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Review – The Forsaken July 31, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars.
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Title: The Forsaken

Author: Lisa M. Stasse

Series: Forsaken Trilogy

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Publication Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1442432659

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

Review:

This book was great. I was captivated. Alenna was strong and resilient and brave in the face of bewildering adversity. She’s plunked on The Wheel at age sixteen after she fails the test with no warning. She’s caught in the middle of a war between two factions.

The Wheel is a Lord of the Flies explosion. There are two divisions. The villagers and the disciples of the Monk. The villagers are more orderly and civilized. The Monk resembles a cult and are rather lawless.

As Alenna acclimates to life on the wheel, she learns more about how she might have a connection to it. There’s also some romance. It’s not the main story though and I liked that about this book. The main story is how Alenna tries to get off The Wheel. There’s a lot of action.

Alenna and her comrades are all nicely fleshed out as characters. I never got the feeling that I needed more information to get to know them. They were all fully rounded and multi-layered.

Gadya was an intriguing character as she was definitely three-dimensional and never completely on Alenna’s side. Something always got in the way of their friendship.

Liam’s character was very well done. He was mysterious and sexy. Yet he had enough of a soft side to make you melt. He’s the most swoonworthy character to date that I’ve come across.

Although I do see an opening for more books to come, the book didn’t end on a horrible cliffhanger. The climax was satisfying enough in the end. Yes, there could have been more resolution but that’s why it’s a trilogy!

Review – Where She Went July 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult.
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Title: Where She Went

Author: Gayle Forman

Publication Date: April 17, 2012

Publisher: Speak

ISBN-10: 0142420891

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble

Summary:

This is Adam and Mia’s story, in Adam’s perspective. Three years after the car accident that took Mia’s family life. Mia and Adam are no longer together and Adam is now trying to pick his life back together when he bumps into Mia again in New York City. He’s a successful rock star, she’s a budding cellist who has just performed at Carnegie Hall. Can they find closure over what might have been or will they be able to start over again?

Review:

This book took me by surprise. I didn’t read the blurb so I didn’t know it was told from Adam’s perspective. It was well done. His bewilderment over why Mia has left him is superb. His hurt shines through the pages like a beacon even though it’s been years gone by.

I was caught up in the suspense of finding out whether or not Adam and Mia would get back together or not. I was also caught up in the emotion of Adam’s suspended grief. For he was never truly allowed to grieve for the family he too lost. And not only did he lose Mia’s family, he lost Mia.

It was a roller coaster of emotions as Adam encounters Mia again and they rekindle their relationship. Things don’t go as Adam dreamed they would.

Adam’s life isn’t what he thought it would as a rock start either. His success as a musician didn’t bring him the happiness he thought it would. His association with a movie star and his new-found rock star status leaves him constantly on the lookout for paparazzi. He’s on the outs with his band.

I would say this book doesn’t live up to how good the first book was but it doesn’t disappoint either. It’s just as emotionally tender and there is just as gauntlet of feeling in this book as the first.  It just lacks a certain something that made that first book really awe inspiring. I still give this a high rating for this was extremely well-written and if I didn’t have the first book to compare it to, I wouldn’t be left with a slightly unsatisfied taste in my mouth.

Stacking the Shelves (7) July 28, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Book talk.
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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted byTyngaReviews.com and is a book haul post to show off everything you purchased or received for review.

 

 

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Her Sweetest Downfall by Rebecca Hamilton

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

The Grave Artist by Paula Lynn Johnson

American Liberation Front by Scott Haworth

Threads That Bind by Brant Williams

I got the Princess Bride when it was a Kindle Daily Deal. Her Sweetest Downfall was free for a limited time. Drowning Instinct is a book that I heard about on the blog Blook Girl. It’s a heavy novel about a girl with a lot of issues who ends up having a relationship with one of her teachers. The Grave Artist was another free book. American Liberation Front was submitted to me for review and Threads That Bind was also free.

All in all, not a huge book haul but not a skimpy one either. Good for my wallet at least!

Author Interview – Sabrina Chase July 27, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Author Interviews.
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I’m lucky to have Sabrina Chase visit with me for an interview on Akamai Reader! Among her books are Firehearted, The Last Mage Guardian, and the Sequoyah Trilogy.

1. Was there a catalyst of single even that led you to your writing career?

I love books–I read very quickly, and my favorite writers were not writing fast enough to keep me entertained. I had written stories since grade school, but I didn’t get serious about writing until I was in my twenties.

