Thursday, October 23, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Tainted Blood (Hell's Belle #2) by Karen Greco

**I received this book for free as part of the Tainted Blood Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


After surviving a vampire assassin (not to mention an awkward affair with a hot FBI agent that ended worse than she could have imagined), witch/vampire hybrid Nina Martinez is reunited with the full Blood Ops team in Providence, Rhode Island. Her Aunt Babe is tutoring her in all things witchcraft, and her vampire partner Frankie is enjoying the benefits of daywalking, courtesy of a demon spell.

When a segment of the Rhode Island vampire population is marked for death by a tainted blood supply, Nina and her team race to find Patient Zero before the local vampire population is wiped out. But when a demon infestation threatens to take control of the city, Nina must join forces with newly elected mayor—and closet demon— Ami Bertrand before the city falls into ruin.

Filled with fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action, Nina and her group of supernatural misfits battle a surprising new enemy that threatens their very existence.

No wonder she still can’t get a date.

*My Thoughts*

Tainted Blood (Hell's Belle #2) features mixed blood (witch/vampire) Nina Martinez and her Blood Ops teammates who go after rogue supernaturals and put them down once they step out of line. Nina's teammates include her partner of many years Frankie Montefeltro (700 + year old vampire), Dr. Lochlan O'Malley (Druid), Darcy (Banshee), and the newest addition, FBI Gang Expert Max Deveroux (Beserker) who joined the team after making a deal with a demon.

Providence, Rhode Island has a problem. It has not only become a beacon for the supernatural community under Mayor Ami Bertrand (Demon), but a portion of its vampire community is being targeted by a tainted blood supply that causes them to riot. The so called Beta vampires, who don't drink blood from live humans, are dying at an alarming rate, and their blood is highly toxic to other vampires. It is up to Nina and her Blood Ops team to discover who is responsible and why before things get out of control and an even deadlier problems pops up.

When not saving the world from rogue supernaturals, Nina is a bartender and part owner of Babe's. Her Aunt Babette (Witch) has tried teaching Nina about her witch powers that revealed themselves after nearly dying in Hell's Belle. But, Nina hasn't caught up to where she should be, which means that she's a stronger vampire than she is a witch. Her vampires powers have manifested since being stabbed with a witch blade. Nina, does, however, have the ability to see and talk to ghosts, and control the weather, mostly.

Nina and a ghost she calls Casper, are like two peas in a pod, and together they are able to do remarkable things with magic and spells. It is obvious that even though Nina has a very long way to go before she truly understands her true potential, there's something mysterious about her heritage that makes people gravitate towards her. Tainted Blood isn't necessarily an action filled story, but there are mysteries and powerful villains just waiting to cause more havoc for Nina and the rest of the supernatural community.

I often times speak of my dislike of love triangles, and that remains true today. Nina and Frankie are a team, and perhaps much more now that he saved her life. However, Max apparently isn't going away any time soon, and his feelings for Nina haven't lessened any since he first came on the scene in Hell's Belle and sold his soul to a demon. In the end, it would absolutely surprise me if Nina ended up with anyone else but Frankie.

Tainted Blood is apparently not the last story in this series since Greco leaves us with a rather drastic, if not stunning cliffhanger ending that changes almost everything Nina has come to believe in and fight for. As much as I admire Nina's strength of standing up to others, and not putting up with others BS, she definitely needs to find not only her magic, but the secrets behind what makes her so different from others, along with gathering new allies that will have her back when the shit truly hits the fan.

I do hope that there's a third novel in this series, and it doesn't get abandoned due to sales, or what-have-you. I do believe we need to wrap up the story in such a way that Nina and her crew are given every opportunity to shine and once again, save the world from devious villains. Greco also gives readers a short novella called River Vamp which starts right after the ending of Tainted Blood. The story actually takes place 12 years before Hell's Belle.

*Recvd via Bewitching Book Tours* Top Stop 10/23/2014

Author - Karen Greco
Title - Tainted Blood (Hell's Belle # 2)
Published via CreateSpace
Released: October 16, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-Book, 292 pages

*Blog Tour Stop* Tainted Blood by Karen Greco - Review, Giveaway, Spotlight

Welcome to the Tainted Blood Blog Tour!
Today's stop includes an Excerpt of the book, and a Giveaway!
Thanks for stopping by! It is much appreciated!

Tainted Blood
Hell's Belle Series
Book 2
Karen Greco

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Date of Publication: Oct. 20, 2014

ISBN: ISBN-13:978-1500844448

Number of pages: 582
Word Count: 95,704

Cover Artist: Robin Ludwig Design Inc.

