book reviews

3 More NetGalley ARCs I Loved

Here are three more great novels you won’t want to miss:

  1. Liars’ Paradox — hard-core survivalist twins must rescue a mother they aren’t even sure they like
  2. Threat Level Alpha — Dan Morgan, member of Black ops unit Zeta, must do nothing short of saving America from a nuclear bomb
  3. The Wedding Guest — Alex Delaware uses his unique ability to connect dots no one else even noticed to solve the murder of a beautiful woman at a wedding

Liars’ Paradox

by Taylor Stevens


In Taylor Stevens newest book, Liars’ Paradox (Kensington 2018), the first in her new series, twins Jack and Jill have been raised by a paranoid mother who taught them how to protect themselves from danger in a world populated with spies, terrorists, evil, lies, and subterfuge, where no one is to be trusted and every event is to be approached with cynicism. By the time the twins were teenagers, they could survive anywhere and protect themselves from any attack. When they finally become adults, they understandably break away, trying to leave behind the mother (Claire) they believe to be crazy and create their own life. That crashes down on them when they arrive at her house–at her request–to find it blown up, overrun with terrorists, and a helicopter taking Claire they-don’t-know-where. But this sort of unknown is exactly what they’ve trained for their entire lives so they begin the process of tracking and rescuing. As they follow the minuscule breadcrumbs left behind by highly-professional kidnappers, the brother and sister–who love and hate each other in equal amounts–struggle with the realization that maybe their mother wasn’t paranoid these past decades at all. Maybe all her stories were real. As a result, they must revisit a childhood they had desperately wanted to forgot, mining it for clues to the predicament Claire now faces.

Stevens is a unique writer. Her Vanessa Michael Munroe series was breathtaking–always fast with head-spinning plot twists. Stevens has a way of building tension with each word constantly until your chewing your nails at the end of each paragraph. She excels at creating powerful physical characters up to any challenge they face in defending or avenging themselves. This new series is no different in that respect though the characters–because of their loveless upbringing and their love-hate with each other–is darker. Also, for me, there is an excess of psychological backstory. Many pages are spent explaining in excruciating detail what made the characters who they are today. This may be entirely appropriate–it’s the first book in a new series–but it became a few paragraphs to many for me and is why it got four instead of five stars.

Still, for those who love superheroes who can do anything and a psychological thriller like no other, this is a perfect read.

–received for free from NetGalley in return for an honest review

Threat Level Alpha

by Leo Maloney


In Leo Maloney’s Dan Morgan series, Morgan is part of Zeta Division, a secret private intelligence organization that is called in only when circumstances are dire. In Threat Level Alpha, #6 in the series, we meet these alpha agents as they are stealing a top secret Russian fighter jet with high tech bells and whistles–possibly better than America’s. And they snatch it from its own well-defended hanger deep in enemy territory. Before they have time to fully celebrate, terrorists steal the formula for a virus that is easily deployed with a 100% mortality rate. It is so dangerous, Russia stopped investigating it and destroyed everything about it–but apparently not well enough. To use it, the new owners must figure out how to turn the formula into an active virus. No problem. They kidnap a radical group of University biotech grad students, themselves intent on saving the world from mankind, and set them up in a secret lab as prisoners until they build the virus. Once that’s done, it will be deployed in the USA. What they don’t know is that two Zeta agents are embedded in the group and one of them happens to be Morgan’s daughter.

This is my first novel from Maloney and good grief! What a way to start. The surprises and suspense only get bigger and better with every twist and turn. Maloney fills the action with weaponry and special forces details that make everything feel as authentic as if I’m right there:

“It will get easier when we hit our altitude. Not enough air at 40,000 feet to make turbulence”
“…the people of Tibet had no more control of their sky then they did over their land. They’d lost that control to the Chinese army in 1950.”

This is one of the fastest moving, intricately plotted thrillers I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended for those who love this genre.

–received for free from NetGalley in return for an honest review

The Wedding Guest

by Jonathan Kellerman


If you love psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware’s escapades into crime solving, Jonathan Kellerman’s 34th in the series, The Wedding Guest (Ballantine Books 2019) is in your sweet spot. Alex is called in by LAPD long-time friend, Detective Milo Sturgis, to help when a beautiful girl winds up dead at a wedding. No one knows her, nor did they invite her, though she’s dressed to kill (pun intended) for the wedding party called Saints and Sinner. Alex does what he usually does–logically pull threads–which inevitably reveals the secrets he hopes will unravel the murder. Adding its own interest to the story is Alex’s enigmatic girlfriend with the unusual job of repairing expensive stringed instrument and his ever-beloved dog Blanche who keeps everyone centered.  Spicing up the story are some of my favorite millennial words–bespoke, woke, and pop-up kitchen (yeah, that’s not a typo).

I’ve been an avid reader of this series for a decade. There have been a few missteps though I won’t name names but with this one, Kellerman is back doing what he does best, focusing on the characteristics that make Alex Delaware a great leading man. He’s clever, smart, witty, and filled with those psychologic insights into the comments and actions of those involved and lead to answers.

“Her eyes made another sweep to the left. The fingers on her outthrust hip drummed. She saw me looking. Smiled and nodded, as if we were sharing a secret. I raised my eyebrows. She did the same. Shall we dance?”
“Tall woman in her forties wearing a clingy black rayon robe over something beige and lacy. Red nose, bloodshot eyes, white-blond hair bunched up atop her head.”
“Calabasas, spilling into the Santa Monica Mountains on the western edge of the San Fernando Valley, used to be a low-key pocket of rustic, horsey serenity. That’s been altered by an influx of retired athletes and celebrities who’ve achieved fame for merely existing, along with the metastatic palaces they erect and businesses that cater to self-love and shallow notoriety.”

With a less talented writing pen, this could be dreary but Kellerman makes it fascinating.

And since I’m currently exhausted by geopolitics, this was a wonderful change into good old fashioned reliable police work.

–received for free from NetGalley in return for an honest review

View all my reviews

–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Fall 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

46 thoughts on “3 More NetGalley ARCs I Loved

  1. Pingback: More Great NetGalley Reads | WordDreams...

  2. Interesting what you say about Kellerman and missteps. I used to read all his books but then went off them. Wondering if I should revisit as this one sounds good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, this one suffered a bit because I’ve read everything else Taylor Stevens wrote and loved that character. This is a new one and I simply didn’t bond with her (or her brother) quite yet. Maybe the next novel.

      Liked by 1 person

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