Reading Fanatic Reviews


Genetic Imperfections by Steve Hadden

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Genetic Imperfections*

Love and Redemption Overwhelmed by Greed

I was intrigued by the medical thriller aspect of this book, which is why I chose it at my favorite book review website. While the medical thriller part was certainly present, I felt like the novel had issues on a variety of fronts. First, it seemed like every time we met a new character, we got a very large information dump about them, their story, and how they related to the bigger story. I hate data dumps in novels in general, but to just keep running across them every time there was a new viewpoint character or a new character got a little wearisome.

Second, I am an RN, and I found the way that the author portrayed the hospital setting was grossly inaccurate. I hate that in stories. Given our ever-connected, networked world, it seems to me like authors could simply go on nursing groups on Facebook or other forums and ask if anybody would be willing to share their knowledge so books can be accurate. I know I would help an author out. There are so many things that are inaccurate, but I think the one that bothered me the most is that a nurse would just let a patient who survived an airplane crash just walk out of his room on his own. We actually have some pretty strict protocols in the hospital for mobility. A patient like him would have had to have been signed off by PT as able to walk around the unit independently. A nurse couldn’t make this decision and just let him go. And given what has happened to him, a good nurse—even with such permission—would have walked with him or had a nursing assistant walk with him to make sure he was safe on his own. I could go on about the medical, but I will not.

I also had issues with the characters. I had really hoped that this would be a story of redemption and love, as promised in the book description. But most of the characters were motivated by such greed and were so ugly that any positive themes felt completely overwhelmed. Too, probably because of the information dumps, I never felt like I connected with the characters, especially those at the heart of what should have been the romance and redemption. So I never really bought those themes for them anyway. I also did find issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage. All in all, I found this to be a disappointing book.

Wings of Prey by J. P. McLean

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Wings of Prey*

And So It Ends

Over the past couple of months, I have read every book in this series, including the alternate version of book one. I wasn’t sure what I thought about the series at the beginning, but I’ve stuck with it. I am glad that I did. It is unusual in a most delightful way. The author does have a way of storytelling that is compelling; how she comes up with such a world is beyond me. Over the course of these seven books, she has created a very complex overarching plotline that was reflected well in each individual book of the series. She has managed to create characters who feel realistic even though they live in a fantastical world that is parallel to our own. In this particular book, there’s more emphasis on the paranormal/fantasy aspects of the story. If you are looking for another series to sink your teeth into and enjoy steamy thrillers with a touch of fantasy, this series could be right up your alley.

Burning Lies by J. P. McLean

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Burning Lies*

Trust and Jeopardy

This book certainly adds more twists and turns to Em’s tale. She’s only just recovering from the attack in the last book when this one starts. So much happens in this book. Em doesn’t know who to trust, and that is probably a good thing because trust and relationships (both between individuals and with a group) definitely seem to be shifting sands in this series. Much going on with the Tribunal and the Redeemers. This book feels darker than the other two; I would say it contains several layers of darkness. The entire world of the Fliers is in jeopardy on several fronts. This is a long book, but it is a fast-paced read. I found Em’s evolving relationships with Mason and James to be fascinating to follow. A little bit of lightness is present when Em becomes a part of her best friend’s bridal party. A gripping and page-turning thriller, but you should definitely read the books in order to get a sense of the scope of this just-off-normal series.

Violet Souls by Abbey MacMunn

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)

Violet Souls*

Violet-Eyed Aliens Among Us

How to classify this book… How about alien shifter romance thriller? Yes, this book has a lot going on. The heroine’s world is quickly rocked when she finds out that she is an alien. There is a bad guy after her because he craves power, and he needs her to get it. The heroin has a bonded mate, but she doesn’t presently know him or recognize him. But he knows and remembers her and seeks to protect her while helping her learn about their society and her powers. The book was a little awkwardly worded in places, but the author kept a book moving with lots of fast-paced action. I really liked Quinn and Lexie, the heroine’s little girl. Jane was a fun character, too. I hope we see more of all these characters as well as find out more about the home planet of Evox.

Bell to Pay by Jeremy Waldron

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Bell to Pay*

Mildly Confusing and High “Ick” Factor

This book centers on investigative reporter Samantha (the Bell of the title) and a computer hacker who has turned murderous, Loxley. The story alternates between their viewpoints, hers in the first person and his in the third person. The first chapter is supposed to draw the reader into the villain’s story, but I found it too bogged down in extraneous detail that slowed down the pace of what could have been an exciting scene. I actually think that Chapter One should have been called a prologue, or at least the author should have stated at the top of the chapters who the viewpoint character is. Written like this, it is a little confusing as you jump from character to character, especially at the beginning before you catch on to the idea that viewpoint character switches when you see the change in person (first vs. third). When writing a book in this fashion–especially a thriller–it is good to know this info without having to overthink it so you can just keep reading without going “What?”, “Huh?”, or “Who?”.

This story had a high level of “ick” factor for me. I don’t really want to know about a killer’s sexual arousal during a crime or at any other time while thinking of his deeds or the protagonist. This certainly happened more often than I felt comfortable with. The book actually had a fairly decent amount of action like you hope for in a thriller, but I thought at times the prose was weighed down with too much detail about superfluous actions or inconsequential objects. Also, I am an RN, and I was appalled that the author had a nurse show Samantha a patient’s medical record–a HIPAA violation that could lose the nurse her job, money, and her license. In all, this book didn’t work for me, and I won’t be reading any more of the series.

Dark Genius by H. Peter Alesso

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Dark Genius*

Cool Nerdy Characters… and Science!