Book Description:

After surviving a vampire assassin (not to mention an awkward affair with a hot FBI agent that ended worse than she could have imagined), witch/vampire hybrid Nina Martinez is reunited with the full Blood Ops team in Providence, Rhode Island. Her Aunt Babe is tutoring her in all things witchcraft, and her vampire partner Frankie is enjoying the benefits of daywalking, courtesy of a demon spell.

When a segment of the Rhode Island vampire population is marked for death by a tainted blood supply, Nina and her team race to find Patient Zero before the local vampire population is wiped out. But when a demon infestation threatens to take control of the city, Nina must join forces with newly elected mayor—and closet demon— Ami Bertrand before the city falls into ruin.

Filled with fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action, Nina and her group of supernatural misfits battle a surprising new enemy that threatens their very existence.

No wonder she still can’t get a date.

From best-selling author Karen Greco, Tainted Blood is the second book in the critically acclaimed Hell’s Belle urban fantasy series.

Full Review (Link Below)


"Jesus Christ, Frankie," I muttered as the crowbar hit the worn marble floor with an earsplitting clatter.  So much for stealth. We should have just ripped through the doors with explosives.

We were breaking into the Superman Building. At 26 floors, it was the first skyscraper ever built in downtown Providence. It lost its last tenant three years ago, and the gorgeous art deco structure was now a towering reminder of better days, when manufacturing was booming and people had money to burn. Years of attempts to "revitalize" the area had fallen flat. This left plenty of room for the underground supernatural factions to sweep in and take over.

Frankie flashed a fangy grin at me. "What's the fun in surprising them? It's never a good time unless it all goes off the rails."

I shook my head and sighed. Ever since Frankie was charmed by a demon to walk in the sunlight, he thought he was invincible. And, sure, being a vampire helped, but he could be staked just as easy as any other vamp. His arrogance could get us both killed.

We walked swiftly through the lobby of the abandoned high rise, keeping tight to the walls. In our all-black commando outfits, we blended easily into the dark hallway.  

I stole a wistful look at the bank of elevators. The electricity was cut to the building. We'd be taking the stairs. "Want to guess what floor they're on?"

"I say top floor," Frankie said with his hand already on the door to the stairwell.

It was going to be a long-ass climb. Up the 26 stories and possibly a few extra flights to get to the tippy top of the building's airship docking station. Seriously. The very top floor of the building was built for docking blimp-like airships, so there was a pretty cool waiting area/corporate suite turned Depression-era speakeasy at the apex. Too bad we were seeing it under these circumstances.

About a week ago, a suspicious news report piqued our interest. A group of crazed individuals were caught rampaging through downtown, tossing cars with superhuman strength, punching through brick walls and causing general weird mayhem. A few witnesses described them with blood around their mouths.

Max, our newest Blood Ops member serving as double agent in the FBI, was on record as calling this a "bath salt related incident." It was simple to blame this behavior on meth-heads on a DIY bender. But we knew better. They were vampires, and they were out of control. Frankie and I were dispatched to take care of them.

We climbed the stairs quickly, Frankie almost a floor ahead of me as we ascended. My calves ached by the 17th floor, and I was dripping with sweat. The vamps would be able to smell me by floor 22 if they were paying attention.  Since I am half vampire, I can handle a fair amount of physical exertion. But a swift walk up the stairs of a high-rise carrying an extra 35 pounds of vampire-fighting gear was punishing. Pushing through the cramps in my legs, I silently vowed to increase my workouts. It was hard enough to match Frankie's speed and strength, but now that he thought he was the Man of Steel, it was damn near impossible just to catch up to him.

We hit the top, and I finally had a chance to catch my breath. Frankie smirked at my all-too-human physical stamina.

When my heart stopped racing, I double-fisted a pair of stakes and nodded at Frankie. He kicked the door open and we launched into the penthouse. Moonlight poured through the grime-coated glass ceiling.

We rushed in like hellfire, expecting to find ourselves in the middle of a melee. But the room appeared empty.

"Top floor, Frankie? Really?" I grumbled, re-sheathing my stakes. "How much you want to bet they're on two?"

Frankie raised his arm and shushed me. I shot him a dirty look, but quickly softened it when I heard the hushed groans too.

I motioned to Frankie to move towards the sounds, and we cautiously walked to the back of the room. A shape was huddled in a dark corner with two bodies laid out on the floor in front of it. I pulled a mag light out from one of my cargo pants pockets and trained it on the shadowy forms.

A female vampire inched away from the light. Blood was smeared down her face and neck, and it covered her chest. Two male vampires were on the floor, their fronts washed in red as well. The walls were covered in sticky, black-red blood. The entire room was just dripping. It looked like a blood bank exploded.

