Monday, March 31, 2014

*Gizmos Reviews* Sunset Rising Blitz Promo Including Giveaway & Interview!

Book & Author Details:

Sunset Rising by S.M. McEachern 
(Sunset Rising #1) 
Publication date: November 12th 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult


February 2024: Desperate to find refuge from the nuclear storm, a group of civilians discover a secret government bio-dome. Greeted by a hail of bullets and told to turn back, the frantic refugees stand their ground and are grudgingly permitted entry. But the price of admission is high.
283 years later… Life as a slave in the Pit had never been easy, but for seventeen-year-old Sunny O’Donnell it was quickly careening out of control. Her mother was killed in the annual spring Cull, leaving her alone with a father who decided to give up on life.  It’s not that she blamed him for grieving, but if they didn’t earn enough credits to keep their place inside the Pit, they would be kicked out into a world still teeming with radiation. That left her to earn the credits for both of them.  It didn’t help that her boyfriend, Reyes Crowe, was pressuring her to get married and abandon her father.

Sunny didn’t think life could get any worse, until she was forced upstairs to the Dome to serve and entertain the elite at a bachelor party. That's where she met Leisel Holt, the president's daughter, and her fiancĂ©, Jack Kenner. Now Sunny is wanted for treason. If they catch her, she'll be executed.

She thought Leisel's betrayal was the end for her…but it turns out it was just the beginning.

Sunset Rising is Book One of a series. 


Excerpt from “Sunset Rising” (Book One)

“Oh, Summer. If you weren’t so picky, you could have been married by now. But whenever a boy is interested in you, you’re suddenly not interested in him. I think you like flirting more than actually having a boyfriend.”
“That’s not true. I just haven’t met the right one yet.”
“Though you do bring up a good point. You’re running out of time.”
Summer could have had her pick of any boy in the Pit. A full head shorter than me, her small stature and delicate limbs gave her an elegant, feminine quality. I always felt large and clumsy next to her.
“You know, we’re always talking about me,” Summer said. “How are you? How’s your dad?”
She might regret asking that question, but I gave her an honest answer. “Dad lost his job yesterday because he didn’t show up for work.”
“Oh, Sunny. What are you going to do?”
I heard sympathy in her voice, and exasperation, too. My father had always been a little self-destructive. My mother had done a fairly good job of protecting me from it, but without her, I was on my own with him. “I told Reyes last night I couldn’t marry him until after the next Cull.”
“You’re postponing? Again?” she asked. “That’s a bit drastic. I’m sure your father can get another job. He’s had a lot of experience in the mines.”
“He’s barely been eating since Mom left, and now he’s too weak to get out of bed.”
“But you’ve put your marriage on hold once before, and I can’t imagine Reyes is happy with postponing again. And you’re not getting any younger, Sunny. You’re almost eighteen. Aren’t you afraid Reyes is going to get fed up with waiting and move on to someone else?”
I had never thought about Reyes being with someone else. We had been together forever. And at our age, it was getting kind of late to go looking for a new partner. Of course he would wait for me. If I gave him enough time, he would eventually understand that my father needed me right now, and I couldn’t leave him.
But there was wisdom in her words. At seventeen, I was middle-aged, and that didn’t bode well for getting approval to have a child. Population control in the Pit was getting stricter all the time. Reyes really wanted a child, but if I was being honest with myself, I didn’t. I guessed that was why I didn’t feel an urgent need to get married right away.


S.M. McEachern (also known as Susan) comes from the rocky shores of Canada’s East Coast.  As a resident of Halifax during her early adult years, she attended Dalhousie University and earned an Honors Degree in International Development Studies with a focus on ocean development.  Throughout her academic studies and early career, Susan had the privilege to work with many developing countries on resource management projects.

Becoming an author has been a lifelong dream for Susan. “Sunset Rising” is her debut novel and the first of many she plans to write.   

Author links:

Author Interview with S.M. McEachern 

How did the idea for Sunset Rising come to you?

