Wednesday, August 20, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Shattered (Scorched #2) by Mari Mancusi

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

*Synopsis*

A girl at the end of the world.

Two brothers fighting for opposite sides.

And a dragon who can save them all...

Or set the world on fire.
 

Trinity's world changed forever the day she stole Emmy's egg. Now she's on the run with the last living dragon and twin brothers from a war-torn future. Connor may have betrayed his mission to kill Emmy, but he'll do whatever it takes to prevent the coming dragon apocalypse. Coddling a temperamental dragon on its way to being the size of a house is no way to keep them safe. But Caleb can't stand to see Emmy trapped and miserable. 

When a video of Emmy flying over the skies of the Texas Hill Country goes viral, the government closes in--and the future they've risked everything for is about to go up in flames.


*My Review*

Shattered, the second novel in the Scorched series, picks up several months after the end of Scorched. Trinity Foxx, brothers Caleb and Connor Jacks, Trinity's grandfather, and Emmy, the last living dragon on Planet Earth, are on the run, hiding, and trying to avoid all public appearances. They truly believe that their actions in Scorched stopped the Dragon Apocalypse from happening. Yet, one mistake, one accidental slip-up, one disastrous move on anyone's part, could snap the time line back towards Doom Day.

Shattered really does shatter your emotions all over the place. I often relate these kinds of stories to a person experiencing a rollercoaster ride for the very first time. You have lots of peeks, valleys, screaming, exhilaration, and sadness that the ride is over but has left you wanting to go again, immediately. I screamed loudly, and constantly while reading Shattered. My updates pretty much tell the tale of the tape when it comes to how utterly involved I was in reading Shattered to the point where I was peeved at the constant interruptions I was forced into dealing with.  

I really DO need to break down each characters positives and negatives in order to put forth why I loved Shattered even though it gave me more grey hairs than I had at the beginning of the book. I won't go into the old Dracken, or the Potentials, or even the New Order of Dracken's who show up in Trinity's time of need, and may be playing a pivotal role in the future.

Trinity struggles and grows the most of any character in Shattered. She has bonded with Emmy as her Fire Kissed, and would do almost anything to stop the government or anyone else from harming her in any way. Her emotions are all over the place but they are mostly expected after what she goes through. She suffers a painful loss, gets an unexpected reunion that changes everything, gets her very first flight on a dragon, and gets closer to Connor Jacks to the point where I can honestly say that I'm glad the 3-way love triangle has been smashed to little pieces. I loved Emmy and Trinity's scenes together, and especially at the end when all dynamics of this series, change forever. Trinity's story tugs at your heart, and if you don't shed a tear at least once, there is no hope for humanity.

Emmy is my dragon. Nobody else can have her. She's such an adorable character, even when she does some of the silliest things ever. How you can be mad at her though? She's basically a very likable, funny, and trustworthy dragon. She would risk her life for Trinity and her Team Dragon mates at a moments notice. You have to look at Emmy through the eyes of a teenager. She's truly seeing the world for the very first time, wants to discover what it has to offer, and is loyal to a fault even to strangers. She wants the ability to show the world that she's not dangerous, but in the end, her choices leave Team Dragon in a major pickle.

Caleb comes next because his story is filled with pain and suffering and really difficult choices from both the future, and present. Caleb's choices with Emmy, with spending too much time in the Nether, or by allowing anyone from the outside of Team Dragon to know about Emmy's existence, comes with some really bad outcomes. You definitely won't find another character to pity, perhaps hate, more that Caleb. I would absolutely hope we see a changed Caleb in the next installment. He needs to really step up and prove that he is still part of Team Dragon.

Scarlet is the newest addition to the series, and the ultimate catalyst that pretty much tosses everything we hoped for, right out the window. You can look at Scarlet in several different ways. While her actions ultimately lead to getting the brunt of my hatred alongside Caleb, her reasons for saving her family were admirable, and perhaps a bit naive. We are far from done with Scarlet. Scarlet has her own crosses to bear, and one can only hope that we see more of the latter Scarlet, than when we are first introduced and she changes the course of history with ONE stupid mistake.