2. If you could sit down with your favorite author, who would it be? What would you say?

I’d love to have tea with Jane Austen, but I’d probably need someone to introduce me to her first, to be proper.  Say, Georgette Heyer. I’d probably have more to say to H. Beam Piper. Much fangirl gushing about his ability to write timelessly (he died in 1964, and if you read his books you can’t tell when they were written), some interesting science news he might find intriguing, and if he seemed in a good mood, a delicate request for him to read my writing…

3. Do you prefer writing sci-fi or fantasy? 

I like both. Science fiction is more restrictive in terms of what the genre will allow the writer to get away with without explanation–it has to be somewhat plausible *in this world*. Fantasy is less structured, which means the writer has to both create their own structure and be consistent with it. Also with science fiction (given my physics degree) I have to remember to tone down the science to save the reader from dozing off.

4. What is your writing process?

I am what is known in the “biz” as a pantser. This means I don’t outline. I usually start off with an initial premise, main characters, and a few very vivid scenes.  Idea-noodling like that I can do either on paper or on the computer. Then I just have to figure out a way to get the characters to those vivid scenes, and that’s when the supporting characters and setting come to life. I am part of a long-standing critique group, and they go through the first draft. Usually after they are done I have to let the book sit for a few months before I go back and rewrite, so the book is fresh to me. When I’m happy with it, it goes off to my editor–who has the thankless task of trying to cure my comma addiction and other atrocities that shall remain nameless.

5. Which do you like to write more, stand-alone books or trilogies?

I have only committed one trilogy so far, and I didn’t plan it that way (see “pantser”, above). The story just kept going and I could tell it would take three books to finish. I do like each book to be complete in the sense it has its own narrative arc, even in a trilogy.

6. What do you perceive to be the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?

The main advantage of self-publishing is it is mindlessly easy, which is also the main disadvantage. I can remember the publishing industry moaning about the advent of cheap word processors and how they created mountains of manuscripts–where before the effort of typing kept the deluge of crap minimal. The recent complaints that self-published=poor quality are just another variation on the theme. I love being able to select and direct my own cover art, for example (although my artist whimpers occasionally) and to write just the story in my head–not the one the corporate market director thinks will sell. I’m responsible for everything about the book–if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done–but it feels wonderful when I do my job and I get emails from readers complaining of how I made them stay up late to finish my book!

7. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Read good (that is, well-written) books. Then read a bad one and see if you can point out *why* it is bad, and how you would fix it. Writing is a creative process so there are no hard-and-fast rules, and that is frustrating to beginners who just want to know HOW and why won’t you tell me? It’s more of a path than a recipe. Write as much as you can. Get feedback from people who a) respect the genre you are writing, b) are not susceptible to emotional blackmail and c) will tell you the truth, even if it hurts. Then put the work away until your emotions calm down before you make any changes.

I am admittedly biased in favor of self-publishing since it has worked so well for me. I have been on both sides, however. I have an agent and he even got me a traditional publishing contract for the Sequoyah series–which was so bad I turned it down and he *agreed* with me! Currently the traditional publishers show no sign of respecting authors, and until that changes I can’t recommend pursuing a traditional publishing contract. That said, convincing someone who must make money off the deal that your writing is good enough to pay for is an excellent cure for inflated ego problems.  If short stories work for you, try some of the online e-zines or similar publications. But only if you get paid!

8. Can you talk about any works in progress you have going on or future releases?

My current project is a science-fiction standalone, The Scent of Metal. It reveals the *true* nature of Pluto, what really happened to the Neandertals, and computer geeks in space! I am hoping to get that finished and available early 2013. I’m also planning to write a sequel to The Last Mage Guardian, and thinking about some short stories set in the world of Firehearted.

Thanks to Sabrina Chase for stopping by the blog!

Contact Sabrina

WEBSITETWITTERFACEBOOK

Buy her books

THE LAST MAGE GUARDIAN

FIREHEARTED

THE CORRECT WAY TO FILL OUT FORM PCR-103-U

THE LONG WAY HOME

RAVEN’S CHILDREN

QUEEN OF CHAOS

Throwback Thursday (5) July 26, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Book talk.
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Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books.

It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. We hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

You don’t have to be a book blogger to participate! You can put up a Throwback Thursday post on your non-bookish blog; or if you don’t have a blog at all, just use the comments to tell us about a book you remember fondly.

