Project Killer by J.L. Beck

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I’m honestly not sure how to describe this book. I’m not even sure how I feel about it. I read it in one sitting, so that says a lot. I was hooked from the very beginning, dying to know what the outcome would be.

First off, half the story is told in flashbacks. I understand the need for them in this particular book, but they are not something that I relish. Due to the main character’s loss of memory, it was important to have memories pop up that would clarify some of the actions of the characters. The fact is, there was hardly any action, though. Girl loses the teenage love of her life to cancer, she becomes obsessed with his memory and trying to find a cure at an evil corporation, PGI, she then finds out that he is, in fact, alive! So far, not surprising, and it is followed by a whole lot of memories before a quick dash of suspense at the very, very end.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Killer, aka Maggie’s great love, formerly known as Diesel, (yes, apparently his real name is as cool as the name he earns) is part of the evil corporation who claimed to be curing his cancer. Instead, they faked his death, cured him, and turned him into an uncontrollable killer, hence the name. It’s not told how, but a bunch of these men who were tortured in the name of science, escape and hunker down in some enormous building. I was confused throughout, because they seem to be free of PGI, yet there are little bits of PGI still in their lives, such as nurses and drugs. Perhaps, I was so busy rushing through in my excitement that I missed what exactly their bunker was and how they got there, but I doubt it. The second book’s blurb alludes to many secrets and blurring of the truth, so I just accept the fact that I am confused and everything will be resolved later in another book.

The predictable moment when these teen lovers meet again would be typical and boring, except he doesn’t remember her and tries to kill her. The leader of their so-called band of violent, abused men, Gauge, decides to bring her back with them to their hideout. Since he doesn’t know that she works for PGI, I assume he was able to see that she recognized Killer, otherwise, there is no explanation as to why they would drag her along. After all, Killer leaves dead bodies in his wake everywhere he goes. What is one unconscious woman in a club?

Gauge decides that he is going to use Maggie to try to force Killer to face the memories that keep trying to break through the barrier, and to get back in touch with his emotions. Currently, Killer feels rage and want-to-rip-your-heart-out-through-your-rib-cage rage. He’s just one ball of murderous anger. Putting them together does spark memories, so it turns out to be a solid plan.

The flashbacks are a mishmash of Diesel and Maggie being brutalized by evil Roger, who coincidently takes over for his father at PGI and makes Maggie’s life hell, and Diesel continually telling her to leave him alone. He claims that Maggie only brings Roger’s wrath down on them both. There are many instances given in the book that make me choke up a bit; there wasn’t an easy moment. Even when they “made love” the first time, after she was almost raped at the prom, it was far from sweet or romantic. I came to the conclusion that I only liked Diesel for the few times he was able to protect her before dying and that I only liked Maggie for loving Diesel enough to endure his adamant, unkind rebuffs of her affections. Both were trying to protect each other, but they did a crap job. As adults, Killer is no longer Diesel and Maggie is still a doormat.

The story is quick and written with a low-level of details. Surroundings and physical characteristics are basically skipped. She’s beautiful, he’s hot, the compound (whatever you want to call it) is immense, and there are a ton of buff, deadly guys. Details would have been a welcome break from the intense emotions that bombard the reader from one page to the next. Instead, it’s one bumpy ride without reprieve. I’m not even sure how to categorize this, because it has elements of love, but they are mostly past tense and what she clings to. There is a bit of action, some of it through flashbacks, and the majority of the book is the two of them sitting together while he remembers. It’s dark, not steamy, not action-packed, creates uncomfortable sensations, and has more than a touch of “What the cuss is going on?”

