Wednesday, April 16, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* The Taking (The Taking #1) by Kimberly Derting

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

*My Thoughts*

"What if the life you are living is not your own?"

Right up front I will say that I am a science fiction geek who enjoys the possibilities that aliens really DO exist and are watching the silly humans on the Third Rock from the Sun make complete asses out of themselves. I loved watching shows like the X-Files, Falling Skies, Roswell, and Invasion just to name a few. I mean, think about it for a moment. The galaxy is HUGE, and EARTH can not be the only inhabited planet with semi-intelligent life on it. 

When The Taking was revealed on the Harper Collins catalog last fall, I immediately jumped on it like a puppy with a brand new squeaky toy. The Taking is the first novel in a brand new series by the author of the Pledge and The Body Finder series Kimberly Derting. The Taking is told in the first POV by SIXTEEN year old Kyra Agnew. Kyra, a star softball player who is looking forward to a bright future with her boyfriend Austin, suddenly finds that her world has been turned upside down after waking up FIVE years into the future after a blinding light appears and takes her away. 

The Taking is a quick story that takes place over a SEVEN day period, and ends on a rather interesting cliffhanger. The biggest issue I had with this story is the whole relationship dynamics between Tyler and Kyra. To me it just doesn't make sense but I won't be totally surprised to be the minority on this issue. Perhaps it is my generation, or perhaps it is just the fact that I can't get over the backgrounds of the two characters, or the fact that they jumped into romance quicker than you can lick the spoon after making Red Velvet Cupcakes, or the fact that in my mind, Kyra is doing the whole older cougar of the relationship despite the apparent lack of change to her body after being gone for FIVE years. 

Kyra is not the nicest heroine by any means but she does have logical reasons for her behavior and her actions, and her inability to truly trust anyone, including her own father who apparently has lost his godforsaken mind with alien conspiracy theories. Understandably, she can't truly be happy knowing that life as she knew it has moved on without her including her ex and ex-best friend who are now together as a couple, her parents who are now divorced and her mother who is raising a new brother who she treats like he is carrying a contagion ready to kill her at a moments notice. Then there are the so called RETURNED who Derting introduces. Hopefully there will be more about them in the next installment.

Readers will probably fall in love with Tyler because he is Kyra's only real crutch in this entire story. Tyler is determined, and truly cares for Kyra and loyal perhaps to a fault over his older brothers DICK move in being with Kyra's best friend Cat so soon after Kyra disappeared. Tyler's puppy dog crush on Kyra is perhaps the reason that ice cracks from around her heart, and she decides that there is nothing wrong with being with Tyler. 

The Taking is an interesting first novel that will hopefully only get better from here. There are so many different ways that Derting can go from here, that it will be fun to see how long I hold out before I start asking for the next installment in order to see what happens to Kyra and gang from here.

*Recvd via Edelweiss 11/06/2013* Expected publication: April 29th 2014 by Harper Teen

Author - Kimberly Derting
Title - The Taking (The Taking # 1)
Published by Harper Teen
Releases: April 29, 2014
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Format: E-Book 368 pages

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

*Gizmos Reviews* Kristen Painter's HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN - chapter excerpt reveal!

Today, I am happy to be a part of a group of Kristen fans who are posting a chapter excerpt of her upcoming novel House of the Rising Sun (May 13, 2014). I will also be posting my review of this book on that same day, so, I hope you find your way back to check out my thoughts!

On with the chapter reveal!