The vampires on the floor were truly dead, their pale faces cracked like antique porcelain dolls. Their appendages were just starting to decompose, but their midsections were blown out, like they swallowed a bomb and it exploded. The one still living, for lack of a better word, looked close to meeting true death herself. The emaciated vampire half-sobbed, half-moaned as she rocked back and forth.

Although they matched the descriptions of the vamps-gone-wild group, these couldn't be our marauders. They were simply too sick. They looked like junkies who overdosed. A few times.

"What do we do?" I had never seen anything like this before. I sure as hell hoped Frankie would know how to handle this mess.

Frankie walked a wide semicircle around the vampires, his shoes making sucking noises as he lifted them off the sticky, blood-soaked floor. He was worried, clearly on guard.

"What's your name?" he asked.

"Kate," she croaked out.

"Right, Kate," Frankie's voice was soothing. "How long have your friends been like this?"

"Since yesterday." Her hoarse voice was barely above a whisper. "We slept in the stairwell but they came in here last night and just...." She motioned at the carnage around her and let out a muffled sob.

"So you were able to walk back and forth to the stairwell? Can you do it now?" I asked.

She tried pulling herself up, but wasn't strong enough to handle the weight of her tiny body. So she crawled towards us, plowing over the disintegrating corpses.

"Stop, Kate! Stay right there!" Frankie visibly jumped back, his shoes making a sharp thwack as they lifted off the gummy floor. "Nina, you need to call Max and Dr. O. Max needs to get the electricity back on to this building. She's going to need to go out the elevator, and Dr. O needs to bring her down."

"Why are we taking her out of the building?" I asked. Our mission was to kill them. Two were dead, and the last one was nearly there. Mission almost complete.

"Because they are Beta-Vamps." Frankie glanced at the vamp on the floor. "Right?"

She nodded, tears streaming down her face.

"No way," I protested. "Betas don't rampage like that."

"They do if they are sick," Frankie explained calmly, his eyes still on Kate.

Beta-Vamps were like the hippies of the vampire world. They were vampires that were missing the predator genome sequence. They weren't human killers. They survived on who knows what. Maybe animal blood. Maybe blood stolen from hospitals. In some extreme cases, they ate rust for the iron content. Betas were rare, and, because of their peace-loving nature, extremely vulnerable to attack from all sorts of supernatural factions.

"So why don't we just carry her down?" I said with a shrug, stepping towards Kate, breaking my boots' suction to the floor.

Frankie was in front of me before I could take another step. My stomach rolled as Frankie dropped his guard and a wave of his panic washed over me.

A few months ago, Frankie had to bind me to him to save my life. For the most part, we're dealing with it just fine. But if he's in emo overdrive and forgets to close off our connection, I get hit with whatever he's feeling. It also works the same in the other direction.

"Don't go near her. She's been infected."

"Infected? With what? Beta-Vamps aren't vulnerable to infections."

"With..." Frankie stopped. He looked shattered. "My God, I haven't seen this since 1877."

"What is it?" I pushed.

"Opium poisoning."

"Did you just say opium?"

"Blood-born opium poison. If it gets into our bodies, we die." Frankie was visibly nervous, moving in a jittery semicircle around the woman. "We can't go near her."

"Oh. Shit. Does Dr. O know what to do?" I shrunk back. Opium. Who knew? Apparently Frankie. That explained why vampires were always told not to get their fix from heavy drug users.

"I'm not sure. That's why you need to call him. And he'll need Max since we really shouldn't stay here. Now please. She doesn't have much time."

Right. I pulled out my phone. I'd start with Max. He'd need time to power up the building anyway.

He answered on the sixth ring.

He sounded groggy. "What's up?"

"Sorry to wake you but we're at the Superman Building with two seriously dead vamps and one who is really sick. We need to turn on the power to get her out of here with the elevator. Can you get this building back on the grid?"

"Christ, can't one of you just carry her down the stairs?" His voice was muffled, like he was pressing his face into his pillow.

"Frankie and I can't touch her. She has some sort of infection, something that only vampires can contract. And it kills them."

"Really?" He jolted awake. I heard the bed sheets rustle as he got up.

"I don't know, really. I've never heard of this before. But I know Frankie is freaking out, and said we need to get her out of here. And he only freaks out if there's a damn good reason."

"You know I worked for the FBI all day, right?" he groused. I heard a closet door slam.

"Seriously? Are you going to do this right now?"

"You both were going up there to stake them anyway. So they die of something else. It's the same outcome. Why save her?"

