Review: Cargon, Honour & Privilege

Genre: YA Dystopian/Fantasy

Rating: YAY!

This book surprised me, in an awesome way, it kept me reading. The first page wasn’t really a grabber, but I allowed myself to reach for the end of Chapter 1 (like a sample). Gould drew me and kept dragging until the pages flew. I say pages flew because I finished this in less than 24 hours, when an Indies Book does that I stand up and take notice. Now to the content.

The players: Eve and Adam (ironic, I think not). There’s an underlying theme Gould is building, and she does it in a way that you may or may not notice right off the bat. The book spends most of the time in Eve’s POV, she’s a teenager from the servant class. Expressing an aptitude for knowledge and learning, the leader of her nation, The High One, provides her with an opportunity to learn more about the country, the practices of the Elite, and a chance to become more than just a Server. Adam is The Second, in line to rule once The High One passes. He encounters Eve and becomes enamored by her intelligence, her beauty, and desire to exceed her original stations.

I like both main characters. They’re not perfect, but intent on becoming valuable in their own way. Both Eve and Adam grow a bunch during this story, but Gould leaves room for plenty more to come. I found myself rooting for them and their goals, and easily dedicated to their welfare. Both are likable without being a couple of ‘Mary Sue’s’.

What plays out is a great start to a much larger story, but you get a little romance, budding friendships, technological advancement, philosophical discussions, and a great way of learning about an entire world without being info dumped on. Gould does an amazing job of weaving the knowledge about her fantasy world through Eve’s growth and experiences. Cargon is essentially a game that’s used by members of the Elite (upper class) to determine things like marriage, land, status, jobs, etc. How Eve uses Cargon to her advantage? You have to read the book.

What I also liked: Character growth, development of the plot into several sustainable arcs, a strong female character who still has some flaws and weakness, and a nice romance triangle that keeps you guessing.

What I didn’t like: No resolutions. This book is really part 1 of a bigger story, and that sucks. Also, you’ll finish with lots of questions, a few more than what you started with. A man named Louis, who plays the role of villain well. Yet, at the end of the book he showed a different side of him leaving me to wonder.

This is definitely worth a read if you like fantasy and enjoy visiting new worlds or just enjoy a good story of a girl experiencing a Cinderella fairy tale and determined to exceed all expectations.

Purchase a copy of Cargon: Honor and Privilege at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords 

Print Version

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This Week’s Read: Eden by David Holley

eden_cover updated final for smashwordsAfter enduring a horrific plane crash, a small group of survivors must work together in order to withstand the harshest conditions imaginable in the remote wilderness of New Zealand’s South Island.
 
The year is 2022, and their epic journey, fraught with danger and mystery, will alter the course of human history forever.
 
Led by charismatic Special Forces captain Noah Lockheart and his wife Evelyn, an accomplished scientist, the band of weary travelers must battle the elements along with their fears, as they race toward civilization, and their hope for rescue.
 
Among the survivors is Mia Sinclair, an extraordinary girl who can glimpse the future.  Through their trials, the Lockhearts begin to uncover the girl’s ability in spite of her best efforts to keep it hidden. But even as Mia proves to be an invaluable ally, her gift comes at an unbearable cost.  
 
Each step brings them closer to salvation– and to unraveling the mystery of their abandonment. But just when they think they are saved, they realize that they have never been farther from home.

Eden is a bold, heart-pounding page-turner, told through the seamlessly shifting perspectives of the eccentric band of survivors. As the thriller unfolds, so do the survivors’ inextricable links to one another in a plot rife with twists and turns, till the very end.

Author Interview: Liz Long

Liz LongToday I have the author of The Gifted here to answer a few questions I had about her first Donovan Circus Novel. I didn’t pull any punches and I hope my questions spark some more interest in her work. 🙂 Without further ado:

