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Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Let’s celebrate together with Los Gatos Black on Halloween written by Marisa Montes and gorgeously illustrated by Yuyi Morales. Montes’s vivid narrative has the power to delineate the beauty of Latin American culture page by page. The fusion of Spanish words in the story creates a smooth seasonal spirit. It’s like an invitation to a wonderful journey of pleasant emotions.
Everything is ready to rock under the full bright moon! Surrounded by spooky sounds, the pumpkins, mummies, wolfman, zombies, los gatos black, las brujas on their broomsticks, los muertos crawling out of their coffins, and los esqueletos with their white shiny bones arrive one by one to the colorful haunted mansion. The party is perfect until a loud rasp at the door. This unexpected twist gives the monsters a terrible problem. Monsters are scared of niños especially on Halloween night. What will happen next? A complementary glossary is available at the end of the book. Delightful pictures by Morales are the perfect complement for this breathtaking and mysterious story. BOO!
Visit your local library for more eerie and creepy tales. Reading gives you wings!
Enjoy the read-along Los Gatos Black on Halloween video:
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May Contain Spoilers
When Victoria James asked if I wanted to review her latest release, I had to think about it for all of about 2 seconds. I have read and enjoyed the other Red River books, so I was eager to jump into The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée. I’ll admit that I’m always nervous to accept requests from authors, because what if I don’t like their book? I’m happy to report that once I started this one, I wasn’t concerned about that any longer. While not every aspect of the story worked for me, most of it pushed all the right buttons.
Grace is a single mother struggling to raise her son without help from anyone. Her mother, her only source of support, passed away, leaving her with no one to rely on. Her ex walked out on her while she was pregnant, and even her father is a distant memory. He walked out on her, too, when she was a young girl, leaving her mother to raise her by herself. Grace has never had much, but she works hard and provides a loving home for her son.
The story begins with a terrible car accident; both Grace and Christopher are trapped in her car, with the fiery wreck of a truck threatening to blow at any moment. Thankfully, Dr. Evan Manning comes to their rescue, saving both mother and son. Evan and Christopher are injured during the ordeal, and Evan’s surgical career is over.
A year later, Grace has managed to locate Evan. She wants to thank him for saving her and Christopher. Evan is filling in at the clinic in his hometown of Red River, and he’s hating every minute of it. He longs for the fast-paced environment of the ER. The slow pace of the clinic, and the nosy patients, are driving him batty. He’s not much of a people person, and one of the things he missed least about his hometown is how everyone feels the need to know everyone else’s business. He’s even so grumpy that the clinic’s long-term receptionist quits and walks out on him.
When Grace and Christopher appear, he’s less than pleased. He doesn’t want to remember the accident that robbed him of his career. But then he realizes that maybe their timing is perfect. He needs a replacement receptionist, and Grace has worked in clinics previously. He offers Grace a job, as well as a temporary gig – all she has to do is pretend to be his fiancée. He’s applied for a job as the CEO of a chain of plastic surgery clinics. It’s not the high pressure excitement of the O.R., but it should be challenging and keep him from losing his mind to boredom. To cement the position, he needs a wife. Or a fiancée. The company is very family oriented, and he wants all the leverage he can get, so Grace’s sudden appearance is timely.
This was probably the weakest plot point for me. Grace is unemployed and has rent to pay and a young child to take care of, so I can see her being desperate enough to go along with Evan’s proposal. He offers her a place to stay, offers to pay the rent on her Toronto apartment, and will even spring for a new wardrobe, because his fiancée is expected to look sophisticated and fashionable. He’s a complete stranger, and yes, while he did save their lives a year ago, she doesn’t know him, and she can’t be sure that he’s trustworthy. While I do love the fairy tale simplicity of this set up, I am just too suspicious accept him at face value this early in the game.
What I enjoyed most about The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée was Evan’s growth from a self-absorbed man who put his career before everything else in his life, into a man who learned the importance of family, friends, and roots. Evan thought that all of the answers to his dissatisfaction with his life would be found in Toronto, as the CEO of Medcorp. Nothing else mattered to him but snagging that job. Not his brothers or their wives or their children, or the many people who tried to get him to open up to them and accept how important he was to the community. For such a smart guy, it takes him an awfully long time to realize what really mattered, and that a big fat paycheck and a lifetime of shuffling around papers wasn’t it. Evan’s life before he met Grace was so empty and devoid of emotion, it’s no wonder he had a hard time connecting with his own feelings. They had gone dormant, and it took the shock of a loving woman and a rambunctious boy to jolt them back to wakefulness.
The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée is a sweet, feel good read. I enjoyed the Red River series, and the author has become a favorite on my reading list. I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
Review copy provided by author
Their marriage bargain is just what the doctor ordered…
Former surgeon and self-professed life-long bachelor Evan Manning has one thing on his mind—to reclaim the career that a car accident stole from him. But when he’s forced to return to his hometown of Red River, Evan comes face-to-face with the gorgeous woman who’s haunted his dreams for the last year—the woman he rescued from the burning car that injured his hand. Now Evan needs her help. In a month, he’ll have the job opportunity of a lifetime…he just needs a wife to get it.
Artist Grace Matheson is down on her luck again…until she walks into Evan Manning’s office. When her sexy former hero hears that she needs work, he offers her a job and a home—if she’ll pretend she’s his fiancée. Grace knows she shouldn’t fall for him. Once the month is up, Evan will be back to his old life. But the more time they spend together, the more real their feelings become—and the more likely heartbreak is.
The post Review: The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée by Victoria James appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Día de los Muertos or Day of the Death is approaching. In preparation for this amazing festivity, reading Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family by Cynthia Weill in collaboration with Oaxacan paper mache artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate is a great way to start the celebration.
Weill’s latest bilingual book gives a glance of the vast Mexican art. Anita is a young calacagirl, who introduces each member of her skeleton family. With short and catching sentences in English and Spanish, each character reveals its beauty to the young readers. Each page shows a colorful encounter starting with Anita’s brother Miguel (el travieso/the brat), followed by her cute baby brother Juanito, then her stylish mother, next her handsome father, as well as her adorable grandparents, and last but not least her cat and dog. The astonishing art created by Canseco Zárate pops-out automatically like jack-in-the-box. The wonderful sculptures in paper mache are a pleasure for the senses. Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family is a must read for the season. Reading gives you wings. Visit your local library to check out more exciting stories. For additional information about Cynthia Weill’s books and artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate’s calacas click on the following links:
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Latino/a Rising is the first collection of U.S. Latino/a science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres. There is a growing movement of people who are interested in the incredible U.S. Latino/a writers and artists who have turned to science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres. Latino/a Rising: An Anthology of U.S. Latino/a Speculative Fictionwill introduce the public to the work of these writers and artists. With the exception of Edward James Olmos’ Bladerunner and Battlestar Galactica, positive U.S. Latino/a characters have been largely absent from mainstream speculative fiction novels and films. Films such as Men in Black and Alien Nation, and shows such as X-Files, express the anxiety that the mainstream has concerning Latinos/as and recent immigrants. Latino/a Rising will contest this trend, showing how Latino/a writers and artists are transforming the genres. Please support this project
I haven’t read anything by Emma Cane previously, so I was looking forward to checking out When the Rancher Came to Town. If I had to knock the story for anything, it would be for being so short. This is a novella, so the timeline is very compressed; the story takes place over a weekend. I love novellas because I can plow through them so quickly, but when I like them, I always wish they were longer! So, for me, the format is a double-edged sword.
Amanda Cramer is hiding out in Valentine Valley, a small town Colorado town. The former lawyer’s career came crashing down around her after she was harassed, so Amanda quit her job and fled back to the safety of her parents’ home. After a peaceful stay at a B&B, she decided to open one of her own, so now the former legal eagle is the owner of Connections Bed and Breakfast.
When Mason Lopez checks in for a weekend stay, the two are immediately drawn to each other. Mason is in town to try to secure financing to expand the family ranch, as well as to participate in the weekend rodeo. A series of poor decisions by his father have placed the business on shaky ground, and all Mason wants to do is set everything back to rights so he can continue to do what he loves best.
Amanda and Mason hit it off immediately, and they confide in each other about their pasts. Amanda has become reclusive, and she hates being in crowds. After the scandal broke and ruined her career, she developed an understandable reluctance to being out in public. Determined to overcome her new phobia, she is working hard at coming out of her shell and learning to trust again. It’s very hard for her, though, and even with professional help, she struggles at the thought of being around a large group of strangers. With Mason’s help, she begins to trust again.