I’m asked this question a lot and it really is one of the most difficult questions to answer.  I’ve always wanted to write and attempted to pen a few novels in the past, but I never found a topic interesting enough to stick with it.  When my oldest daughter started reading young adult fiction, we decided to do buddy reads together and that’s when I discovered the YA genre. I fell in love. I suddenly had tons of ideas for a plot, but only one really persisted.  Back in my university days, I did some research on a biodome in Arizona and had to ask myself the obvious question of why would humanity need a hermetically sealed environment capable of sustaining life? Given the current geo-political climate, it wasn’t difficult for me to come up with a good reason, and the foundation for the “Sunset Rising” series was born.

Sunset Rising is a series?  Where do you see the story going?

If someone hit the reset button on Earth, how would you change the future? Would you try to rebuild what was already here or go in a different direction? The series is a cautionary tale and I try to show an entertaining, yet realistic, vision of how civilization might rebuild itself.

Sunset Rising is the first book in the series and focuses on how humanity might evolve when forced to live in close quarters in order to survive a nuclear apocalypse. This book deals with issues like bonded slavery, caste systems, physical and sexual abuse, and how limited resources can lead to war. The second book of the series, entitled Worlds Collide, was just released, and I think I surprised a lot of readers with it. SR was often compared to The Hunger Games and The City of Embers, so Worlds Collide blindsided a few readers. This book picks up exactly where SR leaves off and continues to build upon the story. I introduce a lot of new characters and construct an entirely new political system. The third book will pick up where the story leaves off in WC, but you can probably already guess I’m building a whole new world in this book as well. 

Sometimes it’s hard to keep at it – what keeps you going?

I love writing, especially world building, so I don’t actually need any more motivation for that pursuit.  The hard part is trying to juggle family life with being an independent author.  Marketing takes up an enormous amount of time, leaving little left over for writing. It’s a difficult balance.  

What movies do you like to watch?

I love watching action movies—especially if there’s a hot guy starring in it!  Some of my favorites were The Avengers, Star Trek (all of them!), and Red (the first one). I don’t usually watch typical “chick flicks”, although I was talked into watching Crazy Stupid Love on Valentines Day. The scene when Jacob (played by Ryan Gosling) takes off his shirt in front of Hannah (played by Emma Stone) and she just stares at him, mouth agape, and finally says “Seriously? It’s like your Photoshopped!” was hilarious. 

Action heroes, huh?  Which one—Ironman or Thor?

Although Thor is hot, he’s a little too melancholy for my liking. Ironman’s not only a hero, but he’s witty, funny, charming and filthy rich. Definitely Ironman.

As an author, how do you work through self-doubt and fear?

I think everybody on the planet has to work through self-doubt and fear no matter what s/he does for a living.  Writing isn’t any different.  I understand that when I put my work out there for people to read, I invite their opinion.  Most of the feedback has been fantastic and a real confidence boost, but there are some critical reviews that keep me grounded.  Accepting that I’m never going to write a book that every single person on this planet is going to like is the first step conquering my fears.

Do you find it hard to share your work?

Yes! Especially with people I know. My husband’s still not allowed to read my books. 

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?

I have a LOT of people to thank for supporting me.  My family for putting up with me locked away in my office for hours; my husband for his technical expertise on my blog and ebook formatting; and, most of all, for complete strangers who got in touch with me because they read Sunset Rising and loved it. I have a lot of beta readers as well that have taken the time to give me their valuable opinions and critiques.  I’m really just blown away and humbled by the amount of support I’ve received by so many people.

Every writer has her/his own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?

As a debut author, for me success is being able to write something that readers want to read!  Luckily, I’ve been able to do that, so I guess it’s time to set the bar a little higher. I’d like to expand my audience. Quite a few of my readers said they’d like to see Sunset Rising made into a movie—that would be super cool!

Tell us about your new book—what’s it about and why did you write it?

Worlds Collide is the second book of the Sunset Rising series.  It picks up exactly where Sunset Rising leaves off—with the two main characters, Sunny and Jack, outside the Dome exploring a world they always believed had been devastated by nuclear war.  They discover the Earth is fine and there are people living outside! As they uncover the horrifying truth of President Holt’s plans for the Pit, they realize time is running out to not only save the urchins, but the world.

If you could do any job in the world, what would you do?

That’s easy.  Be a writer.

