ARC REVIEW: Barbed Wire Heart – by Tess Sharpe @GrandCentralPub

Title: Barbed Wire Heart
Author: Tess Sharpe
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Finished reading: February 26th 2018
Pages: 416

“Sometimes you’ve got to save people from themselves. Even if they don’t want it or know it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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As much as I love the mystery/thriller genre, plots can start sounding similar after reading one too many of them. This is probably part of the reason why I ended up enjoying Barbed Wire Heart that much; this thriller is like a fresh breath of air or an oasis in the middle of a desert. And by this I don’t mean this story is a softie and has a low adrenaline level. On the contrary: Barbed Wire Heart is a mean trigger-happy powerhouse that isn’t for the weakhearted. Why mention an oasis then? Because this story is pretty darn original and simply different from most popular thrillers out there today. Barbed Wire Heart isn’t about the good against the bad; the lines are more blurry than that. The main character Harley McKenna is the daughter of what is basically a druglord and she is one heck of a badass female lead. Her daddy has been teaching her the tricks of the trade ever since she was little, which was necessary because of their rivalry with the Springfields. This book doesn’t dance around the dirty details of their war and problems and trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse, rape, guns and drugs among other things. Barbed Wire Heart isn’t afraid to go ugly and for me it was one of the stronger assets of this story. Because it makes Harley and her history feel real; the messiness and sometimes shocking details making you root for her and hope she will be able to achieve her goals… Both her character and the other important ones are very well developed and fleshed out, and it was great seeing the dynamics between them. The story itself switches between present and seemingly random bits of her past, always told from her POV, and this mix help show how she became the woman she is today and why she is doing what she does. The writing style is excellent and the direct and bold way of describing the situations added to the authentic feel of it all. Another element I could really appreciate was just how much it showed the power of women and especially the Rubies (abused women Harley helps protect) having enough and not taking abuse any longer. There are some heavy scenes included in the plot, but the overall (feminist) message is clear: stop underestimating women, because they will fight back. Barbed Wire Heart isn’t just a drug inspired criminal story where two different families are taking it up against each other. It’s so much more. And it’s without doubt one hell of a ride.

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Harley McKenna is the only child of North County’s biggest criminal. Everyone fears Duke McKenna, and with a reason since he has killed more men and cooked more meth than anyone around. But The Springfields are always right around the corner, waiting for their chance to strike and take over… Years ago, they killed Harley’s mother, and Duke wasn’t able to get his revenge because the cops got the one responsible first. Now he’s out of jail and coming for Duke’s one weak spot: his daughter. But they don’t realize that Duke has been training Harley for years, showing her how a true McKenna has to act. But Harley realizes something will have to change if she wants to survive and protect the people she loves… And she has a plan.

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Boy, this book was GOOD. It’s not the easiest story to read and there are a lot of trigger warnings involved for those who are sensitive to violence, abuse etc, but if you can stomach them, you will find Barbed Wire Heart is one hell of a ride. It’s a trigger-happy crime story with a high dose of girl power, adrenaline, action, a splash of family drama and plot twists that you won’t see coming. From the writing style to the underlying feminist message, the originality of the plot and the excellent character development… This story simply blew me away.


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WWW Wednesdays #165 – February 28th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m still reading All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert, a historical fiction read with a touch of fantasy and magical realism. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of today! As soon as I do, I will continue with The Last Star by Rick Yancey. I had put it on hold to read a few urgent NG ARCs first, but I should be able to squeeze it in now and just get it over with (does it show I’m not all that excited to finally read it? xD)

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Visitor by K.L. Slater (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
It doesn’t really come as an surprise, but K.L. Slater has done it again and created a brilliant psychological thriller. The pace is slower and the main focus is on the characters, but the plot, secrets and plot twists will help you keep focused until the very end. Because you will soon discover that key information about Holly’s past is being held back on purpose, making you want to keep reading to find out what really happened as well as making you wonder what it has to do with her current situation and fear. The final plot twists and reveals are mindblowingly good! I definitely didn’t see those coming… Although the ending did feel a bit too neat. Still, this was without doubt a very good read.