1. This book involved a wide range of characters, yet you only told the story from the first person perspective of Lucy. What was your motivation for that POV? 
 I’ve always been more comfortable writing in first person so when I started writing my first book, it was just a natural decision. I wanted a strong female character who was well aware of her talents and what she could do, but I wanted her to be reintroduced to the gifted world in a way that would still give readers explanations as to how everything worked. Plus, she’s a good girl, learning about all new bad things, and I wanted to show the progression of her coming in, new and naive, while at the end, she’s a bit tougher and knows she should be careful about who she trusts – while still retaining her optimistic attitude about things.
2. I love all the powers and descriptions of the different abilities. Do you plan at some point to offer a glossary of the different powers within this universe?
 I actually do have a glossary listed on my website! It’s only the beginning of what powers I’ve thought about and even includes a couple that aren’t from GIFTED and instead are from another story based in a gifted world.
3. You also recently released a second book, Witch Hearts, which sounds really interesting a bit different than The Gifted. Is this book set in the same universe as the characters from Donovan Circus? 
 Witch Hearts is completely different from Gifted – it’s a stand alone title and is about a serial killer hunting witches for their powers. Same idea of magic, murder, and mystery, but with a completely different world and group of characters.
4. In The Gifted, Lucy finds herself at the center of a love triangle. While we see a ton of love triangles in young adult books and a few in New Adult, I was surprised there was one. I really thought Lucy was gonna go for Gabriel all the way. Was this planned or is this how the story progressed? 

 Honestly, it’s just how it progressed. When originally writing Gifted, Lucy was supposed to end up with Keegan (or at least show interest and hints at a future relationship). However, when I started writing the relationship between Lucy and Gabriel, I found myself liking their chemistry more and more. He’s not afraid to call her out and make her face reality, while she brings out a side of him that he didn’t realize he had. Plus, their conversations are really fun to write! It was a natural progression that made sense to me – and to a lot of readers as they told me how much they loved Gabriel! People keep asking me who she chooses and sometimes I go back and forth so much that I don’t even know yet!
5. In the book Lucy and several of the other circus performers speak of the comic book series The X-Men and compare themselves to characters. I take it X-Men was a bit of the inspiration for the idea, but what other inspirations did you have for this novel and what future plans are there for The Donovan Circus? 
 X-Men was certainly an inspiration, though I try to deviate as much as possible from that world. The group acknowledges their similar powers to the comic books (a completely tongue in cheek mention), but that’s as far as I wanted it to go. I’m a visual person, so along with the PBS documentary “Circus,” I definitely watched a lot of YouTube videos of circus acts or Cirque de Soleil to get ideas for the performances!
The Donovan Circus is meant to be a series, so there will definitely be more books! I am hoping to have the second title out in late 2013, early 2014. Because of what Lucy’s done to protect her circus family, there will be repercussions heard around the gifted world. It brings other enemies out of the shadows and hints at a bigger fight than Lucy or even the Donovan group. She’ll also have to accept her family history and what it means to be Lenny Sullivan’s Firestarter daughter. Let’s just say that in the second book, Lucy and her friends will be taking a road trip, where, as usual, there are more problems than answers!
I can’t wait to see what comes next for Lucy and her friends for sure. Thank you for dropping by Liz.
The Gifted is available at:
Also check out The Gifted on Goodreads

Liz Long is lucky enough to have a dream career in magazine publishing as an editor and writer, yet still have time to create adventures on the side. If you catch her staring off into space or talking to herself, don’t worry – it’s just her imagination at work.

Liz graduated from Longwood University with a BA in English, though her professors might be disappointed to hear she reads more fantasy fiction than literary novels. She also loves action and thriller genres. This book probably won’t change your life, but she hopes it steals you away from reality for a while. 

Her newest release, Witch Hearts, will be for sale on Amazon on April 30th. Her first book, Gifted, a Donovan Circus Novel, is also available for paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

To learn more about Liz, visit her website: http://lizclong.com

Author Links:

Website: http://lizclong.com

Twitter: (Handle: @LizCLong) https://twitter.com/#!/LizCLong

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/lizclongauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/LizLong

Review: The Gifted

Genre: New Adult/Urban Fantasy

Rating: Yay

I haven’t been gorging myself on Urban Fantasy recently, and thankfully The Gifted was the perfect novel to ease me back into the foray.

Liz Long creates an interesting scenario for those with abilities: The Circus. The perfect environment to hide firestarters, super strong men, and real life healers, Donovan Circus becomes a haven for all those with special talents. Here they’re not freaks, they’re stars. For Lucy Donovan it’s a place to belong, and she wants to belong to something so bad. The heroine has a past that’s pretty much delivered upfront, but with a few sprinkles of additional info added throughout the story.

