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Graceling and Fire January 20, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, 5 stars, Fantasy.
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Graceling

by Kristin Cashore

Gracelings are extraordinarily gifted individuals that are the property of kings. Katsa’s Grace is killing. Due to the nature of her Grace she grows up an outcast. Isolated from her fellow peers, she hardens her heart to people.

Katsa begins training with a fellow Graceling with a fighting Grace, Po. This story is about her coming of age and her subsequent adventures with Po.

It’s a full-bodied story that won’t disappoint. If the dialogue of Katsa is stilted and abrupt, chalk it up to her upbringing and her personality. She’s not your run-of-the-mill girl.

Po is her exact opposite. He’s outgoing and charming. Full of easy humor.

Their love story is inevitable. It’s poignant and sweet without the heaviness of a saccharine sweet, sappy, romance.  It was easy to feel a rapport between the two and to cheer along the sidelines for them.

Of course this book is about more then their love. They head straight into danger and it had me holding my breath as I never knew if it would be another Romeo and Juliet.

I admired Katsa for she held true to herself to the very end. Her fast-paced adventures with Po also held me enthrall.

5 of 5 stars

Fire

by Kristin Cashore

Beyond Katsa’s Seven Kingdoms lies the Dells where monsters of all sorts run rampant. Monster bugs, monster raptors, monster lions, monster horses. Even monster humans gifted with mind control.

It’s in this setting, we pedal back to about 10 years before Katsa’s time to a land that has been wasted by a monster human named Cansrel. The land is rife with civil unrest. His half-human daughter, Fire, lives as an outcast in the secluded north.

This story is about her fight to keep her ethics intact as she’s pulled into the fight to keep the kingdom intact.

She’s a thoughtful, considerate, and a sympathetic character. She always hesitates to use her powers for fear of harming others and for fear of becoming her father.

The supporting cast was equally alive, keeping the story vibrant and animated.

There’s very little crossover between Graceling and Fire. Nonetheless, Fire can hold its own.

I will say, that Fire got off to a shaky start. It was sluggish and slow. It wasn’t until nearly the 20% mark that I truly got engrossed. It was still worth the slog to get there.

4 of 5 stars.

Death Screams January 19, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Paranormal.
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Death Screams

by Tamara Rose Blodgett

(also available on NOOK)

This is the third novel in the Death Series and it’s normallywritten in the first person through the eyes of the protagonist Caleb. This one starts off with Jade’s perspective. The book continues to take sporadic leaps off of Caleb’s narrative into other people’s perspective. I found this a bit dizzying, disconcerting, and bumpy.

Otherwise I thought this book was as much fun as the first two books. It was a fun, frolicking ride with a bunch of teenagers with paranormal powers in a futuristic setting.

There are very bad guys. Despicable to the bone. One of them is preying on Astral Projection students. When they’re in the Realm he attacks them at their most vulnerable.

If that’s not enough, Jade, Caleb’s girlfriend is becoming an emancipated adult and her abusive father is making threatening moves towards her. Carson and Brett, the antagonist jerks from previous years are back to their old tricks. Finally, Parker, the extraordinary government Grey Sheet necromancer keeps showing up at inopportune times with his zombies.

There’s a kick-ass grandpa. He made me wish he was my own.

Caleb is a sympathetic hero even if he’s prone to machismo that tends towards sexism. His intentions are good. If truth be told his girlfriend really does tend to be the helpless sort, which is frustrating to say the least.

More often then not, it does come off as being sweet. So it’s easier to swallow.

It’s a fast-paced book, filled with not only fun adventures but serious mayhem. I’ll admit that Blodgett is one of my favorite easy-to-read, fun-for-an-afternoon-escape Indie writers. I was looking forward to the release of this book for quite awhile and I wasn’t disappointed by it.

4 of  5 stars

The Gossamer Gate January 18, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Fantasy.
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The Gossamer Gate by Wendy L. Callahan is a Kindle freebie I found on Ereader IQ.

Kiara is a 25-year-old witch who owns her own new age shop and is quite an independent modern woman. She’s also in love with her best friend of many years. Unfortunately it’s an unrequited love.

She’s also committed a crime against a prince of the Fae nine years ago. That crime comes back to haunt her and she must pay for it in the form of  a quest. She’s forced into the Otherworld where she must find her way to the Gossamer Gate, which will lead her back to the mortal world with one more catch. Someone she loves must be waiting for her. Not any ordinary love, but a soul-mate.  Despite the fact that the cards are stacked against her, she soldiers on.

Along the way, she meets up with another fae, Liam. He becomes her protector. Yet she never truly trusts him even though she wants to.

The Fae in this book are depicted as great and terrible creatures. Not light and airy creatures of fun and games. I much prefer Callahan’s Fae. They are creatures of power. They shouldn’t be trifled with.

This story has a lot of adventure in it. More then enough to satisfy me. It also has a good dose of romance in it. Not too saccharine sweet though. I found there was a good balance between the two.

