Category Archives: Thriller/Suspense

Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb

Eerily similar to the Las Vegas tragedy.  In the mind of a killer.  In the mind of a cop.  The cop that takes down the killer, with prejudice.

Title: Apprentice in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #43
Publish Date: September 6,2016
Genre: Mystery/Romance/Futuristic
Narrator: Susan Erickson
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionNature versus nurture…

The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people were dead at Central Park’s ice skating rink. The victims: a talented young skater, a doctor, and a teacher. As random as random can be.

Eve Dallas has seen a lot of killers during her time with the NYPSD, but never one like this. After reviewing security videos, it becomes clear that the victims were killed by a sniper firing a tactical laser rifle, who could have been miles away when the trigger was pulled. And though the locations where the shooter could have set up seem endless, the list of people with that particular skill set is finite: police, military, professional killer.

Eve’s husband, Roarke, has unlimited resources—and genius—at his disposal. And when his computer program leads Eve to the location of the sniper, she learns a shocking fact: There were two—one older, one younger. Someone is being trained by an expert in the science of killing, and they have an agenda. Central Park was just a warm-up. And as another sniper attack shakes the city to its core, Eve realizes that though we’re all shaped by the people around us, there are those who are just born evil…

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

This book freaked me out.  As I was listening, the Las Vegas shootings became clear as day.  This story has nothing to do with that tragic event and it’s not even like the event itself, but it was eerily similar to what the killer could have been thinking in Las Vegas on that unsuspecting crowd on October 1, 2017.  This gave me chills on more than one occasion.  The callousness of a killer was brought into focus as the killer used the mentor to further their agenda as a killing machine.  The killer never even gave a thought to the pain and misery the victim’s families would go through after the death of their loved one.  I don’t think that ever crosses their minds.  They just like to be all powerful and hold someone’s life in their hands.  That kind of person exists in real life as well in pages of books, and I hope I never ever meet that kind of person.

I love the In Death series books because the format never changes.  The lives of the characters change, but the format of the investigation stays the course.  I think that sometimes authors need to “freshen up” their books or maybe “advance” their characters.  Sure, that’s fine, but I really enjoy the In Death books because I can always guarantee a win at the end.  I can always guarantee living vicariously through the pages and for a few hours be a kick ass, no nonsense Eve Dallas.  The books have all the elements that puts this series firmly in the romance genre, but it is not only romance.  It is mystery, too.  It’s a study of people.  The romance between Eve and Roarke is something to revel in because of his thoughtfulness and angelic features – fallen angelic features.  He’s rich, smart, sexy, and understanding.  He cherishes Eve and what reader doesn’t like to have that feeling while reading?

I know that I’m not talking about Apprentice in Death like I normally review other books.  That’s because if you are a fan, you already know what will happen inasmuch there will be romance that knocks our socks off and a nice juicy murder investigation too.  The scary part of the whole book is the possible insight the reader might receive from reading about a killer that strikes close to home.

Five stars, like always.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Lost in Wonderland by Nicky Peacock

This is not your typical Wonderland. You have been warned.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Lost in WonderlandTitle: Lost in Wonderland
Author: Nicky Peacock
Series: The Twisted and the Brave 01
Publication Date: April 14, 2016, Evernight Teen
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery
Source: Provided by author

Publisher’s DescriptionMonsters, serial killers, and imaginary friends—being a Wonderlander can be murder…

Once upon a time, Kayla was lost. Then she found Wonderland, but not the one you know. Run by ex-government agents and funded by an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire, this Wonderland is the name of a collective of highly trained vigilantes who hunt serial killers. Now Kayla, aka Mouse, works tirelessly alongside her fellow Wonderlanders, Rabbit and Cheshire, baiting dangerous murderers. But even her extensive training hasn’t prepared her for the return of her older brother…

Shilo has spent most of his life in an insane asylum, convinced his mother was abducted by a sinister Alaskan monster who lures the lost away to feast upon their flesh. And now he’s certain that his sister is in the same monster’s crosshairs. But if Shilo is going to save what’s left of his family, he’ll have to convince his sister that maybe, just maybe, we’re all a little mad.


Luna Lovebooks says…Luna_Lovebooks_100

“You used to be much more…muchier. You’ve neglected your muchness, Mouse.”

