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Gifted, A Donovan Circus Novel (Donovan Circus Series Book 1)

Gifted, A Donovan Circus Novel (Donovan Circus Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Liz Long
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Run away to the Donovan Circus for only 99 cents!

BURNED, Book 2 in the Donovan Circus Series, is out now!

Even 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.

About the Author

Liz Long has been writing fantasy stories since she could spell the word "unicorn" (second grade). She fears a zombie apocalypse, though admits it would give her good reason to stay inside and write as long she wanted. She is a proud graduate of Longwood University with a degree in English. Gifted is her debut title, the first in the Donovan Circus series. She lives in Roanoke, VA with her husband Jason and their Jack Russell terror, Fisher. To learn more about Liz, visit her website:

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2141 KB
  • Print Length: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Liz Long (18 Jan 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007VT34J2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #395,294 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Liz Long has been writing fantasy stories since she could spell the word "unicorn" (second grade). She fears a zombie apocalypse, though admits it would give her a good reason to stay inside and write as long as she wanted. She is a proud graduate of Longwood University with a degree in English.

Liz lives in Roanoke, VA with her husband Jason and their Jack Russell terror, Fisher. For more about Liz, please visit her website:

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A real world of fantasy 28 Jan 2013
`Gifted' is a fast-paced, easy-to-read story about a circus full of people with various talents - some can read minds, some can teleport, some can start fires with their hands and so forth. This on its own makes it interesting to read as we have a taste of the world of fantasy, a world in which people can do super-human things, in much the same way as the TV series "Heroes' offered us.

However, there is more to the story than that - there is the villain who threatens those in the circus, and there is a love story, or love triangle actually, between the protagonist (a firestarter) and two of the men in the circus. These all add another dimension or layer to the story. Furthermore, the author cleverly ends the story in such a way as to leave the reader guessing about the direction which the love affair will take, and this adds a further element to the novel.

Although the story is firmly placed in the world of make-believe, this does not mean it is completely removed from reality - the emotions that the protagonist experiences are real enough and realistically described and there are also some grim reminders of the harshness of reality (such as an attempted rape) so the story is not all happy fantasy and magic; reality creeps in as well.

Some might say the novel lacks depth - certainly there are elements which could be discussed in greater detail and the plot skips along at a brisk pace. It could have been slowed down somewhat, allowing other aspects of the book, particularly characterization, to be developed in greater detail. However, it depends on what the reader is looking for in a novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a Treat 10 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
What a treat, I am a lover of all things supernatural and this is no disappointment. Its the kind of book that anyone who loves X-Men would enjoy.

Lucy is the main character in the book but all the members of her troup have very defined personalities which shine through. Kind of like if the X-Men joined the circus :)

There is a nice love triangle in the book and I felt myself drawn into their lives and could not put this book down. Hopefully we will see more from this author over here in the UK.

5 stars
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5.0 out of 5 stars <3 9 Oct 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Loved, loved, loved this book! Am about to download the next and I can't promise I won't finish before its bedtime.
I love reading, I adore finding new 'great' authors. I'm sincerely looking forward to the next instalment
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  87 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superheroes in the circus! What's not to like? 6 May 2012
By The Housework Can Wait - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
What it's about:

Gifted is the story of Lucy Sullivan, a young woman grieving the semi-recent loss of both her parents. The book opens as she contacts Sheffield Donovan, owner and Ringmaster of the Donovan Circus, to ask if she can join up. Lucy was raised in the circus until her parents left to have a normal life. Now that her parents are gone, Lucy is anxious to re-enter a world where she can feel comfortable, accepted, and understood. She's never felt truly at home in the world outside the circus, and knows that Donovan Circus is where she truly belongs.

You see, Donovan Circus isn't your everyday circus. Because most of the performers in the Donovan Circus are Gifted. They have special powers that set them apart from the outside world. And Lucy is no exception. She is a Firestarter.

Lucy is quickly embraced by the young performers in the circus, a group that includes other Firestarters, a Telepath, a Runner, a Shape-Shifter, a Transporter, and more. She also quickly finds herself a (mostly) unwilling participant in a love triangle, which she does her best to ignore as she works on honing her abilities and developing her power.