New Orleans, Louisiana, 2040

Why can’t we take the streetcar?” Walking home from church at night was always a little scary for Augustine, especially when they had to go past the cemetery.
“You know why,” Mama answered. “Because we don’t have money for things like that. Not that your shiftless father would help out. Why I expect anything from that lying, manipulative piece of…” She grunted softly and shook her head.
Augustine had never met his father, but from what Mama had told him, which wasn’t much, his father didn’t seem like a very nice man. Just once, though, Augustine would like to meet him to see what he looked like. Augustine figured he must look like his father, because he sure didn’t look like Mama. Maybe if they met, he’d also ask his father why he never came around. Why he didn’t want to be part of their family. Why Mama cried so much.
With a soft sigh, he held Mama’s hand a little tighter, moving closer to her side. Unlike him, Mama only had five fingers on each hand, not six. She didn’t have gray skin or horns like him, either. She didn’t like his horns much. She kept them filed down so his hair hid the stumps. He jammed his free hand into his jacket pocket, the move jogging him to the side a little.
“Be careful, Augustine. You’re going to make me trip.”
“Sorry, Mama.” The sidewalks were all torn up from the tree roots poking through them. The moon shone through those big trees with their twisty branches and clumps of moss, and cast shadows that looked like creatures reaching toward them. He shivered, almost tripping over one of the roots.
She jerked his arm. “Pay attention.”
“Yes, Mama.” But paying attention was what had scared him in the first place. He tried shutting his eyes, picking his feet up higher to avoid the roots.
Next thing he knew, his foot caught one of those roots and he was on his hands and knees, the skin on his palms burning from where he’d scraped them raw on the rough sidewalk. His knee throbbed with the same pain, but he wouldn’t cry, because he was almost nine and he was a big boy. Old enough to know that he must also control the powers inside him that wanted to come out whenever he felt angry or hurt or excited.
“Oh, Augustine! You ripped your good pants.” Mama grabbed his hand and tugged him to his feet.
“I’m sorry about my pants.” He stood very still, trying not to cause any more trouble. Mama got so angry, so fast. “My knee hurts.”
With a sigh, Mama crouched down, pulled a tissue from her purse, spit on it and began to dab at the blood. “It will be okay. It’s just a little scrape. And you heal… quickly.”
The dabbing hurt worse, but he kept quiet, biting at his cheek. He looked at his hands, opening his twelve fingers wide. Already the scrapes there were fading. It was because of his fae blood, which he wasn’t supposed to talk about. He dropped his hands and stared at the tall cemetery wall next to them. On the other side of that wall were a lot of dead people. In New Orleans, no one could be buried underground because of the water table. He’d learned that in school.
The wind shook the tree above their heads, making the shadows crawl toward them. He inched closer to her and pointed at the cemetery. “Do you think there’s ghosts in there, Mama?”
She stood, ignoring his pointing to brush dirt off his jacket. “Don’t be silly. You know ghosts aren’t real.”
The cemetery gates creaked. She turned, then suddenly put him behind her. Around the side of her dress, Augustine could see a big shape almost on them, smell something sour and sweaty, and hear heavy breathing. Mama reached for Augustine, jerking them both back as the man grabbed for her.
The man missed, but Mama’s heart was going thump, thump, thump. That was another fae thing Augustine wasn’t supposed to talk about, being able to hear extra-quiet sounds like people’s hearts beating.
“C’mere, now,” the man growled. Even in the darkness, Augustine’s sharp fae eyes could see the man’s teeth were icky.
Mama swung her purse at him. “Leave us alone!”
“Us?” The man grunted, his gaze dropping to Augustine. Eyes widening for a second, he snorted. “Your runt’s not going to ruin my fun.”
“I’m not a runt,” Augustine said. Fear made his voice wobble, but he darted out from behind his mother anyway, planting himself in front of her.
The man swatted Augustine away with a meaty hand.
Augustine hit the cemetery wall, cracking his head hard enough to see stars. But with the new pain came anger. And heat. The two mixed together like a storm in his belly, making him want to do… something. He tried to control it, but the man went after Mama next, grabbing her and pushing her to the ground. Then the man climbed on top of her.
