Monday, February 28, 2011

Review - Monster Hunter International (MHI, Book 1) by Larry Correia (5/5 stars)

Monster Hunter InternationalReading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror
Size: 736 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: July 28, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1439132852
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in Monster Hunter International series
Source: Bought
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the first book in the Monster Hunter International series by Larry Carreia.  The second book is Monster Hunter Vendetta and third is titled Monster Hunter Alpha and is scheduled for an August 2011 release.  Last I heard there are five books planned for this series.  This was an excellent read; a bit more horror than urban fantasy and lots of guns.

Owen is an accountant when his boss turns into a werewolf and attacks him.  Well Owen beats the werewolf a bit and pushes it out a window to its death...bare-handed.  Owen is pretty beat up and when he wakes up in the hospital he is in for more than he ever imagined.  Owen is recruited by Monster Hunters International (MHI).  They were impressed with his tenacity in beating down that werewolf and want him to join their ranks.  The pay is awesome, the guns kick-ass, and the job...well it's just a bit dangerous is all.  When Owen agrees to sign up with MHI he is in for more crazy monster action than he ever imagined.

This was a super fun book.  There is a lot of humor in it and it had me laughing out loud a number of times.  There are a lot of guns and weaponry.  There are also some amazingly intricate characters; there is not a boring character in this whole book.  The plot is crazy fast and keeps you guessing.

This book is probably more of a horror than an urban fantasy; although it could belong to either genre.  Vampires, ghouls, werewolves, etc. are not humanized in this book...they are monsters right out of an old horror story.  The characters are amazing.  All of them have some brutality in their pasts and it makes for interesting issues.  Owen is a huge, dangerous man; yet somehow he is very human and easy to relate too.  He comes off as kind of sweet at some points, and very intelligent.  The same can be said for the rest of the characters; they are complex, intriguing, and wonderful to read about.

The plot moves at a fast clip and there are a ton of action scenes.  The action scenes are very well done and make it easy to picture what is happening.  The plot is almost epic in scope.  It starts with Owen's training (which I love since I believe heroes need to learn how to fight the bad guys from somehwere), goes on to individual hunts, and then ties in to a huge plot that is bigger than this world alone.  I loved how the plot tied everything together and was happy with how the book wrapped up.

There are a couple things to note about this book that set it apart from other urban fantasies/horror.  This book is told from Owen's perspective so at times it gets kind of macho.  There is posturing between the men and stupid things done to impress the ladies.  This didn't bother me, but it definitely gives the book a male flavor (as opposed to many urban fantasies out there that are targeted at women).  That being said it does have very strong female leads as well and Owen does have a love interest throughout.  The other thing is the detail put into the description of the weaponry.  Correia definitely knows his guns and this is apparent throughout the book.  I like reading about guns, so for the most part, this didn't bother me.  If you don't like weaponry and don't like reading about that this may not be the book for you...because a lot of words are spent describing weaponry.

Overall I absolutely loved this story.  I loved the characters, loved the plot, loved the action, and loved the guns.  I will definitely be reading future books in this series.  If you are a fan of monster hunters, high action urban fantasy, and guns you will love this book.  Keep in mind in this book the monster are clearly monsters (no sympathetic vampires here).  I will be picking up Monster Hunter Vendetta as soon as I have to chance to do so.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox and Mailbox Monday - 2/28

IMM is a meme started at The Story Siren with some inspiration from Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.

Anyone can participate in IMM and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you've bought or books that you've gotten at the library.

Mailbox Monday can be found at: The Printed Page

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This week I got three books. You can see them listed below.  The Clockwork Three was from Vine.  I actually found Across the Universe used at Barnes and Noble (I was super excited to find it so cheap!)  Then picked up the Legends graphic novel because the artwork was soooo awesome. Hope you all have a wonderful week of reading :-)

From Amazon Vine For Review:
The Clockwork Three
The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

Across the UniverseLegends: The Enchanted
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Legends: The Enchanted by Nick Percival

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review - Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 3) by J.R. Ward (5/5 stars)

Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 3)Reading level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Size:  464 pages
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: September 5, 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0451219367
Stand Alone or Series: 3rd book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series
Source: Audio book from
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the third book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood and I listened to it on audio book.  The audio book was well done.  This was by far my favorite book in this series.  It tells the story of Zsadist and Bella.  As with many other readers of this series Zsadist is by far my favorite Brother.