Here’s how it works:
1. Pick any book released more than 5 years ago. Adult, YA, Children’s; doesn’t matter. Any great book will do.
2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it. Make sure to link back to The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books in your post.
3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

Title: The Devil You Know

Author: Mike Carey

Publication Date: July 10, 2007

From Goodreads: Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, and London is his stamping ground. It may seem like a good ghost buster can charge what he likes and enjoy a hell of a lifestyle–but there’s a risk: Sooner or later he’s going to take on a spirit that’s too strong for him. While trying to back out of this ill-conceived career, Castor accepts a seemingly simple ghost-hunting case at a museum in the shadowy heart of London – just to pay the bills, you understand. But what should have been a perfectly straightforward exorcism is rapidly turning into the Who Can Kill Castor First Show, with demons and ghosts all keen to claim the big prize. That’s OK: Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It’s the living who piss him off…

I can’t remember how I found this series but am I glad I did. It has shades of Jim Butcher in it without being a total rip-off. It’s got style, it’s got punch. It’s got fantastic plotlines. I love everything about this series!

Felix Castor is a complex, multi-layered character that is both tortured and driven with an unwavering moral compass that would do Superman proud. At the same time he’s still human with flaws which means he does make decisions which means he finds himself inside the gray area.

I’ve read the first two or three books of the series. I plan on reading the rest very shortly. I’m really looking forward to it!

Review – Dark Seeker July 25, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult.
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Title: Dark Seeker

Author: Taryn Brown

Publisher: CreateSpace

Publish Date: October 4, 2011

ASIN: B005QEPZIM

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Janie Grey comes from a line of Seekers, a group that hunts the undead. One night she meets Kai, who she mistakes for a Daychild, a half-demon, half-vampire. Only he isn’t like a Daychild. Not only does he have human traits, soon he’s breaking down the walls around her heart.

Review:

The opening fight scenes almost completely turned me off of this book. They were so corny! The dialogue was completely laughable and hard to believe. I kept on plugging though and the book got better. Soon I became more invested in the characters as I got to know them. The bad lines happened less and less often. I was able to concentrate on the storyline a lot more even if the storyline wasn’t much better then the corny dialogue.

Basically Janie’s life is centered on her Seeker duties of killing the undead. The undead being all vampires and vampire/demon hybrids or Daychildren. Then she meets Kai who throws those definitions out the window and her life into confusion. The ensuing romance commences as they find out that a new breed of vampire is trying to be created by the Daychildren.

Janie was a somewhat likable character. She wasn’t that smart though. She took on a lair of Daychildren by herself and she was ill-equipped. I don’t consider that smart. Kai had to rescue her. It’s hard to get behind a girl who can’t really take care of herself.

Kai was pretty blind himself. Every other minute he’s rescuing her from one scrape or another then he’s saying “What am I thinking? You can take care of yourself.” That’s a contradiction. Obviously she can’t take care of herself if you have to swoop in on your motorcycle and save her every time you turn around.

Janie  could still kick ass though. She had some mean fighting skills and she could hold her own in an evenly matched fight. She showed an independence of spirit I admired even if it was reckless to the point of stupidity. I admired her independence not her recklessness. She also showed a willingness to let her guard down when the time called for it.

Kai was sexy as all get out. There was a love triangle with Matt, the wresting captain, but Matt didn’t stand a chance. I mean, c’mon! Kai had that dark mysterious past going on for him. He was also very sweet when he wanted to be. And there was no denying the fire between Janie and Kai.

A big obstacle came between Kai and Janie. I won’t say what it was for fear of spoiling the book, but I find it hard to believe that Janie would ever just forgive and forget so easily. I had a really hard time suspending belief.

On the whole, it was a light and fun read that I enjoyed. I’ll look forward to reading the next in the series and I already plan on reading the prequel!

Review – If I Stay July 25, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult.
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4 comments

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Publication Date:  April 6, 2010

Publisher: Speak

ISBN-10: 014241543X

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

After a crushing car accident, Mia is torn from her family and ripped from her body. A talented cellist, she relives her life’s precious moments with her family, boyfriend, and friends.  She’s forced to come to the decision of whether or not she should stay or if she should go.

Review:

This book was astounding. It was just breathtaking. Mia was real and alive and you could sympathize with her from the first page to the last.  Shy and insecure away from the cello, she comes alive with her music. She has only a few friends, but she’s loyal to those few that she has.