What’s the reason for your life? Have you figured out your reason for being here yet?

I’m here because I was born, so I might as well use my time wisely.  Reading, writing, researching, interacting with others, teaching, learning, raising two kids, being a wife, being a friend—this is what life is all about. We take what we need and then we give back. Learn about the world you live in and see how you can contribute. 

Do you do much research for your books?

I do a ton of research for my novels.  As a reader, nothing takes me out of science fiction story faster than bad science.  For Sunset Rising, I had already done quite a bit of research on the Biosphere in Arizona, so that was a bit easier.  For Worlds Collide, I got in touch with a scientist from the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) to advise me on theme in that novel. I’m currently doing some research for the third book, which I’ll keep secret for now J 

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I’ve had writer’s block a few times and I cured it by going to see an action-packed movie.  A really good book can get my creative juices flowing too.  On a daily basis, I also go for a run with my iPod loaded up with inspirational music, like Moby, Keane, Cold Play, and Lana del Rey.

Have you started another book yet?

I have started the third book in the Sunset Rising series.  I’m doing a lot of research at the moment, so not many words have put on paper yet.

Do you have any advice for writers?

Invest in your craft. Listen to what readers are telling you through their reviews. Constantly seek to improve your skills. If you truly like writing and want to make a career of it, join a writer’s group, take workshops on writing and network with people in the industry. Research is an important component of being a successful writer, both in terms of writing a story and selling one.  If you’re going to self-publish, find an editor you can work with, a good cover artist, and beta readers who can give you critical feedback. Learn to accept that the bad reviews are just as important as the good reviews. 

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?

I’m not so sure I’d want to invite a dead person to a dinner party… ew!  I’ve been lucky in that I’ve met a lot of influential people.  My mentor in university was Elizabeth Mann-Borgese, the daughter of author and Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann.  Her entire life was devoted to finding a way to foster world peace and, like her father, she’s been nominated for the Nobel Prize.  I’ve also been to Buckingham Palace for a tea party with Queen Elizabeth (alongwith 3,000 other of her “closest” friends!).  And I once had the opportunity to meet President Bill Clinton when he was in Halifax for the G-9 Summit meetings, but got tired of waiting for him and left.  I always regretted that.  So, if I had to choose someone to come to dinner, I’d probably pick the President of the United States. I wonder if Mr. Obama would come?

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?

I have a hectic family life.  My oldest daughter is a competitive swimmer and my youngest is competitive in martial arts.  My husband just returned from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan.  So, honestly, I don’t spend much time relaxing. If I do find some time, I like to read a good book and sip a nice vintage.

Are you a city slicker or a country lover?

I’m a city girl who likes to escape to the country from time to time.  I prefer to have modern amenities within walking distance in my day-to-day life. I’ve lived in the country before and ended up doing way too much driving for my kids extra-curricular activities, shopping, doctors, etc.  However, I do like to go hiking, kayaking, bird watching and exploring coastlines, so the occasional escape to the countryside is fun.

In the (un)Likely Event of an Apocalypse 

The Apocalypse. The end of civilization as we know it. Maybe even the complete annihilation of the Earth. 

The thought is terrifying and has fascinated generations for decades. There have been thousands of predictions on how, why and when the world as we know it will come to an abrupt end. It’s the stuff that blockbuster films and best selling novels are made of (mine included!). But could an apocalypse actually happen?  What are the odds? And more importantly, can the human race survive the end of the world? As the author of a post-apocalyptic series, I’ve actually done some research on apocalyptic scenarios and here are a few of my thoughts:

Nuclear War:  Anyone who has read my novel, “Sunset Rising”, knows nuclear war is my apocalypse of choice (I say tongue in cheek). Consider the domino effect of just one nuclear explosion set off above a city: a) buildings and dwellings leveled and set on fire; b) the instantaneous death of anyone inhabiting the city; c) as the city is engulfed in flames, oil and gas stores (in vehicles and tanks) explode; e) the cloud from the firestorm rises into the atmosphere, blocking out the suns rays—the beginning of a nuclear winter; f) radiation fall-out. One nuclear warhead exploding over one city has the capability to wipe out millions of people.

