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1. Book Review & $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway: ‘Mind Games,’ by Christine Amsden


MindGames_medMind Games is the much awaited third installment in the new adult mystery series, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Talented author Christine Amsden keeps delivering a great story filled with interesting characters, romance, mystery, and the paranormal, lots of it.
In this episode, Cassie still doesn’t know why Evan broke her heart two months ago, and the mystery gnaws at her big time. She decides to keep busy and make herself useful at the sheriff’s department. She also meets charismatic mind mage Matthew Blair…much to Evan’s distaste. At the same time, Eagle Rock is teeming with hate from the religious community, a reaction to the recent murder of a much-esteemed pastor’s wife by what the people believe was a sorcerer. The town is about to snap, with tensions between the magical and non-magical communities.
And in the center of all this, is Matthew, whom Cassie finds irresistible. But can she trust him? According to Evan, no way. But then, Evan isn’t the most objective person when it comes to Cassie. Evan and Cassie have a history, as well as a secret connection, that keeps them bound in spite of themselves.
Will Cassie discover the real culprit or culprits behind the pastor’s wife’s murder, as well as the real face behind the anti-magical propaganda and demonstrations? Most importantly, will she wake up and see Matthew for who he really is…and find the courage to face Evan for what he did to her—when she finds out?
I love this series and thoroughly enjoyed this instalment! There’s something about Cassie’s voice that makes her really likable. She has a good heart and is witty, too. But best of all, she is just an ordinary girl next door trying to do her best in spite of everything that happens around her—which is usually pretty remarkable, as is often the case in paranormal stories.
Her relationship with Evan keeps evolving organically and there’s a major revelation in this book about their connection and the secret behind their rival families. Matthew is a great addition to this episode, adding tension with his charismatic personality and inciting sparks of jealousy from Evan. The conflict between the religious and the magical communities is also well done.
Mind Games kept me reading late into the night, wondering what would happen next. If you haven’t read any books in this series before, I urge you to pick up book one first, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. The books are best read in order. You won’t be disappointed.
Purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
Connect with the author on the web: 
My review was originally published on Blogcritics
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!!!
*The giveaway begins on April 15, 2014 at midnight and ends on July 16, 2014 at midnight.

0 Comments on Book Review & $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway: ‘Mind Games,’ by Christine Amsden as of 4/16/2014 3:11:00 PM
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2. Review: Bang by Lisa McMann

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I thought that Crash, the first book in the Visions trilogy, was a bit repetitive.  Don’t get me wrong – I still couldn’t put it down and read it in short order.  But the never ending replay of the vision haunting Jules became tedious about the 100th time through.  Bang never felt like a CD set on Replay, probably because the vision is Sawyer’s, and Jules does not have firsthand knowledge of it.  Instead, Sawyer’s nightmare is relayed to Jules in painstaking detail as he is forced to watch it over and over again.  That distance made all the difference.

When Sawyer tells Jules that he’s suffering from a vision of an impending disaster, she wants to help him figure out what’s going on so they can stop it from happening.  Sawyer is haunted as the vision becomes ever more gruesome – a pile of bodies lie crumbled in a classroom, staining the floor red with blood.  All he can hear is the bang! bang! bang! of gunfire.  He’s desperate to find a way to make it stop, but if it’s anything like Jules’ vision of the crash, the only way to make it go away is to figure out when the shooting is going to happen and stop it, saving the lives of a bunch of people he doesn’t even know.

Using her experience with her own vision as a guideline, Jules dives in and helps him sort out details of the upcoming tragedy.  Where are the victims?  What are they wearing? Can he tell what time of day the shooting will occur?  They slowly unravel snippets of details about the incident, which aid them as they race to solve the mystery before the shooting happens, or before Sawyer is driven insane by what’s he’s forced to watch all the time.

To complicate matters, Jules and Sawyer have to deal with their families and their animosity towards each other.  The Demarco’s and the Angotti’s certainly know how to hold a grudge.  Neither of their fathers is ready to bury the hatchet on the feud that has simmered between them for years, and both Jules and Sawyer are punished when they are caught together.  Jules is having a terrible time showing any kind of respect for her father.  He’s a liar and a cheat, and she suspects that he’s a coward, as well.  I wonder if he suffers from the visions, too, but hasn’t been able to do anything about them.  Maybe that explains his odd behavior and probable mental illness?

I enjoyed the book because I liked Jules, her siblings, and Sawyer so much.  They are just trying to do the right thing, and not get buried by the weirdness of their families.  They all start to show some independence and resistance to the status quo, though all of their parental relationships suffered for it. 

I don’t want to spoil any of the mystery, so I’ll just sum things up by stating that Bang kept me on the edge of my seat, and I hated to put it down.  It’s a very fast read, with plenty of twists and turns, and enough parental conflict to keep any teenager distracted.  I felt so bad for Jules!  Her home is certainly not a haven for her, and neither is Sawyer’s. I can hardly wait to learn what secrets Jules’ father is hiding in Gasp, the last volume of the Visions trilogy.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

What Sawyer’s seeing might mean murder. The second book in a series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.

Jules should be happy. She saved a lot of people’s lives and she’s finally with Sawyer, pretty much the guy of her dreams. But the nightmare’s not over, because she somehow managed to pass the psycho vision stuff to Sawyer. Excellent.

Feeling responsible for what he’s going through and knowing that people’s lives are at stake, Jules is determined to help him figure it all out. But Sawyer’s vision is so awful he can barely describe it, much less make sense of it. All he can tell her is there’s a gun, and eleven ear-splitting shots. Bang.

Jules and Sawyer have to work out the details fast, because the visions are getting worse and that means only one thing: time is running out. But every clue they see takes them down the wrong path. If they can’t prevent the vision from happening, lives will be lost. And they may be among the casualties…

The post Review: Bang by Lisa McMann appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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3. Interview with Talia Aikens-Nuñez, Author of OMG… Am I A Witch?!

witchTalia Aikens-Nuñez wanted to be a meteorologist, a politician and a lawyer. She never thought she would be a writer. It was the birth of her daughter that caused her to start writing. Raising a bilingual child inspired Talia to write multicultural children’s books. Talia’s family loves nature so much that she and her husband vowed that they will always try to live close to water. She, her husband, daughter and newborn son live on a river in Connecticut.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

After the birth of my daughter, I started writing books for kids. I wanted to write fun and imaginative books for kids that featured multicultural characters.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I wanted my kids to be able to see and read books featuring multicultural characters that did not focus on race or ethnicity.

 

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

No. I love to try to think like an 8-12 year old. My favorite part of writing for the age group is trying to capture their imagination and fun-loving nature.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

OMG… Am I A Witch?! is the enchanting story of a little girl who discovers her magical powers after turning her annoying older brother into a dog using a spell found on the Internet.

A classic story of “be careful what you wish for.” OMG… is a hair-raising, action packed tale of a girl looking for a spell reversal and finding herself in the process.

What inspired you to write it?

It just came to me one day as a fun and imaginative idea.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

They can purchase a copy from the publisher’s website (Pinwheel Books):
https://pinwheelbooks.myshopify.com/collections/our-books/products/omg-am-i-a-witch

Amazon (for Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/OMG-Am-Witch-Talia-Aikens-Nu%C3%B1ez-ebook/dp/B00FQI9SZO/

Amazon (paperback): http://www.amazon.com/OMG-Am-I-A-Witch/dp/0985424850/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/omgam-i-a-witch-talia-aikens-nu-ez/1117110410

What is up next for you?

I am trying to find a home for my next children’s book, Dragon Guardians.

Do you have anything else to add?

I hope everyone enjoys the fun and magical adventure of April and her friends. You can find me online at http://talia-aikens-nunez.vpweb.com and like me on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/taliaaikensnunezchildrenswriter

Thank you for spending time with us today, Talia. We wish you much success.

 


0 Comments on Interview with Talia Aikens-Nuñez, Author of OMG… Am I A Witch?! as of 11/19/2013 1:07:00 PM
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4. Book Review: The Archived

The Archived
by Victoria Schwab

It hasn't even been a year since Ben died, and Mackenzie Bishop is already forgetting what her brother looked like. Her mother copes with the grief by throwing herself with artificial cheerfulness into projects, while her father copes by retreating into himself.

Mac knows something her parents don't: that all the memories of the dead are archived as Histories, which look and act like the living person in every way. Histories usually sleep, but sometimes one awakens and tries to get out; occasionally they're even violent. Mac is a Keeper, tasked with guarding the Narrows that border the Archive and returning any of the Histories who escape. It's a role that she inherited from her grandfather, and one that she must keep absolutely secret, even from her parents. Knowing that Ben's History is in the Archive should be a comfort to Mac, but even a Keeper can't see the Histories, and Mac fears that she is losing her memories of Ben.

When Mac's family moves into the Coronado, an old hotel converted to an apartment building, Mackenzie gets a new territory in the Narrows to patrol. But something is not right — the Histories here are restless, and Mac is busier than ever trying to return them all. What's more, it appears that a murder was committed decades ago at the Coronado, a murder that someone went to a great deal of trouble to cover up. Mac is determined to find out the truth, even if it means putting her life at risk.

The Archived is a moving exploration of life, death, and grief wrapped up in an intriguing, character-driven mystery. Mac is tough — she has to be, to deal with the sometimes violent Histories — and she has the scars to prove it. But even her toughness doesn't make her immune to grief, and like everyone else she'll need to find a way to deal with it and move towards acceptance.

The story has a strong sense of place, and the various locations are lovingly described: the elegant, library-like atmosphere of the Archives, the creepy hallways of the Narrows, and the faded glory of the Coronado, which really becomes a character in its own right. The characters are likewise vividly brought to life. Besides Mac, there is a teen boy, Wes, that she meets in the Coronado. Wes hides a surprising depth and empathy behind a façade of good-natured humor. Mac's relationship with her grandfather is developed through flashbacks. Other minor characters, such as the Librarians in the Archives, are less fully-fleshed-out, but still distinctively characterized.

The setup with the Archives is intriguing and pleasingly unique. The internal logic is pretty consistent and well-developed, with one exception that bothered me. What is the purpose of keeping the Archives in the first place? There doesn't seem to be any reason for it. Loved ones can't visit the Histories, and no one seems to read the Histories except for the occasional Librarian seeking relief from boredom, and even that seems to be discouraged. It seems like an elaborate setup requiring considerable secrecy and no small amount of risk, for no purpose. If you can suspend that disbelief, then The Archived is a pretty enjoyable book.

The Archived is a 2013 Cybils Awards Nominee

Who would like this book:

Although the setup is not strictly supernatural — Histories aren't really ghosts — it should appeal strongly to fans of supernatural fiction. Teens who enjoy mysteries or character-driven fiction may also enjoy this.

Get it from:
FTC required disclosure: Reviewed from library copy. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.


0 Comments on Book Review: The Archived as of 2/6/2014 6:09:00 PM
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5. Alliance: The Paladin Prophecy Book 2: Mark Frost

Book: Alliance (The Paladin Prophecy, Book 2)
Author: Mark Frost
Pages: 352
Age Range: 12 and up

Alliance is the sequel to Mark Frost's The Paladin Prophecy. (This review may contain spoilers for the first book.) Alliance picks up a few months after the events of the first book, and again features Will, the genetically enhanced center of a group of five students at a special private school. Will is recovering from the physical and emotional traumas of the fall. As summer approaches, he again tries to understand how he fits in to a battle between good and evil. An encounter with someone who helped the teens in the first book sends them on a quest deep below ground, to find a special key. The plot involves physical confrontations, as well as historical investigations into the past, and personal quests to understand each student's special abilities. 

