Tuesday, November 25, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* The Halcyon Bird (The Demon Catchers of Milan #2) by Kat Beyer

**I received this book for free from Egmont USA 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.


Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres -- Milan's premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade. Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin. But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again--this time for good.

*My Thoughts*

Milan, Italy is once again the setting for Beyer's The Halcyon Bird, the second installment in the The Demon Catchers of Milan series. The story picks up right where it's predecessor left off. 16-year old Mia Dellatorri, the protagonist, was saved from a demon possession by her cousins Emilio and Giuliano, and brought to Italy where she trains as a demon catcher.

Mia is given more free reign this time out by her family. The freedom allows her to explore her own Italian heritage, her families place in Italian history, and while training hard to be able to protect herself from the demon who refuses to leave her alone. Mia has come a long way in quickly picking up the Italian language, which isn't as easy as it sounds. Italian does have regional dialects that throw you for a loop! Trust me folks, when you travel from Milan to Napoli, you will notice a difference.

Mia's journey is far from over as we soon learn. There are still way too many questions, and no true answers to why Mia was possessed in the first place, or why the demon refuses to leave her alone. I am hoping that if and when a third installment in this series is released, that Beyer will pick up the broken threads and sew them together.

The Halcyon Bird isn't necessarily an action packed story and does drag at times. But, it does move the series forward to the point where Mia is now becoming more a part of the Della Torre family, which means going on dangerous exorcisms, and adding her two cents to how they should proceed. I think Mia has come to terms with her new fate, while trying to have a life regardless of the dangers of finding someone to fall in love with. I wouldn't take Mia for granted at this point of the story. When all is said and done, I can't see any reason that Mia would leave this family behind to return to the US.
I really do adore the Della Torre family at the center of this series. Giuliano, Laura, Anna Maria, Francesca, and Emilio all bring different things to the table, and each plays a large role in what happens with Mia, her training, and finding a way to defeat Mia''s demon. I think it's fascinating that Beyer has found a way to intermingle couple's struggles and challenges into her story, while explaining how the demon catchers keep what they do a secret from even their closest friends.

I love that Beyer doesn't restrict Mia's activities to the Della Torre's family candle shop any longer. I like that she explores historical aspects of the city, and takes in the large variety of food which Italy is famous for. As an Italian who has visited Italy while serving in the Navy, and with Italian descendants who legally immigrated to this country in the early 20th century, I can tell you that Beyer does a great job in creating what typical Italian families eat, and how they treat each other.

Author - Kat Beyer
Title - The Halcyon Bird
Series - The Demon Catchers of Milan # 2
Published by EgmontUSA
Released: November 11, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Format: e-Book, 352 pages

Monday, November 24, 2014

*Top Ten Tuesday* Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR!

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!

This list could totally go with last weeks since some of the sequels I
want to read, are being released during the Winter 2015 calendar!

Top Ten Books Releasing Winter 2015 (December 21 thru March 20, 2015)
1. This Shattered World (Starbound # 2) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

2. Soulbound (Darkest London # 6) by Kristen Callihan

3. Salt & Stone (Fire & Flood # 2) by Victoria Scott

4. Shadow Study (Soulfinders # 1) by Maria V. Snyder

5. The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

6. A Curse Unbroken (Weird Girls # 5) by Cecy Robson

7. Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega # 4) by Patrica Briggs

8. Becoming Rain (Burying Water # 2) by K.A. Tucker

9. Bound by Flames (Night Prince # 3) by Jeaniene Frost

10. Fire Fall (Dark Star # 3) by Bethany Frenette

Sunday, November 23, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* The Name of the Blade (The Name of the Blade #1) by Zoë Marriott

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


Ancient Japanese gods and monsters are unleashed on modern-day London in this first book of an epic trilogy from acclaimed fantasy writer Zoë Marriott.

When Mio sneaks the family's katana -- a priceless ancestral sword -- from her parents' attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio -- and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life . . . but the love of a lifetime.

*My Thoughts*

15 going on 16-year old Mio Yamato wants to spice up her Christmas costume to make her stick out. She has the perfect thing for it. Mio takes the family's ancestral Japanese Katana out of its hiding place and in the process, unleashes a powerful and deadly evil onto London streets. Her actions open the door on her own families secrets and responsibilities as the protector of the sword itself. Not easy for a person who is clueless about any of it and does the best she can with what she's given.

