The Fifth To Die (4MK Thriller #2) by J.D. Barker Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today is a special treat my friends. I was recently sent an advanced copy of the highly anticipated sequel to one of my favorite thrillers in the last few years, The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker. This time around the author has published The Fifth To Die, a thrilling ride that explores the continuing hunt for the deadly 4MK. Here’s the synopsis:

In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. 

While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

This book was incredible. Of course as with all my reviews this will be a spoiler-free review. However I can honestly say that author J.D. Barker has mastered how to write the perfect sequel, upping his game greatly to create an even more intense, thrilling and engaging story than The Fourth Monkey. Delving deeper into the killer’s past, Detective Porter finds himself drawn into the twisted world of 4MK in ways no one can ever imagine, unless of course you’re J.D. Barker.

The way the story takes readers into the minds of everyone involved in the case, from new investigators and the team you came to know and love in the first novel to the killer himself and the newest victims who have to face the very heart of darkness and evil alone. It’s a powerful and explosive story from the first page, showing the way everyone was affected by 4MK’s surprising actions in the first novel and how just when you thought you knew the limits of this killer, he takes things so much further. By the end of the story your heart will be racing and you’ll be on the edge of your seat, gasping for breath because you got so enraptured with the twist ending that you forgot to breath.

Overall I loved this story. It was so fun and thrilling to take part in, and the entire time I was reading it I kept asking myself when someone is going to make a movie or show about this story. The tale of 4MK and those hunting him is the modern day serial killer story we’ve been waiting for, and makes for the perfect summer thriller read. In J.D. Barker we’ve found a spiritual successor to the incredible Stephen King, taking the characters of the everyday man and transforming their lives into one of a kind adventures and thrill rides that only these one of a kind authors could come up with. If you haven’t preordered your copy yet, be sure to do so now. The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker comes out July 10th, 2018, so grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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ABOUT J.D.

jd_barker_biopic2

Barker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.

At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.

Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Dracula utilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public. The novel, titled Dracul, sold at auction to G.P. Putnam & Sons, with film rights going to Paramount. Andy Muschietti (IT, Mama) is attached to direct.

Barker’s initial indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.

Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

http://facebook.com/therealjdbarker

https://twitter.com/jdbarker

https://www.instagram.com/jdbarker_author/

http://jdbarker.com/

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Author Interview with Lily Black

1)      Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

A: I’ve always been a writer—even though I was actually a late reader. Ever since I was a kid books and reading were my first go-to in coping with the challenges of life, so writing became a natural outgrowth of all that time spent reading.

 

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

A: I have a black belt and on occasion teach women’s self defense classes, so as my mind turned over story ideas I was struck by the concept of a warm and cozy small town juxtaposed against a seriously scary situation, and the people caught up in it. I explore this dynamic in both my first book, Storm of Attraction, and the second which is also set in charming Willowdale.

 

3)      What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A: The story always comes first, but one takeaway I really believe in is that even the most difficult circumstances can lead to unexpected good.

 

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

A: I guess despite being very aware of the dangers in the world, I’m a romantic at heart and believe that true love can triumph over anything. Totally cheesy, I know! I also believe that sometimes people need something to shake them out of their usual circumstances in order to discover what other resources they might have, and who they really trust. Romantic suspense is the perfect medium to explore this.

 

5)      If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

A: Just now I’d sit down with Detective Rawlings and have a long chat with her about her estranged husband! I know the two of them have split—leaving her to raise her twins mostly alone—and I know he’s a National Geographic photographer, but I don’t have all the other details and want them, because these two will be getting a novella or some newsletter time in the near future!

 

6)      What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

A: I use my Facebook page to connect with my readers, and really enjoy that. I also have my news page on my website which doubles as a blog, and more importantly send out a newsletter to subscribers in which I share short fiction bursts that I’ve written, or anything else I can to give my readers insights into my characters and Willowdale. I also love connecting with readers generally through the Book Ninjas website (www.book-ninjas.com), a content-rating catalog of romance and women’s fiction which I co-own and help to run. There I can see which books are popular and of course pick out new books just right for me based on their blush level, and what I see other readers picking up!

