ARC REVIEW: Hell To Pay – by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett

Title: Hell To Pay
(Detective Kay Hunter #4)
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 16th 2017
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Finished reading: July 10th 2018
Pages: 324

“In all my years working on this team, I’ve never seen anything as bad as what’s down here.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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The fact this that I’ve become a huge fan of Kay Hunter in the short time I’ve gotten to know her. I have absolutely loved my time with this detective so far and book number four is no exception. This might just be my new favorite! Although it’s hard to pick favorites when all the books are good… So what about Hell To Pay? As always, the writing is sublime, the plot well developed and the story definitely has some shocking surprises in store. Oh yes, if you thought the previous books were intense, you are in for one hell of a ride with Hell To Pay. As always, although the books could be read as a stand-alone, I advice reading them in order to fully understand the character background. Plus, they are all so good you won’t regret spending more time with them in the first place. Hell To Pay offers both a new crime investigation as well as new developments to an existing subplot that has been keeping readers intrigued since book one. There is a LOT of development on that part so if you were desperate to find out more, book number four will more than deliver. And make sure to prepare yourself for an explosive ending! Oh yes, I had a blast with Hell To Pay and I think the title is spot on. Now bring it on, book number five!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first three books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

What seems like a road traffic accident as first, turns out to be something a whole lot darker and disturbing as Detective Kay Hunter and her team start investigating and expose a serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women. The investigation doesn’t come without danger though, especially since there might be connections to those who wanted to silence her all those months ago… But Kay Hunter is determined to keep going until the full truth comes out.

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The Detective Kay Hunter series is without doubt one of my favorite discoveries of 2018 and the books just keep delivering that same high quality of writing, plot and character development. I like my main characters strong and with their own personality, and Kay Hunter is one that will be able to win over your heart in record time. Hell To Pay might just be the best book yet, or at least the story with the most intensity of the bunch. Be ready for some very explosive plot twists and scenes! This one will leave you staring at the last page with your heart beating like a maniac. SO good!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #31 – Prodigy & Turtles All The Way Down

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… The first book is the sequel of a series I was supposed to continue ages ago: Prodigy by Marie Lu. It was just as entertaining as the first book! The other title is one I wasn’t sure I wanted to pick up, but after seeing Ashley @ Socially Awkward Bookworm mention it as her biggest surprise of 2018 so far I decided to give it a go. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green… And maybe it was just that I wasn’t in the mood for it, but I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.


Title: Prodigy
(Legend #2)
Author: Marie Lu

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Romance
First published: January 29th 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Finished reading: July 3rd 2018
Pages: 372

“Maybe I’ve been trying to escape the wrong place and run away from the wrong things.”


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I read Legend back in 2015, and even though I quite enjoyed the first book and vowed to read the sequels soon, somehow that never happened. One of my goals this year is to finish those poor neglected started series, and when I came across my copy of Prodigy I decided to pick it up on a whim. It was surprisingly easy to pick up where the first book had left off without rereading Legend, and there is no doubt this sequel is a very entertaining read. I managed to finish it in no time at all! The dystopian world is quite interesting; not that original maybe but I liked the dynamics. Could I have done without the multiple love triangle trope? Hell yes. Did that made me lower the rating slightly? Positive. But otherwise I found Prodigy to be a fast-pace and engaging YA dystopian read with a lot of promise for book number three. A healthy dose of action and twists are in place, and while not the most original plot, it will manage to grab your attention anyway. I’m looking forward to find out what the final book will bring.


Title: Turtles All The Way Down
Author: John Green

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: October 10th 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 6th 2018
Pages: 298

“True terror isn’t being scared, it’s not having a choice in the matter.”


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There is always such a hype around John Green‘s books and I’m sure you are already aware of just how well hyped books and me are getting along. I had made a promise to myself to leave his books be for now after a few ‘it’s not you, it’s probably me‘ experiences… But my curiosity was piqued by Ashley @ Socially Awkward Bookworm when she mentioned Turtles All The Way Down was her biggest surprise of 2018 so far. Do I regret reading the story? No, because I would have always wondered otherwise. Is it a bad read? Not exactly. But it was definitely one of those cases where the story just didn’t work for me. Which is actually kind of strange, because I’m always intrigued by a story with a mental illness theme and I do love my quirky and unique characters. But there was just something about Aza that just didn’t do it for me. There is nothing wrong with the character development and I think John Green did a great job giving us a peek inside her head and how it would be like being her. It just didn’t work for me in particular. The same goes for Daisy, although I do love the fact she writes fan fiction. The plot is a bit farfetched, but it adds a certain air of mystery to the story, transforming it from just another contemporary romance with mental illness angle to something a little more complicated. I do have to admit the pace was pretty slow though, and I could have done without annoying YA tropes like instalove. And was the story exactly credible as a whole? I’m still on the fence about that. But I guess fans of the genre who like their characters unique, flawed and intriguing will probably like Aza and her story as well. Hello, new hyped title on my unpopular opinion review list… Do make yourself comfortable.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #30 – When The Moon Was Ours & Bad Romance

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA reads I’ve been meaning to read for a while. While the prose in When The Moon Was Ours was absolutely gorgeous, I struggled with the magical realism elements. Bad Romance is such an emotionally difficult read! The love triangle was a let down and things can get frustrating, but there is no doubt Heather Demetrios described a toxic relationship perfectly.


