Thursday, November 10, 2011

[Blog Tour] Mortal Obligation by Nichole Chase: Review + Interview + eBook Giveaway!

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Nichole Chase, author of the Dark Betrayal trilogy, to I Write, I Read, I Review. She is here to talk about her first book, Mortal Obligation. Please read on for my review, a fantastic interview with Nichole and a chance to win an eBook copy of Mortal Obligation. Also, don't forget to leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win the grand prize and second grand prize.

But now I'm getting ahead of myself... Let me start by telling you what I thought of the book, shall we?

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Ree will face the darkest form of betrayal before the year is out.

 Seventeen year old Ree McKenna has three goals: get through high school, convince her crush she is more than his best friend’s little sister, and save money for college. Fate, though, has other plans for her. After the untimely death of her older brother, Ree is haunted by dreadful nightmares and terrifying visions.

To make matters worse, Ree has started to suspect that something dangerous is stalking her from the shadows. A night full of frightening surprises leaves Ree with unsettling news. Gifted by the gods with unusual powers, she must devote herself to a battle that could very well lead to not only her death, but the demise of everyone she knows and loves. After all, Ree is the only mortal standing between the Earth and utter darkness.

Set in Savannah, Ga, Mortal Obligation is the first book of The Dark Betrayal Trilogy.

I really like how Nichole Chase set up her book. The entire thing moved in a natural and logical way that let the reader get to know Ree and her friends, the situation they were in, and the changes that were happening to them in great detail. Yet at the same time, this was done without being overwhelming. We get a clear image of the 'natural world' -- by this I mean the way their life was before everything happens -- and then get to follow the characters as they learn about the ways that their lives will change as they undertake a daunting task to save Earth from a great and terrible peril.

The beginning and the ending were both strong, well written and fast paced. There are definitely some surprises that the reader will not see coming -- or at least, surprises that this reader didn't. I liked the fact that Nichole was not afraid to have her characters take risks and that she was capable of making those risks have real and valid consequences. 

The middle was good, but the pace was slower since it focused more on the training, growth and acceptance of the characters; the ways in which they adjusted to their new life and the responsibilities it brought with it. Despite the slight switch in pace, I liked the way this was done because it gave me time to build connections with each member of the reasonably large cast of characters to some degree. Since this is the start of a trilogy, I feel that it was a smart move and rather important.

I think my biggest issue with the plot of Mortal Obligation might be that the ending was slightly too abrupt. It was not a full blown, completely annoying cliffhanger. It did a great job at setting things up for the next book. But I did not feel that it tapered off naturally.

The Characters: 

I genuinely like Ree and I found her an interesting character to share eyes with for a story. I felt that she was brave and compassionate, and was impressed with how she held her own considering the situation that she is in. For a while I was concerned that she was holding it together too well, given the circumstances, but fortunately the issues that were nagging at me -- namely the difference in her future and that of all of her friends -- was adequately addressed. This was very important to me, as a reader, because until it was addressed I must admit that I was having trouble empathizing with the situation. I kept thinking "If I were you I'd tell them all to bite me!"

Paden and Roland were both equally awesome. 

I'll talk about Paden first. I found him charming and liked the fact that he was protective and caring toward Ree without coming off like a crazy stalker. I enjoyed learning about his connection to the Gods and found watching him adapt to his new situation rather fun. I also felt that he had great rapport with the other Guardians and was glad to see that while he was a major force in Ree's life, that he was not the only thing / one there.

As for Roland, I loved him! He has this fascinating past that gets hinted at throughout the story. He can be both snarky / sarcastic, or totally sweet and charming. He is a Dark One (bad!) who works with the Guardians (good!) which makes me curious about how he really feels about everything that is going on. And he and Ree seem to have some very interesting chemistry, something which I fought against initially but ultimately found very satisfying.

As for the rest of the Guardians, Nichole Chase created a solid cast to help Paden and Ree in their quest. I loved the little moments between Juliette and Bryce, and I thought that the closeness of Melanie and Weylin was cute in it's own way, too. If I had to pick a favorite out of these four it would be Weylin. I seem to have a fondness for guys with a little bit of attitude.

Lastly, I cannot feel that the character section would be complete without talking about Sylvia. The fact that my opinion of her changed so drastically and so many times over shows how good a job that Nichole did at setting her character up. I loved the fact that she was so complex and that I was constantly questioning how I felt about her, since I feel that is what Ree was doing (which made total sense) as well. 