I found the characters of this story to be quite engaging, especially the hero and the heroine. I liked the interaction between them and their group of friends. While some reviewers thought the science was a bit much, I’m enough of a science nerd and science fiction aficionado to appreciate the digressions into the scientific aspects of this story. If you find them too burdensome, you can mostly just gloss over them. They do add to the story, but they are not integral to it. I felt like the language was overloaded with adjectives and adverbs that didn’t actually add anything to the story; they more told rather than showed. Calling something alluring, when it’s not a character saying it, doesn’t really speak much to me; show me why it is alluring and why that matters!

Also, I think this book has a bit of an image problem. The cover on Amazon looks like a light and breezy summer romance story; I would call this a science-based technothriller with a tiny romantic element. The headline of the blurb is nothing that really happens in the story, or at least to any appreciable degree. It feels like the author is trying to recast the story into a YA romance… most likely because these are popular. I actually prefer the old cover that you can still see on Goodreads; it more accurately reflects what the story is actually about.

A Mother’s Loss by Jo Crow

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A Mother's Loss*

How Many Twists of Fate Can One Woman Endure?

If you didn’t look and know that this is a thriller, the title of this book could make you think it is about grief and adjusting to loss. But, no, this is a psychological thriller that starts a little slowly as it sets the scene for the heroine’s life as a child psychologist who works with very troubled people. Her own life begins to unravel, and her past comes back to haunt her. How will she deal with this? The book is well written with some surprising twists and a suspenseful build to an unexpected climax. I can’t say I always agree with how the main character thought and acted up until the critical juncture, but I can understand her, given the intense pressures that her life had seemingly always been under. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, you might find this one to be a gripping read.

Aldo by Betty Jean Craig

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, Smashwords, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)


Terrorism and Genetic Research

This book has so much going on! It is steeped in academia and germ-line genetic research. The author herself is a longtime professor at a university, so her insights into academic life ring true. At its core, this story is about who controls scientific research and to what end. It’s told in a very different way. It starts off as if it is a letter from the professor protagonist to her teenage son, but we actually see many perspectives, including the interactions of the Night Watch Facebook group that wants to make all genetic research, like the protagonist is working on, go away. There is plenty of suspense to keep the pages turning, and there is a hint of romance for those who like that in a thriller. The author seemed to have a good grasp of the science involved in this story. The characters aren’t super complex, but I find that acceptable in a thriller. I did find the switching back and forth between the Facebook posts and communications of the Night Watch and the narrative parts to be a little jarring, but the book was compelling enough that I wanted to see what happened next. If you enjoy thrillers that are strongly based in science (and especially genetics), you may very well enjoy this intriguing tale.

The Exodus Hour by Will Steadman

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NOT with Kindle Unlimited

The Exodus Hour*

Race Across Europe

The book starts with Brandt cooling his jets at home in the Bay Area when the Deke calls him about a new assignment. It’s supposed to be a relatively straightforward job, and he’ll be able to work with his girlfriend, Casey. But things, of course, can’t go easy in a spy thriller. Soon, they and those they are to protect are in danger and another agent is missing. What follows is a trans-European journey in an attempt to stay ahead of the killers who want to thwart their mission.

I really enjoyed the opening of this book where Brandt is just lying in bed wondering if that how it feels to be on a morgue slab! Perfect thought for a spy. While the officer didn’t spend much time in the San Francisco Bay Area, I loved that little bit about it because I grew up in that area. His description of the fogbank remaining over the ocean is one I remember seeing often. I like Brandt’s easygoing narrative perspective; his is an interesting head to be in, that’s for sure. The book felt a little slow right at the beginning, but as soon as they were in Europe, things heated up quickly, which is just the way it’s supposed to be in a good thriller. The pace was tight, making it a good page-turner, as I was curious to see where they would go next and what would show up to give them a problem. Both Brandt and Casey seem like real people, and I especially love their discussions about what all was going on.

The author’s writing style is very accessible and easy to read. He has a good balance between thoughts, dialogue, narrative, and action. If you enjoy spy thrillers with an element of terrorism as well as a Russian component, you might enjoy this page-turning read.

House of Scarabs by Hazel Longuet

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Free with Kindle Unlimited

House of Scarabs*

Immersive, Fast-Paced Read that Harkens Back to Ancient Egypt

Ben and Ellie have come to an out-of-the-way bookshop in a small town in England. After a pleasant time, as they’re walking out of the bookstore, they make accidental contact with a man coming in. Immediately, they seem to be transported far away in a strange sphere. They each receive an ancient Egyptian symbol and are then whisked away back to the present. A shadowy group of whom we know nothing seems to know that this has happened, even before the participants debrief, and mobilize to negate the group. Soon, Ben, Ellie, and Gerhardt are in a fight for their very lives that takes them from England to Egypt, all the while trying to understand what precisely has happened to them and what it means.

I read the prequel to this book first, Genesis. I really enjoyed immersing myself into a different and magical culture made real by descriptions of that very different world. The author pulled me into this book right away as well, even in the more familiar surrounding of a bookshop. She has a way of describing things that is very visual, so I can very plainly see both the usual and the unusual, yet the descriptions don’t seem over-wrought. Too often, I see writers who seem to use adjectives and adverbs as a crutch for not being able to find the right word, whereas this writer is able to choose words of all categories that are strong and make the world come alive for the reader with seeming ease. She is even able to make the more magical, otherworldly elements of this book seem wholly real.

This book is fast-paced, and oh, what a ride it is! I became absolutely immersed in its world and was loath to come out. I hope Ms. Longuet has a sequel up her sleeve; I will be one of the first in line to read it.


The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

The Amazon book links on this site are affiliate links, which means I make a tiny percentage if you choose to buy a book linked from this site.

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