Thursday, July 28, 2011

LJ DeLeon- The Ultimate Game (Book Review, Author Interview, Character Interview and Giveaway)


A con game from the past and a gamble on love in the future hold the key for world order in a cybernetic age.

Trapped in a cave-in with two women in 1875, Max Turner awakens to a sterile cryo lab in 2484. If he thought he could play it straight, he has another think coming. Only the heads of the few ruling families stay un-cyber-chipped and alive. His one chance of success rests in passing-off his cave-in partner, Maddy Doyle, as his dead fiancée, Madeline Riley, ancestor to the privileged Riley Family—the same family that blew the mine.

Assisted by a renegade scientist, a rebellious cyborg, and his newfound wife, Max lays out his plans. His greatest asset is Maddie, a beauty with a calculating mind to match his own and startling new cybernetic skills. Can the lovers process their con game fast enough to survive the Riley Family’s attempts on their lives?

 My Review:

First of all I love the cover ;-) I think the only thing I would change is putting something futuristic in it. Maybe he should be holding a laser instead of a pistol?

I really loved the idea for this book. It’s a cowboy from the west who gets thrown into a very different future. I have never read anything like it before and can’t wait to find out what happens to Max and Maddie.

Max and Maddie were great characters. They were thrown into a world so far into the future that most people would go crazy trying to figure it out or at least be a little freaked out. However they took most things in stride with little explanation and only so much help.

I felt like the flow in the first half of the book could be improved upon a little. It seemed like I was skipping pages when Max would know something and I wouldn’t know how he got the information. The flow of the second half of the book was much better and went really quickly.

The ending was great. It left the world open for more to happen and yet nicely finished the current story.

 My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Author Interview:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an Army brat. By the time I was in 9th grade, I was in my 13th school. I married a career army officer, who then went over to the CIA. I’ve taught high school—US History, Civics, & Comparative Government—raised two children, and worked for the CIA as an Intelligence Analyst. I’ve lived all over the world.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I decided I could write as well as what I was reading. I discover it isn’t so easy. Eight years later, my first book was published under a pen name.

What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?

Once you’re published, it becomes hard work. It isn’t just writing the story, but writing it in a timely fashion and once you type “The End,” your work is just beginning.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I write first person autobiographies of all my major characters from childhood to age 25. I learn their voices, what makes them who they are, and their kneejerk reactions that the reader may only see in the narrative. While this seems time-consuming, it saves me energy and rewrites on the back end. I don’t waste the first three chapters learning about my characters, I already know them.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Grammar, punctuation, spelling and compelling characters; without these you may have a story, but not one anyone wants to spend several hours reading.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I have to finish books four through six of the Warriors for Light books—Defiance, Sophie’s Challenge, and Kate’s Army—slated for release late this year. Once they are finished, I’ll start on the next Max Turner—The Joker’s Wild.

In Twitter Fashion using 140 characters or less, sum up The Ultimate Game for us.

Two con artists displaced in time work the supreme con to free the world. Or Maverick meets Blade Runner.

How did you come up with a story that was such a different idea?

I’m a news junkie. I took globalization to its nightmare conclusion and dropped two people out of time into this world, to rebel.

How long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer’s block along the way?

It took me four weeks to write, four weeks to rewrite, then came the edits.

Will we be seeing a following book to this story?

Yes, there are at least seven books planned for this series. The next one is The Joker’s Wild.

How did you come up with the characters Max and Maddie?

I hate to say this, but they spoke to me. They were there fully formed and ready to step into the premise I had developed. They knew it would fun and they’d have no end of opportunities to work the big con.

If you could pick one actor/actress to portray Max and Maddie on the big screen who would it be and why?

Max would be Matthew Bomer, who plays Neal Gaffrety in White Collar. He’s already shown he’s great at playing a con artist with a light touch.

Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, would be the perfect Maddie.

Was there anything you find particularly challenging when writing this book?

Creating the future world was difficult. Not the social, economic, or governmental side, but the technology of the future was hard. We’re moving so fast, sometimes it’s hard to see where we’re headed.

What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of your finished book?

Well, this cover I love, the first one, not so much. I’m just relieved the cover was changed, because I love Jimmy Thomas.

