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Review: Targeted by Katie Reus

“And I’ve fallen.

So hard.

I’ve hit the ground. Gone right through it. Never in my life have I felt this. Nothing like this. I’ve felt shame and cowardice, weakness and strength. I’ve known terror and indifference, self-hate and general disgust. I’ve seen things that cannot be unseen.

And yet I’ve known nothing like this terrible, horrible, paralyzing feeling. I feel crippled. Desperate and out of control. And it keeps getting worse. Every day I feel sick. Empty and somehow aching.

Love is a heartless bastard.”  – ― Tahereh Mafi, Destroy Me

Targeted: Deadly Ops, Book 1 | Katie ReusA bad start to a book can stop my read in its tracks, and this one started out, well, bad. Not because the writing is bad, it isn’t, but because I thought it was going to be just another series of bedroom calisthenics with no real story to back it up. Thankfully, the premise sounded promising, so I gave it a couple of chapters to see if it would be worth reading.

I am glad I did. Targeted surprised me – in a good way. The story, once you get past the immediate problem, is tightly written, well-paced, and surprisingly free of excessive nookie at the cost of story. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a ‘romantic suspense’ – but it does mean that it is much more suspense than romance, which is just what I like.

The premise is interesting – not ‘Oh, I have never seen that before’ interesting, but though I have seen it done before, I have never seen it done this well before. Sophie Moreno had a hard life growing up. A very hard life, until she met Sam. Placed in the same foster home, Sophie and Sam form an unbreakable bond. But when placed separately for their last months in the system, and Sophie is brutally raped by her new foster father while her new foster mother stands by, Sophie is broken, unable to bear the agony and shame she feels. And the pain of Sam not being there to protect her from the monster. Contrary to what the sickos into BDSM think – Rape Is NOT Sexy. And Sophie is certain that no one will ever love her again. Not like Sam did, before she was brutalized. Turning her back on him, she sends him away, determined to protect herself from his disgust at what has happened to her.

Now, thirteen years later, Sam is no longer Sam but Jack Stone, an undercover agent for an undercover agency hidden within the NSA. Back from a grueling undercover operation in the bowels of a human trafficking ring, Jack just wants to rest, relax, and decompress. But his boss, Wesley Burkhart, Deputy Director of the NSA, has something different in mind. Something that will bring Jack right back to Sophie. For Sophie has seen something she shouldn’t – and a vicious cartel boss will do whatever it takes to track Sophie down and kill her. Now Jack is determined to protect her, while keeping his identity a secret. But their old bond is still there, and keeping his secret may destroy them both.

This book, the first in the Deadly Ops series by Katie Reus, shows promise. The action is well written, the characters intriguing, and the storyline kept me riveted. There were some continuity issues that had me scratching my head, but not enough to make me turn off my listen. I am hoping that the same issues don’t show up in the next book, Bound to Danger. These are the only two on Audible, but there are more in the series at Deadly Ops.

Sophie Eastlake does a beautiful job of narration. She has quite a catalog with Audible, including the Elder Races, Nikki Glass, and the Chicagoland Vampires series. I would have enjoyed listening to the book just for her narration.

If you are looking for a romantic suspense where the suspense is the star, you might give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed. Not a five star read, due to a couple of odd content issues, but a good listen nonetheless.