It took me a long time to get through this book. To be fair, I was reading it during a busy time. But every time I would try to read it at night, I would fall asleep after just a couple of pages. I kept going because I was interested in the characters, but I eventually had to find time to finish it during the day. I felt that if the pacing had been a bit tighter, Alliance would have worked better for me. There was one section in particular, where the kids are planning a detailed campaign to gain access to a guarded location, that really dragged for me. I also felt like some of the characterization was a bit over-telegraphed, particularly Nick not being very bright and Ajay being absurdedly geeky.

But there are still things that I like about the book. As in The Paladin Prophecy, I love the way Will is guided by sayings that he learned from his absent father. Like:

"#24: YOU CAN'T CHANGE ANYTHING IF YOU CAN'T CHANGE YOUR MIND"

and 

"IF YOU DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO NOTICE YOU, ACT LIKE YOU BELONG THERE AND LOOK BUSY."

An appendix lists all 100 pieces of apt advice. 

There are also cool settings, including a castle-like building, and hidden tunnels and caves. There are neat gadgets. The kids have interesting abilities, and their interactions are reasonably realistic. They use their brains, and work to solve complex puzzles from sparse clues. Kids who enjoy adventures with a supernatural bent (like Rick Riordan's books, for instance) will most likely enjoy this one, too. 

I could on principle do without Will being the love interest of both of the two girls in the group. But in truth, neither of the other two boys would work in that context. As far as content goes on the love interest side, there's a very small amount of kissing - nothing objectionable for younger kids.

Bottom line: Alliance didn't really work for me, but I'd definitely still purchase it if I were shopping for a middle school or high school library. And I won't be surprised if the series ends up in the movie theaters one day. There will certainly be at least one more book, as this one ends on a cliffhanger. 

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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6. WARNING! Incredibly Long Post Ahead...


I got two awards.  In one day!

I wonder why that is?
Oh, this is why.  Makes sense now. :)

So first off, the Sunflower award.

Amanda and Bella both nominated me for this award.
Source

These are the rules.  Since I am a rebel, I will do everything except nominate eleven other bloggers, 'cause all the eleven I'd nominate probably already received this anyway.

Rule the First:  Share eleven facts about yourself.

Rule the Second:  Answer the questions set by your nomination blogger.

Rule the Third:  Nominate eleven bloggers.
Yeah. That's not happening. I'll nominate SOME.

Rule the Fourth:  Set questions for the nominated bloggers.

SOOOOOO.... First off, here are Eleven Facts About Me.

1.)  With my medical transcription training, I tend to double-space between periods now, in everything except novels I'm writing, 'cause for the most part Editors/Agents/Publishers don't like double-spacing.

2.)  I love watching music videos.

3.)  I have a hard time doing new things.
Source

4.) I usually run out of things to share around Number Four.
Source

5.)  I get depressed with popular young adult fiction and go back to my staple diet of Diana Wynne Jones, Patricia McKillip, and Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major.
Source

6.)  I have taken to saying "Jeepers" a lot.  Not sure where that came from.

7.)  I don't even know how many books I own.  I think there were a hundred on one bookshelf in my bedroom, and there's got to be five?  six?  maybe even ten times that amount in the closet... and on other bookshelves... and under the bed... and in other sisters' rooms.
Mark Sheppard as Crowley

8.)  I find it amazing how many TV shows Mark Sheppard has played in.
Source

9.)  I was tempted to skip number 9 and see how many of you were devoted enough to read through all these "facts" in order to catch the missing number.  I resisted.  Aren't you proud?

10.)  Right now, one of my most favourite songs to listen to is POMPEII by BASTILLE.

11.)  I want Josh Groban to do another Kid Snippets video NOW!
Josh watches Kid Snippets, you guys!

Whew!
Source


Now for the questions from Amanda and Bella.


AMANDA'S QUESTIONS ~

1.) What's your favorite type of dog?
I freakin' LOVE German Shepherds!  But, if we're talking smaller dogs, I'm into Border Collie/Cocker Spaniel mixes, and Shiba Inus.
Shiba Inus TOTALLY look like foxes... minus the tail. :)

2.) Do you sing along to Doctor Who's theme song?
TOTALLY!!

Source
 
3.) What does Tahiti make you think of?
This:
Source
 
4.) How did Moriarty fake his death?
Source
'Nough said.

5.) Who's your favorite Superhero.
Iron Man.
Source
6.) If you could choose a superhero name, what would you call yourself?
Hmmm.... I'd probably end up sticking with Cat.  Ooh, I know.  Panther. Cat Panther.  That's my superhero name.

7.) You can travel back in your timeline, and only your timeline. What would you re-visit?
March 27th, 2007, August 24, 2011, and October 6, 2013... because those were the times we saw Josh Groban in CONCERT. And end of April to beginning of May 2013, 'cause that's when we went to Scotland. And every single Christmas Eve and Christmas in the history of my life.


There's Amanda's questions answered. Exciting, wasn't it?
Source


BELLA'S QUESTIONS ~

1) Do you like Daylight Savings Time?
I like when Daylight Savings Time ENDS, and we gain an hour.  Otherwise I'm like:
Source
 
2) What is one really good series which you have just discovered?
Book series?  Um, how recently?  I'd say The 100 Cupboards was good, though technically that's a trilogy and not really a series.

3) Are you a subtle fan-girl or more of a loud excited fangirl like me?
I believe I am subtle.
Source


4) Hamburgers or Hot dogs?
Definitely hamburgers.

5) Do you like wearing sweaters or do you prefer hoodies?
I'm more of a sweater person.  I'm not crazy about hoodies on myself, because I feel totally gangsta in them.  However, I like hoodies on other people.
Source

6) Do you like going out in the evening?
I hope you like the caption  :-P

7) Did you ever play Truth or Dare and did you like it?
You mean Interrogation or Humiliation? *See question six's gif for your answer.* 
  
And that's the Sunflower Award!  Thanks again to Amanda and Bella for the nomination!

I nominate:
Allyn
Nessie
John the Hedgehog

My questions for youse all:
1.)  Do you prefer Arabic or Roman numerals?
2.)  Do you watch My Little Ponies?
3.)  What's the absolute stupidest thing you've ever done?
4.)  What's your idea of the best car?
5.)  What's the worst thing you can imagine?
6.)  Do you know what gif stands for?
7.)  Be honest... did you have to Google "gif" in order to answer question 6 intelligently?

Have fun! :)


And Now...
 Drumroll, please...
Source

I also received the Liebster Award from Rose M.

Le Rules for Le Reward:

Uno: Acknowledge the blog that nominated you. Thank you, Rose from The Golden Road!

Dos: Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger created.

Tres: List 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers that deserve some recognition.

Quatro: Post 11 questions for them to answer.

Cinco: Notify them that they've been nominated.


Alrighty! ROSE'S QUESTIONS ~

1.)  An anonymous someone drops a note on your front porch saying that they will fund a trip to either England, an African Safari, Prince Edward Island, or Italy. Which do you choose? Why?
Italy.  Why?  Because it's freakin' ITALY!
Source
 
2.)  You're being forced to re-do your room. What color do you paint it?
THIS:
Source
 
3.)  Do you have a particular song that you listen to often, but it never seems to get old? If so, what is it?
Yes.  Yes I do.
 
4.)  Would you rather be lounging in the sun on the beach reading a good book or adventuring in the waves?
Ooh, choices, choices... I'd do both.  Read a little in the sun, and go for a swim, and read a little in the sun, and go for a swim, and read a little in the sun, and... you get the picture, right?

5.)  You suddenly end up with two twin kittens. One is a girl; one is a boy. What do you name them? 
Sam and Jess.

6.)  You're organizing a get together with friends. Would you choose a picnic or a movie night?
Definitely a movie night.  Less small talk.  LOL

7.)  What is your pet peeve? 
BADLY WRITTEN YA AND MG NOVELS!!!
Source
 
8.)  Is there a new hobby you've been wanting to try out? 
Source
 I fancy archery.
 
9.)  If you could pick one instrument that you would (without any effort on your part) instantly master, which would you choose? 
Pan pipes.

10.)  Would you like to be snowed inside for a week? 
*See John Watson gif used in Bella's question number 6.*

11.)  Pick the closest book to you that you've read. Who is your favorite character in the book?
Right now, the book closest to me that I've read is The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, and my favourite character in that book is John Sebastian Farrell.
 
I DID IT, Y'ALL!! 
 
And now I nominate:

My questions for YOUSE all:
1.)  What fandom do you "belong" to?
2.)  Would you fight to the death someone who bashes one of your favourite characters?
3.)  Would you use daggers for subtlety, or swords for an all-out "COME AT ME, BRO!" battle?
4.)  What do you do when someone tells you that you have pepper in your teeth?
5.)  To you, what's more awesome... climbing trees, or writing stories?
6.)  Have you ever secretly wished you were a unicorn?
7.)  When you drink tea, do you prefer a mug or a bone china cup?
8.)  What's your opinion on Alka-Seltzer?
9.)  If you are an Agents of SHIELD fan, or a Marvel fan, or just a superhero fan, which agent/superhero do you think you'd be?
10.)  Do you have a lucky number?
11.)  WHY do you have a lucky number?!  (Those of you who replied No to question 10, Why DON'T you have a lucky number?!!
 
And that's that.
http://kotwg.blogspot.com/2013_11_01_archive.htmlI'm AWESOME!
 
 Hope you all had fun with that, and we'll see you next time!
 
God bless!
 
Cat
 
 
 
 
 
 




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7. Spotlight and Giveaway! Mercy by Jan Coffey

Author Interview with Jan Coffey (aka May McGoldrick, aka Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick)

Q. What inspired you to become an author?

We’ve always been writers and readers! Nikoo used to write stories for her grade school friends. After high school, being very good at math and sciences, she was encouraged to go to engineering school. After all, that was where the JOBS were. So she did…and tucked away her love of writing (in a safe spot) in favor of her immediate responsibilities. Later on, writing took a backseat to paying a mortgage and raising a family. She never lost her love of storytelling, though.

Jim wrote poetry and ‘007’ skits for the other kids in the neighborhood. He later became an English major and at least tried to stay in touch with his desire to write. In fact, after finishing college he wrote a screenplay that almost sold to Robert Redford’s production company. But real life again interfered with dreams as he pursued a career in a submarine shipyard before going back to school and getting his PhD some ten years later.

Q. Why did you decide to write together?

After our younger son successfully came through heart surgery as an infant, we found ourselves reassessing our lives and our goals. We have always been storytellers and readers, and we decided to try writing a short story together. That story, a prizewinner in a national writing contest, was the first step. The next step, naturally, was a full-length historical novel!

Q. You are somewhat unique in that you are a married writing team. How well does that work for you, and what are the pluses and minuses?

We can no longer even imagine writing separately. In our nonfiction book, Marriage of Minds: Collaborative Fiction Writing, we talk about the difficulties and the delights of working together, but we can tell you that the joys outweigh the hardships by a mile…at least for us. To sum it up, everything comes down to our ability to separate the work from the person. We came to the realization early on that just because we don’t like a passage or a paragraph or a chapter that our partner wrote, that doesn’t mean we don’t like THEM. Another thing that has made our writing career possible is that we had a solid foundation in our marriage (thirteen years!) before we started collaborating on our fiction.

Q. What is the biggest challenge and the biggest pleasure about writing as a team? Do you each have a particular area of specialty in the writing?

Two heads being better than one should be the theme song for every collaborative writing team. You are never alone. You always have someone to talk over your ideas with. But of course, having two heads doesn’t necessarily mean that you have twice the brain… or that you can write twice as fast. Also, feeding times are difficult…bathroom times are hell.

The biggest pleasure that we’ve found in the actual act of writing is the feeling of complementing each other. While we don’t really have specialty areas, Nikoo could be characterized as the screenwriter type (she loves writing dialogue), and Jim is more the poet type (he loves imagery and language, descriptive passages… he also loves sleeping in late, long walks on the beach, old movies… anything to keep from working.)

