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1. Review: Turned by Virna DePaul

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I picked up Turned because I was in the mood for something a little different, and because it’s the first book in a new series.  I don’t intentionally read a lot of vampire books because I prefer a good zombie apocalypse to torment my protagonists, or werewolves, because they just kick butt.  All of that Mine, Mine, Mine, the snappy teeth, and the pack dynamics just work for me.  But I decided to venture into the dark world of vampires, which, in the case of Turned, includes gangs, cults, and rogue vampires.  Oh, and lots of sexy times.  Fun!

Ana is a former gang member.  She has recreated her life, leaving behind the gang and opening a coffee shop in Seattle.  She served a two year prison sentence, and she’s still haunted by the events that caused her incarceration.  On the day she was going to leave the gang and take her younger sister as far away from the crime-seeped life they were living, a rival gang interrupted her jump out ceremony, guns blazing.  When the smoke cleared, Ana was arrested, and her sister disappeared without a word.  Having searched fruitlessly for her for years, she’s approached by a dark, dangerous man who promises that he’ll hook her up with Gloria if she agrees to work for Belladonna, a covert branch of the FBI.

What Ty doesn’t tell her is that he’s a vampire, and that he needs Ana’s help to crack a crime ring that is selling Hispanic immigrants as blood slaves to other vampires.  Ty was turned against his will six months ago, and now he wants the Rogues responsible to pay.  They turned him, turned his friend, and killed his sister.  Struggling to keep his lust for blood and sex under control, he considers himself a monster.  He failed his sister and his friends, all because he thought he was a badass.  He had no clue that there were real monsters lurking in the dark, and now that he’s one of them, he’s searching for a way to return to what he was – human. 

Both Ty and Ana are damaged.  Ty because he was turned against his will, and Ana by a lifetime of being spit on by the people she loved.  She’s only ever been able to count on one person, and she will do anything to ensure that Gloria is safe and happy.  Ty and Ana are both are suffering from tunnel vision as they seek to achieve their goals.  Ana finds it so hard to trust anyone,  or count on anyone, so she is used to doing things for herself, so she doesn’t give Ty much of a chance to prove himself to her. Ty thinks he’s a monster, not fit to be loved, so he denies his feelings for Ana, thinking that he’ll soon be tired of her.  Ha! Foolish vampire!  Once Ana gets under his skin, there is no getting rid of her!

I felt that the pacing faltered near the end.  Ana and Ty find themselves in grave danger, they receive assistance from a surprise source, and then BOOM!  Book two is set up as the attention is shifted from Belladonna busting the masterminds behind the blood slave ring, to busting up a sex ring.  Events at the compound happened so quickly, and the villains were dispatched with equal speed, leaving me feeling a bit let down.

Turned is a gritty vampire yarn, packed with action, blood, and seduction.  It kept me reading late into the night.  I enjoyed the introduction to Virna DePaul’s dark and sensual world, and I’m curious to read more.  I’d really like to learn more about the full-blood vampires lurking in the background, hiding among the humans while manipulating them at the same time.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Perfect for fans of J. R. Ward, Nalini Singh, and Lara Adrian, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Virna DePaul’s new series of paranormal romances introduces readers to a thrilling world where vampires secretly co-exist with humans, seduction rules the night, and the stakes are nothing less than life and undeath.

Welcome to a mesmerizing world where vampires hide among humans. This centuries-old species has its own rules, code of conduct, and taboos. Only the FBI knows that vampires exist—and although the Bureau agrees to keep their secret, it also plots to give humans the upper hand.

Turning mortals into vampires is forbidden.

But there are creatures who refuse to play by the rules.

Ever since he was turned, FBI special agent Ty Duncan has had one mission: bring rogue vampires to justice. As a recruiter for Belladonna, a shadow agency formed to keep vampires in check, Ty must tap Ana Martin, a troubled ex–gang member and one of the few mortals who can infiltrate places that his kind and the law cannot. From their first encounter, Ty fights a hunger to make Ana his own.

When Ty claims to have information about Ana’s missing sister, Ana has no choice but to trust this captivating stranger who awakens her deepest desires. But as she and Ty climb the heights of pleasure and passion, an enemy is conspiring to destroy them both.

Can Ana help Ty find his humanity in a love that could heal them both, or will their passion lead them into a darkness impossible to escape?

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2. Cynthia Garner’s Top 5 Items in a Post-Apocalyptic Woman’s Survival Kit and Giveaway!

Cynthia Garner dropped by the virtual offices to share her Top 5 items every woman needs to pack in her post-apocalyptic survival kit.  See if you agree, learn about her latest release, Vampire’s Hunger, and then enter the giveaway!