 

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

A: First, read, of course. Then, write. Remember that even short burst of writing time can train you in the craft, so never underestimate the importance of short snatches of time you can devote to your writing dreams.

8)      What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

A: I’m so glad you asked! I recently turned in Willowdale book two—tentatively titled Storm of Deception—to my publisher, and it will release sometime in 2019. It’s the story of a senator’s daughter and the veteran who publicly humiliated her when he ended their engagement, plus a deadly black mailer. The hero was introduced in Storm of Attraction so readers will remember him, and there are cameo appearances from the first couple, so I think readers will get a kick out of that. But mostly it’s just a super intense love story set against the back drop of a winter festival and the black mailer’s schemes, with touches of the drama which comes from life in the political limelight. To celebrate Storm of Deception’s acceptance for publication I made ‘suspenseful snowflakes’ by printing a page from the unedited draft. So much fun to make, since they have tiny teaser peeks at a page from the novel! They’ve been lots of fun to give away and I’m happy to share them here, too, if anyone would like one. This is a novel that nearly ripped my soul in half writing, and I can’t wait to share it with my readers!

SofD three sparkly snowflakes white side

Lily Black website: http://www.lilyblackbooks.com/

LB Twitter: https://twitter.com/lilyblackbooks

Book Ninjas website: http://www.book-ninjas.com/
LB Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lily-Black-1713161408963150/

 

Storm of Attraction low res

Interview with Author Philip Bencel

Check out my latest #authorinterview with Philip Bencel, author of Freedom City, a dystopian novel set in a world way too similar to our own… #interview #bookblog

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been a private investigator in Washington, D.C. for almost twenty years. I’ve written stories since I was a kid, but I didn’t publish my first books until I was in my mid-thirties: Introduction to Conducting Private Investigations and Principles of Investigative Documentation. I returned to writing fiction last year, when I took a sabbatical from my investigations company to write a novel.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

The book I aspired to write last year was called Order of Damaged Souls, set around the 14th century Flemish peasant revolt. I finished that book, but I ultimately decided it was too dark for mainstream consumption. While bemoaning all the time that I “wasted” on Damaged Souls, I had an epiphany about just how demoralized I was about the American disaster marked by Donald Trump’s presidency. This soul-searching led me to re-read The Monkey Wrench Gang, a campy novel written by Edward Abbey about a band of misfits who sabotage stuff to protect the environment. I thought, ‘I should write something like that, but set in post-Trump America!’ Thus inspired, I wrote Freedom City in about three months, rushing to get it out before Trump’s impeachment. [Laughter].

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I don’t know if I can curse on your blog—but fucking hell, what we’re living through right now is the resurgence of fascism, plain and simple. I know the left is often too loose with the word ‘fascist,’ and that’s regrettable, but there is nothing else to call attacks on the press, on the judiciary, and outright distain for the rule of law by the so-called President of the United States. So, Freedom City is a serious book about a very serious topic, but I really tried to bring it down to a level where I’m not just screaming incoherently out the window. The thing is that, when you take a deep breath, Trump and his enablers are evil in an almost inept-comic-book-villain sort of way, so there is actually a lot to laugh about in the situation. The one thing I hope people get from my book is that we must kill them with laughter. That’s their biggest weakness, which is why the right has been so up in arms the past few days about Michelle Wolf’s scathing comedy routine at the WHCD.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Well, my first novel was historical fiction, which is what I often like to read. Freedom City, I suppose, is contemporary literary fiction, but I’ve really struggled with whether to call it satire or dystopian fiction. It’s a little of both, actually, more like a tragicomedy. Like I said, I didn’t really set out to write it, but as a longtime private detective who lives in D.C.—I can literally see the fucking U.S. Capitol out of my window—I was probably the person best situated to write a novel like Freedom City.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I admit that I struggled a bit with Clare Swan, the main female protagonist. Some female readers have pointed out her promiscuity, and that’s certainly a fair critique. But while my book might not pass the Bechdel test, nobody (so far) has accused me of being anti-feminist. Actually, I’m a diehard feminist. It’s just that I have an active imagination, so when I write female characters I sometimes imagine ways I might sleep with them. [Laugher]. Ultimately, I think Clare turned out to be a delightfully complex human being and a righteous warrior. But if I could talk to her I’d ask if she feels I did her justice.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

