Sunday, December 21, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Save Me by Jenny Elliott

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

*Synopsis*

Debut-novelist Jenny Elliott’s thrilling romance, chosen by readers, writers, and publishers for the first list in the new Swoon Reads imprint, pours on the tension and danger in an addictive combination that will keep you turning pages!

Something strange is going on in the tiny coastal town of Liberty, Oregon. Cara has never seen a whale swim close enough for her to touch it—let alone knock her into the freezing water. Fortunately, cute newcomer David is there to save her, and the rescue leads to a bond deeper than Cara ever imagined.

But then she learns something about David that changes everything, and Cara is devastated. She turns to her best friend for support, but Rachel has changed. She’s suddenly into witchcraft, and is becoming dangerously obsessed with her new boyfriend….

Cara has lost her best friend, discovered that her soul mate is off limits, and has attracted the attention of a stalker. But she’s not completely alone. Her mysterious, gorgeous new friend Garren is there to support her. But is Garren possibly too perfect?
 


*My Thoughts*

Save Me by debut-novelist Jenny Elliott, is a young adult paranormal novel set in the coastal town of Liberty, Oregon and is filled with whales, demons, witchcraft, and a forbidden romance. MC Cara Markwell is a whale watching addict. She loves whales so much, that she's an assistant volunteer for Liberty Charters, a whale watching tours business. On one such trip, Cara meets charming stranger David Wilson who ends up saving her life after an aggressive whale tosses her into the frigid waters.

Upon returning to school for her senior year, Cara discovers that David will be her student teacher. Soon thereafter, her best friend Rachel turns cold and distant after taking up with a new boyfriend, and Cara ends up being stalked and threatened by a jealous former student who once dated Cara's ex and is now focused on David.

To me, the most interesting character in this ENTIRE novel is Garren. I can't speak on who he is or why he is so important to the story. I will say that Garren really is awesome, especially the apple a day part. I love that that Elliott creates a male character who is neither a love interest, nor gay. He's her support mechanism. He's someone she can trust with her life. He's someone that would stand in the line of fire for her in order to keep her from falling into the darkness or losing herself.

I marked this down due to several reasons. I really didn't like the so called teacher/student relationship between Cara and David and was happy that the mother figure was around to be my voice for reason in this story. Sorry, but that is just ridiculous and absolutely gross, and shouldn't happen...ever. Maybe somewhere where it is acceptable practice it will go over, but not with me. There has been way too many situations where older teachers have taken advantage of young kids for sex.

Which leads me to the eye rolling love at first site/soul mates angle. Yeah, I supposed it does happen on TV and at the movies. But, in real life? I'm still not convinced, nor have I seen it happen to anyone I know. Again, the only real voice of reasoning just happens to be the mother figure! Go mom! Of course, this part may appeal to readers and therefore you will enjoy the instant connection the two have right from the onset.

I have never been on a whale watching tour, but I can tell you that Cara's love for them genuinely comes through in this story. Cara's affection for Grayback and Bobbie, the local whales, takes up a large portion of this story due to circumstances that I won't spoil. Perhaps one day before I kick my own bucket, I'll join a whale tour.


Author - Jenny Elliott
Title - Save Me
Published by Swoon Reads
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Format: Paperback, 336 pages



Saturday, December 20, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Stone Cove Island by Suzanne Myers

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

*Synopsis*

When a catastrophic hurricane devastates Stone Cove Island, a serene New England resort community, everyone pulls together to rebuild. Seventeen-year-old Eliza Elliot volunteers to clean out the island’s iconic lighthouse and stumbles upon a secret in the wreckage: a handwritten, anonymous confession to a thirty-year-old crime.
 
Bess Linsky’s unsolved murder has long haunted the island, and the letter turns the town inside out. Everyone who knew Bess is suddenly a suspect. Soon Eliza finds herself in the throes of an investigation she never wanted or asked for. As Stone Cove Island fights to recover from disaster, Eliza plunges the locals back into a nightmare they believed was long buried.


