Review: The Girl

Apologies for being so late on this review. The week has been much less than kind, but that’s no excuse. Onward to the review.

Genre: Urban Fantasy with romance elements
Rating: Yay

When we got the email request to review this book, I jumped on the chance. Not because I loved the writing itself, but because I loved the dialogue that was in the sample. And the story sounded interesting. And thankfully, I was not wrong.

Blaylock’s dialogue is realistic and used in a good way to show and strengthen (or crush) relationships. The story revolves around a cast of characters, all of whom are influenced by the Sanctum in one way or another. Wyatt and Ryker, best friends and Sanctum elite are believable as best friends who have that bond of brotherhood. I think theirs is my favorite relationship, though admittedly my favorite character might be the southern vampire Darby, who is just full of win. She’s snarky and sarcastic and Blanche Devereaux as a vampire and I love her.


The worldbuilding in this is really solid, too. She does well planting this Sanctum world inside our own while adding her own spin to everything, which plants New York, just for example, in a new light. Creatures like vampires and trolls are walking around freely, shielded by glamours.

One of the few drawbacks to this book is in the writing itself. Mostly, there are overused descriptors (such as Darby’s cold hands), and everyone is unspeakably beautiful. And we’re told that frequently. Sometimes it’s not that noticeable. Sometimes it was just irritating enough to almost throw me out of the narrative. Still, the story was interesting and kept my attention despite the shortcomings in the writing department.

All in all, The Girl is a pretty entertaining story that is worth a read.

The Girl is available at:



Review: Sorrows by Donna Fernstrom

Genre: Urban fiction

Rating: Yay

When Jayson Wallace is turned against his will, he’s taken in by a group of people, humans and vampires, known as a Law Enforcement Circle, where he somewhat learns the ins and outs of vampirism. Jay needs to testify in a trial against his sire, Malachi, who’s basically committed every crime known to man.

Throughout the novel, which covers probably a few weeks of time at the most, Jay is incredibly unsure of himself. Prone to depressive fits and often questions himself. Admittedly, it’s sometimes difficult to like Jay, but for his faults, the characters around him tend to make up for it.

My favorite was the rael-shaa character, Ryan. Rael-shaas are a kind of shape-shifter that can shift from human to wolf, and they often work with the Law Enforcement Circles. Ryan is adorable. He’s bouncy and kind and becomes Jay’s best friend, so we get to see him often.

The story itself is a good story. There’s great worldbuilding elements, including quantum realities (think alternate realities), and travel through those realities. At one point, one of the characters, Nick, takes Jay to a different quantum reality where no humans ever existed. The ideas are pretty neat.

Jay’s self-pity and depressive episodes do tend to drag down the pacing a bit, but overall the story is good, cohesive, and peppered with fun characters.


Sorrows is available at the following:

Buy on Lulu (hardcover):

Buy on Lulu (pdf):



This Week’s Read – Sorrows by Donna Fernstrom

fixedfrontcoverSorrowsKindleWrenched from his ordinary life by a violent madman and turned into a vampire against his will, Jayson Wallace must learn to adapt to a world he never knew existed; a world full of magic and wonder, where vampires, donors, and shapeshifting rael-shaa travel between quantum realities. It’s a dream come true… but not his dream. His sleep is haunted by blood and fear, and a terrifying voice that he cannot shake from his memory. The Circle who rescued him do their best to help, but a terrible betrayal sets off a cascade of events that give them problems of their own to deal with.

Despite a growing relationship with a beautiful young donor, and a strong friendship with a lupine shapeshifter, Jay finds it difficult to accept the contrast between the idyllic reality before him, and the brutal torture he endured. To make matters worse, somewhere, out there, the monster who changed him still runs free…


Buy on Lulu (hardcover):

Buy on Lulu (pdf):

Review: Essenced – Landra’s Take

Rating: Yay

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy


Essenced opened with a less then climatic or action packed sequence, and definitely picks up on a slow build. This is a multiple character book and at the start keeping all the names straight was a bit of challenge, yet in most fantasy books a reader should be prepared for a plethora of characters.

The story is in a third person POV, which at times read a bit omniscient, but the blend between the two worked for me. If you’re a stickler for POV’s staying consistent through a story this may not be a book you want to pick up. The narratives and action keep things from wandering too far into internal, and I didn’t find an issue with this either. The main character the story focuses on, AJ, a sixteen year-old suddenly imbued with the power of a supernatural creature. She is the only one, besides her trainer Julius, who we get to dive into internal thought with. There are additional secondary character’s who get a little bit of time, but mainly it’s AJ.

