Wednesday, December 31, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Something True by Karelia Stetz-Waters

**I received this book for free from Grand Central Publishing, Forever Yours Imprint 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.**


Tate Grafton has a tough exterior, but underneath she's kind, caring, and fiercely loyal. That's why she first started working at Out in Portland Coffee-it was her way of repaying the shop's owner for taking her in as a homeless teenager. Nine years later, the coffee shop is floundering and Tate feels like she's letting life pass her by . . . until she shares an unforgettable night with a beautiful stranger. When the mysterious woman disappears the next morning, Tate doesn't even know her name.

Laura Enfield was supposed to be in Portland for only a few days-just long enough to oversee a simple business deal before joining her conservative father on his political campaign. But when the closeted Laura romances an employee of the coffee shop her company is shutting down, things get suddenly complicated. Now, the lies she's told for years are beginning to unravel, and her biggest secret is about to be exposed. Laura can't stop thinking about the barista with the soulful eyes, but after a lifetime of deception, can she finally embrace something true?

*My Thoughts*

Something True is a romantic story that features two women, Tatum "Tate" Grafton, and Laura Enfield, who have nothing in common, but are eventually drawn together by desire and love. Tate has been a barista at Out in Portland Coffee for the past 9 years. She's had numerous girlfriends, but hasn't found the one who she can settle down with. Tate is described as being the archetypal female who is loyal to a fault, and who put her own future on hold to help her friend Maggie after she took Tate off the streets. Tate is the kind of person that I strive to be in my lifetime.

Laura Enfield works for a development group that wants to crash Tate's future and her companies existence and replace it with a sandwich shop. Laura comes from a very conservative family with a father who is a Republican Senator from Alabama. While Tate knows exactly who she is, Laura has been afraid to come out of the closet for fear of what it might do to her family. After one night together, Laura emotions are torn to shreds. Her choices and decisions really shouldn't be that surprising to anyone who has shied away from coming out to their families, while also putting their careers in jeopardy.

I will say this about Something True, if you enjoy reading love scenes, well, you get your fill here. I don't normally blush while reading about sex, but holy cow did my neck and face become red. Karelia definitely knows how to trigger emotions with her writing. The story itself is a rollercoaster of emotions as Laura struggles with her identity, and Tate tries to hold herself and her friends together. I wanted to throttle Laura for her seesawing with Tate's emotions, while also wanting to hug Tate until she found her happiness.

If you are a person who perhaps doesn't understand the reason why women love women and not men, perhaps this book isn't for you. Or, perhaps it is if you have an open mind. If you are a political conservative who is against gay marriages, perhaps you should avoid reading this book as well. I mean, nobody wants to force anyone into doing something they are uncomfortable with right? Why not allow the gay community to marry? Why not allow them to experience the depression that comes along with being divorced like heterosexual couples do?

I am sure that many of you are surprised by the fact that I requested and read Something True which is an F/F Romance novel. Perhaps you don't me know me that well after-all. As we are heading for a new year, I really wanted to try something outside of my normal reads. Perhaps 2015 will be the year that my zone expands, and I embrace more authors and novels that aren't normally what I like to read.

As this is my last posted review of 2015, I want to thank everyone for following me, commenting on my reviews, and liking them. I can't put into words how much I appreciate the time you have taken from your busy lives and read my words that I have struggled with for years. 2014 was an awful year for me and my family. I don't want to experience another one like this for a very long time to come. I am hopeful that with a change of scenery, and some hopes for a better fate, 2015 will be smooth as ice on a frozen lake.

Author - Karelia Stetz-Waters
Title - Something True
Published by Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Genre: F/F, Romance
Format: E-Book, 352 pages

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* When by Victoria Laurie

**I received this book for free from Disney-Hyperion 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.**


Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not thehow, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

*My Thoughts*

"When" is a standalone, suspenseful mystery twisted around 16-year old Maddie Flynn who has the unique ability to see the exact date that someone is supposed to die. Maddie was but a child when numbers started appearing over people's heads. It wasn't until her father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty that the numbers started making sense. When is a gut retching story that truly makes you sit up and take notice of Maddie's plight.

