5 Binge-worthy Reads Unofficially Inspired by Real Killers

If you’re a true crime addict, and you’re looking for a new way to explore your favorite obsession, then check out one of these five books unofficially inspired by real-life serial killers.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Fourteen years after her disappearance, high school popular girl Angela Wong’s remains are discovered. No one suspected that her best friend Georgina “Geo” Shaw had anything to do with it, but the remains were discovered near her own childhood home. Detectives have determined that Angela was a victim of serial killer Calvin James, but who is Calvin to Geo? Geo and Calvin are both sent to prison where Geo tries to make a name for herself, so she has money when she leaves to start over. But Calvin quickly escapes and evades recapture. Which means when Geo’s time is up, she won’t be safe anymore.

The Vibe: Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

The read the rest of the list, click here!

Thanks to Tittle-Tattle for having me!

Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum by Mab Segrest

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Welcome to my stop on the TLC Book Blog Tour for Administrations of Lunacy by Mab Segrest.

First things first, this book IS haunting. But unlike the title suggests, it is NOT a ghost story except in the sense of drawing out the history of the ghosts of our ancestors and how completely they wrecked psychiatry from the beginning for women and, especially, African Americans.

This is a rough and infuriating read about how the first white settlers in America used psychiatry to control women and people of color by extreme methods in the asylum as well as banning and refusing treatment to those deemed unable to have mental health issues outside of the asylum due to skin color.

Honestly, I was disgusted reading this and that is the entire point. We had so many chances to make a great mental health care system from the *literal* beginning, especially considering the fact that the first asylums were actually copied off the ones in Europe. The problem? The picking and choosing which parts to copied. If it was beneficial to white men (their own mental health, ridding them of wives and family members that were burdening them, power) then it was brought into the American asylum model. Was it beneficial to women and, again especially, to African Americans? Then it was disregarded.

It was a very hard read to get through seeing instance after instance after instance of people being thrown away or killed (because let’s be honest, MANY people died in these asylums) all for the benefit of white men rising to power. That being said, while a tough read, it is an EXTREMELY important read. Talk about history class omissions.

Here’s the thing about the book, the beginning is a lot of guessing about feelings (perhaps she thought, maybe he felt) which I didn’t care for. However, this quickly stops (and does serve a purpose) and as you continue through the book you see how even the smallest, most unlikely character (sometimes without even a name attached due to poor historical recording) ties into the stories of all and to the entire asylum scheme that still bleeds into psychiatry today. This reads like a textbook so don’t expect a fast-paced thriller, but do expect to take breaks because you will need them.

*Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Mab Segrest for providing my copy to read and review.*

About Administrations of Lunacy


• Hardcover:
 384 pages
• Publisher: The New Press (April 14, 2020)

A scathing and original look at the racist origins of psychiatry, through the story of the largest mental institution in the world

Today, 90 percent of psychiatric beds are located in jails and prisons across the United States, institutions that confine disproportionate numbers of African Americans. After more than a decade of research, the celebrated scholar and activist Mab Segrest locates the deep historical roots of this startling fact, turning her sights on a long-forgotten cauldron of racial ideology: the state mental asylum system in which psychiatry was born and whose influences extend into our troubled present.

In December 1841, the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum was founded. A hundred years later, it had become the largest insane asylum in the world with over ten thousand patients. Administrations of Lunacy tells the story of this iconic and infamous southern institution, a history that was all but erased from popular memory and within the psychiatric profession.

Through riveting accounts of historical characters, Segrest reveals how modern psychiatric practice was forged in the traumas of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. Deftly connecting this history to the modern era, Segrest then shows how a single asylum helped set the stage for the eugenics theories of the twentieth century and the persistent racial ideologies of our own times. She also traces the connections to today’s dissident psychiatric practices that offer sanity and create justice.

A landmark of scholarship, Administrationsof Lunacy restores a vital thread between past and present, revealing the tangled racial roots of psychiatry in America.