Mio finds herself having vivid visions, as well as Japanese demons wanting her dead. Mio will have to join forces with her best friend Jacqueline (Jack) Luci, a samurai warrior named Shinobu who arrives from 500 years into the past, and a fox spirit named Hikaru and his clan of Kitsuné, to defeat the giant nine-tailed cat demon from the Underworld. She must also find a way to unlock the Katana's secrets and learn why the demons want the sword so badly that they are willing to go to great lengths to get it.

Mio is a case study in being patient with a character. She makes silly mistakes, like taking the Katana in the first place, and not listening to her Ojiichan in keeping its existence a secret, hidden, and protected from prying eyes. She doesn't really understand the true power and responsibility that the Katana comes with until she has to save someone close to her, and is chased by truly evil demons. She's a bit too eager to unlock things that should have remained hidden away and learns that actions do come with consequences.

Mio does grow up which is a huge thing for me. I don't mind stories or characters starting out a bit on the lame or dullard side if they end up learning from their mistakes. Mio changes over the course of this story both physically and emotionally. She becomes a character that you can definitely look forward to seeing what happens next. I also like the dynamics of having Mio, Jack, and Shinobu working together as a sort of mini Scooby Gang kicking demons ass, and saving the world.

Mio's relationship with Shinobu will probably be challenged as insta-love, or love at first sight. I don't have a problem with this aspect in The Name of the Blade because Mio had had a connection with Shinobu even if she didn't know it at the time. It was that connection that allows Shinobu to arrive in London, and not feel like a stranger in a strange land, or not understand the language. I really like Shinobu, and hope that we get to learn more about his past, as well as Mio's family connection to the sword.

The Name of the Blade, previously called The Night Itself, is finally being released in the USA. I am happy that Candlewick sent me a copy of this story, and hope they think about me when the second installment comes hopefully next year. I have to say that after reading Marriott's Shadows of the Moon, I was eager to see if she can continue her magical world building with likable and interesting characters and a story that keeps me entertained. I will say that I was happy with the overall story and am eager to read the sequel once it releases in the US.

Author - Zoe Marriott
Title - The Name of the Blade
Series - The Name of the Blade # 1
Published in the US by Candlewick
Released: November 11, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 368 pages

Saturday, November 22, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* The Last Changeling (Faerie Revolutions #1) by Chelsea Pitcher

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


A Kingdom at War . . .

Elora, the young princess of the Dark Faeries, plans to overthrow her tyrannical mother, the Dark Queen, and bring equality to faeriekind. All she has to do is convince her mother’s loathed enemy, the Bright Queen, to join her cause. But the Bright Queen demands an offering first: a human boy who is a “young leader of men.” 

A Dark Princess In Disguise . . .

To steal a mortal, Elora must become a mortal—at least, by all appearances. And infiltrating a high school is surprisingly easy. When Elora meets Taylor, the seventeen-year-old who’s plotting to overthrow a ruthless bully, she thinks she’s found her offering . . . until she starts to fall in love.

*My Thoughts*

The Last Changeling is told in an alternating first-person point of view. The main characters are Elora, a princess of the Dark Realm of Fairie, and Taylor Alder a boy who has lost his only brother to a freak accident, and is now estranged from his parents. As the blurb indicates, Elora comes to the mortal realm searching for a way to end the centuries old war between the Dark and Light Fae and to overthrow her own mother.

Assuming the identity of Lora Belfry, Elora knows that in order to gain the Bright Queen's assistance, she needs to solve a riddle by finding the one mortal who fits what SHE needs. By attempting to fit into the mortal realm, Lora comes face to face with Taylor who has been struggling against self-loathing and blame since his brother died.

Taylor, not unlike Elora, faces difficulties with not just trying to get by, but worrying about how he can stand up to brazen idiots who are nothing more than thugs. His connection to Elora is fun, and not insta-lust which I abhor so much. I would say that the romance is meek in comparison to what is offered in contemporary stories. I would also say that Taylor is perhaps the more appealing character.  

