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Gifted (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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Book Description

Run away to the Donovan Circus for only 99 cents!

Continue the adventure with Burned, Book 2. PLUS Hunted, Book 3, 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.

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Books In This Series (3 Books)
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    Product Description

    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: www.lizclong.wordpress.com

    Product details

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 607 KB
    • Print Length: 299 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:
    • Word Wise: Enabled
    • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
    • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #322,385 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    More About the Author

    Liz Long is a ridiculously proud graduate of Longwood University with a BA in English. Her inspiration comes from action and thriller genres and she spends entirely too much time watching superhero movies. Her fabulous day job as a social media strategist includes writing for a publishing company in Roanoke, VA.

    Her first book, Gifted, is the first book in the Donovan Circus series. Burned is the second adventure. (Best described as "X-Men meets the circus with murder mysteries.") Her standalone book Witch Hearts is a story about a serial killer hunting witches for their powers. Her newest release, A Reaper Made, follows a Reaper as she tries to save her family's souls from demons. All titles are available at Amazon on Kindle and paperback.

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

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    Customer Reviews

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    4.7 out of 5 stars
    4.7 out of 5 stars
    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    4.0 out of 5 stars A real world of fantasy 28 Jan. 2013
    By Debs VINE VOICE
    Format:Paperback
    `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 Amazon.com (beta)
    Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  102 reviews
    19 of 19 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 Amazon.com
    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!
    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 Amazon.com
    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 Amazon.com
    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.
    8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been good. 4 Feb. 2013
    By Andrew - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    The initial premise of this book was very promising. A circus of mutants with supernatural powers, forced to hide in plain sight? Could have been enthralling. I had high hopes for this story.

    Instead, with a trite plot, characters who had no discernible logic to their actions, a cliche and forced romance, enormous plotholes, and somewhat stilted dialogue, this book was painful to read. I read 4/5ths of the way through and put it down, unable to finish. None of the characters inspire interest, and as they are killed off the overwhelming feeling is one of boredom, not concern. The characters themselves do not seem to care much about the events threatening them, and fail to follow any coherent logic whatsoever.

    Two stars, since even with its flaws it still has some value for those without discernment in their choice of reading material. If you want mindless entertainment, what are you doing reading the reviews? Go buy it. If, on the other hand, you want two dollars worth of content for your money, try elsewhere.
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Wow, I really enjoyed this book. 6 July 2012
    By Jennifer Bielman @ Bad Bird Reads - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    From Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance Blog

    At a Glance
    I had so much fun reading this book. It got better and better with each page. Gifted has an original concept that makes you sit up and take notice.

    The Good
    Here's the Story...
    Lucy is finally home. Going back to the circus after the death of both her parents seems like the perfect idea. It's a place where she can be herself once again. No more hiding her fiery gift. She will finally fit in among people like her, the gifted. Just as her life starts to fall into place--new friends and new love--everything falls apart. Gifted circus members start showing up dead--burnt to a crisp--and the troupe can't help but point fingers at the new firestarter, Lucy. Lucy has no choice but to find the murderer and clear her name. And in her pursuit of the culprit, she uncovers some hard truths about her family and the circus she has come to love.

    A Hidden Gem...
    I love finding gems like this book among self-published authors. Gifted had a unique premise and amazing characters. The idea of people with gifts joining the circus intrigued me. Why not use your ability out in the open when everyone will just assume it's a carnival trick. Brilliant! And the array of abilities were fascinating to discover. We meet firestarters, empaths, earthshakers, runners, shapeshifters, and the list goes on.

    I Love Lucy...
    Lucy is kind of like your average girl...who can control fire. She has spent her life holding back her emotions in fear of bursting into flame from too much anger or happiness. Even entering the circus, she holds back, never meeting her full potential. She doesn't want to hurt someone by accident. Watching her emotions start to spiral out of control was actually exciting. The men of her life constantly keep her on her toes. The bad people out to get her never leave her a moment of peace. And the secrets revealed only intensify everything she has been feeling.

    Lucy is a sweet girl with a feisty side. She is also naive and defensive, which made her a more realistic character. All she wants is a "family" she can be herself with, but with the murders hanging over her head, and most people blaming her, Lucy has not found the acceptance she was hoping for. But at least her close group of friends are always there for her.

    A Cute Jerk...
    Though I loved Keegan--he really is the sweetest guy ever--watching Gabriel and Lucy banter back and forth was the best part of this story. Gabriel is sexy and frustrating. He's a jerk most of the time, but the way he says things is both hilarious and cute. Lucy does a good job of sticking up for herself, but Gabriel really knows how to rattle her. I never knew what to make of Gabriel. You want to trust him but his mysterious side is just too...well, mysterious. I spent most my time wanting to punch him in the face for treating Lucy the way he did, but it gave a great dramatic/comical flare to the story.

    Friends...
    I loved the array of characters we got to meet. The upbeat best friend, the gay couple, the sweet boy Lucy should probably end up with, and the jokester who doesn't take anything seriously. I was smiling every time they showed up on scene.

    Refreshing...
    The twists and turns were well done. We are often thrown red herrings that make us think one thing but the truth is a whole lot worse...or better. Long knows how to keep a reader on her toes. Lies and deceit run heavy within the circus and you can't help but feel bad for Lucy when the world she thought she knew starts to crumble.

    The pacing was well done. I rarely felt bored. I hated putting the book down when I needed to sleep (stupid sleep, always getting in the way of my reading). The action was good, especially the parts with fire. Long gives just enough description to draw a vivid picture of each scene without overdoing it. I actually felt refreshed after reading this book.

    The Bad
    Sometimes the conversations were too long and explained too many things in one shot. They felt a bit forced and I got a little bored (this was the only time I got bored).

    The beginning was a little slow. It didn't represent how great the rest of the book was.

    Serious moments often got brushed off with humor. I love humor, even in scary/sad moments. But sometimes certain events need to retain their seriousness to make an impact or just to make it more realistic.

    The Snuggly
    There is some sexual tension, kissing, and unwanted sexual advances, but overall it's a YA-ish clean book. If it wasn't for the cursing and violence, I would have labeled Gifted YA. Also, all the characters are in their 20's, though they act pretty young.

    I enjoyed the love triangle between Lucy, Gabriel, and Keegan. Keegan is so sweet and reliable, while Gabriel is a total jackass, but in an adorable way. He has passion that Keegan lacks, but that might be a good thing, since Gabriel is also dangerous and unpredictable. I don't know how Lucy is going to choose between the two because together, they make the perfect man.

    Overall
    Though Long left the love triangle open-ended at the end (grrr, why Long, why?) I was pretty much satisfied from beginning to end. Anyone looking for something new in the fantasy/paranormal department, Gifted is the book for you. The characters were likable and the plot was interesting. A highly recommended read.

    Excerpt
    "It's too bad you're so hot," I mumbled. I kept my eyes on the ground to prevent tripping up again. Or maybe it was to keep from looking in his eyes and ripping his shirt off, I couldn't be sure.

    "Why is that?" Drunk or not, his smug expression was easy for me to read. The smile didn't reach his eyes, but I could hear it in his pleased tone.

    "Cause you're a total jackass."

    "Well, I think that's a little rude."

    "Doesn't make it untrue."
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