Tuesday, September 16, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* A Vault of Sins (Chaos Theory #2) by Sarah Harian

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


In her stunning New Adult debut, The Wicked We Have Done, Sarah Harian introduced readers to the Compass Room: a twisted experimental jail where the guilty and the innocent suffer alike. But breaking out was only the beginning…

Even though she’s escaped, twenty-two-year-old Evalyn Ibarra is anything but free. She’s desperate to return to a life that no longer exists, but prying reporters continually draw her back into nightmarish memories, using the tabloids to vilify her. Bad press is the last thing she needs during the trial of the year: the case that she and her fellow survivors staked against the Compass Room engineers. A case that could terminate the use of the inhumane system forever...

But in her dreams, she is still locked in that terrifying jail.

When she wakes, someone is trying to communicate with her in secret, through strange and intricate clues. As Evalyn follows their signs, she uncovers a conspiracy that goes so much deeper than her own ordeal. A dangerous intrigue that only she can bring to light. One that will force her to work with the one person she doesn’t want to see.

The person who owns her heart.

*My Thoughts*

A Vault of Sins picks up pretty much where The Wicked We Have Done left off. Even though Evalyn Ibarra, Casey Hargrove, and Valerie Crane have survived their experiences in the Compass Room, they are far from free, and one misstep will lead to their conviction for their previous crimes that got them sent to the CR in the first place.

The emotional and personal tolls from their CR experience add up, and having the DOJ hovering over their lives doesn't exactly help heal the mind, the body, or the soul. Evalyn experiences nightmares, and she blames herself for Jace's death. Even though she survived her trip to the CR with some cunning moves, she still doesn't believe that she's a good person. Her coping mechanism comes from painting and the nearest bottle of alcohol. She also ends up pushing away the one person that could keep her from losing herself entirely; Casey.

Vault introduces readers to a new group of characters who belong to an organization called Reprise. The group is a combination of hackers, and former CR Engineers who created the Bots. Reprise knows the truth about what happened to Evalyn and the others and is prepared to help them against the DOJ. The same DOJ who now wants the Evalyn, Casey, Valerie problem to go away by any means necessary, even if it means sending them back to the CR to face certain death.

While Wicked was filled with action, suspense, romance, and intrigue, Vault becomes more conversational in nature. There is a whole lot more time wandering in the mind of Evalyn and her belief that she some how got away with murder. Vault is definitely more character driven than plot. There is a whole lot of romance in this story that perhaps will keep the New Adult genre readers happy. For me, the romance took up way too much of the storyline that could have been dedicated to something else. 

Just like my previous comments on Wicked, one can presumably avoid the comparisons being made to The Hunger Games by taking Harian's work for what it is. It is an original idea, that challenges readers to put away their preconceived notions and just enjoy the world that she has created. Harian leaves you wondering what other secrets the DOJ holds, and if the answers will ever see the light of day. If you truly learn anything from reading Vault, it is that nothing is what it appears.

While A Vault of Sins unlocks even more secrets of the Compass Room, and once again pits Evalyn and Val against twisted characters that would love nothing more than to kill them, it also leaves some very interesting questions, and avenues for the next story in the series. One can only hope that when all is said and done, that the friendship between Evie and Valerie holds up, and her romance with Casey doesn't take an end run to destruction.

*Recvd 09/08/2014 via NetGalley/Penguin Expected publication: September 16th 2014 by Penguin/InterMix 
Author - Sarah Harian   Title - A Vault of Sins (Chaos Theory # 2)   Published by Penguin/Intermix   Released: September 16, 2014   Genre: Speculative, New Adult   Format: E-Book 257 pages

*J Taylor Publishing Presents* Secret of the Souls ARC Giveaway

J. Taylor Publishing are giving away FIVE ARCs of Secret of the Souls by Terri Rochenski!

Check it out!