As I mentioned earlier, the timeline for Mason and Amanda’s romance is very compressed, and while I enjoyed this story very much, I thought they moved from liking each other to the “L” word a little too fast to be believable. I loved how supportive and protective Mason was of Amanda, and I liked how he gently urged her to take her life back from her fears.
If you are looking for a quick read with relatable characters, I’d say give When the Rancher Came to Town a chance. The story clicks rapidly along, and I was never bored with it. I would have liked to spend more time at the rodeo Mason was participating in, and I wish the novella was just a little longer, but otherwise, I enjoyed the read and am looking forward to spending more time in Valentine Valley.
When the Rancher Came to Town
A Valentine Valley Novella
By: Emma Cane
Releasing September 23rd, 2014
Emma Cane returns to the amazing and romantic town for the latest installment in her sparkling series. When and ex-Rodeo star falls in love with the agoraphobic B&B owner, he must pull out all the stops to get her out of her shell.
Welcome to Valentine Valley!
The Silver Creek Rodeo is in full swing and everyone’s talking about the rancher who came to town…
Bed & Breakfast owner Amanda Cramer wants nothing more than a quiet, private life. Well, she wants guests too, but after her share of unwanted notoriety she’s gotten comfortable hiding out in her inn…perhaps a little too comfortable. When her newest guest arrives, tall, dark and breathtaking…Amanda begins to question her self-imposed exile.
Ex-rodeo star Mason Lopez knows all about the limelight. He’d avoid it if he could, but since one last ride could mean saving his family’s ranch, he’ll go all in. When he gets to Valentine Valley for the Silver Creek Rodeo, Mason checks into Connections B&B and finds himself immediately drawn to the beautiful, reserved woman who owns it.
Mason only has three days in town…can he convince Amanda to open her heart to him and welcome the world back in?
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/when-rancher-came-to-town-valentine.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22823561-when-the-rancher-came-to-town?from_search=true
Emma Cane grew up reading and soon discovered that she liked to write passionate stories of teenagers in space. Her love of “passionate stories” has never gone away, although today she concentrates on the heartwarming characters of Valentine, her fictional small town in the Colorado Rockies.
Now that her three children are grown, Emma loves spending time crocheting and singing (although not necessarily at the same time), and hiking and snowshoeing alongside her husband Jim and two rambunctious dogs Apollo and Uma.
Rafflecopter Giveaway (Five Print Copies of A TOWN CALLED VALENTINE)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The post Novella Review and Giveaway: When the Rancher Came to Town by Emma Cane appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
The Skeletons Outside The Closet Can Be The Most Dangerous
By David Nieves
Steve Niles has made a hell of a living in the horror genre. Having critical and commercial success can be a curse on any creator, but he’s constantly found new ways of invigorating humanizing takes on demons and monsters. His latest creation, IDW’s The October Faction, may be his weirdest story to date, and that’s far from a bad thing.
October Faction is the story of the Allan family. A faction falling apart at the seems from events in their past that are beginning to come full circle. Frederick (a retired monster hunter) has been more focused on teaching his lessons and lectures about things that go bump in the night rather than being a father. His wife Deloris is sneaking around doing something sketchy behind his back that could have serious consequences for all involved. His son and daughter; both of whom have interesting abilities when it comes to specters, are figuring out a way to get long overdue attention from their father. While there’s teases of witchcraft, demons, and everything black magic has to offer; the real story is the family itself. We see this nuclear family has nuclear sized issues. In a way it feels comparable to if the Adams family became a dysfunctional mess, it wouldn’t just be their problem it would be all of ours.
The majority of debut issues in the market limp on a similar crutch of over exposition. Writers try to convey an exorbitant amount of information that steals the mystery from the narrative and consequently from the enjoyment of the readers. Niles crafts this opening chapter in the polar opposite. We get these gripping teases of who the Allan family was without overburdening the audience. A good story knows the necessary moment to peel back the information and October Faction is shaping up to go in that direction. That’s not to say the book doesn’t suffer from some minor opening flaws. The issue could have focused on Fredrick and his wife without having to introduce the daughter until future chapters and it ends a bit abruptly. However, none of that drastically hindered the enjoyment found within these pages.
IDW’s non-licensed properties all have a somewhat uniform aesthetic feel. October Faction fits right in with co-creator Damien Worm on art duties. Each page is one impressionist gothic painting after another. It’s a risky style for general comics’ audiences, but one that’s right at home in this specific genre. With Worm’s art you either really love the Kelly Jones and Sam Keith influences or you really hate them, personally I found myself enjoying the art. Although one of the challenges of the series going forward will be balancing details of the action with heavy darkness the illustration needs in order to thrive. It seems as though the creators are up to the task.
The October Faction is not for everyone, but horror comic fans will find a new interesting world where monsters and legends will be presented in unique ways. Issue one had a few stumbles but its got enough hook for the audience to stick around see what the next few issues will bring. This is shaping up to be Steve Niles doing what he does best; figuring out his own demons and desires through storytelling which makes October Faction worthy of being on your radar.
Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Nature and its colors serve as an inspiration for writer Antonio Ramírez and acclaimed Oaxacan artist Domi to create Napí.Their creativity portrays the one-of-a-kind beauty and the heritage of the Mazatec region located in Oaxaca, Mexico. Simple words, filled with sentiment, are the ingredients that make Napí a priceless tale. Napí is a mazatec girl who loves to dream. She enjoys listening to her grandfather’s stories while sitting near the river. As her náa or grandmother braids Napí’s hair, the stunning sunset covers the Mazatec region with bright orange, intense violet and dark green. A starry sky is the perfect blanket for Napí’s good night sleep. Napí dreams that she is a white and tall heron. By being a heron, Napí flies high in the sky and admires the gorgeous region as her wings flap in the air like if they were dancing with the wind. Napí wakes up each morning in her comfortable and cozy bed thinking about what the next dream will be about. Visit your local library to check out more cheerful stories. Remember, reading gives you wings! Find more of Domi’s great illustrations at:
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May Contain Spoilers
I enjoyed Alison Kemper’s Donna of the Dead, so when I saw Dead Over Heels on Netgalley, I was all over it. I was expecting a continuation of that story, but Dead Over Heels features different characters. It is set during the same time period, in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s not as campy as the previous book, but once again, I was hooked and couldn’t step away from the zombie apocalypse.
Ava’s parents purchased a vacation home in rural North Carolina, so she’s stuck in the cold mountains during Thanksgiving break, instead of prowling the mall with her friends in Florida. After her parents head to town, a 45 minute drive from their new digs, Ava’s world comes crashing to a halt. Cole, who has been doing yard work for her father, comes pounding up the porch steps with unbelievable news – the zombie flu has arrived from China, and a band of zombies are about to eat them both.
Ava doesn’t believe him at first, but a glance at the shambling corpses quickly convinces her. Grabbing her purse, which holds her live saving EpiPen, she races into the woods with Cole. She’s desperate to stay alive and find her parents. With zero wilderness survival skills, it’s a miracle that Cole was there to shepherd her away from the zombies. He is familiar with the woods, he has extensive camping experience, and he has hunted on the mountain his entire life. And oh, yeah, he’s drop dead gorgeous.
I am not a big fan of roughing it, so Ava’s extreme roughing it adventure was spellbinding. She and Cole have practically no supplies, and did I mention that she is allergic to everything? One insect bite and she goes into anaphylactic shock. She is toast without her EpiPen. She has spent her entire life avoiding the great out doors, and now she’s fleeing through the woods from zombies, trying to avoid wasps, bees, and every other stinging creature out there. The zombies are the least of her worries. While they are certainly a threat, she can outrun them. A bug is a death sentence.
Dead Over Heels is a frantic race through the woods, battling hunger, the weather, bears, and the walking dead. With all of the adrenalin pounding through their systems, Ava and Cole are constantly in a state of distress. They hit it off like oil and water at first, due to their very different backgrounds. Cole thinks of Ava as a Floridiot, and Ava rudely calls Cole a redneck. As they are forced to rely on each other, and as they save each other from death time and again, they begin to develop feelings for each other. Who could blame them? They have no idea if anyone else is still alive, or whether everyone on the planet is now a stinky zombie. It’s comforting that they have each other.
