Title: Interfaced
Author: Emerson Doering
Number of pages: 293
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 50/52
My Rating: 3/5

A young college student Kristen Crede has become a triple amputee after an accident. She's about to get an experimental set of hi-tech prosthetics which is controlled via a wireless neural implant. But she's uneasy about the surgery because of a dangerous stranger who threatens her if she will refuse him a yet-unknown favor. And there's something weird going on with the implant.

The sci-fi tech ideas are sound, though predictable. There's some intense action, plus foreshadowing and a few mysterious details, explained as late as possible to maintain the suspense. Kristen is a likeable character, refreshingly cynical about her condition. Other characters are rather boring. Overall, it's kind of a fast-food novel: difficult to put down while you're reading it, but hardly leaves any impression after it's over.
Title: Hidden Doors, Secret Rooms
Author: Jamie Eubanks
Number of pages: 341
Genre: thriller, sci-fi
Book Number/Goal: 45/52
My Rating: 3/5

A woman and her little daughter are stranded in the blizzard. Luckily, they stumble upon a cabin of a retired musician. But he can't decide if he wants to help; the woman appears to be on the run from the FBI, and moreover, she possesses some mysterious and dangerous abilities.

The atmosphere is genuinely tense, and the mystery is nicely developed and explained, including an eerie, unexpected twist. Two biggest annoyances: the prominent romantic angle, and too much focus on the little girl, promoting the message (unintended by the author) that children are a burden and always mess up good plans.
Title: Dying for a Living (A Jesse Sullivan Novel)
Author: Kory M. Shrum
Number of pages: 401
Genre: sci-fi, thriller
Book Number/Goal: 42/52
My Rating: 2/5

Jesse has a rare neurological condition that enables her to resurrect after her death - such people are called Necronites (or in a derogatory way, zombies). Also, she can forge a special connection with a dying person so she dies instead of them. So she works as a death replacement agent (the prediction of one's exact death day is possible through a psychic-like ability of other agents). Death replacement is a popular and highly requested service, but the job is not only unpleasant but dangerous, as repeated deaths and resurrections overload the brain and eventually result in insanity. And if it were not enough, Jesse's latest job appears to involve a real killer, and she starts her own investigation.

The book has a great, unusual premise, and a good explanation of Necronites' techniques and job responsibilities. The story, however, falls short. There's too much focus on romantic and other relationships; the supernatural angle, introduced later, clashes with the sci-fi angle; and the characters are not particularly interesting to care for their well-being, no matter the threats.
Title: Deadly Intruder
Author: Anne Kelsey
Number of pages: 292
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 38/52
My Rating: 1/5

Brent is generally satisfied with his life, due to a successful job, a beautiful wife and a good friend, until he signs up for a weird Internet game and becomes a target for a dangerous hacker.

The idea of the game (betting on celebrities' death) is cute, and it even has a promo web site to go with it: dieordietrying.com. Unfortunately, there's nothing thrilling about the story itself. There's a lot of trivial, boring conversations between Brent and his friends/coworkers, and bickering with his nagging bitch of a wife, with whom we're apparently supposed to empathise. The hacker's threats sound monotonous and annoying, not to mention that I couldn't care less about what happens to Brent and his family. The "computer security for dummies" infodumps also fail to add any excitement.
Title: The Legend of Devil's Creek
Author: D.C. Alexander
Number of pages: 372
Genre: thriller, mystery
Book Number/Goal: 34/52
My Rating: 4/5

The police is searching for a serial killer who appears to recreate the style of another, legendary serial killer operating in the same town many years ago. Meanwhile, a group of friends are busy with regular student activities: drinking, sports, dating, exchanging memories of family abuse, and studying philosophy.

Most of the book portrays mundane college life, interspersed with the occasional gruesome murder scenes and police investigation. The main character is shy, insecure, and spends a lot of time moping and worrying what people think of him. Somehow, it's not as annoying to read as it sounds. The philosophy lessons are as straightforward as popular science articles, split into "he said" and "she said" to appear fiction-like, but they discuss a fascinating problem: what is the cause of evil in the world, so they are interesting to follow. The police scenes are the weakest part. It's essentially a book about college, unexciting but surprisingly comfy, pleasant to read in bed on a rainy day.
Title: Blood of Others
Author: Rick Mofina
Number of pages: 480
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 31/52
My Rating: 2/5

A serial killer preys on lonely women frequenting online chats, and murders them in elaborate grotesque ways. A detective, a cop and a journalist are trying to solve the case, working more-or-less independently.

