The Golden City (The Brighton Duology #2) by Liz Long

Down with the Blood King.
Reina Torres and Princess Helena just barely managed to escape the city of Brighton, thanks to the rebels. They now find themselves at the heart of the revolution, planning missions and infiltrating Brighton’s network. An enraged King Magnus doesn’t just want Reina and the rebels to pay, but to suffer; if it’s war they want, it’s war they’ll get.
With Helena by her side, Reina wants so much more than survival. But to live, she’ll have to go back inside the Tower, the last place she ever wanted to see again. No matter how far they run or how hard they fight, it seems their paths are destined to intertwine with the golden city … and the Blood King.

I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked up The Blood King, but by the time I was finished, I couldn’t wait for The Golden City to be released. I wasn’t disappointed.

I’ve gotta say, I had no idea how Liz Long was going to wrap up The Brighton Duology in just two books. Needless to say, there was little to no down time in The Golden City. Danger, action, surprising revelations, heartwarming reunions and yes, even heartbreak kept the pages turning. Let’s just say that Liz Long earned her #EvilAuthor title by the end of this book. *sigh* There were also a few important lessons to be learned that unfortunately, mirror reality a little too closely…

Although the series was brought to a satisfying end with The Golden City (minus the heartbreak) I was left wanting more. Only because I wanted to know how these amazing characters built their new future. I can’t wait to see what Liz Long has in store for readers next…

The Blood King (The Brighton Duology #1) by Liz Long

In the kingdom of Brighton, a President-turned-King offers poor teens the chance to join KEY, the King’s Education for Youth. Seventeen-year-old Reina Torres jumps at the chance to be of service to her country, wanting to learn more about Brighton’s history and future through the Media industry.
The King himself takes an interest in Reina, offering private interviews; he soon commands her to marry his cruel son. Reina, however, cannot ignore her growing feelings for Iris, a fellow KEY student, despite knowing the laws. Reina discovers refusal means punishment much worse than death, and why King Magnus hasn’t aged in decades, thanks to his KEY program.

I bet I’m not the only one who thought they knew where this book was going from the beginning… If that’s the case, I’m also not the only reader who was totally wrong. I love it when that happens. 😉

The Blood King started kind of slow for me, but it didn’t take long for things to pick up. (For the record – that’s kinda normal for me when it comes to anything dystopian.) Reina lived in a world that wasn’t kind to anyone who was… different. By different, I mean anything that wasn’t deemed “normal” by King Magnus. (Sound familiar? Just wait…) On the surface, King Magnus lived to serve the people of his self proclaimed kingdom and had been doing so for as long as most of his subjects could remember. It didn’t take Reina long to find out that not everything is as it seems within the walls of the kingdom of Brighton.

There’s more than one message hidden between the lines of The Blood King – and some of them are crystal clear. A few parallels were made to real life issues (and situations) that were too obvious to ignore. (Sometimes fiction isn’t stranger than real life.)

Once I got past my personal “dystopian block” the action, danger, mystery and even a touch of romance, kept the pages turning. I couldn’t wait to see how Reina and her friends (that included some very unexpected allies) fought back. The next book in this series promises to be just as suspenseful because not everyone escaped danger by the end of The Blood King. Needless to say, I can’t wait to get the next book in The Brighton Duology.

Torched (Donovan Circus #5) by Liz Long – Bout of Books 22 Review

Lucy Sullivan and her circus family are finally back where they belong – in the spotlight and with each other. Even ringmaster Sheffield Donovan is in good spirits as their show delights audiences each night. Life is almost back to normal.
Until the US government appears in the form of one General Baker and his army of soldiers. At the threat of worldwide exposure, life as the Donovan Circus knows it is over. Cornered into the General’s terrible experiments, they have no rights, no friends, and no hope of escape. Lucy will lose more than one loved one, and perhaps her own life, in the process.
The Donovan Circus will face the worst danger yet – can Lucy take down an entire government sector, or will the gifted world finally be destroyed once and for all?

