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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 – The Unnaturalists August 31, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Steampunk.
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2 comments

Title: The Unnaturalists

Author: Tiffany Trent

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Publication date: August 14, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1442422063

Available at: Amazon KindleBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

Review:

The Unnaturalists is a steampunk novel contains so much more then magical creatures. With the Unnaturals there are wielders of magic, like a witch and Architects as they’re called. They added an extra dose of excitement to the story. There was also one particularly violent scene. It took me by surprise because I didn’t expect to find it it in a young adult book, but maybe I’m being over-sensitive.

I liked Vespa for the most part. She had an eagerness about her that was very refreshing. My problem with her was her unshaking confidence in people that became rather naive truth be told. For a scientific mind, you would think she’d look at the cold hard facts and discern what was in front of her rather then what was in her heart. Instead she was swayed by emotion rather then by logic.

Syrus was resourceful and resilient. He had a way about him that never ceased to give up in despite the odds. I really liked him. He’d fight and fight, no matter what. He was pretty good at it too!

I also really liked Pedant Lumin. He always managed to keep his cool and be in the right place at the right time. Lumin was all at once the dashing hero and the resourceful sidekick. The intriguing mix of roles kept me interested and I was entranced by his character the most.

One of the things I enjoyed most was their religion. Trent made science itself a religion. Scientists became patron saints. Darwin and Newton became patron saints. It was also a goddess based religion. I have to admit I’m pretty partial to goddess based religions.

Basically, the Unnaturals are being used for a hideous purpose and it’s up to the three to stop it. I was interested enough in the plot to keep reading. It was fresh enough for me to be intrigued even if it’s been recycled in one form or another. I feel like Vespa could have stood to become more fully developed to have let the story become fuller. Although the book fell on more of the supporting cast to pull it through as far as likability, it’s still a strong one. As far as likability goes, that could be a matter of preference.

Review – Wake August 22, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Title: Wake

Series: Watersong

Author: Amanda Hocking

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: August 7, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1250008121

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From the publisher:

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They’re the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone’s attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs.  She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door.  He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back.  Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever.  She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove.  They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price.  And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

Review:

This is definitely a young adult novel. The characters in this book definitely have the maturity of teenagers. Not that it’s a bad thing. I’m  just making a note of that. Having done that we can move on.

Gemma truly does have everything but the other thing she does have is a domineering older sister. At age eighteen, Harper tried to be too much to Gemma. When she should have been having fun and dating she was making sure her father had her lunch at work and that Gemma  didn’t stay out past her curfew. She was doing all this because their mother had gotten into a car accident years ago which left her brain damaged and unable to live with them. Eventually I got used to Harper and her ways, but I’m not sure Gemma ever did.

Once Gemma got in trouble with involved with Penn, Lexi, and Thea, there was nothing Harper could do. Gemma was spinning out of Harper’s control. As their relationship deteriorated  so did many other aspects of Gemma’s life. Like Alex and Gemma’s relationship.

As for Alex? I thought he was sweet and I definitely thought that Gemma and his relationship was sweet, but he lacked a certain depth to him. If there was anyone that was swoonworthy, it would have been Daniel. He pursued Harper with a single determination that I didn’t think she deserved. I couldn’t understand it. But he was kind, funny without being cruel, and quick-witted.

The thing that makes this book unique is that Gemma fought becoming mermaid. In most books the heroine delights in becoming a mermaid, but not this book. She fights it every step of the way with disastrous results. You could see the end coming but you didn’t want it to happen! I can’t wait for the next book!

Review – Andor's Awakening August 14, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Andor’s Awakening

Author: Brendan O’Keefe

Publisher: Brendan O’Keefe

Publication Date: March 15, 2012

ASIN: B007KZ0CQU

Available at: Amazon

Summary:

The Raz are overtaking Shea, city by city. Leaving humanity in desperate straits.

After being rescued by a band of Imperial soldiers, Andor is left with no memory of who he is but for his name. He slowly comes into his powers and realizes he may be Shea’s one hope against the Razian forces. But at what cost?

