Category: Review

Blog Tour: The Fourth Monkey

I am very excited to be the stop for the blog tour for J.D. Barker’s upcoming novel The Fourth Monkey. It will be available next week.  I loved this book! My review and more is below:

Pre-order The Fourth Monkey
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 416 pages in Paperback

To Be Published:  June 27, 2017
Dates Read: May 30-June 12, 2017

My Rating: 5 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

Se7en meets The Silence of the Lambs in this dark and twisting novel from the author Jeffery Deaver called, “A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind.”

For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive.

As the lead investigator on the 4MK task force, Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unraveling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.

With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer’s identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the Four Monkey Killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller.

Review:

The Fourth Monkey (4MK) was my first novel by J.D. Barker and it will not be my last!  It was brilliantly disturbing and I loved every page of it!  4MK is about a serial killer who has terrorized Chicago for five years, but then he is found dead and it appears he has taken one final victim.  It becomes a race against time to find 4MK’s latest victim before it is too late.

There are multiple narrators in this novel, and if you follow my reviews then you already know I enjoy those types of novels.  The main narrators are Detective Sam Porter, the final victim, and even 4MK through diary entries.  We get to know Detective Porter well and learn about his private life, which is not perfect.  Porter has been on this case since the beginning and he wants to end this case for good.

This is a very intense, dark and disturbing novel to read. The chapters are short, which gives you that “just one more chapter” feeling and I did not want to put it down. EVER.  4MK is being compared to Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, and like both, 4MK has very graphic violence in it, so it will not be for everyone.  J.D. Barker is vivid in his descriptions.  For example, at one point I was reading a scene that involved a rat and could picture everything clearly in my mind. I cringed as I was reading because I thought the scene was going to go in a certain direction and could see that direction in my head.

The diary entries are very unsettling as we see the influences that show how 4MK became what he is today.  I believe a person can have a tendency for things such as violence, but one’s environment can also affect a person.  4MK never had a chance to become anything other than what he did.  That is what makes those diary entries so disturbing.  For me the diary entries were more violent and troubling than the current case.

4MK takes place over a very intense and short time period. Barker does a remarkable job pulling you in and taking you for this ride with Porter as 4MK reaches its conclusion.   I thought I knew what the ending was going to be about 125 pages in, but I am glad to report that I was wrong.

I am very selective with my choice of five star reviews, and 4MK receives one!  In fact, I think it will be in my list of top reads of the year.

4MK is very highly recommended.

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for my arc review copy and for Booklover Catlady Publicity & Reviews for having me on the blog tour!


If you like the idea of The Fourth Monkey and think it should be a film, then you are in luck! Barker has sold publishing rights for The Fourth Monkey in America and other countries, and also has a TV and movie deal.

Do you want a draft copy of The Fourth Monkey? Check out this contest HERE that is going on!

Do you want to be a character in J.D.’s next book? Check out this contest HERE he has going on right now!

About the Author

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.

Barker’s 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.

Contact J.D.
Website
Facebook
Twitter @jdbarker
Goodreads

Accused

Author: Lisa Scottoline
Audiobook

Published: October 29, 2013
Dates Read: May 23- June 9, 2017

My Rating: 3 stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author Lisa Scottoline revolutionized crime fiction when she introduced her Philadelphia-based all-female law firm of Rosato & Associates, thrilling listeners with her twisty, fast-paced plots and capturing their hearts with her cast of strong and relatable female characters. Now Bennie Rosato, Mary DiNunzio, Judy Carrier, and Anne Murphy are back with all cylinders firing in Accused.

Mary DiNuzio has just been promoted to partner and is about to take on her most unusual case yet, brought to the firm by a thirteen-year-old genius with a penchant for beekeeping. Allegra Gardner’s sister Fiona was murdered six years ago, and it seemed like an open-and-shut case: the accused, Lonnie Stall, was seen fleeing the scene; his blood was on Fiona and her blood was on him; most damningly, Lonnie Stall pleaded guilty. But Allegra believes Lonnie is innocent and has been wrongly imprisoned. The Gardner family is one of the most powerful in the country and Allegra’s parents don’t believe in reopening the case, so taking it on is risky. But the Rosato & Associates firm can never resist an underdog. Was justice really served all those years ago? It will take a team of unstoppable female lawyers, plus one thirteen-year-old genius, to find out.

My review:

Lisa Scottoline first introduced readers to Mary DiNunzio, Bennie Rosato, Judy Carrier, and Anne Murphy in her Rosato & Associates series and now she is back with a new series: Rosato & DiNunzio. The first in this series is Accused and Mary has just been promoted to partner.