The Romance: 

Normally speaking I despise love triangles. Or at the very least, an author is fighting an uphill battle if they want me to care about them. Not so in Mortal Obligation. I adore both Paden and Roland and I found their interactions with Ree equally interesting, which made it impossible for me to totally cheer for one over the other. 

Paden and Ree have been close for a long time. He was her brother Tristan's best friend before he died, and he has taken to watching over Ree since that point. Ree has had feelings for Paden for a while now. I felt for both characters in this situation. I think most girls end up with a crush on a guy who is a little older at least once in life. And as someone who has two brothers, I can understand how Paden might feel concerned about what his friend would think if he tried to get together with Ree. It made for some very good conflict and tension.

Roland is a great big question-mark. First there is the fact that he has lived for a very long time. Then there is the fact that he is a Dark One. Add to that a history with some very shocking secrets and you can bet that I was totally intrigued. (Truth be told? If I was Ree I would choose Roland. I totally loved him. But that doesn't necessarily mean I instantly think they are right for each other.) I liked how different each of these guys personalities were. 

I liked the fact that both were strong, confident characters and that both were dedicated to both protecting Ree and to encouraging her to be able to protect herself. I cannot get behind romance that encourages a character to become a 'passive heroine'. I appreciate the fact that although Ree is clearly a vulnerable character, Nichole never makes her a passive one. She is on board and fully thinking from beginning to end, which is part of what made reading the book such a joy and cheering for the romances so much fun.

In General: 

I am very glad to have had the opportunity to read Mortal Obligation. It combined many of the things that I feel create a great story: memorable characters, intelligent detailed world building, a gripping conflict that presents real challenges and consequences for the characters and a romance complete with a hero (heroes in this case, which, yet again, is extremely impressive!) worth falling in love with. The only thing that is really left to say is that I am eagerly looking forward to reading the rest of this series. Nichole's first book is fabulous and I think it's safe to say that we can expect great things from her.

If you're looking to read an interesting urban fantasy with great characters, lots of action and a swoon-worthy love triangle, Mortal Obligation comes highly recommended. I totally loved it and can't wait to read more.

1. What made you decide that you wanted to write? And what let you take the leap from thinking that you'd like to write and convinced you to sit down and actually do it?

I'm not sure that there was a conscious decision that I wanted to write. Not too sound corny, but it was more of a need, rather than a want. I had stories bouncing around in my head and the only way to stop them from driving me crazy was to get them out and down on paper. Or on a computer screen in my case. As for what really lit the fire under my tail, would be the Nook I received for Christmas last year. I had started Mortal Obligation a while ago, but never finished it. The process of querying agents and publishing houses seemed so daunting. But after receiving my Nook I was introduced to the amazing world of indie publishing. I realized that I could finish my book and give it directly to the readers. Now, depending on how much work I put into my book it would sink or float. No more middle people. I liked that and it gave me the confidence to finish.

2. How did you get your ideas for the Dark Betrayal Trilogy? Have any interesting stories of things that inspired the characters, setting, plot etc.? (This could be anything from what inspired it, to whether you have a playlist for it. Feel free to interpret the question as you wish.)

Mortal Obligation started out with a random scene from my imagination that spun out of control. It's really a process for me. I start out with a scene, figure out the details, and where that scene fits in the story. I also have to admit that music plays a big role in inspiring me. Sometimes a scene in a book or story will be born from listening to a song. (Often that song is played on repeat, much to my husband's dismay.) I've also found that real life situations sometimes creep into my books. Something that someone says, or a funny accident will turn into comic relief.

3. Based on reading Mortal Obligation, I get the feeling you like mythology. Am I right? If so, is there a certain country or culture's mythology that is your favorite? Do you have a favorite myth and / or mythological character? Did any of this effect the writing of Mortal Obligation in any way?

I have been reading for a very long time and mythology influences a great deal of literature. In the sixth grade I took a Latin class as part of my 'exploratory wheel' options. (This gives the students a chance to make educated decisions about their electives for the upcoming years.) Part of the Latin class was a study of Greek and Roman mythology. I found it fascinating then and I still do now. I also love the mythology of Ireland. It's engrossing to sit down and see how people from older times interpreted different things. (I also find it interesting to see the themes carried through hundreds of cultures that had no contact.) I really wanted to include other cultures mythology. Take for instance, the Japanese culture. They have a rich history, full of mythological beings. Since the Dark Betrayal Trilogy covers a very 'epic' story line, I thought it was the perfect chance to include some of the storied that I have had the privelage to be exposed to.

