MY BEST READS OF THE YEAR, 4th EDITION

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Another year is almost at an end. This just doesn’t cease to amaze me, though with less intensity. When it’s the start of the year I can’t wait for it to end. Then when the year ends, I wish it lasted longer. Part of the reason is that I wish I could accomplish more. In 2016, I’ve published no more novels. My last one was In A Greater Reality, back in November ’15. This year, I canceled a project I was working on, so that slowed me down. Now I’m writing a new sci-fi novel I’m very excited about.
As 2016 is the fourth year I’m tracking my books finished in Goodreads, I finished less new books. I’ve been instead re-reading old ones. Three years is, well, pretty long to go without revisiting novels I liked in the past. So once again, the pool to choose my best reads from is smaller. That means that this year, the list will be 10 books long. As usual, I include a star rating and a short summary of the books chosen. I’ll start at 10 and go down until reaching my #1 read of the year. Without further ado:
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BOOK REVIEW: BEHIND THE HANDS THAT KILL

BEHIND THE HANDS THAT KILL (In the Company of Killers, #6)

Author: J.A. Redmerski
Published on: May 6, 2016
Genre: Suspense, romance, thriller
Published by: Self-published
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible

Even professional killers need vacations, but for Victor Faust, his vacation in Venezuela is about more than relaxation and time alone with Izabel Seyfried. It is a chance for him to come clean to Izabel: to tell her the truth about why he sent her to Italy with his brother, the truth behind his interest in Nora Kessler, and about his knowledge of Izabel’s child with her former captor. But before Victor can spill his soul, reality proves that for some killers, vacations are just pipe-dreams.

Attacked and kidnapped, Izabel finds herself stuffed in a suitcase, while Victor later wakes up imprisoned in a cage. In any other situation, Victor would find a way out and save himself and the woman he loves—but not this time. When the identities of their kidnappers are revealed, Victor loses all hope, and begins the mental process of accepting his and Izabel’s last moments together. And Izabel’s final moments of life.

As if his circumstances are not complicated enough, members of Vonnegut’s Order are finally closing in on Victor. And when they do, he comes face-to-face with someone else he once knew and loved, who could either help him, or make a grave situation much worse. Victor’s past has finally caught up with him: the women he has cared for, loved, and killed; the families he has destroyed; the unforgivable crimes he has committed. And now he must face the consequences, and pay the ultimate price for absolution.

But when it is all over, Victor may not have the strength to pick up what is left and move on. Because the event changes him. Because love changed him. And because, unlike before when he thought it is was for the best, he cannot imagine a life without Izabel in it.

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BOOK REVIEW: DEFECTOR (VARIANTS, #2)

DEFECTOR (Variants, #2)

Author: Susanne Winnacker
Published on: June 26, 2014
Genre: Sci-fi, romance
Published by:Razorbill
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible

Tessa has finally made peace with her life as a Variant. She and long-time love Alec are officially a couple, and for the first time, she has everything she wants.

But the air is tense at FEA headquarters. An agent has disappeared, and rogue variant organization Abel’s Army is likely the culprit.

When Tessa is summoned for her second mission, she is unexpectedly launched into a massive conspiracy. Her best friend Holly is kidnapped and Tessa knows it was meant to be her. But who is after her? And more importantly, why?

When the FEA’s efforts to rescue Holly don’t yield any results, Tessa takes matters into her own hands. Desperate to save her friend and uncover the mystery behind Abel’s Army, Tessa launches her own investigation—but nothing could prepare her for what she finds. Everyone in her life is harboring secrets: Alec, her estranged mother, even the father she never knew.

The truth will take her out on the road and out of her comfort zone, with danger lurking everywhere. Summoning all of her courage and strength, Tessa must decide who can be trusted and what is worth fighting for—even if it means going against the life she thought she wanted. Her final decision will leave readers breathless.

 

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BOOK REVIEW: IMPOSTOR (VARIANTS, #1)

IMPOSTOR (Variants, #1)

Author: Susanne Winnacker
Published on: May 28, 2013
Genre: Sci-fi, romance
Published by:Razorbill
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible

Can Tessa pose as Madison . . . and stop a killer before it’s too late? 

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again.

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself. 