"Because, she's not a predator vampire."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Look, I'll explain later, but we are running out of time. I need to get Dr. O here, and you need to get the electricity on at this place."

"Jesus, you people are complicated. I'll be there in 20." He hung up before I could respond.

Like Frankie, Max had made a deal with resident demon and Providence mayor Ami Bertrand. As a result, Bertrand had turned Max into a Berserker, a supernatural warrior that went extinct with the Vikings. Well, extinct up until Bertrand's curse.

Since Max had been turned into a supernatural entity, but one that was supposed to be extinct, he joined our team as a double agent with the FBI. Our team is Blood Ops, an elite government agency that deals with rogue supernatural factions. Technically, we also don't exist. To humans, anyway. Our existence — hell, the very existence of anything supernatural — was on a "need to know" basis, and even the president of the United States didn't need to know. Only a very select few Department of Defense members knew about Blood Ops. That's plausible deniability for you.

But damn, the Berserker in Max sure made him grumpy.

I hit the speed dial button for Dr. O. Dr. Lachlan O'Malley led our unit of Blood Ops. Though he mostly resembled your favorite 60-something college professor, Dr. O was a Druid priest, which made him pretty damn old. And, like the Druid priests before him, he knew absolutely everything.

"Nina, what's wrong?" Dr. O asked in his thick brogue. I could tell I woke him up.

"Sorry Doc, but we have a problem here. We have Beta-Vamps that ingested opium. Two are dead — like for real, seriously dead. One is barely hanging on."

"Opium? Are you sure?" Dr. O sounded a lot more awake suddenly.

"Frankie says he's sure. Said he hasn't seen this since 18-something or other."

"Frankie would know. Do you have her quarantined?"

"Quarantined? Frankie said not to touch her. He didn't say anything about a quarantine." This was weird.

"You are in the same room with her?"

"Where else would we be?" I asked, impatience getting the best of me.

"If any of their blood gets into your blood stream, or Frankie's, that would be very bad."

"Yeah, Frankie already explained that to me. We aren't touching her.

"Nina, I am afraid it's much more serious than that. Opium poisoning tends to make infected vampires projectile vomit out blood before they die. Then their torso explodes."

That sounded bad. And gross.

"When? When would that happen?" I gripped the phone tightly, eyeballing Kate. She whimpered in the corner near the vampire bodies with her back against the wall.

"It could happen at any time. Lock her in wherever you are, and wait until I get there. Do not wait in the room with her, neither you nor Frankie. Do you understand?" Dr. O's tone was stern.

"Yes, I got it. Okay, we are on the top floor. Max is on his way to power up the building to get her out of here. Just get here fast."

"I am on my way."

The phone went dead. I hightailed it over to Frankie, who was staring helplessly at Kate.

"Frankie, we gotta get out of here." I pulled gently on his arm.

"Please don't leave me." Kate's voice was so weak, I could barely hear her whisper.

Frankie didn't move. He just looked sadly at the sick Beta, his eyes filled with tears.

"Come on, Frankie." I nudged him again. "We can't be in here right now. Dr. O's on his way."

He hesitated. "We can't leave her like this."

"We aren't going to do her any good if we get sick, too," I reasoned.

He ignored me. I changed tactics.

"Stop being a stubborn ass," I raised my voice. He still ignored me.

Kate moaned and fell into a fetal position. She began to convulse. Frankie made a move towards her, but I grabbed him. Standing in front of him, I took him by both shoulders and stared into his eyes.

"We need to get out of here before she barfs blood all over us. Don't make me go witchy on you."

It was an idle threat. Only a few weeks before, I first learned that I am half-witch as well. My witch abilities were dormant for years — hidden by my vampire genetics — until an unfortunate encounter with a spelled knife turned on the hocus-pocus. I was working with my witch mentor, who's also my aunt, on controlling my newfound abilities. Much to Auntie Babe's frustration, I was not taking to it like a fish to water. If I tried to unleash my mojo in here, poor Kate could very well blow up, taking Frankie and me along with her.

Kate's moaning was now punctuated by high-pitched cries of pain. Clearly in agony, she writhed on the floor. Her hands formed into claws, and she scratched at the body of the seriously dead vampire closest to her. His skin tore like dried papier-mâché as she drove her nails into his corpse. As she tore at his flesh, blood bubbled out of her mouth.

"She not going to make it!" I shouted at Frankie, pushing on his lanky six-foot frame. "And neither are we if we don't get out of here!"

I shoved Frankie harder towards the door. He finally snapped out of his stupor and we fled to across the room to the stairwell door. I pushed on it, but it didn't budge. Shaking the handle, I pressed all my weight against it. Nothing. I moved aside and Frankie levered a kick at the door. He succeeded in denting the door, jamming it even harder into the frame.