There are more than 17,000 known nuclear weapons in the world, many of which are more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.  

In the (un)likely event of a global nuclear war, you might want to be digging out a bunker in your backyard and stocking it with canned food and clean water… In the meantime, you can join campaigns and groups dedicated to abolishing nuclear weapons globally.

Earth hit by an asteroid:  How big does an asteroid need to be to cause global destruction? NASA says anywhere from 1 to 2 km in diameter and up will likely end civilization.  Regional damage at the collision site would cause the most immediate destruction, but it’s the resulting “impact winter” possibly followed by an “ultraviolet spring” that would end life as we know it. For comparison, the asteroid responsible for the mass extinction of the dinosaurs was approximately 10 kilometers (6 miles) in diameter.

So what are the odds of Earth suffering a meteorite impact? Pretty good, actually.  Asteroids have collided with our planet in the past so there’s every reason to expect it will be hit again.  In fact, on March 5, 2014, a meteor approximately 98 feet in diameter—big enough to cause regional damage—passed between the Earth and Moon.

In the (un)likely event of a meteorite impact, those people who already have a bunker dug-out to survive the nuclear war have the best chance for survival. Although, if you live in a coastal area subject to tsunamis from the event, forget the bunker and head to high ground. If you’d like a heads-up before the big bang, check in with the “Near Earth Object Program” here:

Zombies:  Can a zombie apocalypse actually happen?! The movie, “I am Legend” made it somewhat believable since people were turned into zombies via a rabies-type virus.  And here’s the other thing that makes “I am Legend” mind-blowingly scary—the zombies could run fast!  Biologists keep warning us we’re overdue for a pandemic. Could the zombie flu be the next one?

In the (un)likely event of a zombie apocalypse, you’ll need to be in good physical shape, know how to use a rifle, and make sure you’re a fast runner…or at least faster than your mate ;)

Well, those are just a few ways our civilization could suffer an apocalypse.  Are you prepared? 

The End

Friday, March 28, 2014

*Stacking the Shelves* Episode # 101

Stacking the Shelves for the week of March 23, thru March 29, 2014

Stacking The Shelves is a fun way to show off the books we received over the past week in the hopes that you will find something that you will be interested in reading. As always, it is in no way, shape, or form to be considered bragging or sticking out our tongues at other bloggers. 

I personally enjoy  reading comments from those that stop by and support Gizmo's Reviews and I make every effort to comment and visit back your blog in return. 

Received via Tor Books (Actual ARC, not E-ARC)

Received via Edelweiss
(Harper Collins)


(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Received via NetGalley
 (Harlequin Teen)

(Random House/Ballantine Books)

(Gallery, Pocket Books)

(Amazon/47 North)

Purchased with credits earned @

*Gizmos Book Reviews* The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

**I borrowed this book from my local library.  No monies changed hands.This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

*My Thoughts*

The Winner's Curse is one of those books that has the book reading community falling all over themselves in order to rate the book 4 stars or higher. Let's call me the black sheep of the family, and get on to the reasons why even though I liked the overall story line, I didn't think it was the best thing since the invention of the internet.

The premise of the story is actually quiet simplistic in a Romeo meets Juliet sort of way except for the part where they don't actually die in the end. You have a rich, spoiled in many ways teenager in Kestrel who is the daughter of one of the most notorious/respected generals in the Vallorian Army. She has been told that she has only two choices to make; join the army, or marry at the age of 21. Simple perhaps for a lesser character who doesn't have her own agenda, or goals like continuing to play her piano, or running off and falling for a Herrani slave.

Kestrel is portrayed as an intelligent individual who also happens to have a brain for strategy. This boggles my mind when subsequent events happen right under her nose including a major betrayal, a revolution, and her friends and country men slaughtered right under her nose while she pines away for a person she purchases as a slave. Kestrel's actions have me questioning what she will do next since she's boxed herself into a corner without any lifelines around to save her.

I will give Arin a whole lot of credit. For 10 years he's lived and slaved under the Vallorian regime. While he's had several different owners, he started putting into play a way to exact his revenge in a brilliant strategic move for the loss of his family and his country. He's determined to use anyone, including Kestrel, to get exactly what he wants and goes about it in a way that is both brilliant and cunning.