Her alcoholic mother uses Maddie's abilities to make additional money, which in turn, keeps her numb to what is happening to her own daughter. She has no friends except Stubby because her fellow students believe she is either cursed, or a witch. She has never been able to save anyone from their death date, nor has she been able to change anyone's death date. Not for lack of trying at least.

The real kick in the story begins after Maddie tells a mother that her son's death date is approaching. Not believing this to be true, Maddie finds herself under a microscope by the FBI after the kid disappears and her best friend tries to help yet another victim. Maddy and Stubby find their worlds turned upside down, and at the center of a murder investigation that leads to a climatic finish to the story.

Even though Maddie has her eyes set on a boy from another school, Aiden, When is NOT heavy on the romance side. When doesn't have any love triangles, or lust at first site scenes. Stubby and Maddie are best friends, not love interests. Period. When is NOT a paranormal story with vampires, werewolves, or any other supernatural entities. When IS a story about a brave teenager who is smart, goal oriented towards going to Cornell, loyal to her best friend to the point of doing whatever it takes to save him, and deals with not only her father's loss, but her mother's descent into being completely useless.

When is a fairly unique story with a heart warming ending. Although Maddie and her family, including her Uncle Donny, go through some awful times, it is the scenes with Maddie's neighbor Mrs. Duncan that truly brighten up the story. I absolutely adored Mrs. Duncan. She stood by Maddie throughout and in the end, she melted my heart with her words, and her actions.

In the end, When was an entertaining story that kept me reading right to the end despite some missing segments of the story due to formatting errors. You can't blame that on the author. We are warned that ARC's are as is when we request them, and therefore we should expect errors, or missing words. It is the final product that matters.

Author - Victoria Laurie
Title - When
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Format: E-Book, 336 pages

Monday, December 29, 2014

*Top Ten Tuesday* Top 10 2015 Blogging Goals/Resolutions

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!
Top Ten Blogging Goals for 2015

10. Read what I want, when I want, and not be pushed or pulled into panicking because I couldn't find the time to read something I asked for. This basically means that instead of requesting books via NetGalley/Edelweiss and not reading them, I need to focus more on the books I already have, including the 800 plus on my Kindle.

9. Comment back more - Sorry folks :( This is one of my weakest parts of being a blogger. I love everyone who has commented and supported this blog over the past 3 years. I think I've lost some because I don't comment back in a timely manner. I'll try to do better!

8. Try not to read 300 plus books again this year. Sounds stupid I know. However, I have read over 300 books a year for the past 4 years.  This goes along with # 1. I think reading takes me away from lots of my real life problems. I can focus on reading, instead of issues that depress and anger me.

7. Read more books from authors like Karina Hale, and Sierra Dean to name a few - This really could go with # 10, but I'll separate it. I want to read the Secret Series and the Experiment in Terror series from beginning to end. I want to finish series that I have books for but pushed aside for other things.

6. Create a new and exciting Meme for bloggers to join - This has been on my plate for at least 2 years now. I really think there is room for one more meme. I just need to figure out how to organize my thoughts, and put it to work. Any ideas, I'm all ears!

5. Try to attend at least (1) Book/ Author convention in 2015 - One way or the other, I need to find a way to get rid of my panic attacks so that I can attend this year. Perhaps, I can start with the Coast Con in Daytona.

4. Maintain a 95 percentage on NetGalley, and try to do better on Edelweiss - I really need help figuring out what my rate is on EW. I'll bet you a pickle that it's not as high as NG.

3. Continue to write reviews in a timely manner - Most of these goals are very simplistic. Unfortunately, I am very bad at writing reviews in a timely nature unless it has been requested by a publisher, or an author. I am also bad at writing reviews without thinking that they truly suck. I would love to write a review for a publication and feel satisfied that I gave my best efforts. 

2. Spend less time worrying about page views and followers - I've been saying this throughout 2014, and will continue to do so in 2015. I love page views, but they shouldn't drive the way I blog, or take enjoyment out of it. I love new followers, but won't quit just because I don't have 3000 followers like big blogs do. 