Purchase: Bookshop.org Amazon Barnes & Noble

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Author, Mab Segrest

Mab Segrest is professor emeritus of gender and women’s studies at Connecticut College and the author of Administrations of Lunacy and Memoir of a Race Traitor (both from The New Press). A longtime activist in social justice movements and a past fellow at the National Humanities Center, she lives in Durham, North Carolina. Photo by Laura Flanders

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

I was so excited to receive a copy of The Happy Ever After Playlist from the publisher to read and review. At first, I was a little concerned that I would so willingly take on this challenge after getting my heart ripped out by the first installment, The Friend Zone. But then I remembered that while Abby takes you on a whiplashed tour of all the emotions that you experience in love (including love), she also heals your heart and puts you back together by the end.


In HEAP, Sloane Monroe ends up the pup-sitter for a dog whose owner, Jason, is currently across the world on tour. She cares for the dog and tentatively plans to meet up with Jason when he returns to
 maybe give his dog back. Then it turns out that Jason is actually Jaxon Waters, the musician whose music got her through her fiancé’s death. 


Sloane doesn’t plan on falling for Jason, but fortunately for us Abby oversees her fate. So instead of Sloan playing it safe, we get to play the HEAP on Spotify while we read the book and follow Sloane through her very interesting and entertaining life after loss. And of course, Kristen and Josh are back from the first book as well as cute little Stuntman Mike. This one pulled at my heart strings but thankfully Abby is an expert romance
 and comedy writer so that readers can laugh just as hard as they cry.


This was wonderfully written – I LOVE books that read how I imagine the author talks. That’s how I write and so it really appeals to me. I also love how she weaves together such different elements from drama, to baking, to dog care, to outdoor life, to music, to love, to loss. It makes for a really captivating read. I cannot wait for the third installment, assuming there is one. If there isn’t then I imagine we fans need to immediately start a petition to remedy that.

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

silent treatment 1

Welcome to my stop on the TLC Book Blog Tour for The Silent Treatment by debut author Abbie Greaves- I am so excited to share this with you all!

The Light We Lost meets The Notebook in storytelling. Then throw in some parental nightmares, spousal secrets and the will to not speak to the love of your life…when she’s in the same home.

Maggie and Frank meet fall in love and are married in a whirlwind romance full of secrets neither of them ever suspected the other had. When Maggie and Frank are finally blessed with a child well into their 40s, they both believe the other to be more ecstatic, to be the better parent, the better partner. We follow along as they both realize that if they had said the things they needed to say sooner, they might have avoided so much pain.

When their daughter Eleanor begins to finally act out after 15 years of being the perfect child, her parents believe it to be normal. Unfortunately, the acting out doesn’t seem to be a phase and years later they are left alone at home, out of contact with Eleanor and not speaking to each other. Maggie gives Frank 6 months to come around and to the day, when he doesn’t, Frank finds Maggie face down and unconscious at the kitchen table with an empty packet of pills.

The story of Her Silence and His Silence is more than the literal silence they’ve been enduring the last 6 months, and in a cruel twist Frank is suddenly racing against time to tell Maggie why he shut her out.

Abbie Greaves has an enthralling writing style that hooks you from the get-go and doesn’t let go until the very end. This was an obviously sad story but full of hope and a completely original read. While aspects of it did bring other books to mind (as mentioned at the beginning) it was not in similarities of story as much as small elements of the storytelling itself. As much as this book was an actual race against time for the characters, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted more Frank and Maggie at the end and kept hoping for a secret chapter at the end. Thank goodness for epilogues, am I right?

This was a spectacular debut and I will absolutely be on the lookout for future works from Abbie. Talk about a book hangover, and yet this was completely out of my usual genre. I recommend this to everyone as an important read about many things, but most of all about the enduring nature of love.

silent treatment 2

Purchase here: Harper Collins Amazon Barnes & Noble

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Something She’s Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

SSNTU Darcey Bell

The latest from the author of A Simple Favor: a thrilling page-turner about a woman named Charlotte who has everything until her brother’s new girlfriend shows up and threatens to destroy it all.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t for me. It was a little jumpy and all over the place between characters for me to follow. And the parts of the premise that drew me to this initially (dark secrets, an unreliable narrator, a missing child) didn’t quite give me the shock I was hoping for. However, there were quite a few very interesting threads to follow so let me tell you what I liked about this one!