She cried out and the swirling inside Augustine became a hurricane dragging him along in its winds. Without really knowing what he was doing, he leaped onto the man’s back. The hard muscle and bone he expected seemed soft and squishy. He grabbed fistfuls of the man’s jacket—but his hands met roots and dirt and shards of concrete instead.
Mama’s eyes blinked up at him, wide and fearful. She seemed a little blurry. Was he crying? And how was he seeing her when he was on the man’s back? And why had everything gone so quiet? Except for a real loud tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump, everything else sounded real far away. He pushed to his knees, expecting them to sting from his fall, but he felt nothing. And the man attacking his mother was somehow… gone.
“Don’t, Augustine.” She shook her head as she scrabbled backward. “Don’t do this.”
“Don’t do what, Mama?” He reached for her but the hand that appeared before him was too big. And only had five fingers. He stuck his other hand out and saw the same thing. “What’s happening to me, Mama?”
“Get out of him, Augustine.” She got to her feet, one trembling hand clutching the crucifix on her necklace. “Let the man go.”
He stood and suddenly he was looking down at his mother. Down. How was he doing that? He glanced at his body. But it wasn’t his body, it was the man’s.
“I don’t understand.” But he had an idea. Was this one of the powers he had? One of the things he was supposed to control? He didn’t know how to get out. Was he trapped? He only wanted to protect his mother, he didn’t want to be this man!
The storm inside him welled up in waves. The heat in his belly was too much. He didn’t understand this new power. He wanted to be himself. He wanted to be out. Panic made bigger waves, hot swells that clogged his throat so he couldn’t take deep breaths. The thumping noise got louder.
The man’s hands reached up to claw at Augustine, at his own skin.
Mama backed away, her fingers in the sign of the cross. He cried out to her for help. He was too hot, too angry, too scared—
A loud, wet pop filled his ears and he fell to his hands and knees again, this time covered in sticky red ooze and smoking hunks of flesh. The thumping noise was gone. Around him was more sticky red, lumps of flesh and pieces of white bone. All he could think about was the time he and Nevil Tremain had stuffed a watermelon full of firecrackers. Except this was way worse. And blowing up the watermelon hadn’t made him feel like throwing up. Or smelled like burnt metal. He sat back, wiped at his face and eyes and tried to find his mother. She was a few feet away, but coming closer.
“You killed that man.” She stood over him looking more angry than afraid now. “You possessed that man like a demon.” She pointed at him. “You’re just like your father, just like that dirty fae-blooded liar.”
Augustine shook his head. “That man was hurting you—”
“Yes, you saved me, but you took his life, Augustine.” She looked around, eyes darting in all directions. “Sturka,” she muttered, a fae curse word Augustine had once gotten slapped for saying.
“I didn’t mean to, I was trying to help—”
“And who’s next? Are you going to help me that way too someday?”
He was crying now, unable to help himself. “No, Mama, no. I would never hurt you.”
She grabbed him by his shirt and yanked him to his feet. “Act human, not like a freak, do you understand? If people could see what you really looked like…” Fear clouded her eyes.
He nodded, sniffling, hating the smell of the blood he was covered in. He didn’t want to be a freak. He really didn’t. “I can act human. I promise.”
She let go of his shirt, her lip slightly curled as she looked him over. “This was your father’s blood that caused this. Not mine.”
“Not yours,” Augustine repeated. Mama looked human but was part smokesinger, something he knew only because he’d overheard an argument she’d had with his father on the phone once. He’d learned other things that way, too. Like that his father was something called shadeux fae. But not just part. All of him. And he’d lied to Mama about that. Used magic to make Mama think he was human. To seduce her.
“I never want to hear or see anything fae ever again or I will put you out of my house. I live as human and while you’re under my roof, so will you. Am I clear?”
The thought of being without her made his chest ache. She was all he had. His world. “Yes, Mama.”
But keeping his fae side hidden was impossible and five years later, put him out is exactly what she did.