Mia comes from a family of extroverts and she’s a decided introvert. She’s a classical music lover and they’re all rock’n’roll. Yet their love for one another is deep and abiding. It shines throughout the book and it makes itself known. I loved that about this book. That alone made this a “feel good” book.

Another “feel good” aspect of this book was Mia’s relationship with her brother Teddy. They had a close bond that was hard to break. I thought that was endearing and touching.

Adam and Mia were a great couple. They were real, with flaws, and totally believable. Their flaws didn’t make them any less romantic. Although for one moment in the story that I thought was a bit far-fetched and I had to stretch my imagination a bit as far as Adam was concerned. I tried to tell myself that he was really, really desperate so he really, really wasn’t thinking.

Aside from that, the book brought up some very deep feelings. I’m not ashamed to admit I leaked tears at one point of the book. It was just good. As you read the book, you know that whatever Mia decides, whether she stays, whether she goes, it will be heartbreak. It was heartbreak. What she did decide, made me realize where the author would lead on to another book and I was so glad for that.

Whatever you do, don’t let this book pass you by. You’ll regret it. It’s unforgettable.

It's Monday! What are you reading? (13) July 23, 2012

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

Title: Blood Singers

Author: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Twenty-year old Julia Wade, a young woman tragically widowed, is in the middle of a bizarre bid between two mythical species who are vying for the unique properties she offers; her blood. The vampires need her to balance the food load of the human species and give them their coveted “Lightwalkers.” The Were wish to be moonless changers; a Rare One can make that a reality.

Julia wants to belong to herself.

Can she free herself and begin a new life?

I couldn’t wait to tear into this book. So far I like it a lot. There’s a lot of bittersweet romance and then there’s the promise of more. I also feel for the main character, Julia. She was left deeply scarred by the death of her husband.

The two species are fun to read about and I can’t wait to write up my review about them. The Were and the vampire war is pretty intense. I’ve had some breathless moments while reading this book so far! I can’t wait to see how it ends. I hope I’m not left with too much of a cliffhanger!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? (13) July 23, 2012

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

Title: Blood Singers

Author: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Twenty-year old Julia Wade, a young woman tragically widowed, is in the middle of a bizarre bid between two mythical species who are vying for the unique properties she offers; her blood. The vampires need her to balance the food load of the human species and give them their coveted “Lightwalkers.” The Were wish to be moonless changers; a Rare One can make that a reality.

Julia wants to belong to herself.

Can she free herself and begin a new life?

I couldn’t wait to tear into this book. So far I like it a lot. There’s a lot of bittersweet romance and then there’s the promise of more. I also feel for the main character, Julia. She was left deeply scarred by the death of her husband.

The two species are fun to read about and I can’t wait to write up my review about them. The Were and the vampire war is pretty intense. I’ve had some breathless moments while reading this book so far! I can’t wait to see how it ends. I hope I’m not left with too much of a cliffhanger!

Review – By Darkness Revealed July 22, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: By Darkness Revealed

Author: Kevin O. McLaughlin

Series: Blackwell Magic

Publisher: Role of the Hero Publishing

Publish Date: August 6, 2011

ASIN: B005G8L3X4

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Ryan Blackwell has fled to a military school in Vermont after a rift with his family, not caring if his sorcery is never to be used again. Only he finds out that the school is situated upon a major nexus of leylines. Soon he’s embroiled in a situation where he’ll need all his wits and magic about him.

Review:

I have to admit I was surprised with this book. When I started reading it, I forgot what it was about. Therefore I had no preconceived of notions of what it should have been about. I was really surprised at how good it was instead.

Blackwell is a freshman at a strict military school. He’s trying to escape his family and their sorcery. He’s just trying to keep his nose out of trouble when he finds himself in situations where he has to use his magic. I was able to completely immerse myself in the story of how he worked his way out of danger time and time again. I lost myself as he flung himself out of harm’s way here and there.

Ryan is smart and yet he’s humble. Yet he’s still confident. He’s resourceful and he’s creative. I loved spending time with him. I wouldn’t have minded him for a kid brother. There isn’t  a romantic interest in the story but I didn’t mind that.

I loved how quickly the book moved along. I was never bored. It was never dull. Yet there was always enough detail to keep you completely informed. The book never felt abbreviated or shortened. It was a complete story for a novella. There wasn’t even a teaser for the next book, which I liked. I enjoyed this book so much I really did want to keep on reading more of Ryan and his exploits anyway.