The biggest flaw of the book is the lack of mystery: the identity of the killer is revealed early. Other promising mysteries, such as the strange illness of a character's son, are just distractions that do not add anything to the story. Another flaw is too many points of view, which doesn't enrich the story because most of the characters are similar to each other. (The murderer is the only halfway-interesting person.) The ending is entirely predictable. And there seems to be an implicit moral, "do not trust strangers on the Internet" - tired and old!
Title: Creatures of Appetite
Author: Todd Travis
Number of pages: 238
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 28/52
My Rating: 4/5

An elusive serial killer is on the hunt for young girls. The victims get kidnapped from any place, no matter how secure, and some of their body parts show up a few days later, but no other clues. The police resorts to the last desperate measure: inviting a specialist from another state. Jacob Thorne is a brilliant detective who catches criminals using his methods of psychological profiling. He never fails, but he's extremely unpleasant to work with, being rude, egotistic and undisciplined, so he's assigned a partner: Emma Kane, a capable cop but severely traumatized after her last case.

The plot is genuinely suspenseful, and after an obligatory twist there's another, much less expected, twist! It's exciting to follow the process of unraveling the mystery step by step. The character of Thorne is strongly reminiscent of Dr. House, which, of course, is a bonus. There's a bit too much workplace intrigues and gossip, but otherwise, great and engaging story.
Title: Messages: Book 1 in the David Chance Series
Author: John Michael Hileman
Number of pages: 324
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 10/52
My Rating: 2/5

An ordinary guy, a TV intern, suddenly develops a weird ESP ability: his brain picks up specific words from any random sources of text around him, such as labels, sign posts and T-shirts, and assembles these words into personal messages. At first, these messages warn about accidents happening to his family and friends. The danger escalates when the messages want him to prevent the assassination of the President by a terrorist group. He's compelled to follow the invisible guide even though he has no experience in investigation work, and the terrorists discover what he's up to and start threatening him and his family.

The premise is unusual and promising, because it's much easier to create clear and unambiguous messages by combining separate words from unrelated sources than through subjective interpretation of full phrases, as it usually happens when people claim that the world is sending them personal messages. But somehow, the story is unexciting, despite being packed with action. The main character constantly ruminates on where the messages come from, are they from God and why, and keeps discussing it with everyone, which becomes repetitive, even though understandable. The characters are boring, so the tension doesn't really work; the "Arab terrorists" angle is straight from the media stereotypes, and there's some heavy moralizing in the end, which was probably the whole point of the story.
Title: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Author: Jeff Lindsay
Number of pages: 288
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 27/50
My Rating: 4/5

Review: This book is what the 1st season of Dexter TV show is based upon. The main character is employed by police as a blood splatter analyst, and he's very good in his job because in his spare time he's a serial killer (but he has a moral code and only kills other serial killers).

I probably would've loved the book if I had not seen the show - in the TV version the characters are more fleshed out (in the book, all the characters except for Dexter are flat and sketchy), the plot is much more complex and contains some delicious episodes that almost turned me into a "shipper" even though I normally hate romantic relationships, and the ending is more dramatic. So it was slightly disappointing to read something that looks like a first draft in comparison. On the other hand, Dexter is more funny and eloquent in the book (his poetic musings would've sounded too unnatural when spoken from the screen), and there's a nice nightmares/split personality angle.

Definitely recommended for fans of Dexter series (even if it's inferior, one can never have enough of the background material!) but can be enjoyed by any horror fans.
Title: American Psycho
Author: Bret Easton Ellis
Number of pages: 416
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 26/50
My Rating: 2.5/5

Review: A young and successful investment banker leads a double life as a serial killer, raping and/or torturing all kinds of victims (mostly young women) because he can't resist the bloodlust.

Great premise, lousy implementation. Most of the book consists of excruciatingly tedious descriptions of everyone's clothes, meals, furniture, gadgets, fitness procedures, music reviews etc, which are about as entertaining to read as shopping catalogues. The endless mundane conversations between the main character and his friends are not any better, though there are a few touching moments (such as Patrick's despair over losing a "contest" of business cards). The murder scenes, described in the same amount of detail, are the only bright spot in comparison, even though they feel dry and uninspiring because the character doesn't perceive them emotionally.

I believe the writing style is a device meant to show Patrick's obsessive-compulsive streak and the shallowness of his inner world (as well as his peers), but it becomes almost unreadable after the first few pages (but improves a little towards the end). It is not even educational because of the subject matter, though I learned some new words.

Don't waste time with it, watch the screen version - it's still partly tedious, but overall it's much more fun.
Title: Digital Fortress
Author: Dan Brown
Number of pages: 544
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 25/50
My Rating: 3/5

Review: The NSA spies on defends the people with the help of a secret supercomputer capable of breaking any encryption, but this practice comes under threat when a rogue hacker develops an unbreakable encryption algorithm and intends to make it public.

Despite the computer-related setting, the book is unexciting. It's full of infodumps, out of the necessity of explaining computer stuff to readers of all backgrounds; some of these passages sound too naive and some are technically incorrect, including the main plot devices. I'm not an obsessive nitpicker and always prefer plot to authenticity, but the plot also doesn't shine. It lacks drama and emotional involvement because there's nothing at stake for the main characters, except for their lives, jobs and egos, but it's impossible to root for them because who cares if a few boring people get destroyed if they work against free speech?