Review:

I was quickly swept away by the action in this book. Andor woke up and was attacked by a Razian soldier one minute then had to escape the city of Lewe while a Reaper was in pursuit of himself and his comrades, the next. The action was never harried or frenzied. It had a nice pace to it.

The world-building was amazingly detailed. From the different gods to the different countries, each detail was meticulously laid out. I could imagine it all with the help of O’Keefe. I especially liked the scene with the temple. The stone statues of the gods were so well described I could almost feel them.

I couldn’t really connect with Andor. He showed one instance of being remarkably naive that really bothered me.

Tiny spoiler here.

When Andor regained his memory of his family, he somehow expected them to be alive in the face of the mass destruction of Lewe. In the face of the genocide the Razians wreaked in Lewe, he was convinced they were alive. I found that hard to swallow. I understand grief when faced with the reality of their deaths over the conjecture of their deaths. But to obstinately believe they’re alive over all evidence to the contrary? I had a hard time believing that.

Other then that I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t quite connect with him. I didn’t dislike him. I just didn’t connect with him in any meaningful way. The same goes for the other characters.  I couldn’t really relate to any of them. I didn’t feel any camaraderie with them.  If anything, I liked Mar the most but he was such a minor character in the book that I really didn’t get a chance to get to know him.

There were also grammatical and spelling errors which were annoying and distracting. Amazon indicated that this was a 1.2 edition. I’m not sure if my copy was a 1.2 edition but if it was it still needs some work.

The world-building and the action more then make up for the deficit of the character development, in my opinion. This book will take you on a wild ride you won’t regret.

*A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Andor’s Awakening August 14, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Andor’s Awakening

Author: Brendan O’Keefe

Publisher: Brendan O’Keefe

Publication Date: March 15, 2012

ASIN: B007KZ0CQU

Available at: Amazon

Summary:

The Raz are overtaking Shea, city by city. Leaving humanity in desperate straits.

After being rescued by a band of Imperial soldiers, Andor is left with no memory of who he is but for his name. He slowly comes into his powers and realizes he may be Shea’s one hope against the Razian forces. But at what cost?

Review:

I was quickly swept away by the action in this book. Andor woke up and was attacked by a Razian soldier one minute then had to escape the city of Lewe while a Reaper was in pursuit of himself and his comrades, the next. The action was never harried or frenzied. It had a nice pace to it.

The world-building was amazingly detailed. From the different gods to the different countries, each detail was meticulously laid out. I could imagine it all with the help of O’Keefe. I especially liked the scene with the temple. The stone statues of the gods were so well described I could almost feel them.

I couldn’t really connect with Andor. He showed one instance of being remarkably naive that really bothered me.

Tiny spoiler here.

When Andor regained his memory of his family, he somehow expected them to be alive in the face of the mass destruction of Lewe. In the face of the genocide the Razians wreaked in Lewe, he was convinced they were alive. I found that hard to swallow. I understand grief when faced with the reality of their deaths over the conjecture of their deaths. But to obstinately believe they’re alive over all evidence to the contrary? I had a hard time believing that.

Other then that I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t quite connect with him. I didn’t dislike him. I just didn’t connect with him in any meaningful way. The same goes for the other characters.  I couldn’t really relate to any of them. I didn’t feel any camaraderie with them.  If anything, I liked Mar the most but he was such a minor character in the book that I really didn’t get a chance to get to know him.

There were also grammatical and spelling errors which were annoying and distracting. Amazon indicated that this was a 1.2 edition. I’m not sure if my copy was a 1.2 edition but if it was it still needs some work.

The world-building and the action more then make up for the deficit of the character development, in my opinion. This book will take you on a wild ride you won’t regret.

*A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Throne of Glass August 10, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Title: Throne of Glass

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication Date: August 7, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1599906959

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes & Noble

From the publisher:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Review:

I had been eagerly awaiting the release of this book since May. I was a little worried that I’d be disappointed but there wasn’t anything to worry about. I was captivated from the first few paragraphs.

At age eighteen Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s greatest assassin. She’s spent a year doing hard labor in a salt mine for her crimes. She’s brought before the Crown Prince of Adarlan after that year and she still has her spirit. She hasn’t been broken. She’s been whipped, half-starved, worked to death, and maltreated. Yet she still has fight in her.