The Last Changeling, for the most part, is an interesting story but with some minor problems. The world building is barely there, and the characters mostly fall flat except for Taylor. Elora's flashbacks are an important part of the story and you need to pay attention closely because it fills in a whole lot of blanks including how the Fae were created and hints on Elora's mission. But, not all of them, including Elora's own existence, and why Naeve hates her so much. I dare say that the last 20 percent was the most interesting and action filled of the entire novel.

But, I do have my complaints. In my opinion, Pitcher probably should written a contemporary novel focusing on her version of what social justice means to her and what she expects in order to get to that point. I understand her feeling that "Equality doesn't work if it's only for some people." I understand that part more than people realize. Probably more than her characters experience.

But, I didn't go into The Last Changeling expecting to be PREACHED at for a large chunk of the story or feel like I was reading an after school special. I expected to focus on the relationship between Elora and Taylor and her mission. I expected to learn more about Faerie and the Bright Queen. Perhaps I will read the sequel, perhaps I'll wait until I read various reviews first.

Author - Chelsea Pitcher
Title - The Last Changeling
Series - Faerie Revolutions # 1
Published by Flux
Released: November 8, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Format: E-Book 360 pages

*Stacking the Shelves* November 22nd Edition

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

Stacking the Shelves for the weeks of November 15 thru November 22, 2014

Welcome back!  
I want to thank everyone for their continued support!
Please have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving week!

Received from Harper Voyager via Edelweiss

Received from ACE Trade via Edelweiss

Received from Alloy Entertainment via NetGalley

Borrowed from Library

Friday, November 21, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires #10) by Chloe Neill


While Merit didn’t choose to become a vampire or Sentinel of Cadogan House, she vowed to fight for her House and its Master, and she’s managed to forge strong alliances with powerful supernaturals across Chicago. But even though Merit has had wild adventures, this may be her deadliest yet...

A killer is stalking Chicago, preying on humans and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs. The CPD hasn’t been able to track the assailant, and as the body count rises, the city is running out of options. Vampires and humans aren’t on great terms, but murder makes for strange bedfellows. Can Merit find the killer before she becomes a target?

*My Thoughts*

Blood Games once again splits Merit's attention into several different directions. Not only does she have to deal with the media labeled Tarot Card Killer that hits close to home, but Ethan's challenge to Darius West and the GP's response to said challenge comes to call. But, that just scrapes the surface for what Neill puts Merit through in the 10th installment of the Chicagoland Vampires series.

I have no words for how disappointed I was with Blood Games. I think 3 stars is the best I can do with what I was given to work with. Not that I am bored with the series, there was just too much of Ethan keeping secrets from Merit and expecting that she wouldn't walk away or feel like she was being ignored by someone who supposedly wants a future deep into eternity with her. I guess when you consider the so called prophecy of future events between Merit and Ethan, in a way it makes perfect sense that they are still together.

When the couple does show affection, they don't go half way. I just wish we could put Ethan's past behind us and get on with other more interesting things like the arrival of Ethan's friend Amit Patel, the most powerful vampire in the world and the full truth behind Ethan's sire Balthasar, and what happens now that things have been turned upside down.

I will say that I would have been perfectly fine without the Tarot Card aspect of this story. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but it did take a major portion of the story away from Ethan's challenge, and facing off against a familiar foe from his past. I would have loved to see more action and mystery and perhaps a bit more danger from the GP than what was written.

On the other hand, it's a good thing it was added since it brought Mallory and Merit together to find the killer. I was impressed with Mallory. I like that she seems to finally have her head attached and doing things the right way. I like that her relationship with Catcher has moved forward instead of back. I like that Mallory and Merit have regained much of their lost friendship after some devastating issues that tore their friendship apart in past episodes. I like that she's found a way to become useful by helping others, and is interested in forensic magic.

I will say that I am not bored with Merit, her attitude, or the fact that as a Sentinel, she's actually grown leaps and bounds from the first installment. She knows that she has a job to do, and wants to do it the best she can and stands up to anyone who poses a danger to the house. I do wish, however, that we can finally put the whole fighting with stiletto boots on to rest. Have you ever tried running with stiletto heels? I'd also like a book where Merit isn't stabbed, shot, kidnapped, knocked out, or having had her bell wrung one too many times.

