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Review – Captive Queen September 7, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Historical Fiction.
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Title: Captive Queen

Author: Alison Weir

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: July 13, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0099534587

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor has spent the past dozen frustrating years as consort to the pious King Louis VII of France. For all its political advantages, the marriage has brought Eleanor only increasing unhappiness—and daughters instead of the hoped-for male heir. But when the young and dynamic Henry of Anjou arrives at the French court, Eleanor sees a way out of her discontent. For even as their eyes meet for the first time, the seductive Eleanor and the virile Henry know that theirs is a passion that could ignite the world.

Returning to her duchy of Aquitaine after the annulment of her marriage to Louis, Eleanor immediately sends for Henry, the future King of England, to come and marry her. The union of this royal couple will create a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees, and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty.

But Henry and Eleanor’s marriage, charged with physical heat, begins a fiery downward spiral marred by power struggles, betrayals, bitter rivalries, and a devil’s brood of young Plantagenets—including Richard the Lionheart and the future King John. Early on, Eleanor must endure Henry’s formidable mother, the Empress Matilda, as well as his infidelities, while in later years, Henry’s friendship with Thomas Becket will lead to a deadly rivalry. Eventually, as the couple’s rebellious sons grow impatient for power, the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will engulf both Eleanor and Henry.

Review:

I got this novel on sale and I thought it would be a fun read. If you read the reviews on Amazon, you’ll understand that this book isn’t for historical novel buffs. I’m not a historical novel buff by any means and I don’t mind discrepancies in research, so I went ahead and read it anyway. I actually enjoyed it too. It’s a fun trashy historical novel.

In this book Eleanor of Aquitane is a sensual woman who is deeply attracted to Heny of Anjou. She beds him early in their relationship and often throughout the course of it. She’s an intelligent woman yet at the same time Weir portrays her as being a bit naive in the sense that she believes Henry remains faithful to her despite their long separations. Sometimes they separate for nearly a year. How can she expect a lusty fellow like Henry to go without for that length of time?

Yet throughout the book, Eleanor exudes a sense of indomitable strength that I admired. She suffered great hardships. Despite Weir’s stumbling prose, the message of what she went through was still clear. There were other times that Weir’s style of writing really struggled to convey the harsh circumstances of Eleanor’s circumstances. It’s definitely not her strongest work to date.

If you’re looking for a book to escape the hours with and just enjoy the romance, then this is for you. If you’re in it for the history, then I would pass on this.

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Review – Sisters Red September 5, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult.
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Title: Sisters Red

Author: Jackson Pearce

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0316068673

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

Summary:

Scarlett March lives for two things: fighting the werewolves that killed her grandmother and protecting her sister Rose. Rose owes her life to her sister Scarlett. She’d sacrifice everything for her, but what happens when Rose starts to fall for the woodsman that they’ve known all their lives? Will Rose lose her sister?

Review:

Scarlett and Rose are all alone in the world. Scarlett’s one true objective in this life is to hunt werewolves. The very same werewolves that took their beloved grandmother away from them. The two of them hunt the Fenris with them help of Silas, a woodsman. As the story moves along the hunt for Fenris becomes more complicated, leading them from a small town to Atlanta.

I had a hard time swallowing Scarlett. While I understand she was very passionate about hunting the werewolves, she came off more like a female Rambo. She’s obsessed with the hunt. She’s like an addict. It was a little hard to read. I felt like she needed a twelve step program. Scarlett got more then a little self-righteous at times as well.

Rose wanted more then the hunt. She wanted to do things other outside of it and Silas encouraged it. I applauded her for it. For all that, Scarlett made them feel guilty for that. Like the only thing they should want to do is sleep, eat, and breathe the hunt. I understand it was part of the story but I found it very abrasive instead.

The Fenris weren’t very scary or menacing. They were like comic book monsters. The change they underwent made them seem like half-finished play-dough creations. Unfortunately, I was never fully horrified by them.

The highlight of the book was the romance of Silas and Rose. Silas is a sensitive and sexy guy. He isn’t attracted to your normal pretty girl. He sees beyond the trappings of society’s norms. Instead, he found Rose’s strength and mellow temper alluring. Watching their romance blossom was refreshing and sweet. It definitely wasn’t insta-love either. It grew from a friendship and I loved that about this book.