1. Have fun! You would think this one would be the easiest, yet, for me, it has been the hardest over the past year. I am hopeful that my family stays healthy throughout 2015. This includes me and my cat! I am hopeful that more blogs don't close down, and that we, as bloggers, continue to support each other, and stop warring on each other.

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn

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


 Postbellum America makes for a haunting backdrop in this historical and supernatural tale of moonlit cemeteries, masked balls, cunning mediums, and terrifying secrets waiting to be unearthed by an intrepid crime reporter. 
The year is 1869, and the Civil War haunts the city of Philadelphia like a stubborn ghost. Mothers in black continue to mourn their lost sons. Photographs of the dead adorn dim sitting rooms. Maimed and broken men roam the streets. One of those men is Edward Clark, who is still tormented by what he saw during the war. Also constantly in his thoughts is another, more distant tragedy--the murder of his mother at the hands of his father, the famed magician Magellan Holmes...a crime that Edward witnessed when he was only ten. 
Now a crime reporter for one of the city's largest newspapers, Edward is asked to use his knowledge of illusions and visual trickery to expose the influx of mediums that descended on Philadelphia in the wake of the war. His first target is Mrs. Lucy Collins, a young widow who uses old-fashioned sleight of hand to prey on grieving families. Soon, Edward and Lucy become entwined in the murder of Lenora Grimes Pastor, the city's most highly regarded--and by all accounts, legitimate--medium, who dies mid-seance. With their reputations and livelihoods at risk, Edward and Lucy set out to find the real killer, and in the process unearth a terrifying hive of secrets that reaches well beyond Mrs. Pastor. Blending historical detail with flights of fancy, "Things Half in Shadow" is a riveting thriller where "Medium" and "The Sixth Sense" meet "The Alienist"--and where nothing is quite as it seems.

*My Thoughts*

Things Half in Shadow is a mystery blended with the supernatural. Set in Postbellum America (1869 Philadelphia), Shadow is told in the first person narrative by Edward Clark. Shadow enters the world of Spiritualism, Mediums, and a secret society bent on ruling the world with their machinations.

Columbus Holmes, son of The Amazing Magellan Holmes, now lives under the name of Edward Clark. Clark is a crime reporter for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. He is also a veteran of the Civil War, and has been having his own struggles coming to terms with surviving the war between the states, while his friends did not. Edward has hidden his real identity for 15 years for fear of being forced to deal with one of the worst nights of his life. The night his own father killed his mother.

Sent out to cover and unearth the dastardly mediums who are using illusions and visual trickery to con mourners out of their hard earned money, Edward meets Lucy Collins and a deep, dark family secret that has been hidden for 15 years. Lucy is a better con, than she is a medium, and just as arrogant. She too, has a secret she's been running from.

Forced into working with Lucy because of the fear that his true identity will come out into the open, Edward soon finds himself shrouded in mysteries, secrets, murder, and an organization (Praediti) that is as secretive as the name itself. Working together, Lucy and Edward find themselves at the center of Lenora Grimes Pastor's murder. The investigation leaves many questions, tears at supposed strong relationships, and forces Edward to accept his own abilities while digging into Pastor's death.

I have to say that Things Half in Shadow was a very entertaining and enjoyable read. Much better than I anticipated. Then again, I do enjoy stories that are told in historical American settings and have a supernatural flavor to them. I liked how Finn puts the mystery together, and slowly unravels it by revealing clues without truly giving away the whodunit until we are ready for it. I liked how Lucy and Edward were able to work together even though they had more differences that similarities. I liked how the relationship grew from antagonism, to something else while being forced to face both of their pasts.

The only negative I have is that apparently this is a standalone novel? I do have a handful of questions that are lingering after the story ends. I need to know more about the Praediti. I need to know more about Edward's own abilities. I need to know who he ends up marrying since his marital status is left up in the air. Does he marry the fiance Violet? Or does he marry the girl that turned his world upside down, Lucy Collins? I need to know if his relationship with his own father leads to secrets being uncovered. Inquiring minds need to know Mr. Finn!