There was a good pace to the book and the style of writing was easy to get into. However taking that into account that the book was free and that it was a debut novel, it was a just a bit unpolished. Having said all of that, I enjoyed it enough to finish it in two days. Of course I’ve been doing a lot of that of late, so that might not be a reflection on the book’s merits.

I really enjoyed the character Kiara. She was one of the more enjoyable female protagonists I’ve come across in awhile. She had spunk and she had femininity in spades. It’s hard to find a good blending of those traits in a female character.

Liam was also a character I enjoyed. He was sexy, he was mysterious. He was a Faerie. What more can I say? I have a weak spot for mysterious mystical men like that.  He wasn’t too domineering either. He gave rather then took. I think I’m half in love with him myself.

As for Sean, who wouldn’t want a guy rushing into the Otherworld to save you? With no magic of his own at that, just his wits to survive. That’s pretty romantic.

I’m no fan of romance, but this book had me getting gooey and touchy feely without meaning to. That spells a good book in my opinion. It might have even opened my mind to the benefits of a good romance every now and then. There’s a shocker!

4 of 5 stars.

Bone Dressing January 17, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Paranormal Romance.
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Bone Dressing by Michelle Brooks

Syd is a 17-year-old high school student with a whole lot of woe and angst. A little too much angst in my opinion. It seems like the first 50% of the book was devoted to an internal monologue on how she was dealing with the world and what was being thrown at her.

I wish that the description had emphasized that this was a paranormal romance. I normally don’t go for romance. It’s just not my thing and I found the romantic slant rather tiresome and tawdry.

The overall premise of the book still hooked me as well as other aspects of the plot. There’s a tame panther. There’s a precocious 8 year old. There’s also the matter of reliving Syd’s past lives to right the mistakes they made which is why I had started reading the book in the first place.

So the book wasn’t a complete loss, I also liked the characters despite Syd’s overly embittered tirades and her loss of control where her hormones were concerned over Beau. She was not a bad character. Just given to excess. I suppose that’s what teenagers do, but for the reader’s sake! Go easy!

Taking the plot into consideration and the basic structure of Syd’s character, I give this book 3 of 5 stars. I’m not sure I’m going to continue reading this series, but you never know how optimistic I can be when it comes to the written word.

Scriber January 16, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Fantasy.
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Scriber by Ben S. Dobson is a fantasy novel that takes place in Kingsland. Dennon Lark is an unlikely hero belonging to the order of Scribers. Scribers are the scholars of the land and are held to a higher order then ordinary citizens.

We find him hiding out in an out of the way town in disgrace where he encounters Bryndine Errynson, the neice of the king. She’s a formidable captain of the army and an outcast as well.

They’re thrown together in subsequent adventures as they try to save the land from a plague of attacks from rebels known as the Burnt. Lark holds the key to stopping the attacks and Bryndine is determined to help him whether he likes it or not.

I found myself enjoying this book immensely. The characters were intensely likable. Bryndine and Lark were vivid and intriguing. Bryndine’s company of female soldiers were equally colorful and I had an easy time picturing each of them in my mind’s eye.

The plot was captivating and enthralling. The twists and turns were enough to keep me reading until the very end. Despite knowing that good would prevail as it always does in books like these, I was guessing at the mechanics until the very end.

I look forward to more novels by Dobson, 5 of 5 stars.

The Secret World of Dragons January 15, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 1 star, Fantasy.
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I was asked to review The Secret World of Dragons by the author Sandra Harvey via Twitter.  So I downloaded it and started reading it last night. I’m afraid I couldn’t finish it.

First let’s start off with the good. It has a nice pace. Harvey’s style of writing is easy to read. The world of she created is somewhat inventive and interesting. Finally, some of her characters did hold some of my interest for a little while. Mainly the two dragon riders.

Let’s get down to the down and dirty. Why I couldn’t finish the book. The heroine was shallow and insipid. She had a mystical cat who was her guide to another world and on to the start of her adventures. The cat’s name was “Mystic”. That just made me cringe. There were other cliched and hackneyed elements to the story that I found unbearable that I won’t reiterate.

I will say that Harvey has a lot of potential for such a young writer. She’s only 21 years old. I think with a little life experience under her belt she could be a fine writer.

1 of 5 stars.

Ready Player One January 14, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Sci-Fi.
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“Ready Player One”  by Ernest Cline has to be a modern book that has had the biggest impact on me since I can’t remember when. I read it for the Geek Girls Book Club January Selection.

It was an intense ride. It’s a unique take on sci-fi videogames and futuristic society. A society that is plagued with the effects of famine, global warming, and over-crowding. It’s a bleak setting for someone growing up in that age. At the same time he does a flashback to the 80’s. There are references to many 80’s movies and to various other pop culture icons of those days which were so sweet.

The protagonist, Wade Watts aka Parzival, is intensely lovable and the antagonists, the Sixers, are heinous and detestable to the nth degree. The supporting cast is equally endearing and engaging. I especially liked Art3mis. She was a strong female character that rung true to life without being too saccharine sweet.

The world Cline builds is detailed and completely crafted. I feel bad for Cline, he has to top “Ready Player One” in his second novel and that’s no mean feat! I give the book 5 of 5 stars.