Terry’s Review of “The Overtaking”, by Victorine E. Lieske

Author’s Product Description

Shayne Bartlet has been kidnapped, his powers disabled and his memory altered. He’s not having a good day. And he doesn’t even know it.

When Shayne’s telepathic abilities surface, he finds out Danielle isn’t the normal teenager she appears to be. In fact, she’s not even from his world. And when he finds out her race is responsible for the overtaking of his entire planet, he sets out to uncover the truth about her.

Danielle didn’t mean to fall in love with a Maslonian boy. Her job was to observe and report. But when Shayne’s well being is at stake she goes against orders to help him, putting her own self in danger.

Together, Danielle and Shayne discover that things are not as they seem. They must stop Danielle’s race from destroying the Maslonian planet, and free Shayne’s people.

** SPOILER ALERT ** Be advised I have included some minor spoilers below.

Since I don’t haunt the Young Adult romance aisle of the bookstore, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read this novel. What I got was an enjoyable read and characters I truly cared for. Shayne and Danielle are strong, likeable characters put into an interesting and twisty situation. Danielle and her people have been kidnapping people from Shayne’s world for a long time. Now Danielle is hunting for Shayne while he is trying to stop them.

In the process of them dealing with their divergent goals, they fall in love. They also encounter other honorable people and villains. These secondary characters didn’t have the same depth and development as the primary characters. For the most part that isn’t a major problem, however I would have liked to have seen them more fleshed out.

Since this story is a romance and not science fiction, I kept a more open mind when it came to some of the futuristic plot elements. A few of them had me raising an eyebrow, they didn’t detract from the romance storyline.

I would have liked to see a bit more ambiguity when figuring out who the bad guys were. I think that would’ve helped ratchet up the action and conflict. Maybe that is not the way Young Adult Romance handles things. Again, this really didn’t detract from the story for me.

I liked this book a lot and none of the issues I mentioned really slowed me down as I read the story.

I’ll have my eye on Victorine and will grab the her next book when it comes out.

I give this book four out of five stars.

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Terry’s Review of “I Am Not A Serial Killer”, by Dan Wells

I Am Not A Serial Killer

From Publishers Weekly

The teenage (and innocent) John Wayne Cleaver swears he is not the serial killer that has emerged in his small town–despite his grisly name and a series of unpleasant and eerie similarities. His fascination with the killer leads him to launch his own investigation of sorts–one that leads him to the identity of the murderer.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is the first of three novels revolving around John Wayne Cleaver.

** SPOILER ALERT** Be advised I have some minor spoilers below.

John Wayne Cleaver has known something is different about him his entire life. The interactions of others rarely make sense and he doesn’t connect emotionally with anyone, not even his own family. He had many things in common with serial killers. They shared the same behaviors, urges, and hungers. Not good in a fifteen year old boy in high school.

The only difference between them and him was that he refused to let the monster out to play.

Most wouldn’t call his life normal. By trial and error, he formed a set of rules to lock the monster behind a wall. Working in his family’s mortuary provided him with a safe way to channel his fascination with the dead. Another outcast boy at school became his shield there. He wasn’t the eccentric loner, rather just one of the odd kids. One that kept writing homework assignments about serial killers, sure, but not dangerous.

Then a local man was disemboweled. The monster inside John stirred at the news and he had to go see the place where it had happened, even if it wasn’t safe for him or those around him. He told his therapist, who promptly told his mother. She didn’t know what a sociopath was, but she was pretty sure working with dead bodies wasn’t healthy for John, so she banished him from the mortuary.

That hurt, and made the monster harder to control, but he found a new hobby–tracking down and identifying the serial killer. As the death toll mounted, he pieced together a profile. When a chance encounter revealed everything, he called the police.

That didn’t turn out so well for the police, because the killer was literally a demon.

More determined than ever, John wasn’t going to let that minor detail stop him from bringing the killer down. He set his rules aside and started plotting to kill the otherworldly being. Unfortunately, that also freed the monster within him.