Charlotte and Rocco are brother and sister who have a rocky (pun intended) relationship with their mother who lives in Mexico. Charlotte is extremely protective of Rocco which he in turn is very annoyed with. They are guilted into planning a trip to visit their mom and Rocco ends up bringing his new girlfriend, Ruth. Charlotte is not into this idea but even worse, neither is her mother. Their mother is supposed to be a wholly unlikeable character that everyone comes together in hating but I LOVED her. Her character reminded me of an aloof and badass grandmother who casually carries around a flask. She had no filter and no problem with telling people she didn’t care what they thought of her. She was awesome and reminded me of my own late grandmother. This is a very minor part of the story but turned out to be my favorite part.

As for major characters, I loved Ruth’s secret. Unfortunately, it was just kind of there and then done. THAT is where there could have used a lot of the detail that went into Charlotte’s perfect life and her “scandal”. In real life her secret would suck but here it was just hyped and hyped and hyped and then was so small comparatively. Ruth is the drama and the key player here. She shows up mysteriously and basically just declares herself Rocco’s new girl. This is a problem because Rocco dates train wrecks so even before Ruth is sniffing around in Charlotte’s secrets, she has a target on her back.

And then Ruth makes fast and easy friends with Daisy, Charlotte’s daughter. This infuriates Charlotte but everyone tries to calm her down telling her to not be so rude, Ruth just likes kids. Then Daisy goes missing from school and who checked her out for the day? You guessed it. A chase ensues and this is when Ruth’s secrets are revealed. Again, loved her secrets, but I would have loved even more focus on Ruth throughout the book. I’ll just say it, I’m #teamruth.

Even though this wasn’t for me, I will still be reading any future works from Darcey Bell as A Simple Favor was a great and entertaining read. She definitely has a way with messed up secrets (as you see in both of her books) and messed up is my favorite kind of read.

*Thanks to Harper Collins for the copy to read and review.*

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

fow pic

                WOW. I had no idea what to expect with this book. I had never listened to the podcast before reading The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home nor had I read the other books. This was an incredible read. It was weird and fascinating and so well written. I couldn’t tell where this was going for a little bit, but I did figure out the twist because there wasn’t a huge cover up for it. The authors kind of lead you there. However, they did it in such a way that even if you do guess the end game before getting to the end there’s no way to be disappointed because it was 100s of years in the making.

This was Poltergeist meets Pirates of the Caribbean and it was everything I never knew I wanted in a book. The Faceless Old Woman, who is never named, and I will here on out refer to as FOW, grew up on an estate with just her father and his business partner Edmond. When her father is killed by a pirate organization called The Order of the Labyrinth, FOW dedicates her life to revenge and tracking down those responsible. With the help of Edmond, she is trained to be a pirate and incorporated into The Duke’s Own, another organization her father rivaled with before his death.

In alternating time lines between the pirate life of FOW and present day inside a man named Craig’s home, we see the events leading up to how FOW ended up living in multiple homes at once haunting the people of Night Vale, and what exactly she’s doing to Craig. Among other things, putting centipedes in his ears, setting up a meet cute for Craig and his future wife, putting dead animal limbs in his pockets, and setting all his shoes on fire. This read was at times haunting (perfect pun), adventurous, and humorous.

If I go any further into this or I will ruin it for you. Everyone should just go into this basically blind to the premise. It was a magical and wonderful and kind of horrific story that I didn’t want to end. Go read this. It was a delightful spider-filled treat.

*Thanks to the publisher for my copy to read and share.*

The Meat Hunter by Megan Allen

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The release has been delayed due to corona virus. It should have been out today (03/20/2020) and I am crying (you know, figuratively) because you all have to wait to read it. So, in the meantime, read on so I can tell you more about how much I loved it.

First of all, Megan Allen is a badass and in The Meat Hunter she writes the badass character of Molly Bishop. Her writing style drew me in immediately and I connected right away with the characters. This was such an easy read for it being about such a tough topic. Everything just flowed so well, I could not put it down.