Secret of the Souls
Thrust out of their homes by a human High Priest on a vengeful mission, the Natives of Derlund no longer have a place to call their own. One escaped capture, however, and now she, Hyla, is the only one who can save her people. For, Hyla, though, saving her nation isn’t her ultimate goal—returning to the Pool of Souls is. Becoming its Guardian and preserving their faith is her heart’s desire. The perils of her current journey, though, could leave her unable to fulfill that dream. To find her way back to the Pool, Hyla must live among dangerous, powerful humans willing to defend the Natives, and must submit herself—her Talents—to them. While her protection is paramount, plots to end Hyla’s life will push her to her physical and emotional limits. On the edge of sanity, her courage tested, and convictions nearly broken, Hyla’s final test of loyalty to her faith comes with the death of one she could have loved.
Readers will experience Hyla's spiritual and self-discovering journey once more, in this latest addition to the Pool of Souls duology.
And J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE ARC copies.
You don’t even have to be a book blogger!
Nope, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review* by October 12th 2014, you are eligible to enter.
Then just fill out the form and keep your fingers crossed.
You have until midnight of September 21st, 2014 to enter.
*A review should consist of your honest thoughts regarding a book, usually a few paragraphs long and around 150 - 500 (or more, if desired) words in length. About Terri Rochenski Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with the fantasy genre. Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.

Monday, September 15, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* The Wicked We Have Done (Chaos Theory, #1) by Sarah Harian

**I received this E-book for free from Penguin/InterMix Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


Twenty-two-year-old Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room—an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice.

If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.

Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.

She doesn’t plan on making friends.

She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.

*My Thoughts*

Sarah Harian has created a world where 15-years ago, government scientists created a system that was able to sort out the innocent, from the guilty. Convicted felons are given a choice by the Division of Judicial Technology: spend the rest of your life in prison, or face the Compass Room. The CR forces the participants to face the victims of their crimes in a diabolical and bloody manner. For those who survive the month within the arena of the CR, they go free. Simple right?

22-year old Evalyn Ibarra is the primary character of The Wicked We Have Done. Her momentarily lapse of good judgement while in college caused the death of an innocent teacher and the loss of her freedom. We are told that she is a mass murderer/terrorist because she lead the slaughter of 56 teachers, and students deaths. We are told that she is an uncaring, immoral, and unfeeling killer who needs to die for her crimes against humanity. In fact, she does feel guilty for her participation, and the desire to live isn't high on her list of priorities. So, choosing to face the CR, knowing that death is a distinct possibility, shouldn't surprise anyone.   

At this point, I found myself not giving a shit whether or not Evalyn lived or died. Without any facts to support up my anger, I would have recommended that Evalyn be sent to the Death chamber for her actions. I will probably get booed, and unfollowed for saying this BUT, I do believe in the death penalty in cases of rape, child molestation, murder of police officers, child trafficking, and acts of terrorism against innocent human beings. I think we as a society need to get rid of the electric chair and lethal injections. I believe we should find an easier way to rid society permanently of the scum of the earth which doesn't include tax payer funded 3 meals a day, free TV, and an education throughout life in prison.

Harian's cast of felons include Casey the love interest, Valerie, Jace, and Tanner who have all been charged with everything from rape, to murder, to vehicular homicide, to burning down their own home. Harian chooses to switch from the present to the past with flashbacks of Evalyn's path to a very bad choice and why she seems so determined that the CR kill her without hesitation. Personally, I found a part of this equation lacking, and that was Nick's involvement. Who was he really? Why did he want to create chaos? Why did he pick Evalyn and her best friend Meghan?

Because this is a part of a series, it was obvious that certain aspects about Evalyn's past, and what actually happened on that fateful day, would remain hidden from readers until Harian had no choice but to let go of the secret. Evalyn is a character whose remorse is built in the walls that she puts up around herself to show that she wants to die and isn't afraid. She shows no emotions because she is guilty of killing someone and nothing, no matter what really happened on that fateful day, will change her mind. But, she's also determined to figure out a way to help her fellow inmates who she becomes friends with in finding a way out of the CR alive. She finds courage in the face of hardship. She comes to learn the facts behind the CR, and helps make some sound decisions for the group. 

There is romance built into the story that leads to sexual escapades, and perhaps a bit of insta-romance on the part of both parties. Once again I say to the diversity deniers that you just need to look around and you will easily find it in the most unusual places. The romance is not only between a younger guy and an older woman, but also between two women which was just plain adorable. To anyone who has spoken out against my lack of reading diversity, it's obvious you don't follow me close enough. 

I am tired of the comparisons being made to The Hunger Games. I refuse to accept the comparisons and wish that readers would post their reviews based on the creativity of the author and the story itself. THG was based on a society that continues to pay the ultimate price for a bloody rebellion. Harian's society is perhaps overwhelmed by chaos, and decided to do something about it even though some end up being released back into society by on moral codes. Nobody is FORCING them to face each other in a game of kill, or be killed! I get the disconnect some readers feel as well. There should be no allowances for those who intentionally murder or rape anyone. The CR takes judgment out of the hands of authorities, and puts it into the hands of those who are anything but innocent of their crimes. 

