ARC REVIEW: The Fifth To Die – by J.D. Barker @HMHBooks

Title: The Fifth To Die
(4MK Thriller #2)
Author: J.D. Barker
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 10th 2018
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Finished reading: June 16th 2018
Pages: 416

“Sometimes it’s good to remember the bad, it makes other things seem not so terrible.”

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

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In a way I’m glad I’ve only recently found the time to pick up the first 4MK thriller. Why? Well, let’s just say that book one and two both start and end with a bang and leave you wanting for more. Oh yes, if you think the cliffhanger of The Fourth Monkey was a bad one, you will be in for a painful ride with The Fifth To Die. What a way to mess with your mind! I was in the mood for a twisted, disturbing and complicated serial killer and there is no doubt this story delivered all that and more. Hooked from the first page? Check. More twistedness and new disturbing and horrifying killings? Check. A healthy dose of plot twist bombs that will leave you absolutely flabbergasted? Check. New insights in the backgrounds of the main characters? Check. Fleshing out of the previous plot while adding a LOT of new suspense and a very strong and promising base for an excellent third book? Check. Oh yes, as you might have already guessed, I had a great time with detective Porter and the so-called 4MK killer. Warning: this is one of those series you HAVE to read in order, because you won’t be understanding the many references to the case and characters otherwise. (Since it’s basically the same open investigation we are talking about, with a new angle and subplot added of course.) The Fifth To Die is just as strong as the first book and this series is quickly becoming a new favorite of mine. Then again, I love a well written, dark, disturbing and gritty serial killer thriller. Is it too early to ask when the next book is coming out? Because I NEED to know what happens next after that humongous cliffhanger ending.

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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…

Detective Porter isn’t ready to let go of the 4MK killer, especially since he is still on the loose somewhere. But he has something else to worry about as well, since a new serial killer seems to be operating in Chicago. He isn’t supposed to concentrate on the 4MK killer anymore in the first place after the feds took over the case… But it seems he cannot stay away. He secretly continues his hunt, and when this is discovered, he finds himself suspended and his team left without a leader during their hunt for the new killer. Detective Porter isn’t one to let things go easily though… Even if this will have terrible consequences for his future.

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I’m a sucker for a good serial killer thriller and this series is quickly turning into one of my new favorites. If you like your thrillers dark, gritty, disturbing and don’t mind graphic scenes, you will be in for a treat with this series. Trust me, reading these two thrillers in order will be worth your time! You will find yourself staring at the last pages wanting for more though, because the cliffhanger ending is pretty brutal. What a way to reveal something like that and leave us staring open mouthed knowing we won’t find out more until the next book comes out! It’s been a while since an ending hit me that hard.


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #26: Black-Eyed Susans & My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time yet two more books I read during my hiatus… Two titles I’ve been meaning to read for ages, and both turned out to be excellent reads. The first, Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, I’ve been meaning to read ever since it came out, so it was about time I finally did. The second, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, was an easy choice as well. A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorite stories, so I have been wanting to explore more of his work… And this one came in close second.


Title: Black-Eyed Susans
Author: Julia Heaberlin

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 11th 2015
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: May 10th 2018
Pages: 369

“You’ll always get to the right answer if you slow down and think about it.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this thriller ever since I first heard about it back in 2015, and I’m not sure what happened that I managed to pospone it for almost three years. But better later than never right? It might have been that I had superhigh expectations for Black-Eyed Susans, but while I thought it was a very solid read, the story didn’t manage to blow me away completely. I can’t exactly put my finger on the why though. The writing is strong and definitely draws you right in, and the serial killer is definitely another creeper. You will have a healthy dose of suspense and twisted scenes in Black-Eyed Susans! The plot itself is strong as well, although a possible weak spot might be the dual storyline, where the story splits between past and present. It did distract a little from the things that were happening, although I do admit it was a good way to add more intrigue and tension to the story. And there is no doubt I’m very happy to have finally read Black-Eyed Susans, because it was without doubt an excellent, intriguing and slightly disturbing thriller.


Title: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy
First published: 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: May 14th 2018
Pages: 372
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Min mormor hälsar och säger förlåt’)

“It’s hard to help those who don’t want to help themselves.”


