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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.

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Review – The Devil is a Gentleman July 19, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Novellas, Urban Fantasy.
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4 comments

Title: The Devil is a Gentleman

Author: J.L. Murray

Series: Niki Slobodian

Publisher: Hellzapoppin Press

Publication Date: May 25, 2012

ASIN: B0086D3PM8

Available at: Amazon

Summary:

When hated Congressman Frank Bradley shows up on Nikki Slobodian’s doorstep, Nikki knows he’s nothing but trouble and she’s not wrong. He’s ingested angel blood. Not only does Nikki have to shoot the Congressman to keep him from killing her, now she has to find the angel who’s blood is being distributed by one of the most secret and powerful organizations in the world. In the process she’ll learn more then she’ll ever want to about her boss Sam and she’ll find out that maybe her father wasn’t as power hungry as she thought.

Review:

I was really excited when I saw the second Nikki Slobodian had come out. I started this book a little nervously, wondering if it could possibly be as good as the first book, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. It was, possibly even better then the first book.

The book starts off with a punch when Frank Bradley shows up at Nikki’s apartment hopped up on angel blood. The action doesn’t stop there as she goes on a mission to hunt down the angel who provided Bradley with the blood.

As the action unfolds, more mysteries are uncovered about Sam among other things. There were several things going on at the same time. None of them were too confusing. They just made things even more exciting.

Nikki’s character solidified as the book unfolded. Her character seemed to harden and coalesce as the book progressed making her larger then life. Bobby Gage, her partner was also further developed. More details about his life were revealed.

The more I learned about Sam, the more astonished I became. I totally didn’t see it coming. No spoilers, but it was a great surprise. Looking back, there were enough clues to who he was, I was just so absorbed in the story I just didn’t bother putting them together.

For a 200 pages book, there’s a lot packed inside of it. At the same time, I did wish it were longer just because I wished I could spend even more time with Nikki and co.

Review – Dead Demon Walking July 17, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: Dead Demon Walking

Author: Linda Welch

Series: Whisperings Paranormal Mystery

Publisher: Linda Welch

Publication Date:  March 20, 2011

ASIN: B004T4LHRS

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:  The sequel to Along Came a Demon and The Demon Hunters.

Is it just me? Is anyone else and their sweetie whisked from a romantic getaway and end up in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington DC? I don’t even get to show Royal my new sexy underwear.

The FBI think I’m a Medium. They want me to “communicate” with the victims of a particularly brutal crime. I have a hard time believing the Federal Bureau of Investigation would seek the help of a psychic investigator, particularly one from Utah. I don’t think they’re being honest with me.

What I discover at the crime scene tells me the killer is not human. I’m surprised when the agents reach the same conclusion. Luckily, they are way off base.

I don’t expect to revisit old places, or see old faces who demand we quit the case. I don’t expect to risk losing everything and everyone I cherish.

And what is it with Jack and Dale Jericho?

Review:

Dead Demon Walking  is a well-delivered, fast-paced punch with a mystery to boot. Tiff and Royal are dynamic as ever as their romance continues on in this third book. As a couple they’re matched perfectly. The only thing that gets in their way is the fact that Royal is from another world and has promises to that world he must keep. That promise is something Tiff can’t forget no matter what.

Meanwhile, Tiff is thrown into one situation after another where her talent for speaking to the violently slain comes to the test. First in Boston, then with the FBI. Each time becomes a tense adventure and you never know what to expect.

As Tiff and Royal become more and more embroiled in the killings that the FBI are also involved in. Things get messier and messier. Both of them get stretched to the limits of their endurance and their relationship will be put to the test once again. In one heart-stopping thrill after another we follow them until the very end.

This was by far the best book of the series. I had such fun reading it. While it was only 232 pages it felt like a much longer book. Nothing felt abbreviated or cut short. Can the next book even live up to this one?

Review – Along Came A Demon July 13, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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3 comments

Title: Along Came A Demon

Author: Linda Welch

Publisher:  Linda Welch

Publication Date:  May 6, 2009

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

I’m told the dead are all around us. I wouldn’t know about that. I see only the violently slain. They could be victims of hit-and-run, innocents caught in cross-fire, the murdered. I’ve come to terms with that. In fact, I’ve made a career out of it. They whisper to me and they never, ever, forget the face of their killer.