But her new life with the circus is threatened when someone starts attacking and killing the Gifted. And she's the prime suspect.

My Thoughts

After reading the synopsis of Gifted, I thought to myself, "okay, so it's Water for Elephants meets X-Men." And Gifted absolutely bears some similarities to both of those, as well as some other gems of pop culture. An orphan joins up with the circus. Everyone has superpowers. There's a wise Professor X-ish mentor-type (sans wheelchair and bald head, and plus handlebar mustache). There's an evil supervillain that's kind of a cross between Magneto and Peter Petrelli, if Peter Petrelli was evil. And of course Lucy's Firestarter ability calls to mind (duh) Firestarter. But even though Gifted bears similarities to several other more familiar works, I still found it to be a fresh take on the more traditional comic-y superhero tales.

Lucy was a great main character. She's strong and smart and sarcastic; all traits I like in female protagonists. She's not without her flaws. She tends to be a tad on the oblivious side (especially when it comes to men, and her own abilities). And, like most strong female protagonists, she also has a strong stubborn streak. But she kept learning and growing and struggling to understand the big picture throughout the book, and I admired that in her.

There is a very pronounced love triangle in this book, and it's not like a lot of books where there's an obvious frontrunner for Lucy's affections. She flip-flops between them a good amount, and so did I. Truthfully, I'm still not sure whether I'm Team Gabriel or Team Keegan.

*gag* I can't believe I just said that. Never mind. I'm not Team-anyone. I hate Teams. My point is that it's really not obvious who she should/will choose (in large part because of the previously mentioned obliviousness). Honestly, I think that's a more realistic way to portray a love triangle than a lot of books that have the poor, ignored, frustrated guy patiently waiting in the wings as the female protagonist displays zero interest in him while fawning over his rival.

The overarching murder mystery plot was intriguing. Ms. Long drops tiny hints here and there about what's going on in the Big Picture, but mostly we discover tidbits of information right along with Lucy. I was kept guessing for a big chunk of the book, and right when I thought I had everything figured out, she threw me for a loop. It wasn't chock-full of twists and turns, but the road to the end was winding enough that it kept my full attention.

As for the superhero action, it is abundant. There's a good amount of action sprinkled in throughout the book, and the climactic showdown is really satisfying. It's fun to watch Lucy develop her Firestarter ability, especially when all the Firestarters are training together. And since nearly every character in the book has some sort of "gift," not a lot of time ever passes without something supernatural happening.

The only real problem I had with this book was that Lucy and her friends go through some experiences that I imagine would be horribly traumatizing in real life. There's a couple instances of sexual assault, brutal beatings, and several of the characters are forced to kill. And yet, none of them seem all that bothered by what they've gone through, or what they've had to do. Even if the person that died is unequivocally a Bad Guy, I'd think taking a life would still take a heavy toll on a previously innocent circus performer.

Now, I'm not sure the book would have been that much fun to read if the characters were constantly in mental anguish after having attacked or having been attacked. But I think I would have appreciated if there was at least a bit more of a psychological price to pay for their actions and experiences.

I do want to mention that there's a good amount of strong language in this book. If it was a movie, the MPAA would give it an R rating. I mention it because the plot and subject matter give it a YA feel (even though Lucy and her friends are all at least in their 20s), but as far as parents or teachers giving it to young readers, it has a lot more cursing than I've seen in other YA books. I understand why it's in there -- Ms. Long wanted to be true to how most adults traveling with a circus would actually talk -- but I didn't want a parent to give it to their young reader thinking, "little Sally loves X-Men!" (you go, little Sally), and then get mad at me because I didn't warn them about all the f-words.

Overall, Gifted was a fun read, chock full of stuff I like (including X-Men and Star Wars references), with an exciting plot and really likable characters. I know Liz Long has some other stories for the Donovan Circus crew swimming around in her head, and I'll be anxious to read them!
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lot of anticipation that unfortunately didn't pay out 7 July 2012
By Lizzy G. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
From the 22 other reviews currently on here, I gather I am in the minority when it comes to my opinion on this book, but since everyone is entitled to their own point of view, I am sharing mine anyway.