That’s a great question. I had already developed this public persona as a private investigator, and by far the biggest platforms for that are LinkedIn and Twitter. Because of that professional following I already had from my non-fiction books, I’ve gotten the most traction so far from those sites. However, I’m super excited about Instagram—which I confess I wasn’t even on until a few months ago. As I’m someone who loves readings and events, it really gives me a chance to chronicle the “buzz” around my book and hopefully help it, one day, take off.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

So much of the advice aspiring writers get is to clichéd. I mean, I could say ‘don’t be afraid to suck’ or ‘join a writing group’—both sage pieces of advice—but instead I’ll say this: Write about the things buried deep in your soul that you think might scare your friends to know about you. Just do it. They won’t scare, and you’ll be writing honest shit.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’ve got a couple irons in the fire, including a continuation (sort of) of Freedom City. Lately, however, I’m back to doing investigations, so I don’t have all the time to write I had last year. That’s okay though, because now that I recognize impeachment isn’t happening anytime soon I can take the time to make the next book longer and even more snarky.

 

freedom

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Storm of Attraction by Lily Black Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A complex tale of rivalry, obsession and passion erupts into a fantastic romantic thriller in author Lily Black’s Storm of Attraction. Here’s the synopsis:

Love is worth fighting for.

Alexa Wolving has just one rule: never give a guy a second chance. That works just fine in the safe life she’s built. In the charming town of Willowdale, her day job as a librarian balances perfectly with her evening job as a black belt instructor. But when she attracts the attention of a stalker, Alexa’s carefully built world begins to crumble.

Drew Cosimo knows he broke Alexa’s heart five years ago when he took his first Ranger assignment and disappeared from her life. Now that he’s out of the army, he’s moving back home to Willowdale. He’s not looking for a fight, but making peace would be easier if Alexa hadn’t told the entire town he was a money-grubbing jerk. Despite the tension between them, Drew is quick to offer his protection when a stalker forces Alexa from her home.

As the stalker’s attacks escalate, Alexa and Drew are forced to face their painful past and the simmering attraction between them. They must fight to save each other before everything they care about goes up in flames. 

This book was a very fast paced yet well developed read. The complex history between the two protagonists made for a wonderful look into relationships and how sometimes time apart can lead to unexpected reunions. Whether they be good or bad is up to you to decide, but in author Lily Black’s novel readers get to see an intoxicating relationship form between these two complex and emotionally scarred people. The edge of your seat thriller explores the danger of obsession and how that danger presents itself. It allows readers to see that asking for help and looking to others isn’t a sign of weakness, and by working together terrifying threats can be manageable. The best part of this though is seeing how the danger of this stalker brings these two driven yet emotional people closer together than they ever anticipated.

Overall I loved this story. The characters were engaging to the point where I’d love to read more stories featuring these two protagonists, and the big reveal of the stalker will leave the reader floored. This was a well rounded and emotionally driven read, and I highly recommend checking it out. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copies of author Lily Black’s Storm of Attraction today!

Rating: 10/10

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Freedom City by Philip A. Becnel IV Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A near future that could easily mirror our own world comes to visceral life in author Philip A. Becnel IV’s Freedom City. Here’s the synopsis:

FREEDOM CITY hilariously ridicules the current kakistocracy (government run by the worst people) in a gripping satire that pays homage to The Monkey Wrench Gang. 