They aren’t the only supernatural things I see. No, they’re not vampires, werewolves or fae – those things don’t exist. We live side by side with what some call the Otherworldy. That’s too much of a mouthful for me. I call them demons. If you saw them as I do you’d know why.

Right now I’m trying to find a missing boy whose mother was murdered. Or was she murdered? To further complicate the case, Clarion PD gave me a partner I would rather shoot than work with.

I can’t tell them he’s a demon.

They’d think I’m crazy.

I’m Tiff Banks. Welcome to my world.

Review:

Tiff Banks is a spunky woman with a talent for seeing and talking to the departed who have been violently slain. She has a quick wit and she’s a no-nonsense kind of girl. I liked her from the very beginning.

On her quest to find a missing boy she meets Royal Mortensen, an Otherworldly. He’s mysterious, charming, and oh so sexy. They make a dynamic duo and I had a fun time riding along with them as they solved the mystery of why Lawrence went missing, who took him, and where he went.

The trust issues Tiff has are very real yet I loved the way she melted towards Royal in the end. Their romance is hot and steamy and she defies the sobriquet “Ice Queen” she’s earned herself among the police force.

I especially liked her interactions with her two ghostly roommates Mel and Jack. They provided comic relief. I hope they’re not left out of future books.

This was a very complete novella. It had a lot of action, a lot of romance, and a lot of story in so short a span. I can’t wait to delve into a full story by Welch.

Review: Pale Queen’s Courtyard July 3, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Pale Queen’s Courtyard (Moonlit Cities)

Author: Marcin Wrona

Publisher: Marcin Wrona

Publish Date: April 23, 2011

ASIN: B004XTTVCC

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Leonine, a thief and a sorcerer, is on the run from the Hunt in the city of Ekka where sorcery is outlawed. Kamvar is a soldier in the Hunt and is now questioning his commitment and his oath to the Hunt. When their paths cross with a 9-year-old girl, a powerful sorceress in her own right, both men will learn who they truly are.

Review:

Pale Queen’s Courtyard is a book I picked up because I liked The Whitechapel Gambit so much.  I found I wasn’t disappointed in this book. This tale is an epic fantasy with sweeping descriptions of the rich landscape of Ekka. Ekka was inspired by conquered Mesopotamia.  You could almost taste the dates.

The characters in this story sprang to life with every word. From the slaves to the guards, you could practically smell the incense.

Leonine was particularly vivid. Despite his ruthless nature, he was entirely sympathetic for some reason that I couldn’t fathom at the time. I suppose he was a product of his environment. His sorcery was outlawed. His family had been ripped away from him because of it. He had to make his living through thievery and he was constantly on the run. When young Ilasin enters into the story you’re given even more reason to like him as he becomes endearingly attached to her.

Kamvar was a simpler character. He made an oath to his god to follow the dictates of his religion and hunt down Daiva, sorcerers, with his fellow Huntsmen. Unfortunately that oath gets questioned when he’s asked to hunt down a 9-year-old girl for the sake of politics.

Much of the plot takes place on diverse paths between Kamvar and Leonine’s adventures. There’s no sense of discontinuity though and it all flows very smoothly. The switching perspectives gives you alternate views of what it’s like to be the conqueror and the conquered. It also gives you differing perspectives of what it looks like from opposing sides of  history.

The action is pretty evenly paced. There aren’t many places in the story to get bored. There are one or two occasions when it does slow down but it’s not for lack of reason. Truthfully, those brief periods gave me a chance to catch my breath. I still thought the pace faltered here and there.

Between the world building and the character development, this book is definitely worth picking up. There are two more books in the Moonlit Cities series, but they’re stand alone books.

Review: Pale Queen's Courtyard July 3, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Pale Queen’s Courtyard (Moonlit Cities)

Author: Marcin Wrona

Publisher: Marcin Wrona

Publish Date: April 23, 2011

ASIN: B004XTTVCC

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Leonine, a thief and a sorcerer, is on the run from the Hunt in the city of Ekka where sorcery is outlawed. Kamvar is a soldier in the Hunt and is now questioning his commitment and his oath to the Hunt. When their paths cross with a 9-year-old girl, a powerful sorceress in her own right, both men will learn who they truly are.

Review:

Pale Queen’s Courtyard is a book I picked up because I liked The Whitechapel Gambit so much.  I found I wasn’t disappointed in this book. This tale is an epic fantasy with sweeping descriptions of the rich landscape of Ekka. Ekka was inspired by conquered Mesopotamia.  You could almost taste the dates.