Does it really matter that he presumes that he loves Kestrel while she is as confused as they come, and therefore they are fated to be together when they have pretty much nothing in common and he betrayed her to the fullest? Obviously, this is the first book in the series, and Rutkoski has a long way to go before she reveals her deviousness in all its glory. The ending to The Winner's Curse left us with a major decision by Kestrel and an agonizing moment for Arin.

This fact has left fellow readers screaming for the sequel to pop up on their kindles, or bookstores, or publisher's ARCs. I will say this in my defense, I fell for the synopsis, the cover, and friends who have raved about this book for months. Readers need to read this book at their own pace, and stay away from raves that may slant their personal feelings about the book. 

Author - Marie Rutkoski
Title - The Winner's (The Winner's Trilogy)
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Released: March 4, 2014
Genre - Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Copy - Hardcover 355 pages

Thursday, March 27, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

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

*My Thoughts*

Salvage is a rare sort of book these days in that it's a standalone which means readers don't have to wait around for months, or a year or more to find out what happens next to your favorite characters. Even though the ending is a bit abrupt and perhaps unnecessary since Ava had already made her choices known in which direction she was heading and with whom she would spend her life, Duncan still ties up all the loose ends to make any sequel unnecessary and definitely allows readers to take a breath of fresh air knowing that there won't be any three way love triangles any time soon.

Salvage is filled with an unusual dialect spoken by the protagonist 17-year old Ava Parastrata, and is based on a polygamist society of space faring people who put women into mundane jobs, and makes them simplistic baby makers while boys are shunned and written off because of their Captains intentional gobbling up of all the women on board to make them his wives. As a person who is anti-polygamy, this aspect of the story kind of got under my skin and I was happy to see Ava escape her surroundings despite being nearly killed in the process.

Ava is a character that truly grows from the time we are introduced to her to the stories wrap up. From knowing that she is expected to marry a stranger, to making a phenomenal mistake in trusting someone who gets her in deep kimche and nearly killed, to a young adult who knows what she wants out of life and the best choice of a romantic partner. We watch as Ava goes from being an innocent and naive character unaware about what is really happening around her or her families past and not having the ability to read or write her own name, to one whose head is firmly attached on her shoulders.

In many aspects, Salvage may be considered a coming of age story because of the fact that Ava is thrown into the fire and manages to survive while finding the adorable Miyole, her mother Captain Perpetue who teaches her the love of flying and fixing things while saving her life, to her auntie Soraya who she's never met but takes her in anyway because they are family, and of course, an easy connection to the not necessarily perfect love interest Rushil.

I'm a bit confused as to the proper genre placement of Salvage. Even though Harper's catalog calls this Young Adult Science Fiction, the story could be either dystopia, or science fiction. While Salvage starts and finishes in space, a good chunk of the story takes place in a futuristic earth where mother nature has devastated the planet with intense storms. There are the floating cabins of Gyre which sits on the Caribbean ocean and where we find Perpetue and Miyole, to the city of Mumbai which ends up being the setting of most of the story and where Ava finds her real calling along with true facts about own families backgrounds in space.

Salvage won't be for everyone because of the dialect that Ava uses which really drove a nail through my patience. If I had to actually count the number of times Ava said SO in this book I would have been thrown in jail for belligerency because I screamed in agony way too many times to count. I think readers should use their own judgement whether or not they can fully understand this story without giving up on it totally. 

Author - Alexandra Duncan
Title - Salvage
Published by Greenwillow/HarperCollins
Released: April 1, 2014
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction
Pages: 520 E Book format

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

*Waiting On Wednesday* Featuring Black Widow by Jennifer Estep

"Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at “Breaking the Spine”, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating....

This weeks choice is Black Widow by Jennifer Estep!

Yes, yes, I am totally jumping over Poison Promise which releases in July and jumping on this one! Surprise! Jennifer is going to reveal the notorious and mysterious MM Monroe who has been lingering in the background ever since Gin took on Mab Monroe! I am definitely eager for some major kickasser-y on the part of Gin! Definitely a different look to the cover art work as well!

