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Review – Insurgent May 31, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publish Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN-10: 0062024043

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

(This review contains some spoilers if you haven’t read book one.)

Summary:

From Goodreads:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Review:

This second books was just as good or maybe even better than the first book, Divergent. The action is much more highly concentrated. Tobias’ and Tris’ relationship gets even more complicated.

The complications are completely realistic and I loved how practical their relationship became. Instead of a highly idealistic version of love, they had a completely reasonable version of what it would be like to have two teenagers in love in the midst of war.

The danger in the book had me breathless. As Tris became more like an Abnegation in her selfless behavior she also became more Dauntless with her bravery, showing the two intermingle. Perhaps she showed just how Divergent she truly was or perhaps she showed how Divergent everyone was.

As we get to know Tris and Tobias more in book two, we understand their motives more and appreciate them better. At the same time Tobias remains somewhat of a mystery since it’s not his perspective we see the world from.

Veronica Roth continued with the surprises she had with book one onto book two. My head spun with the plots twists and turns. It was a joyful ride!

The book ends in a cliffhanger which left me yearning for book three. I’m sure it’ll be worth it!

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Review – Divergent May 30, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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3 comments

Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publish Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN-10: 0062024035

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary: 

Beatrice Prior must choose among five factions: Candor (the honest); Abregation (the selfless); Dauntless (the brave); Amity (the peaceful); and Erudite (the intelligent. Her choice is made the more difficult when she finds her aptitude test scores show that she doesn’t fit in any of the groups.  Her decision will also either keep her with her family or tear her away from them forever.

Review:

This book was fantastic. It was fraught with just the right amount of tension. From the romance to the trials and tribulations Beatrice goes through, it was a wild ride.

Beatrice, who takes on the name Tris, makes a difficult choice. At the age of 16 she shows a maturity beyond her years. Yet at the same time Roth manages to show that she’s still a vulnerable youth in those instances where it matters most.

Each character flew off the page and into my heart. From Tris to Four to Al, they all found a way to come to life. Even the minor characters had a vivacity to them that you don’t find in most books.

While this is a character driven novel, you can still feel the grunge of the city that they live in. From the racing trains to the dilapidated building, the world they lived in was alive.

The plot twists kept me surprised and on my toes each and every step of the way. Nothing was quite predictable except maybe the romance. Even that managed to surprise me now and then. While the characters were unique and unlike any I’ve come across, the plot was also quite very different from the norm.

I applaud Roth’s debut novel. It was a show stopper.

Review – Molly's Soap Parlor May 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Steampunk.
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2 comments

Title: Molly’s Soap Parlor

Author: Stacey James

Genre: Steampunk

Publisher: Stacey James

Publish Date: March 18, 2012

Available at: Amazon

From Amazon:

Steam and soap powder rule in 1895 Whiskey Falls!

Spunky twenty one year old tinkering laundress, Molly Watkins, can clean more than just sap and coal stains out of overalls; she can clean house with anyone that sets an unwelcomed foot on her new establishment- Molly’s Soap Parlor. That would include scoundrels, thugs, and pirates.

But Molly has no time for twittering- not even with a handsome wilderness scout named Arrow. His elusive ways annoy her, yet together they create a chemistry that Molly cannot account for.

Meanwhile, Molly’s latest contraptions land her in a world of hurt. Gadgets, torpedoes and a modified Henry rifle quickly become a feisty laundress’ best friend in Whiskey Falls in the winter time.

Having narrowly escaped the foothills of North Dakota without her dog sled team, Molly made her way east to Whiskey Falls in order to enter her new contraption, a cycle fly rod, in an annual ice fishing derby. The rod is only one of Molly’s latest inventions. But not everyone is rooting for the independent Molly Watkins…

It turns out there is more than just soap brewing in Molly’s peculiar steam-powered laundry contraption.

Review:

For an 83 page novella, this story packs a lot of punch.  A lot happens in a short amount of time. It’s fun and fast-paced. The characters are lively and colorful. The contraptions are intriguing and are an integral part of the story.

The romance is sweet and heart-warming if somewhat predictable. Arrow was also a bit predictable and formulaic. Molly’s responses were just as predictable. I still enjoyed them though.

I thought it was strange for Molly to respond to Arrow with a “no worries”. There were other spots of dialogue I had a hard time getting a feel for.