I have adored this series since the very first book. Gifted introduced the Donovan Circus series and each book drew me into this amazing world even more. I have no idea why I waited so long to pick up the final book, other than the fact that I didn’t want it to end. *sigh*

Torched began with Lucy and Sheffield hoping things are finally back to normal, but they know that they are probably just biding time until the next threat comes their way. The wait wasn’t long. Lucy and several of her friends are taken away by General Baker. They are pawns that he plans on using as weapons – they are only as valuable as their gifts. They’re also not the only Gifted there, but they soon learn that their small group are their only allies.

This was a book that was really hard to put down. Pretty much from the first chapter, the action, suspense and sometimes even heartbreak was nonstop. (Pay attention to the description… not everyone survives…) They didn’t have much hope of getting out in one piece, but giving up wasn’t an option. None of them walked away from their time with Baker untouched – right up until the very end.

I’ve gotta admit, if the series had to come to an end, Torched was an amazing finale. I can’t wait to see what Liz Long has in store for readers next. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. Speaking of which, stay tuned for my review of The Blood King, the first book in her newest series, The Brighton Duology. You can also check out her Heroes of Arcania series, which is part of the same world as Donovan Circus and starts with SuperNova.

Unbreakable: Heroes of Arcania #3 by Liz Long

unbreakableTrue heroes refuse to be broken. 
Nova started the fight against Fortune for simple revenge, but now it’s turned into something much bigger. Arcania’s criminals are at each other’s throats, putting the city right in the middle of a warzone. She’ll have to work with a few unlikely allies to end Fortune’s games once and for all. Nova thought she understood what it meant to be a superhero, but will she have to lose herself to truly defeat Fortune? 
Fortune has given Cole a choice, one with unbearable consequences. When Cole takes matters into his own hands to save his sister Penelope, he realizes too late he’s another pawn in Fortune’s games. Fortune will use Cole’s gift against his enemies…including Nova. Cole will have to become the hero he always wanted to be if he’s going to protect the love of his life. 
Nova and Cole could finally save Arcania from Fortune’s deadly games, but are they willing to sacrifice each other?

All good series must come to an end… or in this case trilogies. That doesn’t mean that I have to like it though. *sigh*

The Heroes of Arcania trilogy was intense, emotional, action packed and Unbreakable did in fact bring the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion, but I still wasn’t ready to say good-bye. That’s nothing new for me though. The two books that came before this one, Supernova and Fortune’s Favor, pretty much insured that I would become emotionally attached to not just Nova, but Henry, Cole and even Penelope. Now that I ‘know’ them, saying goodbye isn’t easy. *double sigh*

Unbreakable started pretty much where Fortune’s Favor left off. Penelope’s fate hangs in the balance and Cole has some pretty big decisions to make. The odds seemed impossible and Cole’s solution wasn’t the greatest, but he didn’t have many choices. Not if he wanted to keep everyone he cared about safe.

I can’t say a lot more because I don’t want to risk giving anything away. Just know that it was intense, suspenseful and at times heartbreaking. (Yes there were tears…) And in case anyone is wondering, Liz Long is still on my 2016 Evil Author list. Oh, and it probably will surprise no one that I wouldn’t be opposed to a reappearance from any of these characters in the future. There is a connection between this series and Long’s Donovan’s Circus series, so anything’s possible, right?

DragonFlyRating5

Fortune’s Favor (Heroes of Arcania #2) by Liz Long

LizLongNova will learn it takes more than sheer strength to be a superhero. Her world implodes when Fortune strikes back for all the trouble she’s caused. His dangerous games put everyone around her at risk, especially when he decides to turn Arcania against its precious Heroes. Nova wants to protect Arcania, but how does she save a city that doesn’t want her help?
Cole has no idea how to deal with his sister Penelope, especially now that she’s learned the truth about their family secret. Thanks to Fortune, she’s headed down a dark path, one with no return. Torn between helping Nova and protecting his sister, Cole will be forced to make a choice. Tensions rise as Cole and Nova discover war will come to Arcania if they don’t get Fortune off the streets…or preferably six feet under.
Nova and Cole might have each other, but will they lose everything else in their mission to save Arcania?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Well, I’m just a little bit behind, but since I’m posting this the week after the last book in Liz Long’s Heroes of Arcania series, I’ll just pretend it was planned that way. 😀

Fortune’s Favor picked up exactly where Super Nova left off. After Penelope’s seemingly betrayal and Henry’s kidnapping, Nova and Cole are both left devastated. Now they each have even more reasons to want to end Fortune’s reign of terror on Arcania.