Zsadist is set to rescue Bella from the Lesser that kidnapped her in the end of Book 2, Lover Eternal.  When he does Bella ends up in his room to heal.  Zsadist can't stand to touch her or be touched by her and what follows is an uneasy recovery. As Bella heals and gains the courage to leave the Brother's House things get complicated.  Zsadist and his brothers are trying to hunt down the lesser that captured Bella but aren't having much luck.  As a result Bella is forced to stay longer at the Brother's House.  Will Bella and Zsadist ever be able to get past Zsadist's dark past?  This story is intersperse with scenes featuring John Matthews as he starts his training with the Brothers, Rehvenge is introduced more fully (Bella's brother), and Phury (Zsadist's brother) also struggles with his own issues.

This was my favorite book of the series.  I love both Bella and Zsadist and loved watching them work out their substantial issues together.  You spend quite a bit of time learning about Zsadist's past and it is just as brutal and horrible as you are given to believe in previous books.  More than any of the couples featured in previous books Bella and Zsadist are on again, off again and really struggle with their relationship.

Both Bella and Zsadist grow substantially as characters throughout the book, I was impressed with the vast character development and was happy with how that was done.  Bella has got to be one of the most gracefully persistent heroines ever, and boy can she kick butt when she sets her mind to it.  I just loved her as a character.  Out of all of the books so far this one had the best and most interesting love scenes too.

The plot between the Lessers and the Brotherhood is woven throughout but definitely takes a backseat to Bella and Zsadist's story.  This book did jump around between characters more than previous books and at times that was really annoying because I just wanted to find out what Bella and Zsadist were doing!  It was nice though to have story built up around John's character, Rehvenge's character, Butch's character, and Phury's character.  The plot also had a couple of big surprises and a heart-breaker in it, so it was more engaging and entertaining than previous books.

Overall this was my absolutely favorite book in this series to date.  I have a hard time seeing how Ward will top this book in future books.  If you liked the previous two books, you will love this book.  These are definitely romance heavy books, but there were some good fight scenes in here too.  After this book I think I am going to take a little break and then pick up with the fourth book, Lover Revealed, next month.  I can only take so much romance before it all seems a bit too formulaic to me.  As far as romance goes these are excellent book though, and this was the best yet.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 3)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Children's Book Review - The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari by Donita K. Paul (4/5 stars)

The Dragon and the Turtle Go on SafariReading level: Ages 4-8
Genre: Imagination and Play
Size:  40 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Release Date: January 11, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0307446459
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd The Dragon and The Turtle Book
Source: Finished Copy through Librarythings's Early Reviewer Program
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got a copy of this book through Librarything's Early Reviewer program.  I have a four year old son who adores dragons and was really looking forward to reading this book with him.  The strong point of this book are the wonderful illustrations.  The story is decent too and teaches some good lessons.

Padraig (the dragon) and Roger (the turtle) are determined to camp out all night on a pretend safari.  The problem is they keep encountering and hearing dangerous wild animals, for example baby cougars (kittens), etc.  They are going to try and make it through the night but when Padraig gets too scared it might be time to retire to the comforts of home.

This book had a lot of strengths.  The illustrations are cute and the story is fun.  The friends are supportive of each other and when Padraig gets too scared Roger lets him know it's okay to admit you are scared and to try again another time.  It's a good example of imaginative play where the characters are pretending to be on safari but are really only in their backyards.

There were also a couple of problems with the book.  First of all there is a lot of Brit-speak in here.  I thought it was kind of cute, but my four year old found it confusing at points and wanted me to stop and explain what all the words meant or why they were used that way.  Okay if you want your kid learning British English, but a bit confusing for kids just learning how to read.  The plot was a bit confusing too, at first it wasn't clear whether they were actually on a safari or pretending to be on a safari.  At points the pictures actually show giraffes and stuff and at other times they show the actual animals (Raccoons, squirrels).  As an adult I found it kind of confusing and my son was totally confused.  He thought they lived in the jungle and then wondered why they were calling things a cougar but showing a kitten.  So that is a bit confusing also.

Overall though it was definitely a winner for my son.  He enjoys the story and grabs it off the bookshelf quite often to read.  It is not his favorite book but he enjoys it.  I really enjoy the great illustrations but having to stop to explain the British English gets a bit tiresome.  Cute story for fans of dragons.  Teaches imaginative play and how to be a good and sensitive friend.  It is a decent read, but my son and I didn't like it enough to go out and by the first book in this series: The Dragon and the Turtle.

The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari

Book Blogger Hop: 2/25-2/28

Book Blogger HopThe Book Blogger Hop is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books and runs from Friday to Sunday. The Hop is a fantastic way to get your blog noticed more and visit some other cool blogs that you didn't know about before. Head over and sign up and see what you can find! 