*My Thoughts*

At the center of Stone Cove Island, is the mystery behind Bess Linsky's disappearance 25 years ago. After Hurricane Victor hits the island, 17-year old Eliza Elliot stumbles upon a letter presumably written by either Bess or her killer. When Bess disappeared, Myths and Legends state that she drowned, or was killed. Evidence left behind indicated that there "may" have been a struggle but Bess's body was never been found, and the subsequent investigation quickly died due to lack of evidence.

Eliza's discovery opens up a can of worms, or as the song goes, she completely unravels the sweater that is Stone Cove Island's past indiscretions. There are no clear cut answers to this mystery, but there is an adorable romance that blooms between Eliza and Charlie Pender who helps Eliza uncover the truth behind Bess's disappearance. In fact, I liked the romance angle and what happens between the two characters much more than the mystery.

Solving a mystery is like putting together a puzzle. There are so many pieces involved in what happened to Bess and what choices were made 25 years ago, that you can't absolutely rule out anyone. As Eliza puts the pieces together, and learns that her own father, and mother were friends with Bess at the time of her disappearance, the town becomes much more closed mouthed, and Eliza feels as though she has crossed a line that she can't come back from.

The tag line "Stepford Wives meets Stephen King" is a gamble for the publisher/authors to take. Will readers actually be gullible enough to believe it? Stone Cove Island is NOT as dark as one would presume it to be with THAT tagline. In fact, I was rather bored by the apparent lack of real threats, and not just preconceived ones toward Eliza and Charlie as they dig up things that nobody wanted to come to the light of day. Call me blood thirsty, or whatever you want, but the ending left me with more questions that answers, and an overall satisfactory rating which could have been much higher without this ending.


Author - Suzanne Myers
Title - Stone Cove Island
Published by Soho Teen
Released: November 11, 2014
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult
Format: E-Book, 240 pages



*Stacking the Shelves* Holiday 2014 Edition

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Stacking the Shelves for the week of December 14, 2014

Welcome back!  

This STS will be the last one for 2014. With Christmas next Thursday, and New Years 2015 the following week, I am doubtful for any major shelf stocking for the next 2 weeks.

I sincerely wish each and everyone of you a joyous Holiday season. I am thankful to everyone who has stopped by and supported Gizmos Reviews this past year. YOU make this all worth it!

Received via Edelweiss (Touchstone)
 

Received via NetGalley - Forever Yours (Grand Central Publishing)

AMAZON DEALS of THE WEEK (Free!)





Friday, December 19, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Gideon by Alex Gordon

**I received this book for free from Harper Voyager 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.**

*Synopsis*

Preston & Child meets Kim Harrison in this edge-of-your-seat debut thriller—a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural.

When Lauren’s father dies, she makes a shocking discovery. The man she knew as John Reardon was once a completely different person, with a different name. Now, she’s determined to find out who he really was, even though her only clues are an old photograph, some letters, and the name of a town—Gideon.

But someone—or something—doesn’t want her to discover the truth. A strange man is stalking her, appearing everywhere she turns, and those who try to help her end up dead. Neither a shadowy enemy nor her own fear are going to prevent her from solving the mystery of her father—and unlocking the secrets of her own life.

Making her way to Gideon, Lauren finds herself more confused than ever. Nothing in this small Midwestern town is what it seems, including time itself. Residents start going missing, and Lauren is threatened by almost every townsperson she encounters. Two hundred years ago, a witch was burned at the stake, but in Gideon, the past feels all too chillingly present . 


*My Thoughts*

Centered around a small fictional town in Illinois called Gideon, Alex Gordon's debut novel is steeped in mystery, witch craft, demons, and darkness. Gideon traverses nearly 200 years and features a group of witches from Eliza Blaylock to Lauren Reardon that call themselves Children of Endor and are guided by the Lady.

As one of the main characters of Gideon, Lauren's world is changed after her father suddenly dies, and some stunning secrets leak out. After a mysterious man causes havoc on someone Lauren comes in contact with, she travels 2,000 miles to Gideon to get to the bottom of who her father really was, why he kept his past a secret from her all this time, and why this mystery man is so interested in her.

Gideon isn't necessarily a welcoming place for Lauren. The people don't care for strangers who enter the down, and there are centuries worth of secrets, plots, and counter plots that have divided the town and may be linked to Lauren's ancestors. Gideon is a place that is truly stuck in the past and the past never truly fades away. There are dangers around every turn, and if you walk too far into the woods, you might find yourself staying there forever. Gideon's residents are supposed to be guardians that stand against the demons that roam the wilderness, but there are those who are more inclined to follow the darkness rather than the light.