Needless to say, a lot happens in Fortune’s Favor. More secrets are revealed. Crazy alliances are made and the danger never slows. Henry finds himself caught in the middle in more ways than one, but that doesn’t stop him from taking more crazy chances. Both Nova and Cole are suffering from guilt as well as an urgency to find a way to stop Fortune.

From the beginning I’ve loved the connection between Nova and Cole. Nova started her fight against Fortune because of Star, but as the story’s processed, it’s turned into much more than that. Cole’s goal has always been to do the right thing, regardless of the danger to himself, but the strength in those convictions and his alliances are put to the ultimate test by the end of Fortune’s Favor. The jury’s still out on exactly how far Penelope will go to prove her point… Things should be extremely interesting in Unbreakable, the final book in the Heroes of Arcania series.

On a side note, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even consider a connection between Liz Long’s Donovan Circus series and Heroes of Arcania until this book. It’s sad to say that I’m afraid I may have never really ‘gotten it’ but the author made it blatantly obvious in Fortune’s Favor. *face palm* That’s okay, oblivious or not, I love the connection and hope I notice even more. 😉 As I mentioned, Unbreakable was released last week, so if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to start a series until it’s complete, you’re in luck.

DragonFlyRating5

Ignited (Donovan Circus #4) by Liz Long

Ignited“Maybe I had to accept that the Donovan Circus no longer felt like home.” Lucy might’ve beaten Alex the Chameleon, but the cost of his defeat was too much to bear. After losing a beloved member, Sheffield Donovan temporarily disbands the show. Abandoned by the ringmaster and her friends, Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of their ruined circus – and defend it against those waiting for the opportunity to strike. During one of these attempts, Lucy learns of Augustus Rivers, the leader of his so-called gifted mafia. When Lucy is offered a chance to infiltrate the Rivers’ household, she jumps at the opportunity to seek vengeance on the mastermind. Augustus instead surprises everyone by proposing that the powerful female Firestarter work for him. It’s everything the Donovan Circus isn’t, an offer Lucy finds more enticing than she ever expected. With the Donovan Circus in shambles and the gifted world on the cusp of war, can Lucy Sullivan figure out who she’s meant to be? Or will her fire destroy everything they’ve built?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ll admit I picked up Ignited with a bit of trepidation. Liz Long proved in Hunted that loosing a beloved character was not outside the realm of possibility. The stakes get higher and the danger comes closer to the character with each book in the Donovan Circus series and no one is totally safe.

This book opens with Lucy questioning everything and finding no easy answers. Her friends are gone, except for a few who stayed behind. Sheffield is more or less hiding from everyone, including Lucy. The people she has grown to trust and think of as family will be back, but she’s not sure anything will ever be the same. Things don’t get much easier when everyone finally returns. Lucy makes some bold decisions in Ignited. She gains support from some unlikely sources and loses it from people she never expected.

There were familiar faces in Ignited and some new ones. There were also quite a few revelations – past and present. Twists and turns were also in full supply and there was more than one occasion that I literally yelled at the author. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I should have seen it coming, but really… REALLY?!? Yikes!

No cliff hanger really, but there’s definitely more to come and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’ll be nice and give the author just a little bit of lead time before I start begging. As a side note, Donovan Circus isn’t a romance, but there is a romantic interest in Lucy’s life… more than one actually and as far as who she should end up with, I definitely have my preference. 😉

DragonFlyRating5

Hunted (Donovan Circus #3) by Liz Long

HUNTEDCoverSmLucy Sullivan finally belongs with the gifted Donovan Circus. Members are finding their rhythm, even the new folks from the Grayson Circus who joined after the last attack. Lucy feels like a trusted leader who can win the gifted battles and prevent humans from discovering their existence.