Cynthia Garner’s Top 5 Items in a Post-Apocalyptic Woman’s Survival Kit

1. Chocolate

2. Tampons

3. Pain reliever

4. Lip balm

5. Fabric refresher

What do think?  What would you add to your post-apocalyptic survival kit?  Maybe the guy on the cover of Vampire’s Hunger??

 

VAMPIRE’S HUNGER  by Cynthia Garner (April 1, 2014; Forever Yours E-Book; $3.99)

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, civilization no longer exists, and only the strongest survive. The few remaining humans must band together with supernatural beings to battle unspeakable evil-or all hope will be lost.

Kimber Treat is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift: she can raise the dead. As a necromancer who works with the police, she communicates with murder victims to bring their killers to justice. But after a normal session goes horribly wrong, Kimber realizes she’s summoned something dark and sinister. She’s unwittingly unleashed the apocalypse, and everyone blames her…except Duncan MacDonnough, the devastatingly handsome vampire she can’t stop fantasizing about.

As society shuts down and flesh-eating hordes close in, Duncan vows to protect Kimber. He can keep her safe from others-but not from the insatiable carnal hunger he feels for her. Now racing to reverse the chaos she’s unleashed, Kimber can’t afford any distractions. But even as she succumbs to Duncan’s seduction, she fears that he has a hidden agenda. And with the line between life and death starting to blur, his secrets might kill her-or worse…

About the author:

Cynthia Garner discovered her love for writing when her sixth grade teacher told the class to write a story that began “It was a dark and stormy night…” With that Cynthia’s love for all things paranormal was born.  When she’s not working her day job as a mostly mild-mannered Human Resources Manager, she’s on her laptop writing or playing way too much Solitaire. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Cynthia now lives in the desert Southwest.

Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

Excerpt –

Two nights later Duncan answered the knock on Kimber’s door. Murray stood there, just as fragile looking as ever. “What now?” Duncan asked.

The other vampire lifted his chin, motioning toward the inside of the apartment. “Maddalene wants to see your little necromancer again.” His face was expressionless but Duncan caught the smirk in his voice.

He clenched his jaw. No way in hell was Kimber going back there until he and Maddalene came to an understanding. The fact that Maddalene had overridden him and allowed hungry vampires into his living quarters, to threaten Kimber and her friends, had driven home the point that the sense of loyalty he felt toward Maddalene was a one-way street.

“Tell Maddalene to forget it,” he told Murray.

“I’m not your messenger boy, MacDonnough.” The skinny excuse for a vampire gave a grunt and pointed to his head. “Still attached, the way I like it. You got something to say to Maddalene, you say it yourself.” He gave a sardonic salute with two fingers and sauntered off.

Damn it.

Duncan closed the door and turned to face the other inhabitants of the apartment. Natalie stood in the kitchen, leaning back against the counter, her hands braced on either side. Aodhán was kicked back in the recliner, his gaze steady and calm. Kimber, his lovely Kimber, stood beside the sofa, arms crossed and one foot tapping on the floor.

“I am not going back there,” she said.

“No, you’re not.”

“I mean it, Duncan. Maddalene wants the impossible, and I won’t do it.”

“I agree.”

“No matter what you…” A frown dipped between her brows. “Wait. What?”

He couldn’t stop the small grin that quirked his lips. She was adorable when she was confused. It wasn’t a look he got to see very often because she had such a sharp mind. “I said I agree. You’re not going to see Maddalene.”

“Oh.” Her hands dropped to her sides. “Um, why not?”

Ignoring the interested gazes of Aodhán and Natalie, he walked over to Kimber and took her face in his palms. “Because I don’t trust her right now, and I mean to keep you safe.”

Her lips parted and he couldn’t stop himself from dipping his head to press a soft kiss against her mouth. When he drew away, her lashes fluttered and swept up to show slightly dazed eyes. That was a good sign, anyway. He knew she wasn’t indifferent to him. If he could prove to her that he wouldn’t lose control and drain her, maybe one day she’d trust him enough to let him close again. To let him love her.

He took a step back. Where the hell had that come from? He didn’t love Kimber. He couldn’t love her. She was mortal. He was not. He didn’t deny he wanted her—his lust for her was nearly a living entity on its own. But love?

No.

He didn’t have the time for love. He didn’t have the luxury for love.

He didn’t have the right. He’d done things he wasn’t proud of. Kimber deserved better than him. She certainly didn’t deserve the danger he’d be putting her in if Maddalene found out he had a soft spot for Kimber. And he deserved…

He firmed his jaw. He deserved only what she gave him. But that didn’t negate the fact that she had something he wanted—well, actually, two things he wanted: the ability to contact the Unseen and a body he wanted to lose himself in. Both might be within his reach if he could just get Maddalene to back the hell off.