The characters in this story sprang to life with every word. From the slaves to the guards, you could practically smell the incense.

Leonine was particularly vivid. Despite his ruthless nature, he was entirely sympathetic for some reason that I couldn’t fathom at the time. I suppose he was a product of his environment. His sorcery was outlawed. His family had been ripped away from him because of it. He had to make his living through thievery and he was constantly on the run. When young Ilasin enters into the story you’re given even more reason to like him as he becomes endearingly attached to her.

Kamvar was a simpler character. He made an oath to his god to follow the dictates of his religion and hunt down Daiva, sorcerers, with his fellow Huntsmen. Unfortunately that oath gets questioned when he’s asked to hunt down a 9-year-old girl for the sake of politics.

Much of the plot takes place on diverse paths between Kamvar and Leonine’s adventures. There’s no sense of discontinuity though and it all flows very smoothly. The switching perspectives gives you alternate views of what it’s like to be the conqueror and the conquered. It also gives you differing perspectives of what it looks like from opposing sides of  history.

The action is pretty evenly paced. There aren’t many places in the story to get bored. There are one or two occasions when it does slow down but it’s not for lack of reason. Truthfully, those brief periods gave me a chance to catch my breath. I still thought the pace faltered here and there.

Between the world building and the character development, this book is definitely worth picking up. There are two more books in the Moonlit Cities series, but they’re stand alone books.

Review – Sea of Crises June 26, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Thriller.
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Title: Sea of Crises

Author: Mary Steere

Publisher: Penfield Publications

Publisher date: April 10, 2012

ISBN-10: 0985401400

Available at: Amazon – Barnes and Noble

Summary (From Publisher):

“That shouldn’t be here.” Those are the last words uttered by Commander Bob Cartwright in September 1976, just before all communication with the crew of Apollo 18 is inexplicably lost during the astronauts’ first moonwalk. Frantic attempts to re-establish communications with the astronauts are unsuccessful. Three days later, however, as NASA is scrambling to put together a rescue mission, astronomers detect a burn of the service propulsion system, and, on schedule, but still in eerie silence, the command module begins its return transit, culminating in the welcome sight of the capsule descending majestically beneath a trio of parachutes into the South Pacific. But when the hatch is opened, the navy divers tasked with assisting the astronauts into the recovery helicopter make a gruesome discovery. The bodies of the three men inside have been burned beyond recognition, victims of a failed heat shield. And with them has died any chance of learning the meaning of Cartwright’s enigmatic last statement or what transpired during those three blacked out days in the Mare Crisium, or Sea of Crises. Unfortunately, unless and until man returns to the moon, it’s a mystery that will remain forever unsolved. Or will it? Thirty-six years later, Cartwright’s sons make a shocking discovery: The capsule that came down in the Pacific Ocean with three charred remains was not their father’s capsule. And the body they buried all those years before was not their father. What they’ve uncovered puts the three brothers on the run, chased by a ruthless group who will stop at nothing to preserve the secret behind the fate of the Apollo 18 astronauts. The brothers will need to set aside past differences and pool their talents if they are to stay alive and unravel the mystery behind what really happened in the Sea of Crises.

Review*:

I normally don’t accept thrillers. For some reason I thought this had a sci-fi element to it but it doesn’t. Nonetheless this book still had excellent plot development. It moved along at a nice clip and I found myself involved from the very beginning.

The Cartwright brothers were well-fleshed out. They were all multi-layered and had many believable facets. Their interactions were very interesting to read about. I especially enjoyed reading about the twins. There was a lot of conflict there as one twin was gay and the other had judged him harshly for it.

Even the minor characters were well-developed. Tim’s method of coping with the stress of being on the run by reading paperbacks stands out to me. A fellow reader will always stand out to me.

The dog was a nice touch. It brought a level of humanity to the book that I don’t think would have been there otherwise. I was always in fear of the dog getting hurt. I have a soft spot for pets.

Like all thrillers there was some unbelievable parts to the novel. I could suspend my belief though for the sake of the story. They weren’t so far-fetched to stretch my suspension beyond control.

All in all, it was an extremely well-written book with lots of believable thrills and chills.  Af ter I finished the book I was even ready for more thrillers by the same author, which is saying something.

