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Review – The Duchess of the Shallows December 14, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: The Duchess of the Shallows

Author: Neil McGarry & Daniel Ravipinto

Publisher: Peccable Productions

Publication Date: March 2, 2012

ASIN: B007HTUXWC

Available at: Kindle   Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

A game is played in the fog-shrouded city of Rodaas, and every citizen, from the nameless of the Shallows to the noblest of the Garden, is a player or a pawn. And no one is as he appears.

Not Minette, brothel-keeper and obsessive collector of secrets. Not Uncle Cornelius, fearsome chief of the gang of brutes and murderers known as the Red. Not the cults of Death, Wisdom, and Illumination, eternally scheming and plotting along the Godswalk.

And certainly not the orphaned bread girl known as Duchess.

Yet armed with nothing more than her wits, her good friend Lysander and a brass mark of dubious origin Duchess will dare to play that game for the most coveted of prizes: initiation into a secret society of thieves, spies and rumormongers who stand supreme in a city where corruption and lies are common coin.

The Grey.

Review: *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Grey is a network of thieves and spies as well as secret traders. Duchess believes her entrance into their society will give her the answers she seeks about her family. Entrance into The Grey is hard to come by and her task is dangerous to say the least. She needs to rob a nobleman’s house while he’s having a party.  Not easy.

Duchess is very ambitious and she’s driven by a need to know what exactly happened to her family when she was a small child. She’s also extremely resourceful and smart. I grew to admire her as the book went on.  Not only that, she was handy with a  knife. Duchess had a good network of people in the Shallows to rely on. There was Minette, the brothel-keeper and there was Lysander.

Lysander was disarming with his sweet charm. I really enjoyed reading about him. He is a ganymede or a male prostitute. He’s made his living on his looks and his wits for more years then Duchess can count. They’ve been friends since they were young children. Best of friends. Lysander taught Duchess much about the way of the Shallows.

This book was fast paced and I was easily absorbed by the well developed plot and characters. The world building was exceptional. There are layers of social classes and religious sects, including criminal elements. I was disappointed when the story ended purely because I wanted to keep on reading about Duchess and Lysander. I look forward to the next book in the series!

4.5 Stars_Star Rating System

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Review – Death Weeps October 30, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Paranormal, Young Adult.
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Title: Death Weeps

Author: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Publisher: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Publication Date: May 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1475200867

Available at: Amazon Kindle

From Goodreads:

Caleb faces possible jail time for using Clyde as a undeadly weapon. When he’s exonerated with probation lasting a year, Caleb has to watch his every action. Tensions run high when after the death of Jade’s only relatives, she must live with an undesirable foster family who are anything but what they seem….

Life gets complicated for everyone when the scientists responsible for the paranormal manifestation threaten a parellel world to Caleb’s own. In a bid to stop the destruction of their world, while saving his own, Caleb must defend two peoples against the long arm of the Graysheets.

Time begins to run against him when he discovers through an unlikely source that his friends have been given a drug that causes progressive insanity. Can he find the antidote in time to save them? To save Jade?

Review:

I’m not sure where to begin this review or what to say. I loved this book so much! If you do read this book, you should read Blodgett’s Savage series because there is crossover. If you happened to read my review of Savage Vengeance or if you read the book, then you know a little bit of what happened. Read my review here. In Death Weeps, we get the story from Caleb’s point of view and more information about the crossover.

What I love about Blodgett’s writing is that in this book it becomes more polished while maintaining its original flavor. There were moments when the book got a little over the top but that’s what makes it great! It’s what I’ve come to expect of these books. It’s like a comic book with a big balloon word that says “pow!” You expect a little over the top punch.

Caleb and the gang have gotten older and their maturity has reflected such a change. It was a job well done. Their growth was seamlessly integrated into the story as there was a lot of action to absorb.

Clyde’s character was also more fully developed. If you haven’t read the novella, Death Inception then do. It gives you a more in depth look into his past and how he became a zombie. I kind of fell a little in love with Clyde when I read Death Inception.

The Graysheets, the evil government agents, are more heinous then ever. I grew to hate them even more. As the book wore on, Caleb’s purpose in life became even more clear and he may be meant for more then simply escaping the clutches of the Graysheets.

If you haven’t picked up this series, what are you waiting for? It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s romantic. The final book is coming out soon. I’m both looking forward to it and dreading it as I don’t want this series to end.

Review – The Raven Boys October 19, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Paranormal, Young Adult.
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2 comments

Title: The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0545424929

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Review:

This story is pretty straightforward with the focus on the hunt for Gwendower, a lost king who has magical powers. It still had unexpected twists and turns. There was also a lot of emphasis on the relationship between the boys and then the boys and Blue. I thought that each point was well done. You could really feel Gansey’s obsession with his quest and that added tension to the book.