While I had problems with the Fenris and Scarlett, the action and pacing of the book was swift and engaging. It’s non-stop from beginning to end. The writing was absorbing and I was able to immerse myself in the book without a problem. The end of the book took me by surprise. I was a little confused and I felt Pearce took the easy way out, but it was still a satisfactory conclusion. Besides those quibbles, this was still an enjoying book.

Review – Infected: Shift August 28, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Paranormal Romance.
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Title: Infected: Shift (#5)

Author: Andrea Speed

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Publication Date: May 14, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1613725061

Available at: Amazon –  Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Sequel to Infected: Freefall In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds. Between his mutating virus and his rocky relationship with his artist boyfriend, Dylan, Roan has enough problems to solve without taking on other people’s, but that’s the nature of his work. Someone has to look into the case of the murdered trans woman, and if the perp is the dirty cop Roan suspects it is, the police are not the right people for the job. But now Roan has a new obstacle to overcome: someone caught part of his transformation on video, and the media frenzy is making it hard to do his job. One case nets him a hockey team full of new friends. Another leads to an attempt on his life. And Roan’s hustler sidekick drags him on a quest for revenge. With his world and his body both in turmoil, Roan is finding it harder and harder to see the line between justice and vigilantism.

Review:

Although I didn’t read the other books in this series this book stood well on its own. The story was a little fragmented though. The plot seemed to be separated into two stories. The first half of the book has to do with the murder of the trans woman and the second half of the book involves a completely different case that was in no way related. There was a definite disconnect.

Through it all Roan is going through this self-flagellation process for being an infected that’s abnormal in the sense that he’s above normal. He continually tells himself he’s a freak. He believes he’s no good to his boyfriend and he proceeds to alternately destroy his personal life and mend it. He was incredibly self-destructive. He couldn’t see that every time he tried to do something right he ended up hurting himself even more. Roan also lamented over his dead husband more then half the time. I understand that grief over a loved one is never ending, but it seemed rather excessive.

The book did have some redeeming qualities. It’s very well-written. I was drawn into the grim action scenes and the world building was well done. There were a group of hockey players that had me entertained.  There was also a dominatrix with a minor role that I really liked. Holden the sidekick hustler was another character I liked as well. He knew who he was and he didn’t fool himself.

This book had a lot of potential, but it seemed like it just missed the mark. I’m kind of on the fence as to whether or not I should look for more books in this series.

*A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Review – Asher's Invention August 8, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Romance, Steampunk.
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Title: Asher’s Invention

Author: Coleen Kwan

Publisher: Carina Press

Publication Date: June 25, 2012

ASIN: B007M8S2FS

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Minerva Lambkin’s father has been kidnapped. Now she’s forced to return to Asher Quigley, the man who broke off their engagement five years ago. Without his help her father is as good as dead.

Asher agrees to help Minerva, but can they see beyond their conflict of their troubled past to solve the problems of the present?

Review:

Asher’s Invention is a steampunk romance with a lot of action, but the romance seemed a bit forced at times. I got tired of the way the two of them kept pulling apart and pushing forward in a heave of emotions.  The constant repetition on the theme made it tiresome.

Minerva was very independent and spunky. She surprised me in the end. In fact she surprised me more then once. Minerva was a very passionate and forthright woman. I really enjoyed reading about her.

Asher was equally passionate. Unfortunately he came off rather indecisive and tentative whenever he became confused by his emotions. He was still a brilliant man, I just couldn’t connect with him.

The villain was disappointing. He came off rather vaudeville, cardboard, and comical. I really wish there had been more to him. The whole scene of the big reveal was a bit anti-climatic.

This story still has a lot going for it. The action is swift, the romance is still tender at the end, and the heroine is admirable. Not bad for a 76 page read!

* A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Review – Asher’s Invention August 8, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Romance, Steampunk.
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Title: Asher’s Invention

Author: Coleen Kwan

Publisher: Carina Press

Publication Date: June 25, 2012

ASIN: B007M8S2FS

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Minerva Lambkin’s father has been kidnapped. Now she’s forced to return to Asher Quigley, the man who broke off their engagement five years ago. Without his help her father is as good as dead.

Asher agrees to help Minerva, but can they see beyond their conflict of their troubled past to solve the problems of the present?

Review:

Asher’s Invention is a steampunk romance with a lot of action, but the romance seemed a bit forced at times. I got tired of the way the two of them kept pulling apart and pushing forward in a heave of emotions.  The constant repetition on the theme made it tiresome.