There really isn't that much to talk about with Connor. We know that he gave up his opportunity to kill Emmy, and Trinity, and became a valuable member of Team Dragon in Scorched. Connor and Trinity's romance isn't the only one that happens in this story, but the only one I truly care about because it shatters the 3 way love triangle that I loathe so much. As with Caleb, we do get glimpses of Connor as a Dragon Hunter in the future, but perhaps we could have had a bit more of his participation than we do.

The book ends on a gut wrenching cliffhanger that I touched on before. Because this centers around Dragons, I will be reading the next installment. I don't think anyone who read Scorched, will be disappointed after finishing Shattered.


Author - Mari Mancusi
Title - Shattered (Scorched # 2)
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Releases - September 2, 2014
Genre - Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format - E-book 400 pages




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* A Barricade In Hell (Delia Martin #2) by Jaime Lee Moyer

*My Thoughts*

A Barricade In Hell takes place approximately 2 years after the end of  Delia's Shadow. The story combines murder, mystery, and paranormal aspects all in the historical setting of 1917 San Francisco. The story follows both Delia and her husband Gabe as they each face one of their more difficult challenges yet.

From the ritualistic murder of a police commissioners son-in-law, to the streets of Chinatown where a similar killing of a father and daughter took place, Captain Gabe Ryan and his partner Jack Fitzgerald are forced to face the reality that they may have a serial killer on the loose and this person isn't your average Joe Schmo.

Gabe and Jack are friends who also make a wonderful team. Over the past several years, they've come to understand that the world is a much darker place than they previously realized. Being around people Delia Martin, now Gabe's wife, and Isadora Bobet, the spiritual medium who is helping guide and train Delia, they are no longer disbelievers in the paranormal world.

While Gabe and Jack are uncovering even more murders and tracking down a stone cold killer, Delia is trying to uncover the reason why Gabe is apparently being haunted by a child ghost who is extremely powerful and doesn't exactly like Delia. With Delia having the ability to peer across to the other side, and ghosts as companions since early childhood, nothing is simple or easy any longer. The more Delia works with Isadora, the more she realizes she has a whole lot more to learn before she can match Isadora's knowledge and experience.

I love when authors intermingle their stories and characters with actual settings like 1917 San Francisco. So much history happened there. So many changes would soon hit the city, state, and country. With the USA's imminent involvement in the so called Great War, it isn't a reach to understand that there were people trying hard to keep the US out of the war.

I liked that the villain, who was outed at an early stage, was as devious, as the dangerous & deadly people she aligned herself with. I liked that Isadora plays a more forward role in this series, and not just someone who sits in the background like Delia's best friend Sadie who we barely see. I like the whole that Gabe, Jack, Delia, and Isadora are able to work together without too many bruised egos, or personality conflicts.

One of the more appealing facets of this series, is the fact that both Delia and Gabe have faced heart breaking losses, yet still managed to find a way to make things work in their relationship. Delia perhaps needs a bit of a confidence boast after suffering an especially painful loss, and shutting herself off from her friends for most of the story. I am not sure where Moyer will take the couple from here, but I truly hope that they do find a bit of their own happiness and not just darkness and despair.

According to Goodreads and Moyer's author page, there will be a third novel in this series called AGAINST A BRIGHTENING SKY. I think that the world is going to be even darker place for Delia, Isadora, Gabe, and Jack now that the US to join the Great War. I'm encouraged that Moyer is more than up to the task to build yet another brilliant story, and I am definitely eager for 2015 to arrive so I can read the next installment.


Author - Jaime Lee Moyer
Title - A Barricade In Hell
Series - Delia Martin # 2
Published by Tor Books
Released - June 3, 2014
Genre - Historical, Paranormal
Format: Library Book 331 pages



Monday, August 18, 2014

*Top Ten Tuesday* Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read

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 Books People Have Been Recommending to Me to Read

1. Experiment in Terror series by Karina Hale

2. Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

3. Anything by George R.R. Martin but especially the Game of Thrones

4. Perry Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan

5. Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter Series

6. Black Dagger Brotherhood series - J.R. Ward

7. The Selection by Kiera Cass

8. Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me Trilogy

9. Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series

10. Kevin Hearne's The Iron Druid Chronicles


Sunday, August 17, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1) by Josephine Angelini

**I received this book from Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

*Synopsis*

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.