Q. Do you write in different genres?

We do. Our choice of historical romance was simple… Jim had the historical information from his dissertation work and his PhD, and Nikoo had the stories. And we’re both fervent believers in satisfying endings! So May McGoldrick was born.

After more than a dozen historical romances under our belt, we pursued romantic suspense and suspense thrillers under the name Jan Coffey.

Our decision to write nonfiction grew out of our desire to help other writers who might be looking for an alternative way to successfully tell their stories. Also, we’re teachers, so many of our handouts and exercises went into our Step Write Up collection.

We also write young adult under both names.

Q. How did you come up with the story for Mercy? Is the book, the characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

For many years we lived in Newport, Rhode Island. Our house was an early nineteenth-century home that was rumored to be haunted by two sisters—very friendly ghosts. During our years living there, we experienced some strange things. There were many occasions when our dog would wag his tail and bark excitedly at an empty doorway. Also, our toddler would smile and wave his hand at the same invisible people that we couldn’t see. Doors closed on their own. There were creaks in the old plank floors after we go to bed. On one occasion, Nikoo was baking in the kitchen when a cold hand touched her face. She turned to find the baby monitor had gone off. Running upstairs, she found our son was choking in his crib. To this day, we credit the sisters for saving our child’s life.

An old seaport town, Newport is famous for the ghosts of pirates and seamen and the families that they were left behind. There are stories of executed buccaneers being buried on the shore below the high tide line so the souls would never rest as the waves washed across the sands. There are so many ghost stories about the historical homes on the island.

Our novella Mercy was pieced together from many of those stories. An inn on the bluffs, a widow’s walk on a house on another corner of the island, an angry ghost who unsettled every occupant of the home she haunted. Isn’t this the way all stories are born?

Q. Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

We start with a working title. The final book title always goes through a constant revision because the two of us have to agree. That often takes some negotiating before deciding on the final name. Of course, there have been many instances when the marketing departments at our publishers have changed the title in the eleventh hour. We still get letters from fans saying, “Why can’t I find a copy of the novel Jeweled Cup that was advertised in the back of one of your earlier works?” Jeweled Cup became Flame. And that is another ghost story, but set in the Scottish highlands…

Q. Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?

We have been working on Road Kill (working title) about a small-town Connecticut photographer that discovers crime scene photos are mixed in with her work—pictures of a slayings that have not yet been discovered. As the result, she becomes the center of a police investigation and the target of a killer’s obsession.

We love to hear from our readers. So please stay in touch.

Nikoo & Jim

www.JanCoffey.com

Mercy by Jan Coffey

ISBN: 9781622663347

Book Description:

Julia Klein’s life has begun to unravel—her daughter Amy has been suspended from school, Julia is about to lose her job, and her boyfriend Garrett is being transferred thousands of miles away.

Overwhelmed, she and Amy leave for a weekend at a rambling old colonial inn. Julia never suspects that Garrett, desperate to find a way to keep Julia in his life, has decided to surprise her by joining them. Nor does she expect her daughter to befriend a mischievous ghost…or that she herself would be possessed by the malevolent spirit of a long-dead mother.

As a dark secret emerges, Julia, Amy, and Garrett find themselves pitted in a fight for survival against a savage presence that intends to resurrect/repeat/relive a horrible crime committed two centuries ago. And this time, Amy and Julia will be the victims.

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Excerpt:

Starting up the stairs, Garrett tried to bury the image of a teary Julia when she’d closed the door on him yesterday after he’d arrived at her house. She’d been too upset to talk.

He shivered as a gust of cold air rushed down the stairwell, slapping him in the face. Garrett hesitated, startled by the sharpness of it. At the top of the steps, a shadow moved, catching his eye. But when he reached the second floor landing, he was surprised to see no one there and no open window.

Doors were visible on both sides of the well-lit hallway. A light flickered behind him. Then, halfway down, a bulb buzzed, blazed intensely, and burned out. He stopped dead. A tall woman in a long, gray dress was standing beneath the darkened light, glaring at him.

Something in her face kept him from looking away. Her eyes burned with emotion. Bitterness. Anger. Hatred.

The hairs on his neck rose when she started in his direction. She moved toward him, filling the narrow hallway.

Garrett turned to make room for her, shuffling his overnight bag from one shoulder to the other, but as he did, his room key dropped to the floor.

When he bent down to retrieve it, chilled air, oppressive and gray, hit him like a wave.

He froze. He’d felt this sensation once before, diving with a film crew at the raising of a sunken slave ship. It was in the ship’s cargo hold. It was a feeling so icy, so overwhelming, that it went straight through him, infusing his bones, numbing him. With it came a sudden memory of some forgotten nightmare—a barren winter field, the gaping black hole of a bottomless grave. He could almost taste the dank odor of death.

Cold panic washed through him. She was on him, all around him. He could feel the woman’s fury. Snatching the key, he straightened up.

She was gone.

Garrett looked up and down the hallway. He was alone. No door had opened or closed. The woman had disappeared.

He was in a colonial inn in Newport, he thought. Of course it could be haunted. He ran a hand over his face. Key in hand, he continued down the hall. By the burned-out light, he saw a set of stairs going up to the third floor. Peering up, he saw the chain across the steps with a sign. ‘Private Residence’. It was dark beyond.

Julia had no idea that he was coming. He’d been on the phone with her this afternoon, and they’d even sent texts back and forth a couple of times tonight. He had given her no inkling that he was already on his way to Newport. Yesterday, he’d been shut out. By showing up here today, he wanted to show Julia that the promotion and the move didn’t change the way he felt. He wanted to be part of their life.

His room was just beyond Julia’s. With one last look down the hall, he turned the key in his door and entered the dark room. A gust of autumn wind blew in from an open window, rattling a picture frame on the wall and causing the gauze curtains to stand straight out like ghostly wings against the ceiling.

Standing inside the door, Garrett sensed that he was not alone in the room. He could feel the eyes of someone watching him. Hating him.

He switched on a lamp by the door. Yellow light bathed the room, throwing deep shadows into dark corners.

The door slammed and Garrett jumped, his eyes sweeping the room. The wind eased, and the sheers fell calmly against the sills. No one else was there.

"Halloween, a wicked draft, and exhaustion," he muttered. “Get a grip.”

The temperature had dropped considerably since he left Boston this afternoon. He closed the window and glanced around at the furnishings. Four-poster bed. The usual dressers and tables. Two reading chairs by the window. Exposed ceiling rafters of rough-hewn timber completed the colonial feel of the room. At one end, the bathroom. At the other end, a door that he knew must lead into Julia and Amy’s room.

He checked his phone. The last text from Julia had come a few minutes after seven. They were walking into the theater to see a movie. Almost two hours ago.

His eye was drawn to Julia’s door. He walked over and unbolted the latch, but it was locked from the other side.

He stopped, hearing faint voices. Snatches of conversation.

Go…chair…

I want to stay…

Telling you…Go.

A woman and a child’s voice. But the woman didn’t sound like Julia. And it couldn’t have been Amy. For a second, he wondered if the receptionist downstairs had put him in the wrong room.

"Julia?" he called, pressing his palm flat against the door. The wood felt like ice.

The voices stopped.

“Julia?”

The knob turned from the other side, but it didn’t open. Suddenly, a heavy bang rattled the door.

Shocked, he jumped back. Over and over, the doorframe shook.

"Unlock it, Julia," he called.

As suddenly as it started, it stopped, and the sound of scratching began. Someone was sitting on the floor on the other side, clawing at the door. Then, as he stared, long lines of claw marks started to show through the paint. Garrett took another step back.

“This isn’t happening,” he said, feeling the hackles rise on his neck.

Just as the words left his mouth, the scratching stopped. Even as he stared, the claw marks disappeared.

The sound of moaning came through the door. A woman crying.

Help me.

Julia.

About the Author:

Jan Coffey aka Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick are storytellers, teachers, and partners in the truest sense.

Nikoo was born in Tehran, Iran, and moved to United States on the eve of Iranian revolution. After receiving a degree in Mechanical engineering, for fifteen years she worked in shipbuilding and robotics, holding manufacturing and higher level management positions. Always a writer and teacher at heart, she gave up her engineering career to pursue writing full time over a decade ago. These days, she also conducts frequent workshops on writing and publishing and serves as a visiting author at middle and high schools.

When their first son was born, Jim gave up a successful career in shipbuilding to pursue a PhD in Medieval and Renaissance literature. After being awarded tenure at a university in Pennsylvania, he found that the opportunity to write novels full-time could not be ignored. Since then, he and Nikoo have written well over two dozen works of fiction and nonfiction. Along with his writing, he currently teaches English and Creative Writing in northwestern Connecticut.

Together, Nikoo and Jim write historical fiction as May McGoldrick and contemporary suspense thrillers as Jan Coffey.

These prolific and popular authors have been the recipients of numerous awards for their work. They now reside in Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Website: http://jancoffey.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JanCoffey

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jan-Coffey/24034372353

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/46476.Jan_Coffey

Giveaway:

$20 digital gift card (Winner’s Choice: Amazon or B&N) and a Nautical brooch for every tour stop.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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8. Spotlight and Giveaway! Northern Light by E.J. Russell

Guest Blog by E. J. Russell

My youngest (by eight minutes) son is a lifelong aficionado of the macabre. Nick’s favorite book in grade school was an oversized, cheerfully illustrated book on historical disasters (his favorite was – and still is – the Black Plague), and post-grade school, he graduated to all-things-Stephen-King.

It’s only natural, then, that when he was a senior at the local arts magnet high school, he and his friends decided to make a horror movie. Their script involved a too-good-to-be-true free vacation at a B & B that turned out to be the lair of cannibals. The location for the creepy isolated hotel?

Our house.

I didn’t know whether to be insulted or flattered.

True, the very remoteness of our out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere house can be alarming. We live on a six-mile-long, partially paved road, with no feeder streets – you can only enter from one end or the other. Our house, screened from the road by a stand of shaggy Douglas firs, sits at the back of a grove of ancient, gnarled walnut trees that have almost forgotten how to leaf out, and the blackberry brambles looming on either side of the bumpy driveway rival Sleeping Beauty’s daunting thorn hedge.

To my husband, this set-up is a dream come true. For him, our virtual fortress on the hill is the perfect sanctuary, a retreat where he never has to see a neighbor if he doesn’t want to. But for our extrovert daughter, who gets freaked out by the least hint of the weird, it’s a nightmare in the making. She avoids being home alone like she’d avoid Nick’s favorite disaster, and if for some reason she can’t, she turns on every light in the house. Every. Stinking. One.

Nick, pragmatic opportunist that he is, was perfectly willing to exploit the creep factor for his film, even though he’s just as quick to embrace the seclusion when he’s feeling anti-social.

My two heroes in Northern Light have a similar love/hate relationship with rural isolation.

For desperate painter Stefan, the remote cabin in the Oregon Coast Range, off the grid and hugged by the forest, is a refuge. There, away from the stress of his financial difficulties and the reminders of his personal failures, he finally has a chance to reconnect with his artistic vision and start to rebuild his shattered life.

But the solitude that Stefan finds so comforting nearly sends Luke, my art investigator, running for…well, not the hills. He hates those damn hills. For Luke, who once endured a disabling traumatic event in the mountains, safety is a well-populated sea-level community, where he can see the horizon whenever he looks out his window, and know that he’s not trapped.

So how about you? City dweller or country cousin? Hustle and bustle or peace and quiet? Or are you like Nick, who’ll take which ever one suits his mood at the moment?

Northern Light by E.J. Russell

ISBN: 9781622662845

Genre: M/M Romance

Book Description:

Nothing gives art fraud investigator Luke Morganstern a bigger rush than busting forgers, the low-life criminals who dare victimize true artists. But when his latest job sends him to a remote cabin in the Oregon Coast Range, he’s stunned to discover the alleged forger is his former lover, Stefan Cobbe, the most gifted painter Luke has ever known.