Minerva was very independent and spunky. She surprised me in the end. In fact she surprised me more then once. Minerva was a very passionate and forthright woman. I really enjoyed reading about her.

Asher was equally passionate. Unfortunately he came off rather indecisive and tentative whenever he became confused by his emotions. He was still a brilliant man, I just couldn’t connect with him.

The villain was disappointing. He came off rather vaudeville, cardboard, and comical. I really wish there had been more to him. The whole scene of the big reveal was a bit anti-climatic.

This story still has a lot going for it. The action is swift, the romance is still tender at the end, and the heroine is admirable. Not bad for a 76 page read!

* A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Review – Her Sweetest Downfall August 3, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Paranormal Romance.
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Title: Her Sweetest Downfall

Series: The Forever Girl Journals

Author: Rebecca Hamilton

Publisher: Immortal Ink Publishing

Publication Date: July 19,  2012

ASIN: B008NAFU9A

Available at: Amazon

Summary:

Ophelia is on a quest to find out what led to the disappearance of her mother. But what does the fairy tales her mother told her as a child have to do with it? And do they have any truth to them? Could there really be vampiric Cruor and fairylike Ankou? Could her mother still be alive?  Ultimately Ophelia will have to decide how much she is willing to sacrifice not only for herself and the man she loves, but for the fate of mankind.

Review: (Some spoilers.)

I love the cover of this short 94 page novella. It’s gorgeous! So yes, I do judge a book by its cover and I did like this book. It was exciting and romantic.

It begins with Ophelia in the service of the Lady Karina as a maid. She’s sent on an errand and ends up in the hands of Ethan. He helps her understand that the mark her bears is the sign that she is a member of an elite race. This race is meant to save the world from a cruel faction who is hellbent on genocide.

Ophelia was very likable despite being so guarded. In fact, I liked her because she was so guarded. She was tough and, except for one glaring moment, she had all her wits about her. The one glaring moment came towards the end. She decided to lead Queen Callista away from Ethan and Lenore despite the fact that the Cruor have heightened senses? How could she forget that? I can only suppose it’s because she was a newborn.

Ethan wasn’t my favorite male lead. He was likable enough. I just couldn’t swoon over him. Mostly because he had this big secret over Ophelia that was never revealed. Maybe that’s a lead for another story or that was something from another book, but it irritated me.

The book had plenty of action. From the moment Ophelia was sent on her errand into the woods until the very last few pages, things were constantly in motion.

There was a strange point in the book where Robert was promised something big by Ethan. This promise led to Robert’s help in Ophelia’s introduction to the Maltorim’s asylum where Queen Callista resides. The promise was very mysterious and seemed to dangle in front of the reader like a carrot to a donkey but nothing ever came of it.

The magical races in this book are inventive and creative. Among them are the Ankou that shepherd Mort’s (dead souls) and are a little like fairies. Then there are the Cruor which are like vampires. There are also the  dual-breeds which the Maltorim’s are determined to annihilate.

On the whole this book was a good if not great read. I’ll definitely look for the other books in this series.

Review – Dead Men's Boots August 1, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: Dead Men’s Boots

Author: Mike Carey

Series: Felix Castor

Publisher: Grand Central Publishinng

Publication Date: September 6, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0446618724

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble

Summary:

Felix helps stop a lawyer from cremating a friend’s body. His widow says he was acting strangely before his death and now that he’s dead he’s ghost has gone berserk.

He also takes on a case where a man was brutally murdered with a claw hammer. Only the hammer was never found. Where’s the hammer? Why was a woman’s voice heard in the room when no one saw a woman enter or leave?

Felix tries to puzzle his way through all of this and more.

Review:

There were a lot of pieces to this book. There was the matter of Felix’s friend who has killed himself in mysterious circumstances. Leaving a  widow who didn’t want his body to be cremated, but with a will that specifically stated he be cremated. It was a mess!

Then there was the other mess with the accused murderer. Was there a third party or wasn’t there? Were the two cases connected? There were a lot of moving parts. It took a lot of time to get them moving. By the time they did I kind of lost track of what was what. Well, not really. But I did lose a lot of my ability to care.

One thing the book did have going for it was the development of Julia, the succubus. She was one of the central figures in this book and it was great! I always liked her and I liked seeing her more fully fleshed out. Hopefully she’ll continue to remain in the books as one of the cast of characters that plays if not an essential, but a substantial role.