"Crap, Frankie! There's no time!" I yelled over Kate's ear-piercing shrieks.

Frankie looked wildly around. "Can we break the windows?"

Everything was soaked in blood. Blood we couldn't touch. Crap. I had no choice.

"Hold on!" I closed my eyes tightly and I tried to clear my thoughts, but between Kate's shrieks and Frankie's desperation creeping into my head, not to mention my own stress, my mind was too unfocused to do this right. Oh well. Close enough was going to have to do.

I felt the air shift around me, and I latched onto this small breeze, willing it to grow to hurricane strength. My hair loosed from its ponytail and slapped across my face. The swelling wind pushed me forward. Grabbing Frankie's hand for stability, I cried out the few words of Latin I could come up with that approximated "break the damn glass." The five plate glass windows on the south side of the room shook. I repeated the words louder, putting more force behind them. The wind turned hurricane strength, pushing us across the room, dangerously closer to Kate. Finally, the windows shattered one by one, shards of glass falling 26 stories to the sidewalk.

I opened my eyes. Kate was about to explode. Blood frothed around her lips, her shrieks now muffled as the blood worked its way up her throat.

Hands still clutched, Frankie and I nodded at each other, knowing exactly what we had to do. Together, we ran straight for the windows, and leapt feet first into the star-filled sky.

Frankie's hand slipped out of mine as we both twisted our bodies and made a grasp for the ledge. I caught it, just barely, almost wrenching my shoulder out of its socket on the impact. Frankie similarly stopped short next me. We dangled 26 stories over downtown Providence.

About the Author:

Karen Greco has spent close to twenty years in New York City, working in publicity and marketing for the entertainment industry. Originally from Rhode Island (she loves hot wieners from New York System, but can't stand coffee milk), she studied playwriting in college (and won an award or two).

After not writing plays for a long time, a life-long obsession with exorcists and Dracula drew her to urban fantasy, where she can decapitate characters with impunity.

Her first novel, Hell's Belle, was released in 2013. Tainted Blood is the second book in the best-selling Hell's Belle urban fantasy series.

Tour giveaway

10 copies of ebook (mobi or epub format) and custom-made vampire stakes, etched with ruins, like the stake Nina uses in Tainted Blood. Open to US Shipping.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Touch of Evil (Thrall #1) by C.T. Adams, Cathy Clamp

**I received this book for free from Tor Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


The alien vampires known as the Thrall classify most humans as Prey, save for a few who survive the bite of the parasite. People like Kate Reilly, whose latent psychic powers were activated by the vampire's venom when she was attacked a few years ago. Kate is Not Prey, and safe.

Or is she? The Thrall Queen intends to make Kate her successor, despite Kate's hatred of the vampires.

All is not bleak in Kate’s world. Her downstairs neighbor, Tom, is a hunky firefighter who arouses her senses…including the ones that tell her he's not human. Tom’s a werewolf—and his pack knows how to protect Kate from the Thrall Queen. The problem? The last time Kate trusted a man she loved, he betrayed her to the Thrall and nearly got her killed.

Action, adventure, romance, and thrills—everything readers want from theUSA Today bestselling authors who are also Cat Adams, creator of the Blood Singer series—are all on display in Touch of Evil.

*My Thoughts*

Touch of Evil is the story about a race of sentient parasites with a psychic, hive society that considers everyone on earth Prey. Only a very few humans have achieved the status of "Not Prey"---those who pose a threat to the hive. Mary Kathleen "Kate" Reilly is one of those people. 6 years ago, Kate fought and killed a Thrall Queen. During the fight, her latent psychic abilities were triggered by a bite. Kate is now a bonded courier who delivers valuable goods all over the world. But, she can't get away from the Thrall who has limited her movements by agreement, and whose voices she hears in her head.

Here's where I am a bit off kilter. I have no clue what the agreement entailed or who it was signed with. This is supposedly a society that has more than one queen. In fact, there is the possibility that there could be dozens, if not hundreds. So, Katie is expected to abide by the agreement which means, no running, or she becomes Prey. Prey means she can be bitten by anyone. If she is challenged, she can fight with knives, but no guns since it gives HER an advantage. Of course, Monica, the sadistic Queen who wants Kate's submission, doesn't exactly play by the rules.

Kate wants absolutely nothing to do with Queen Monica, the Thrall, the Hosts, or the Herd. But, with Kate living in Denver, she doesn't always get what she wants. Especially since she is high on the top of Monica's list as a replacement and nobody close to Kate is off limits. Monica makes every effort to make Kate's life unbearable to the point where she has no choice but to either accept her new fate or take her own life. Too bad for Monica that she didn't see Kate falling in love with lycanthrope, EMT/fireman Tom Bishop, or an alliance formed by people who don't want Kate as the next Queen.