Stefan, left homeless and destitute after the death of his wealthy partner, doesn’t exactly deny the forgery — he claims he doesn’t remember, an excuse Luke can’t accept.

But Luke’s elderly client suggests Stefan may be telling the truth and presents another possibility – a dark presence in the woods, a supernatural fury simmering for decades. Luke must face down his fear of the uncanny – and admit his feelings for Stefan – if either of them is to survive.

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Excerpt:

Luke slammed the heel of his hand against his forehead. Shitgoddamnsonofabitch. He’d asked the fucking question. Now he’d have to listen to an answer he could never un-know. His chest heaved and he stared Stefan down, waiting for the words that would either damn him as a liar or condemn him as a forger. Either one would force Luke to choose between rebooting his career or destroying the man he’d once loved.

Stefan blinked. Blinked again, brows drawing together in a tight vee. "What?"

For some reason, maybe aftershocks from his Fiat-flashback or mortification that Stefan had witnessed his resultant freak-out, the bewildered affront on Stefan’s face kicked Luke into art investigator asshole mode. "Did you think you’d get away with the fake Arcolettis because he was a relative unknown? Because all his pieces except one are in private hands?"

"Who the hell is Arcoletti?"

Luke guffawed, sounding unpleasant even to himself. "Good one."

"No. I mean it. Who’s Arcoletti?"

"Jeremiah Arcoletti. American realist painter. Disappeared in 1945 along with all thirteen canvases from his last collection.” Luke’s eyes popped wide. "Holy shit. That’s it, isn’t it? The lost collection." He poked Stefan’s shoulders with stiff fingers, peripherally aware arguing in the middle of a dark mountain road was ridiculous and possibly suicidal, but he didn’t give a flying fuck. They’d finish this now. "Is that your plan? Recreate the lost collection out here in your little studio in the big woods?"

"Stop it." Stefan batted Luke’s hand away, his gaze fixed on the ground, avoiding the question. Pleading the artistic Fifth. Last refuge of the guilty.

"Where’d you see his work? The museum in Amsterdam? Hell, in all those years of prancing around with Marius, you could have seen every fricking one of the privately held pieces. Marius had the connections for it. You could toss his name around to get access to the Gordon letters too. Damn it." He dropped his arms, suddenly spent. "The Stefan I knew would have cut off his hands before he’d counterfeit another artist’s work. What’s happened to you?"

"What hasn’t?" Stefan’s eyes were wide, his pupils huge in the combined light of headlights and flashlight. "But I swear. I’ve never heard of this Arcoletti."

"No? Then tell me. What’s coming off your easel these days? Studies in Monochrome? The Picture of Oregon Gray?”

"I…I don’t know."

The feeble disavowal flipped Luke’s asshole switch back on. "Don’t give me that shit. You don’t paint with your eyes closed."

"No. I just…" Stefan’s voice was hoarse, and he clutched his flashlight to his belly, casting warped, inverted shadows across his face and distorting his features into a death’s-head mask. "I’ve been painting, but I don’t remember them. I’m not even sure how many there are."

"Artistic amnesia? Bullshit. You must have seen them when you handed them over to Boardman."

Stefan shook his head and pinched his eyes closed. "Thomas always loaded them into his car. I never looked. Not after…not when they were finished."

"Why? Guilt?"

"No. I was afraid…" Stefan wrapped his arms across his stomach, pointing the flashlight into the woods, and his face was his own again, drawn and haunted.

"Afraid of getting caught?"

"Afraid of what I’d paint next," he whispered.

Luke’s lips twisted. "Denial. It’s what’s for dinner. No wonder you’re so fricking thin."

"Why is everything black and white for you, Luke? Let in some color, for Christ’s sake." Stefan forked the fingers of one hand through his hair. "Even a little gray would be a change."

Luke refused to allow the broken edge of Stefan’s voice to influence him. He’d let sentiment sway him once before and it had cold-cocked his career. "Right or wrong, Stef. It’s not that tough a choice."

"Fine." Stefan raised his head and met Luke’s gaze, his shoulders shifting as if bracing for a blow. "You’ve already made up your mind, as usual. Go ahead. Turn me in to the art police."

Luke searched Stefan’s face for some flicker of remorse, some acknowledgement he accepted the enormity of his crime. Nothing. Only the droop of his lips and a telltale glitter in his eyes, hinting at unshed tears. "Can you give me a reason not to?"

Stefan’s breath caught in what might have been a laugh if his face weren’t so bleak. "Guess not." He saluted Luke with a middle finger. "Enjoy your drive."

Stefan strode uphill, the beam of his flashlight bouncing from road to hillside, and Luke’s last trace of adrenaline drained away. He sighed, deep and exhausted.

The lousy car sat perpendicular to the road, driver’s door ajar. If he was lucky, he’d manage to creep down the hill by midnight. He shut the damn door before the brainless chime of the key alarm drove him nuts and leaned his forehead against the car roof, the beaded rain icy against his heated skin.

"Shit."

About the Author:

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer and business intelligence consultant. She returned to her childhood love of writing fiction after her twin sons learned to drive and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class.

Her daily commute now consists of walking from one side of her office to the other — from left-brain day job to right-brain author cave — where she’s perfected the fine art of typing with a cat draped across her wrists and a dog attached to her hip. Her stories include gay and straight characters because her life includes gay and straight characters (as does everyone’s).

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Website: http://www.ejrussell.com

Blog: http://ejrussell.com/bloggery

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ej_russell

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ej_russell

Giveaway:

The Oregon Chill-chaser bundle: (US ONLY)

Mystic Water handwarmer mug from Clay in Motion Pottery

9.5 oz Dark Hot Chocolate mix from Moonstruck Chocolatiers

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9. Review: Bleach Vol 2 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol. 2

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Immediately after checking into the Kurosaki Clinic with a mysterious scar on his back, the muscle-bound Chad goes AWOL. Accompanying Chad is a talking parakeet imbued with the soul of a young boy named Y?ichi. It doesn’t take newbie Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki long to surmise that a Hollow must be involved. By far the strongest spirit he’s faced to date, Ichigo is about to discover that not every soul is bound for the Soul Society, especially if it’s tainted with innocent blood

Review:

I loved this volume of Bleach!  Picking up right where the first volume left off, Chad  is in oodles of trouble because of a possessed parakeet.  Housing the soul of the a young boy, Chad has promised to keep him safe, unaware that a Hallow is hot on their heels.  It’s a good thing that Chad is a strong, sturdy fellow, because the evil spirit does its level best to thoroughly annihilate him.  Rukia tries to race to the rescue, but without her Soul Reaper powers, she’s even more helpless than Chad and the parakeet!  Ichigo is temporarily out of the picture.  His sister Karin is very ill, and he’s been tasked with seeing her home safely.  Will he get to Rukia and Chad in time to save the day?

I thought this story arc was very entertaining.  It revealed that Chad has some spiritual energy, and even though he can’t see the Hallow, he can pummel the heck out of it, holding it off until Ichigo’s arrival.  While creating a tense and exciting action sequence, Tite Kubo manages to sneak in some humor to the heightened emotions and make the action even more memorable.  I think that’s what I like best about the series; while things are fraught with stress and impending doom, the mood is altered ever so slightly with quick bursts of humor.  The opposite happens when the mood is light and Rukia and Ichigo are joking around.  The reality of their responsibilities intrudes, if just for a moment, causing a complete shift in tone.  The emotional roller coaster makes this a very engaging read for me.

During the battle over the little boy’s soul, we also learn what happens to people who were evil when they were alive.  Ichigo’s  zanpakut? can’t cleanse their souls of the evil they carry, and they are dragged down to Hell.  Wah!  That’s pretty scary!  Some of the Hallows weren’t decent people when they were among the living, so it’s somewhat gratifying to see them get their just rewards in the afterlife.

This volume also introduces one of my favorite characters, Kisuke Urahara.  He doesn’t seem like much here, other than a shifty merchant peddling in questionable Soul Society goods, and one all too ready to take advantage of Rukia unfortunate circumstances.  There’s also the hint that things in the Soul Society are not all rainbows and unicorns.  Experiments with dubious moral implications are just the start.  I like how these tidbits are scattered like so much bird seed throughout the chapters.  Both Rukia and Ichigo have a lot to learn about what’s really going on in the Soul Society.

This series is highly recommended if you enjoy action, gripping storylines, and likeable characters.   Yes, yes, the fact that it’s at 60 volumes and counting is a little daunting, but on the plus side – you won’t run out of new story for a long time!

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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10. Spotlight and Giveaway! Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

 

13 Shocking Reasons Real People were Committed to a Lunatic Asylum  by Sarah Ballance

If you thought you had to get your crazy on to land in a place like Ruby Hill, you’d better think again.

The following list of reasons folks were locked up for “treatment” between 1864 and 1889 at the RUBY HILL-esque yet very real Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum is absolutely true. (My commentary, however, may be prone to exaggeration.) (Source)

  1. Bad Whiskey – I don’t know if this guy drank bad whiskey, sold bad whiskey, or manufactured bad whiskey, but you’ve got to feel for anyone forced to sober up a lunatic asylum. I’m pretty sure that type of residence is exactly where I’d most need whiskey, bad or otherwise.

  2. Drospy – I admit I had to look this one up. It’s the old word for edema, which is what happens when you carry excess fluid. Basically this means if you’ve ever taken off your socks to find they’ve left dents in your legs, you could have been committed. Now THAT is lunacy.

  3. Fighting Fire – Not setting them, but fighting them. Apparently firefighting in the 1800s wasn’t always considered the heroic profession we know it as today. And someone at the admissions desk is a pyromaniac.

  4. Menstrual Deranged – What does that mean, exactly? Aside the menstrual part – we get that. Monthly, even. But deranged? We probably don’t want to know, but what do you want to bet a man came up with that one?

  5. Masturbation for 30 Years – Erm, okay. But why THIS GUY and not EVERY OTHER GUY ON THE PLANET? I’m just sayin’….

  6. Suppressed Masturbation – So what we’ve just learned is there is clearly a target zone for this particular activity—somewhere between once and 30 years’ worth. Good luck with that, boys.

  7. Ill Treatment by Husband – Okay, so he’s a jerk so they lock HER up? I bet a man thought of that one, too. (I’m gaining a whole new appreciation for my fabulous husband, who—in over 16 years of marriage—has not once sent me to an asylum.)

  8. Seduction and Disappointment – I’m not sure who was seduced in this scenario and who was disappointed, but apparently this was not the time to oversell oneself. (No wonder that one guy just stuck to masturbation for 30 years.)

  9. Scarlatina (Scarlet Fever) – You there, with the contagious disease. Into the criminally over-crowded asylum. Yep, that’ll fix you. That will fix all of you. Muahahaha.

  10. Medicine to Prevent Conception – To be fair, all forms of contraception were made illegal in the United States in 1873, so this was at least technically a crime. By the 1880s, though, there was a handy-dandy sausage casing device (yes, that would be animal intestine) alternative. Might have been worth a shot because…

  11. Dissipation of Nerves – There’s nothing to indicate the dissipation of nerves was in any way related to conception rates, but my husband and I have six children (one of whom was conceived after I was surgically sterilized) and I’m telling you, asylum people. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. It a classic inverse proportion, and if you don’t believe me just ask all those people who see me with six kids and immediately assume I’m crazy. But I digress.

  12. Carbonic Acid Gas – I’m not sure of the particulars here, but just so y’all know, this is a byproduct of breathing. BREATHING WAS A CRIME.

  13. Novel Reading – ERMAGERD, YOU GUYS. First we can’t breathe, and now they take away our novels! But fear not, for RUBY HILL is not a novel, but a novella. Which can only mean READING RUBY HILL WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF AN INSANE ASYLUM!