I also like the Ombuddies (Jeff, Catcher, and PawPaw Merit). I like how they are back in business and in the middle of everything once again. I would to see more of Jonah and Merit working together and maybe the rest of the Red Guard as well. I think they definitely click and make an excellent team. The rest of the team has been slowly revealed, but not entirely. I know people want to drool all over Ethan, but I can't help myself for wishing the best for Jonah.

In the end, I don't see why Neill chose THAT ending to Blood Games. After everything Ethan, Merit and Cadogan House has been through thanks to the GP, THAT is what we as readers can expect? Really? Call me absolutely floored and bored. I am damn sure hoping that Dark Debt refocuses the series back to where Merit and Ethan aren't spending half their time fighting or keeping secrets.

Author - Chloe Neill
Title - Blood Games
Series - Chicagoland Vampires # 10
Published by NAL Trade
Released: August 5, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 350 pages

Thursday, November 20, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* City of Eternal Night (Crescent City #2) by Kristen Painter

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


Still coming to terms with their unexpected partnership, Augustine and Harlow have a tentative truce. With Harlow slowly working to accept being fae, Augustine still learning how to be Guardian, and feelings growing on both sides though, they do not have an easy road ahead.

But when a young girl is stolen from the Mardi Gras Exemplar Ball -- the biggest far event of the year -- Harlow and Augustine must put all their issues aside to bring her home alive. Harlow's father, Braziano, is of course their number one suspect, but evil lurks in every corner of the city and time is running out. Their only choices: Either find a way to rescue the girl, or Augustine must die.

*My Thoughts*

City of Eternal Night is the sequel to House of the Rising Sun which means events of this book, pick up right where House left off. If you've read Painter's Comarre series, you know that she has created a pretty unique, and interesting world which takes place in the not too distant future (2068). Supernaturals like vampires, fae, and shifters have come out and live closely with humans, especially in places like New Orleans where the Fae rule the city.

Harlow Goodwin spent her entire life refusing to accept her heritage, instead choosing to live as a human where she was really good with computers. Ever since she moved to New Orleans, and lost her mother Olivia, Harlow has come to accept more about who she really is. Her fae abilities allow her to manipulate machines and feel emotions, good or bad, from those she touches. Her abilities have also changed since we first met her, and one can only believe they will continue to manifest even more.

Harlow also learned about her father Joseph Branzino who is truly an evil man through and through and has refused to give in to his demands. Her relationship with Augustine has slowly gained traction, not unlike Chrysabelle and Malcolm in the Comarre series. I think that they were moving in the right direction until Harlow's game changing choice throws everything into chaos.

I will say that after House, I was a bit curious to see whether or not Harlow grew up as a character. She does in many ways, her powers, while not in other ways. She definitely becomes more involved in things, and doesn't just sit in the background. But, in the end, it is her choice that causes more harm than good.

Guardian/shadeux/smokesinger fae Augustine Robelias has lived an interesting life. Never really given a chance to succeed by his mother, he found love, support, and a home in the form of actress Olivia Goodwin and Lally her companion of many years. Now that Augustine is the Guardian, his past sexual exploits have been put behind him to concentrate on learning how to be the Guardian of the city.

Augustine faces a difficult challenge when the daughter of the Prime is kidnapped, and the only way she goes free, is if Augustine does something risky and dangerous. I really do like Augie. I think he's a straight up badass and willing to do anything to help Harlow succeed and learn about being a Fae while attempting to uncover plots against him and the fae. I also like the fact that he's far from perfect as a character, but truly does mean well in his actions. If will be fascinating to read about how he deals with Harlow's bad choice.

There really are lots of others things to discuss, especially Giselle's megalomaniac behavior and power plays, Harlow's new abilities, the powerful artifact that has been kept a secret for a reasons, and Lally's connection to said artifact. But, I prefer not to spoil things for future readers. I am glad that one particular challenge has been resolved and not still hanging around taking up story space.

I have to say that of all the secondary characters, Lally is by far my favorite with Fenton, and Dulcinea close behind. Interesting to once again see Chrysabelle, Malcolm, and Mortalis appear in this installment although I am not surprised.

Orbit will be releasing Garden of Dreams and Desires April 7th 2015.

Author - Kristen Painter
Title - City of Eternal Night
Series - Crescent City # 2
Published by Hachette/Orbit
Released date: December 2, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 436 pages


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