Title: When The Moon Was Ours
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magical Realism
First published: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Finished reading: June 26th 2018
Pages: 288

“He was a comet burning through the night sky, and Samira was the trail of dust and ice streaking after him.”


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Dear magical realism, it’s not you, it’s me. See, somehow we just can’t seem to get along… I’ve tried, really tried, but I think we should take a break from each other for now. Oh yes, it’s unpopular opinion time again. When I first started reading When The Moon Was Ours, I was blown away by the gorgeous prose and I was sure I was going to absolutely love the story. And there are definitely a lot of things to love in the story. Where did it go wrong for me then? Like I said, the problem is me, not When The Moon Was Ours. This simply is another case of the magical realism and me not being able to connect rather than a story not well written. The writing style is beautiful, lyrical and something to fall in love with on its own. The main characters are both so unique, mysterious and fascinating that you cannot help but feel for them. I LOVED the Spanish elements included (alfajores!!) as well as the queer references and Sam and his ‘bacha posh’ life. This book is an ode to unique and quirky characters and diversity in general. Sam and Miel are both wonderful characters and I loved the dynamics between them. But. Like I said before, I really struggled with the magical realism and it made it harder to fully appreciate the story. Otherwise When The Moon Was Ours is an absolutely stunning read, so if you don’t mind magical realism in your stories, this one is an absolute must-read.


Title: Bad Romance
Author: Heather Demetrios

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: June 13th 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt And Co.
Finished reading: June 30th 2018
Pages: 368

“When I feel trapped, afraid, lonely, I only have to look up at the sky and think: this is what people in Morocco look at when they see the sky. And India, Thailand, South Africa. Korea and Chile and Italy. The world, I remind myself, is mine, if only I have the courage to grasp it when the opportunity is given to me.”


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I’ve had lots of people warning me to brace myself before picking up Bad Romance, because it would be an emotionally draining read. I can definitely understand that warning now. Bad Romance will make you feel uncomfortable, frustrated, outraged and basically an emotional wreck. Oh yes, this is not an easy read and painfully accurate in describing how a toxic relationship can destroy a person. Coming from someone who had the back luck of being in a toxic relationship once, I can fully relate to the main character Grace. Did I want to scream at her to get the hell out? Yes. Was I frustrated by how blind she was to what Gavin was doing to her? Yes. Did I shake my head as she let him take away her freedom piece by piece? Yes. But this is exactly what a toxic relationship will do to the victim and while painfully frustrating at times, Heather Demetrios deserves a round of applause for getting these words on paper no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. I could have done without the love triangle, which put kind of a damper on things for me, but overall Bad Romance is a very strong read that will stay with me for a long time. Emotionally draining, but o so satisfying in the end.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #29: The Upside Of Unrequited & The Border

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA reads… The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli I was sure I was going to love, but somehow ended up being another unpopular opinion review. The Border by Steve Schafer on the other hand was absolutely brilliant.


Title: The Upside Of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 11th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Finished reading: June 21st 2018
Pages: 352

“We like who we like. Who cares if someone else doesn’t get it?”


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Oh hello unpopular opinion review! I guess we meet once again… I truly wish we wouldn’t have crossed paths this time around though. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda has to be one of my all time favorite YA books, so of course I was fully expecting to love this story as well. I’m still kind of shocked I ended up having this reaction, but I guess it is what it is. Fact: the problem isn’t the writing, which is without doubt excellent and made The Upside Of Unrequited into a really fast and entertaining read. I like the idea of having twins as main characters and the lgbt elements made this story into the perfect read for Pride Month. The twins moms are the cutest! The artsy/pinterest vibe was also a great touch. But. And here comes the main problem: I really struggled with Molly’s character. Not only did her choices annoy me and she helped introduce a love triangle to the plot that really bothered me… But I also found her whole attitude and negativity towards her own body quite frustrating. Having struggled with my weight just about my whole life, I know how it feels having to deal with rejection and negativity of others, but I don’t think Molly’s character gives the right message to those who struggle with the same problem. And we don’t have a lot of ‘bigger’ main characters to look up to in stories in the first place… So Molly was quite a let down for me. I also felt like The Upside Of Unrequited was almost trying to be too diverse and squeeze in too many diverse characters into one story. But yeah, that is mostly just me since everybody including my neighbor’s cat seems to love this story, so do take my rambles with a grain of salt.