Blue had been warned away from Gansey and the rest of his friends but she persists in getting to know them. It’s Gansey’s quest for Gwendower and his sheer personality that holds the group together. Gansey took care of his friends as if they were his brothers. They were his family.

Blue is fiercely independent and refuses to take any handouts from the other boys even though they are so much better off then she is. I liked how comfortable she was with the boys being the only girl. Yet she managed to maintain her own femininity. I also liked how she managed to be both eccentric yet sensible.

All of the Aglionby boys had distinct personalities with their own stories to tell. I won’t recap them, I’d rather let you discover them for yourselves. I thought that Stiefvater did a masterful job of encompassing each boys’ story within the book and making it complete. Yet none of that detracted from the main objective of the book. It all meshed very nicely.

All the subplots of this book managed to meld together with the book’s plot in a seamless cohesion. Making this book a real pleasure to read. I did have a lot of unanswered questions in the end of the book. Hopefully they’ll be answered in the sequel. It wasn’t by any means a cliffhanger. It was simply a mystery left to be solved in subsequent books.

Review – The Crown of Embers October 9, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Title: The Crown of Embers

Author: Rae Carson

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062026514

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

She does not know what awaits her at the enemy’s gate.

Elisa is a hero. She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country’s ruler should be secure. But it isn’t.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from both foreign realms and within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.

To conquer the power she bears once and for all, Elisa must follow the trail of long-forgotten–and forbidden–clues from the deep, undiscovered catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her goes a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man who–despite everything–she is falling in love with.

If she’s lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.

Review:

Elisa is now trying to consolidate her power as Queen of Joya d’Arena. She’s undermined from other members of her quorum. There’s also a threat of Invierne spreading across the land once again. She sets out on a holy mission to seek a magical power to once and for all give her all the strength she’ll ever need.

If anything, this second book in the Fire and and Thorns series was even better then the first and I loved the first. Elisa character evolved as you read on. You have to remember, she’s the queen of her country and a war hero at the age of seventeen. That in itself is remarkable. So if she’s malleable and pliable at first, it’s understandable. But by the end of the book she manages to find the will to stand up for what she believes in and become the queen her country needs.

One of the things that I still love about Elisa in this book is that she’s still a normal girl. Although she might have lost some in the previous book, she’s still a little overweight. In fact her predilection for pastries is well known at court. She’s still not a drop-dead gorgeous beauty. Elisa became even more real to me because of those qualities and I loved her for it.

Elisa is also falling in love with Hector, the Captain of her Royal Guards. The romance is natural and it progresses slowly. No insta-love here! I loved reading about Hector and Elisa! I think I’ve become a romance fan. If you’ve read my blog for a long time then you know I wasn’t always a fan, but for this book it was my favorite part.

The story ends in a stupendous cliffhanger. It was well done though. I thought it was one of the best cliffhangers I’ve ever read. You could tell the book was just about to end and that you’d have to wait for the next book even though you were desperately hoping it wouldn’t happen. At least that’s how I felt. I’m desperately hoping the next book publishes sooner rather then later.

Review – The Lost Girl September 19, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: The Lost Girl

Author: Sangu Mandanna

Publisher:  Balzer + Bray

Publish Date: August 28, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062082312

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.

Review:

Eva is an echo. She was created to take the place of Amarra if she were to ever die. Eva’s life is spent studying Amarra’s life and following the Loom’s strict laws. She knows at any moment her familiars or the family that she belongs to could execute a Sleep Order on her which would end her life.

From the very beginning this book draws you in. The plot itself is wholly engaging and as I learned about Eva’s life my sympathy for her grew. She was so trapped by the laws confining an echo. What stolen pleasures she had were precious and few. I admired her need to define herself individually. She had desires apart from her life as an echo. In this way she rebelled against the laws that governed her life. Eva also showed a lot of strength in adversity.

I liked Sean a lot but I kind of wondered why one of her guardians became so intimate with her. I thought that the people in charge would have had better sense then that. It made for a good story though. So while Sean was really conscious of obeying some of the laws, yet he was willing to bend other rules. He picked his battles. Although I thought that he should have been  His respect of her need to have an identity that wasn’t an echo of Amarra was what made me like him the most.

I loved this book. It was fast paced and I became really invested in the characters. In the end I was only disappointed with the fact that the follow up book hasn’t been released yet.

Review – The Girl of Fire and Thorns September 11, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Publish date: August 21, 2012

ISBN-13:  978-0062026507

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

Review:

There may be some spoilers in this review.

Elisa is the unlikely princess of Orovalle. She is overweight and insecure making her someone I instantly liked from the beginning of the book. She is also blessed with a Godstone which she feels she does not deserve. It portends a great destiny for her. A destiny that she feels she does not deserve.