The variety of supernatural creatures, personalities and funny moments made this book a delight to read. My favorite moment was when AJ and her fellow soldiers are gathered around the dinner table after a long day of training. Hijinks, confessions, sharing weaknesses, and a bunch of hilarious conversation ensues. I laughed out loud and even took a moment to pause and enjoy. It’s not often I read a book that makes me laugh or express a ton of a emotion. This book did.

For readers who love action, weapons, and the supernatural this book opens the doors to all three. Smith did a good job of showing plenty of action without losing my attention and seemed to be well versed on the types of training exercises and fighting equipment the characters experienced.

Of course nothing is tidy in the world of YA, and the story leaves off at a cliff hanger. I also ended the story with lots of questions, and I can only hope all of them get answered in the next story. The real action is coming in book 2, but when the lovely Connie L. Smith plans to release the next story is anyone’s guess.

Grab a copy of Essenced today at:


Author Bio:

Connie L. Smith spends far too much time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and will be forever sad that she doesn’t have fairy wings. And that she can’t swing dance. When she isn’t reading or writing, there’s a good chance she’s goofing off with her amazing, wonderful, incredible, fabulous nieces and nephew, or listening to
music that is severely outdated. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn’t totally get the connection either) and likes to snap photos. Oh, and she likes apples a whole big bunch.

Find Connie on:

Review: Hera, Queen of Gods

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: Yay!

HERA, QUEEN OF GODSSo to be upfront, I’m not a huge young adult fan. Given the glut of YA that’ve popped out in recent years and the rather unimpressive writing that goes along with them, I tread carefully with YA.

Hera, Queen of Gods follows Hera as she leads a handful of the Olympic gods on Earth as they run after the Fates. Bound in mortal form and with only one power each, the gods must battle against their inner politics, the problems of Olympus, and the forces of darkness as they try to recover one of the most powerful beings around.

The entire story is rife with Greek mythology and its inner workings, and although some of the more intricate details are explained, anyone who isn’t familiar with the pantheon and the more popular parts of Greek mythology should bone up before reading this. It’s not for the Greek-ignorant. While I can understand not wanting to break into the incredibly lengthy and rich past for every character, a few more details here and there would have greatly helped for people who aren’t well-versed in the mythos.

Having said that, Hera is a strong, sympathetic character. As the goddess who’s constantly cheated on and given unhappy circumstances in her personal and professional life (Corralling those gods would be a majorly sucky job, let’s be honest), it’s easy to see how she’s developed the strength of character in adversity, and why she makes some choices. It’s also understandable why the first sign of positive male attention leaves her in a strange, difficult situation. Yes, there’s romantic elements. No, they’re not graphic. They’re quite sweet, so no need for parental concern about sex.

Because of the accelerating timeframe and rapid developments in the plot, the action turnaround is fast and furious. There are some points in the novel that have so many quick switcharounds that I would have appreciated some breathing space to really get into Hera’s head and feel more of her. For a book that has the first person POV, there’s not very much in the way of internal monologue. She feels a bit set apart from the reader, and I Think the book would have been better off as third person for that reason. If we’d had more time and space with her, it would have really used first person to full effect.

Still, this in no way ruins the story, which in and of itself, is fantastic. The mystery of who took the Fates and who the heck is this Justin guy who keeps helping keeps you in suspense throughout. There are consequences for the characters—gods who die and mortals who perish. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and it’s bloody glorious.

Hera, Queen of Gods can be found at:





This Week’s Read: Sleight of Hand

Sleight of Hand Book Cover“Vampires are the flickering illusions of Hollywood. They don’t exist. We do. We are the Athanate.”

For Amber Farrell, post-military life as a PI has its ups and downs: She’s been hit by a truck. She’s being sued by a client. Denver’s newest drug lord just put out a contract on her. The sinister Athanate want her to come in for a friendly chat. And it’s only Tuesday.

Enter Jennifer Kingslund: rich, gorgeous–a tough businesswoman who’s known for getting what she wants in the boardroom  and  the bedroom. Someone’s trying to sabotage her new resort and destroy her company–and she wants Amber to find out who.

The answers lead Amber past Were and Adept, right back to the Athanate–and a centuries-old war that could threaten not just Denver, but the nation that Amber swore to protect and serve.

And all sides want to claim her for their own…





Sleight of Hand can be found at:


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:

Author Links:


Twitter: (Handle: @LizCLong)!/LizCLong

Facebook Author Page:


Previous Older Entries