Title: The Border
Author: Steve Schafer

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Finished reading: June 24th 2018
Pages: 364

“We are right on the border. The border. Of story, of legend, of dreams. ut we might as well be on the moon. So famous, yet so desolate.”


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Weird fact: I have a strange fascination for any story related to the war on drugs, cartels and the consequences of both. After a course or two during Uni, a thesis and quite a few related books, TV shows and movies, my thirst for this theme still hasn’t lessened. So honestly I should have known this book would hit the right spot even before I started it. The Border is more about the cartels and the consequences of antagonizing them than the actual war on drugs, but the theme is without doubt fascinating. The narcos killing the families of the main characters is sadly enough not all that uncommon, and neither is the hunt that starts afterwards. I really liked how Steve Schafer isn’t afraid to state the hard, painful and shocking facts, describing to us in a realistic way how the teens have to run for their lives. The incorporation of Spanish into the writing was spot on and added more authenticity to the story; the descriptions of both characters and setting detailed and realistic. The writing style managed to put me under its spell and I couldn’t let this story go until the very end. Ever feel like putting everything on hold until you reach the final page? That is what happened while I was reading The Border. This is not a happy story and the characters truly struggle; some parts are truly heartbreaking and make sure you have some tissues at hand just in case. But this realistic rendering of the four Mexican teens trying to cross the desert to reach the safety of US territory is simply sublime. I can highly recommend reading this one if you are interested in the theme, or if you enjoy reading realistically described (YA) thrillers.


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ARC REVIEW: One To Watch – by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett

Title: One To Watch
(Detective Kay Hunter #3)
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 3rd 2017
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Finished reading: June 30th 2018
Pages: 378

“The plot thickens. And nothing in this case is straightforward.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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This is already the third book of the Detective Kay Hunter series and I just can’t help myself picking up another one whenever I’m in the mood for a good detective thriller. Because the fact is: this series has a consistantly good quality and never disappoints. Excellent writing, interesting plots, a kick ass main character that you will find yourself rooting for, a healthy dose of suspense, plot twists… Oh, yes, this series follows the perfect recipe for a successful detective thriller and adds a little something extra to keep you fully hooked. One To Watch is no different and I literally finished book number three in one sitting. Fast, engaging, intriguing, suspenseful, twisty… One To Watch was simply unputdownable. I had my suspicions about the who and why, but the ending definitely came as a surprise. I’m so curious about the facts around Kay’s Professional Standards investigation! I definitely can’t wait to discover more about that angle in the future books. As for the plot in One To Watch, I liked how something seemingly simple turned out to have quite a few disguised layers, secrets and twists. If you like detective thrillers, you will have a blast reading both One To Watch and the rest of the series. Just make sure to reserve enough free time, because this story is highly addictive!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Just hours after sharing a secret with her best friend Eva, the teenager Sophie Whittaker ends up dead. She was murdered at her own private party in the Kentish countryside, and Detective Kay Hunter and her team are called in to investigate. What initially seemed to be an easy case, soon turns out to be a lot more complicated as more and more secrets and lies are exposed… Who wanted Sophie dead and why?

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Detective Kay Hunter is without doubt one of my new favorite characters and I just love spending more time with her. My experience with book number three One To Watch was no different and I literally devoured this story in one sitting. Highly addictive, well written and a plot and plot twists that will keep you hooked until the very end! Oh yes, if you are a fan of the genre, you are missing out if you don’t read this series. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed by Kay Hunter and her investigations.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #28: Strange The Dreamer & The Fourth Monkey

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two books from completely different genres I both ended up enjoying a LOT despite the hype around them. The first, Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor, is one of my new absolute favorites… And Lazlo one of my new favorite characters. The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker, was dark, twisted with one hell of a creeper of a serial killer; just how I like my thrillers.


Title: Strange The Dreamer
(Strange The Dreamer #1)
Author: Laini Taylor

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: May 30th 2018
Pages: 528

“For what was a person but the sum of all the scraps of their memory and experience: a finite set of components with an infinite array of expressions.”