Told in alternating POV, I found both Cole and Ava likable and relatable. I charged through Dead Over Heels, and I can hardly wait to see what’s next.
Review copy provided by publisher
The end of the world just might be their perfect beginning…
Glenview, North Carolina. Also known—at least to sixteen-year-old Ava Pegg—as the Land of Incredibly Boring Vacations. What exactly were her parents thinking when they bought a summer home here? Then the cute-but-really-annoying boy next door shows up at her place in a panic…hollering something about flesh-eating zombies attacking the town.
At first, Ava’s certain that Cole spent a little too much time with his head in the moonshine barrel. But when someone—or something—rotted and terrifying emerges from behind the woodpile, Ava realizes this is no hooch hallucination. The undead are walking in Glenview, and they are hungry. Panicked, Ava and Cole flee into the national forest. No supplies, no weapons. Just two teenagers who don’t even like each other fighting for their lives. But that’s the funny thing about the Zombpocalypse. You never know when you’ll meet your undead end. Or when you’ll fall dead over heels for a boy…
The post Review: Dead Over Heels by Alison Kemper #zombies appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
The Christmas deluge begins! I decided to give A Princess by Christmas a read because I have enjoyed other Jennifer Faye titles, and how can you go wrong with a prince? Or a holiday themed romance? The story doesn’t stray outside of familiar tropes, making it a little predictable, but it’s still an entertaining time killer.
The only stumbling block for me was the set up. I still don’t understand why Alex had to leave his island home in order to throw the press off of his brother’s trail. He did all of his breadcrumb tossing from his laptop, so it didn’t really matter where he was. Regardless, Alex has left home without his security detail, to make sure that his brother’s indiscretion never makes it to the papers. There are subversive elements in his homeland, and they won’t hesitate to use Demetrius’ elopement against him. Who wants to be ruled by a reckless, impulsive king? Demetrius is next in line for the throne, and to save his family’s reputation, Alex plans to send the paparazzi on a wild goose chase.
When Alex arrives at Reese’s small inn, he’s dismayed to learn that there are no rooms available. Even though he’s already paid for his stay. Reese is stressed out as it is; there’s a wedding party renting the entire place out, and though that’s good news, with the bank is breathing down her neck, it’s got her running on all four cylinders. Her father left her and her mother saddled with an overwhelming load of debt, and she despairs at keeping all of her employees on the payroll through the holidays. Her mother remembers taking Alex’s reservation, but didn’t enter it into the computer. Instead, she ran Alex’s credit card, and just kind of forgot about their pre-paid guest. To make up for it, she suggests, much to Reese’s dismay, that he stay in their small apartment. Reese concedes that she has to make good on their promise to provide him with a room, though she’s not looking forward to giving up her room and sleeping on the couch until a room is freed up for Alex. The money finally persuades her; it will keep the bill collectors off her back for a while.
Both Reese and Alex are harboring poor opinions of love. Reese’s world fell apart when her father was killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve. The real kicker; he was abandoning them, and on his way to start a new life with his mistress. He left behind two broken hearted women and a massive wall of debt that he incurred preparing for that new life. Reese had to quit school and give up her dreams to take care of her devastated mother.
Alex is suffering from horrible guilt. He feels responsible for his mother’s death, as well as his father’s broken heart. He thinks that love leads to heart ache and makes you weak, and so he’s determined to never fall in love himself. Reese changes his mind, though it takes a long time for him to accept that true love is more worthwhile than blind devotion to duty.
A Princess by Christmas is an emotionally satisfying book that even manages to work Dr. Seuss in the storyline. Add to that a fantasy come true and a beautiful island kingdom, and you have a sweet read.
Review copy provided by author
A royal kiss under the mistletoe
Prince Alexandro Castanovo arrives in snowy New York intent on protecting his royal family from scandal. And when Reese Harding—down-to-earth and heart-stoppingly beautiful—finds room for him at her inn, it seems like the perfect twist of fate.
Not long ago Reese’s world came crumbling down, shaking her foundations. But this enigmatic stranger intrigues her! She’s learned to be wary of secrets…but when she discovers Alex’s true identity, might there be enough magic in the air to make this regular American girl a princess by Christmas…?
The post Review: A Princess by Christmas by Jennifer Faye appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
While I’ve read a few other Jill Shalvis titles, He’s So Fine is the first in the Lucky Harbor series that I’ve picked up. I’m wondering why I waited so long. Like Olivia, I was charmed by Lucky Harbor and the people living there. Cole is a great hero, and his buddies Sam and Tanner kept him humble. Mr. Fix It, Cole seems able to repair everything but the tattered remains of his heart. Or was it his pride that needed a patch job? Whatever it was, he didn’t have enough pockets on his cargo pants to mend the damage. He needed a little help from Olivia to get the job done.
Heroine Olivia is in need of some mending, too. A former child star, she went on a binge of bad behavior after her TV show was canceled. When everyone in her life moved on, she lashed out, tarnishing her image and causing the creation of countless Youtube videos and online posts chronicling her bad behavior. With her money-grubbing mother and jealous sister, I’m not surprised that she had no guidance and no rock to anchor herself to. I really sympathized with Olivia. She carried the careers and jobs of many people for years, and then, when her “cute” days were over, she was tossed to the curb like yesterday’s trash. Her TV family moved on, leaving her adrift. Her real family was never emotionally there for her. How awful. To realize with sickening clarity that the only worth you have to others is your ability to finance their paychecks. Until you can’t. And then you are washed up and not worth the time of day. Ugh.
When Cole takes an unexpected dip in the frigid water of the marina while working on his boat, Olivia quickly jumps to his rescue. She bravely leaps onto his head, almost drowning him, all the while thinking that she is saving him. The start of He’s So Fine had me hooked. How could I not be, after an introduction like that one? Shivering with the cold, Cole quickly shepherds his would be savior onto the boat, demanding that she divest herself of her wet clothing before hypothermia sets in. I loved this whole scene, and it set the tone for their relationship. There’s humor, and hotness, and two genuinely nice people who you want to get together. They are both broken, so it’s no surprise that it takes a freezing dip in the ocean to jump start their love lives.
I like small town romances because of the quirky characters that inhabit them. In He’s So Fine, Cole’s friends and family liven up his life. Not always in a good way, but Cole is unflappable and always willing to lend a helping hand. He practically carries a tool box around with him in his cargo pants. He has to fix things, which makes it all the more troubling when he refuses to fix himself. After losing his best friend in a terrible accident, he also loses the woman he loved, when she walked away from him at Gil’s funeral. Cole has never gotten over Susan’s betrayal, and he’s just not willing to put himself out there to be hurt again. But then Olivia jumps on his head, and the man has absolutely no chance of escaping unscathed.
He’s So Fine kept me entertained from the first dip in the cold waters to Cole’s eating humble pie act at the end of the book. I have have two other Lucky Harbor books stashed away on my Kindle (I don’t even remember purchasing them!), so I’m looking forward to more visits to the town, and meeting more of its inhabitants.
Review copy provided by publisher
For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It’s the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she’s rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she’s ever laid hands on.
Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to “save” him. In fact, he’d like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He’s just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole’s heart, or will it be the end of Olivia’s days in little Lucky Harbor?
HE’S SO FINE is available in mass market paperback, ebook and audio book formats wherever books are sold
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1B0Lc5P
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1vUlsVJ
The post Review: He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
The Bloodbound appeared in my mailbox about a month ago. Until I had received an email from the publisher, I had never heard of it, and that’s extremely unusual when it comes to fantasy novels. I am like a Bloodhound; I relentlessly sniff out new titles, especially when they contain romance elements and aren’t part of an already ongoing series. And look at the cover? Protagonist Alix is wearing plate mail and wielding a sword, with barely any flesh exposed. Finally, a female warrior who looks like she’s actually ready to fight and not pose for the swim suit issue of Sports Illustrated. Better yet, she actually kicks ass! She saves her king, Erik, not once, but many times, placing herself at risk of imminent death each and every time. She’s both physically and mentally tough. Hooray!