Author - Alan Finn
Title - Things Half in Shadow
Published by Gallery Books
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: E-Book, 448 pages

Saturday, December 27, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter #7) by Nalini Singh


In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

*My Thoughts*

When it was announced that Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter #7) was to be Hunter Ashwini Taj and Vampire Janvier's story, I was excited. The games the couple has played at each others expense for the past 4 years, and in Angel's Pawn, has been entertaining and fun to read about. Ash is a badass with a major family secret, and Janvier gives as good as he receives. Put them together with Naasir, and you have one hell of team that can take on all comers.

Shadows continues the Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6) storyline. In fact, the opening scene is straight from the war that happens in Legion. It's the most action you will find in this entire story, minus a brief confrontation between Ash and the villain. Shadows gives Elena & Raphael equal presence, gives us an interesting look at Naasir with tempting morsels of what he actually is, while also bringing in Raphael's mother Caliane and Archangel Titus to NY.

To say that I am rather disappointed with Archangel's Shadows, shouldn't shock anyone who followed, or commented on my statuses. So, yes, readers were promised a book with Ash and Janvier and this is what we received. We looked deep inside Ash and found out what has been holding her back. We learn a bit more about Janvier's past and how he was Made. We now know that Ash has the terrifying ability to pick on people's memories which forces her to keep her distance from almost everyone, including Janvier. We also know that Janvier would give himself completely over to Ash in life and in death. What's the problem you ask?

While we did get a better idea of who Ash is and how utterly in love Janvier is with her, we didn't get them fighting back to back except for a brief clip at the beginning of the book. While we did get a tender scene with Ash and Naasir, I would have loved to see more of the opening scene since they apparently were instrumental in helping save NY. My other complaint? Ash was absolutely unwilling to be changed into a vampire. She wanted to live her life to the fullest. So, why the ending I ask?

Shadows is a relationship filled Hodge podge my God reunion story with pretty much every single character who has ever graced the pages of this series showing up at one point or the other. I will say without hesitation, that Naasir is by far the most entertaining character in this entire story, and his relationship with Ash and Elena is just as fun to read about. I want a FULL Naasir story so he can find his MATE. Add in Aodham and Illium, and I'm all set. Get to it, Singh!

Naturally, I am likely in be in the minority with my review, and that is totally fine. I would dare say that Shadows has little romance, little action, little fighting, and more conversational babbling and a mystery than anything else we've seen to this point. We really didn't need more of Elena, and her relationship with Raphael. We know that eventually, Elena won't be the weakest Angel. We know that she will face more terrifying situations. We know that she loves Raphael, and he apparently has a sense of humor now.

Singh has apparently decided that no more humans will take part in her series. That Shadows leaves only Ransom, Deacon, and Sara as the main humans, is rather disappointing. Of course, people will ask me, if I was given the same opportunities as both Honor and Ash under same conditions would I take it. Honest answer is no. We are, of course, talking about fantasy, and living forever is currently impossible. Even if it were, I would say no. That's what free will and free choice is all about.

Author - Nalini SIngh
Title - Archangel's Shadows
Series - Guild Hunter # 7
Published by Berkley Sensation
Released: October 28, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: Paperback, 366 pages

Friday, December 26, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy #2) by Pierce Brown

**I received this book for free from Random House/Del Rey 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.**


With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones,debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation. Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within. A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Songuarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

*My Thoughts*

Golden Son, the second novel in the Red Rising Trilogy, picks up 4 years from when we were first introduced to our main character. Told in the first person narrative by Darrow, a Red rebel looking to lead his oppressed people to freedom, Golden Son is a brutal, action packed story that has major body counts, vivid scenes of bloodshed and death, reunions and stunning revelations, betrayals and shocking turn of events.

I dare say that Golden Son, which picks up right where Red Rising left off, pushes the trilogy into a more adult themed area rather than young adult. Perhaps because the trilogy has been compared to Ender's Game where all the main characters are teenagers, readers continue to believe it's still a young adult novel. It's just not true. Perhaps I am wrong in this area, and I accept that. But....

Darrow, his friends, and enemies are now in their early 20's or older. If anything, this would be considered New Adult without all the sexual encounters or tapestry. The theme for Golden Son is just as dark as Red Rising, but without the need for Brown to once again introduce Rape to tell his story. Brown digs deeper into this society and the machinations of those in charge, including our first look at this societies Sovereign who is a real joy to read about (sarcasm), her furies, and her Knights.

