Reading Fanatic ReviewsThrillers
Son of Thunder by Steven M. Moore
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Thalia, Smashwords, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo, and Bol.de
Son of Thunder*
Thriller through Space and Time
This is the first book that I have read by this author. I thought it was intriguing how he started the book. He sets it up like the person writing it (in 2025) is a scribe who is writing down the real-life tales of a woman who got into some intriguing adventures as an art detective. This is followed by a couple of different sections, like a cast of characters and an explanation of the agencies that are like the FBI and CIA in Great Britain and France. I actually thought all of this front material helped to prime the pump and got you curious about what exactly this book would be about.
I was surprised that it actually started in Renaissance Italy. The book not only takes us around the globe but also back and forth in time. What a fascinating concept! The book is mostly fast paced, though it does have times of relative stillness. I found it to be a thoroughly engaging read, written in a detailed style that is not overly much so (as can happen sometimes, unfortunately. I thought the pacing was a spot on and the characters well-formed for a thriller. If you like globe-trotting thrillers that are steeped in history, you may very well enjoy this book.
Bound by Truth by Suzanne Cass
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de
Bound by Truth*
Thriller Romance on Small Island Off Australia
It’s rare to have a genre mashup of thriller and romance, but this book manages to pull it off. The story seemed to start out slow for a thriller, as the heroine first meets the hero when they’re taking a ferry to the island where she lives (and where he’s about to start a job as a cop) and she discovers that her home has been broken into and trashed. The hero and heroine do have chemistry, especially after he gets to know her as he takes part in the police investigation of the robbery. There’s a deep history with a stalker and some abductions. I don’t want to give too much away because part of the fun of a thriller is to follow it step by step. I thought some of the language was a little off and unnatural. There were definitely issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage, but I found this to be a minor distraction. In general, I liked the story, and I definitely felt the characters to be believable and relatable—which I love in a story.
The Last Descendent by Kristina Kairn
The Last Descendent*
Wasn’t Expecting a Vampire Story
I chose this book at my favorite book review site because it appeared as though it was going to be a medical thriller, which I do enjoy on occasion. While it has both medical and thriller aspects, it is more of a vampire story, which is something I didn’t quite glean from the book description. In general, I’m not really a fan of vampire stories. It is just not my jam. This book is more complex than many of the independently published books of this subgenre. I didn’t like the profanity (a personal thing) or the way that vampirism was sexualized. The latter was a little creepy at times, even right at the beginning. It was interesting, though, to watch the heroine try to figure out not only her task before her in her new job but also what is truly going on at the clinic and with those whom James knows. Things and “people” are not always what they seem. There is a complex cast of characters with a deep history that is slowly revealed. If you enjoy the vampire subgenre, you will most likely find this thriller something you can sink your teeth into. Yup, I went there!
Genetic Imperfections by Steve Hadden
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
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de
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
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de
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
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)
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
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
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
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.