Alix is a scout in the Alden army, serving her mandatory time in the military. She’s also Lady Black, a member of one of the politically powerful banner houses. Stealthy and brave, she takes her duties in the army seriously. When it becomes clear that the King’s brother, Tom, has betrayed him, withdrawing his forces from the field of battle and leaving Erik to die, Alix ignores her orders to hold her position as lookout and rushes to save her king. She hauls him from his horse to keep him from taking an arrow from an enemy archer, pulling the horse down on top of him. The resulting injuries, knocking him senseless and breaking his leg, are small prices to pay for saving his life. She carries him away from the fighting to safety, and the grateful Erik appoints her the head of his personal guard.
I really enjoyed Alix’s strength. She doesn’t back down from a confrontation, and she always tries to do what’s right. Her strong morale code and her impetuous nature often earn her the wrath of her commanding officer, but she doesn’t let that stop her from taking risks to keep Erik safe. His attitude doesn’t help her, either. Erik isn’t used to hiding behind others, and it’s not until an assassin attempts to take his life that he heeds Alix and follows her security instructions. There were times at the beginning of the book when I thought Alix was the only character to display any sort of common sense, and I did fear for Erik’s safety. He was is own worst enemy for most of the book, and his sense of self-preservation was sadly underdeveloped.
With an enemy army perched at the border of his kingdom, as well as his brother’s efforts to take control of the throne, Erik doesn’t know who he can trust outside of a small group of nobles. Alix has proven her loyalty, so she is given a position of trust within his circle of supporters. Alix proves herself to be politically astute time and again. As Erik fights to protect both his people and his crown, his own beliefs are put to the test. How will he keep control of the country, without tearing it apart from within and adhering to his own code of ethics?
I enjoyed the political maneuvering, as well as the action peppered throughout the narrative. The battles were exciting, and neither Alix nor Erik take a backseat during the action scenes. They meet their opponents head on, blades swinging, unflinching. I really got a sense of the chaos of battle, and found these sequences hard to put down.
There isn’t really a magic system, other than the bloodbinders. Few and far between, these individuals can take the blood of a warrior and blend it with the steel of a sword, creating a weapon that is an extension of the wielder. Alix has a bloodbound sword, which makes her even deadlier in a fight. It is rumored that the invading Oridian’s have a priest able to bind warriors to himself. These mindless thralls fight like berserkers, unmindful of wounds and throwing themselves into battle until they kill their targets, or are killed themselves. Incapable of feeling pain or fear, the thralls are fearsome warriors that never retreat. An all out battle with the Oridian thralls will cost the lives of many, many Aldens, and Erik despairs at victory. With Tom dividing the country, the outcome doesn’t look good for Alden. Erik’s one hope is to kill Madan, the Oridian priest, which will break the blood seal that’s been cast over the bloodbound warriors.
There is a lot going on in The Bloodbound, and while some of the world building elements were a little light, the story was interesting and kept me engrossed in the book. If there was anything that detracted from the story, it was the love triangle between Alix, Liam, and Erik. I am firmly in the I can’t stand love triangles camp, so even if this was the best love triangle in the world of love triangles, I still wouldn’t have liked it. It’s a plot device that is far too overused in YA, and I don’t like it when it pops up in other reads.
I enjoyed The Bloodbound, and the ending left off with room for another book, so I wouldn’t mind spending more time the characters. Rig, Alix’s older brother, is a favorite, so I hope he gets more page time. Since his house needs an heir, I’m curious to see who he gets paired up with.
Review copy provided by publisher
Of all those in the King of Alden’s retinue, the bloodbinders are the most prized. The magic they wield can forge invaluable weapons, ones that make soldiers like Lady Alix Black unerringly lethal. However, the bloodbinders’ powers can do so much more—and so much worse…
A cunning and impetuous scout, Alix only wishes to serve quietly on the edges of the action. But when the king is betrayed by his own brother and left to die at the hands of attacking Oridian forces, she winds up single-handedly saving her sovereign.
Suddenly, she is head of the king’s personal guard, an honor made all the more dubious by the king’s exile from his own court. Surrounded by enemies, Alix must help him reclaim his crown, all the while attempting to repel the relentless tide of invaders led by the Priest, most feared of Oridia’s lords.
But while Alix’s king commands her duty, both he and a fellow scout lay claim to her heart. And when the time comes, she may need to choose between the two men who need her most…
The post Review: The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
I am beyond thrilled to be part of the 50th anniversary blog tour for Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three. My history with Prydain goes WAY back. The Book of Three was one of the first fantasy novels that I ever read, recommended to me by my uncle right after I finished the Narnia Chronicles. I loved the world of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and I wanted to read more books in this wonderful new genre that I had just discovered. I was 11 or 12, and armed with a list of books from my uncle, I hit the library and checked out as many as I could find. The Book of Three and The White Mountains made the biggest impression on me, and I’ve been meaning to reread these treasures from my childhood for quite some time. The problem: I was afraid that they wouldn’t stand up to the test of time. The Book of Three is as old as I am, and I wondered if the years would be good to Taran and Eilonwy. Would they still seem relevant after all this time? You bet! I loved the re-read as much as when I read the book for the first time!
Taran is an assistant pig-keeper, and he lives with Coll and Dalben in a remote hamlet. Nothing much happens, and Taran is bored. He dreams of swords and chivalry, or doing brave things and being more than he is. When the animals go nuts one day, and Hen Wen, the oracular pig he helps care for, escapes her pen and flees in terror, Taran learns first hand that being a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s full of hardship and weariness, life-threatening danger, and fear. It’s also full of new friends, patience, and learning who you are and how you’ll act when faced with the most fearsome foes imaginable.
The writing style is engaging and it didn’t feel dated at all. I have tried to re-read other books from my past, and have been left disappointed. The Book of Three still feels fresh and exciting, and if anything, I liked Eilonwy now even better than before. She’s brave, fearless, and doesn’t wait for someone else to save her. She’s self-assured (probably too much so!), and her sharp intelligence helps her and Taran out of many nasty situations. She wants to pull her own weight, and she never loses her ability to think and reason her way out of trouble. She even has common sense! More than Taran, at least at first.
Taran begins his journey to save Hen Wen, and then all of Prydain, an impulsive, overly confident boy. He arrives at the end of his travels far more mature than when he started. He cares about his friends, even the ones he doubted at first, and doesn’t hesitate to put himself in harm’s way to save them. He even comes to appreciate the predictable peace of home, and wants nothing more than to return to the old, boring life he took for granted.
If I have any complaints about The Book of Three, it’s about the final battle with the Horned King. Most of the action takes place off page, and is related to Taran by a third party. I felt ever so slightly ripped off by that, but it’s not enough of a gripe to mar my reading experience.
If you haven’t read the series before, I highly recommend it, for readers of all ages.
Info about the 50th Anniversary editions:
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers is proud to publish this 50th Anniversary Edition of Lloyd Alexander’s classic The Book of Three, the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain, with a new introduction by Newbery Honor–winner Shannon Hale. This anniversary edition is filled with bonus materials, including an interview with Lloyd Alexander, a Prydain short story, the first chapter of the next Prydain book (The Black Cauldron, a Newbery Honor book), an author’s note, and a pronunciation guide.
I have a hardback copy of The Book of Three to give to one of you! The book is BEAUTIFUL, so please enter below! US/Canada only, please.
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The Book of Three 50th Anniversary Blog Tour
Monday September 22
Tuesday September 23
Wednesday September 24
The Book Wars
Thursday September 25
Bunbury in the Stacks
Friday September 26
Manga Maniac Café
Monday September 29
Read Now Sleep Later
Tuesday September 30
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wednesday October 1
Thursday October 2
Proud Book Nerd
Friday October 3
Book Haven Extraordinaire
The post Review and Giveaway: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
I had a hard time with Winning Ruby Heart. I was fascinated with the premise, especially with all of the reports of terrible behavior by athletes during the last week. While Ruby hasn’t committed domestic abuse, she has committed abuse of another kind: she doped before the Olympics, costing her a gold medal and leaving her reputation in tatters. She was forced to forfeit the one thing she lived for. Now she can no longer participate in any Olympic sport, and for a period of five years, she can’t compete in any sport at all.
The story begins right after her five year suspension has ended. Ruby has always loved running, and she can’t give it up. She’s competing in her first ultramarathon, and as luck would have it, Micah Blackwell, the reporter responsible for crumpling up the last of her career and tossing it in the trash, is covering the race. He recognizes Ruby and is instantly curious. Why is she there? What is she up to? Is she breaking her suspension by participating in the race? He smells a story, and he won’t rest until he’s uncovered it. Besides, there’s an anchor slot available at his network, and he knows that this story will seal the deal for him and give him his dream job.