There’s a large ensemble of characters, but Long stays in first person POV so there’s no head hopping. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of this style of writing, but it worked. Long did a fabulous job of relating the different characters through Lucy’s eyes, while feeding me just enough back story on each to engage my feelings. I was part of the group. Plus, there’s a creepy villain and I love my creepy villains.

Now to the length, this story was long. A bit more then I’d hoped for actually.  My only complaint is that the story did drag for me at times. The action sequences were fine tuned and the dialogue meshed, but the extra time between the action, the various descriptions of daily life tended to slow the pace. Even with the pace issue I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to know what would happen to Lucy, the love triangle she’s forced into, the secrets being told and kept around her, and the past her father is trying to hide.

There’s a ton of awesome adventure in this story that appeals to the comic book, freak loving person that I am. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone seeking a new challenge into Urban Fantasy or looking for a new adult book that doesn’t deal with paranormal aspects (Shifter, Werewolf, Vampire, etc.).

P.S. If you follow the Indies Newsletter, then I’m happy to inform you that Lucy and The Gifted get a Grade A- when ran up against Mari’s Urban Fantasy Rants. 🙂

This Week’s Read: The Gifted by Liz Long

GiftedCoverWebEven in a world of freaks, being a Firestarter is considered a dangerous Gift.

Lucy was born with the ability to create and control fire. She longs to leave the human world for one filled with Earthshakers, Transporters, and Chameleons, to name a few. When she rejoins the circus, it’s everything she hoped it could be—new friends, a potential love interest or two, and a place where she can be herself.

When troupe members begin turning up dead, however, Lucy is suspected of foul play. She must not only prove her innocence but also realize the full extent of her power. To find the real murderer, she must uncover the truth behind her father’s fiery legacy while figuring out whom to trust within her new circle. Little does she know the history of the Donovan Circus and its enemies might actually destroy the entire gifted world.

The Gifted: A Donovan Circus Novel is available at:

Amazon

Author Interview: Meg Whitlock

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Meg Whitlock, author of The Dark Man’s Son, kindly sat down with me and answered a few questions about her terrific novel.

Thanks so much for your time, Meg!

I love the different angle taken for this story. It’s not angels and demons, it’s something different. What was the inspiration for writing The Dark Man’s Son?

Oh, wow, that’s a complicated question. Alex/Claire/Helene is a character I created a long time ago, and she’s really evolved over the years, as have the Guardians themselves. Originally it was just her, then there were a whole bunch of them, and then I settled on the idea of two. The idea of this particular book started percolating a few years ago. I wrote the scene where Jason gets mugged and Alex saves him, and I really liked that. This ordinary guy finds himself in this crazy situation…how does he deal with it? Where does it take him? It all flowed from there.

 

Not many books are written in third person omniscient anymore. I confess, it suits the book.  Was that a conscious decision from the start?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve tried to write in first person before, and I just can’t, really. It doesn’t suit me. I like getting inside the different characters’ heads. I never really intended for Jason to be the main character, so originally it was all supposed to be from Alex’ pov—but then, how relatable is she, really? So it changed to Jason. But, then, I like Cassius so much…so I said to heck with it and just threw everyone in the pot.

 

The guardians are a new idea twist on the good and evil dichotomy. Why do you think God found them so appealing as a ‘go between’ for humans? Does that tie into the Mandate being such a strict rulebook for the angels and demons?

First of all, I needed something to sort of bind the power of both angels and Guardians—hence Mandate. Otherwise you’d have these omnipotent immortal beings running around doing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted and it would just be chaos everywhere. So angels have no free will at all and Guardians have limited free will. It keeps things in check.

I like the idea of angels, but not the way we tend to see them in popular culture, like Roma Downey on Touched by an Angel or Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life. Nice angels. The angels in my story are great and terrible beings of celestial intent, and you really don’t want to meet one if you can help it. Biblical angels. They’re scary.

Humans can do whatever they want. They have total free will. That’s probably a scary idea to…well, anyone…seeing it for the first time. I can imagine angels and everyone else looking down going, “What the HELL have we done?!” Hence, Guardians. Partly under Divine control, but also able to relate to humans and their human condition.

Think of it like…you’re a loving parent, and you don’t want to smother your kids. You want them to make their own decisions, but at the same time you want them to make good decisions. In that spirit you find them a couple of quirky tutors, one who tells them to eat their vegetables and brush their teeth, and the other who gives them cake and ice cream before supper and teaches them how to make Molotov cocktails. Ultimately it’s the kids’ decision which tutor to listen to, and probably they’ll take a bit of wisdom from both and go through life somewhere in the middle.