Review: Midnight Riot: Peter Grant #1 by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot: Peter Grant, Book 1 | [Ben Aaronovitch]“I gave the prescribed Metropolitan Police “first greeting”. “Oi!” I said “What do you think you’re doing?” ― Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot “’Conflict resolution,’ said Nightingale, ‘Is this what they teach at Hendon these days?’ ‘Yes, sir,’ I said. ‘But don’t worry, they also teach us how to beat people with phone books and the ten best ways to plant evidence.’” ― Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot First, I love British Urban Fantasy. It is often quirky, normally presented in a dry, witty style, and sometimes simply figuring out the language can give it a while other level of subtle humour not found in “American English” writing. I love it, and Ben Aaronovitch doesn’t disappoint with “Midnight Riot”. Of course, listening to the book rather than simply reading it added a whole other level to my enjoyment. The narration of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is everything I could have wanted and more. His delivery has the level of dry wit, spot-on delivery and subliminal snark that brings a ‘good’ book to the level of ‘brilliant’. Peter Grant is a London ‘copper’ – just off his two year probationary period as a constable, his lack of ability to actually pay attention to what is going on around him has him scheduled for – basically a fancied up secretary. But one cold night on a scene watch under the West Portico of St. Paul’s at Covent Garden, Peter meets an odd little man in an Edwardian smoking jacket: “…don’t ask me why I know what an Edwardian smoking jacket looks like: let’s just say it has something to do with Doctor Who and leave it at that.” That in itself is weird enough. But the fact that he is a ghost is just a tad over the top, even for a Londoner. Suddenly, Peter finds himself in a world he never knew existed – where ghosts and goulies, goddesses and monsters all exist just below the everyday hustle and bustle of the crowded city streets. In his new position as assistant and student wizard under the tutelage of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale. Thomas Nightingale, London Detective and Wizard. Well, nobody ever said being a London cop is simple, you know. Now, there are all sorts of odd things going on around Peter – and all of his friends, his family, and his coworkers, as well as the whole population of London, are in more danger than he ever could have imagined. Peter Grant is an unusual character. Half white, half Somali, Peter suffers the same sorts of issues that any black man in a mostly white force suffers. He likes his job, but his fuzzy grasp on concentration causes him issues – issues that his Probationary partner, Leslie May, has to pick up the slack on. And of course, the oddity of his new position causes a strain for him within the department, as does the bureaucracy inherent in a huge, ancient city such as London. “As soon as we stopped sleeping with our cousins and built walls, temples and a few decent nightclubs, society became too complex for any one person to grasp all at once, and thus bureaucracy was born. A bureaucracy breaks the complexity down into a series of interlocking systems. You don’t need to know how the systems fit together, or even what function your bit of the system has, you just perform your bit and the whole machine creaks on.” Midnight Riot is amazingly creative. Ben Aaronovitch takes the trouble to weave in the history and stories of London, all the way back to its very beginnings, Londinium, a settlement established on the current site of the City of London around AD 47. The focus of the story interweaves history and mythology, witchcraft and ghosts, and Mother and Father Thames and their children, the many other waterways of Britain. As Tim from Temecula says in his Audio review, “It’s as British as Chicken Vindaloo or Soccer Violence.” Of course, as a former Brit, Tim should know – 😉 Idiosyncratic and wickedly fun, the Peter Grant Series is an absolute blast. I can highly recommend it! Especially if you listen to the Audio Version narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. Awesome! About the Author: Ben Aaronovitch Ben Aaronovitch was born in 1964. He had parents, some brothers, some sisters and a dog named after a Russian cosmonaut. He also had the kind of dull childhood that drives a person to drink, radical politics or science fiction. Discovering in his early twenties that he had precisely one talent, he took up screenwriting at which he was an overnight success. He wrote for Doctor Who, Casualty and the world’s cheapest ever SF soap opera Jupiter Moon. He then wrote for Virgin’s New Adventures until they pulped all his books. Then Ben entered a dark time illuminated only by an episode of Dark Knight, a book for Big Finish and the highly acclaimed but not-very-well-paying Blake’s 7 Audio dramas. Trapped in a cycle of disappointment and despair Ben was eventually forced to support his expensive book habit by working for Waterstones as a bookseller. Ironically it was while shelving the works of others that Ben finally saw the light. He would write his own books, he would let prose into his heart and rejoice in the word. Henceforth, subsisting on nothing more than instant coffee and Japanese takeaway, Ben embarked on the epic personal journey that was to lead to Rivers of London (or Midnight Riot as it is known in the Americas). At some point during the above, the most important thing in his life happened and he became a father to a son, Karifa, whom he affectionately refers to as ‘The Evil Monster Boy’. The Evil Monster Boy will be reaching university age soon, so all donations will be gratefully received. Ben Aaronovitch currently resides in London and says that he will leave when they pry his city from his cold dead fingers. About the Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is a Ghanaian-born, British actor who has appeared on stage, screen, and television, including Sorry, I’ve Got No Head, Little Britain, and Sirens. A graduate of the Guildford School of Acting, he won a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His audiobook narrations include Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds and The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna.