My biggest problem with Winning Ruby Heart was Ruby herself. I didn’t understand her. She was already the best in the world at her distance, so why did she allow herself to be talked into cheating? She is firmly convinced that she would have won the race anyway, but she let her coach chide her into blood doping. Everyone is doing it is not a good enough reason to risk your entire livelihood and your ability to participate in the one thing you love most in the world. She knew the consequences if she got caught, but she cheated anyway. Worse, when she was first interviewed by Micah, she wasn’t even repentant. With his skillful prodding, she came across as spoiled and self absorbed, and certainly unworthy of a second chance.
The romance left me unmoved as well. At 29, Ruby has always been dependent on her parents. She lives in their home, her father’s law firm has been handling her legal matters at no cost to her, and with no job, she has no means to support herself. Her parents are fearful that she’ll embarrass them again, and they make no secret of their disapproval. Once Micah reenters Ruby’s life, they know it’s only a matter of time before the family is paraded through the papers again, making their lives a nightmare.
I wasn’t convinced that Ruby and Micah made a good match. Micah has had to work hard for everything he has, while Ruby was given the world on a silver platter – which she promptly threw away. After an accident on the football field leaves Micah paralyzed, he turns all of the energy and dedication that made him a stand out player into becoming a stand out sports reporter. And that was where all of my skepticism for their HEA flourished. When Micah was kicked on his backside, he found the strength and the willpower to reinvent himself. Ruby crawled into a hole and hid. I just don’t see them making it for the long haul, because I wonder what Ruby will do when things go south again? Even with Micah’s support, she doesn’t come across as a fighter to me, and she’s not one to deal adequately with adversity.
I found the training interesting, and I can’t remember reading romance with a paralyzed hero in a long time. I enjoyed the introduction of Dotty into Ruby’s life (because dogs make everything better), but overall, I was disappointed with Winning Ruby Heart.
Review copy provided by publisher
It’s a race to their beginning…
Exposing world-class athlete Ruby Heart’s cheating scandal five years ago made reporter Micah Blackwell’s career. Falling in love with her now could end it. Yet watching her determination to return to the top, he can’t resist the woman she has become.
Working with Ruby to tell America her story, Micah falls deeper under her spell. But at a crucial moment, his feelings for her conflict with his job—the very thing that once saved him. Now he must choose between his skyrocketing career and the unlikely love of a good woman….
The post Review: Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
I really enjoyed Meeting Her Match. This novella features an unconventional hero, and honestly, when we are first introduced to Marcus, all I could think was, “No! He can’t be the hero!” He is clumsy, he can’t look Hannah in the eye, and he’s completely tongue-tied in her presence. Turns out our sweet hero has been in love with Hannah since he was a young lad, and he turns into a dithering clod whenever she is near.
Hannah, who has spent many hours secretly finding matches for the eligible singles in town, has failed to find a match for herself. She’s a busy gal, though, so it’s not surprising that she hasn’t found a man to get hitched to yet. She’s the school teacher, she helps her sickly mother tend to her huge brood of siblings, and the timing never seems right for her. Her fiancé was killed in a freak accident, and she’s been drifting through life ever since.
When tragedy strikes her family, Hannah finds herself even more harried than before. Then, when her father practically kicks her out of the house, she’s heartbroken. She mopes about, feeling sorry for herself, not seeing the handsome, caring man that’s right in front of her. Instead, because of Marcus’ shy ways, she thinks that he doesn’t like her, even though nothing could be further from the truth.
With the meddling of the townsfolk, Hannah finally gets a clue. This is a cute read, with likeable characters and a heroine who deserves a HEA. The only glitch for me was that the ending took too long to wrap up. Otherwise, this is a great time killer if you’ve got about an hour to fill.
Review copy read on Scribd
When the tables are turned and a tenderhearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker’s son how much she cares for him?
The post Novella Review: Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
I enjoyed Cowboy Unmatched, another A Match Made in Texas novella, so when I was browsing around on Scribd, I was delighted to see other stories from the same anthology on the site. I quickly added No Match for Love to my library and read it Sunday night. This is a cute story and now I want to read the all of A Match Made in Texas novellas.
Lucy’s father left her penniless after his death, and she’s relying on the charity of her friend’s family to keep a roof over her head. Overindulged by her father, she has never learned useful skills; she can’t even make a pot of tea, let alone find employment to give her some independence. Her only option is to marry Walter, a man who makes her uneasy and who she doubts she could ever develop feelings for. Her friend is marrying soon, however, and she knows that she can’t live with her parents forever, so Lucy is desperate for any opportunity to present itself.
When she’s offered a job far away from Dry Gulch, she jumps at the chance to escape Walter and being a burden to her benefactors. All she has to do is care for Andrew Simms’ elderly aunt. Martha refuses to sell her ranch, the Diamond S, but Andrew has concerns about her mental health. She firmly believes she saw a cow leaping over the moon, in addition to other impossibly odd occurrences at the ranch, and now Andrew is worried about her living by herself.
Lucy expects to find a doddering old woman, but instead she is introduced to an intelligent, capable woman. One who doesn’t want a stranger living with her on her ranch. Andrew convinces Martha that she’ll enjoy the company, and a thankful Lucy has a place to stay, at least for a while.
I enjoyed the friendship that develops between the women. Lucy is hopeless in the kitchen, and she doesn’t know the first thing about running a household. Gruff Martha teaches her all she knows, and the two become friends. The only sticky point? Every full moon, something weird does happen at the ranch. With Martha hollering into the night, brandishing her shotgun, Lucy fears for the woman’s sanity, too. It quickly becomes clear that something, or someone, is responsible for the disturbances plaguing the ranch, and Lucy is determined to discover the reason behind them.
I thought that the romance was secondary to the mystery. The mystery was solved a little too easily, too, but I still enjoyed the interactions between the characters, especially between Lucy and Martha. This is a quick, satisfying read with a very sweet romance, so if you’re looking to fill a short period of time, No Match for Love is an entertaining choice.
Review copy read on Scribd
Andrew can’t fathom how refined Lucy ended up as the caretaker to his dotty aunt, and somehow her arrival has prompted even more bizarre occurrences around the ranch. When they join forces to unearth the truth, will the attraction between Andrew and Lucy develop into more?
The post Novella Review: No Match for Love by Carol Cox appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
I was offered a copy of Hook’s Revenge for review, and how could I possibly refuse? Pirates! Sword play! Adventure! It was a no-brainer to load this on my Kindle and start reading. Following Jocelyn, Hook’s 12 year old daughter, on her grand adventure to Neverland, I was captivated from the first page. Jocelyn is a rough and tumble girl, with no patience for manners, baths, or hair brushing. She’s brave and intelligent, but when she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies to learn how to behave in polite society, she bristles at every lesson. She gets off on the wrong foot with her classmates, and once they discover that she’s the dreaded Captain Hook’s daughter, watch out! Nobody wants to be her friend, and one of her roommates begins bullying her unmercifully. While there is little that Jocelyn is afraid of, she is miserable and friendless at school.
Then Jocelyn meets Roger, the cook’s helper. Suddenly, everything seems bearable again. That is until the horrible Prissy finds a way to hurt Jocelyn by having Roger dismissed from his position at the school. Dreadfully unhappy, Jocelyn makes a wish, and ends up receiving a mysterious letter from her father, delivered by Edger, a talking bird. Before she knows it, she’s been whisked off to Neverland to face her father’s nemeses – Neverland’s crocodile. Will she be able to carry out his final wish and defeat the monster that devoured her dad?
I enjoyed Hook’s Revenge because Jocelyn is such a capable girl. She doesn’t sit around and wait for someone to come to her rescue. Instead, she creates her own opportunities for rescue and adventure, relying on her bravery and intelligence to make her own luck. Unlike her father, she’s a kind girl, though she longs to step into Captain Hook’s shoes, and be as terrifying as her father was. The captain of her own ship, with Smee and the rest of her motley (a barely capable crew) at her command, she sets off to face the crocodile. What she doesn’t expect is how terrifying the beast is, or how many dangers she’ll face during her quest. She faces cannibals, rival pirate crews, and the Fairy Queen with equal aplomb, but will it be enough to see her safely to the end of her adventure?