I thought it was rather corny that her soap powder was so sought after. If you put aside that fact, it was an entertaining read. While I’m not quite certain this quite fits in the Steampunk genre as it takes place in the Wild West and this certainly is no literary gem, I”ll still look for the next in the series.

Review – Molly’s Soap Parlor May 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Steampunk.
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2 comments

Title: Molly’s Soap Parlor

Author: Stacey James

Genre: Steampunk

Publisher: Stacey James

Publish Date: March 18, 2012

Available at: Amazon

From Amazon:

Steam and soap powder rule in 1895 Whiskey Falls!

Spunky twenty one year old tinkering laundress, Molly Watkins, can clean more than just sap and coal stains out of overalls; she can clean house with anyone that sets an unwelcomed foot on her new establishment- Molly’s Soap Parlor. That would include scoundrels, thugs, and pirates.

But Molly has no time for twittering- not even with a handsome wilderness scout named Arrow. His elusive ways annoy her, yet together they create a chemistry that Molly cannot account for.

Meanwhile, Molly’s latest contraptions land her in a world of hurt. Gadgets, torpedoes and a modified Henry rifle quickly become a feisty laundress’ best friend in Whiskey Falls in the winter time.

Having narrowly escaped the foothills of North Dakota without her dog sled team, Molly made her way east to Whiskey Falls in order to enter her new contraption, a cycle fly rod, in an annual ice fishing derby. The rod is only one of Molly’s latest inventions. But not everyone is rooting for the independent Molly Watkins…

It turns out there is more than just soap brewing in Molly’s peculiar steam-powered laundry contraption.

Review:

For an 83 page novella, this story packs a lot of punch.  A lot happens in a short amount of time. It’s fun and fast-paced. The characters are lively and colorful. The contraptions are intriguing and are an integral part of the story.

The romance is sweet and heart-warming if somewhat predictable. Arrow was also a bit predictable and formulaic. Molly’s responses were just as predictable. I still enjoyed them though.

I thought it was strange for Molly to respond to Arrow with a “no worries”. There were other spots of dialogue I had a hard time getting a feel for.

I thought it was rather corny that her soap powder was so sought after. If you put aside that fact, it was an entertaining read. While I’m not quite certain this quite fits in the Steampunk genre as it takes place in the Wild West and this certainly is no literary gem, I”ll still look for the next in the series.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5) May 28, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Book talk.
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This Monday meme is held by The Book Journey. Feel free to join in and tell us what you’re reading! Happy Memorial Day!

Title: Mansfield Park

Author: Jane Austen

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.

 Since I have a bunch of reviews lined up, I decided to go on a Jane Austen splurge. So far I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. I’m not going to be reviewing the books because so much of Jane Austen has already been said as it is. I have nothing to add.

Austen is one of my favorite authors. Her quick wit and her adept way of making characters come to life brings me to the height of pleasure. I love the way she makes some of her characters so very annoying and unlikable. Take Miss Bates from Emma with the way she prattles on or Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice with his ingratiating and stiff mannerisms.

Her heroines are all very engaging and even at their worst, they remain real and lovable. Her dashing suitors are all very romantic and they always say the right thing at just the right time. I’m usually not one for romance, but Austen’s romances are something I can’t deny.

What are you currently reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (5) May 28, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Book talk.
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This Monday meme is held by The Book Journey. Feel free to join in and tell us what you’re reading! Happy Memorial Day!

Title: Mansfield Park

Author: Jane Austen

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.

 Since I have a bunch of reviews lined up, I decided to go on a Jane Austen splurge. So far I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. I’m not going to be reviewing the books because so much of Jane Austen has already been said as it is. I have nothing to add.

Austen is one of my favorite authors. Her quick wit and her adept way of making characters come to life brings me to the height of pleasure. I love the way she makes some of her characters so very annoying and unlikable. Take Miss Bates from Emma with the way she prattles on or Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice with his ingratiating and stiff mannerisms.

Her heroines are all very engaging and even at their worst, they remain real and lovable. Her dashing suitors are all very romantic and they always say the right thing at just the right time. I’m usually not one for romance, but Austen’s romances are something I can’t deny.

What are you currently reading?