Lisa Shearin – Found Her In Night Shift, Now I’m A Fangirl…

Being a rabid Ilona Andrews fan I preordered Night Shift the moment it hit preorder Night Shift | [Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin, Nalini Singh, Milla Vane]status. I adore anthologies, and with both Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews as listed authors, I was so excited to receive it. There were two other authors in the anthology, Lisa Shearin and Milla Vane, neither of which I had read before.

This is why authors are brilliant to be involved in Anthologies, especially when they can be involved in them with more well-known authors. I may never have heard of Lisa Shearin before, but after reading Lucky Charms I knew I had to read more of her work.

It was four in the morning. I was in a stolen bakery delivery truck that’d been nearly totaled by three gargoyles. In the truck with me were two hung-over elves, a pair of stoned leprechauns with the munchies, a naked Russian werewolf, and a hot partner, who was actually more of a bodyguard, in a race against a goblin dark mage to retrieve a leprechaun prince with a tracking chip embedded in his left ass cheek.

Six hours earlier:

“How the hell did you lose five horny leprechauns in a strip club?”

The Grendel Affair | [Lisa Shearin]What is NOT to love?!?! I immediately went out and purchased The Grendel Affair on Audible. Hey, it is narrated by Johanna Parker. The main character, Makenna Fraser, is a good-ole’ Southern girl, and Johanna’s southern voice is perfect for the character. Having first listened to Johanna in the Sookie Stackhouse Series, I follow her on Audible and give serious consideration to any books she narrates, just as I do with any books that are narrated by Renée Raudman, Khristine Hvam, Will Patton or . . . well, I have a list of narrators that I follow!

Makenna Fraser features in The Grendel Affair as well. Lucky Charms, the story in Night Shift seems to be a prologue to the SPI Files series. The second in the series, The Dragon Conspiracy (SPI Files), comes out January 27th, and I will be waiting impatiently for the Audible edition! I love the mythology of the SPI Files. A hidden paramilitary police force policing the supernaturals, which of course the human population knows nothing of. Yes, that concept has been used before, but when well done, it is the underpinning of many a truly marvelous story. In New York, just before New Year’s Eve, Grendels have been released, and are picking off both supernats and humans – leading up to what their leader intends to be a Times Square slaughter, ripping the blinders off the human population in a gory paean to carnage and chaos. It is up to the SPI to stop the Grendels (yes, just like in Beowulf) before the world is turned into a mythological nightmare. (Really, people – do you truly not understand that humans have a wee bit of an arsenal built up? Like, enough to destroy the world several times over? Sort of hard to fight a Predator missile with a Predator’s claws . . . Ah, the dreams of glory of a psychopath with a God complex.)

Makenna is a great heroine, mostly for the fact that she really isn’t a ‘heroine’ at all. Rather, she is a newspaper reporter who found herself thrust into the SPI because she is a seer – she can see underneath the veils that supernats wear to make them appear human. And her particular skill-set may be the only thing that can save the world from the planned chaos and slaughter. She is no Mary Sue – she makes mistakes, grave ones, but fumbles along the best she can under extremely difficult situations, helping and being helped by her new colleagues. Terror, sadness and guilt all hound her, but there are truly funny moments as well.

Lisa Shearin has another series, starring Raine Benares, which begins with Magic Magic Lost, Trouble Found: Raine Benares, Book 1 | [Lisa Shearin]Lost, Trouble Found: Raine Benares, Book 1. One of my Audible credits will be grabbing this one soon! It is narrated by Eileen Stevens, not Joanna, but as I haven’t listened to her work yet I am interested to hear how it works for the story line.

I purchased the books listing in this review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please “Like” them on Amazon.com and/or Audible.com. Thanks you!

 

 

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