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Review: Mind Over Monsters by Jennifer Harlow (2011, urban fantasy)

Review: Mind Over Monsters by Jennifer Harlow (2011, urban fantasy)Author: Jennifer Harlow
Title: Mind Over Monsters
Series: F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation #1
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
Pages: 290
Release Date: October 1st 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy

Beatrice Alexander is no ordinary schoolteacher--she can move objects with her mind, an embarrassing skill she hasn't yet mastered or embraced. After nearly killing her brother by accident, she joins the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, the Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals. This top-secret branch of the FBI combats ghosts, ghouls, and other monsters threatening humanity. With her teammates--among them a handsome former-detective werewolf and an annoying Don Juan vampire who's dead-set on seducing her--Beatrice investigates her first case. Disgustingly dismembered bodies have turned up, bearing bite marks of the undead. Someone--or something--is raising a horde of hideous, bloodthirsty zombies. Armed with Bette, her trusty machete, Beatrice takes on the master of the flesh-devouring corpses, who's guarding a horrifying secret . . . Featuring a team of monster hunters with unique paranormal abilities, the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation series combines humor, suspense, and supernatural crime-fighting. 
Format: Paperback
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Despite having been written in present tense, Mind Over Monsters is a great book. It’s a fun mixture of horror, action, and comedy. The problem becomes apparent right away, and the pace is kept up the whole way through the book.

To me, this book falls into the urban fantasy category even though the settings are rural, because the book focuses on her government unit’s efforts to investigate and contain a zombie outbreak. If the main character had been an untrained civilian, I still wouldn’t categorize this book as cozy mystery because it is way too scary and graphic for most cozy mystery readers.

I liked that the characters did some normal police work in conjunction with using their special abilities. I also liked that the settings were different from the ones usually used in these types of books. When people think of paranormal and monsters, they don’t typically think of Kansas and Colorado.

The main character Bea is sensitive but tough. She’s brave and generally likable.

Mind Over Monsters was nearly perfect most of the way through. What made this less than a 5 star book to me was inconsistencies toward the end of the book. For example, she says she has a big chunk taken out of her leg, but then later says her worst injury was no bigger than a quarter. It didn’t match up.

What really soured my opinion was when Bea named her machete. I absolutely can’t stand it when characters name their weapons, vehicles, houses, or anything else that’s inanimate. It’s a common trope in urban fantasy, but it gets on my last nerve because it somehow makes the character seem fake to me. It makes me aware of the author trying to fit the character into a model of what an urban fantasy character should be like.

Now that I’ve had my rant, I will go back to my original statement that I did enjoy reading this book. As much as those little things bothered me, I can’t allow them to ruin my enjoyment or overall opinion of the book. I will definitely read more books in this series when I get a chance.

If you haven’t read Mind Over Monsters yet, and you like stories about kicking zombie and necromancer butts, I suggest giving it a try. It’s a lot of fun to read.

About Jennifer Harlow

Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills. She is the author of the Amazon best-selling F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, Midnight Magic Mystery series, The Galilee Falls Trilogy, and the steampunk romance Verity Hart Vs The Vampyres.


Jen Schaper
I am a mom of three kids, a wife, and a wannabe author. For Books That Hook, I review books, create features and discussions, design the website, and do all the administrative stuff.

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