I had heard some buzz around the intrawebz and was excited to swing by and purchase it. It had all sorts of things that I love: superpowers, circuses, an allegedly fiery (see what I did there?) heroine. I moved it to the top of the TBR list on my Kindle and expected to gobble it up.

Unfortunately, I didn't love it like I wanted to.

Plot and Pacing: The plot is nothing particularly new. It's a lot of stuff you've already seen in Heroes and X-Men, and, in fact, the characters come right out and acknowledge that they're just like X-Men. Someone's killing off gifteds. Normal people don't understand them, and so forth. It's just that, instead of being at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, we're at a night circus (but not THE Night Circus (c/o Erin Morgenstern)). I'm not going to knock a book for having a basic story structure I've seen before - whatever, that happens, I don't care. I care about the execution and the pacing, and here I felt like things fell a little short. There were opportunities to shake up an otherwise somewhat predictable plot line that were missed in favor of keeping all the good guys good and validated. There was action that would clip right along, but then we would bog down by pages and pages of a couple characters recapping what just happened or covering what we already know. Most of the dialogue could have been cut in half because it tends to circle around hit the same points we covered three pages ago. It was just too uneven - it needed a stricter eye to tighten things up that didn't need to be there.

Characters: The characters were fine, on the whole, but most of them weren't fleshed out beyond archetypes. The group has the funny guy, the pretty best friend, the tough girl (who, I must say, was actually my favorite), the father figure, the reckless dude. Nothing wrong with any of it, but I didn't find myself getting attached to most of them because there wasn't anything there beyond the stock traits. There's a love triangle (sigh), so of course you have two main contenders for heroine Lucy's affection: the gorgeous nice guy and the gorgeous bad boy. The bad boy seems to be requisite these days, and this one follows the usual pattern of being arrogant, irritating and enigmatic, with a sensitive side he opens up about only to our main gal. The nice guy gets less page time, and I'm not sure I can describe him beyond "nice." And good-looking. That's pretty much it. The villain is a straight-up cross of Sylar from Heroes and Syndrome from The Incredibles. Props for giving him a little bit of backstory to explain his uber-evilness, but for the most part, he's just your general mad scientist.

Lucy is a mix for me. On the one hand, I appreciate she's spunky and take-charge. On the other hand, she's a little too perfect. Not only does she get along great with the girls, she then bowls over the boys because OMG she likes COMIC BOOKS and VIDEO GAMES and nerd stuff that make all the other girls crinkle their little noses. We're told over and over again how she blocks her emotions, she doesn't open up, and yet people flock to her and adore her even though most people who are that closed off usually have problems forming attachments because of the emotions required. There's a lot of talk about how she's the most amazing/powerful gifted ever, which gets old after a bit. All the guys (not just the main two, but a couple of others as well) want her even though she of course doesn't think of herself as pretty. It' It's just not my thing. I wasn't connected to her.

Writing Style: This is probably what I had the most issues with. There is a lot of telling. We're told all of Lucy's character traits over and over again. We're told everyone's character traits, honestly. We're told when people get along and just how well they do; we're told when someone is lying or telling the truth with astonishing accuracy given that this is first person POV. Conversations often serve as grounds for exposition dumps, and the first few chapters in particular are essentially Q&A sessions led by Lucy so that we have everything upfront. People explain their motivations with startlingly accurate and straight-forward insight. We're handed information - often multiple times - instead of the reader being allowed to draw their own conclusions. As a reader, this is frustrating, and it doesn't make me feel any closer to characters when an opinion of them is being crammed down my throat. I understand that it's first person, so Lucy is bound to form opinions of the others, but she's never wrong really, so her opinions are obviously supposed to be our opinions. And I like to form my own.