When tragedy strikes camp, a distraught Sheffield sends Lucy and her gifted team to hunt down the enemy – Alex, a Chameleon with a wicked ability for war. He’s out for blood and won’t stop until Lucy and her friends are dead.

This time, it won’t be Lucy’s gift that is tested – it will be her morality. To save her circus, the price will be greater than she ever expected. This time, she will lose someone she loves. And it will change everything.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I finished Hunted in absolute awe. The world that Liz Long has created in the Donovan Circus series is constantly evolving. New people with new powers are woven into the story and just when you think that you know what to expect from a certain type of ‘Gifted’ a new twist is added to their power. That doesn’t even take into consideration that sometimes from page to page you’re wondering exactly who can and can’t be trusted. Hunted was basically a non-stop roller coaster ride of emotion.

Lucy is tested more than once in Hunted in many different ways. Her loyalty to her friends and ‘family’ is never in question, but the secret she’s keeping is putting a strain on her. Having someone to not only share that secret with but to also help her with her role as leader is a relief. A new balance of friendship is created which caused me see some characters in a whole different light.

There were times during Hunted that I wasn’t sure who would survive and not everyone did. I can’t really say a whole lot more because it would give too much away. I can tell you that Lucy losing someone wasn’t the most heartbreaking moment for me in Hunted. I shed more than one tear in this book and Liz Long rose one step higher on my ‘Evil Author’ list by the time I was finished.

Hunted doesn’t end in an actual cliff hanger but the fate of pretty much everyone is uncertain. No one was left untouched by the events that took place in this book and there are some that will definitely never be the same. The next book in this series can’t come soon enough.

DragonFlyRating5

 

Witch Hearts by Liz Long

WitchHeartsHow does a witch stay safe if a killer can get through her protection spells?

Witches like Ruby and Courtney can take care of themselves. So when Courtney is murdered, Ruby’s world crashes to a halt. The only thing keeping her grounded is the return of Courtney’s brother, Cooper. He seeks revenge, but Ruby wants to help other witches stay alive. To do that, she’ll have to reunite with her old coven’s High Priest, who also happens to be her cheating ex-boyfriend.

If that wasn’t awkward enough, when the killer gets too close, Cooper temporarily moves into Ruby’s place while a police officer tails her every move. Cooper’s presence distracts Ruby as they fight their desire against their need to stay safe. Then Courtney begins to haunt Ruby’s dreams and secrets are spilled, things from Cooper’s past that could get them both killed. The killer continues to stalk Ruby and the more she discovers, the more she fears she won’t be able to keep her heart in her chest.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1It’s official… Liz Long is now on my short list of authors to watch. Her characters are smart (except when they’re doing something incredibly stupid or dangerous.) The mystery and danger kept me on the edge of my seat and the interactions between the characters as well as the dialogue was realistic and natural. Witch Hearts covered some seriously dark ground, but there were still some bright spots that lightened things up just enough to keep readers from being emotionally buried in the macabre.

The premise was pretty gruesome and the fact that one of the victims was close to both Cooper and Ruby kept things on a really personal level. That was taken up a notch when Ruby became an obvious target.

I really liked Ruby, but she wasn’t perfect. She had her faults and made some really poor decisions, just like any human… talented witch or not. She did some borderline stupid stuff, but that ‘stuff’ was laced with good intentions. For the most part. Throw in a helpful ghost, a long-time mutual crush and an extremely jealous ex-boyfriend and … yeah, things got intense.

There were some serious twists, serious misplaced guilt and more than one mystery begging to be solved. Readers weren’t left hanging at the end though, which is a good thing. However, I wouldn’t object to reading more about these characters. I’m not sure what Liz Long has planned, but I can definitely see Ruby and friends have more than one adventure in their future.

DragonFlyRating4

A Reaper Made by Liz Long

ReaperMadeGrace had finally gotten used to her new afterlife as a “Made” – a Reaper who used to be human. When Made Reapers and souls begin disappearing, however, Grace and her mentor Tully suspect demons. Grace’s worst fears are confirmed when her living family is threatened.