*Gizmos Reviews* Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like To Own

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and we all share our thoughts on that topic! I decided it was finally time to jump on board with this wicked fun meme!

For this week on Top Ten Tuesday, the topic is:

Top Ten Bookish Things (That aren't books) That I'd like to Own

1. Kindle Paper-white - It's not a book, but I would be totally lost without my Kindle. Since I currently have 700 E books on a model that is 2 years old, it is time to upgrade!

2. My Blog's name on swag, business cards, and other things to giveaway - Been blogging for nearly 3 years, and this has remained at the top of my WANT TO DO list.

3.  I want THIS set up now! My apartment is in total disarray, and I need an organizer!

4. Wallpaper designed with my favorite Science Fiction novels - Since I live in an apartment, this won't be happening anytime over the next year. But, it's a nice dream.

5. All of my favorite books that have been made into movies, on DVD so that I can watch them anytime I want. Yeah, this is me being totally lazy by not already having them!

6. I'd like to own my very own electric car that folds out into a book. 

7. A collection of T-shirts that say Keep Calm and Read a Damn book already!

8. I want a Tread mill with a built in book holder so that I can read while I walk.

9. I'd like autographs from every single author that I adore, and can't get enough of. (I know it says no books, but I'd take autographed books!)

10. TBD - letting my brain ponder the infinite possibilities. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* The Treatment (The Program #2) by Suzanne Young

**I received this book for free from Edelweiss/Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

*My Thoughts*

The Treatment is the final episode in the 2 part duology known as The Program. Sloan Barstowe and James Murphy have escaped The Program and are trying to stay one step ahead of being brought back in and rewired so that they can't remember their own names. At the end of The Program, Sloan was given a pill by Realm, and we learn more about why it is so damn important and how come people would kill for it.

The Program itself was created in part to stop the teen suicide epidemic that reached every country in the world, but it is much, much more than that that. It is also apparent that anyone who tries to undermine what the Program is trying to do, faces severe consequences to their health. 

As with The Program, Sloan is the protagonist and it is through her eyes and emotions that we see the turmoil that exists in this society and in her own desire to try to stay true to her self while trying to retain some memories of her past. Sloan is a bit of an emotional wreck. She's lost memories of her past, memories of her brother, and has no contact with her family who betrayed her. She's caught in a spider web of deceit, and her emotions for two different men are causing her to ping pong between the two. 

I'm going to say that I really enjoyed Sloan and James being together even though they had some issues to sort through like most teen couples do. I definitely preferred their relationship to the grimy, slimy, betraying, backstabbing piece of junk known as Michael Realm who is obsessed with Sloan to the point of being a dirty rotten stalker. I hate Realm even more after Young digs deeper into his background and reality of what really happened to Sloan in the Program.

Whenever I mention how much I loath 3 way love triangles, it is like yelling out CORRUPT ASSHOLES! to a room filled with politicians. Immediately, hundreds of people run to the door while flipping me off and cursing me out. I. Don't. Care. Having Sloan face the challenges and difficulties she did because of Realms actions are beyond treacherous and as a reader, they are also not something I can forgive or forget although apparently when you have no memories of what really happened, things are a bit understated. 

The Treatment is broken into 3 parts. The first part of the story is Sloan and James staying ahead of The Program's goon squad while meeting up with a small band of rebels led by Dallas Stone, a character who I really wanted to read more about. I thought about this after finishing the book, especially the epilogue. I think if we had a bit more background on Dallas, she could have been just as strong of a character as Sloan, perhaps a bit more determined since she experienced hell on earth at the hands of a sadist handler. The second part has a bit more action and suspense, while the third part once again finds Sloan fighting tooth and nail for her very own survival at the hands of the doctors at the Program, as well as trying to save her remaining memories.

Overall, I feel a bit let down by the events of this book. The Program blazed a trail with plenty of action and left me with an anticipation that the sequel would raise the stakes even higher. Although I am a bit discouraged by the story, I won't discourage anyone from reading the series. I think Young hits on an important subject with how much antidepressants are used in today's society to combat depression. You can mix a medical cocktails all you want trying to make someone HAPPY, but you can't force them, and that's what the Program is all about. I will rue the day when doctor's try to send teens to a similar facility in this reality. 