Okay, so my logic might be a bit flawed, LOL, but I’m going to distract you quickly so you won’t notice. ?

Here’s a related little historical twist that blew my mind.

In September, Entangled Scandalous released my historical romance, HER WICKED SIN, which is set during the Salem Witch Trials. Back then, the Salem in question was actually Salem Village, which has since been renamed Danvers. Danvers is home to the Danvers State Lunatic Asylum (reportedly one of the most haunted places in the world, and they turned it into APARTMENTS, y’all!), which sits on Hawthorne Hill, the very site of the gallows where the Salem witches were hanged. Nice little coincidence, right? But it gets better. Back in 2011—long before I’d given any thought to writing about the Salem Witch Trials or a haunted lunatic asylum—I had out there a little novella about a haunted house. Its name?

HAWTHORNE.

Mind. Blown.

Now that you’ve been properly wooed (yes-I-said-wooed), are you ready to dive into the dust, abandonment, terror—and yes, romance—of an abandoned mental institution? (Come on—you’ve got to see how the romance fits in there, right?) If so, I hope you’ll consider a dark, dangerous trek (or, you know, just click over) to your favorite e-tailer for the scoop on RUBY HILL!

PS: I’m probably hiking with grizzly bears as you read this, so bear (ha!) with me if I don’t respond immediately to your comments. I do look forward to your replies—and I have been promised nightly wifi—so if I’m not mauled, eaten, or otherwise incapacitated, I will SO come back for you! ?

Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

ISBN: 9781622662258

Book Description

From her earliest memories, Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum, and she’s not the only one. Decades after the abandoned hospital ended its institutional reign of torture and neglect, something lurks in the shadows. Since she’s a paranormal investigator, it’s Ashley’s job to find out what.

Crime scene expert Corbin Malone doesn’t believe in ghosts. A born skeptic, he has no interest in entertaining the hype surrounding the mysterious deaths at Ruby Hill, but he won’t turn his back while more women die. He agrees to an overnight investigation, never expecting his first encounter would be with the woman he pushed away a year ago. But when he discovers Ashley is a target, he learns his greatest fear isn’t living with his own demons, but losing her for good.

Amazon BN Goodreads

Excerpt:
Death had a flavor. Equal parts bitter and bland, the damnable taste was more sickening than the stickiness in Corbin Malone’s throat. It soured his gut, leaving him with an unease he couldn’t quite swallow, and the deeper they drove into the countryside—the closer the car brought him to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum—the more potent the flavor. Five years a cop, he’d neatly sidestepped the ugly aftertaste until things got personal.

Until the body belonged to his brother, Cash.

Nearly six months had passed since Cash Malone fought for his last breath inside the dismal, abandoned halls of Ruby Hill. Though his body now rested six feet under a distant patch of cemetery grass, Ruby Hill remained his tomb—a giant, crouching headstone marring acres of otherwise beautiful, rolling hills. And for Corbin, a visage of murder.

About the Author:

Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.

She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on Amazon , Barnes & Noble, Kobo, For the Muse Publishing, and ENTANGLED PUBLISHING.

Website: http://sarahballance.com

Blog: http://sarahballance.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBallance

Facebook: http://facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Ballance

Giveaway:

$25 Gift Certificate to winner’s choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble AND Skelton Key blue Swarovski heart Art Nouveau necklace (US/Canada ONLY) (http://www.etsy.com/listing/88152504/silver-butterfly-key-blue-swarovski?ref=shop_home_active )

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11. WordGirl's Word of the Month for October: Supernatural

SupernaturalFittingly enough as Halloween approaches, WordGirl's Word of the Month for October is supernatural: "Outside of what would appear in the natural world."  

This is a good month to introduce your children to stories about the supernatural, whether you are reading picture books like Creepy Carrots, classics like The House with a Clock in its Walls, or newer titles like The Graveyard Book

Wishing you supernatural times!

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12. A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat by Beverly Stowe McClure

pirate-blockade-runner-cat-200x300A perfect, not too spooky, ghost adventure that kids will enjoy is the latest novel from award-winning author Beverly Stowe McClure.

Erik Burns is stuck in South Carolina with his mother and Aunt Molly after he finds a black lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car. Whoops! Kept away from all his friends and the sport he loved to play in Texas, Erik is willing to do whatever it takes to get back home.

When Starry and Stormy Knight, a set of weird twins that live down the block, try to convince Erik that people have seen a light radiating from the deactivated lighthouse and a ghostly pirate ship prowling the harbor, he wants nothing to do with it. But when he witnesses these occurrences, he can’t deny the proof before him. That’s when he hatches a plan to help the ghosts rest in peace in exchange for a personalized haunting that will send his mother rushing back home to Texas so Erick can get his life back.

Beverly and I are in the same critique group, so I had the pleasure of watching this story unfold before it was published. Talented in the areas of contemporary and historical fiction, I am always amazed by how diverse her ideas are while staying true to her fan base. A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat should be another big winner for her. Why? Because in a nutshell, no matter what Beverly is writing, she knows what relates well to her readers.

In this story, Erik has been uprooted. Not only is he away from all his friends and baseball, he’s pretty ticked his dad hasn’t tried to contact him since the move. Those emotions work their way into the unfolding stories of Major Stede Bonnet, Blackbeard, and the ghost residing in the deactivated Morris Island Lighthouse. Not only that, Erik’s mom is trying to get him to befriend a couple of odd twins, when all he wants is to be reunited with his friends in Texas.

This paranormal middle grade/tween novel has a lot to offer. A great read any time of the year, it will definitely get you in the mood for Halloween.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

File Size: 410 KB
Print Length: 265 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing (January 9, 2013)
ISBN 978-1-77127-219-3
Available in numerous digital formats. Visit the publisher’s website for more information.

 

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

Pirate banner


7 Comments on A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat by Beverly Stowe McClure, last added: 10/30/2013
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13. Just Released: OMG!…Am I A Witch?! by Talia Aikens-Nuñez

witch

OMG… Am I A Witch?! is the enchanting story of a little girl who discovers her magical powers after turning her annoying older brother into a dog using a spell found on the Internet. Follow April and her friends, Grace and Eve, on their spellbinding adventures as they race to reverse the spell before her parents find out.

A hair-raising and action packed tale of a girl looking for a spell reversal and finding herself in the process, OMG… Am I A Witch?! is sure to delight children while teaching them important life lessons like “Be careful what you wish for!”. Is April really a witch? Will she be able to undo the spell in time? Is she gonna be punished FOREVER? and will her brother ever stop growling at her? Join us and find out!

Available today, October 31st thru AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, on Kindle and MagicBlox!

Author: Talia Aikens-Nuñez
Illustrator: Alicja Ignaczak
Paperback | B&W interior
150 pages
Release date:Oct. 31, 2013
Ages 8-12

Talia Aikens-Nuñez is a children’s book author specializing in bilingual and multicultural children’s books. Her first book, Escucha Means Listen, was released by Musa Publishing in 2012. OMG…Am I A Witch?! is Talia’s first chapter book and she is currently seeking a home for her next children’s chapter book, Dragon Guardians. Talia lives with her husband, daughter and newborn son on a river in Connecticut.

Visit Talia online at http://talia-aikens-nunez.vpweb.com/

Visit Pinwheel Books to enter for your chance to win one of five copies of this book: http://pinwheelbooks.com/


0 Comments on Just Released: OMG!…Am I A Witch?! by Talia Aikens-Nuñez as of 10/31/2013 1:40:00 PM
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14. Guest Book Review: Arabella, the Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut by Hamilton Wende

arabella

 

Length: 126 pages
Publisher: Tafelberg; 1 edition (July 20, 2013)
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, ages 9+
ASIN: B00GA25PRA

Stars: 4.5

Arabella lives with her mom and dad in Parkview, Johannesburg, South Africa. She has a happy, stable life, with all the love anyone could imagine from her parents and (four!) grandparents. Her eleventh birthday is the turning point in her life. She receives some unusual gifts, which change Arabella’s life forever.  But then things go horribly wrong. Her dad dies, and life turns dark, bleak, and hopeless. Thanks to her unusual birthday gifts, Arabella discovers a magical world at the bottom of her garden and amazing things happen. She is able to speak to the animals there, and discovers she has a special role to play once she is given a magic Mongongo nut by Khanyi, the mealie lady. Suddenly, the ordinary becomes the extraordinary and Arabella and her new friends must battle against the evil hadedas, led by their nasty king, Ozymandias, who has a wicked plan. At the same time, Arabella finds hope in the Book of Echoes; hope that with this new-found magic, she can turn back the clock to the happy times before her dad died. Is the magic this strong? Can Arabella defeat the hadedas’ nefarious plans?

Although all young readers will love this charming book, young South African readers will particularly relish it. Familiar names, places, creatures, and cultural references will resonate with readers, bringing this adventure right into their own back gardens. Arabella faces enormous challenges, and the biggest one is within. As the use of magic changes her, perhaps bringing out selfish desires, she has to learn to do what is right. Acceptance of grief is very difficult for a young person, and this is one of Arabella’s saddest tests. Self-sacrifice, loyalty, the meaning of friendship, and doing the right thing are also highlighted as Arabella’s final choice will sway the outcome of the battle. Author Hamilton Wende has perfectly captured Arabella’s character, giving poignant insight into just how difficult life choices are at that age. The hadedas are brilliantly malevolent … but fun! Lovely atmospherics abound, painting the most incredible pictures for a young imagination to enjoy. The author has a real gift for scenarios and I am sure this book will linger in readers’ minds long after the last page has been read. I would suggest a glossary at the back for non South African readers to understand several local terms. I must mention the superb cover by Rob Foote which adds to the ethereal, magical quality of the book.

First reviewed for Jozi Kids, South Africa

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


1 Comments on Guest Book Review: Arabella, the Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut by Hamilton Wende, last added: 11/7/2013
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15. Win City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte!

Thanks to Penguin, I have a copy of City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte for one of you to win!  I really enjoyed this quirky book, and I think you will,too!  To enter, just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries by following.

About the book:

Cosmically fast-paced and wildly imaginative, this debut novel is a perfect potion of magic and suspense

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.

     Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.

City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can purchase a copy from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

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16. Interview with Adrian Faulkner, Author of The Four Realms

Adrian Faulkner, author of The Four Realms, is visiting the virtual offices today.  Please welcome him.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Adrian Faulkner] Ex-pop culture journalist turned Urban Fantasy writer. Lover of books, movies, TV and games. Good sense of humour. Complete & utter geek.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Four Realms?

[Adrian Faulkner] The story really starts with a dead body. When the novel starts we see half-vampire, Darwin and his friend and fallen angel, Cassidy running along the streets of London after Darwin smells the blood of the corpse. Cassidy’s had him surviving on rat’s blood for a while now to stop him killing, and it’s left Darwin gaunt and sickly. So Darwin sees a freshly dead corpse as a way to get a proper meal and keep Cassidy happy. It’s on the corpse they discover a notebook in a mysterious language.

It’s not long before Maureen Summerglass, an 82 year old gatekeeper between worlds, learns of the death of one of the wizards of the Friary of New Salisbury whilst visiting London. Suspecting a cover up, she breaks a lifetime of protocol and sneaks through the gateway in her cellar into New Salisbury hoping to find answers.

Darwin soon finds that someone else is after the notebook and willing to wipe out every last vampire if necessary. Maureen discovers danger in a world that is unlike that she has been lead to believe but instead one of fast food, black market goods and Tuk Tuks.