Each week a different twist will be added to the hop so that everyone gets to know each other better so here's my little bit of information this week.

"Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?"

The answer to this question would be a resounding yes! When I started this blog I started it mainly as a place to keep track of books I had read and a place for friends and family to keep track of what I was reading.  Well then last year I decided to start doing more with it.  While the name "Karissa's Reading Review" was appropriate for a small blog that my family came to read, I think it is a lame name for a fantasy focused blog and I don't think it is a name that people see and think "Wow, I wonder what that blog is like!?"   

I have seriously been thinking about renaming it but that gets complicated.  Since a lot publishers have my blog name as my contact name.  What do you guys think?  Should I rename it?  Any suggestions?

DNF Review - The Atomic Weight of Secrets by Eden Unger Bowditch

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black (The Young Inventors Guild)Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Size: 320 pages
Publisher: Bancroft Press
Release Date: March 15, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1610880022
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC through
Rating: Did Not Finish

I got an advanced reading copy of this book through netgalley(dot)com and was excited to read it.  It sounded right up my alley: children geniuses, mysterious men in black, adventure.  I enjoyed the very first part of the book, then the next section was incredibly hard for me to get through.  I got through maybe the first 100 pages and finally gave up because I keep falling asleep while reading it.

The story is about five children who get taken by their homes by some mysterious men in black and sent to a special school.  Why where they taken?  Where are their parents?  And who are these crazily mysterious men in black?

The book started out well.  I loved that it jumped right into a chemistry experiment by one of the child geniuses; I love chemistry :-)  There is a lot of mystery around why the children are in that building together and around how they are trying to escape.

Then the book goes back in time to cover how two of the children came to be at that school building.  This was pretty boring.  I had a hard time getting through it.  I set down and picked up the book multiple times and just kept finding my mind wandering during this section.  I was just barely creeping through this part and it was painful, I kept falling asleep.  I finally decided that it was time to set the book aside and read something else.

Overall I think this could be a good read.  I just found the explanation of how this set of kids came to be at the school very boring.  I might pick it up at a later date and give it another try, but for now it was just too painful for me to finish.  If you like historical fiction at a middle grade level you might want to give the synopsis a read through to see if this book is for you.  I am assuming it picks up later in the book, but I just never made it that far.

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black (The Young Inventors Guild)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review - The Dead and the Gone (Last Survivors, Book 2) by Susan Beth Pfeffer (4/5 stars)

The Dead and the Gone (The Last Survivors, Book 2)Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Post-apocalyptic
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Graphia
Release Date: January 18, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0547258553
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd Book in Last Survivors Trilogy
Source: Swapped through
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the second book in the Last Survivors trilogy by Pfeffer.  I didn't like this book quite as much as the first, but I did enjoy finding out how a large city dealt with the apocalyptic events that took place in the first book.

This book follows around a young boy (17 years old) named Alex who lives in New York City.  It is not a journal like the first book, but tells the story by date and time.  Alex's parents are lost during the event; one is in Puerto Rico and one is working in a hospital when things start to go South for the city.  Alex is left to take care of his twelve year old sister Julie and his fifteen year old sister Bri.  Their day to day survival is chronicled from the point of the moon moving on forward; it seems to cover the same period of time that the first book did.

This book wasn't quite as good as Life As We Knew It.  To be honest I think this book suffered some because it wasn't done in a journal-type format.  Because of this we weren't able to follow Alex's thoughts and speculations as well.

I did enjoy seeing the events from the first book in setting of a big city.  Pfeffer did a pretty good job of detailing all the things that could go wrong in that type of setting; she thought of some things I hadn't considered.  There are some pretty grisly things that happen in this book, they aren't described in stomach turning detail, but they are there.  Honestly I thought maybe the violence was toned down a bit since this was a young adult book. 

Religion features in this book since it plays a big part in Alex's life.  I am not big on books that feature religion, but for this book it worked well.  In the end it was Alex's involvement with his church (or just with a tight-knit community in general) that really helped his survival.

The book makes you ask questions and think about what you would do in a similar situation.  You can't help but compare the issues with surviving in a rural area (as depicted in the first book) to the issues with surviving in the city.  In general there were easier and harder things about both situations.