Hook’s Revenge is a fun read with a humorous and droll narrator. I really liked Jocelyn. Peter Pan makes a few guest appearances, as do the Lost Boys, and it was interesting seeing Neverland through fresh eyes. There’s room for a sequel, so I hope I’ll be able to spend more time with Jocelyn soon.
Review copy provided by publisher
Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn’s hopes of following in her father’s fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink. So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn’t hesitate—here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she’d bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland’s most fearsome beast isn’t enough to deal with, she’s tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited. The crocodile’s clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz’s debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?
The post Review: Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
I haven’t read a Rachel Gibson book in ages, so I was eager to dive into What I Love About You. I loved this book and could not put it down. Blake is a flawed hero, a “raging a**hole” according to heroine Natalie, and he’s only two steps above a Cro-Magnon. He’s suffering from PTSD, and he’s an alcoholic, 62 days away from his last drink. He’s also a bundle of rage; he doesn’t feel that his family is supportive, they keep ragging on him about the littlest things, and all he wants is a little peace and quiet. Hiding out in his new home in a remote Idaho town, he’s determined to beat back his demons without any help from anybody. He’s not a wuss, after all.
What he gets is daily aggravation from the little girl next door a tiny pest with ninja-like skills of stealth. Her pretty mom takes offensive with how Blake talks to her daughter. I don’t know how I’d feel if someone told my kid he shit bigger than her, so I had to excuse her for giving him a piece of her mind. The sparks fly between them, and both of them pretend to want nothing to do with the other. Blake has to concentrate on beating old man Johnny, and Natalie is a single mom, working hard to provide for her daughter. One puppy bomb later, though, and they are sharing custody of Recruit Sparky, much to Natalie’s dismay.
Natalie has been burned badly by the man she loved since high school. After struggling to become pregnant, her husband leaves her, running off with a twenty-year-old – and a large portion of the money he’s been entrusted to invest for his clients. Now he’s serving time in jail for embezzlement, and Natalie is still trying to put her past behind her. She’s not having much luck, however, and her first priority is now the true love of her life, her daughter Charlotte. The grumpy next door neighbor is a pain in the butt, but as long as he stays on his side of the property line, they won’t have any trouble. Too bad she can’t keep Charlotte from ambling over to pester him. Repeatedly.
I thought What I Love About You was a great read. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. I loved how fragile both characters were, and how they both had to learn to trust in themselves and others again. Add in one annoying kid and a rambunctious puppy, and you have a recipe that never fails to please. Blake is a gruff, crass hero, and I loved him. He tells it like it is, and goes after what he wants. He doesn’t always come across as the kind of guy you’d want to wake up next to for the rest of your life, not at first, but his rough edges are smoothed by the end of the story, starting when he befriends the little girl who lives next door. This pushed all the right buttons for me, and I highly recommend it.
What I Love About You
Truly, Idaho # 3
By: Rachel Gibson
Releasing August 26th, 2014
New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson returns to Truly, Idaho, and to the fate of sexy SEAL Blake Junger
GIMMEE A B-R-E-A-K!
Ex-high school cheerleader Natalie Cooper could once shake her pom-poms with the best of them. But she’s paid for all that popularity—her husband’s run off with what’s left of their money and a twenty-year-old bimbo named Tiffany. Leaving Natalie to manage a photo store and having to see some pictures she, well, really shouldn’t.
GIMMEE A S-H-O-T!
Then she comes toe-to-manly chest with Blake Junger. Exiled to a remote cabin in Truly, Idaho, Blake wants nothing to do with anyone. Instead, he’s determined to struggle with his demons and win—all on his own. But the last thing he needs is Natalie distracting him with her luscious curves and breaking down the barriers of his heart.
GIMMEE YOUR H-E-A-R-T!
Can be read as a standalone. Returns to Truly, ID and is about the second Junger twin, Blake Junger.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/06/now-booking-tasty-virtual-tour-for-what.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19099609-what-i-love-about-you?from_search=true
Rachel Gibson lives in Idaho with her husband, three kids, two cats and a dog of mysterious origin. She began her fiction career at age 16, when she ran her car into the side of a hill, retrieved the bumper, and drove to a parking lot, where she strategically scattered the car’s broken glass all about. She told her parents she’d been the victim of a hit and run and they believed her. She’s been making up stories ever since, although she gets paid better for them nowadays.
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The post Review and Giveaway: What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
The last Mary Jo Putney I read was a Signet Regency Romance that was published in the 90s. I loved this line, and still have a box of Signet Regency paperbacks in the the basement. When I had an opportunity to read a brand new book by Putney, I jumped at the chance. I enjoyed Not Quite a Wife, though I did not buy into the conflict between Laurel and James. I guess I am so indifferent to violence that I couldn’t understand why Laurel would leave her husband, James, after he defended her and himself from an assassin. She didn’t even ask him for an explanation for his actions – she just packed her bags and walked out on her young, loving husband.
Laurel Herbert and her brother have been operating an infirmary and home for abused women and their children in Bristol. Laurel is shocked when her newest patient is carried into the ward. It’s James, her estranged husband. He’s been beaten and robbed, and he’s suffering from a fever. In the 10 years that they have been apart, Laurel has settled into a comfortable life, helping disadvantaged women learn skills to assist them in earning their independence. Nostalgia and her confused feelings for her husband lead to a moment of passion between her and James. Because he’s out of his mind with fever, James thinks he’s just had a very erotic, very vivid dream, and Laurel isn’t willing to divulge the truth. Sending him on his way the next day, she returns to her duties and tries to put James out of her mind.
Unfortunately, her momentary indiscretion leaves her pregnant. Putting on a brave front, she approaches James, confesses, and they agree to a month long reconciliation. They’ll need to put up with each other for the sake of their child, so Laurel reluctantly agrees to accompany him to London for one month, with every intention of returning home afterwards. Despite her misgivings about James, she knows that it would be best of all involved to attempt to reconcile.
This is an enjoyable read, but I didn’t feel that there was much conflict between the protagonists. Laurel just can’t forgive James for taking a life, regardless of how justified he was. James is a spy, and it’s his job to protect the Regent and all of England, but he doesn’t take any satisfaction from the fact that he’s killed. It eats at his soul, and this darkness within him is what originally drew him to Laurel. Though they were both very young, from the moment he saw her, James knew that he would love Laurel forever. I think I liked that best about this story; he really did love her from that moment on, and when she left him, it destroyed him. Determined to let her find her happiness, he respected her wishes and stayed away from her. Now that he’s been given a second chance, he’s going to do everything in his power to keep her. James was kind, patient, and understanding of Laurel, sometimes more than I thought she deserved. The lack of communication between them was the biggest obstacle they had to overcome, and it took more than ten years to finally learn to talk to each other.
I’m kind of a sucker for sea battles, so the evil Captain Hardwick and his attempt to make off with Laurel’s lady’s maid was a welcome diversion. It added a life threatening complication, and gave James a chance to be a hero. It also gave Laurel some insight on how it felt to defend your loved ones, regardless of the consequences. The entire abduction episode kept me on the edge of my seat, and I found the resolution to the battle fitting.
Not Quite a Wife
The Lost Lords # 6
By: Mary Jo Putney
Releasing August 26th, 2014
Marry in haste, repent at leisure.
James, Lord Kirkland, owns a shipping fleet, half a London gaming house, and is a ruthlessly effective spymaster. He is seldom self-indulgent…except when it comes to the gentle, indomitable beauty who was once his wife.
Laurel Herbert gave James her heart as an innocent young girl—until she saw him perform an act of shocking violence before her very eyes. That night she left her husband, and he let her go without a word of protest.
Now, ten years later, a chance encounter turns passionate, with consequences that cannot be ignored. But as they try to rebuild what was broken, they must face common enemies and a very uncommon love….
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/06/not-quite-wife-by-mary-jo-putney-lost.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18048060-not-quite-a-wife?from_search=true
Mary Jo Putney is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has written over 60 novels and novellas. A ten-time finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA, she has won the honor twice and is on the RWA Honor Roll for bestselling authors. In 2013 she was awarded the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Though most of her books have been historical romance, she has also published contemporary romances, historical fantasy, and young adult paranormal historicals. She lives in Maryland with her nearest and dearest, both two and four footed.
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Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Each September, we celebrate the Hispanic Heritage Month here in the United States. It runs from September 15 to October 15 and its purpose is to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, México, the Caribbean and Central and South America. These individuals have impacted the community in a positive way.