I must admit, even after reading the synopsis, I was expecting something more akin to the fantastical Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Other Stories. While it was a little shock to discover this isn’t the case, this tale delivers the fantastical and humorous as well as being dark and thrilling!

This is undoubtedly one clever book. In its own right, the book is dark. It is chock full of murder and intrigue. I mean, a secret vigilantly group that hunts and kills serial killers? That would be awesome by itself!  But the little bits of Carrol’s Alice makes things a little lighter. Quotes and references litter the pages, adding to the characters and the tale overall, and made this reviewer love the tale all that much more.

badge4v5

The characters all have their own strengths and weaknesses. This makes them seem more realistic—even the killer/monster, the Kustaka.  This also adds to the narration as the story is told from Kayla and Shilo’s point of view, as well as that of the Kustaka.

The ending to the story felt a bit rushed, and I found myself wishing that the chase was drawn out just a bit longer. But overall, this is a powerful start to a series, and I can’t wait to read the next installments. 4 teacups all around!

Other recommendations…

If you love Wonderland tales, you might try the following re-tellings: Splintered by A.G. Howard, Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J Pepper, Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Chasm by L.K. Kuhl

What do you do when your children are missing and your world crashes?

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Chasm
Author: L.K. Kuhl
Series: Stand-alone.
Publish Date: May 5, 2016
Genre: Romantic thriller
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Source: Provided by the author.

Publisher’s Description:

What happens when you’re in love with your children’s abductor?

Taylor Vine thinks she can fight off the demons of her past when she moves back home to Estill Springs, Tennessee, but it doesn’t take long to see that things aren’t quite that easy. The bumps she hears in the night soon escalate, keeping her up at nights, and it isn’t long before her most precious possessions, her children, get abducted. She finds herself in a race against time to try to find them before it’s too late. One wrong move and the outcome could be disastrous.


Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: One of the qualities of a good book is the setting. Kuhl hit the success button with this novel. The symbolic desperation and gloom that fill many of the characters’ lives is also symbolically represented by the setting. I did like the characters. Their emotions were described with gut-wrenching detail and seemed very honest and very real to me.

Dislikes: The plot and sub plots were not brought to satisfying conclusions to me. It almost seemed like the author knew where she wanted the story to go but it fell short and seemed like there was still something left to be settled. While I did like the characters, they seemed to make the wrong decisions even after talking themselves out of making it in the first place. There were spaces in the story that were oddly verbose and overly descriptive.

There was so much going on it this one that I was both intrigued and deterred by everything that was going on. For this reason I give the book 3 rocking horses. 

Other recommendations…

Check out these other romantic thrillers: Naked in Death by J.D. Robb, Don’t Tell by Karen Rose, Lone Wolf Rising by Jami Brumfield.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

Though The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom might be a great book for young adults new to the spy/espionage genre, it wasn’t unique enough to capture the interest of our spy-loving adult reviewers.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

TitleThe Cruelty
Author: Scott Bergstrom
SeriesThe Cruelty, Book 01
Publish Date: February 7, 2017 by Fiewel & Friends
Genre: YA Thriller
Source: Provided by the publisher

Publisher’s Description: When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17-year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

The best line in the book The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom is in the very first chapter when the main character, Gwendolyn, pulls a book out of her backpack and tells us, the reader,

“It’s a novel with a teenage heroine set in a dystopian future. Which novel in particular doesn’t matter because they are all the same. Poor teenage heroine, having to march off to war when all she really wants to do is run away with that beautiful boy and live off wild berries and love. Paper worlds where heroes are real.”

This is echoed two hundred some odd pages later when Gwen, now called Sophia, who is in real danger from the Czech mafia, says “Damn my luck, having to go off to war when all I want to do is run away with that beautiful boy and live off wild berries and love.”

That about sums up what’s wrong with this book: it pretends not to be formulaic but follows the same pattern as all spy/espionage novels. This could have been written by James Patterson, Lee Child or Robert Ludlum and I really wouldn’t have noticed the difference. The author simply puts a 17-year-old girl in the role of the main character and, unfortunately, this doesn’t lend itself to believability. The only training this teenager gets is about a month from an Israeli spy, and she totally eludes and ultimately defeats criminals in several European countries included the “dreaded” Czech mafia and kills several of their number through a variety of methods?