Molly Bishop of The Meat Hunter grew up on a pig farm where she quickly learned that not all animals are pets, and not all farmers are ethical. Molly can’t stop her father from killing her pig friends – who, by the way, are extremely smart and know what is happening to them – so she does the next best thing: she gets an education. Molly is smart and driven and uses her education and background of farm living to get a job with an animal pharmaceutical company where she forces the owner, Carl Monroe, to become her best friend.

Soon, slaughterhouse owners start showing up dead. Molly has access, so could it be her? But Molly is also “just another pretty faced woman”, so how could it be her? This is a fast paced, educational, empathy-teaching, learn-to-be-mindful read and I loved every second of it. I was rooting for Molly, Carl and Detective Lair. Even though none of them were on the same page, they made a great unlikely and, at times, unwilling team.

I’ve seen some reviewers angry that this is pushing veganism on them? I don’t see it that way. I see it as a reminder to be picky about where your meat comes from and to not support companies that don’t treat the animals humanely. She wrote another book with similar criticisms: The Slave Players (pending mail delivery to read) that sent her into hiding as the KKK was so angry at the premise of white people being slaves and Megan Allen “forcing her literature on our youth” that they threatened her life. It’s fiction and yet I still feel the need to remind people to take it with a grain of salt. All fiction is a what-if scenario and Megan is really just out here pushing the bar as high as it can go.

I loved The Meat Hunter. I hope you all buy it and love it too. I hope Megan keeps writing and keeps taking on big what-ifs and keeps makes big waves. I cannot wait to see what she does next.

Huge thanks to Burn House Publishing for my copy to read and review-one of my favorite books of the year now!

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The long (LONG) awaited sequel to the amazing P.S. I Love You from Cecelia Ahern is here! Yes, you heard that right: the sequel to the book that brought us the movie that brought us Holly and Gerry’s story that brought us Gerard Butler. 20 pages in and I was crying and scolding myself, “THIS is why you don’t read romance.” But it was worth it.

I loved the beginning and the end, the middle was a little slow for me. I was also was a little annoyed with Holly and Gabriel’s attitudes toward each other’s current hobbies. Gabriel upset about Holly getting involved in a club to help people cope with death. Holly upset that Gabriel asked his daughter to move in over her even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to move in anyway. Those two, man. Breaking my heart left and right.

On top of this, Holly and her attitude. She helps her sister out with a podcast episode on dealing with loss of a loved one. Then suddenly there is interest in starting The P.S. I Love You Club for terminally ill patients to leave something of themselves behind for their loved ones. I loved this idea! I thought it was so sweet. Holly did not. She warmed to it and decided to dip her toe into involvement with the club but she had a such a bad attitude at multiple points that that in itself was a little heartbreaking.

I sound like I’m bashing Holly, but I’m not at all. Of course I realize that Holly had a good reason to be wary and upset – she thought she was past Gerry’s death but this club brought it all back to the surface. And then as we get deeper into the book and Holly gets more involved with The P.S. I Love You Club we see what she’s working through and the different feelings coming up due to confronting Gerry’s death again. We also see Holly bring into question Gerry’s motives for leaving her the letters in P.S. I Love You. At first it’s sad. Did he do it more for himself than Holly? Or both of them? Was it completely selfless? And how can Holly use this to ensure her club leaves the best things for their loved ones?

Holly grows a lot in this novel about love, growing up and moving forward, helping others, and loving yourself enough to know when to say no. As I said before, the middle was a little slow for me – due to the flip flopping in emotions for Holly. But ultimately, the book comes full circle from Gerry’s death and Holly moving forward and was a really heartwarming read. Yes, it cracked my heart at certain points, but it was a really good read about love and, sometimes more importantly, self-love.

Fans of P.S. I Love You will love this much anticipated sequel, finding more than a story about the loss of a loved one.

The War Beneath by S.R. Hughes

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The War Beneath = Chaos Inliterate

In The War Beneath, a former forensic psychologist is slowly spiraling downward. Having hit rock bottom after his daughter’s death and his sudden ability to hear the whispers of dead people, Paul is now living in a boat house in Oceanrest, Maine. Um, where? The broke and broken city on Maine’s coast where those with magical powers are drawn in larger numbers than anywhere else in the world.