Touch of Evil (Thrall #1) was apparently released originally in 2006, and is now being brought back by Tor in trade paperback. Touch of Evil takes on a whole new twist on the vampire genre with aliens being what is known as the Thrall. The writers also use as matriarchy society for werewolves which is something we don't see a whole lot of. Then again, the authors are known for tweaking mythology and making it their own. I recommend reading the Blood Singer series featuring Celia Graves.

Touch of Evil is a hybrid paranormal romance. While Kate and Tom are definitely eager to see how far they can push their sexual relationship against Tom's leader, it doesn't take away from the overall story, or the fact that Kate is more or less a heroine who perhaps takes not trusting others to a whole new level. I would offer that the ending of Touch of Evil is much more exciting and visual than most of the story. Thus why I have given it 3 stars but will most likely attempt to find the next installment called Touch of Madness.

Author(s) - CT Adams, Cathy Camp
Title - Touch of Evil (Thrall # 1)
Published by Tor Books
Released - October 14, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Format: Paperback, 352 pages

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

**I received this book for free from Scholastic Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


The third installment in the mesmerizing series from the irrepressible, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

*My Thoughts*

"Queens and kings
Kings and queens
Blue lily, lily blue
Crowns and birds
Swords and things
Blue lily, lily blue"

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) continues Blue Sargent and The Raven Boys (Richard Gansey III, Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, and Noah) story. If you are new to this series, I would definitely recommend that you start from the beginning. Stiefvater has laid out a complex story line, with characters that are hard to resist, and really doesn't do a recap of previous events. Each book has featured one of the main Raven Boys. This time she gives Blue a bit more of a starring role while doing her usual switch between the various important characters.

The search for the dead welsh King Glendower is getting closer to being discovered, but there are plenty of surprises and mysteries yet to be uncovered. Blue's mother, Maura, has disappeared after promising not to be gone long, and nobody can tell her if she is dead or alive. She's expected to return to school for her senior year, while making plans for a future that is uncertain at best. She continues hunting for Glendower with Gansey and the Raven boys, and it is the most excitement she's ever had.

Blue, who has the ability to enhance a psychics powers, learns about yet another prophecy. This time it concerns three sleepers that are hidden in Cabeswater; two need to be awoken and the other should be left sleeping at all cost. Apparently it is her job to wake up one of the sleepers, while not disturbing one that shalt not be awakened, or the one in between.

Blue spends a lot of time commiserating with Gansey while wishing she was a bit taller. I would too if I was not even 5 feet tall! There is a whole lot of hand holding, but she is aware of yet another prophecy that says her true love will die by her kiss. Blue and Gansey's relationship has surprised me in that they are absolute opposites like day and night. Yet Blue finds that Gansey is a phone call away when the rest of the women in her family are busy with doing other things, or missing in action because of their own personal search.

As for the rest of the crew, Adam has promised to assist Cabeswater and is also being trained by Persephone in how to communicate with the entity. Adam, I believe, regrets his failed relationship with Blue which is no surprise. I think he definitely tries to come to acceptances that there is no going back, so he needs to work on his relationship with not only Gansey, but Ronan as well.

He does work with Ronan when Colin Greenmantle and his wife Piper comes to Henrietta looking for the Grey Man and a powerful artifact that he was promised. Adams relationship with Ronan highlights the changes that both boys have experienced since joining Gansey in his Glendower search. Gansey is still Gansey. Nothing has changed. Not his determination to find the long lost king, or the fact that one of the sleepers has a direct connection to Glendower. In a surprising move, Dr. Malory, Gansey's mentor from England, makes an appearance lending a bit of his knowledge to the search.

The ending to Blue Lily, Lily Blue is going to stay with me until the 4th book is released apparently in 2015. Wow. I knew there was a reason that Stiefvater added Piper to the storyline, but I'm shocked that she's more of a villain than Greenmantle. Piper definitely pushes back against the status quo that only men can be villains.

Definitely not surprised by Blue's apparent growth as a character. Hoping it expands even more in the next installment. Looking forward to the journey finally ending for Gansey after years of searching for Glendower. One can only hope that the rest of the Raven Boys and Blue are alongside to enjoy the moment.

Author - Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press
Released: October 21, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Romance, Fantasy, Myth
Format: E-Book, 416 pages

Monday, October 20, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Clariel (Abhorsen #4) by Garth Nix

**I received this book for free from Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


Seventeen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her - and it is herself she must question most of all.