*My Thoughts*

Trial by Fire is the first book in a new series called The Worldwalker. Truth in reviewing, I have not read any of Angelini's previous works, but was eager to read this book because I do enjoy alternative reality stories and anything to do with witchcraft and the Salem Witch trials. You could say that Trial by Fired is a mixed genre novel that incorporates science fiction, with paranormal.

My review lands me right in the middle of the pack of those who either loved Trial by Fire, and those who have decided to leave it alone and move onto something else. When it comes to reviewing Trial by Fire, the overall story and characters aren't necessarily awful, I just don't personally like preach-y books and never will.

Underlying everything that Lily Proctor does in this story good or bad, is the fact that she finds it necessary to preach the gospel according to Lily even when people look at her as though she has two heads. She truly believes that she is better than everyone else because she chooses not to eat meat. (She even wears a T-Shirt saying so). She shows up for protests against basically everything and anyone, and truly believes that Polar bears are eating human beings in order to survive. OK, well that last one was a bit over the top but you get my meaning.

Reading books for me is an escape from every day life and a passion, and I don't want to waste my time being preached at for half the story by a supposed fictitious character on the shoulders of her human creator. On top of all this, Lily is pretty much allergic to almost everything and her mother is a bit off the wall. Which means Lily can't have any sort of a normal life, or friends, not even when she finally goes to a party with her "supposed" best friend Tristan Corey.

When she does finally attend one, she ends up having an epic episode that leads her to be taken away to an alternative reality Salem, Massachusetts by her doppelganger, Lillian. Lily finds herself in a world where there are only 13 walled cities, where witches are all powerful, monsters called Woven terrorize the so called Outlanders, and apparently there are doppelgangers of her sister Juliet, and Tristan.

As Lily learns more about herself including why she has been allergic to nearly everything, her surroundings, and those like Rowan, Tristan, and Caleb she surrounds herself with, she becomes a much more rounded character, and one that I hope will continue in the sequel and not the HOLY SHIT, I AM DEFINITELY BETTER THAN YOU!

Lily becomes focused on helping people, learning about magic and how to use it to prevent herself from being sick and not just telling them that they are wrong in doing what they're doing. One thing remains the same in both worlds, her sister Juliet is a wonderful and sweet character who couldn't harm Lily even if she wanted to. She doesn't agree with Lillian's plans, and she stands up for what is truly right. She even warns Lily that she really isn't safe in this world.

I am happy to say that while there is a bit of romance involved in Trial by Fire between Lily and Rowan, it isn't insta-lust, nor does it involve multiple other characters. The romance grows from mutual dislike and hatred, to understanding, caring, and uniting for the goal of keeping Lily alive, and returning her home. You could say that Tristan is the same character in both worlds. He is a glorified man whore who enjoys playing the field. But, he isn't

I do want to apologize to anyone who truly believes that this review is rant-y, or an attack on anyone. That is absolutely not the case, and I think if you take the entire review for what it is, you will agree as well.

Trial by Fire has an interesting world building that hopefully will continue to impress in the subsequent sequel. I am happy that this story was told in the third POV because it allows you to get a grander idea of the world that Lily has been forced into, and trying to escape from.

I am thankful to the publisher (Macmillan) for sending me such an awesome package that the book arrived in! I will be looking forward to the sequel, and hopefully even more actions, adventure and surprises.  

Author - Josephine Angelini
Title - Trial by Fire
Series - The Worldwalker Trilogy # 1
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Releases: September 2, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format: Paperback ARC 384 pages


Saturday, August 16, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas

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

*Synopsis*

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?


*My Thoughts*

As a reader, the third book in a series is often times the one that makes or breaks a series for me. It is a time for characters to either shit or get off the pot, as it were. In other words, they need to prove themselves to me so that I can choose to continue enjoying the series and not give up and move onto something entirely different. Characters will either have grown from the first time we meet them or else they've once again stumbled and bumbled their way through a story to the determent of the readers enjoyment.

I would say that there has been a whole lot of character growth by everyone from Celaena, to Chaol, as well as Dorian in Heir of Fire. Celaena's growth is the most appealing for me because she is supposed to be the heroine of the series, not someone who sits back and let's other fight her battles. She is supposed to be such a hard ass, that she can take on dozens of enemies with one hand, while enjoying a croissant with the other. Chaol and Dorian's growth comes with their ultimate choices at the end that leaves readers eager for the next book in the series.