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I have been intrigued by Strange The Dreamer ever since I first heard about it, but there has been such a hype around it that I have been afraid to pick it up. Because let’s face it: hyped books and me generally don’t seem to get along and I normally end up having to write yet another unpopular opinion review. But somehow when I was browsing my kindle, this title spoke to me and I just had to pick it up. Did I remember as I was starting that people had recommended to me to wait until the sequel was out? Yes, but it was already too late, because as soon as I sampled the writing style, I was addicted. Boy, Laini Taylor can write herself some absolutely gorgeous prose! The writing had me mesmerized and even if there were tiny flaws in the story, or even a slower plot at some points, I didn’t care as long as I was able to keep devouring those beautiful words. And that was not the only thing I loved. Oh no, one of the main things Strange The Dreamer works so well is its main character Lazlo. He is hands down one of my new all time favorite characters and it was an absolute delight being able to follow his story. I liked the other characters in general as well (Sarai!) and being able to connect to them only made it easier to fully emerge myself in the story and worldbuilding. Although the worldbuilding and its descriptions alone already make you wish you could see it all with your own eyes. As you can already guess, I absolutely loved Strange The Dreamer and it turned out to be my second 5 star read of the year. I’m still kicking myself for not reading it sooner, although at least the wait for the sequel is considerably shorter now this way.


Title: The Fourth Monkey
(4MK Thriller #1)
Author: J.D. Barker

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 27th 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Finished reading: June 10th 2018
Pages: 416

“Darkness. It swirled around her like the current of the deepest sea. Cold and silent, crawling across her body with the touch of a stranger.”


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Basically, I have been meaning to pick up this thriller ever since it came out last year. I think it has become pretty obvious by now I can’t resist a good serial killer thriller, and this one has been on my radar especially after reading so many promising reviews. So when I saw the sequel on Netgalley, I decided to request a copy as a way to force myself to read both books. And guess what? My request was approved, and I’m so glad that happened… Because I have been missing out by not reading The Fourth Monkey sooner. Dark, gritty, twisted, disturbing, intense… Just keep similar adjectives going, and they will apply to this first encounter with the 4MK killer. What a read! I like my thrillers dark and twisted, and J.D. Barker has definitely created a very disturbing serial killer to follow in this story. We get a glimpse of his childhood through a diary, and hints at his previous ‘work’ as the plot develops. And you will encounter a few plot twist bombs along the way, surprises that will catch you unaware as you are too stunned by just how twisted things were back at the killer’s home or how the case develops in the present. Oh yes, The Fourth Monkey isn’t for those with a weak stomach and if you can’t handle graphic scenes and violence, I advice staying clear. Otherwise, if you have a twisted mind like me, you will have a great time meeting the 4MK Killer and his work.  And I’m looking forward to discover what happens next.


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ARC REVIEW: Will To Live – by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett

Title: Will To Live
(Detective Kay Hunter #2)
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 1st 2017
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Finished reading: June 20th 2018
Pages: 324

“He understood grief, all right. It was savage; all-consuming. Every waking moment was spent wondering what it would be like now if she were still alive.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I know I’m kind of late when it comes to the whole Detective Kay Hunter party, but I’m definitely glad I’m finally catching up. Why? Let’s just say my second experience with Kay Hunter was another excellent one, and this series is quickly turning into another favorite of mine. There is just something about the main character that makes it really easy to like her, and of course the whole mystery around what happened will have you intrigued. I’m rooting for Kay here! Book number two, Will To Live, is just as good as the first and will give you another glimpse into Kay’s private life as well as a new chilling murder investigation to follow. The detective has a great team behind her, and their characters are both well fleshed out and likeable on their own. It makes it easy to imagine yourself among them as one of the team, and you will find yourself completely drawn into the story the whole time. The case they had to investigate in Will To Live is without doubt interesting and touches the sensitive topic of railway suicides. The development of the plot is subtle with well placed twists and new insights; the descriptions adding the right atmosphere of suspense to the story. I did guess a few of the twists early on, but I was too busy turning pages and enjoying myself to really let that bother me. I had a blast spending more time with Kay Hunter and I can’t wait to read the next book now.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

What seems to be another suicide on a stretch of train track locally known as ‘suicide mile’, ends up being something even more sinister. Detective Kay Hunter and her team are called in after a packed commuter train runs over a body under suspicous circumstances. Suspicious, because they have a witness stating that the man was asking for help just before the train arrived. They soon find evidence to confirm they are truly dealing with murder. And things escalate even further when another call comes in… Are they dealing with a new serial killer? Or are the two deaths just a coincidence?

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I’m still kicking myself for not starting this series sooner, but at least I’m reading it now. Book number two was just as good as my first experience and I’m really looking forward to spend even more time with Kay Hunter. It’s really easy to connect to her character and she is part of the reason this series works so well. The mystery around her background story will keep you on edge! Will To Live has an intriguing, although somewhat subtle plot with just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. I did predict a few things early on, but somehow this didn’t make Will To Live any less entertaining to read and the ending is satisfying. Now bring it on, One To Watch!


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