Gathering the Sun, written by award-winning author Alma Flor Ada and gorgeously illustrated by Simón Silva, fits perfectly for the occasion. Ada’s inspirational poems using the alphabet help the reader to discover the essence, strength, and beauty of a community of lives and work in the field. The marvelous twenty-eight colorful pages honor the courage of women and men who, with their daily efforts, create a better place to live for all.
Each letter transmits a strong message that glorifies the perfection of Mother Nature. These poems glorify the gifts of the harvest season to be enjoyed as brothers and sisters.
Árboles (Trees), Betabel (Beet), Cesar Chávez, Duraznos (Peaches) are some of the words that you find in this lovely book. Let’s celebrate and honor the unique and wonderful riqueza latina. Visit your local library for more interesting stories. ¡Viva Hispanic Heritage Month! Reading gives your wings. To learn more about the Hispanic Heritage Month visit the following links:
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Review by Ariadna Sánchez Ejutla de Crespo is a small town located in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Many years ago Don Ricardo, or Tío Rico as people usually called him, was the man responsible for creating astonishing piñatas. Tío Rico’s creativity is the inspiration for El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker by award-winning author and photographer George Ancona. Tío Rico created artistic white swans, silky herons, cheerful dolls, and delicious orange carrots just to mention some. His piñatas made birthday celebrations special all over Ejutla de Crespo. My father and my mother told me wonderful stories about Tío Rico’s work. For example, they told me that Tío Rico’s piñatas were the most popular items in the community all year round. My grandparents bought piñatas from Tío Rico for my parents, uncles and aunts for their parties. If you ask me where magic and fun meets, I have to respond by saying, “inside Tío Rico’s piñatas.” Ancona’s lovely pictures capture Tío Rico’s patience during the step-by-step elaboration of his one-of-a kind art pieces. El Piñatero / The Piñata Maker is a bilingual book that offers an additional guide to create your own piñata at home. Each page of El Piñatero/ The Piñata Maker is an open invitation to discover the beauty of Ejutla de Crespo, Oaxaca. Visit your local library for more interesting stories. Reading gives you wings! Additional information for El Piñatero/ The Piñata Maker:
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May Contain Spoilers
I love zombie books, but I have to admit that boyfriend zombies are my least favorite trope. I just can’t get onboard with undead boyfriends. I mean, let’s think about it for a second. They are essentially decaying corpses with a craving for brains and raw flesh. Your flesh, or the flesh of your friends. It just doesn’t seem worth the risk to date a dead guy who could turn on you at any moment, going from Romeo to Hannibal Lector. Though, since raw meat is his preferred dish, even my humble cooking skills would wow a hungry zombie. Just head up to the local butcher shop, buy a tasty steak, and serve. No fuss, no muss, if you overlook the dripping blood.
Now, I might be willing to make an exception for DS Thomas Conroy, the zombie government agent in Aleah Barley’s Dead Sexy. He’s gorgeous, tall, dark, and firmly in control of his motor skills. He works for a government agency that works to ensure equal treatment for zombies. Since the plague 12 years ago, businesses have found a way to exploit this new source of labor. Zombies work for low wages, rarely complain, and contentedly accept ground beef for an annual bonus. This cheap influx of employees has forced many of the living factory workers out of a job, so the economy hasn’t improved much in Barley’s post-rising Detroit. With the dead and the desperate roaming the streets, Motor City is even more dangerous than ever.
Gemma Sinclair works at the family mortuary, in addition to hunting zombies to help make ends meet for her and her mother. Her uncle Donny works for them, and he’s a typical zombie; slow, can’t remember the past, and speaks only in stilted sentences. Still, he’s family, and Gemma loves him, despite his undead condition. Gemma is still mourning the death of her father, the one person who understood her. After his death, he made certain that he didn’t come stumbling back to life, and now Gemma is bitter about losing him. She doesn’t get along with her mother, and she chafes at still living at home. Worse yet, she’s still a virgin and with her dangerous profession, she worries about dying before experiencing some hot sexy times. No wonder she can’t get DS off her mind. He’s about the only guy she’s been attracted to, even if he is dead.
I really enjoyed this short read. It’s about category length, and the tone is snarky and humorous. I don’t always like snarky heroines, but I found Gemma engaging and relatable. She’s just trying to make a buck, be independent, and find herself a guy to love at the same time. She and DS get off to a rocky start; she Tasers him and turns him over to the police, even after he saved her from a feral zombie. To say that he’s a bit annoyed with her is an understatement. To make up for the major inconvenience she has caused him, he makes her partner up with him on the case he’s working on. An agent from Toledo, he needs help from someone more familiar with the streets of Detroit. Zombies are disappearing, and it’s his job to find out way. For 150 bucks an hour, plus expenses, Gemma’s happy to pitch in on his mission to find the missing Biters.
There are some annoying editing errors that jarred me from the story, but at .99 for the Kindle, Dead Sexy is a great buy. I liked the protagonists and the setting, but I would have liked more background on the zombie plague. Maybe I’ll get that in the next installment of this series, which I am eagerly looking forward to reading.
Grade: B / B+
Review copy purchase from Amazon
Mortuary attendant Gemma Sinclair hunts zombies for a living. It’s messy work, but it pays the bills… right up until she stun guns the wrong dead man in the ass.
Now to keep her family business going, Gemma’s forced into a partnership with federal agent D.S. Thomas Conroy. Zombies are disappearing all over town, and he needs Gemma’s help to figure out why.
With a villain on her trail and a gang of zombies ready to attack, Gemma’s just glad her backup is dead sexy…
The post Review: Dead Sexy by Aleah Barley #zombies appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
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Holy Cow! Sometimes I just have to get that off my chest. The 25th volume of Skip*Beat! ROCKED! The drama was cranked up when Sho made a surprise appearance during the filming of Kyoko and Ren’s TV show and WOW! He really knows how to stir up trouble. And best yet, how to get under Kyoko’s skin. Jealous when he thought that she was hung up on Reino, a rival singer, Sho wanted to make sure Kyoko knew what she was missing. Delivering a huge bouquet brimming with all the things he thought she’d love, he throws down the gauntlet. He’ll not be overshadowed by the Beagle or by smarmy Ren, either!
When Sho steals Kyoko’s first kiss, hilarity ensues. She is distraught, Ren is quivering with rage, and poor Yashiro – he can only look on in horror as his client’s sense of well-being is shattered into a billion tiny pieces. I didn’t know who I felt worse for – Ren, Kyoko, or Yashiro, who would have to deal with the fallout from Ren’s state of agitation. Kyoko is traumatized, until Ren scoffs at her reaction to Sho. If she wasn’t a willing participant in the kiss, is it really a kiss? Besides, she’s an actress, and there will be times when she’ll have to kiss a co-star. That’s not a kiss, either, it’s just part of the script, and part of the job. Just when he’s made her feel better about the whole episode, Ren works in a little threat; she needs to be careful to never let Sho take advantage of her again, because she only gets one chance. There will be no second chances. Oh, dear!
Later, when Kyoko is alone in Ren’s dressing room, he does something to push Sho completely out of her mind. Literally. Suddenly, she can only think of Ren, and don’t think that doesn’t make him all smug and extremely self-satisfied. Valentine’s Day was so much fun, I was sorry to see it end. This has been my favorite volume of Skip*Beat! so far, and I wonder if it can be topped. Even the art was kicked up a notch, but that impression might be due to the amount of illustrations featuring Ren.
Review copy purchased from Amazon
Kyoko’s Valentine’s battle with Reino has finally gained her Sho’s attention—but now it’s the last thing she wants! Sho is determined to make her obsessed with him, and shows up on set with an over-the-top gift to taunt her. But when Kyoko explains her true relationship with Reino, Sho makes an inexcusable move. Has he undone her years of healing in one fell swoop?!
The post Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 25 by Yoshiki Nakamura appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
I have a new review posted over at Romance@Random! If you have time, check out my thoughts on Wickedly Dangerous.
The post Wickedly Dangerous Review at Romance at Random! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
I enjoyed Cursed and have been waiting impatiently for the next book in the Fallen Siren series. When I saw Captured, a prequel, up on Amazon, I didn’t hesitate to click the “Buy” button. And why would I? This suspenseful read is FREE. If you enjoyed Cursed, too, or just want to get to know the characters before diving into the series, you have nothing to lose to snatching is up! Plus it will tide you over until the October release of Reckoning.