Review – The Whitechapel Gambit May 27, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Steampunk.
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Title: The Whitechapel Gambit

Author: Marcin Wrona

Genre: Steampunk

Publisher: Marcin Wrona

Publish date: April 24, 2012

Available at: Amazon 

From Amazon:

When the Haversham sun grinds to a halt before dawn, Daniel (or David) Squeak expects that he and his fellow sunwell workers are in for an awful day. What he doesn’t expect is that a furious foreman will be the very least of his problems. One gear turns another, and Squeak finds himself injured, sacked from the only work he’s ever known, and afraid for his very life.

The mysterious Sir Nicholas offers Squeak a way out of his predicament, but this knight is no saint. As Sir Nicholas slides around the pawns and bishops of a decades-old plot, it’s Squeak who finds himself in motion: from sunwell to manor, from soot-stained Haversham to wealthy Rawlish, and even to the deadly jungles of the surface.

Workhouse lads are resourceful. Everybody knows that. But the bloody alleys of Haversham are not nearly as dangerous as the glittering avenues of King’s Court.

Review:

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

This Steampunk adventure was true to its genre. It didn’t just have token automatons inserted into the plot as background. They were an integral part of the story. That’s one of the things I found so delightful about this story.

Another thing I found so wonderful about this story was the alternating viewpoints of young Squeak to older Sir Daniel, who are one and the same. You can see his growth and progression from a workhouse lad to a young man of quality. Through it all he remains loyal to those he loves and to those he holds in esteem.

The whole cast of characters were colorful and full of life. From his childhood friend, Bing to Sir Nicholas, his mentor. They were all vividly portrayed. Even the Robins, who served as police in their society, were a blast of fresh air.

The action in the story was non-stop. It was one tumble down a winding path down another. That was a definite page-turner to say the least.

Another page-turner was the way the society and the world in which they lived in worked. I would say the world building wasn’t as polished as it could have been but you definitely got the feeling of a grimy, soot-stained underworld teeming with life.

I would have liked there to have been more attention paid to the upper surface tribes, but I still got  a sense of who they were and what they were about. I still got enough of an understanding so that I wasn’t totally left unsatisfied.

When I was done with the book, I was left a bit bereft at the thought that this might just be a stand-alone. I would have loved to continue on with the adventures of Squeak and his companions!

On My Wishlist (14) May 26, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Book talk.
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On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It’s where we list all the books we desperately want but haven’t actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It’s also an event that you can join in with too – Mr Linky is always at the ready for you to link your own ‘On My Wishlist’ post. If you want to know more click here.

***

Title: Unearthly

Author: Cynthia Hand

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

I’ve been on an angel kick lately. As long as the book isn’t too weighed down in dogma I enjoy it. I’ve downloaded a few Indie books about angels and I heard about this one from a friend on Goodreads. It looks like a good read. I just have to wade through my TBR pile to get to it!

There’s a second book out in the series too. That should be incentive to read the book. Just in case there’s a cliffhanger at the end, at least there’s another book to continue on. From all reports there isn’t, but just in case there are unanswered questions.

Hopefully I’ll get to it within the next two to three months!

Author Interview – Chris Strange May 25, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Author Interviews.
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For my very first author interview, I’d like to introduce Chris Strange, the author of The Man Who Crossed Worlds. I first reviewed his book in the beginning of this month. I was so impressed with it, I thought it would be great to get to know the mind behind the work better.

 1. Was there a catalyst or a single event that you can point to that led you to your writing career?

First of all, thanks for having me on! It’s great to be here. I’ve dabbled in writing ever since I was young. Creative writing assignments were always my favorite things in school. But it wasn’t until the last few years that I started to take my writing seriously. After a couple of abortive attempts at writing novels, I finally managed to complete my first full-length work during NaNoWriMo (2010,
I think). For those who aren’t familiar with it, NaNo is a very popular event held every November where people all around the world
try to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. It’s a crazy, awesome adventure with an amazing online community. The humorous sci-fi novel I wrote during that month was pretty terrible and it will never see the light of day, but the event showed me that I could actually sit down and write a novel from start to finish, and have a blast doing it. I’ve been trying to write seriously and improve ever since.

2. Do you have any writing rituals?

I have to have music while I write, preferably something with lots of  guitars. I’ve tried writing on a laptop in various trendy locales like coffee shops and libraries, but it never worked for me. My best writing comes when I’m sitting in a comfortable chair at home in front of a nice big screen while I mainline caffeine in some form or other.