 

Let’s talk about the ending a bit. You decided to have the story end on a cliffhanger—I turned my kindle page and went “What?!” So it succeeded. What was behind creating a cliffhanger ending rather than a wrap-up?

To wrap the story up the way I want to would’ve required…well, a whole other book! Obviously there’s a lot that’s going on with Jason now, and we don’t know what’s in store for Alex. Plus there’s still a ton of Alex’ history that I’d like to explore, and it would’ve felt awkward putting all that in Dark Man.

 

I assume there’s going to be a sequel, given the ending. Are there any other forthcoming books?

Yes! I’m working on the sequel now. There will be angels. There will be djinn. Lucifer will be back and wreaking all sorts of havoc. Jason will be wrestling with his fun new burdens. We’ll learn a lot more about Alex, including about Arad, the father of her son, and of course about Vanant, her son, himself. The structure will work like Dark Man—that is, flashbacks intercut with scenes from the present—and I really want to explore the parallels between Vanant’s story and Jason’s. They’re both “unique in creation,” as Jason so bitterly says, but their lives took very different paths.

So far the flashbacks take place in ancient Persia, because that’s where Arad’s story takes place. I’m not sure where the story will take me, because it’s always a surprise.

Meg Whitlock has been writing nearly all her life, and she’s glad she finally got over her laziness and wrote the book she’s been dreaming about for years. She graduated from Queens University of Charlotte with a BA in Comparative Arts with an Art History specialization and an Ancient History minor…which is a mouthful no matter how you say it. She has four cats (including an invisible one), a car named Babar, and a vivid imagination.

In 2001 her one-act play, “The Shoebox,” was produced by Catawba College in Salisbury, NC and presented at the American College Theatre Festival. She was honored by Art:21 and the Mint Museum of Art for her essay “Kara Walker: Using Stereotypes to Provoke Thought,” and she’s won awards for both her fiction and non-fiction writing.

The Dark Man’s Son can be found at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Review: The Dark Man’s Son by Meg Whitlock

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Rating: Yay!

DarkMansSon-Final-fbWhen Jason gets mugged, he has no idea how much his life is about to change. Saved by a strange woman with an actual, swear-to-God sword is weird enough, but finding out his whole worldview is wrong is another.

We follow Jason as he discovers the truth about his parentage (hint: his dad isn’t human), and how he’s been drawn into a plan to free Lucifer from Hell. Not because he wants to, or because he’s evil, but because of his heritage.

Jason is a fun guy. It’s obvious he loves life and he’s just a normal dude, with that sort of sarcasm and verbiage we youngsters under 30 like to use.

Genre similarities aside, there are a few things which make this story unique. The first, and biggest, is this isn’t a battle between angels and demons, but a struggle for the Guardians, who are personified momentum for good and evil. They exist to maintain the struggle between good and bad, and to work as hard as they can to get their side to ‘win.’  Neither mortal nor angels, these beings are behind the scenes of many a historical turning point.

Which is one of the book’s strengths. We have three different viewpoints in this story: through the main storyline as it unfolds, occasional snippets of one character’s journal, and frequent historical flashbacks to important parts of the Guardians’ past.

This mix creates a well-rounded picture of everything going on, and most of the flashbacks are quite important to the story. There were a few I felt messed with the overall flow of the story, but the were still interesting and pertinent.

Another reason this book catapults itself squarely into a Yay is because of the viewpoint: third person omniscient. Although this was once a preferred storytelling method, it’s not been used so much in recent years. And it’s wonderful—it suits the story perfectly, and gave the book the feeling of coming home to a comfortable place, a story where I could come back again and again. Too many books try to choke themselves into a first person viewpoint, and it can really bring the quality of the storytelling down.

This combined with a lovely way with words really makes this novel shine.

My only real quibble with this novel is the ending. It ends on a cliffhanger, and that’s a gamble with books. People either love them, or hate them. And while I’m not a hater, I can say I was disappointed to find out I would have to wait for another story in order to find out how Jason and the others handle Lucifer’s scheme.

Hurry up with the next book, Meg. Some of us want to know what happens.

 

The Dark Man’s Son can be found at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

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