 

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BOOK REVIEW: THE BLACK WOLF

THE BLACK WOLF (In the Company of Killers, #5)

Author: J.A. Redmerski
Published on: June 29, 2015
Genre: Suspense, romance, thriller
Published by: Self-published
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible

Since devastating secrets were uncovered by Nora Kessler, Niklas Fleischer and Victor Faust have been divided as business partners and brothers. Ultimately Niklas is persuaded to lead a mission to Italy, and he sees it as an opportunity to set in motion forgiveness–or retribution–for his brother’s betrayal. The mission: play the role of a wealthy German investor and kidnap a beautiful, notorious madam named Francesca Moretti.

No stranger to these types of roles, Niklas is the best man for the job, but this time the risks will be much greater as he will not be doing it alone. Izabel Seyfried, still fresh out of a life of imprisonment and sex slavery, could be negatively affected by the things she will see in Moretti’s mansion, and Niklas must keep her in line so she does not blow their cover and get them killed. But Niklas isn’t the only one who must play a role–Nora takes on the humiliating task of playing Niklas’s slave, and Izabel must play the role of his lover. On one hand, Niklas couldn’t be enjoying himself more. On the other hand, the emotions that continue to rage inside of him may be too much for him to control, and it may be Niklas–not Izabel–who needs to be kept in line. He cannot forget what Victor has done, and this mission may just be the beginning of his downward spiral.

Can the blood bond that Niklas and Victor share as brothers be stronger than resentment? Or will vengeance dig the blade so deep that their bond be eternally severed?

 

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BOOK REVIEW: SEEDS OF INIQUITY

SEEDS OF INIQUITY (In the Company of Killers, #4)

Author: J.A. Redmerski
Published on: September 29, 2014
Genre: Suspense, romance, thriller
Published by: Self-published
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible

Victor Faust’s new Order is growing. Business is good as there is no rest for the wicked in an underground world of hardcore criminals and contract killing. Relationships among the operatives have changed little over the past year—but things are about to change now, and all six high-ranking members of the new Order will be blindsided by an unlikely enemy.

Loved ones whose only ties to Victor’s organization are their relationships with its members, are abducted. The price to get them back safely—the six must confess their deepest, darkest secret to this mysterious young woman named Nora, who is as deadly as she is beautiful, and who seems to know more about each of them than they know about each other. And although no one has any clue about who Nora really is, it becomes clear that she also isn’t who she appears to be.

So much more is at stake than secrets and the lives of innocent loved ones; with each member that Nora forces to confess, the truth about their dark pasts and their present objectives will cast suspicion, pit some against each other, and may tear others apart.

Before the game is over everyone will know who this woman is and why she is here, but the damage she will leave in her wake could be the beginning of the new Order’s destruction.

Whose dark secret will be the darkest of all? And can Victor’s Order survive any of them?

 

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BOOK REVIEW: THE SWAN AND THE JACKAL

THE SWAN AND THE JACKAL (In the Company of Killers, #3)

Author: J.A. Redmerski
Published on: March 3, 2014
Genre: Suspense, romance, thriller
Published by: Self-published
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible

Fredrik Gustavsson never considered the possibility of love, or that anyone could ever understand or accept his dark and bloody lifestyle—until he met Seraphina, a woman as vicious and blood-thirsty as Fredrik himself. They spent two short but unforgettable years together, full of lust and killing and the darkest kind of love that two people can share.

And then Seraphina was gone.

It’s been six years since Fredrik’s lover and sadistic partner in crime turned his world upside-down. Seraphina went into hiding and has eluded him ever since. Now, he’s getting closer to finding her, and an innocent woman named Cassia is the key to drawing Seraphina from the shadows. But Cassia—after sustaining injuries from a fire that Seraphina ignited—suffers from amnesia and can’t give Fredrik the information he desperately seeks. Having no other choice, Fredrik has been keeping Cassia locked in his basement as he not only tries to get her to recall her past—because she and Seraphina share it—but also to protect her from Seraphina, who clearly wants her dead.

But Cassia is a light in the darkness that Fredrik never believed existed. After a year subjected to her kindness and compassion, he finds himself struggling with his love for Seraphina, and his growing feelings for Cassia—because he knows that to love one, the other must die.

Will light win out over darkness, or will something more powerful than either further destroy an already tortured soul?

 

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