I realize I'm coming down pretty hard on this, but I do think this author has good potential. The groundwork is there, but it needs to be taken up a notch. Tighten up the storyline. Show me and stop telling me. These two things alone will make an immense improvement.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read this in two settings - and BOY I hope there's a sequel :) 30 Dec 2012
By Thomas Rydder - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Let me first say I received this book free, in exchange for a fair and honest review:

I'll resist the temptation to repeat the comparisons that some others have made to this book and "X-Men". Not because the similarities aren't there, I'd just rather go down my own path. Many of the main characters in this book do have powers - and they're just as cool as those possessed by the X crew - but there the comparison ends. Wolverine et al seek to rid the world of the bad guys - the folks in "Gifted" are just looking to survive. And they do it by keeping their head down, and disguising their powers as illusions in a circus owned and ringmastered by Sheffield Donovan, a man who has pledged his life to protect and provide for his gifted charges.
Of course, when you travel around the States, perform a show a night and are studied by hundreds, word gets out. People get curious. And trouble typically follows. The difficulties this time are brought about by the arrival of Lucy Sullivan, a gifted whose family left the circus, and who has now returned after the death of her parents. Her dad had been one of the circus's premier performers, and now she seeks to follow in his footsteps - even thought she doubts both her ability to control her gift and deal with others socially.
Lucy is, in a word, edgy. She has spunk, is stubborn, and shows incredible talent, while doubting her own talents. In another word, this makes her irresistable as a protagonist. Her difficulties in coming to terms with the different performers and her gift makes it natural to root for her, and as she progresses, fails, triumphs, laughs, and cries, I was drawn to her steadily.
The plot of this book is very well written, with twists and turns, and many little inroads. Just as I thought I had things figured out, along came another little morsel which served to cast doubt on my conclusions. It moves along very nicely, with no dead time, nor boring stretches. The characters are all well-formed and believable (assuming anyone who forms and tosses fireballs around can be). Ms. Long's ability to give her various characters drastically different personalities and have them form friendships and tentative alliances are notable, and she brings the whole interwoven circus existence to life with admirable ease.
All in all, it was a wonderful book, and I'd strongly recommend it to anyone who would enjoy stepping out of our world, and into one where the inhabitants are super-powered, but in the end, only human.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun For Nerds of All Ages 13 May 2012
By Boo - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Who among us geeks and nerds haven't wished for super powers? Lucy's story is one to enjoy living vicariously through. This is a fun, escapist novel that would be appropriate for young adults to old adults. Some readers have made an X-Men comparison (and Lucy is a fan) but I felt the story had more of a Harry Potter vibe. I was never quite sure who in Lucy's circle might be betraying her- was the villain the hero, was the father figure using her? Well, you will have to read Gifted to find out.

The story is paced well. There is the perfect combination of show and tell; one could smell the popcorn in the air but the adjectives never went to Anne Rice levels. The reader definitely gets to know Lucy as the suspense builds. Just when you think the story has reached an even keel, the intensity rises higher at the halfway point. I knew I was enjoying this book and ensconced into the Donovan Circus world as I found myself yelling at Lucy in my head for some of her actions and choices; a good part of that mental yelling was due to being firmly on one side of the love triangle (the sweet side). I am looking forward to the next Donovan Circus book, which the title clearly implies this is aiming to be a series.

This book is perfect for what it is.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!! BBPR 9 Aug 2013
By Emi Lia - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**
Lucy, a firestarter, turns to her father's old friends when her mother passes. She rejoins the Donovan Circus, and tries to integrate peacefully with everyone. She instantly makes friends with her roommate Delia, and her close circle of friends. Since she is the newbie she get to start earning her keep by doing grunt work, which is no biggie for her, until one of the other circus members is found dead in the parking lot. All fingers point to Lucy, and she has no idea why or who would set her up like this.
At first I thought things were going a little slow, the characters were getting to know each other, Lucy was finding herself in the middle of a love triangle, then BOOM, there's a murder. I just couldn't stop reading after that, I just kept turning the pages, then there is deceit! *Gasps* NO!! It can't be!!! Why would he do that?! I really liked him! I was so mad! Then all hell breaks loose or as I like to say the sh*t hits the fan. Loyalties are tested and fighting ensues, but in the end, is it over?

OMG!! I loved it! Totally awesome and I cannot wait to read more about the Donovan Circus and who Lucy will choose?
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