There are so many spectacular stories in mythology, I'm not sure that I could pick just one. There was no one story that played a bigger roll in Mortal Obligation than another. The story line goes past the regular mythological story lines and brings all of the big players together.

4. In my opinion, a writer needs to be a reader. If you were going to be left on a tropical island, all of the necessities were taken care of and you were told to bring three books to read, what would your choices be? Why would you pick them?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This book has so many amazing links tied together that cover the entire series. It's an outstanding example of a true story teller.

The Dragon Riders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. I never grow tired of her world.

Pride and Predjudice. This is a classic with an amazing amount of detail and story. It's a beautiful love story, full of flawed characters. (I would probably name a coconut Mr. Darcy and carry it around the island with me. I mean, we can't all be lucky enough to have a volley ball to befriend.)

5. By some act of magic you are going to get to have lunch with one of the characters from Mortal Obligation. Who would you pick, where would you eat and what one question would you ask them -- and what do you think they would ask you?

Ree, would be the character I would want to have lunch with the most. (Of course, I'd really like to have lunch with Paden or Roland, but I think that might make me kind of creepy. After all, they are teenagers...) I think that Ree and I would probably go to a little bistro downtown and talk about art. I'd probably be inclined to ask her if she hated me. After all I've put her and her friends through an awful lot. Following that train of thought, I think it is safe to assume that Ree would ask me how it's all going to end. Which is sad, because I hate to disappoint her and not answer her question.

6. What was your favorite scene to write in Mortal Obligation? This could either be the most satisfying as an author, or the one you had the most fun with. (If they're different, feel free to share both if you want to.)

Well, to be honest the funnest scenes to write are always the ones where there is a lot of tension for one reason or another. Though, I have to say that the climax of the book was the most satisfying to write. There is a twist that I took a lot of time to work into the book and once it is revealed I felt like I could take a deep breath. I also LOVED writing the bathroom scene in the begining of the book. Ree's friend Juliette cracks me up. My sister says that she says things I would say, so that kind of makes sense.

7. What was the most challenging part of writing Mortal Obligation? This could be anything from a scene or character who tried to take control of your book, to simply not being one who likes to put "butt in chair". (I know I struggle with that!)

Well, making yourself sit down and write when you have a million distractions is a daunting task. But, I think that self doubt is often a writers worst enemy. It's very easy to let that nagging little voice tell you terrible things about your writing. So, my most challenging obstacle was finding a sound proof room to lock that annoying the voice in and then losing the key.

8. I really love how uniquely you named all of your characters. Any interesting stories on how you chose their names?

Well, Alastriana is actually an Irish name that means 'savior of human-kind." Plus, the name site I found it on had an audio clip of an Irishman pronouncing the name. He could have said fish and chips and I might have Ree that instead... Just being honest here! Paden was a name that I fell in love with a long time ago. It suits his strong sense of loyalty. Roland named himself and I had no say whatsoever in it. He's a very outspoken character, but you learn a little more about his name in Mortal Defiance.

9. The situation between Ree, Paden and Roland is possibly the most enjoyable and interesting love triangles that I have ever read. (Honestly? I usually hate them.) I really like how well you balance what is going on, how the character react to each other, and how Ree feels about each of the guys. Did you find any particular challenges as you worked on this aspect of Mortal Obligation? (Relax! :) I'm not going to ask you who she'll end up with.)

Thank you! Actually, I worked really hard to make sure that the love triangle didn't take over the story. I have to admit that it is vital to the story, which is why I included it. I know that triangles can get old, but this has been part of the story since I first visualized this story. And you're right, I can't tell you who she ends up with, or I'd have to kill ya! Okay, not really, but I'd have to do something drastic!

10. Any advice that you would like to share with aspiring writers who might be reading this interview?
Just doooo eeeeeet! Seriously, just sit down and get it done! Find honest critique partners and beta readers that read that genre. I believe that Nora Roberts once said any story is salvagable. You just have to keep working at it.

11. Got any other projects in the works that you'd like to share with us? And do you have any idea when we can look forward to the next book in the Dark Betrayal Trilogy?
Mortal Defiance, book 2, will be out in early December. Book 3 is scheduled for editing at the end of Febraury and should be out around St. Patricks day. I have several stories that are on the back burner until I finish the Dark Betrayal Trilogy.