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I’m sure a few are already aware of the fact I’m a huge fan of Fredrik Backman’s work, or at least that A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorite stories (and Ove one of my favorite characters). I’ve been meaning to slowly go through his other books ever since, and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is my third experience with his work. And I can tell you, this story has only reconfirmed my love for his stories! The writing in My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is just so Backman, meaning I absolutely devoured its pages and loved it right from the very first chapter. Fredrik Backman has a talent for creating the most amazing, quirky and strong characters you will connect to straight away. In this story we meet a fair amount of new quirky characters that will win over your heart completely. I also loved the mix of reality and fantasy in the plot, and the humor mixed with more serious moments. Talk about a perfect balance! And while A Man Called Ove is still my absolute favorite, this one comes a really close second. I can’t wait to read Britt-Marie Was Here now, which follows the story of one of the characters mentioned in this one!


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ARC REVIEW: Find You In The Dark – by Nathan Ripley @text_publishing

Title: Find You In The Dark
Author: Nathan Ripley
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: April 21st 2018
Pages: 336

“There’s always sense in it, somewhere, just as there is always sense in the patterns and impulses of the guys whose work I follow.”

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

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It was the blurb that made me add this one straight to my must-read list. Multiple serial killers? A main character digging up murder victims? A comparison to Dexter? Heck yes! I’ve been looking forward to pick up Find You In The Dark and find out just how twisted this story was going to be… And trust me, I wasn’t disappointed. This isn’t your typical serial killer thriller and the main character Martin Reese definitely isn’t a typical guy. I mean, buying stolen police files to find the bodies of missing serial killer victims, digging them up and bragging in anonymous phone calls to the police about his finds doesn’t actually sound squeaky clean or normal to me. Call it weird, call it disturbing, call it illegal, call it a crime, but there is one thing for sure: you will be absolutely and completely hooked by this this character and his actions. Martin Reese is one hell of personality to build your story around and he definitely has a lot to do with the success of this thriller. The writing supports this crazy and twisted ride and will have you on the edge of your seat while you try to figure out just how far things will go. Out of control, or calculated? Plot and plot twists are well developed and will keep you guessing…. And the graphic scenes will chill many seasoned thriller reader to the bone. This multiple serial killer thriller with a twist definitely isn’t for the weakhearted, but oh so good if you are able to stomach the heavy parts. While not perfect, this was an outstanding debut thriller and I can’t wait to find out what Nathan Ripley will have in store for us in the future!

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Rich and retired Martin Reese has a strange hobby: he digs up the missing bodies of serial killer victims. He gets the information he needs to discover the locations by buying stolen police files on serial killers… And he has been able to outsmart the cops for a long time by discovering the bodies and then taunting them in an anonymous call by claiming he is doing the job they failed to do. But his calls have left their mark, and there is one detective in particular who is not so sure the mysterious ‘Finder’ is only doing a good deed for the community. Who says he isn’t the one to leave the bodies in the first place? And who knows, he might escalate soon enough as well? But it seems like the detective isn’t the only one zooming in on Martin’s activities…

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Multiple twisted serial killers, a main character with a murky past and hobby, the whole digging up bodies angle in general… Oh yes, serial killer fans will have a lot to look forward to in this debut Find You In The Dark. From a well developed plot to interesting characters and a lot of disturbing and twisted facts: you will get a triple dose of suspense and terror with this one! The rather original ‘digging up bodies’ angle added a little something extra to the mix… And while not perfect, it is without doubt one of my favorite thrillers I’ve read so far this year for the original angle alone.


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ARC REVIEW: Blood Runs Cold – by Dylan Young @bookouture

Title: Blood Runs Cold
(Detective Anna Gwynne #2)
Author: Dylan Young
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 16th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 18th 2018
Pages: 331

“I don’t know if that’s normal, but when you’re caught up in it, trying to understand, you read and research and watch. Sometimes until your blood runs cold.”