*Recvd 11/11/2013 via Edelweiss* Expected publication: April 29th 2014 by Simon Pulse

Author - Suzanne Young
Title - The Treatment (The Program # 2)
Published by Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Genre - YA, Dystopia
Format - EBook 352 pages

Sunday, April 13, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Sweet Reckoning (The Sweet Trilogy #3) by Wendy Higgins

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

*My Thoughts*

"There is going to be a reckoning, both sweet and terrible." ARC copy of Sweet Reckoning

Sweet Reckoning, the finale of The Sweet Trilogy, pushes Anna Whitt and her Nephilim allies (Kaiden Rowe, Kopano, Blake, Ginger, Marna, & Zania) that much closer to the final confrontation with the Dukes of Hell led by Pharzuph and Rahab. Ever since Anna was told of the prophecy that someone would end the Dukes existence on Earth, she's struggled to understand what it really means, and how she is supposed to defeat the Dukes while ensuring that her friends & family like Jay and Patti, survive.

Over the course of this trilogy, Anna has become a much stronger, determined, and focused heroine. After discovering her heritage, and knowing who her mother and father really are, and what makes her different from other Nephilim, she's had to make difficult choices in order to remain alive while gathering allies by her side. Her struggles and fights with Kaiden over his feelings for her are finally over and they can move on to what we've been expecting from the couple from the first time they met. Her determination to remain pure at heart and true to herself are still intact despite being watched over by the Legionnaires, and the Duke's who don't trust her and suspect her of being the person who will one day bring them down.

Sweet Reckoning isn't an action packed book that leaves readers gasping for air, but it does have some really emotional scenes that left me sniffling and cursing the author out under my breath. Readers will be happy that Higgins gives them plenty of Kai and Anna, and an Epilogue, although not necessarily needed to enjoy the book, that just seriously broke my last will not to cry.

Although Sweet Reckoning was pretty much the predictable ending that I had foreseen when requesting this title, I have a few puzzlement's that will linger with me since there are no more books in the series to read. I would love to flood this review full with quotes, but I am determined not to spoil anything that happens especially since I am writing this review several weeks before the book actually releases (April 29, 2014) to the general public.

As a reviewer, I have a responsibility to put forth my thoughts in a way that clearly tells readers why I liked, or disliked the story without revealing situations and characters or babbling like a newborn baby. There are small things that I would have liked to see changed, like the final battle between Nephilim and Duke's, but I understand that Higgins was probably constrained by editors who tore through this manuscript looking for things to remove so that it didn't turn into a Game of Thrones length epic novel.

I absolutely adore Patti, and am putting her high on my list of best mothers in YA Fiction even though she's not Anna's birth mother. I adore her no fear and all in mentality. I adore the fact that she loves Anna despite the hazards to her own health, and the fact that she stands side by side with Anna and the Nephilim and becomes the mother they never knew. I wept when Anna has all her friends over to Patti's for Thanksgiving, and laughed with the silliness that pursued knowing that at any time, the Duke's would come for Anna and break up the happy moment. I found myself swooning over Jay and his new romance as it were. It's hard to say who is the more adorable character, Jay, or Kaiden, but I'm not willing to vote either off my island. 

In the end, I would have been plenty satisfied without the Epilogue attached but understand Higgins need to add it to the story. I've been bitten by the final book of a series so many times that the Epilogue kind of just threw salt in the wound knowing that other characters didn't have the chance to have their happy endings. 

*Recvd via Edelweiss/Harper Teen 02/11/2014* Expected publication: April 29th 2014 by HarperTeen

Author - Wendy Higgins
Title - Sweet Reckoning (The Sweet Trilogy # 3)
Published by Harper Teen
Released: April 29, 2014
Genre: YA Paranormal
Format: E-Book 464 pages

Saturday, April 12, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Pack of Strays (Fangborn, #2) by Dana Cameron

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

*My Thoughts*

Pack of Strays is the second novel in the Fangborn series and the sequel to Seven Kinds of Hell. Zoe Miller, our heroine, is an fledgling archaeologist and a newly revealed Fangborn, a secretive race of werewolves, vampires, and oracles that have dedicated themselves to protecting humanity and eradicating evil while trying to keep under the humans radar. 