I won a copy of Damaged( from Goodreads) which is the fourth in the series. Not realizing it was part of a series, I decided to go back and listen to the audiobooks of the first three in order.  I know a little about what will happen, so it gives me a different perspective going back and listening to the others on audiobook.  It seems to me that the series improves as I enjoyed Damaged more than Accused.  There seems to be growth with Mary as the series progresses, especially from the beginning of Accused to the conclusion.

I first want to say I have not read any of the Rosato & Associates series, so all of these characters are new to me.  I know I have missed their backstories (including the murder of Mary’s husband).  Rosato & DiNunzio is an all-female law firm and Bennie Rosato is the boss, but Mary has just been promoted to partner in Accused.  In the beginning Mary seems unsure of this promotion; she even does not want the stationary changed.  **This is a minor spoiler, as this happens early on, but Mary’s boyfriend proposes to her. She says yes, but is unsure on if she should have given that answer.

In Accused, Rosato & DiNunzio is hired by thirteen year old Allegra Gardner. Her sister Fiona was murdered six years ago, and despite the defendant Lonnie Stall pleading guilty, Allegra is convinced that he did not kill her sister. Rosato & DiNunzio take on the case with Mary in the lead.

For me Accused was decent.  I liked Allegra and wanted more of her in it. I also liked that she had a different type of hobby. Allegra is definitely a ‘different’ sort of girl.  I also liked that we had more of Mary’s family and her neighbors ‘The Tony’s’ in it.  They are definitely the comic relief in the novel.

I’m not sure what it is about Mary that I don’t really feel a connection with. I felt that same way when I read Damaged.  I think it might be her personality and the immaturity she has.  For me, she becomes too attached to the children involved in these cases, and that attachment is almost instant and it seems to cross professional boundaries. Again, this could be because I have not read the Rosato & Associates series and am missing her backstory.  I’m not sure of her age, but she doesn’t really seem like partner material and comes off as young, more like someone fresh out of law school.  She does experience personal and professional growth over the course of Accused, which I was happy about.

I was also not heavily drawn into this case. Yes, there is an answer to whether Lonnie Stall actually killed Fiona, but I was not intensely involved in the novel.  I would definitely say that this is more of a Mystery novel versus a Suspense/Thriller novel.

I did look to see that Betrayed, the second novel in the Rosato & DiNunzio  series focuses on Judy and the third, Corrupted focuses on the ‘big boss’ herself Bennie Rosato.  I will continue the series as I want to learn about these ladies, especially Bennie who is an enigma to me.

Despite the issues I had, Damaged is recommended.

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He Said/She Said

Author: Erin Kelly
390 pages in Paperback

To Be Published: June 6, 2017
Dates Read: May 10-29, 2017

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura married are living under new names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.

From Erin Kelly, queen of the killer twist, He Said/She Said is a gripping tale of the lies we tell to save ourselves, the truths we cannot admit, and how far we will go to make others believe our side of the story.

My Review:

The premise of He Said/She Said intrigued me, so I was excited when I received my ARC in the mail.  I made sure to fit it in and have it read by the release date on June 6th.  The two narrators are Kit and Laura and we get both of their perspectives of what happened.  We also go back and forth in time starting in 1999 at an eclipse festival and fast forward to 2015.  As the description says, Laura stumbles across a sexual assault and from there everything changes for Laura and Kit.  The fallout from the events of that festival changes everyone’s lives who are involved.

The description of He Said/She Said really had me wondering what was going to happen in this novel.  Why would Kit and Laura go to such extremes to stay hidden away from a sexual assault victim?  This curiosity is what pulled me into the novel and kept me reading. I wanted to know how it was going to end!

He Said/She Said is a book that very slowly builds itself up to the fast paced ending.  I will admit, I had difficulty with it until the halfway mark.  I did debate stopping it, but some earlier reviews I read stated that it is worth it to keep reading, which ended up being true for me.

There are twists throughout the novel.  I continually changed my mind on who to believe.  This novel is truly a ‘he said/she said’ situation and I found myself having no clue who to believe.  He Said/She Said is being marketed with #WhoDoYouBelieve and even after reading it I am still blown away by the ending.  You continue to guess and have doubts up to that final shocking paragraph! Even with the slow beginning Erin Kelly had a purpose with her writing throughout the novel. I never saw the twists that she wrote coming and when you think you have it figured out, she goes and throws another twist at you.

I give He Said/She Said 3.5 stars as I did struggle for half of the novel.  If you are struggling with it, keep going as it will be worth it in the end.

He Said/She Said is recommended.

**Thank you to Minotaur Books for my ARC copy and my solar eclipse glasses to use during the solar eclipse on 8/21!

 

 

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