*My Thoughts*

I have been hearing a lot about how awesome the Abhorsen series was, especially from Margot @ Epic Reads. So, when this title became available through Harper Collins catalog on Edelweiss, I jumped in with both feet without reservation. I'm rather glad that I did. I love high fantasy novels. I love the world building that the authors create and the character who seem larger than life itself.

I love how the stories doesn't seem to take place in a brief period of time, but rather over a long time frame that gives the story more realism. I love how Nix creates a world filled with different kinds of magic like Charter and Free. I love how there isn't a real straight line between what is good magic, and what is evil. It is what you do with it that ultimately leads you to your fate.

Clariel is the story about 17 year Clariel who has forced to move from her only home she's ever loved in Estwael, to Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. Clariel immediately finds that she is suffocating by being blocked by in by walls, and not the open air and forest where she finds comfort and enjoyment. She is forced by her parents, Jaciel and Harvey, to attend normal functions of the high born, including attending school. Clariel isn't a character that necessarily needs friends. She finds that being alone isn't that big of a deal, which means that the story isn't filled with romance, or love triangles.

Clariel is being called the prequel to the Abhorsen series. The story takes place 600 years BEFORE Sabriel, and to my knowledge, only Moggett, who takes the form of a cat, is the only other character carried over from the first 3 books. Clariel, under an entirely different name, apparently appears in other Abhorsen stories, but I don't have any insight into what happens to her.

You do NOT need to read the rest of the Abhorsen series before reading this story, but people have been telling me that I probably should to get a better understanding of the world of the Abhorsen's. I will be picking up Sabriel shortly, and surging forward until I am caught up. I understand that there WILL be a 5th story in the Abhorsen series coming from Garth Nix perhaps in 2015? No title or synopsis has been released as of this posting.

Clariel is the perfect example of the old adage that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Clariel is basically a good person, twisted by the discovery of Free Magic, that sends her down a dangerous road with no turning back. Her desire to learn more about the Free Magic, puts her in direct conflict with not only her parents, but individuals who use Charter Magic for good.

Clariel isn't the only character that has ever had her life turned upside by wrong choices trying to do a good thing. Remember Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader? Clariel tries so hard to remain good. She even goes as far as befriending Belatiel, while keeping others like Aronzo, at a distance. But, the more people try to use her, the more she understands about Free & Charter magic as well as the Abhorsen heritage, the more she dooms herself to a life alone without any friends.

Clariel is filled with action, betrayal, magical beings, and plot twisting fun. I would say that if you are a reader who is interested in starting this series, Clariel is perhaps your best choice. If you have read the first three novels in this series, then you definitely know Clariel's future and what he becomes.

Author - Garth Nix
Title - Clariel (Abhorsen # 4)
Published by Harper Collins
Released: October 14, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Format: E-Book, 382 pages

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Inner Demon (The Asylum Tales #3.3) by Jocelynn Drake

**I received this book for free from Harper Voyager Impulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


Gage is a powerful warlock in Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, goblins, and vampires walk free among humanity. But there are two dangerous entities murdering families and children, and Gage needs to stop them before anybody else gets hurt.

When Gage discovers a demon locked away it offers him access to dark magic in exchange for its freedom – a dangerous opportunity, but one that could save his loved ones. Gage must choose between what is right and what is easy … except he’s running out of time.

*My Thoughts*

Inner Demon is the final part to The Asylum Tale's serial finale. The other parts are Demon's Fury and Demon's Vow. Inner Demon picks up right where Demon's Vow left off. Warlock/Tattoo Artist Gage Powell's world has been teetering on the brink of disaster for some time now because of his desire to protect the two most important people in his life. He's made some really bad choices that have nearly cost him everything that he's worked hard for. The question remains, will Gage give in to powerful temptations, or will he find a way to save his town from powerful beings set to reign hell down on Low Town? Will he finally defeat the Ivory Towers, or will they destroy him once and for-all?

If you have read The Asylum Tales from the beginning, you know that Gage has had pretty interesting relationship with the mysterious Chang and his Doberman Pinschers. Chang has always been a curious character for me to figure out. What exactly is he? Does he have some unknown powers we haven't seen yet? Where did he get all the powerful magical artifacts that he keeps? How will he feel once he figures out that Gage is a Warlock and back working for the Ivory Tower? Answer given, but I will not spoil it for you. In fact, it makes perfect sense because Drake had previously discussed certain powerful beings who presumably don't exist thanks to the Tower.