Seven Kinds of Hell revealed that Zoe, who is really a werewolf, was hidden away from the "FAMILY" by her own mother to keep her away from them, and so she spent her informative years believing that she was simply human. She kept her "BEAST" hidden under wraps for fear of being discovered by those who wish to harm her, and there are a WHOLE lot of enemies who want a piece of Zoe. Zoe is a different sort of Fangborn in that she has abilities nobody else has thanks to her opening Pandora's box and the jeweled bracelet that is permanently attached to her wrist that enhances and adds to her werewolf abilities.

In Pack of Strays, Zoe and Adam Nichols, who until recently worked for a secretive government agency known as TRG (the same group that captured Zoe and her friends and experimented on them), finds themselves searching for Fangborn artifacts while also trying to say one step ahead of a group of Fangborn haters known as the Order of Nicomedia. This trip takes Zoe from NYC, to Denmark & Turkey, back to Boston where the climatic last scene takes place between the Fangborn, the Order, and their minions known as the "FELLBORN". The story hints of a prophecy involving Zoe, but leaves open the door for an even darker, twisted, mystery. 

Pack of Strays is filled with action, and suspense, and mysteries, and new characters like oracle Victoria (Vee) Brooks and vampire Toshiharu Yamazaki-Campbell. Both are very capable and important additions to the series, and have interesting abilities as well. The most prevalent villain of the story and one who just refuses to go away, is Jacob Buell. Jacob is just plain evil, and does things to Zoe and the Fangborn that will get your blood boiling.

For me, the unfortunate and loathsome 3 way triangle pops up its ugly head up & apparently decides that it needs to enter the foray at the most inopportune of moments. It leaves me wondering if Cameron is seriously trying to gather the ire of readers like me who just wants the heroine to make a choice and live with it already! I might not be as forgiving as other readers when it comes to a character betraying my heroine, and dismissing her like she never mattered in the first place. 

Overall, I am mostly satisfied with the overall direction Pack of Strays took and love how Zoe is gaining more and more abilities as she collects Fangborn artifacts and understands her own strengths and determination. I appreciated that most of the characters from the first book, Danny, Gerry & Claudia Steuben, and Dmitri Parshin returned to Pack of Strays and joined the fight against the Order. I am definitely interesting in learning more about Dragon Quarrel who is presumably what Zoe has to look forward to if she continues on this current path. I am a bit frustrated by the way the story ended, but understands that it is the way of the world, and for writers to bribe readers into coming back for the next book in the series. 

Author - Dana Cameron
Title - Pack of Strays (Fanborn # 2)
Published by 47North
Released: April 15, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Ebook 334 pages

Friday, April 11, 2014

Stacking the Shelves Episode # 103

Stacking the Shelves for the week of April 6-April 12, 2014

Stacking The Shelves is a fun way to show off the books we received over the past week in the hopes that you will find something that you will be interested in reading. As always, it is in no way, shape, or form to be considered bragging or sticking out our tongues at other bloggers. 

I personally enjoy  reading comments from those that stop by and support Gizmo's Reviews and I make every effort to comment and visit back your blog in return. 

A special thanks to Giselle, Jennifer Harlow, Entangled Teen, St. Martin's Press,  Random Children, and of course my library for these awesome books!

Received from Xpresso Book Tours:
Review stop May 12, 2014

Received from Entangled Teen

Received from Entangled Teen

Received from Author Jennifer Harlow

Received via Netgalley (St. Martin's Press)

Received via Netgalley (Random House Children)

Borrowed from Library

Purchased via Amazon


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