Darwin tries desperately to escape the mysterious Mr West and his cohorts, trying to save the vampire survivors in the process. Maureen, meanwhile, discovers that she might just be the first human female to be able to do magic; which is going to come in handy as people are trying to kill her as well.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Adrian Faulkner] The concept for the land of Venefasia where the city of New Salisbury lies was born out of watching a news report on a remote Amazon tribe and seeing one of the kids wearing a Nike T-Shirt. It got me thinking how if the wardrobe from CS Lewis’s Narnia novels existed, it wouldn’t be used for wartime evacuees to go to tea with Fauns but for smuggling black market goods, weapons and drugs. As a result, the world of Venefasia has a bit more of a third world / Iron curtain feel than the typical medieval basis of a lot of fantasy.

At the time I first started work on The Four Realms, Buffy and as a result the kick ass female was really prevalent. I wanted to do something different and as a result decided there weren’t enough elderly protagonists. From that Maureen was pretty much there from day one. She’s been a load of fun to write.

Darwin and Cassidy took a bit more time. Originally they were a bit more “Lone wolf and cub” – an elderly warrior / protector and young innocent. As time went by their ages came closer together. Darwin became a bit more of an idealistic young man, and Cassidy became a lot more fun and kooky. She’s probably the most difficult to write as it’s hard to keep her light and fun with everything Darwin and her go through.

Mr West was the character who brought it together though. Who and what he is… well, that’s a bit of a spoiler but I’m hoping readers will like it and get an idea of the direction I’d like to take the story in through future novels.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Darwin?

[Adrian Faulkner] “lack of identity” – He’s half vampire and the vampire council has always viewed him as a bit of a freak. But at the same time it’s hard to identify as human when you need blood to survive. Cassidy wants to bring more of the humanity out of him but that puts him in conflict with his desire to be seen as an equal by his vampire brethren.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Maureen won’t leave the house without.

[Adrian Faulkner] Probably her handbag. It would hold her keys, her purse and about a hundred tissues

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Darwin’s pockets?

[Adrian Faulkner] At the start of the book both he and Cassidy are homeless, so I guess a mobile cell phone, keys and money would be obvious answers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Maureen’s greatest regret?

[Adrian Faulkner] I think over the course of the novel, we see it’s her dedication to the Friary. She’s served them unquestioningly since the mantle of gatekeeper was passed to her by her mother. And as we get to see, they haven’t been too good at looking after her. Her house is a bit ramshackled. She dare not let anyone into the house in case they find the big oak door in the cellar. So she suffers with no heating, in fear of her nosey neighbours, only to discover that the Friary is thinking of closing her gateway and throwing her out on the streets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Adrian Faulkner] I have three. The first is Star Wars which just unleashed my imagination. It was like an explosion going off in my head when I first saw it. The second was the GI Joe comic book. On the surface it was a stupid toy tie-in but writer Larry Hama didn’t let that stop him from writing some fantastic characters. I remember looking up from one issue back in the 80s / early 90s and thinking to myself “Good story is character driven.” It was a revelation at the time. The final influence is Lord of the Rings, a book so detailed, so imaginative, it still blows my mind.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Adrian Faulkner] A computer. I have been known to write draft chapters in longhand when they’ve been particularly tricky but mostly I like to type them directly into the computer

Diet Coke. This is my poison of choice. I drink way too much of the stuff.

Music. I find it difficult to write without music and own a ridiculous number of orchestral scores from films, television and games.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Adrian Faulkner] Probably Lou Morgan’s Blood and Feathers. I know Lou so thought I had a good idea of what to expect, but sometimes a friend’s book can surprise you in a really good way. Thoroughly enjoyed it

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Adrian Faulkner] Probably CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’d been a big reader before I read that at eight years old but that book was the one that made me want to be a writer. Looking back now, I can see all the faults, but even so I still have a fondness for it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Adrian Faulkner] In my spare time, I’m a very active Geocacher. This is the hobby where you go hunting for hidden Tupperware in the countryside armed only with a GPS. It’s a lot of fun and is a good source of exercise. That said, I’ve been so busy with the book, I’ve hardly had time to do any these past few months

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Adrian Faulkner] I have my own website over at www.adrianfaulkner.com where I blog and give updates. I’m also fairly active on Twitter as @figures

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

The Four Realms is available now!  Please click the link to order a digital copy from Amazon.

About the book

Half-vampire Darwin stumbles across a corpse on the streets of London, and in a pocket discovers a notebook in a mysterious language. Divided between human ethics and vampire bloodlust, Darwin finds himself both condemner and saviour of a race who’ve never considered him one of their own. Now, he must try and lead the survivors to sanctuary in New Salisbury before Mr West completes his genocide of the vampires in his quest to obtain the book…

Maureen Summerglass is eighty-two years old, and a prisoner in her ramshackle home. She is afraid to let people enter in case they discover the oak door in her cellar. Threatened with homelessness and retirement from her job as a gatekeeper between worlds, Maureen breaks protocol when the death of a close friend is covered up… and enters the city of New Salisbury to search for his missing notebook. There, she discovers a world unlike the one of myth and fairy tale she imagined, and instead one of black market economies, brand names and tuk tuks. As she investigates, not only is she in extreme danger, but discovers she may be the first human female able to use magic…

“An imaginative foray into a dark world of danger and adventure. Hang onto your hat!” – Gail Z. Martin, author of The Dread

About the author

Adrian Faulkner has been writing stories since he was 7 and has never really stopped making things up.

He created and, for 10 years, edited Action-Figure, a global entertainment news website covering geek market (toys, collectibles, comics, movies). The site hit a quarter of a million audited page impressions a day and was considered a market leader and industry benchmark. During this time he worked with a number of celebrities including Good Charlotte, Rob Zombie, Mike Mignola and others on promoting entertainment properties and associated merchandise. He has interviewed a number of celebrities including Charlize Theron, Kate Beckinsale and Stan Winston.

He has also written for numerous magazines including ToyFare, Ultimate Adventure, Area51 and Memorabilia (where he was contributing editor) and along with Steve Holland, Alex Summersby, Steve White, Toby Weidmann and Tim Muray has written a book on Sci-Fi Art.

In 2009, he sold the site to allow more time on his fiction. In 2011, he had a short story published in the British Fantasy Society’s BFS Journal.

Adrian lives in Berkshire and in his spare time likes to play World of Warcraft and go geocaching. He is independently ranked within the top 50 geocachers in the country.

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17. Interview with Nico Rosso, Author of Ironheart and Giveaway!

Nico Rosso is visiting the virtual offices today to chat about Ironheart, which is part of the Holding Out for a Hero. This superhero anthology is super fun, so if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend giving it a chance.  To make it easy for you to get a copy, Nico brought along a digital copy for one of you to win!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Nico Rosso] I’m a romance writer married to another romance writer (Zoë Archer), and I’m happy to talk writing or whiskey or whatever else inspires.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Ironheart?

[Nico Rosso] Ironheart is the story of two superheroes, Vince “The Anvil” and Kara “SnapDragon” in a desperate fight. Yes, there is a super villain, but Vince and Kara’s real battle is for a second chance at romance. They had a brief fling that she cut off. Now she’s back, but for the right reasons?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Nico Rosso] I knew I wanted to explore the difference between a bad-boy hero and a newer heroine starting to learn what it is to fight crime with super powers. Vince needed to be a little rough around the edges, so the idea of a man who is harder than iron seemed natural. Giving Kara her powers from cosmic energy took her literally and figuratively off the earth, so at first, she would be less grounded and searching for herself.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Vince?

[Nico Rosso] Tough. Principled. Rough.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Kara had a theme song, what would it be?

[Nico Rosso] Fire Woman by The Cult. It has some lilting melodies, like she flies on her power wings, and the song also rocks hard, the way she fights when it’s all on the line.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Vince is never without.

[Nico Rosso] The Red Line, a small earpiece phone that connects all the members of the Heroes Guild.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Kara’s bedroom?

[Nico Rosso] A nightlight. Her cosmic energy glows red, so she can easily light up a room.

-A handgun. Even without her powers she’s a formidable fighter. With her power scales around her and linked together in a lashing whip, she is a living weapon.

-Plane tickets. She can gather her energy scales into wings and fly wherever she wants to go.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Vince’s greatest regret?

[Nico Rosso] Even though it was from circumstances out of his control, I think he will always be haunted by the fact that his parents didn’t live to see him saving the world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Nico Rosso] I like to pull ideas from all kinds of sources, from observing people out on a date, to ancient myths, to fine art and photography. Inspiration can come from anywhere, so I try to keep my eyes open as much as I can.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Nico Rosso] I need inspiration, a hook or some way in to the piece I’m writing. It could be emotional, a interesting plot twist, or just a unique way of describing the environment.

-I guess I don’t need quiet, but I like it. I’ll often listen to music on headphones in order to keep the noise of the outside world out of my head.

-I need to eat. Usually I’ll write until I get hungry, break to eat, then write again.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Nico Rosso] Honestly, the last book I read that really floored me was my wife’s second Nemesis, Unlimited book Dangerous Seduction. I’m really lucky that I get to read her work months before it hits the shelves.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Nico Rosso] Because I grew up deep in movie culture, I came to reading late (except for reading comic books). I remember nearing the end of my college years and really being taken by the novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Nico Rosso] Usually, when I’m not writing, I like to be doing something physical or with my hands. Cooking or woodworking or hiking or photography.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Nico Rosso] I can be found on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nico_Rosso

-Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nico-Rosso/113422452057013

-My Website: http://nicorosso.com

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Ready for your chance to win a digital copy of Holding Out For A Hero?  Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can order Holding Out For a Hero from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

About the book:

Scarlett Fever, by Christine Bell and Ella Dane
After five years in training, it’s finally time for Scarlett Fever and her fellow superheroes to leave the United Superhero Academy and test their powers out in the real world. There’s only one problem. She’s been assigned to partner with arrogant, by the book, and irritatingly hot, Blade of Justice.
Blade’s whole life has gone according to plan, and he’s more than ready to move on to the big time, protecting a metropolis of his own. But his perfectly ordered life is derailed when he’s teamed up with the fiery maverick, Scarlett Fever.
Sparks fly the moment they arrive in Plunketville, Oklahoma, as they each set out to force the other to request a transfer. They soon discover there’s more going on in this single stop-sign town than blowing up mailboxes and cow tipping. If Scarlett can get Blade to listen to his gut, and he can teach her to use her head, they just might have a fighting chance.

Ironheart, by Nico Rosso
Vince might be hard as steel, but he’s not invincible. Not when iron touches him, especially in the hands of an evil minion. Not when Kara ran away after a whirlwind affair, just when he thought he might be falling in love. And definitely not when she returns, looking for his help.
The archvillain TechHead is coming for Kara and her superhero teammates, and he’s determined to use their combined power to create the ultimate weapon. But Kara can’t fight him alone. She needs Vince’s brutal skill, though being with him means she risks losing her beloved secret identity, leaving her nowhere else to hide.
When TechHead makes a play to capture Kara, Vince has more to lose than just his heart. But he will do anything for the woman he loves, even if it means putting his heart on the line again.

Playing With Fire, by Tamara Morgan
Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhu¬man abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant… and she’s hurt enough people already. Including herself.
But when the man behind her conversion returns to black¬mail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.
Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fire¬ball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.
And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.

From the Ashes, by Adrien-Luc Sanders
Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded count¬less crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.
Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate research¬er, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.
One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges ev¬erything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of hu¬mans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?

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18. Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

 

Title:  Something Strange and Deadly

Author:  Susan Dennard

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.


Review:

I was disappointed with Something Strange and Deadly.  Honestly, I don’t know if anything could have lived up to the hype surrounding this title, and since I was waiting with such a sense of anticipation, it fell short for me.  The beginning was intriguing – Eleanor is searching for a sign from her brother that he’ll be returning home soon, and poof!  A stinky, reanimated corpse gives her a note from Elijah.  That’s so much better than using a carrier pigeon!  Just wrestle up a corpse when you need to pass a note to somebody!  It will terrify the recipient, but  who’s going to try to incept your missive? 