Could a fifteen year old boy fight a supernatural force and his own psyche? And would the people he should have cared about pay for his lapse, either at the claws of the demon or at his own hands?

This book wasn’t at all what I expected when I started reading it. I had heard it was horror, but I didn’t feel horrified. The sense of dread I expected of a horror novel never appeared. While it had serious similarities to watching an episode of Dexter, it is not a rip-off, just similar.

I’d almost call this an urban fantasy with an unusual protagonist. The ending satisfied me and I will read the other books in this series as time permits.

I’ll give it four out of five stars.

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Terry’s Review of Treachery In Death, by J.D. Robb

Treachery In Death Cover Large

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Lt. Eve Dallas and her squad take on corrupt cops in Robb’s 33rd full-length novel featuring the New York Police and Security Dept. homicide detective (after Indulgence in Death), a fast-paced, intricate, and deadly dance of well-matched opponents. When Dallas’s partner, Det. Delia Peabody, overhears an angry exchange between Lt. Rene Oberman and Det. William Garnet that reveals an unlawful killing and ongoing skimming, Dallas’s reaction to this news is decisive: “the blue line breaks for wrong cops.” The setting may be slightly futuristic, but the procedures are familiar: Dallas puts together a solid team that meets in her home to avoid leaks as they compile evidence. At the same time, she initiates confrontations with the dangerous Oberman, whom she begins pushing toward a trap. From this pure good guys versus bad guys scenario, Robb (aka Nora Roberts) wrings plenty of exciting strokes and counterstrokes before reaching the satisfying climax. (Feb.)

As said above, Treachery in Death is the thirty-third full-length book in the In Death series.

Be advised, there might be some minor spoilers below.

Set about fifty years in our future, the world that Eve Dallas lives and works in as a Homicide Lieutenant in the Big Apple is noticeably different from ours, yet very much the same when it comes to the kind of criminals the police protect society from. Society has outlawed lethal weapons, but that hardly seems to slow the bad guys down. Forensics has improved to an astonishing degree, yet the smart criminals always seem to be a step ahead.

In this book, the criminal elements wear badges just like Dallas does. When her partner, Peabody, overhears a conversation she shouldn’t have, the wheels start spinning to stop the bad cops before they kill again. The cast of characters readers of this series know well once more leaps into action to get the evidence they need to stop the bad guys.

This book, unlike the earlier ones in the series, starts off with Dallas (and the reader) knowing exactly who is guilty and of what. All they have to do is prove it. That quickly becomes very predictable. Not one single thing in this book caught me off guard. I spotted all the turns long before they make their foregone appearance. I can’t say twists really as there were none. The book is well written structurally, but the story is flat.

It’s sad for me, really. The lack of tension left me totally unconcerned for anyone’s safety. There was no threat to keep the tension high. In fact, there really wasn’t much tension. Perhaps the author was trying to break the formula of the long running series to get a change of pace. She did that, just not to her benefit.

I’ll be waiting for her next book in this series, but with the expectation that it has to be better.

I give Treachery in Death three stars.

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Krista Macumber Reviews Jeremy Robinson’s “Threshold”

Jeremy Robinson’s latest Jack Sigler Thriller, Threshold, is a wild and sometimes unbelievable ride around the world as the Chess Team searches for a mad man bent on brainwashing the world into submission while also trying to save a young girl that may hold the key that could stop the villain. The bad guy in Threshold is a familiar one if you’ve read the first Jack Sigler book, Pulse, and the young girl is one that was introduced at the end of the second book, Instinct, though Robinson does a good job of providing enough back story in Threshold that reading the previous books isn’t absolutely necessary. But, if you haven’t read them, stop, do yourself a favor and go read them first. You’ll thank me later.

