that bubble to pop.

When things finally hit the fan, it got ugly quick. I am still reeling from the ending of this book. I feel devastated and heartbroken. I am so damn angry, even though I knew it would happen.

Now, I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the second book as I enviously read the reviews of friends that were lucky enough to get an ARC. I am dying to continue this story and find out what happens. Please, let there be some serious groveling in Beck’s future. I hate it when the hero gets off easy after behaving terribly.

The minute the next book is released I’m dropping everything. I love it! I love it! I love it!

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Review: Sugar Rush, by Sawyer Bennett

Sugar Free (Sugar Bowl #3)Sugar Free by Sawyer Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the massive cliffhangers that the first two books ended with, I was a little surprised at how nice and tidy everything wrapped up at the end of ‘Sugar Free’. I knew it was the last book in the series going into it, but I just couldn’t believe that it would really provide answers to all of my questions. Alas, it did all of that and more.

Like the first two books in the ‘Sugar Bowl’ series, you can expect to be kept on the edge of your seat right to the end. Sela and Beck still have their work cut out for them. Her rash actions have landed them in a world of trouble. Despite her good intentions, Sela only seems to make things worse, no matter what she tries.

As Sela tries to come to terms with the consequences of her actions, Beck is potentially on the hook for a crime he didn’t commit. It will take a lot of legal maneuvering and a stroke of luck to get him out of this mess. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect Sela, even if it means doing time for a murder he didn’t commit.

More secrets come to light related to JT as well. Aside from his parentage, which may have been the worst-kept secret ever, he had some closely-guarded information that does not bode well for Beck. Surprisingly, Beck’s own father is a major contributor to this deceit.

Despite the turmoil and sense of uncertainty that looms throughout most of the book, you can rest assured that some things stay predictable. Beck and Caroline’s parent are still horrible human beings. The world is a better place without JT drawing breath. Beck and Sela re still head-over-heels for each other.

In the end, all of my questions were answered and I felt content with the way things worked out. In fact, I received the answers to questions that I didn’t even know that I had. The author providedone of the longest epilogues in history to tie up all the loose ends and I couldn’t have been happier. This was a great ending to a great series. Although, I’ll be on the lookout for a spin-off in the future featuring Caroline and a certain security guy.

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