Captured chronicles the first case Emma and Zack team up on. On loan from the San Diego office when Zack’s partner is unable to help with a case, Emma is in Charleston to help Zack with two mission objectives. First, locate Cooper Anderson, a four year boy who has been kidnapped, and two, capture the kidnapper before he or she strikes again. The federal agents are racing against time; two other little boys have already been murdered, and all signs point to the same perpetrator in their latest case.
Zack is a werewolf, and Emma is a Siren. She’s been cursed for failing to keep Hades from kidnapping Persephone. Tasked with redeeming herself in the eyes of Demeter, she works tirelessly to save innocent lives from harm. She has a couple of rules that she won’t allow herself to break, the most important being: never fall in love. All of her lovers have met with unpleasant fates at the hands of the vengeful goddess, so Emma tries to save herself a lot of grief by not getting involved with anyone. This proves a challenging task because the sparks fly between Zack and Emma as soon as they meet.
While the mystery isn’t too challenging, the blossoming romance between Emma and Zack kept me turning the pages. They really click as a team, their work styles complimenting and strengthening each other in their race against time to find the missing boy. Emma’s quest is doubly urgent, because she never knows if this is the the case that will bring her redemption for her failure centuries ago. Every life held in the balance may bring about her freedom from Demeter’s vengeful rage. Zack is a complication she doesn’t need, but can’t resist, regardless of how many times she’s been burned in the past.
Likeable characters make this a worthwhile read. Captured reminded me how much I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!
Review copy purchased from Amazon FREE
Join FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.
She’s a Siren. He’s a Werewolf.
Their mission is redemption.
Emma Monroe is a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now she works for the FBI and is on temporary assignment in Charleston. Solving this next missing persons case could be the key to ending her ancient curse—unless the temptation that’s her new partner gets in the way.
Zack Armstrong is a Werewolf. Tall, dark, and dangerous, he currently works for one of the bureau’s elite Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams. In many respects the man is every bit as mysterious as his secret and perilous past. But there are two things he’s certain about, that he’s going to get his man and his woman.
When Zack finds himself suddenly shy a partner and a third child goes missing in Charleston, Emma goes from consultant to CARD team member in the space of a few hours. The abductions of the first two boys ended in murder, an outcome that neither Zack nor Emma can abide. As they race against time to track down the kidnapper and rescue the latest victim, they find themselves fighting something just as treacherous—a growing attraction that can’t be ignored or denied.
The post Novella Review: Captured by S J Harper appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
I love superhero books, so I immediately snatched up Patricia Eimer’s His Secret Superheroine. While I did enjoy this romance, I have some reservations. The biggest one? I did not like the hero. Dylan is Petyon’s neighbor, and once he discovers that she’s the newest superhero in town, he betrays her trust and treats her inexcusably poorly. I never bought his redemption, and thought it was motivated only because of personal gain, not because he sincerely changed his mind about superheroes.
Peyton is a divorced kindergarten teacher struggling to make ends meet. She’s also Fantastigirl, a superheroine. Her ex, Mr Marvelous, tampered with her birth control pills, and the unintended side effect had her manifesting super powers. She has to keep her crime fighting identify a secret, because Safer America, a powerful political group, is pushing for legislation requiring that all supers register with a national registry. They promote distrust and fear of superheroes, and have infiltrated police forces and the government. Peyton fears being locked up and treated like a lab rat if her super secret identity ever gets out.
After her landlord throws her out of her house because of her connection with her ex, she has nowhere to go. Her gorgeous neighbor, Dylan, suggests she move in with him. Peyton has been helping to care for his young daughter, Liza, and Dylan would be grateful knowing that she’s not home alone while he’s working his crazy hours as a police officer. Peyton reluctantly agrees, hoping she can keep her attraction to Dylan in check. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life; her ex husband won’t leave her alone, and she hopes that living with Dylan will keep him off her back.
I liked the world building, as well as Peyton. As I mentioned earlier, I did not like Dylan. He behaves like a sheep instead of a leader, and he betrays Peyton in the worst way possible. Worse, she is almost killed by an attacker, but because Dylan accused her of not being able to control her powers, she takes the beating and doesn’t fight back. Why? To prove herself to a guy who has already proven to be narrow minded and unforgiving? I just didn’t think that Dylan was worth it, so I’ll recommend His Secret Superheroine with that one reservation.
Grade: B / B-
Review copy provided by publisher
All kindergarten teacher Peyton Pearson wants is a nice, quiet life. Unfortunately, quiet isn’t something she’s had a lot of after tainted medicine turns her into a superhero. She’s single, and saving the city from criminals—which is increasingly dangerous as the anti-superhero movement in St. Louis gains traction. Then there’s her hot next door neighbor who makes her think super-dirty thoughts, and has no idea who she really is.
Police officer Dylan Wilson is trying to make the world safe by working to unmask all superheroes. When his sexy neighbor, Peyton, is evicted, Dylan offers her his spare room, unknowingly opening his home—and his heart—to the city’s most reluctant superhero.
Can love survive when the masks come off?
The post Review: His Secret Superheroine by Patricia Eimer appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
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May Contain Spoilers
I am a big fan of Donna Alward, so when I saw this free novella, I scooped it up and immediately sat down to read it. Like her other books, this short story just clicked with me. I could easily relate to Megan; she’s a hard working vet during the week, but she loves participating in rodeo during the weekend. Pax isn’t a bad guy, he’s just a bit misguided. Five years ago, after a traumatic event puts him in charge of the family business, he abruptly breaks things off with Megan after she leaves for college. He ignores her calls and emails, leaving her broken hearted and confused. Hadn’t they fallen in love over the summer before she left for school?
Megan realizes that she never got over Paxton when she sees him at the fairgrounds where she’s competing. His family breeds stock for rodeos, and he’s there with a trailer of animals for the show. They immediately butt heads, and when he tries to apologize for ending things the way he did, Megan just can’t get past her anger. He took the coward’s way out back then, and she doesn’t want to hear his excuses. Deep down Pax thought he was doing the right thing. By ending their relationship, he was ensuring that she would follow her dream of becoming a veterinarian, instead of being tied to the fortunes of his ranch.
Now that Megan has built a life that she likes and is proud of, she resents that Pax has come marching back into it. She has bulls to ride, and she needs to concentrate on that, and not let Pax distract her. She keeps dredging up the past, though, and wonders if she’ll ever be completely over him. When a bull ride goes wrong, Pax thinks that he made a mistake, but nothing has really changed, so he doesn’t see a way for them to be together.
Even though Rodeo Rebel is a short story, it packed a big emotional punch. I could feel Megan’s pain and frustration over Paxton and his insistence that there was no way they could be together. Though he originally thought he was acting in her best interests, he still refuses, years later, to compromise. He doesn’t like being at the rodeo fairgrounds, but Megan thrives on the excitement and the commotion. He loves the quiet of his ranch, and Megan has a job that she loves, at a vet practice far away. Instead of thinking of ways to work things out, he keeps putting up road blocks, and threatening to break Megan’s heart all over again.
I enjoyed this so much that I grabbed the rest of the books in the Texas Rodeo Barons continuity, and I am looking forward to reading them. I like the Harlequin American Romance line, but I don’t feel that I read enough of them, which is unfortunate, because I know I’m missing out on some good stuff.
Review copy purchase from Amazon – FREE
The Barons, six tight-knit siblings—loud, daring and loyal—are about to discover that love can be as rough as the rodeo. Bestselling author Donna Alward introduces the exciting Texas Rodeo Barons series with her charming prequel novella, Rodeo Rebel.
Back in the ring
As the first female bull rider in her circuit, Megan Robertson needs to focus. But all she can think about is her ex, Pax Lantry. Megan knew their paths would cross again—she just wasn’t prepared for the effect it would have on her. More surprising than the old heartache is the jolt of pure attraction she still feels for him.
Even after five years, Pax has never gotten over Megan. All it takes is seeing her, just once, for him to know that their connection is as strong as ever. But he’s committed to his family’s ranch and Meg has her own demanding career. It seems as if Pax and Megan have moved on, so why can’t they let each other go?
Don’t miss the first heartwarming novel in the Texas Rodeo Barons series, The Texan’s Baby.
The post Novella Review: Rodeo Rebel by Donna Alward appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.