Golden Son is much more political and dangerous in nature for everyone involved. Darrow is far from safe. He has enemies who want his head, and his heart on a platter for his actions in Red Rising. His friendships and alliances are tested and found lacking because he is still thinking about revenge rather than using his head to guide his decisions. He also keeps way too much to himself, rather than relying on those who have helped him face death in the face.

If you love a certain characters in this trilogy, I should warn you, without spoilers, that Brown will test your patience and your emotions right up until the very last page which is just a stunning way to end a story. This is not a lovely romantic novel where Darrow finds happiness and settles down and everything is right in the universe.

Darrow tries to remain true to who he is, and not just another psychotic gold tool to be used whenever his master says jump. His actions are sill guided by Eo's desire to see her dream come true and her people free from slavery. But, Darrow is a leader of men and women now, and they stand behind him. Darrow is a character that has some emotions, and not just a robotic machine looking for some payback to those who wronged him. He is pushed to the limits, and then goes a step beyond that point.

If you are looking for friendships to follow, look no further than Darrow, Sevro, and Ragnar who is a wonderful addition to this trilogy. If you are looking for romance, well, I can't say any more other than Mustang and Darrow do share some moments together, but I won't dare go any further than that because in the end, Darrow really is in deep kimchee, and I'm a bit surprised by Mustangs actions. Some of them make sense, others are curious in nature.

In the end, I am eager to find out how Brown wraps up this trilogy so that all questions and situations make sense when I turn to the last page. Again, the ending of Golden Son will leave you stunned to the very core, and demanding more! Pierce expands his universe from Mars, to the moons of Jupiter, and the book is so action packed, that you will need a break or two to take a breath from what is happening.

Author - Pierce Brown
Title - Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy# 2)
Published by Random House/Del Rey
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: E-Book, 464 pages

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Black Dog (Hellhound Chronicles #1) by Caitlin Kittredge

**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.


The first installment in a fabulous dark urban fantasy series—think Kill Bill with demons and gangsters instead of martial arts—from the award-winning author of the Iron Codex trilogy and Vertigo comic Coffin Hill

Ava has spent the last hundred years as a hellhound, the indentured servant of a reaper who hunts errant souls and sends them to Hell. When a human necromancer convinces her to steal her reaper’s scythe, Ava incurs the wrath of the demon Lilith, her reaper’s boss.

As punishment for her transgression, Lilith orders Ava to track down the last soul in her reaper’s ledger . . . or die trying. 

But after a hundred years of servitude, it’s time for payback. And Hell hath no fury like an avenging Ava 

*My Thoughts*

Caitlin Kittredge returns with a new series called Hellhound Chronicles. Kittredge, author of such series as Nocturne City, and Black London, once again creates her own unique world where reapers, hellhounds, demons, necromancers, good and bad angels exist. As a fan of dark urban fantasy novels, Black Dog fits nicely into my expectations.

Black Dog is told in the first person narrative by Ava. Ava has been a hellhound for nearly 100 years after she was given a second chance to live. Her job is to collect/fetch souls for her reaper and return them to hell. She's really good at her job in spite of her arrogant Hellspawn master Gary who lacks any morals. Hounds like Ava are basically slaves who have little if any free will of their own.

A not so chance meeting with Russian necromancer Leonid "Leo" Karpov in Las Vegas, changes everything Ava's ever known. When Ava slays her reaper, she ends up on a collision course with the original demon, Lilith. Sent by Lilith to retrieve Gary's last mark Clint Hicks, Ava gets more than she bargained for. Especially when she learns Clint's real identity and what part in Lilith's equation she plays. Ava, along with Leo, and Clint, journey across the country, ending with Ava and Leo attempt at determining their own destiny.

Let's get right to the nitty gritty. Black Dog is an interesting and refreshing take on Hellhounds, Grim Reapers, the Fallen, and Demonspawn. It is a rarity when you have a Hellhound as a lead character, and the story is as original as one can expect from someone who dug deep into darkness with her Black London series. If you've read Kittredge's previous novels, you know that you really can't expect the usual. You can expect curveballs, mysteries, surprises, and lots of bloody action.