For the rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – I’m not sure. Like I said, it has a touch of romance, action, violence, mystery. It’s almost in a genre of its own. This is definitely for adults only. I’m a grown woman and there were scenes that made my skin crawl, so teenagers are definitely out.
  • Level of sexuality – they think about it and there is one memory of actual sex that is not joyful at all. In fact, the scene made me grimace, but I don’t think that was the intention. There were a few references to sex that left women bleeding and begging for these monsters to stop, which increased the “eww” factor and those were done on purpose.
  • Was there graphic language? He kills almost indiscriminately and was abused horrifically. It’s a given that there’s some swearing.
  • Did I cry? My throat tightened a few times during her memories of losing him to cancer and his memories of torture. I was able to suck the tears back up into my tear ducts before they could fall, though.
  • Is this part of a series? This is book one in the Project Series.
  • Level of character development – I feel that Killer and Maggie are written fairly well. The lack of details took away from the overall sense of who they are, but the memories are enough to get a good feel for them as people. Roger is just evil, in every way possible, from teenager to adult. He’s one-sided, but it’s doubtful that he’s anything other than nefarious. Every single other character was like a ghost who appeared when needed and then vanished. I basically forgot they were even there, until the need arose.

This book has a lot of strengths. It also has some drawbacks that could have made this a really solid story. It’s dark, it’s disturbing, it’s addicting. I give it  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars. For anyone who wants a book that is a very quick, intriguing read that is a bit disturbing, this is the perfect book.

Available here on Barnes & Noble

Available here on Amazon

 

Invasion of the Most Sacred by Robert Lovell Rooks

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I really enjoyed this book. It is based around true events, but is set in 2017. The characters are well done and I didn’t find a single one to be boring. Some are soldiers, with all the loneliness, fear, and disappointment that being away from home can bring. Such as Sgt. John Baker, who is dealing with the reality of his wife’s infidelity. His story highlights the familial hardship of a soldier’s obligation. He finds strength in his team, though, as they provide each other with the camaraderie that prepares and protects them in battle. Their goal as military unit is to destroy terrorism in the Middle East and, consequently, we can expect a large assault.

There are two young Iranian women, Yasmeen and Azita, and I liked them a great deal. They showed a lot of personality and strength for two civilians caught in the middle of the chaos their country has become. Their goal is to escape Iran and throughout their story there is a lot of turmoil and hardship. They are not easily crushed by the strangers that show nothing but dislike or hatred towards them. Their story shows how war has a way of allowing people to forget who they are and instead become a “What are you?” They are forced to do things they would have never imagined, but, eventually, it is shown that they will make a future that is right for them. They are testament that some people make it through bad times no matter what.

The book reveals some soldiers’ inner struggle, in this case Drew, who believes that he isn’t doing his job if he is not in the midst of battle. All the negotiations, all the agreements between nations, all the logistics and much more, are as much a part of war as fighting. So, even though he is assigned as escort for the great and wealthy, it is a difficult position for him to accept. In his eyes, it is a less than fulfilling role. It is hard for him to recognize that his task is still a soldier’s duty and he is just as important as those on the front line. I was drawn to his frustration over an assignment like this, but by the end I found that not all is lost.

Rothschild was a conundrum; a man with a great purpose and the ability to manipulate even the most important of individuals. He is a very strong and intelligent character. While he seems unbending and will do anything to achieve his goal, the end of terrorism once and for all, his humanity does shine through. It was wonderful to see a character that is so strong-willed, yet human. There is more to him than meets the eye.

Overall, this genre is not my usual read. There are some politics, fighting and killing, some pain, both physical and emotional, but there is also strength, joy, and healing. Deciding to give this book a chance, I went into it with some reservation, but it is a very strong story and I am glad that I read it. A lot happens for such a quick read, which I found very impressive. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. As to whether the end is tied up in a nice, little bow, is up to you to decide. People change and they certainly do here. Ultimately, the author has given us a view of how war can cause pain and loss, but also maturity and hope.

  • Genre and reading age – I would call this book action and the age at which most readers would be able to understand and appreciate it is definitely over 18.
  • Level of sexuality – There is some sex, but none of it is graphic. However, I must warn that there is a rape scene. I have read far worse, but in the end rape is rape and it’s painful to read.
  • Was there graphic language? A little. It was more along the lines of offensive name calling.
  • Did I cry? I felt sadness for these engaging, well-crafted characters, but I did not cry.
  • Is this part of a series? It is not.
  • Level of character development – The characters were very well done, especially for a book of its size. It was rather remarkable.
  • Did I laugh? Not with this subject matter.