2. Proof Of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
I have a weak spot for both an international setting and the whole spy/conspiracy theory element, so reading Proof Of Lies was an easy choice. Both these elements were what made this first book of a new series into a succesful and entertaining read for me. While I can’t say I liked the main character, not only because she is over dramatic and whiny, but also because she is quite naive and doesn’t seem to care about possible consequences of her actions, I somehow still very much enjoyed reading about her search for her sister. The non stop action and international setting in the second half definitely had a lot to do with that. I did wonder about the credibility of it all (A teenager in Europe without supervision?? Everything that happens to them in general??), but I guess at least the second part can be explained away by the conspiracy itself. All in all without doubt still a very entertaining read and I will be looking forward to read the sequel.

3. Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 06/03
Boy, this book was GOOD. It’s not the easiest story to read and there are a lot of trigger warnings involved for those who are sensitive to violence, abuse etc, but if you can stomach them, you will find Barbed Wire Heart is one hell of a ride. It’s a trigger-happy crime story with a high dose of girl power, adrenaline, action, a splash of family drama and plot twists that you won’t see coming. From the writing style to the underlying feminist message, the originality of the plot and the excellent character development… This story simply blew me away.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I need to read Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach soon to get the review ready for my very first blog tour… And after browsing my backlist, I’ve decided to read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult soon as well. I really enjoy reading her books, so I’m looking forward to it! I’ve heard it’s a real tearjerker though. I also need to read My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel soon. My newest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke.


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WWW Wednesdays #164 – February 21st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading The Visitor by K.L. Slater, one of my most anticipated releases this year and I story I have been looking forward to. And so far it is definitely a winner! Her books are excellent in general, and The Visitor has the same high standard I’ve become used to over time. I also picked up The Last Star by Rick Yancey, but since I’m not really looking forward to it, I will most likely end up putting it on hold temporarily and read a few upcoming NG ARCs instead.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Art Of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
If you like fun, light, cute, slightly cheesy and entertaining YA contemporaries with a healthy dose of romance, you will be in for a treat with this one. The Art Of French Kissing incorporates the whole cooking competition theme very well and all that food talk is probably one of the reasons I loved this book the way I did. The bantering and revenge element between the main characters worked better for me than I thought it would, and definitely added it’s own spice to the plot.

2. What Blooms From Dust by James Markert (4/5 stars) REVIEW 22/02
What Blooms From Dust was a slowburner for me, but once the dust had settled down I found myself completely and utterly hooked. This is an example of a story where magical realism simply works, and only enhances the reading experience instead of complicating it. Magical, mystical and a healthy dose of mystery around Nowhere and its inhabitants… You will want to keep reading until you reach the final page and find out all about Nowhere and its mysteries. Recommended!

3. Wires And Nerve by Marissa Meyer (3/5 stars) REVIEW 26/02
While it was great to visit the original characters again, I do think a lot of them felt really different from the way they behaved in the original books. Take Thorne: he was one of my favorite characters, but I seriously couldn’t stand him in the graphic novel. Also, I wasn’t a big fan of the graphics in general. The lack of detail, overly simply graphics and overall blue tone just didn’t manage to convince me. As a whole, I feel this graphic novel was quite a disappointment and doesn’t live up to The Lunar Chronicles.

4. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter (5/5 stars) REVIEW 26/02
I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I had never read a Karin Slaughter book before I started The Good Daughter even though her books are wildly popular and they belong to one of my favorite genres. But no longer, because now I’ve tried her work I have become an instant fan. WOW! That woman can write… It was without doubt a highly intense read with a lot of complicated, disturbing scenes and elements and trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse, rape among other things. The school shooting scenes are also a painful reminder of what happened in Florida recently… There is no denying the story and it’s many subplots, twists and turns are brilliantly executed and I take my hat off for it. Say hello to my very first 5 star read of 2018!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have been misbehaving on NG recently, so I have three NG titles coming up next as a result. The first, Proof Of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach, is the first book of a series I need to read so I can get on track for the sequel I will be joining the blog tour of in March (due March 15th!). Next is Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe, a thriller that sounds SO good and can’t wait to dive into. I also need to read All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert. I just couldn’t resist requesting it after What Blooms From Dust… My newest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke.


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