After it is apparent that Elijah has decided, yet again, to delay his homecoming, Eleanor’s mother decides to use the opportunity to hold a séance, instead of the already planned and paid for  welcoming party.  She has to marry Eleanor off, if they hope to retain their current lifestyle, since Elijah isn’t doing his job and providing for them.  With Elijah a constant no-show, Eleanor’s mother is getting desperate.  With her husband dead and her son failing to care for the family, desperate measures are called for.

I loved the séance.  It’s creepy, and her mother’s foolishness calls forth a very dangerous spirit.  Whoa!  Who would have thought that a parlor game would have such frightening results?  The evil spirit dogs Eleanor’s footsteps for the entire book, so, yeah, thanks, mom, for messing around with stuff you are obviously not capable of handling.

I am trying to put my finger on why this story didn’t work for me, and I think it was because there is so much going on.  And because Eleanor is constantly leaping into danger.  There are zombies lurching around the graveyard?  Let’s go check them out!  There are headless corpses wandering the streets?  Let’s go out without a chaperon and see what we can find out.  While all of the sneaking around showed that Eleanor was headstrong and wasn’t going to take a backseat to anyone, it also proved that she lacked the one thing necessary for living a long and zombie-death free life.  Yup, that common sense stuff.  Eleanor needed to display a little more of it.  A lot more, actually.

Another thing that drove me batty was how the characters snarled, shrieked, growled, and screamed at each other.  All of those noises!  Nobody just talked or held a quiet conversation.  Nope!  That’s just a pet peeve of mine, though, and your mileage may vary.

There is a dreaded love triangle, between handsome, wealthy Clarence and Daniel, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who is on the run from the law.  He’s a gifted inventor, though, and his devices help battle the zombies.  I never liked Daniel, which was another impediment to my enjoyment of the book.  I didn’t like the way either potential love interest treated Eleanor, but Daniel’s demeanor was particularly grating.  Nicknaming her Empress, he was constantly dismissive of her,  at least until the very end of the book when she saved his bacon.    I don’t know that  I would have thrown myself into the midst of a zombie horde to save anybody in this book, other than Jie. 

While Something Strange and Deadly failed to impress me, it will appeal to action lovers.  If the book hadn’t been so hyped for me, I think I would have enjoyed it more. 

Grade:  C/C-

Review copy obtained from my local library

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19. Excerpt: Edge of Dawn by Lara Adrian

Random House has another excerpt to share! This time, check out a sample from Lara Adrian’s Edge of Dawn.

 

Edge of Dawn by Lara Adrian (Excerpt) by

If you enjoyed reading this excerpt, you can order Edge of Dawn from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

 

About the Book:

In this pulse-pounding and thrillingly sensual novel, New York Times bestselling author Lara Adrian returns to the mesmerizing world of the Midnight Breed, following new characters into a dark future where an uneasy peace can unravel into war—and a great betrayal can mask an all-consuming love.

Twenty years after the terror of First Dawn—when mankind learned that vampires lived secretly among them—the threat of violence reigns as the two species struggle to coexist. The only group preserving the fragile harmony is the Order, an elite cadre of Breed warriors dedicated to protecting humans and vampires alike. And in this precarious world of torn loyalties and shattered trust, Mira, a fiery squad captain, finds that every fight bears an intensely personal cost.

Raised among the Order, Mira has always believed in the warrior’s code of swift—and even lethal—justice. But the one thing she desires more than the Order’s hard-won acceptance is Kellan Archer, a sexy but troubled Breed fighter. In love with him since childhood, Mira once broke through his tough exterior during an unexpected night of rapture, but the next day he mysteriously disappeared, never to return.

Kellan didn’t think he would ever see Mira again—or have to confront the truth of why he left. After abandoning the Order years ago, he now leads a band of human rebels intent on carrying out their own vigilante rule of law. Yet a high-profile kidnapping assignment brings him face-to-face with the past he sought to avoid, and the striking woman he has tried desperately to forget. And as tensions mount and the risk of bloodshed grows, Kellan and Mira must take sides—between the competing missions that dominate their lives, and the electrifying passion that claims their hearts.

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20. Fateful by Claudia Gray

HarperTeen, 2011

Tess knows she wants more out of life, but also knows there's a slim chance that will ever happen.  So she's  content for now with her position at Moorcliffe as an attendant to Irene, the only daughter of the wealthy Lisle family.  But one errand will open the door to another life, one more dark and sinister than Tess could have imagined.

Trying to get back to the manor as quickly as she can, Tess realizes something is following her, but the intervention of a handsome stranger creates a barrier that saves her.  When she turned around, she saw the feral eyes of a large black wolf, ready to hunt....

For days afterward, all Tess can think about is the handsome stranger who saved her life.  His cryptic warnings of danger cannot overcome the thoughts that lurk in Tess's mind.  But the drudgery of her job working for the terrible Lady Regina dispels those thoughts....until Tess realizes she'll be part of the Lisle family going to America.

Tess's excitement at the prospect of traveling by ship to America is full of promise, as well as the hope she can escape her servanthood and find herself in a new country.  The excitement grows even more when she also spots the handsome Alec, who saved her that fateful night.  But there is another sinister, dark man also watching her every move....

And so everyone prepares to board the Titanic one very fateful day. 

I picked this book up from a recommendation of a student, who loved this book.  So I set aside the analytical librarian book reviewer part of it and ready it like a teen girl.  Then I understood why she loved it so much. 
The characters Gray creates are vibrant, but more than that, the relationships, both troubling and romantic, draws the reader in.  What a genius idea of pairing supernatural beings like werewolves with a historic disaster like the Titanic.  It's a supernatural historical fiction plot I've never heard of. And that's what the hook is....The reader is left with the question of who survives and who dies.  Teens who enjoy supernatural romance will eat this book up and would be a nice addition among all the vampires, ghosts, angels and ghouls.

COMMON CORE PAIR: Iceberg Right Ahead!: the tragedy of the Titanic by Stephanie McPherson.  Minneapolis: 21st Century Books, 2012

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21. Review: Yuhi: Ceres Celestial Legend Vol 2 by Yu Watase

 

 

Title: Yuhi: Ceres Vol 2

Author: Yu Watase

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Aya and her twin brother Aki thought they were going to a celebration of their sixteenth birthday at their grandfather’s home, but the funeral-like atmosphere tips them off that something’s not right. Their "birthday present" turns out to be a mummified hand–the power of which forces an awakening within Aya, and painful wounds all over Aki’s body! Grandfather Mikage announces that Aki will be heir to the Mikage fortune, and Aya must die! But Aya has allies in the athletic cook and martial artist Yûhi, and the attractive, mysterious Tôya. But can even two handsome and resourceful guys save Aya when it’s her own power that’s out of control?


Review:

I have mixed feelings about the second volume of Ceres.  On one hand, I love the legend of the Celestial Maiden.  Ceres is tormented with rage and longs for revenge against the man who stole her feathered robes, prohibiting her from returning to heaven.  Worse, he violated her, and she bore his children, trapped in an ugly place she couldn’t escape from.  Now, fate has caused both Ceres and Mikage to both be reincarnated as the twins Aya and Aki.  This has never happened before, and she’s obsessed with winning her vengeance.  Every time she sees Aki, Ceres wrestles control away from Aya and attacks him, even though he has no memories of his previous life.  I find this storyline so compelling.  For centuries, Ceres’s thirst for revenge has kept her trapped, reborn over and over into the Mikage family, only to be discovered and killed during the ritual as her host body turned sixteen.  When I think about how angry I would be after being thwarted time and time again, I am surprised that she hasn’t done more damage to the Mikages and their property as yet.  I would have gone absolutely ballistic, leaving the surviving Mikages to deal with harried property insurance adjustors.

Aya, though, is grating on my nerves.  Is it really wise to chase after Toya in not much more than her underwear, leaving her defenseless when her evil cousin Kagami gets his paws on her?  Ugh, ugh, ugh!  I would not feel like I was in a position of power in enemy territory while dressed in my panties and a bra.  Ugh!  That’s like the nightmare where you forgot to put your clothes on before rushing off to school.  And to so ardently declare her love for Toya, a guy she just met, and a guy who works for the people who are trying to kill her?  Aya, while Yuhi isn’t as interesting, he is a lot safer, so maybe you should go for him instead?  He is more than capable of protecting you, and he can cook!  Take him instead!

I was a little bored with this volume.  Whenever Ceres made an appearance or Kagami had page time, I was all interested again.  Ceres is fascinating because she reveals little tidbits of her history every time she manifests, and Kagami – ah, Kagami.  He is just so evil and conniving that you can’t help but like, even admire him, just a little bit.  He sees an opportunity for the Mikage family to gain immense power, and he’s going to seize it.  With both Aki and Aya in his control, there is nothing he can’t do, once he figures out how to tame Ceres and her incredible power. 

The second volume of Ceres was both irritating and compelling.  Aya drives me nuts, but legend of the Celestial Maidens kept me turning the pages.

Grade:  C+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

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22. New and Upcoming Indie MG and YA Titles

cover34385-medium

Jake’s plan for a carefree holiday at a musical performing arts camp in the Windy City hits a sour note when he stumbles upon a long-hidden message from his mother, art historian Karen McGreevy. She had traveled to Chicago thirteen years earlier on a dream assignment, never to return home. With his violin and his mother’s mysterious letter in hand, Jake, his best friend Julie, and new pals Ben and Natalie are heading west, where they will follow the clues and uncover the truth about a missing masterpiece, the meaning of friendship, and the enduring bond between a mother and her son.

Coming in November from MB Publishing!

rocket

A thrilling graphic novel adventure that unlocks the mysteries of ancient Egypt!

The Egyptian capital of Cairo is a buzzing hive of treasure hunters, thrill-seekers, and adventurers, but to 12-year-old Ronald “Rocket” Robinson, it’s just another sticker on his well worn suitcase. But when Rocket finds a strange note written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, he stumbles into an adventure more incredible than anything he’s ever dreamt of.

Rocket and his friends soon run afoul of master criminal Otto Von Stürm, who’s planning the theft of the greatest treasure in history—an ancient pharaoh’s fortune, secretly hidden for centuries. To stop him, they’ll have to de-code an ancient riddle, solve a cryptic puzzle, face off hungry crocodiles, and navigate a centuries-old labyrinth full of traps. All while staying one step ahead of Otto’s bloodthirsty goons.

The streets of Cairo come alive in Sean O’Neill’s lively, vibrant, full-color illustrated pages. Young fans of ancient Egypt will immediately be drawn in by the references to hieroglyphics, mummies, pyramids, and pharaoh’s tombs, all lavishly illustrated in O’Neill’s fun, accessible style.

Coming in October from BoilerRoom Studios.

survivors

The Survivors: Body & Blood is the third installment of The Survivors Series!

How many answers you seek are just a part of you, waiting to be found?

The game has changed.

Fresh from her first brush with mortality, a fragile Sadie Matthau is playing human with Cole Hardwick while the Survivors endure unimaginable tragedy. Wrought with the first deaths of their own kind, a tyrant who will torture them, and an opponent more terrifying than anyone could have foreseen, the Survivors are facing their end.

Told from three points of view, The Survivors: Body & Blood is a bloodcurdling, mind-bending, heart-stopping ride. As Sadie and the Winters uncover more enemies, more history, and more answers, they find themselves brought closer together and ripped further apart. And all the while, a haunting Alexander Raven lurks at the edge of Sadie s lifeline, at the darkening fringes of her mind.

As the Survivors descend into chaos, Sadie realizes a painful truth: the deepest of secrets leave the darkest of marks.

Caught between a terrifying fantasy and her own grim reality, Body & Blood is the story of Sadie s dance with her demons, future, past, and present.

Released July 2013 from Chafie Press, LLC.

camelot

 

Filled with terrific suspense and budding romance, Daughter of Camelot is a fast paced adventure set against the turmoil at the end of the Arthurian era.