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

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I stumbled upon this new detective series earlier this year and I admit I was sold as soon as I heard the word ‘serial killer’. But Detective Anna Gwynne has proven to deliver so much more than that. With a mix of a cold case and a current investigation, a kickass detective to lead the investigation and some very disturbing and twisted plots and suspects, this series is a treat for every true detective thriller fan. I myself am completely hooked, and found Blood Runs Cold to be even better than the first book. The fact that the lead detective in this series isn’t the typical ‘disastrous past/personal life’ character and instead has a very unique personality that helps get things done is truly refreshing. And the same thing goes for the cold case angle and the fact that the investigation of Anna and her team start with reinvestigating a cold case. But not only that, on top of the refreshing lead character and investigation angle there is also an extra subplot with a very twisted and dangerous captured serial killer in the spotlight… Mix it all together, add another creeper of a suspect and a jumbo-pack of plot twists and you will find yourself a recipe for one hell of a ride. Like in the first book, Blood Runs Cold managed to convince me right from the start and I was unable to funcion normally until I reached the final page and found out the truth. This both has to do with the engaging writing style, pace, plot and plot twists and of course with the fact it’s really easy to like Anna and her team (I’m not talking about the new member though!). In short, I can highly recommend this sequel! Detective Anna Gwynne is worth introducing into your lives.

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

Detective Anna Gwynne is back at work and investigating a cold case involving the kidnapping and murder of the young Rosie Dawson. They reopened the case after new evidence showed up years later, and they are determined to find out who is behind her death this time. The new evidence isn’t a lot; an old photo of Rosie posted on a chat room on the Dark Web… But enough to start looking, and when they find a possible connection to an active kidnapping case, they are desperate to solve the puzzle before it’s too late.

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I really enjoyed my first meeting with Detective Anna Gwynne back in January, and this sequel has only reaffirmed my love for this series. From the engaging writing style to the characters, plot and plot twists… Blood Runs Cold is action-packed, suspenseful and will chill you to the bone. You will not have dealt with one, but TWO serial killers by the end of this book! And on top of that, the whole cold case angle is fascinating as well as the cybercrime element. There is a lot to love in Blood Runs Cold and while I couldn’t stand a certain new member of the team, this is all forgotten with everything else that is going on. Anna Gwynne to the win! I will definitely be waiting impatiently for the next one.


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ARC REVIEW: The Chosen Ones – by Carol Wyer @bookouture @carolewyer

Title: The Chosen Ones
(DI Robyn Carter #5)
Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 24th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 16th 2018
Pages: 393

“That was the trouble with people; they often weren’t what they seemed.”

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

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There is no better feeling than being able to revisit an old favorite and that is what it feels like every time I get to meet DI Robyn Carter for another adventure. I’ve been looking forward to book five ever since I finished the previous book and was left wanting for more. Because trust me, this series is worth following from the start as there will be a very intriguing personal twist around the main character’s life! And The Chosen Ones will bring more of this intrigue. And while the main focus, like always, is on the main case they are investigating, little snippets of the mystery around Robyn Carter’s past are revealed that will make you burn with curiosity and a desire to learn more. And that ending! The Chosen Ones is not even published yet and I’m already craving for the next book. But enough of this element, because I don’t want to spoil things… Let’s talk about the rest of the book. The first thing that stands out is the writing style and pace, which are of the same high quality as always, engaging and make it a true pleasure to follow DI Robyn Carter and her team around as they investigate. The main character herself is easy to like and like I said before, meeting up with her again in a new story is like meeting up with an old friend. I also really like the PI angle with Ross, although he doesn’t play that big of a role in the fifth book. As for the plot: WOW, Carol Wyer was able to create another creeper of a killer in this one! And quite shocking murder scenes as well… Including lots of twists that will manage to mislead you. I couldn’t put The Chosen Ones down and I think this might just be the best DI Robyn Carter book yet. I can highly recommend this series to any detective thriller fan!

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

When two farmers stumble upon the body of a man in a cornfield, detective Robyn Carter and her team are called in to investigate. They are shocked by the brutality of the murder, and wonder who would do such a thing… Especially since the victim doesn’t seem to have clear enemies. But just as Robyn starts to investigate, more bodies start showing up and she is struggling to find a link between the victims. The killer seems to have a message though, and it’s a race against the clock to unravel it before the killer strikes again…

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DI Robyn Carter is one of my favorite detective thriller series and I always find myself looking forward to a new installment. Not only have the books a consistently strong writing, plot and plot twist development and interesting cases to lose yourself in, but there is also the mystery around Robyn Carter’s past that won’t let you go. The Chosen Ones has another shocking case and the final reveals will leave you wanting for more… And I think this fifth book might just be my new favorite. Recommended!


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