As a lead character, Ava has some issues, but you could say that these issues were what made her a likable character. While she is a badass most of the time, especially with her ability to quickly transform into a Hellhound and hunt down her prey, she also has a lighter side that could be construed as being a bit on the annoying side. Kittredge's decision to give certain flashbacks to Ava's past, actually helped the story and not hindered it.

Ava's partnership with Leo was one of the things I had some issues with. I guess I am become numb to sex scenes that are placed in the middle of something important happening. Yes, let's have sex, while the big bad is chasing us, hoping to rip our throats out at the next second. I honestly didn't care much for Leo, but I guess where Ava goes, Leo goes. Leo was more arrogant than supportive. More annoying than helpful.

There are some loose end that Kittredge doesn't tie up and I wonder what that means for the rest of this series. Ava and Leo have a new adventure, Grim Tidings, releasing August of 2015. I am sure I will be reading the next installment. I am hopeful that the series remains action packed, and not relying on sex to carry the story.

Author - Caitlin Kittredge
Title - Black Dog
Series - Hellhound Chronicles # 1
Published by Harper Voyager
Released - October 28, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-Book, 368 pages

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* The Witches of Echo Park (The Witches of Echo Park #1) by Amber Benson

**I received this book for free from Ace Trade 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.**


Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…

When Elyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping secrets—extraordinary secrets—from her.

Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian estate; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But to accept her destiny means to place herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…

*My Review*

Amber Benson, author of the Calliope Reaper-Jones series, returns with The Witches of Echo Park. Set in California, Witches is an urban fantasy novel with a romantic element. Witches begins with a dire warning that something calamitous is likely to happen soon, and the coven will need to stand strong against the coming evil.

Benson intertwines Witches between (6) main characters who have a variety of magical skills from clairvoyance, tarot card reader, herbalist, empathy and Dream weaver. I would definitely say that Eleanora and Lyse are the most prominent in this, part 1. But, I would not discount or ignore the rest of the coven for fear of missing out on something important.

Eleanora Eames, the leader of the Echo Park coven, is dying from cancer. She fully expects that her niece will take her place once she is gone. Eleanora has a few dark secrets/skeletons all her own and she hasn't spoken to anyone about them, not even her niece which puts her at a clear disadvantage to others and the coming danger they will face. Benson gives readers a much more intensive background look into Eleanora's past, mindset, and actions than other character. I do think this was necessary for reasons that I won't spoil. I do, however, lay full blame for Lyse being blind in a dark, cold alley.

Elyse (Lyse) Eames-McAllister is Eleanor's niece who spent her early teen years living with her "great-aunt" after her parents died, then moved to Athens, Georgia. She never knew her "great-aunt" was a witch, nor did she have any idea that one day she would be forced into taking the mantle of the Echo Park Coven. Lyse has one of the most sexually explicit encounters of anyone in this book. Lyse is also facing the most difficult challenges of any character. She has to come to grips with the reality that things aren't as straight forward as they seem, and she might be a target for the coming storm. I do think that Lyse has a long way to go before we can call her a heroine, but I don't doubt that Benson will get us there.

Devandra, Arrabelle, Daniela, and Lizbeth round out the coven. Each of these characters has a part to play in the coven and the story. Each has their own unique views and situations that are explored. With Dev, her daughters adds a curious element to the story and one that should be explored further.

The most interesting characters outside of Eleanora and Lyse are Daniela and Lizbeth. Daniela has some interesting side storylines if Benson decides to explore them further. I do believe that Lizbeth and Lyse's relationship needs to be given more of a chance to grow since they've been tossed together without understanding anything about the other person. Lizbeth is perhaps the most intriguing of all the witches and I'm looking forward to seeing where Benson takes her character.

One of the biggest mysteries of Witches is The Flood. "The Flood is coming and we need to clear a path." You could say that Witches ends on a cliffhanger because we really don't have any idea who is leading the Flood, or why they've decided to eliminate witches covens around the world. I will say that the last third of Witches was the strongest, and most entertaining. It also left me with questions about Lyse & the Flood.