Raised in the shadow of a fort dedicated to training Knights of the Round Table, Deirdre thirsts for adventure.

Instead, at 14, she is sent to court to learn the etiquette and talents of a young woman.

Court life, however, is more fraught with danger than she expected, and Deirdre finds herself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that stretches deep into the very heart of Camelot.

All Deirdre thought she knew and believed in—loyalty, love, bravery—is challenged when she embarks on a quest to defy Fate and save the King.

Coming in September 2013 from Mabon Publishing.

 

 


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23. Review: Bleach Vol 1 by Tite Kubo

 

Title: Bleach Vol 1

Author:  Tite Kubo

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach, has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.


Review:

Bleach is one of my favorite series, and I realized with a great deal of dismay that I am far, far behind in my reading of this title.  I don’t think I’ve reviewed many of the volumes, so I opted to take advantage of a comp copy through Vizmanga.com to reacquaint myself with Ichigo, Rukia, and the rest of the gang.  This is a very fun series that features a ton of action, surprisingly touching emotions, and fan favorite protagonists in both Ichigo and Ruikia.  If you enjoyed The Ghost and the Goth or The Curse Workers by Holly Black, I think you should give Bleach a try.  Admittedly, the length of the series is daunting, and it’s still being published, but there are enough volumes released in English that you can read it in manageable chunks by utilizing online sales and trips to the library. 

Ichigo Kurosaki is 15 years old and he can see ghosts.  His sisters can too, though all they can see are faint outlines.  Ichigo can see, touch, talk to, and channel these pesky spirits that he thinks are a pain in the butt.  He just wants to be left alone to mind his own business but NOPE!  That’s not happening.  Ichigo also has a high moral obligation to help anyone in trouble, even those troublesome ghosts.  When an evil spirit threatens to hurt his family, he’s forced to borrow Soul Reaper powers from Rukia, a Soul Reaper who was badly injured saving his bacon.  Too hurt to fight, she offers to lend Ichigo half of her dark powers so he can save his family.  She’s dismayed to discover that he’s so spiritually powerful that he steals all of them, and now she can’t get them back!

I love the relationship between Ichigo and Rukia.  Their back and forth banter is humorous and full of snark.  While Ichigo isn’t exactly disrespectful, he doesn’t understand the need to put himself in danger, fighting the Hollows, regardless of the obligation he acquired when he snatched away all of Rukia’s power.  When the chips are down, though, her forceful prodding  makes him realize how important a Soul Reaper’s duties are.  If he doesn’t take care of the restless spirits, they will eventually turn into Hollows, and once they become these evil monsters, they lose their last shred of humanity.  There is no going back, and the Hollows have an insatiable need to feed on souls.   Rukia put her life at risk to save Ichigo and his family, so he acknowledges that he has a duty to help Rukia until she can figure out a way to get her powers back.

Ichigo is one of my favorite characters because he can’t stand to see an injustice and not want to correct it.  He and One Piece’s Luffy have a lot in common. Both of them will give their heart and soul, not to mention their life, to defend those needing help.  They are white knights in attitude.  Ichigo can’t turn his back on bullying, or just stand by when someone is about to get hurt.  He’s not perfect, and there are many times when he should learn to keep his mouth shut, but he can’t do it.  He is fiercely devoted to his friends and family, and he won’t let anyone hurt them.  Now that he’s a Soul Reaper by default, he can’t ignore when a soul is in danger, either.

The first volume of Bleach is fast-paced, brimming with frantic action, yet it doesn’t let the characters and their interactions take a back seat to all of the fighting.  That is what I enjoy most about Bleach.  The character come to life for me, and I so badly want Ichigo to master his new powers so he doesn’t come to harm.  It’s hard watching such a likeable guy getting the crap beat out of him, even though I have few doubts that he’ll always persevere.  That assurance is the main appeal of manga for me.  I know that even as the protagonists are facing certain doom, they will eventually find a solution to all of their problems.  Reading along as they figure that out is what makes reading them so rewarding.

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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24. Review: Midnight Secretary Vol 1 by Tomu Ohmi

 

Title: Midnight Secretary Vol 1

Author:  Tomu Ohmi

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Mad Men meets Vampire Diaries

Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being an excellent secretary and a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s reassigned to the office of her company’s difficult director, Kyohei Touma. He’s as prickly—and hot—as rumors paint him, but Kaya is unfazed…until she discovers that he’s a vampire!!Kaya quickly accustoms herself to scheduling his “dinner dates” and working odd hours, but can she handle it when Kyohei’s smoldering gaze starts turning her way?!


Review:

Midnight Secretary is a very fun, fluffy read.  I wasn’t expecting much from it, and I wasn’t really in the mood for it, so I kept shuffling it from the top of my reading pile, and now I’m sorry I did.  Once I got it in my hands, the cover kind of turned me off.  I don’t find it appealing at all, so here is another instance where I misjudged the book by it’s cover.

Kaya takes pride in her job, and she wants to be the best executive secretary possible so she can get a great job, and so her mom won’t have to work so hard.  After her father died, her mother got a job at Tohma Corporation, and she worked hard to put Kaya through school.  She even helped get her a job at Tohma, and now that Kaya is getting her big break, she’s going to make her mother proud.  The big break turns out to be a mixed blessing.  She’s assigned to be Kyohei Tohma’s secretary.  Kyohei is the younger son of the senior director, and he’s a jerk.  He is a demanding boss, who works long hours, and his exacting expectations have caused countless secretaries to quit.  Kaya is determined to succeed, though, but his dismissive attitude is hard to deal with.

Kyohei has a reputation for being a ladies man, and Kaya quickly discovers that this is true.  He juggles the ladies with consummate skill, arranging meetings with them in his office after dark.  He is quick to disparage Kaya’s looks, and he grumpily complains that she’s not good looking enough to work for him.  Kaya ignores every complaint and quickly proves that she is efficient and dedicated to her job.  When she suspects that Kyohei and his girlfriends are using drugs in the office, she doesn’t hesitate to get to the bottom of her suspicions.  She’s afraid that if there is illegal drug use going on that he’ll get caught, the company will suffer, and she’ll lose her job.  What she discovers is that he’s a vampire, and that the hanky panky in his office  is Kyohei drinking the blood of his beautiful lady friends.  The illegal drug use would probably have been more welcome than working for a blood-sucking playboy!

I enjoyed Midnight Secretary because Kaya is so unflappable.  She takes the discovery that her boss is a vampire in stride, and quickly decides that she’s going to defend his secret and make sure that he is taken care of so that he can continue to perform his job duties.  Well, that and he’s threatened to have her mother fired if  Kaya quits, so she doesn’t really have much choice.  Meeting every challenge that he throws at her head-on, Kaya quickly proves that she is indispensible.  Despite Kyohei’s gruffness, she can’t help but find him attractive, especially after his secret weakness is revealed and he is forced to drink her blood.

The art is very attractive and reminded me of Mayu Shinjo.  The delicate lines are expressive, and the characters are attractive, even Kaya, who hides her baby face behind ugly glasses and a severe hair style.Midnight Secretary is fun and flirty, and I can’t wait to read the next volume. 

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

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25. Spotlight and Giveaway! Haunted Chemistry by Lindsey Loucks

Guest Blog: Thrills & Chills While Doing Laundry (Wait. What?)

By Lindsey R. Loucks

Instead of taking one of the buses speeding through campus during my college career, I always walked, my gaze aimed at the ground for anything shiny and round. If I found treasure in the form of a quarter, it was well worth the few bumps on the head or rude comments I got from not looking where I was going. Like most college students, I was poor.

But I became a pretty successful quarter tracker, and when I’d find one, I’d add it to my carefully stacked pile with the hope I’d have enough to do laundry soon. With all that walking around campus, there were days when I came home smelling a tad ripe.

The washers and dryers were located on the basement floor of my apartment building, and let’s just say that going down there, alone, was the equivalent of walking into a dragon dungeon with my arms loaded with raw meat. That’s what it felt like anyway.

Storage cupboards took up the far wall that led from the stairs to the laundry area, each one about three feet long and three feet wide. Sometimes one of them would be open a crack. The single overhead light only cast a faint orange glow, deepening the shadows inside that open cupboard to an inky black.

Whenever I’d see one of those open cupboards, I’d stop in my tracks while my imagination tumbled over everything that could be lurking inside. Usually the things I imagined involved segmented legs, machetes, Brazilian poison dart frogs, porcelain dolls, or a combination of all of the above, just waiting to spring out.

My pulse racing, I’d give my laundry bag a squeeze and check to make sure I still had my quarters. Then, with my breath held, I’d race past the open cupboard, dump all my clothes into the washer, throw in some soap, push my quarters into the slots, start the machine, and sprint back out before I’d used up all the stored air in my lungs.

It was such a rush! It made laundry day pretty much the best day ever! Of course, I’ve always lived for that pump of adrenaline that fear gives me. I watch scary movies alone in the dark by myself on purpose. I guess I’m weird like that.

On one of my trips to the laundry room, my boyfriend’s brother went with me (I can’t remember why exactly, but I may have told him about the spooky basement). When he saw the wall of cupboards, his exact words were, “A serial killer stores his victims in these, huh?”

And that’s when I stopped doing laundry in that apartment building. Nah, just kidding. I still did. Remember that adrenaline rush thing I was talking about? Yep.

All of this was the fuel I needed to eventually write Haunted Chemistry. Who knew laundry could be so delightfully scary?

How about you? What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you while doing laundry? Have you ever done laundry in a particularly frightening place?

Haunted Chemistry by Lindsey Loucks

ISBN: 9781622662982

Book Description:

When bookish college co-ed Alexis heads to the laundry room in her new apartment, she runs into Ian Reese, the chem lab partner she crushed on all last semester. And the guy who stood her up on their first date. But she’s down for an awkward reunion, and no better place than her creepy laundry room.

Ian has every intention of making amends, but just when Alexis begins to trust him again, a new threat calls more than their future together into question. A ghost from the apartment’s past is hellbent on revenge, and if he wants to get his girl, he’ll have to get the ghost first.

Amazon BN Goodreads

Excerpt:

“Uh, Alexis?”

My name on his tongue sounds amazing, but I try not to notice. I turn, the bulk of my laundry bag holding the door open for me. “What?”

He swallows and glances at his black boots. “It’s great to see you again.”

I nod. It’s great to see him, too, but I’m not the one who didn’t show up for our date at the end of last semester and who vanished for an entire summer with no explanation. Maybe he forgot about our non-date, because he sure isn’t trying to explain himself. But why didn’t he call to tell me he wouldn’t be coming instead of making me wait for him?

My bag bites its weight into my shoulder. When I shift it to the other one, the door creaks closed in Ian’s face. I wince. I didn’t mean for that to happen.

“Well.” He frowns through the broken squares in the window. “See you.”

“Yeah.” With a sigh, I watch him walk away. I’ve missed our group study sessions where we’d always sit next to each other and accidentally nudge each other’s knee or foot. I’ve missed how easy it is to be with him. I’ve missed him. He doesn’t seem like the type who wouldn’t call to say he couldn’t make it. But he didn’t.

About the Author:

Lindsey R. Loucks works as a school librarian in rural Kansas. When she’s not discussing books with anyone who will listen, she’s dreaming up her own stories. Eventually her brain gives out, and she’ll play hide and seek with her cat, put herself in a chocolate induced coma, or watch scary movies alone in the dark to reenergize.

She’s been with her significant other for almost two decades.

Website: http://www.lindseyrloucks.com

Blog: http://www.lindseyrloucks.com/my-blog

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LindseyRLoucks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LindseyRLoucks

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6151511.Lindsey_R_Loucks

Giveaway:

$50 gift card. Winner’s choice of Amazon or B&N

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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