Otherwise, it's light reading and flows easily. I didn't suffer through it, but wasn't thrilled with it either. It appears to be the author's first novel - good to know that the subsequent ones are so much better!
Title: Voodoo Inferno
Author: Doug Thurston
Number of pages: n/a (ebook)
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 12/50
My Rating: 3/5

Review: An amnesic Iraq War veteran goes to New Orleans trying to piece together the puzzle of his past and finds himself in a turmoil of mysterious and confusing events.

Good points:
- most of the characters are modernized Voudou Loa, demons and such, and it's a lot of fun, like a game, to encounter every familiar name or description and figure out who is that.
- same for historical landmarks, cultural events and rituals
- dreamlike and confusing atmosphere, everything is fluid, different voices interrupt each other, characters are jerked all around space/time

Bad points:
- an overload of phonetically spelled dialect speech - unreadable and annoying like hell!!
- characters are neither likable nor inspire any feelings whatsoever
- plot is not particularly intriguing, in spite of all the mysteries, and seems to exist only to implement the main idea explained in the end (together with unnecessary moralizing)

- http://www.authonomy.com (that's where the book resides, I came across it through a google search for a certain name) looks interesting! It's a writing/reading/publishing community which allows the users to upload their novels and allegedly helps with publishing them if there's enough interest.
Title: Echoes from the Dead
Author: Johan Theorin
Number of Pages: 400 pages
Book Number/Goal: 2/30
My Rating: 3.5/5

Review )
Title: Angels & Demons
Author: Dan Brown
Number of pages: 736
Genre: thriller
Book Number/Goal: 3/50
My Rating: 4.5/5

This story would've made an awesome adventure game due to the combination of action, mystery and abundance of puzzles. It contains loads of interesting and educational information and even prompted me to look up some of it on the Internet (for example, ambigrams). I love how the author rearranges historical facts into patterns which fit his own fictional theories. I couldn't care less if he tweaks/fakes some of the facts because the result is a work of fiction, not a doctorate thesis. I also liked the simple and not overly descriptive writing style. The main theme is the conflict between science and religion, which is a subject near and dear to my heart, even though some of the characters' speeches lay it on too thick.

I didn't give it 5 stars because I didn't feel any emotional involvement in the action, probably because I didn't care for any of the characters and completely sympathized with the villains' cause from the start, so there was no sense of urgency in watching the protagonist trying to prevent the disaster - it was purely a puzzle-solving fest. The plot twist at the very end was an interesting change but it didn't last long. But even non-exciting, it was still enjoyable.
Title: The Risk of Darkness
Author: Susan Hill
Number of Pages: 480 pages
Book Number/Goal: 1/30
My Rating: 2/5

Review )
I still can't write book reviews but I wanted to at least mention the last four books I've read. I won't be able to reach my goal of reading 40 books this year.

Booklist )
Title: A Pale Horse
Author: Charles Todd
Number of Pages: 336 pages
Book Number/Goal: 19/40
My Rating: 3/5

Title: Monster
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Number of Pages: 512 pages
Book Number/Goal: 20/40
My Rating: 3.5/5

Title: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Number of Pages: 704 pages
Book Number/Goal: 21/40
My Rating: 4.5/5

Title: The Girl Who Played With Fire
Author: Stieg Larsson
Number of Pages: 768 pages
Book Number/Goal: 22/40
My Rating: 5/5

Title: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest
Author: Stieg Larsson
Number of Pages: 864 pages
Book Number/Goal: 23/40
My Rating: 4.5/5

Title: The Wine Of Angels
Author: Phil Rickman
Number of Pages: 630 pages
Book Number/Goal: 24/40
My Rating: 3/5
Title: More Twisted
Author: Jeffery Deaver
Number of Pages: 448 pages
Book Number/Goal: 18/40
My Rating: 3.75/5

Review )
Title: A Thief of Time
Author: Tony Hillerman
Number of Pages: 352 pages
Book Number/Goal: 11/40
My Rating: 4/5

Title: Compulsion
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Number of Pages: 416 pages
Book Number/Goal: 12/40
My Rating: 3.5/5

Title: The Vanished Man
Author: Jeffery Deaver
Number of Pages: 560 pages
Book Number/Goal: 13/40
My Rating: 4/5

Title: Triptych
Author: Karin Slaughter
Number of Pages: 512 pages
Book Number/Goal: 14/40
My Rating: 3.5/5

Title: Bones
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Number of Pages: 448 pages
Book Number/Goal: 15/40
My Rating: 3.5/5

Title: The Maidenstone Lighthouse
Author: Sally O'Rourke
Number of Pages: 296 pages
Book Number/Goal: 16/40
My Rating: 2.5/5

Title: The Blackstone Chronicles
Author: John Saul
Number of Pages: 562 pages
Book Number/Goal: 17/40
My Rating: 3.5/5


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