I don't much care for the ending to this story and series for my own reasons. Others may find nothing wrong with the way things are left. I hate that Drake expects us to just be happy with it, and not demand more answers, or at least a wrap up novella from either Bronx, Gideon, or even Trixie's POV. There are so many loose ends that I must have answers! Readers can expect a wrap up with the nasty, horrific villains who have left a trail of dead bodies in their wake. You can also expect answers as to why the MAIN villain is doing what he is doing, and what HE is. Cryptic enough for you?

These are just a tip of the questions I have for Author Drake:

What happens next to Trixie and Gage? Will Gage ever defeat the Ivory Towers and gain his desired freedom?  Gage owes 2 years of his life to Lilith, will he rise up and defeat her or become one of her pawns? Will Bronx take over Gage's Tattoo business, or will he find something else to do? Will Gage's fateful decision towards the end of this book, come back to haunt him forever? Will Gideon or Trixie ever forgive Gage for his actions in stopping the villains? Will Gage let Trixie go, and find happiness with Serah instead?

I am in no way attacking the author. I just disagree with the way she handled the final installments of this series. I think there was plenty of room to expand on what happens next. There is an Epilogue to this story, but nothing is settled except for my adoration towards Serah remains strong. In fact, I think Serah shows more gumption, heroism, and backbone than either Gideon or Trixie combined.

In the end, The Asylum Tales was an interesting Urban Fantasy series filled with elves, goblins, vampires, warlocks and witches, powerful Lost Ones, and a tattoo artist who has tried to hide what he is from the town he calls home. I am a bit disappointed that the kids Gideon and Gage rescued from the Tower didn't have their own curtain call. Perhaps, just perhaps, Drake will find a moment in the future to come back and allow readers access to what happened after the ending of Inner Demon.

Author - Jocelynn Drake
Title - Inner Demon (The Asylum Tales #3.3)
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse
Releases: October 28, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-Book, 96 pages

Sunday, October 19, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Demon's Vow (The Asylum Tales #3.2) by Jocelynn Drake

**I received this book for free from Harper Voyager Impulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


Tattoo artist and warlock Gage is having a rough week. He’s trying to track down a mysterious murderer in Low Town while also chasing a powerful entity using forbidden Death Magic across the nation. When Gage discovers the two forces may be trying to unite, the stakes get even higher. With Gideon’s help, Gage is determined to stop the murderers before anyone else gets hurt – including his girlfriend, Trixie.

*My Thoughts*

Demon's Vow is part II of a III part finale to The Asylum Tales. This story picks up right where Demon's Fury left off. Warlock/Tattoo Artist Gage Powell's world has been thrown into a tail spin with Trixie's shocking news and intentions and the fact that he's up to his eye balls in magical troubles with no real solutions in sight. The more he digs for answers, the more twisted the secrets become. The more dangerous Gage's life becomes searching for a bit of hope, the less likely that Gage will end up with a happy ending. 

Gage continues to work with Gideon to track down a vicious killer who apparently is heading straight for Low Tow after leaving a stack of bodies in its wake. Low Town currently has its own problems with more women being killed, or vanishing into thin air. Gage, I think, could have been a really awesome warlock, like he is a tattoo artist and potion stirrer, had he been properly trained and not escaped from the Ivory Towers or ignored by his now dead mentor Simon Thorn. I like the fact that Gage can admit that he's basically a student, and Gideon is the teacher/mentor who hesitates in teaching Gage anything.

If you have read this series, you know that Gage has had more than his share of troubles, some by his own silly choices, some because the Ivory Towers are a bunch of power hungry beings who destroy entire cities if someone sneezes incorrectly. The last straw for Gage was being blackmailed by the Tower into becoming a part-time guardian after 10 years of being free. Gage's only hope for escaping the Towers, is finding a way to destroy them, and to protect people from their long reach.

Gage once again works alongside TAPPS investigator Serah Moynahan who has become a critical part of this final serial whether she likes it or not. Serah has had way more storyline than either Bronx, or Trixie at this point in the serial finale, but I'm not complaining. I'm not complaining because I still haven't forgiven Trixie, and wouldn't be surprised at this point at what happens to her. I'm not complaining because Serah has kept things hopping along, rather than bringing the story to a halt. 

Drake still hasn't soothed my feelings of major uneasiness over the final installment, or what will happen to Gage's friends when all is said and done. She's leaving dangerous situations lurking in the background, but only giving us bits and pieces, bread crumbs if you will, to figure out what will happen next. I hesitate to read the final installment for fear that I will be left disappointed. 

Onward to Inner Demon (The Asylum Tales #3.3) ::Fingers crossed::

Author - Jocelynn Drake
Title - Demons Vow (The Asylum Tales #3.2)
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse
Releases: October 21, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-Book, 96 pages


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