It's a painful journey that Celaena must face in Heir of Fire because everything is hanging in the balance waiting to see what she does next. She has so much on her plate, that another lesser character might have withered away and died. She must face her vow of revenge to a friend. She must face a past that is horrific and bloody and one that she's buried deep within her psyche without truly getting over. She must face the fact that she has some major abilities that could change the landscape of the entire world, and bring down a King. She also must face her true feelings for Chaol, and accept that she is the heir to Terrasen, and not just the famous assassin Celaena Sardothien who was sent to Wendlyn by the Kind of Anderlan.

I enjoyed the fact that we get introduced to a new character named Manon Blackbeak of the Ironteeth Witch Clans. Manon is a character that I am keeping an eye on. She has the ability to be an amazing ally to Celaena, or a difficult adversary because of what Celaena did in Crown of Midnight. Although her story is part filler to show how the king is gathering dark forces to his side, Manon and her fellow witches most important mission is training to become riders of the wyverns. I would say that the witches portrayed in this series are definitely bloodthirsty, (they actually drink blood), and whether or not they are truly villainous in nature, remains to be seen. Personally, I would rather have Manon and her Thirteen on my side, than standing against me.

Fae Prince Rowan Whitethorn is perhaps the most enjoyable new character added to the series. Rowan, folks, is definitely the real deal and I am eager to see what happens next. Rowan takes a broken down Celaena who is more interested in drinking wine, and forgetting about her mission, and pushes her hard throughout her stay in Wendlyn. He forces her to face the fact that she's run from her true heritage for far too long. He makes her face reality that she's more than just an assassin, and she needs to stop hiding from her past. I wouldn't necessarily say that he's a romantic interest for Celaena at this point, because he is definitely not. I would say that Rowan is exactly the person Celaena needs in her life, and was just the person to push Celaena into her next phase of revenge against the King.

One of the more intriguing characters in Heir of Fire, is Aedion Ashryver, Celaena's, or should I say Aelin's cousin and childhood best friend. While we do get a glimpse into their childhood days, the more important point is that Aedion is entirely focused on finding Aelin and ensuring that she becomes Queen and defeats the King. He's been working secretly with the rebels, and building an network to return to Terrasen. Aedion is interesting because he is Chaol's polar opposite. While Chaol sent her to Wendlyn to protect her identity, Aedion is fiercely loyal and determined and puts his own life on the line for her. I truly don't think we've seen the last of Aedion in this series.

While Dorian is struggling to keep his magic a secret from his father, and finding a new love interest who can help him with control, Chaol is wandering around like a dead man walking. Chaol is probably the more frustrating character because his emotions are all over the place. We know that he's made a promise to return to his homeland. But we also know that he's dug his own grave by his own actions including not accepting Dorian's powers. I actually found myself screaming at Chaol to make a choice once and for all and stick with it. You did what you did to protect Celaena and her identity, you did what you did to save your best friend Dorian, isn't it time to jump aboard the rebellion?

I will say that Maas isn't afraid to make some interesting choices for Chaol, Aedion, and Dorian which leads to some curious avenues for the story to go from here. Heir of Fire is perhaps more character driven, than plot. At almost 600 pages, there is a whole lot of information to sift through. Like I said before, this is the time for characters to grow up, and prove themselves. It is also the time for an author to prove that she can rise to the challenge, and make her characters stand out from a crowded field all wanting to become the next Game of Thrones. Maas is definitely on the right track, and I am absolutely confident that the fourth novel in this series, will be just as awesome as the first three.


Author- Sarah J. Maas
Title - Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass # 3)
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's
Releases - September 2, 2014
Genre - Young Adult Epic Fantasy
Format - E-Book 565 pages




Friday, August 15, 2014

*Stacking the Shelves* Featuring Evernight

Stacking the Shelves for the week of August 3 thru August 16, 2014

Welcome back! Thank you for stopping by and checking my haul for the past (2) weeks. Until summer is over, I think this may be a regular thing for me since I am not requesting or getting a whole lot of books these days. Good thing too! September is staring me in the face, and I have 26 books to read!

Check out my week in review @ the bottom. 
There may even be a giveaway or two involved!
 
Borrowed via Library
I have Chasing Before, the Second book in this series.
Why not read them back to back?