Lauren's arrival brings up a whole lot of bad memories going back nearly 200 years. Gideon is a town that once was part of the so called Sudden Freeze of 1836 that left many of the town's residents dead almost immediately. Later, the Great Fire of 1871 ravaged not only Gideon, but large cities like Chicago. Lauren's descendants have been taking the brunt of the blame since 1836, and it will take a miracle for Lauren to get to the bottom of the darkness dwelling in Gideon, and save the town from itself.

Gideon starts out in a very dark place with lots of death, and ends on the same note. Lauren is a character who is thrown into a serious situation, and only has a few allies to help her uncover how to stop the darkness from completely taking over Gideon and elsewhere. Next to Lauren, my favorite character is Connie Petersbury who experiences her own form of hell on earth, and Victoria Waycross the Mistress of Gideon who stands against the darkness and isn't one without faults.

Apparently there is a follow-up to Gideon called Jericho, but there's no information on whether or not the same characters or setting will be featured. One might presume that with the ending of Gideon, Lauren has a whole new world to discover, as well as learning about her own abilities. Then again, Jericho might be an entirely new story with new characters. One never assumes anything these days for fear of being labeled a crack pot.

As of 12/19/2014, this is the first review to be posted for Gideon (as least on Goodreads). Please note that I have done my best not to spoil the actual events, or players, or reasons for Lauren's arrival in Gideon, nor how the story ends. I have a tendency of being a bit forthcoming with my review, and I truly hope that someone finds this review useful when it comes to picking Gideon to add to your ever growing TBR pile. I definitely recommend Gideon to anyone who loves dark urban fantasy stories.


Author - Alex Gordon
Title - Gideon
Published by Harper Voyager
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
Format: E-Book, 432 pages



Thursday, December 18, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Superheroes Anonymous (Part I) by Lexie Dunne

**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.**

*Synopsis*

Everybody in Chicago has a “superhero sighting” story. So when a villain attacks editorial assistant Gail Godwin and she’s rescued by superhero Blaze, it’s a great story, and nothing more. Until it happens again. And again. 

Now, the media has dubbed her Hostage Girl, nobody remembers her real name, and people are convinced that Blaze is just Gail’s boyfriend Jeremy in disguise. Gail’s not so sure. All she knows is that when both Jeremy and Blaze leave town in the same week, she’s probably doomed. Who will save her now?

But when the villains miraculously lose interest, Gail is able to return to her life…until she wakes up strapped to a metal table by a mad scientist who hasn’t read the news. Escaping, and now more than human herself, she’s drawn into a secret underground world of superheroes. She’ll have to come to terms with her powers (and weakness) to make it in the new society, and it’s not easy. After all, there’s a new villain on the rise, and she has her sights set on the one and only Hostage Girl.


*My Thoughts*

SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS is Lexie Dunne's debut into the world of superheroes, and super villains. The story is told in the first person narrative by Gail Godwin. Gail lives and works in Chicago, where superhero sightings are just as exciting as watching a Chicago Bulls game. Well, maybe not for everyone.

Gail is a diminutive editorial assistant who has a bad habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nicknamed Hostage Girl by the media, Gail has been on the villains radar for the past 2 years. Every villain with something to prove, finds a way to make sure Gail is part of their world domination plans in order to lure a certain superhero into their web.

Everyone in Chicago truly believes that Superhero Blaze, who has rescued her more than a dozen times, is Gail's boyfriend Jeremy. Everyone that is except for Gail who hasn't a clue who Blaze really is. When Jeremy and Blaze leave Chicago for Miami, Gail truly believes she can finally relax, and not worry about being kidnapped, or tortured, or used as a tool to gain Blaze's attention. Not so fast my friends.

After falling victim to a mad scientist hoping to catch Blaze's attention, Gail finds that she's been forever altered by drug that is supposed to be addictive. She finds that her body is changing, giving her new strength and healing abilities, and an entirely new physique. After escaping, Gail once again finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and comes face to face with a new super-villain named Chelsea and to the attention of an organization of superheroes who are very interested in what happened to Hostage Girl.  