When I say a wild and sometimes unbelievable ride, I mean it. There were moments where I had to remind myself that I was reading a story where the main characters fought the not-so-mythical Hydra in Pulse and the not-so-extinct Neanderthals in Instinct. If I could get past those, then I could get past the not-so-fairy-tale golem attack on Fort Bragg in Threshold. Yes, golems. And yes, that Fort Bragg, the home of the U.S. Army Special Operations. Threshold is busy, it keeps a grueling pace, and each time a chapter left me hanging I was exasperated — but in a good way. I didn’t want to put the book down because I wanted to see what was going to happen next.

Despite the occasional forays into the truly unbelievable, Threshold is my favorite Jack Sigler Thriller so far. It is a hectic story with lots of different subplots that all manage to (mostly) come together at the end, but the chaotic, rapid pace is a constant reminder that time is ticking and there’s a crazy sociopath to stop. Reading Threshold was exhausting, but in retrospect I appreciate the pace the book kept. Though Robinson uses foreshadowing like a carpenter wields a hammer, it was less obvious this time around than it was in Pulse, where I felt like I was being hit over the head a bit with the foreshadowing. It was like the book was saying “DID YOU GET THAT THERE? THAT WILL BE IMPORTANT LATER.” But with Threshold the foreshadowing was much more restrained, so nuanced in fact that I didn’t even realize I should have seen something coming when it happened. (I’ll admit it, I did not see the twist at the end with a certain character’s parents but in hindsight, I realize I should have).

I hope one day to see the Chess Team materialize on the big screen. Robinson artfully weaves the modern day military with ancient history like no one else has and I would love to see the adventures of the Chess team come alive in a movie, if Hollywood did it right and it did not involve Matthew McConaughey (I’m looking at you Sahara). If you take your reading seriously, this book isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a break from reality with a book that gives your brain a good cardio workout, look no further than Threshold.

Krista Macumber is a voracious, nay, insatiable reader, consuming everything from the daintiest chick-lit to the grandest adventures, all without breaking stride (though she does take frequent breaks to satisfy her endless need for Sonic Diet Cokes). She shares her life with her husband Justin and a zoo’s worth of dogs and cats.

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Terry’s Review of River Marked, by Patricia Briggs

River Marked Cover

Publisher’s Summary: “Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She’s never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father’s people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help…”

River Marked is the sixth book in the Mercedes Thompson urban fantasy series.

Be advised there may be some minor spoilers below.

It may just be me, but one of the big draws in good urban fantasy is a strong female protagonist. Patricia Briggs delivers in spades with Mercy Thompson. She’s tough, independent, smart, and a truly good person. That makes her very easy to root for and makes for an emotional ride when she hits a rough spot. And the author isn’t shy about putting her through the wringer on occasion, either. That makes this series one of the best in the urban fantasy genre.

In this book, Mercy finally ties the knot with sexy Adam Hauptman, the Alpha of the werewolf pack that lives behind her lot, and they’re off on their honeymoon. Their relationship has been moving this way for quite some time, and seeing her making her personal life work was very satisfying.

Of course, being off on their own without any of the secondary characters I’ve come to love made for a different tone. There was a bit more romance, which I liked, and fewer subplots, which I didn’t like so much. That lack hurt my enjoyment of the book a little.

We did get to see a few new secondary characters, though, and some of them look like they might be recurring. The main one was Coyote of Indian legend. As one would expect, he both helps and hinders her as she tries to stop a monster that has been killing people. He also provided some surprising and interesting insight into her mysterious father, a man who died before she was born. I’m hoping he makes further appearances later in the series.

The tone in River Marked was a bit different from the earlier books in the series, and it detracted from my enjoyment. While I welcomed the added focus on her relationship and the romance, the pressure seemed too light on Mercy, which slowed the pace more than I liked. I really think not including the established cast of characters also hurt the story a little.

Even so, it was a good read and a solid addition to the series. I’ll eagerly be awaiting the next book to see what happens next. I’ll give it four stars and recommend it strongly.

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