As I got to know Celaena, I grew to admire her even more. She was even more resilient then I imagined. Yet she had all the realistic weak spots you’d grow to expect from someone who had spent all that time in a prison camp.

Celaena also had determination. She was understandable physically weak from her year in a prison camp. So to  get in shape for the contest she trained hard. She could have reveled under the feel of what freedom she was afforded and luxuries she had instead she worked hard towards the ultimate goal.

Her romance with Prince Dorian was something! It wasn’t surprising though. It was sweet. It was romantic and I liked it. He was devilishly charming. Only  the whole time they were together I wondered where it would lead to? In fact it added a bit of excitement to it in that it was a bit of a forbidden romance. That question wasn’t answered in this book. Maybe it will be answered in another book.

There was a bit of a love triangle, but it was very well done. There wasn’t any rivalry. Chaol and Dorian are best friends and they want nothing to come between them, especially a woman. Celaena has no designs on being that woman to come between them. Yet there is something there between Chaol and Celaena. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s further explored in upcoming books.

Chaol was more antagonistic towards Celaena, but in the end I liked him for that. Their banter became something I looked forward to. At first I thought he was rather hard-hearted. Eventually though, he softened towards her making him all the more endearing.

There is a mystery in the book. It was very intriguing. I was at a loss until the end of the book. I always love a good mystery. Between the killing of the champions and the tests themselves, it was a very interesting way to go about a book.

I loved this book. I tried not to read it too fast but I couldn’t help myself. If I had another way of making it last longer then I would have taken it. I had a really hard time writing this review and I can’t help but feel that my words haven’t done it justice. I can only urge you guys to read this book yourselves!

Review – The Forsaken July 31, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars.
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4 comments

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 – The Devil is a Gentleman July 19, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Novellas, Urban Fantasy.
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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 – The Demon Hunters July 15, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: The Demon Hunters

Author: Linda Welch

Publisher:  Linda Welch

Publication Date: August 26, 2009

ASIN: B002WYJPKI

Available at: Amazon –  Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

The sequel to Along Came a Demon:

I’m Tiff Banks and I talk to the violently slain. I’ve learned to live with that, in fact I’ve made a career out of it.

Ex-detective Royal Mortensen and I opened our own investigative agency, and I thought we made a good team. I felt secure in our personal relationship too, until our new clients turned up. Why did Royal take them on without consulting me, and why are they withholding information which could help solve their case? I don’t think they’re human, and Royal knows exactly what they are, but refuses to tell me. I think there’s a lot Royal isn’t telling me.

I discovered that while I looked into the disappearance of author Gia Sabato’s lover, Royal investigated something far more sinister. Are the two cases connected? Does an authentic nineteenth-century journal have anything to do with either?

When the case turns ugly, so does my relationship with the one man I’ve come to trust. So I’ll do what I do best: pound the pavement and talk to dead people. The dead are always watching, they can do nothing else. They whisper to me.

Review:

Tiff Banks doesn’t understand why her lover Royal Mortensen has suddenly withdrawn and has left her out of the loop with these new clients. She’s hurt and she’s become insecure. Instead of crying in her milk, she takes action. Tiff investigates the case Gia gave them by questioning her dead informants as well as her living informants. She also uses the brains she has to ferret out information about her clients that wasn’t previously known.

If I hadn’t come to admire Tiff in the first book, I would have come to admire her in the second. She showed a backbone and a spirit that I would have liked to have her in situation. The one man, the one person she finally learned to trust, after trust had become so foreign and difficult to her, broke that trust. Yet she didn’t break down herself.

The plot in this book may have been done before but it was fresh enough to be interesting. There was enough mystery added to keep you guessing and wondering and you were sufficiently dazzled by all that was happening.

At the end of the book I still had a lot of questions left unanswered but I think that was intentional. Maybe it’s a lead-off into another book. It was a little unsatisfying.  On the whole, I did enjoy this story even though it wasn’t as great as the first book.

Review – Along Came A Demon July 13, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
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.

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