I gladly give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

The Spirit by D. Nichole King

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As the story unfolds, Carrie has just arrived in a small town where here grandparents live and work as farmers, and she is expected to spend the summer. A town that’s only claim for fame is the Ax Murder House, which is actually a real thing. A myserious, chilling breeze blows past her. She has the feeling of someone watching her, but when she looks around she is alone. I admit this very brief introduction to the story had me intruiged. In my head I could hear the theme from The Twilight Zone.

It starts off promising, but quickly shifts when the storyline goes from creepy to a girl about to start her senior year of high school. I didn’t expect the 180. Carrie is an angsty teenager, livid that her father left her mother for a younger woman. This is the reason why she is sent to live with her grandparents; they need time away from her to work out the details of their divorce. Honestly, I didn’t care about her emotions gone wild and the overflow of anger and unforgiveness. It took away from what I thought was a potentially chilling tale. I wanted to know about this eerie breeze that wafts past her every time she leaves the house. Thankfully, her grandparents are in a few scenes that are amusing. Mostly, Carrie doesn’t stay home, after all she’s a moody teenager, and once she meets the adorable Lucas, the grandparents fade away for the most part.

Initially, I had hopes for Mike, who is her age and works for her grandfather. He has his sights set on Carrie, but there is no way for him to compete with Lucas, who keeps hanging around. He’s just an interesting side character that drifted away and I feel he deserves at least a mention. She passes her time working in her grandmother’s antique shop, where she meets Lucas and suddenly loses the ability to talk, she is that overcome with teenage love. Keep in mind, she’s a high school girl, so she acts like one. This does not mean that I want to hear any more school-girl-crush inner dialogue about the amazing Lucas and how she can’t bear to be away from him. I rolled my eyes a lot during this part.

Lucas is an odd one with a lot of secrets. The town is odd with a whole heap of secrets, too. He takes her to dinner and she notices that he doesn’t really eat anything. He takes her out to look at the stars, but there’s no real conversation. Eventually, she figures out he’s a ghost. No, really. Apparently, he’s looking for his soul and is earth-bound until he does. Once he meets Carrie, though, that becomes less important. Who needs a soul anyway? To keep it interesting, when he died he lost his memories and has no clue where to find it. Again, it’s not as important as Carrie. I was disappointed that there was no resolution in this department. I thought he would decide that she was enough or that some memory would come back and he would at least have a general idea of where to find it. Neither happens in this book.

Rather suddenly, Carrie finds out that not only are ghosts real, but so are werewolves, vampires, demons, witches, and, of course, angels. This story runs the gamut. After this realization, she has plenty of her own paranormal secrets. There is a lot of talk about her dreams, which show some kind of “reality”, but I actually wasn’t that interested. Overrall, I was bored. Towards the end of the book, they are chased by a couple of gnarly demons, but even that was ho-hum.

For my rating:

  • Genre and general audience – I can’t quite place the genre; it doesn’t fit into any category. As for audience, it felt very young adult.
  • Level of sexuality – There was no sex, but lots of cuddling, kind of like a pair of puppies. She wants more, but he acts as though the idea never occurred to him.
  • Graphic language – Nope. Think young adult.
  • Did I cry – Not at all.
  • Is this part of a series – Yes. The Soul Series. Hopefully, he’ll remember something or choose to spend his days with his true love.
  • Level of character development – none that I could see.
  • How hard did I laugh? A few chuckles.

It wasn’t great, but I could tell that the author really tried, so I give it ⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

How we review

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Welcome to Bona Fide Book Reviews, where we promise to say it like it is. This might be our blog, but we’re writing it for you, the reader. We post in the hopes of guiding you and preparing you. A negative post doesn’t mean the book is bad. It just means we didn’t care for it. Don’t let that scare you off. We hope that a positive post will encourage you to read the book, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll love it as much as we did.

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  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It changed our worlds
  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It blew us a way
  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It was good, but it wasn’t our favorite
  • ⭐️⭐️ – It wasn’t great, but the author really tried
  • ⭐️ – It was so bad we wish we had a time machine so we could go back and unread it

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  • The genre and general reading age
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  • Level of character development
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