After President Trump unceremoniously dies from natural causes, four misfits from Washington, D.C. who call themselves the Fearless Vampire Killers sever the heads of Confederate statues and wage a comedic guerrilla war on post-Trump America. When President Pence enlists droves of fascist volunteers to crush the “alt-left” uprising, the rebels must risk their lives to run the fascists out of D.C. 

What follows is not only a battle for survival—but a desperate search for remnants of what once made America great.

This book is both humorous and touches on the scary reality of the Trump era United States. Those of you who know me on this blog know I am more liberal than anything else, and although I don’t agree with everything the democrats do, this book does resonate with me greatly. You see while it may appear to be an anti-Republican novel, this is actually just an anti-Trump, anti-racism and anti-bigoted book. It strikes at the heart of a corrupt government and the abuse of power that comes with it. It showcases how quickly personal freedoms are stripped away and those who don’t fit the government’s perfect mold are persecuted fiercely.

In this comical yet politically driven novel, it showcases how lost ordinary people are when they’re put in the middle of political rivalries between parties, and how it’s the average person’s duty not to blindly follow our leaders, but to question them and remind them that they were elected to represent us, not themselves. The characters are all relatable, each coming from a vastly different background than the other, and yet all brought together with the common goal of reestablishing the freedom that the United States was built upon. While each is damaged or comes with their own baggage, they find a closeness and family none of them knew they needed, all driven by a desire to fight for what’s truly right in the world.

The imagery was great in this novel, depicting a very real possible future that is both terrifying and hopeful. Terrifying in that one never wants to live in such a violent, chaotic and fear driven society, but hopeful in that it feels like there are more people out there willing to stand up for what’s right, despite the outpouring of negativity in the media and online. Overall I loved this novel, as it spoke to me as a liberal minded person without getting to heavy into the specific political views of each character, approaching it from a moral and human standpoint rather than a political one. This is a truly unique and one of a kind novel, so if you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/Freedom-City-Philip-Becnel-ebook/dp/B078YCZ4KW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1524562638&sr=8-2&keywords=freedom+city

Murder in the Heart of It All by Michael Prelee Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An aspiring journalist finds himself in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a disturbing individual in author Michael Prelee’s Murder in the Heart of It All. Here’s the synopsis:

Someone is angry in Hogan, Ohio.

Residents of the small town are plagued by vicious, anonymous letters. The personalized notes land in mailboxes with devastating effect, revealing secrets and deeds better kept unknown. Whoever the sender is, they know the town and the people who live there.

Reporter Tim Abernathy is assigned to the story and tasked with finding out who is sending the letters and why. The letter writer doesn’t want to be found, however, and will kill to keep his secret.

A cat-and-mouse game ensues between reporter and letter writer as the violence escalates, shocking the residents of Hogan. Can Tim discover who is terrorizing the town before becoming the next victim?

I absolutely loved this book. To me it felt like a commentary on the anonymous nature of those who the world has deemed “online trolls”. In a sense, it showcased the overwhelming harshness these individuals faced that made them this way, while also showcasing the painful ramifications these hurtful comments or in this case, “letters”, have on those receiving it.

The story itself was well developed, and the characters themselves were incredibly engaging. It was refreshing to see a change in the typical “journalist” character. Normally in stories involving journalists they are eager to get the story by any means necessary, often hurting the people involved in that story. However Tim was a thoughtful, kind hearted individual who worked not for his own gain, but for the good of his community. The story also showed how easy it is for people to go to such violent extremes, and how fear of discovery can turn a harmless troll into a violent madman.

In the end this was a thought provoking and engaging read. This thriller allowed us to analyze the anonymous nature of the internet through the lens of a small town setting. Substituting emails or comments for letters, this story showed the power words have in our society, and how we can step above and beyond the pain we endure to become better people. Everyone experiences pain of one kind or another. It’s how you handle that pain and move forward that defines you. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Michael Prelee’s Murder in the Heart of It All today!