I've been approved for A Vault of Sins (Chaos Theory #2) so I shall be reading that story next. Let the journey continue

Author - Sarah Harian   Title - The Wicked We Have Done   Series - Chaos Theory # 1   Published by Penguin/InterMix Books   Released: March 18, 2014   Genre: Speculative, New Adult   Format: E-Book 244 pages

Sunday, September 14, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas

**I received this E-book for free from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

*My Thoughts*

"Fortune favors the brave, and the brave make their own fortune!"

Iolanthe Seabourne (aka Archer Fairfax) and Prince Titus's epic journey continues with The Perilous Sea in which fate and destiny are challenged, explored, and ultimately torn apart. The Perilous Sea is not only broken down into two distinct timelines that switch after each chapter, but is also told through the eyes of both characters. This all leads to a cliffhanger ending and the next step in the battle with the Bane, leader of Atlantis.

The first timeline happens after Iola and Titus wake up in the middle of the Sahara Desert without any memories of how they got there, or who they really are. As this is "current" events, readers have no clue how we got from the end of The Burning Sky to here. While switching between past and present is often times discombobulating, Thomas's choice eventually works out when the timelines ultimately connect and the answers are laid out for you. Iola and Titus's Saharan journey is fraught with danger, stimulating chase scenes filled with Atlanteans, wyverns, chariots, as well as meeting new allies in their mission to defeat the Bane.

The second begins seven weeks in the past while the Eton school is on summer break and ultimately bridges the gap between the ending of The Burning Sky and the present. Iola and Titus each have their own trials at Eton. After a rather mysterious event happens to one of the secondary characters named Wintervale, it throws everything that Titus believed in into disarray and leaves Iola questioning her worth in battling Bane. The second time line is perhaps the more telling of the two. Things happen to shake the very foundation of both characters lives, truths are slowly revealed, and nothing will be the same again.

The one thing that aggravates me in any series, is when a character like Titus, who supposedly adores and cherishes Iola, suddenly makes stupid choices that ultimately leads to heart break, and pain that could have been avoided. This story started out as a decision between accepting destiny, and throwing caution to the wind and following your own path. His inability to put his mother's dairy aside and trusting Iola and his instincts made me want to scream like a wild cat. It was painful to watch Iola as she finds herself in an entirely different role, that of being a supporting cast member, rather than the star of the battle between good and evil. But, never doubt the love that exists between Iola and Titus. Titus may be a blunder head at times, but he would cross an ocean filled with sharks to protect her.    

While The Burning Sky focused on Titus's mother and her sad fate, this time Thomas explores Iola's heritage which I have been wondering about from the beginning of the trilogy. Who was Iola's real parents? What really happened to them? How did she end up with Haywood as her mentor, and protector? I won't spoil the answers, or what truths are revealed, but I will say that things definitely take on a different aspect once all avenues are explored. Memories are a major factor in this story, or the lack of them. Memories are a very powerful thing but once they are gone, or removed, the search for the truth becomes that much harder to overcome.

I love the fact that there isn't a love triangle tossed into this story. The romance between Iola and Titus is solid as a rock and doesn't need any unnecessary interruptions to break it up. I liked that Thomas explored more of the students at Eton, and they weren't just there for background noise. I liked that Kashkari played more than a supporting role this time out. I also liked his family angle, as well as his abilities that lead him into being more than a bit player but an ally.

I believe The Perilous Sea is more action packed than The Burning Sky and covers some interesting ground. I would like to know more about the non mage, vs mage worlds in how they are connected. We really haven't dived into how one timeline can be 1833, while another is YD1007. I miss time spent in the Crucible. I enjoyed Iola's adventures while she was learning how to defeat the Bane with her powerful elemental magic. I really can't wait until we travel to Atlantis, and Thomas tells us where it is located. I also want to understand whether or not there is actually a Chosen one, or if it really matters when all is said and done.

The last installment will be released September 2015, and I am eager to take one last journey with Thomas's fantastic world building, and the characters she's created.  

Author - Sherry Thomas   Title - The Perilous Sea   Series - The Elemental Trilogy # 2   Published by Balzer + Bray   Released date: September 16, 2014   Genre: Young Adult Fantasy   Format: E-Book 432 pages

Saturday, September 13, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* The Clockwork Dagger (Clockwork Dagger #1) by Beth Cato

**I received this book free through Harper Voyager's Super Reader program. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened. 