Holy fudge! That ending left my heart torn into pieces. With the sequel to Superheroes Anonymous coming out in June of 2015, it's going to be a rather long wait to find out what happens next in "part 2." I suppose I should say that since Superheroes is close to being a comic book in print, you have to expect a cliffhanger ending in order to get you to pick up the next installment. However much we, as readers, hate cliffhanger endings, they're not going away anytime soon.

I liked Gail as a lead character because she really doesn't give into the Mary Jane aspect of a simmering, suffering female victim as is often portrayed in these sorts of stories. She actually started the ball rolling by bravely taking on her first encounter with a villain. She could have run away more times than you can count, but didn't. Not even when she faces off against her very own nemesis in Chelsea.

The secondary characters in Superheroes are as interesting as Gail. This includes her trainer Angélica, her mentor Vicki, and of course, Blaze. I liked that there wasn't a love at first sight moment when Blaze's identity is finally revealed. I should say I was rather surprised by Blaze's true identity. I liked that Gail doesn't turn into a super hero over night, but has to endure hours of training, frustration, and a learning curve that is created just for her.

As I have previously stated, I prefer a character who grows over the course of a novel, or series. I think Gail definitely falls into that category. She goes from someone who only works at her place of employment because of health insurance, to a much more confident person who gets thrown into the world of superheroes and supervillains. I really wish we could have learned a bit more about Chelsea, and her plans. But, I can have patience until the sequel comes out and hope that Dunne reveals her master plan for Blaze, Gail, and Chelsea.


Author - Lexie Dunne
Title - Superheroes Anonymous
Released by Harper Voyager Impulse
Published - November 18, 2014
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: E-Book, 336 pages





Wednesday, December 17, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Atlantis Rising by Gloria Craw

**I received this book for free from Entangled Teen 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.**

*Synopsis*

I am different. I have always been different, but no one can know or my life will be in danger. So I hide in plain sight, wearing drab clothes and thick glasses and trying to be invisible. I’m so good at hiding, no one has ever noticed me. Until Ian…the mysterious and oh-so-cute boy I know I need to avoid.

Now I have been seen. And more terrifying still, I am wanted—by those who would protect me and those who would destroy everything and everyone I love. But if they’re all terrified about who I am, wait until they see what I can do


*My Thoughts*

17-year old Alison McKye has been living a lie. You see, Alison is not human. She's the offspring of Dewing parent's who are descendants of Atlantis. Alison is another example of being left behind in order to protect her by parents she will never know. Sometimes, leaving someone behind to grow up with no understanding of their heritage in a human world, can be a crutch for a character to hold and deal with.

Alison had no idea she was different from any other human, until a chance meeting with another Dewing who told her to hide and protect herself and her human family who adopted her. Staying with this promise 3 years later, Alison has no friends. She prefers to wear drab, unassuming clothes with obnoxious glasses and no makeup. She keeps her head down in order not to stand out. Alison keeps personal items with her at all times. She's prepared to leave at a moment's notice if anyone discovers who she really is or puts her family in harms way.


When Ian and Brandy Palmer arrive at Fillmore HS, Alison's entire world changes almost overnight. The perky Brandy won't allow Alison to go solo anymore, and brings Alison a bit of normality into her life like going shopping and sitting down for lunch with other people. Ian, of course, is the hot Dewing who pushes Alison even further to learn the ways of her abilities so that she can help save her family, and stop a war that's brewing between Atlantean factions. Ian, while considered a love interest, really is more of a protector, a friend, an ally, and someone who has your back. Happy note for all readers, no love triangle, and no love at first bite! 

Atlantis Rising is a fairly quick paced story that is interesting because Craw actually does some world building when it comes to the people of Atlantis, the factions involved, and their mind abilities. She gives Alison an ability called transference which has allowed her to remain in the background for 3 years without anyone realizing who she is. I do have some thoughts about a possible sequel to this novel since I just don't see how things can be wrapped up this deliberately without considering that others will step up and come after Alison. 