After her marriage to Alejandro de Vega and her move to his kingdom Joya d’Arena, she eventually meets the rebel Humberto. Humberto is everything Alejandro is not. He’s warm and much more approachable. He’s also much more relaxed. It’s an interesting love triangle. There isn’t much romance between Alejandro and Elisa but there is the fact that they’re married. There is also the possibility that something could have grown between them. Whereas Elisa and Humberto spent much more time together and they were much closer in age as well. My heart was in my throat for the two of them throughout the book.

There wasn’t just romance either. The threat from Invierne is palpable. The Invierne themselves are mysterious and intriguing. The magic is exciting. The rebels that fight against them is thrilling. Through it all Elisa is brilliant. She truly shows her strengths and comes into her own. Her startling transformation was at once a little hard to swallow yet extremely admirable. I swayed between the two.

I really loved this book and the character development in it. There were a lot of surprising twists that I really didn’t see coming. Carson wasn’t afraid to go to dark places with this book. She also showed how much strength she can imbue a character with. I truly look forward to the next book in the series.

Review – Full Blooded August 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: Full Blooded

Author: Amanda Carlson

Publication Date: September 11, 2012

Publisher: Orbit

ISBN-13: 978-0316205207

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

Summary:

At twenty-six years old Jessica McClain has finally made the full change into a female werewolf. The problem is she’s the only female werewolf in existence. Can she escape the prophecy that signifies she’s the doom of the werewolves?  And can she escape those that wish to simply own her for being so unique?

Review:

I loved the novella Blooded. (See my review here.) I was eagerly anticipating Full Blooded and I even pre-ordered it, so when Amanda Carlson asked me if I wanted an advance copy of the book I was ecstatic.

Let’s start with the whole female werewolf thing. It’s rare to see an author touch upon a heroine who’s a werewolf so well. It’s being done more and more lately, but it was really done well in this book. She wasn’t dependent on changing with the full moon. Her wolf was more like an alter ego that she could  communicate with. The werewolves also had a limited telepathic ability I thought was a nice addition. Needless to say I was impressed.

As far as Jessica goes, I really liked her. She had a direct was of handling her problems that I admired. Here she was, the lone female werwewolf in a pack of werewolves not to mention the supernatural community and she handled it. She kept her cool during the most stressful of times. She had a lot of fight in her. Almost obstinately so. At one point Rourke had to pull her kicking and screaming from a fight she had no chance of winning.

So let’s get to Rourke. He came along later in the book and he was a treat. Maybe it was because he was such a late addition there wasn’t as much character development as I would have liked. With the other characters I felt I knew them more because I had been introduced to them either in the novella or earlier in the book. Rourke was still fun to read about as he was commanding and sexy. I’m looking forward to reading more about him in future books.

I also really liked the vampires. They weren’t your run of your mill vampires and they weren’t of the glamorous sexy variety either. They definitely had a horrific element to them. Add in witches and you have a very exciting UF book!

The end of the book does leave you hanging and wanting more. So consider yourself warned. The next book, Hot Blooded is due out on April 13, 2013 and I’m already eagerly awaiting it.

*A free copy was provided by the author for an honest review.

Review – Libriomancer August 24, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: Libriomancer

Author: Jim C. Hines

Publisher: DAW  Hardcover

Publication Date: August 7, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-075640739

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg.  Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

Review:

Libriomancer is a fun book full of innovative magic including a cool new twist on vampires. Isaac Vainio is a failed field agent who has been designated as a cataloger when he’s suddenly attacked by a group of vampires. From there, along with the help of Lena the bokken wielding dryad, he endeavors to find out why the vampires are attacking and murdering Libriomancers. He also tries to discover who kidnapped Gutenberg, the founder of Libriomancy. What ensues is a mad adventure that is entertaining and delightful.

Isaac is your unlikely hero. He’s a retired field agent holed up in a small town library. He’s resourceful and the way he uses books as weapons reminds me of a Mr. Gadget. Lena is a great sidekick. As a dryad she has more durability and magic then your average human woman. She also has a bit of emotional baggage, but that’s all I can say about that. They make a great team. I hope they work things out and manage to keep their partnership alive for subsequent books.

And the magic? The magic was wonderful! You could delve into books! Books! And withdraw objects! Like laser guns, swords, healing potions. You name it! It was ever reader’s dream! And the vampires! The vampires were the coolest vampires I’ve ever read about. There were different strains of vampires depending on which books they originated from. How cool is that?  I admit at a few points it got a bit confusing to keep track of all the different vampire characters, but I loved it.

I do admit having a hard time getting into the book for the first 16% of it, but once I did I became thoroughly immersed. Another great piece of work by Jim Hines!

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.