I also really didn’t think that The “Cruelty” itself, which the author tries to describe as an internal “thing” rising up in Gwendolyn and taking over her more sane (regular) self, was well defined. He mentions it a few times as “wanting to get out” or “taking over” but I don’t think he spent enough time on her internal struggle. It felt really ho-hum when Gwen had to make difficult choices, like murdering someone in cold blood!

I give this book a 3 for being too much like other books I’ve read in this genre and not having enough of what the title featured.

Percy Procrastinator says…

For me, as a forty-four-year-old long interested in thriller/spy/espionage novels, this was a tough read. I didn’t read it all, either. At about the halfway point, I realized that I had read this story before by some other author. It’s not that it was bad; it just wasn’t good enough to pull me in. I don’t know if it was because it’s geared toward young adults or if I have just read and seen too much of this kind of story.

The setup is quite good. It was easy for me to believe that Gwendolyn could become a spy. She knows languages and had gymnastics, so had some of the rudimentary skills needed. It wasn’t luck that had her know several ex-spies, people who could set her on the path to find her father. I was happy that she got a month of training and even a test so she knew if she could do it.

Reading about her training was interesting to me to see which way the author would have Gwendolyn go. And once she made her choice, I knew how the rest of the story would go, again from decades of reading these kinds of novels. I just wasn’t interested enough in reading this particular story. I skimmed through several chapters of her meeting people, going up the chain and following the leads. I can easily see how this would be a great introduction for someone to these kinds of novels. It’s just not for me.

Finally, I will say that the ending left me a bit disappointed. I read the final ten percent of the book and I don’t think I got the payoff I wanted. The twist didn’t surprise me and the ending left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

I give the book a three. It might deserve a four because it handles the subject matter well, but I can’t be the one to give it that rating.

Other recommendations…

Advanced teen readers could probably jump right into the Alex Cross, Jason Bourne, and Jack Reacher thrillers, or go with the classics and give the original James Bond novels a try. Unfortunately, those all have male protagonists. For female protagonists, here is a list of 9 Best Thrillers with Strong Female Protagonists.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Boy from Reactor 4 by Orest Stelmach

Last week, I reviewed The Altar Girl, the prequel to the Nadia Tesla series by Orest Stelmach. Today I continue reviewing the series.

boy-from-reactor-4TitleThe Boy from Reactor 4
AuthorOrest Stelmach
SeriesNadia Tesla, Book 01
Publish Date: March 19, 2013
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Nadia’s memories of her father are not happy ones. An angry, secretive man, he died when she was thirteen, leaving his past shrouded in mystery. When a stranger claims to have known her father during his early years in Eastern Europe, she agrees to meet—only to watch the man shot dead on a city sidewalk.

With his last breath, he whispers a cryptic clue, one that will propel Nadia on a high-stakes treasure hunt from New York to her ancestral homeland of Ukraine. There she meets an unlikely ally: Adam, a teenage hockey prodigy who honed his skills on the abandoned cooling ponds of Chernobyl. Physically and emotionally scarred by radiation syndrome, Adam possesses a secret that could change the world—if she can keep him alive long enough to do it.

A twisting tale of greed, secrets, and lies, The Boy from Reactor 4 will keep readers guessing until the final heart-stopping page.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

The first in the Nadia Tesla series, The Boy from Reactor 4 once again teaches me much about Ukraine, Russia and the aftermath of Chernobyl.

The author, Orest Stelmach, has done a good job of creating a believable and tough female protagonist. I accidentally read the prequel before reading this book so I was more familiar with the main character than if I had started with this book. Stelmach has written 4 total books in the series so far and his writing has definitely improved. This first in the series has so many characters, many of which with unfamiliar names, that I had a hard time keeping track of them but he kept the story moving along and Nadia stayed one step ahead of the bad guys throughout.

badge4v5I was particularly fascinated by the events that took place in the Bering Straights. I know nothing about the area, but the idea of walking between Russian and Alaska is not something I would ever want to face.

I give this book a 4. Simply because I know the author can do better as evidenced by his work in The Altar Girl.

Our reviews in this series…