She’ll have to break every rule in the Reaper book to save them, including using a little magic to become temporarily human. With the help of Tully and her witchy friend Tessa, Grace goes undercover to save the fates of kidnapped souls – only to discover that demons aren’t working alone. Betrayal and distrust runs deep and Grace discovers that sometimes even Reapers are prone to humanity.

I was introduced to Liz Long with her Donovan Circus series. I knew then that she was going to be on my radar. A Reaper Made pretty much cinched it. 😉

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Grace was not only a ‘Made’ Reaper, but a fairly new one. She was still still learning and trying hard to keep her mentor happy. Tully played strictly by the rules, no exceptions. When the only way to find out what was really happening and to ultimately stop it was to break one of the biggest rules… well, that’s when things got interesting.

I really liked Grace. She was strong, loyal and she loved fiercely. Tessa was fun and the perfect side kick. Tully… well, I can’t say I really liked him, but by the end I loved him. Once you read A Reaper Made, you’ll understand.

A Reaper Made had a little bit of everything. Danger, action, magic, suspense, humor, an unexpected evil villain and even a little bit of romance.

I have to be honest and let you know that even though I enjoyed A Reaper Made, I liked Gifted and Burned in the Donovan Circus series more. Looking back, the only thing that sticks out in my mind as far as differences go is the fact that the Donovan Circus series is a lot darker. I’m pretty sure that proves a couple of things. One, my taste is a little warped (that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s visited here before) and two – Liz Long’s talent isn’t limited to one ‘type’ of writing. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

DragonFlyRating4

Burned (Donovan Circus #2) by Liz Long – Bout-of-Books 9.0 Review

Burned“Tell Sheffield that Medved is hunting him…the Bear is coming.

Nearly a month after Lucy Sullivan saved the Donovan Circus from certain death, she discovers that Dr. Felix Hardy wasn’t the only bad guy around. When Lucy is attacked on home ground, Sheffield Donovan reveals that there are bigger foes in their world, gifted that use their powers to kill others – including her own family, as she learns from her ringmaster mentor. Medved, a Russian thug and powerful Shapeshifter, is intent on outing the gifted world and will stop at nothing to succeed.

In order to survive, Lucy and her friends must travel to another show, the Grayson Circus, for help. The uneasy alliance with owner Albert Grayson comes with potential new friends and dark secrets about their competition, including a troublemaker named Mel and an old flame of Lucy’s father. Lucy must also contend with her feelings about Keegan and Gabriel, as well as learn how to contain her rampant emotions or risk setting the entire place ablaze.

Will Lucy be able to save the Donovan Circus again? Or will Medved and his men slaughter everyone in their path on the way to gifted domination?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I considered giving myself some recovery time before I started this review. Then I thought maybe I should write it while all the emotion from reading it was still fresh. Just a warning… there’s LOTS of emotion in this book. LOTS!

I’ve learned since starting this series that Liz Long is not an author who holds back. She’s not afraid to leave you gaping, wide mouthed with absolute WTF moments or reduce you to tears – more than once. Unexpected tears, I might add. Tears that are caused by the feelings and statements of characters that you never expected to cause them. Yes, she’s that kind of author. The kind that will make you fall in love with or become totally enamored with a character and then …. well… you get the picture. (There are still things that happened in this book that I CAN’T believe actually happened.)

I suppose you’ve guessed that I’ve fallen in love with Lucy and the rest of the self proclaimed ‘freaks’ that make up the Donovan Circus. They’re hard not to love. Which makes anyone who threatens them hard not to hate. Burned introduces even more characters with new talents – both good and bad. More secrets are revealed and the closer this group gets the deeper they get into the thick of the Gifted world. Yeah, Liz Long definitely has me hooked. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for the Donovan Circus next… (this may require some stalking 😉 )

Oh, and one more thing… I don’t pick ‘teams.’ Love triangle or not, the characters end up with whoever they end up with and I’m fine with that…. honest. *crosses fingers behind back*

DragonFlyRating4