3. If you had a chance to sit down with you favorite author who would it be? what would you say?

To be perfectly honest, when I’d almost certainly turn into an awkward, stammering fool, so I wouldn’t have a clue what I would say. But one day I’d love to meet Haruki Murakami, the bestselling Japanese writer. Especially if it gave me an excuse to visit Japan. I’d love to see the mind of such a genius in action. Plus he just seems like a really cool dude.

4. How did you decide to write Urban Fantasy?

I love exploring what happens when the strange intersects with the familiar. I read pretty eclectically, but the stories that stay with me are the ones that can bring those two clashing worlds together and present something fascinating and new. Urban and contemporary fantasy is also an exciting genre to be writing in at the moment. A huge range of different worlds and stories and characters and voices have been emerging in the genre for the last few years, from Justin Gustainis’ Occult Crimes books to Joe Hill’s delightfully dark comic book series Locke and Key. It’s incredibly thrilling to be a part of.

5. Your style is very similar to Jim Buther’s, was he a heavy influence in your work?

Absolutely. It’s almost impossible to write in the male-protagonist-noir-urban-fantasy style without being inspired by incredible writers like Jim Butcher, Mike Carey, Richard Kadrey, and Simon R. Green. I’m also a huge fan of the hardboiled, metaphor-laced works from the times of the pulp magazines by writers like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, so that’s been a heavy influence as well.

6. The cover for “The Man Who Crossed Worlds” is very striking. How was it conceived?

The cover art is all down to my fantastic artist, Hiep Ha Dzung. I found Hiep through deviantART and gave him a few ideas for the tone I wanted to convey, and he did the rest. I was aiming for something exciting, over-the-top, pulpy, and with a bit of magic, and I think he really delivered.

7. Can you talk about any future works?

Sure. I’ve got two projects in the works at the moment. I’m in the middle of edits on a superhero adventure novel called “Don’t Be a Hero.” It’s a mashup of comic books, rocketpunk, and New Zealand culture, and I think it’s a fun book. I’m also nearly done with the first draft of the sequel to “The Man Who Crossed Worlds,” so I’ll be finishing that off and getting started with edits soon. It’s been great to get back into Miles’ head and get him into a whole lot more mischief. After that, I’ve got a few story ideas sketched out and the general arcs for the next couple of Miles books. So much to write, so little time!

Get your copy of The Man Who Crossed Worlds here.

Find Chris over at the following places:

WEBSITE – TWITTER FACEBOOK – GOODREADS

Review – Raven's Children May 24, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Sci-Fi.
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3 comments

Title: Raven’s Children

Author: Sabrina Chase

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Worlds Away Press

Publish Date: Sometime in July 2012

Available at: Not yet available

I received an ARC courtesy of the author.

Summary: (This review may contain spoilers for both readers who haven’t read book one and for readers for book two.)

Moire and the crew of the Raven continue to evade Toren. They continue to salvage ships in the hopes of accumulating enough money to build enough defenses for Sequoyah against the attack they know will happen when Toren discovers Sequoyah. Meanwhile, they launch an offensive against Toren to stop the manufacturing of the Created.

Review:

So much happens in this book I couldn’t quite summarize it. The action was non-stop. It was one long rollercoaster of movement. I was left breathless and I loved every minute of it.

Ennis and Moire meet up again on equal footing and passions ignite. It was a little corny at times, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly so. I thought it was appropriate.

Moire and Alan’s relationship deepened and it was touching. You could see her struggling with her feelings as a new mother and it was heart-warming. They have an odd situation so it was sometimes humorous. I loved the quirkiness of that.

The introduction of the alien was fascinating and exciting. It was a little like Close Encounters of the Third Kind only the advantage was all on the humans side. There was enough of foreshadowing with the alien that left me wondering what’s in store for the next book between the it and Moire.

The only exceptions I have to make is in one action scene they seem to have gotten away a little too easily. They impersonated Toren personnel and I can’t help but wonder if that was just too easy. Also when Lorai was looking for Harrington, he just happened to be the one man she rescued. In a perfect world that might happen, but I don’t expect it in the real world. It was a little too predictable, but for the sake of fiction I can suspend belief and make believe.

Other then that I have no exceptions to make with this book. It was extremely well done and I can’t wait for the third installment. I only wish Sabrina Chase could write faster.