Max and Maddie Character Interview:

What is your name?

Max: “Maximilian Turner, but everyone calls me Max.”

Maddie: “My full name is Madeline, but I’m called Maddie. My last name is unimportant because when we awoke in the 25th Century, to stay alive and unchipped it became Turner, with a maiden name of Riley. Confusing, I know. Only Max could dream up this con.”

Where do you live?

Max: “We live in what used to be Boulder, Colorado. We’re getting ready to take over the Riley “Family” Compound in New Denver.”

Where are you from?

Max: “Everywhere and nowhere, wherever I hang my hat is home, as long as Maddie’s by my side.” He kissed Maddie on the temple. “I was born in New Orleans, which no longer exists. Between the floods and hurricanes, it was washed away during the late 21st Century.”

Maddie: “I’m from Boston. Sadly, it also no longer exists. I’m glad I wasn’t around to see so much of the world disappeared.”

Max slides his arm around Maddie and kissed her, again. “She’s still coping with everything that’s happened to us since our reanimation and learning the history of the world between 1875 and 2484 when we awoke.”

How old are you?

Max: “How are we counting the years?” He stares at the interviewer.
“Estimate it?”
“Older than my feet, younger than my head.”

Maddie: “It isn’t polite to ask a lady her age.”

How would you describe your looks??

Max: “Handsome enough to attract the ladies, ordinary enough to go unnoticed when I need to.”
Maddie frowns and smoothes her hand down his chest. “Max, this isn’t one of your con games. He’s very memorable. He’s tall, broad chest, narrow hips, longish black hair, and navy-ringed turquoise eyes framed by sinfully long soot-colored eyelashes.”
Max clasps her hand. “Since Maddie insists on accuracy, let me tell you she’s gorgeous, the light of my life. Her hair looks like fire—gold, red, and dark red. Her eyes remind me of the moss in the bayou, a beautiful green.”

In Twitter Fashion use 140 characters or less, sum your personal ad for us. (If you were to have one)

Max turns to Maddie. “What’s 140 characters?”

She frowns and tilts her head, seeming to listen to someone or something. “It’s each letter of a word and the spaces between them.”

Max scowls. “’Have con artist will travel’. And Maddie’s would be ‘Chameleon for hire.’” He grins at Maddie and me. “She loves posing as a maid. She’s a great safecracker and jewel thief but only robs from her rich employers.”

What kind of childhood did you have?

Max: “My father was a professional gambler killed for cheating at cards. My mother had to work in a brothel to keep a roof over our heads and food in our mouths.”

Maddie’s face flamed. “We never had much but never starved. The rest isn’t your business.”

What do you do for a living?

Both roar with laughter. “Let me take this one, love,” Max says. “We make sure fools and their money are soon parted, and for now, try to stay ahead of Sean Riley.”

How do you deal with conflict and change?

Max: “Find my way around it and adapt.”

Maddie: “Definitely adapt.”

Of what are you proudest?

Max: “That I’m still alive and have kept Maddie alive and by my side.”

Maddie: “Same here.”

What is your biggest secret--the one thing you don't want ANYBODY to know?

Maddie snickers and Max arches an eyebrow. “If we told you, it wouldn’t be a secret. LJ DeLeon has spilled enough of our lives in the first book without us telling you more,” he says.

What about your past made it so easy for you to adapt?

Max: “I’m a gambler, poker player, a con artist, and most important, have Maddie.”

Maddie: “I’ve always lived by my wits, and take it one day at a time. Also, I have Max and Chronos I to help me.”

What is the one thing from the past you miss the most?

“Freedom. The ability to disappear,” they both say together.

With a grimace, Max sighs. “In our time, the country was untamed. You could move from location to location and be an unknown. Recreate yourself in each new place. In 2484, no one is free, everyone is tracked, and every detail of your life is regimented. But that will change. I swear it.”

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Give Away (2 books)
1 copy of The Ultimate Game and 1 copy of Absolution
Kindle or Nook, ePub format
Open 72 hrs  ~ limited to US, Canada, UK, Western Europe
Please leave a comment for the author to enter the giveaway.

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