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Review – The Selection September 26, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Romance, Sci-Fi.
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Title: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication date: April 24, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062059932

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble 

From Goodreads:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Review:

I instantly fell in love with America Singer. She was one of the sweetest characters I’ve read this year. Yet she also had a deceptively strong backbone that most people wouldn’t immediately see. I admired America’s ability to play so many different instruments as well.

What to say about Aspen. I loved him in the beginning of the book. I thought he was sweet and dreamy. He had a hard time being a Six. He sacrificed a lot for his family. He also struggled with the fact that America made more money and had more then he did. I tried to understand that and forgive him for that, but I thought it was silly male pride. It was Aspen’s idea to have America enter the Selection. I also still can’t decide if having America enter the Selection was the silliest thing or the most selfless thing to do. He also became a little presumptuous in my opinion. He started thinking he knew what was best for America and that grated on my nerves. Maybe if he returns in later books he’ll have more of a chance to redeem himself.

The Selection itself was an interesting book. It reminded me a lot of a reality show with sci-fi elements. I really enjoyed it a lot more then I expected to because of the sci-fi elements. They weren’t everywhere but there were enough of them to keep the story fresh.

Prince Maxon was like a breath of fresh air after Aspen. He didn’t pressure America. He was also a bit awkward at times in his own way. You could tell that he didn’t have much experience with women. Despite that he managed to win his way into my heart or maybe it was because of that. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about him.

I should warn you there’s a huge love triangle in this book. It’s done fairly well but it’s not the best of the best. In other words I’m not a huge fan of it. I’m still going to read the next book because I’m curious to see who America ends up picking and how the selection goes. This is still a great book to read.

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 – Death’s Inception August 21, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Paranormal Romance.
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Title: Death’s Inception

Author: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Publisher: CreateSpace

Publication Date: June 17, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1477424087

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Kyle Ulysses Hart and his team of scientists mapped the human genome in the year 2010. As Brain Impulse Technology came online… so did the long arm of the United States government. A covert, military-driven regime was born with genetic manipulation the key to future widespread control.

When pharmaceutical laboratories, funded by the Graysheets, discover a way to unlock paranormal potential through compulsive inoculation, their exploitative dream is realized.

Clyde and Caleb’s lives are predestined to intertwine as they cross paths, his history becoming Caleb’s future.

A lone teenager named Jeffrey Parker, falls prey when he manifests the rare, Affinity for the Dead.The Graysheets abandon all pretense of stewardship, ripping him from his family for their nefarious purposes.

Can Jeffrey remain who he was destined to be in an environment exclusively built for mass control?

Review:

This prequel to the Death series was enlightening and revealed a lot about Clyde and Jeffrey Parker. I’m a big fan of Tamara and her writing. This novella was no exception to how much I love her work.

When Jeffrey’s life falls apart as his paranormal powers start to awaken, his life falls apart. The Graysheets take control of his life and he’s changed forever. It was particularly tragic seeing how the Graysheets took over Jeffrey’s life.

I was really excited to get a glimpse of Jeffrey as a teenager. He’s exceptionally smart and precocious. He has to become incredibly tough because of all the trauma he’s gone through. He’s also extremely determined. Jeffrey showed a side of himself that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

Seeing Clyde when he was alive was surprising and delightful. Clyde was a great character to explore. On one hand you want his story to have a happy ending on the other hand you know it doesn’t end well. It was tough. I still thought his story was sweet.

I thought the transitions from one story to another were smooth. There was never a sense of being jarred out of your senses or of their being a stilted conversation lag. There’s also romance in the story, but I’ll leave you to read it to find out whose romance it is.

Although I wanted to read even more once the book was through, I didn’t get the sense of an incomplete story. I think all good books leave you with the sense of wanting to prolong the experience no matter what, just like this one did.

Review – Death's Inception August 21, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Paranormal Romance.
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Title: Death’s Inception

Author: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Publisher: CreateSpace

Publication Date: June 17, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1477424087

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Kyle Ulysses Hart and his team of scientists mapped the human genome in the year 2010. As Brain Impulse Technology came online… so did the long arm of the United States government. A covert, military-driven regime was born with genetic manipulation the key to future widespread control.

When pharmaceutical laboratories, funded by the Graysheets, discover a way to unlock paranormal potential through compulsive inoculation, their exploitative dream is realized.

Clyde and Caleb’s lives are predestined to intertwine as they cross paths, his history becoming Caleb’s future.