The book did get stronger as it moved along. I will say that. It gained momentum and it finished strong. So in the end I was fully invested in it. It just took too long for that to happen. There’s something to be said for a strong finish though.

It had some great sub-plots too. There was a custody battle between Pen and Jenna-Jane over Raf, Felix’s college friend who is demonically possessed. It was a good diversion.

In the end I did enjoy this book because it had such a good end.  I can forgive a slow start for a really satisfying conclusion and great character development.  This book had all that and then some.

Review – Dead Men’s Boots August 1, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: Dead Men’s Boots

Author: Mike Carey

Series: Felix Castor

Publisher: Grand Central Publishinng

Publication Date: September 6, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0446618724

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble

Summary:

Felix helps stop a lawyer from cremating a friend’s body. His widow says he was acting strangely before his death and now that he’s dead he’s ghost has gone berserk.

He also takes on a case where a man was brutally murdered with a claw hammer. Only the hammer was never found. Where’s the hammer? Why was a woman’s voice heard in the room when no one saw a woman enter or leave?

Felix tries to puzzle his way through all of this and more.

Review:

There were a lot of pieces to this book. There was the matter of Felix’s friend who has killed himself in mysterious circumstances. Leaving a  widow who didn’t want his body to be cremated, but with a will that specifically stated he be cremated. It was a mess!

Then there was the other mess with the accused murderer. Was there a third party or wasn’t there? Were the two cases connected? There were a lot of moving parts. It took a lot of time to get them moving. By the time they did I kind of lost track of what was what. Well, not really. But I did lose a lot of my ability to care.

One thing the book did have going for it was the development of Julia, the succubus. She was one of the central figures in this book and it was great! I always liked her and I liked seeing her more fully fleshed out. Hopefully she’ll continue to remain in the books as one of the cast of characters that plays if not an essential, but a substantial role.

The book did get stronger as it moved along. I will say that. It gained momentum and it finished strong. So in the end I was fully invested in it. It just took too long for that to happen. There’s something to be said for a strong finish though.

It had some great sub-plots too. There was a custody battle between Pen and Jenna-Jane over Raf, Felix’s college friend who is demonically possessed. It was a good diversion.

In the end I did enjoy this book because it had such a good end.  I can forgive a slow start for a really satisfying conclusion and great character development.  This book had all that and then some.

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 – Mad Science Institute July 8, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: Mad Science Institute

Author: Sechin Tower

Publisher: Siege Tower Entertainment

Publication Date: December 9, 2011

ASIN: B006KGNKMS

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Sophia “Soap” Lazarcheck is a girl genius with a knack for making robots-and for making robots explode. After her talents earn her admission into a secretive university institute, she is swiftly drawn into a conspiracy more than a century in the making. Meanwhile and without her knowledge, her cousin Dean wages a two-fisted war of vengeance against a villainous genius and his unwashed minions.

Separately, the cousins must pit themselves against murderous thugs, experimental weaponry, lizard monsters, and a nefarious doomsday device. When their paths finally meet up, they will need to risk everything to prevent a mysterious technology from bringing civilization to a sudden and very messy end.

Review*:

While this book is well-written, I had several problems with it. The heroine “Soap” was unreasonably naive. She receives ten thousand dollars in cash for a job and believes it to be a student job. I have a hard time believing even a naive girl genius would think that. She was not only extremely naive, she was also very awkward and immature.

I had less of a problem with Dean. Although I did find it hard to swallow that he’d propose to an ex-girlfriend of his that he hadn’t seen in what I thought was years. I was able to suspend belief enough to grasp that their relationship was strange enough for them to become engaged after such a long hiatus though and carry on. He becomes motivated to become the dean of Mad Science Institute even though he doesn’t have  a college degree. Once more I had to suspend belief to swallow that. I had to suspend belief many times in this book.

The villains are a corny unwashed biker gang. They were all of enormous size and of minuscule brain power.  I found it too stereotypical and cliched for words.  The main antagonist was the most stereotypical of all, but maybe that was part of the book’s appeal. The ultimate crime fighting, world saving good guy versus bad guy.

For all that the book still had its interesting twists and turns. The plot moved along at a nice clip. There was a Batman and Robin feel to it that you couldn’t mistake. Once you suspended belief, got past the flaws, and took the book for what it was, it was a light-hearted, entertaining read.

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