I will say it. I was duped by the cover. I truly thought Witches was more of a young adult novel than it really was because the girl on the cover looks to be about 17. Witches is definitely aimed at an Adult audience with one of the steamiest sex scenes you will read about. I have no reservation to say that I will be continuing this series. Benson's writing is always straight forward, and doesn't leave a whole lot of room to complain that something is missing.

Author - Amber Benson
Title - The Witches of Echo Park
Series - The Witches of Echo Park # 1
Published by Ace Trade
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-Book, 304 pages

Monday, December 22, 2014

*Top Ten Tuesday* Top Ten 2014 Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me!

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!

Top Ten 2041 Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me!

1. This Shattered World (Starbound # 2) by Amie Kaufman/Meagan Spooner

2. Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms # 3) by Morgan Rhodes

3. Endsinger (The Lotus War # 3) by Jay Kristoff

4. Tainted Blood (Generation V) by M.L Brennan

5. Seventh Grave and No Body (Charley Davidson # 7) by Darynda Jones

6. Mortal Gods (Goddess War # 2) by Kendare Blake

7. Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy # 3) by Sarah Rees Brennan

8. Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

9. How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back by Diane Rowland

10. Grim Shadows (Roaring Twenties # 2) by Jenn Bennett

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Earth & Sky (Earth & Sky #1) by Megan Crewe

**I received this book for free from Amazon Children's Publishing 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.**


Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong. But despite the panic attacks tormenting her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy. Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: our world no longer belongs to us. For thousands of years, Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for its inhabitants and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments. Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help--but with each shift in the past, the very fabric of reality is unraveling, and soon there may be no Earth left to save. 

*My Thoughts*

For most of her young life, Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted by powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong with the world. Skylar compensates for her occasional feelings by multiplying by three to calm herself down. After meeting the mysterious Win, Skylar learns that she's a rarity; a person who can feel time-manipulation experiments by alien scientists.

Earth & Sky is the first installment in the Earth & Sky series by Megan Crewe, the author of the Fallen World trilogy. Earth & Sky is a young adult, science fiction tale with time traveling, aliens, and a young protagonist who might be the key to helping alien rebels right the wrongs that have been committed against the planet. Surprise! It is not a post-apocalyptic or dystopian story that have become so trendy lately.

Earth & Sky is set in current times. The premise is easy to grab on to. What if aliens, instead of kidnapping humans, and bringing them to God knows where, were actually using the entire planet as an Experiment? What if said aliens were using time manipulating technology to change events in history and experiment with different possible outcomes? What if there were those who are so sensitive to the shifts, that they are able to tell when something has been changed?

Skylar and Win team up to cross hundreds of years of history trying to solve riddles left by the Rebel Leader Jeanant. They travel to France, 10th century Vietnam, and colonial America gathering pieces of a weapon that can stop the aliens interference in the lives of Earthlings. Along the way, they are chased by Enforcers who aim to stop them, and a desire by Skylar to find out what really happened to her older brother Noam who disappeared years before.

Earth & Sky is not a story that is filled with romance. It is not a story that has any love triangles, or love at first sight issues. It is a story that takes two characters and tosses them together to save the world. It is a story of a budding friendship that perhaps may lead into a romance if that is the way Crewe chooses to go.

Skylar is a realistic character who suffers greatly from panic attacks, then learns the truth behind them and rises to the occasion against major odds. As one who also experiences these devastating moments myself, I totally felt a bond with her. I think her desire to find out what really happened to Noam, and her attempt to change the course of history, wasn't necessarily selfish on her part. I think as part of human nature, we desire closure when someone goes missing and a reason why things happened. I liked Earth & Sky also because for once, there wasn't any mean girls, or parents who weren't around when Sky needed them.

I believe the second installment in this series will be interesting. I actually look forward to seeing how Sky and Win's friendship grows. I look forward to the next step in the evolution of this series, and the extension of learning more about the rebel group Sky has found herself attached to, and the planet for which they come from. I also would love to know more about Win who definitely isn't anyone you should ignore.

Author - Megan Crewe
Title - Earth & Sky (Earth & Sky # 1)
Published by Amazon Children's Skyscape
Released: October 28, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format: E-Book, 306 pages

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.**


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.**


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