A lone teenager named Jeffrey Parker, falls prey when he manifests the rare, Affinity for the Dead.The Graysheets abandon all pretense of stewardship, ripping him from his family for their nefarious purposes.

Can Jeffrey remain who he was destined to be in an environment exclusively built for mass control?

Review:

This prequel to the Death series was enlightening and revealed a lot about Clyde and Jeffrey Parker. I’m a big fan of Tamara and her writing. This novella was no exception to how much I love her work.

When Jeffrey’s life falls apart as his paranormal powers start to awaken, his life falls apart. The Graysheets take control of his life and he’s changed forever. It was particularly tragic seeing how the Graysheets took over Jeffrey’s life.

I was really excited to get a glimpse of Jeffrey as a teenager. He’s exceptionally smart and precocious. He has to become incredibly tough because of all the trauma he’s gone through. He’s also extremely determined. Jeffrey showed a side of himself that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

Seeing Clyde when he was alive was surprising and delightful. Clyde was a great character to explore. On one hand you want his story to have a happy ending on the other hand you know it doesn’t end well. It was tough. I still thought his story was sweet.

I thought the transitions from one story to another were smooth. There was never a sense of being jarred out of your senses or of their being a stilted conversation lag. There’s also romance in the story, but I’ll leave you to read it to find out whose romance it is.

Although I wanted to read even more once the book was through, I didn’t get the sense of an incomplete story. I think all good books leave you with the sense of wanting to prolong the experience no matter what, just like this one did.

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 – Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict May 16, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Author: Laurie Viera Rigler

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Publisher: Plume

Publication Date: June 25, 2009

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

In this sequel to “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict“, Miss Jane Mansfield finds herself in the body of Courtney Stone in the year 2009. This 19th century girl needs all the help she can get from such friends as Wes, the sexy website developer. As she grapples with the transition from 19th century life to 21st century life, she also finds herself wondering if Courtney made the right decision to break the engagement with Frank.

I really enjoyed what was essentially a parallel novel to “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict“. Jane’s reactions to 21st century life appeared very realistic.  I delighted in Jane’s adventures while at the same time felt quite anxious for her adjustment to all the changes.

What was particularly wrenching was her realization of the sexual revolution. You can imagine her shock and horror over what she imagine was the ruination of her ‘reputation’ after she learned she had slept with her ex-fiancee. All the more chagrined was she when she learned that Wes knew about it, to put it mildly.

Seeing her evolve into an independent, modern woman was a joy. While we may romanticize the 19th century, life for them wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. It made me appreciate the freedoms I have. Maybe I won’t take for granted what is so common to women these days.

There were pockets of predictability and repetition that kept me from completely enjoying and immersing myself in Jane’s world. Her reactions became a broken record at times. It wasn’t often and it wasn’t always the same situation, but it was enough to give me pause.

There was also the matter of the mysterious fortune-teller with her sage advice and her magical tricks. I thought the matter of her reappearing in this book was a little too snug for my liking. I think Jane accepted her too much at face value. I’m not too sure a 19th century girl would just accept what is essentially a witch so sagaciously.

The end of this book makes the end of the other book much more clear. All my questions are answered and I’m satisfied in that respect, but the resolution felt rushed and hurried. It was also too neat and pat, but I suppose that could be typical of romances which I’m not all that used to reading.

Despite its speed bumps, I still enjoyed myself!

Review – Hotel Iris March 9, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Foreign.
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Hotel Iris

by Yoko Ogawa

(also available in paperback and NOOK)

Hotel Iris is a small hotel on an resort island in Japan owned by a Mother and a 17-year-old daughter named Mari. Mari strikes up an affair with “the translator”, a middle-aged man. This novella is about their forbidden and sometimes violent love.

Mari’s mother is very controlling and I thought that this affair was also about Mari’s way of rebelling. Mari’s father also died at a very young age, so you can’t help but feel that maybe she has “daddy issues”.

Either way, the tale is a good one. It’s sultry and tantalizing, as well as poignant and sweet.

I liked the way Mari never refers to her lover by name. She constantly refers to him as “the translator”. In this way she’s constantly distancing herself from him, despite the love affair they’re engaged in and the feelings she professes she has for him.

Despite the fact this story was about a love affair, it didn’t completely center on their sex life. In fact it played a somewhat minor role. It’s there but only in context as the basis of their relationship.

The book surprised me in that I enjoyed it a lot more then I thought I would. I’m not a fan of romance of any genre but Ogawa did a masteful job of relaying her message in as tasteful a manner as possible.