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

Review – Daughter of Smoke and Bone June 24, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company

Publish date: September 27, 2011

ISBN-10:  0316134023

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Review:

Do you ever have wild expectations about a book? Do you ever expect a book to be extraordinary? That’s what I went into this book with. I was not disappointed.

This book was wholly entertaining. Maybe it’s because I’m also an artist and I could relate to Karou and her art, but I loved her. With her untamed blue hair and her outrageous tattoos and her mysterious nature, she was delightful. I felt for her and her loneliness. I think we can agree that we can all relate to loneliness on some level.

Akiva was haunting. A soldier of the Seraphim, he grew up only knowing war and killing. He was ruthless yet tragic. The love ignited between the two was poignant. I haven’t been moved by a romance like theirs in a long time. The twists it takes are heart-wrenching.

The world building was phenomenal. From the streets of Prague to the alleys of Marrakesh to the various places of Elsewhere. All of these vast environs were laid out for you in exact detail. From sight to smell, you could practically experience it all.

The Chimaera and Seraphim were magnificent in their differences. One so bestial, the other so beatific, both imparting awe in all their power.

It was hard for me to keep the images of what Brimstone, Issa, Yasri, and Twiga looked like down. There’s only a brief mention of what they look like in the beginning of the book. That didn’t keep me from enjoying the book. Neither did the moments of where the plot got rather predictable. There were also some rather far-fetched moments that stretched my belief a little thin. Like I said, none of these things kept me from enjoying the book.

Now all I have to do is wait for the next installment which is due out in November!

Review – Jessica McClain: Blooded June 17, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Novellas, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: Jessica McClain: Blooded

Author: Amanda Carlson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Orbit

Publish Date: April 11, 2012

ASIN: B0078XGUZQ

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Jessica was born to the Alpha Werewolf of the Pack. Not only is she the only female, she’s human. She’s been called Daughter of Cain, a witch, a curse by superstitious werewolves. Now that  she’s nineteen she decides to take her fight to the ring. Hopefully her fight will win her freedom off the compound.

Review:

This short novella was action-packed. From the first moments in the ring to the last moments of the story, it was filled to the brim with violence. It’s not that it was gory, it was just heart-stopping thrills.

Jessica is fighting for freedom from the werewolves who are threatening her life at the Compound. Her father doesn’t want to let her go. She shows a level-head and a strength of will that I admire.

This is a wonderful prelude to the full-length book Full Blooded. You’re given a taste of their world and of the independence of spirit Jessica has. For such a short novella this was also a very satisfying read, although the teaser of Full Blooded at the end was a little hard for me to take. I’ll have to wait  for September for it to come out!

Review – Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea June 7, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Author: J. L. Murray

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Hellzapoppin Press

Publish date: January 29, 2012

ASIN: B0073998MC

Available at: Amazon

Summary:

Ever since Niki Slobodian got put on the Registry as an Abnormal for her ability to see ghosts, her life has gotten tough. She hasn’t been able to pay her electric bill and they might send her deathly ill grandmother home from the hospital.

So when a job from a mysterious client pops up that includes getting off the Registry pops up, Niki jumps at the chance. The job includes rounding up a Dark that’s escaped from Hell and is now hopping bodies on a homicidal spree. Somehow it seems Niki’s Summoner father is involved even though he’s still incarcerated. And the Dark might not be the only thing that escaped from Hell.

Review:

Niki was all that you could wish for in a strong female protagonist. She had humor, sarcasm in all the right places, and chutzpah. She also showed just the right amount of vulnerability when it counted.  I couldn’t help but cheer her on as she was catapulted from one impossible situation to another.

I enjoyed both Bobby and Eli as supporting characters. Bobby for his hulking, almost brotherly presence and Eli for his romantic connection. I appreciated both of them in their own ways as they each had their own charms.

Eli and Niki are old flames and meet again during the course of the investigation. Their encounters are sweet and I thought that Niki showed her vulnerable side well. She manged to appear both tough yet fearful of getting hurt again. All the while I cheered them on.

As you have Niki and Bobby hunting down the denizens of hell through the city, you’re taken on a wild ride. The plot is quick paced but it’s not rushed. There are pauses here and there for it to slowly build back up again. There are also enough twists and turns in the story to keep it from going stale. It was exhilarating and I felt like I was on one fun roller coaster.

I had a ball with Niki and I hope there are many more books to come in this series.