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

*My Thoughts*

The Clockwork Dagger ended up surprising me but in a good way. Why? Because I loved the world building. Most steampunk novels that I have read recently, have been set in a Victorian alternative era England. The story could have taken place in a high fantasy setting and it would have still impressed me. The world is dark, and dreary, and war has left an indelible impression on the citizens who continue to pay the price for their monarchies failures. 

I loved the main character 22 year old Octavia Leander and her magical abilities and the fact that she can more than take care of herself. Octavia is a survivor. She survived her parents awful deaths. She survived being raised by Miss Percival as a medician (aka healer). She has a close connection to a powerful deity known as the Lady, and that alone gives her the ability to save nearly everyone she touches.

In the world that Cato has created, Octavia is perhaps the most powerful being alive, but she remains hopeful for a peaceful future without the threat of being used as a puppet by others who don't have her best interests at heart.

I loved that the romance, what little there was of it, didn't take unnecessary time away from the action, or the mystery. I don't mind a bit of romance but, I do mind when there are chapters, on top of chapters of it, and no action or movement in the storyline. Often times I find myself skipping page after page to get to the parts I like. That didn't happen here. The story more than held my attention right to the end

I liked that there was a bit of diversity in the story as you can clearly see from the cover. Alonzo has an interesting past, and doesn't allow his mission to get in the way of saving Octavia from harm. Octavia and Alonzo's journey is fraught with danger, suspicion, betrayal, a hidden princess thought to be long dead, and a wonderful gremlin named Leaf who I don't think we've seen the last of. At least I hope not!

I love the fact that The Clockwork Dagger is apparently part of a duology and therefore readers will enjoy one more journey with Octavia and Alonzo. The ending is open ended, and therefore some interesting questions, and problems remain. I am eager to read the next installment since Cato has a rather large world to discover, and plenty of enemies that haven't been appeased.   

Author - Beth Cato
Title - The Clockwork Dagger (Clockwork Dagger # 1)
Published by Harper Voyager
Releases: September 16, 2014
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy
Format: Paperback 368 pages

Friday, September 12, 2014

*The Gifted Dead* by Jenna Black - Blog Tour & Giveaway - Presented by Kismet Book Touring

I am honored to have been chosen as a participant for The Gifted Dead
Blog Tour! Please be sure to enter the Giveaway below, and add this book to your TBR
Pile! Also, please stop by each of the participating blogs which you can find below!

Thanks for stopping by!

Book Information:
Expected Publication: September 23, 2014 by Aardwolf Press
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy / Contemporary Epic Fantasy


Politics and magic make dangerous bedfellows.Deep within the Order, the seeds of corruption have taken root. While younger generations of the Gifted have embraced modern democratic values, a secret society of old-guard zealots seek a return to the past, when only European men of distinguished bloodlines held power.Now, three venerable European families and a maverick American each plot to seize control of the Order and shape it to their will. A cutthroat game of political intrigue will decide the winner; and the stakes couldn't be higher, for ruling the Order carries with it the power to grant—or deny—an afterlife.What begins as a battle of wills could turn into an all-out war. And magic could prove deadlier than any missile.
Add it to your Goodreads Shelf

  • Pre-order your copy from amazon
  • About Jenna Black:

    Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she's an "experience junkie." She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from Duke University.
    Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like eighty percent of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.
    Concluding that this discovery was her life's work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. She is now a full-time author of fantasy, young adult, and romance novels.
    [Excerpt 5—Sergei Romanov scene 2]
    Raleigh, NC 
    Sergei paced the length of his small hotel room, cell phone clutched in his hand as he tried to work up the nerve to call the last man on Earth he wanted to talk to.
    He had escaped the cemetery without being captured, and he had successfully destroyed Roberta Quinn’s soul, but none of that could make up for his failures. He had been seen—by a police officer, no less—standing over Quinn’s open grave while her body burned bright within it. The only thing that kept Sergei from being captured was the fact that Randy had bolted in the opposite direction when the cop got out of his car. The cop had had to choose which suspect to chase, and he had chosen Randy. Which no doubt meant Randy was now in custody. He knew little enough about Sergei—not even his name—but he could probably give a good description, and he would mention the Gift Sergei had revealed.
    Worse, the authorities of the local parish would know that Quinn’s grave had been desecrated. Di Tommaso had made it abundantly clear that Sergei’s work was to be carried out in the utmost secrecy, which was why he had to kill any witnesses or accomplices.
    Cursing himself, cursing the Anima, cursing the spirit guide who had granted him his Gifts, Sergei called the man who pulled his strings. If he himself were the one who would bear the brunt of Pietro di Tommaso’s displeasure, he’d face his fate with courage. But of course di Tommaso knew that, which was why he’d gone to great lengths to secure a different kind of leverage.
    The phone rang twice before di Tommaso answered. A member of the Council of Elders for decades and the founder of the ultra-conservative secret society he called the Bastions, Pietro di Tommaso rarely bothered with civility if it wasn’t necessary. At least not with Sergei. There was no greeting, polite or otherwise, and he didn’t even do Sergei the courtesy of speaking in Latin, instead using his native Italian and forcing Sergei to invoke his Gift to understand. It was the most minor of annoyances compared to everything else the old man had done, but it never failed to grate on Sergei’s nerves.
    “According to my watch, it’s four in the morning where you are,” di Tommaso said, his voice already holding the first hint of anger. “You would not call me at this hour if you succeeded.”
    Sergei wouldn’t have called at this hour even in failure, if he didn’t fear that word would somehow make its way to the Elder’s ears if he waited too long. Di Tommaso was going to be livid no matter what, but if he thought Sergei was trying to cover up his error, his response would be exponentially worse.
    “Roberta Quinn’s soul is no longer bound for the Anima,” Sergei said. “I completed my mission successfully.”
    “But …” di Tommaso prompted.
    Sergei let out a huff of air, not realizing he’d been holding his breath. “But I was seen. This assassination will not be a secret.”
    There was a moment of seething silence on the other end of the line. Everything the Bastions did, they did under a smothering cloak of secrecy. If Sergei didn’t know how terrible the cost of his failure would be, he would have enjoyed the thought that the nest of cockroaches might be forced into the light.
    “Then you have failed,” di Tommaso said. “Miserably, like the incompetent little miscreant you are. I believe I warned you quite clearly what the price of failure would be.”
    Sergei’s knees weakened, and he sat on the edge of the bed, shoulders sagging, eyes closed. Pietro had indeed made it clear, and Sergei knew the old man had no hint of human decency in him. “Please, master,” he begged, so desperate to do something, anything to prevent what was going to happen that he didn’t even cringe at calling Pietro di Tommaso his master. “Do anything you want to me—I will come to you and accept any verdict, even death, if only—”
    Di Tommaso snorted. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? I kill you, and you are forever free of me. But despite this failure, you are far too useful to destroy. Your mission is not done, and I won’t have you wasting time with a trip to France to enjoy my hospitality. You will go on about your business, and you will be more careful about it. And tonight, I will invite my son and his lovely wife over for dinner and an evening of sport. I will email you a video of the highlights tomorrow. Anna is such a lovely little treat. I’ve almost been hoping you would fail me just so I could have an excuse to sample her.”
    Sergei couldn’t force himself to answer. His whole body was shaking with rage and pain and helplessness. Young and innocent, Anna had married Alberto di Tommaso—Pietro’s vicious son—with the Anima’s blessing. No, not just with its blessing. That would have been bad enough. But on the day of her wedding, Anna had confided to him that her spirit guide had made marrying Alberto a Quest, one she thought was so easy to achieve she couldn’t turn it down. Anna had always been selflessly devout, had always served the Anima with unflinching faith. She must have received a Gift for succeeding in her Quest, but no Gift was worth the torment of being married to Alberto—and shared with Alberto’s father.
    “Please,” Sergei tried again in a hoarse whisper, knowing Pietro would never relent. He would make a lesson of Anna, and Sergei would never be able to act against him for fear of worsening Anna’s suffering.
    “Don’t believe this failure releases you from your obligations,” di Tommaso said. “You have a great deal more work to do in the weeks ahead, and trust me when I say you don’t want to fail me a second time.”
    Sergei swallowed hard and fought not to answer with all the fire that brewed in his soul. It was hard to focus on the particulars of his mission when he knew what the di Tommasos were going to do to his little sister in just a few scant hours, but snarling at his lord and master would only make things worse.
    “Keep your head about you, Sergei,” di Tommaso warned. “There is nothing you can do to stop Anna’s punishment, but you can certainly make it worse for her by making careless blunders. Tell me that you understand.”
    Someday, old man, I am going to kill you, he thought, finding a hint of calm in the thought. As an Elder, di Tommaso would be surpassingly difficult to kill thanks to the Gifts he had received as he rose in the ranks. He would certainly be immune to fire; all Elders were. But just because he was immune to normal fire didn’t necessarily mean he would be immune to Sergei’s magical one.
    Someday, Sergei would conduct an experiment and find out.
    “I understand,” he managed to grit out, holding all thoughts of vengeance close to his heart. And, although he could not forgive the Anima Mundi for sending Anna into Alberto di Tommaso’s clutches, although he had not spoken with his spirit guide since he’d realized exactly what kind of monster Alberto was, although he had lost every scrap of faith he’d ever had, Sergei silently begged the Anima to keep his sister safe.