I would love to ask Entangled and Ms Craw if another book in this world is in the works? If not, why? I think one would want to learn more about the clans, if the war will continue, if anyone who helped the other side will come back to haunt Alison and Ian, and whether or not Alison and Ian become likeness, or life partners/mates. We also don't know about her "other" abilities and what they really mean. I think there is a whole universe of ideas when it comes to Alison and her Atlantean friends.

Author - Gloria Craw
Title - Atlantis Rising
Publisher - Entangled Teen
Release Date - January 6, 2015
Genre - Young Adult, Paranormal
Format - E-Book, 352 pages



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Willowgrove (Hemlock #3) by Kathleen Peacock

**I received this book for free from Katherine Tegen Books 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.**

*Synopsis*

Willowgrove is Kathleen Peacock's riveting conclusion to the Hemlock trilogy, a dark, romantic, paranormal suspense series that pits friendship against survival, and trust against love.

Ever since Mac's best friend, Amy, was murdered, Hemlock has been a dangerous place. But now that Mac, her boyfriend, Kyle, and Amy's ex, Jason, have investigated a mass breakout from Thornhill, a werewolf "rehabilitation" camp, the danger has only grown. Fear of the infection spreading is now at an all-time high, and anyone with a scar is suspected of being a wolf.

What makes Mac even more afraid, though, are the dark experiments that the warden of Thornhill was performing on wolves in a secret asylum called Willowgrove. Uncovering the truth about what happened may be the only way for Mac to save everyone she loves and end her nightmares for good.


*My Thoughts*

"Everyone always sees more than they remember, and sometimes people see things they're not ready to accept." 

Willowgrove is the final installment in the Hemlock trilogy. It has been nearly a month since Mackenzie Dobson, Kyle Harper, Jason Sheffield and Serena Carson returned from the Thornhill rehabilitation camp. Coming home they find that their hometown of Hemlock, where everything started with Amy's death, is now being swarmed by Trackers, the anti-werewolf hate mongers.

Things have changed for the main characters as well, and nothing could prepare them for what comes next. Mac is still being visited by Amy. Amy's hints cause Mac to rethink everything she's learned, or seen up to this point. It causes Mac to do some careless things, and some things that prove that she's not a one hit wonder. Evolution of a character in a series is a strong positive for me. Mac shows that she is willing to protect those she loves even if it means she has to pay a price.

Serena, on the other hand, isn't the same and struggles with what she went through. Truly, how can one be whole when she barely managed to survive and now she can't trust that she's truly safe? Kyle also has choices to make; return to the pack in Denver, or be considered an oath breaker. But, how can he expect Mac to follow him to Denver when she's a regular, and he's to be surrounded by werewolves? As for Jason, after everything he's seen and did to help save the werewolves, how can he truly remain part of the Trackers? How can he look his own parents in the eyes without hurling insults at them, and walking away?

I will say that Peacock doesn't hold anything back in Willowgrove. She puts everything on the table, and pushes MacKenzie and her friends to uncover the truth without completely breaking their spirits and their hopes. Everything comes to head, including Mac's choice of who she really wants to be with. Secrets come out of the darkness thanks to Amy's persistence and Mac's determination. There's a bit of sadness for some characters we've met along the way, a lot of action, and just a bit of romance for everyone else.

I am happy to announce that the love triangle took up absolutely no room in this novel. Of course Mac has feelings for both Jason and Kyle. You can't expect her not to. She, along with Amy, will be forever linked by their friendship, and the trials and tribulations they had to face since Amy's death. But, don't cry for Jason. Trust me. I find myself respecting Jason for finally seeing through the BS and knowing the truth about what really took Amy away from him. I respect him for standing by his friends, and not bailing on them for the Trackers.

Willowgrove ends with a powerful message about social justice. Mac, Jason, Kyle, and Serena stand up for the Werewolves who really don't have any rights in Peacock's world. It is their voice that helps bring the werewolves out of the shadows with an ending that changes everything. One could, if they choose, compare the Werewolves to other minorities who don't have a voice in their own fates. Or, one could say that if we respect each other as human beings, and not by the color of our skin, religion, or sexual orientation, the world would be a wonderful place to live in.


Author - Kathleen Peacock
Title - Willowgrove (Hemlock # 3)
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Format: E-Book, 368 pages



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