Overall this was a solid book and I enjoyed reading it.  It was neat to see the events from the first book, but set in a big city.  This book wasn't quite as good as the first and I think not having it be a journal made it suffer some.  I will definitely be reading the third and final installment, This World We Live In.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 100+ Reading Challenge

The Dead and the Gone (The Last Survivors, Book 2)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Graphic Novel Review - Crown of Horns (Bone, Book 9) by Jeff Smith (5/5 stars)

Bone, Vol. 9: Crown of HornsReading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Graphc Novel/Fantasy
Size: 224 pages
Publisher: Graphix
Release Date: January 20, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0439706322
Stand Alone or Series: 9th book in the Bone series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the ninth and final book in Smith's Bone series.  It did a very nice job of wrapping up the series, I loved it.

The book starts out bleakly; Thorn and Fone Bone have been beaten and locked in the dungeon, Gran'ma Ben is on the ramparts trying to fight off hordes of rat creatures, and Lucius is missing.  This book takes us through the final battle, the search for the Crown of Horns, and the events following.

Illustration is in keeping with previous volumes and is very well done.  I would recommend reading all previous volumes before this one so that you have a good appreciation for what is happening in this volume.

The book starts bleak but there is a lot of humor peppered throughout.  There are a couple nice twists in the story, although for the most part it ends as you would expect it to end.  It is a very solid fantasy and I enjoyed how it all ended.  The story was nicely wrapped up.

There were some characters that I wish we had spent more time with; for example I think the character of Rock Jaw could have been used to make thing even more interesting.

Overall this has been just a wonderful fantasy graphic novel series and this installment only added to the wonderfulness.  If you haven't picked it up to read, you should!  It is just a wonderful series.  Now I will be picking up Tall Tales and the prequel novel about Rose.  I will also be checking out the future release The Quest for the Spark illustrated by Jeff Smith and written by Thomas Sniegoski (who also write the Remy Chandler urban fantasy series which I enjoy).

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 100+ Reading Challenge
- Fantasy Reading Challenge
- Graphic Novels Challenge List

Bone, Vol. 9: Crown of Horns 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 2/23

Okay "Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is A Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep this is the first book in her new young adult Mythos Academy series.  I am absolutely in love with her Elemental Assassin series and can't wait to read what she comes up with for a young adult series.  You can see the beautiful cover below.  I couldn't find a synopsis of this book but you can read the first two chapters here.  Right now three books are planned in this series.

A Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Kensington 
Release Date: July 26th 2011
ISBN: 978-0758266927

Early Review - After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn (4/5 stars)

After the Golden AgeReading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 304 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: April 12, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0765325556
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: From Amazon Vine
Rating: 4/5 stars

I am a fan of Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series and have read all of the other books that she has written and enjoyed them.  When I heard that she had written a new book, with super heroes I was stoked.  I got an advanced reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.  This was an interesting and very solid book, I enjoyed reading it.

Celia West is the daughter of two very famous super heroes but doesn't have any super powers herself.  As such, she is frequently kidnapped (to the point where is it almost boring) to be used against her parents.  She has tried very hard to lead a life of her own and has been fairly successful at it.  When an old foe of her parents', The Destructor, is up for trial she gets pulled into the whole mess again as she is called both to help with the trial through her work and to testify.  Celia did something when she was younger, something that was wrong, and she has been atoning for it her whole life.  Now with crime on the rise again and the Destructor's trial coming up; it looks like Celia will be in the thick of it all matter how hard she tries to stay out of it.

This was a very well done book.  The characters are likable and easy to relate too.  Celia is very down to earth, yet determined to do what's right.  I was impressed with her determination and steadfastness.  The side characters in the book are well done, if not exceptional, and make for a good story.

The plot of the book was well done and has some great twists in it.  This ends up being more of a mystery than anything.  I did like how the plot has some focus around what happens to super heroes as they decline and I liked how there was also focus around how you can be a super hero without powers.

The story gets a bit cliched at points, for example using the old "radiation gave us our powers" plot device, but for this story it works. My only other issue is that at times the writing style comes across as a bit too straight-forward and simplistic for me; but that is a small quip since I still thoroughly enjoyed this book.

The story wraps up nicely and I doubt we will see more books featuring Celia; although I wouldn't rule out more books set in this world.  I have been finding that Vaughn always writes very solid books that are enjoyable reads.  They are never exceptional and never blow me away; but they are always a solid read and I am always glad I took the time to read them.

Overall an excellent read.  Loved the super hero plot elements and how Celia deals with everything even though she is powerless (so to speak).  Some nice plot twists, the characters are well done and likable.  If you like super heroes, or like reading about a normal person struggling in a world of powerful people this is the book for you.  I will definitely be reading Vaughn's future books.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 100+ Reading Challenge

After the Golden Age