    The Gifted Dead will be on a 2-weeks Teaser Blog Tour featuring unique and catchy scenes from the The Gifted Dead and includes also a great Giveaway!
    Monday, September 8th Fiktshun
    Tuesday, September 9th Books and Things
    Wednesday, September 10th Xpresso Reads
    Thursday, September 11th Addicted 2 Heroines
    Friday, September 12th Gizmos Reviews
    Monday, September 15th The Book Swarm
    Tuesday, September 16th Jessabella Reads
    Wednesday, September 17th Romancing the Dark Side
    Thursday, September 18th Literary Escapism
    Friday, September 19th Bookish

    Jenna is generously offering up 10 eCopies of THE GIFTED DEAD as well as one grand prize package including a $100 gift card from either Amazon, iTunes or B&N. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open internationally.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    *Gizmos Book Reviews* Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

    *Illusions of Fate

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


    "I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

    Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

    *My Review*

    Illusions of Fate is a standalone, young adult fantasy novel, with romance, set in an alternative reality that emulates 19th century Victorian England. The story is set against a backdrop where highborn are magically talented, while low born, and natives are not. The story is told through the eyes of Jessamin Olea who ends up getting more than she bargains for after meeting the mysterious and magically powerful Finn Ackerly.  

    Jessamin (age unknown) travels from the island of Melei, where the rich Albens go to play and leave behind illegitimate babies, to Albion to order to enhance her studies and change her future. She finds that she's an outcast among an Alben society that values the use of magic, and looks down on people who are different. Since Jessamin has exotic looks and a dark skin complexion that stands out among the Albens she studies next to, she is constantly teased and bullied by fellow students.

    That doesn't stop Jessa from going above and beyond just to prove that she belongs. She's smart, she's quick to excel at her studies, she works in a hotel, she has enough backbone to stand up to her apparent father in order to get into the school, and she isn't all that impressed when she first meets Nineteen year old Finn. The same Finn who is in a battle of wits with the dastardly Lord Downpike, which puts Jessamin right in the middle of a dangerous game where the consequences are deadly.

    I like that Illusions of Fate is a standalone and not part of a series. The story was quick paced, the plot and mystery wrapped pretty nicely, and the secondary characters weren't plastic, or a waste of space and time. I had already guessed part of the mystery before it was revealed at the end of the book, and wasn't all that surprised or shocked at the reasoning behind the villains antics. There are coincidences, then there are those things that just stare a person right in the face before it jumps up and bites you in the ass.

    I liked Eleanor the most of all the secondary characters. She's funny, she's got some interesting abilities, and she's quick to humor in the face of serious challenges. I liked how she became aware of Jessa and Finn's connection even before they did and was more than a willing partner in stopping the villain. I also liked Jacabo, and Ma'ali since they came from the Melei like Jessamin. I liked that the romance wasn't in your face or instantaneous. There was antagonism, there were difficult challenges faced by both characters including being from different societies, which eventually lead to the awareness that they belong together. 

    I find myself chuckling whenever readers, reviewers, and even authors complain about the lack of Diversity in young adult novels. Perhaps if readers picked up stories like Illusions of Fate, or any other book by Kiersten White, they would notice that White tends to use a variety of characters who have their own challenges either by disabilities, skin color, or supernatural abilities. Perhaps they are ignoring the fact that there are characters like Jessamin Olea out there who aren't your stereotypical white, teenaged, female lead characters. 

    Author - Kiersten White   Title - Illusions of Fate   Published by HarperTeen   Release Date: September 9, 2014   Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance   Format: E-Book 288 pages


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