There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan.

With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit.

The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.
Mass Market Paperback400 pages
Expected publication: November 25th 2014 by Pocket Books

Monday, March 24, 2014

*Gizmos Reviews* Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List

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!

For this week on Top Ten Tuesday, the topic is:

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List: (could be blogging related, book related etc. -- meeting authors, reading x many books per year, finishing a daunting book, etc.)

1. Attend BEA in NEW YORK! Hello! My family is from New York. I AM from New York. Since, I began blogging nearly 3 years ago, I have NEVER BEEN TO BEA, or RT, or ALA, or AAD for that matter! I'm sick of sitting on the sidelines and watching others have fun, while I sit home brooding like a child whose toy has been taken away from her. Some of it is because I have a bit of agoraphobia and hate dealing with people and nonsense.

2. Cut down on reading. Yes, I said cut down on reading. I average almost 380 books a year. That needs to be cut back. I feel as though I am reading because I HAVE to, rather than because I love it!

3. Pull my WIP's out of moth balls and have someone read them, edit them, and perhaps approach agents about representing them. I think they have sat there for far too long now, and after all the research, and money, and effort I put into them, they need to see the light of day.

4. Gain more of a following by being more active in commenting back and participation in giveaways, blog hops, etc. Yes, that is a big fault of mine. I've become numb recently when it comes to giveaways, and blog hops. That needs to cease now!
5. Be more of a honest reviewer. Simple right? Sometimes I really withhold my comments from a book I just read because I don't want to offend an author or publisher to the point where I loose my access to those publishers.

6. DNF books that I find boring or filled with nonsense like rape, and abuse. Listen folks, I have NOT DNF'd a book in over 3 years. Like I said before, I have so many books now, that I feel as though I am required to continue reading instead of taking a day or two off. 
7. Create my own blogging meme or feature. I think this has been bantered around before, but I really want to find a unique feature that nobody has seen before. I think this would be awesome!

8. Read more books from authors who I've sort of abandoned in order to read newer authors. I used to have a huge list of authors I follow. I still do, but, I find that as long as Netgalley and Edelweiss offer new titles, I am grab happy!

9. Get more organized with my current stacks of books. Folks, I need help. I need to do a giveaway, or I need to donate whole shelf full of books to the library or someone else. If I am not going to read the books, why am I keeping them?

10. Try other genre's besides my old reliables UF, PNR, Steampunk, etc. I really have tried to do better than this one. If you look at my reads for this year, you've seen me read LOTS of YA, Dystopian, even Historical Romance. I still wont' read BDSM, or LBGT because they just don't really peak my interest all that much.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James

*My Thoughts* 

England, 1919, "The Great War" (World War I) has faded into the background but the influenza pandemic that started in 1918 is still grinding along taking millions of lives with it. 20 year old Katherine "Kitty" Weekes arrives at Portis House where privileged English soldiers are sent to coalesce and heal from the effects of being at war hoping that she has found a place to stay hidden from her past. 

Kitty, on the run from an abusive father since she left home at 16, falsifies her background in order to take up a nursing position and finds herself in the middle of a great mystery concerning the whereabouts of the former owners of the house the Gersbach's and whether or not the house is truly haunted or the men are actually mentally disturbed. 

Along the way, Kitty finds that she can't just be a nurse without people knowing that she's a fraud, and gets herself into situations where her secret can't help but come out. To be a true nurse, it takes skills, training, and a great deal of patience to deal with patients on a day to day basis. While this is just a story, I don't condone anyone faking their way into pretending to be a nurse. The truth shall always come out one way or the other.

After having her own visions and hearing voices, Kitty finds assistance from Patient Sixteen, who took up residence at Portis House to avoid his hero status and to try to find a reason for living. Kitty and Jack Yates work together in order to get to the bottom of the strange noises, the black slime, crumbling walls, and the truth behind what really happened to the owners of Portis House while slowly finding a connection that leads to new possibilities for both characters. 

Kitty is a character who has faced her share of challenges while dealing with her abusive father, the presumed loss of her brother to war, finding jobs that she can work without being discovered by her father, and therefore not having to deal with the fact that she's a abused child who may need some assistance to deal with her scars and emotional state of mind.