Trying to ignore his past (and the voices) he befriends Deirdre who sells him psychological downers from her, let’s face it, magic apothecary. But on his latest visit, an intruder arrives and takes everything Deirdre has worked for. This puts both their lives in danger in more ways than just the obvious as targets of a robbery.

Deirdre and Paul decide they have to get the product back and start to track down Randall, the man who has essentially ruined Dierdre’s life. Of course, there are A LOT more threats than just the wrath of Randall. There’s the company Deirdre works for who want their product. There’s the dead people who are getting more intense every minute Paul doesn’t have his downers (including his daughter’s ghost and an eyeless ghost asking for help). There is the life of Deirdre’s dear friend Razz and other friends pulled in. There is the detective who’s involvement is suspect considering he is intruding on Paul’s off the record investigation into old (and solved) crimes.

This book is action packed. I mean, think of a war movie where every other scene is a bunch of explosions. I’m talking Harry Potter meets [insert intense action war movie you like because I don’t watch those]. Paul is constantly getting knocked down and the only reason he gets back up is for Deirdre.

Deirdre is a complete badass. She is saving everyone left and right and just basically running the show. And because what would a book with magical elements be without a creature, there is a beast. Guess who handles this? There are demons awoken. Guess who handles this? Paul is dying due to gunshot wounds. Guess who handles this? Honestly this might be one of the best and most well-written female characters I’ve seen in a while.

The only thing that would have made it better for me would have been more interaction with the ghosts, namely Cassandra, Paul’s late daughter. There was something happening there and Paul definitely had unfinished business with his daughter. However, this could have also been a genius move on Mr. Hughes’ part as the book was nicely wrapped up but still with a lead into a second book. Is this a series? TBD.

*I received a copy for free from TLC Book Tours and S.R. Hughes in exchange for an honest review.*

***About The War Beneath***

“There is a war going on behind things, beneath them.”

Paul had been a forensic psychologist. But after his daughter’s funeral, he hit the rock bottom of a spiraling addiction. When the spirits of the dead started rasping their wishes in his ears, he fled New York for withering Oceanrest—a flat-broke city barnacled to Maine’s coast. There, he’s spent the last five years scraping by, trying to shake off the burdens of his past, pretending to be a man without context, without history, without the secret ability to speak with the dead. But soon, all of that will be taken away from him.

Deirdre’s spent the past fourteen years as a resident of Squatter City—the most distal and dilapidated of Oceanrest’s gangrenous appendages. Growing and harvesting a hydroponic farm of mystic flora and esoteric plantlife, she’s built a business as a drug dealer and apothecary. After years of relative peace, Deirdre’s life finally seems tenable. But when one of her regular clients double-crosses her, what little serenity she’s discovered quickly unravels.

Deirdre and Paul soon find themselves under attack from criminals and cultists, on the run from Quebecois mobsters, Aryan Nationalists, and a group of young men who seem dedicated to a cause of brutality and destruction on an apocalyptic scale.

S. R. Hughes inhabits the glittering darknesses between dreams but writes from Queens, NY. He’s been published in Sanitarium, the Wild Hunt eZine, and has had stories featured on several podcasts.

Find out more about him at his website, and follow him on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Flower by Safira X

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Flower 🌸 🌺 🌹

THIS is a short story.

This is an INCREDIBLE short story.

A FEMINIST, TWISTED, BLOODY, HORRIFIC, incredible short story.

I was on the edge of my seat the entire time which is what I expect from thriller/horror stories. And if it’s short? I expect you to pack an explosive story in there. I know I have high expectations BUT Safira X accomplishes that several times over in this 40 page sucker punch.

Murder ✅ Revenge ✅ Torture ✅ Fragile Masculinity ✅ Sexism ✅ Blood & Gore ✅ Animal Abuse (not my fav but works in favor of the story) ✅ Sex ✅ Supernatural ✅ “40 pages? No way there could be any of the back story or character development needed to make it so good.”FALSE.

I am so impressed and I canNOT wait for the next book!