Received via NetGalley - Thank you, Penguin, Berkley

Received via NetGalley - Thank you, Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

Received via NetGalley - Thank you, 47North

Received via NetGalley - Thank you, St. Martin's Press

Purchased through Amazon




The Week in Review:

*Gizmos Early Review* The Aftermath by Jen Alexander

*Gizmos Early Reviews* The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny #1) by Jeaniene Frost

*Gizmos Early Review* The Swap by Megan Shull





*Gizmos Early Review* The Aftermath by Jen Alexander

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

*Synopsis*

Sometimes, I dream that I'm someone else.

A girl with dark hair who doesn't worry about hunger

or thirst or running from flesh-eaters.

In her world, those sorts of things don't exist.

Since the spring of 2036, when the world changed forever, Claudia and a small clan of survivors have roamed the streets of a very altered Nashville: polluted and desolate, except for the ever-present threat of cannibal Hoarders. Together they must undergo punishing tests of endurance and psychological challenge sometimes with devastating consequences all just to live another day.

With food and water in dwindling supply, and with danger lurking around every corner, no one can be trusted. And as her world starts to make less and less sense, Claudia begins to realize something terrifying: she is just a pawn in some sort of game, and all of her actions are being controlled from afar by a mysterious gamer. So when she meets a maddening and fascinating outsider named Declan, who claims to be a game moderator, she must decide whether to join him in exchange for protection and access to the border.

If they play the game right, they are each other's best hope for survival and a life beyond the only world Claudia's ever known: the terrifying live-action game known as The Aftermath.


*My Review*

I haven't been a gamer in a very long time, not since I was totally immersed and addicted to the Resident Evil series before moving to Florida in 2000. I could easily play that game 12 hours a day, and not care about anything else as long as I was killing off zombies and powering up new weapons to destroy them with.

But, that didn't stop me from requesting and reading Push by Eve Silver, or The Aftermath by Jen Alexander. The Aftermath is set in a far off time where America went through civil wars and rebellions by several states. In response, those in charge designed ways to prevent future violence from causing even more problems. This included allowing those with the so called Warrior gene to play a virtual reality game where you control an actual human player and earn your rehabilitation. Coincidentally, Rush has the same idea where players must gain points by completing missions in order to get out of the game and back to their own lives.

16-year old Claudia "Virtue" is the stories main character, and it is her story to tell. She runs missions in the destroyed city of Nashville, Tennessee where food and water is in short supply. She's been playing The Aftermath for 3 long years but has no memories of the time before, or why she ended up here in the first place. She also her own clan (Ethan, April, and Jeremy) that work together to complete mandatory and side missions that earn points based on the importance of the mission.

It is not until she is injured on a mission that she realizes that she's been a player in a virtual reality game the entire time. Understanding that she has had absolutely no control over her actions, comes as more than a shock. Once she starts putting the pieces together, the puzzle becomes even more clearer with the arrival of Declan Hastings who somehow manages to find his way into the game.
   
This book reminded me an awful lot of Rush by Eve Silver, yet there are some differences that set each series apart. Rush is set to a background that includes aliens, while The Aftermath is about humans having the ability to control other humans. In Rush, the players could return to their own times, while the characters in the Aftermath are nothing but pawns in a dangerous game and there's only one way out; earn enough points.

I made my self a list of questions I wanted answered: Why is Claudia so important? Who is Declan Hastings really, and what does he want from Claudia? What happens when a person actually reaches the mandatory points? Why doesn't Claudia remember the time before she entered the game? Who is Claudia's controller, and why do they have a connection?

I'm pleased to say that all but 2 of my questions went unanswered which is surprising in itself. I am not one who likes to have my questions go unanswered even if it is the first book in a series. The ending to The Aftermath is just brutal, and I'm still not sure I trust any of the characters, including Claudia's own memories.

The Aftermath is presumably the first in a new series because I can not phantom how any author in their right mind would stop after the ending that Alexander leaves for us. Unfortunately, I can't find any further information about this series from the authors web page. I suppose we can presume that there will be another book in the near future. It's better than assuming!


Author - Jen Alexander
Title - The Aftermath
Published by Harlequin Teen
Released - August 26, 2014
Genre - Young Adult, Dystopian
Format - E-book 288 pages

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