Rating: 10/10

 www.michaelprelee.com

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Walking the Pendulum by H.A. Dawson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman looking for a fresh start instead finds herself tumbling into someone else’s past in author H.A. Dawson’s thriller Walking the Pendulum. Here’s the synopsis:

A stolen existence triggers the ultimate identity crisis
Megan’s made a hasty escape. Now she’s perplexed by the confusion sparked by events on the train journey and her effect on the locals, whose disconcerting behavior makes her skittish. She’s determined and headstrong yet vulnerable, unaware of the imminent danger posed by the scheme hatched by her mystery assailant.

 

How long could you wait to take revenge?
Megan’s never experienced visions or fainted before. The vivid images have
a momentary impact, though they’re a harbinger of future events where Megan is
not the only victim to fall prey to a scheming murderer.

 

The journey of life is as much a cliché as is the idea of seeing
yourself through others eyes. In this compelling thriller, Megan’s assumptions are foolish as her real journey starts when she reaches her
destination. There are many scrutinizing her activities; a few are threatened by her presence,
questioning her reasons for moving to this small town. The situation is intriguing especially as her striking features resemble Saskia a lively woman who vanished 3 decades ago.

 

This story embraces a British style of mystery that merges into the
suspense, culminating in a thriller with an enthralling finale that
leaves us to question our personal strengths and endeavors

 

This author takes pride in presenting the reader with a strong theme
immersed in dramatic content.

 

Do you try to avoid all conflict?
How calm are you when handling uptight friends and family members?
If their behavior becomes irrational does this influence you in any way?
Do you turn tail and run or stand your ground by confronting the issues?

This was an evenly paced yet chilling thriller. The British style mystery thriller explores the way other’s perceive us and our actions, and how sometimes the only people who get to see the truth of the matter at hand is ultimately you. The mystery surrounding Megan and her connection to Saskia is intriguing to explore, and the way it reflects on Megan’s own past and troubles that she is desperate to escape make the reader invested as they go through the book.

The character growth in this story is definitely the biggest draw in for this story. Whether we witness the emotional roller coaster Megan is forced to ride or the chilling air surrounding the townspeople of this small British town, the characters help breath fresh life into the classic murder mystery genre. Think of this book as an incredible literary version of the Insidious film franchise mixed with a good BBC thriller like Broadchurch.

Overall I loved this story. It was unique in it’s approach and had a wonderful cast of characters that kept the book flowing smoothly. It’s a book filled with twists and turns galore, so if you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Walking the Pendulum by H.A. Dawson today!

Rating: 8/10

“Walking The Pendulum” is the first book in a collection of exciting
Traditional British psychological suspense mystery crime, laced with
romance, packaged with the intensity of a thriller. There are seven to be
published up to November 2017.
Further British Mystery – Suspense – Thrillers to come from H A Dawson

Walking The Pendulum
Beds of Rusty Nails
Edging On Despair
Naive Retribution

Novellas

Twist Of A Steel Bracelet
Snapping That Lock

Mystery Novels

Drifting On Distant Murmurs

If you enjoy gripping stories, spotting subtle clues and can cope with the dark chilling complexity of the human psyche! You will be excited to read this emotional thriller. Realistic male and female perspectives are blended into plausible situations, abduction and kidnapping, psychological suspense and crime,

 

You will definitely enjoy the diverse content of H A Dawson’s “Women’s Contemporary Thrillers”.

 

She has praise for the following best selling authors. A J Waines,
Rachel Abbott, Mark Edwards, Louise Voss, C L Taylor, Sophie Hannah,
Elizabeth Haynes, Angela Marsons, Sharon Bolton and Linwood Barclay.
They have had a positive influence in her style development.