BONUS ROUND: For those who don't know how my interviews tend to work, this is where I give the person I'm interviewing a chance to ask a question. If you would like to answer the question too, please feel free to do so in the comments.

Nichole Asks: I'd like to hear a little about your writing process! Do you have a particular place or time that you like to write? Are you a night writer or a day writer? An early morning writer? Do you write at a desk or on the couch? (I feel like there is a Dr. Suess refrence in this question...) Some people like to write with music on and others prefer silence. Do you like a beat or do you like the quiet? (Gosh, I'm so lame! It's okay though, just roll with it!)

My Answer: I'm totally a night writer. I think my characters get some kind of crazy enjoyment from waking me up at 3 a.m. with ideas. I tend to write at my desktop, with my iPod on playing a soundtrack I've set up for whatever project I have on the go. I also have a cute little netbook for when I'm traveling. I feel that things like music, pictures, quotes or even building my characters and their homes in something like The Sims can help them feel more real to me. 

To wrap this up, I'd like to thank Nichole for taking the time to do this interview. Now that you've read it, I'm sure you can see why I called it "fantastic". This has definitely been a lot of fun. I enjoyed getting a better glimpse at Nchole as an author and at the Dark Betrayal trilogy. I hope you did, too.

Nichole Chase is a daydreamer. No, really, just ask any of the math teachers that had the misfortune of seeing her name appear on their class schedule. For years she has had story lines and characters begging for attention, but she resolutely pushed them aside to focus on more normal (read, boring) jobs. Well, no longer! She is currently heeding the voices in her head and frantically writing their stories. Nichole resides in South Georgia with her husband, energetic toddler, three dogs, and two cats. When not devouring novels by the dozens, you may find her writing, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.

Where to find Nichole:

Still with me? Great! Because now it's time to show you some totally fabulous prizes and tell you how you can win them. :) Nichole has generously offered to let one of my readers receive an eBook copy of Mortal Obligation! You've read my review. You've read her interview. You know you want this. Now, here's how you can enter to get it.

Wait! Wait! There's more!

Make sure that you leave a comment so that you can be entered to win these fabulous prizes. To up your chances, make sure that you hit the rest of the tour stops and comment there, too. :)

A Paperback Copy of Mortal Obligation + an MO Tumbler
+ a signed postcard + an I <3 Roland Keychain 

A paperback copy of Mortal Obligation + a waterbottle + signed post card

Pretty exciting stuff, huh? I think so! I totally love this book and I think that the goodies that are up for grabs here look really cool. :)

As with most of the posts-of-awesome that pop up here on I Write, I Read, I Review, this one would not be complete without a few thank yous. First off, I would once again like to thank Nichole Chase for being such an awesome interview guest. Second, I would like to thank Bree from The Magic Attic for having me as part of this tour. And last (but certainly not least) I would like to thank you, dear reader, for sticking with me through this extremely long -- but hopefully interesting! -- blog post.

Now go post a comment so you'll have a shot at the goodies! :) Good luck!


  1. MORTAL OBLIGATION looks amazing. On my list.


  2. Eeek..(wailing like a banshee) I want this book! Love triangle ensues!

  3. SQUEEEEE this is super exciting! Thatnks for the giveaway and interview:)

    Oh an I hear ya about night writing...I struggled over 1k words yesterday afternoon. Then midnight rolls around and suddenly I can't type fast enough!

  4. This sounds like a chilling yet fun thriller!

  5. Thank you so much for being part of the Mortal Obligation book tour! I had a lot of fun answering your questions! I'm a night writer too. Unless I get the chance to escape to the coffee shop for a little while. Otherwise my toddler keeps me entirely too distracted!

  6. Fun interview! Thanks for sharing :)

    PS love your wallpaper

  7. What an amazing review! Thanks for going so indepth and really making me want to read this book! I also loved the interview and had a lot of fun reading it :)
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  8. I'm totally a night writer too, Kathy!

    As for music, I keep going back and forth between needing music and preferring silence. It all depends on my mood, and it's completely random.

    klamber1 at unca dot edu

  9. Thanks for the giveaway! I'm adding Mortal Obligation to my TBR list.

  10. WOW sounds like an awesome read and the prizes are awesome too! Thanks so much for the chance!

    Vivian M

  11. And Just wanted to say your wallpaper is very AWESOME!!! <3


Thanks for visiting my blog. I love comments! Please feel free to tell me what you think about my blog and the things I am posting. I enjoy hearing what others think. :)

You Might Also Like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...