Silence of the Dead is a twisted ghost/mystery/romance story that incorporates the realities of war with the real possibility of ghosts driving the men to madness. While Kitty is the main course, as it were, readers are encouraged to open their hearts and minds to those soldiers who ended up in Portis House and the reason they are there, as well as the staff like Boney, Matron, Nina, and Martha who work day in and day out in order to ensure their comforts and needs.

St. James does a fairly impressive job of not brushing the realities of war under the rug, in order to pursue the more interesting aspect of the possibilities that ghosts are real, or the romance that grows between Kitty and Jack. Although the story takes a while to get going, in the end, the results and the surprises are definitely worth the time it takes to read the book.

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

Author - Simone St. James
Title - Silence for the Dead
Published by NAL Trade
Releases: April 1, 2014
Genre: Historical, Ghost Story, Romance

Saturday, March 22, 2014

*Gizmos Books Reviews* Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1) by C. Robert Cargill

*I received this book as part of the Harper Voyager Super Reader program. All thoughts are my own, and no monetary compensation was offered in return for reading this book.*

*My Thoughts*

"The sum of a man isn't the things he's done, it is the world he leaves behind." Quote from Fallen Angel Bertrand to Colby.

Dreams and Shadows is one of the better books that I have had the pleasure of reading this year (2014) and I thank Harper Voyager for sharing a copy of this book with me. Dreams and Shadows is a dark story filled with with action, violence, adventure, and has interesting and dangerous beings like fairies, djinn, changelings, and fallen angels who all make their homes in Austin, Texas the setting for this story.

The main characters of Dreams and Shadows are Colby Stevens, Ewan Thatcher, Yasher, Nixie Knocks, and Coyote but this is a character and plot driven story. Dreams and Shadows mostly follows Colby and Ewan, but it would not be the same without the interaction of Yasher, Knocks, and Coyote who obviously have their own agendas and paths they must follow.

You could say Dreams and Shadows mostly focuses on Colby's journey, and you wouldn't be wrong but you would be remiss in ignoring the background stories of Yashar and especially Knocks. It is Colby that ends up making some unusual choices that make him as powerful as any being in existence that leads to some consequences that he can't escape from. It is Colby who is given a choice at age 8 (wish) by Yasher to see all that is out there in the world without unknowing all that he learns. It is Colby who becomes so feared, and hated, that he only has one true friend he can count on, and that is Ewan who he rescues and watches over from the first time they ever meet. 

For Ewan, he's taken away from his loving parents while still a baby, and replaced by a changeling. He then grows up among the fairy and slowly becomes one even finding love with Mallaidh. He becomes known as the "Tithe Child" but I won't spoil what that truly means to you, and later ends up being saved by Colby who leads him back into the human world where not everything is perfect or idealistic. Ewan's journey is a painful one to read about. He doesn't know who he really is, he's had the unfortunate destiny to be picked by the fairy, and he is truly hated by more than a few fairy including Knocks. 

I made a comment while reading this book that I found the interaction between Ewan and Colby to be wonderful. It was about friendship, shared experiences, and not about mutual attraction or the need to jump into bed the first time they meet. It is about Colby's determination to keep Ewan safe from harm and understanding that they have forged a nearly unbreakable bond with their experiences. This story is proof that boys can be friends and bros, and writer's DON'T need to wade their way into situations where there is a need for same sex romances or insta-romances. 

I think that readers will find Yashar and Coyote to be equally as entertaining, if not as dangerous as Colby. I think that readers will also enjoy the fact that these fairies are not your normal run of the mill Fae who are lovable and happy. Nope. They are dangerous. They kill humans and feed on emotions, and you don't really want to find yourself out in the middle of a forest when they are around.

I can only hope that Queen of the Dark Things, which releases May 13th 2014 by Harper Voyager, is just as awesome as Dreams and Shadows was. I can't wait to dive back into this world that just blows my mind and leaves me anxious to see what happens next.

Author - C. Robert Cargill
Title - Dreams & Shadows (Dreams & Shadows # 1)
Published by Harper Voyager
Released: February 26, 2013
Genre - Urban Fantasy