Yeah, Duncan. Just keep telling yourself all you’re interested in is her body. You might really believe it someday.

He turned away from Kimber. Grabbing up the tire iron from where he’d placed it underneath the coffee table, he headed toward the front door. “I’m going to talk to Maddalene.”

“Wait.” Kimber’s soft voice stopped him. When he looked over his shoulder at her, she said, “Be careful.”

He gave a nod and pulled open the door. As he closed it behind him, he heard Aodhán say, “He’s strong and he’s fast. On his own, he’ll be able to get around any zombies out there. He’ll be fine.”

Fine against zombies, yes. Against his own heart? He wasn’t so sure.

5 print copies of VAMPIRE’S HUNGER, Grand prize: Twilight Saga White Collection

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3. Review: Vampire’s Hunger by Cynthia Garner

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

It seems as though I have fallen into a zombie rut again.  I don’t know why I keep turning to these books, because they are starting to give me nightmares.  Seriously!  Vampire’s Hunger isn’t even that graphic, and I woke up during the night after I finished it from a scary dream.  Heart pounding, can’t fall back asleep nightmare.  Good thing the puppers were there to cuddle!  I am taking a little break from zombies, but I bet it won’t last long!

 

Kimber is a necromancer.  She works with the police, raising the dead to find out who murdered them.  After a summoning goes wrong, she discovers that she’s unleashed the zombie apocalypse.  In addition to fending off zombies, she has to deal with the threats of the rest of humankind who also blame her for bringing doom upon the human race.  I would so not want to be in her shoes.

Duncan is the second in command of the local vampire clan.  He has been lusting after Kimber for years, but she keeps rebuffing his advances.  She doesn’t trust vampires after they murdered her family, and she’s not about to get close to Duncan.  He vows to protect her and her friend Natalie as society takes a nose dive.  Along with the fairy Aodhan, Duncan has his work cut out for him.  His queen, Maddalene, wants Kimber to raise her consort from the dead, and she just won’t take no for an answer.  Sworn to obey her every command, Duncan is torn between his growing feelings for Kimber and his loyalty to his queen.

Vampire’s Hunger is a fast, sexy read.  I liked the setting – the world has just ended, and Kimber is still adjusting to her new normal.  She blames herself for the zombie plague, and she is determined to figure out a way to put an end to it.  The day she brought Richard Whitcomb back to life something went wrong, and she is going nuts trying to understand why the Unseen, the source of her power, has changed.  The day she called Richard back, something felt wrong and evil, and when she tried to release him back to death, he fought back.  The entire episode was a complete disaster, challenging Kimber’s skills to keep him under control.  It also marked the start of the zombie apocalypse, leaving one unfortunate observer bitten and infected.  Yup, Kimber’s slip up resulted in Patient Zero and the end of the world.

I originally started reading this book because I saw the word zombie in the blurb, but I think it was more focused on the vampires.  I felt that the zombies were more of an obstacle for Kimber and  her friends to get around than an actual threat.  There were a few battles with them as they traversed from Kimber’s apartment to Duncan’s vampire enclave, but it was the vampires that were the real danger in Vampire’s Hunger.  Duncan’s queen is a nutbag, and she is going to force Kimber to raise her dead consort, come hell or high water.  Kimber knows that the attempt will kill her; it’s hard enough raising someone who just died, let alone someone whose original death was a hundred years ago.  The Unseen isn’t being very friendly to her, either.  Something dark, evil, and dangerous keeps lurking in it’s depths.

The main conflict between Kimber and Duncan is Kimber’s distrust of vampires.  She is afraid that Duncan will lose control and drain her of every drop of blood in her veins, leaving her a lifeless husk.  Her family was murdered by vampires, and they haven’t done much to gain her trust since then.  Duncan, however, has been nothing but protective of her, watching over her and Natalie and working with Aodhan to keep them safe.  Still, with the insane Maddalene threatening everyone she cares about, it’s no wonder that Kimber has no love for vampires.  Duncan refuses to go against his queen, even though he knows that she is off her rocker and that she is becoming increasingly unstable.  I was disappointed that it took him so long to decide to do something about her, but once he makes up his mind that Maddalene is too much of a liability to keep her power over the clan, he quickly moves against her.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, but Vampire’s Thirst comes out in May, so I didn’t give it a ding for that.  I enjoyed Vampire’s Hunger, and I am looking forward to book 2.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:


In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, civilization no longer exists, and only the strongest survive. The few remaining humans must band together with supernatural beings to battle unspeakable evil-or all hope will be lost.

Kimber Treat is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift: she can raise the dead. As a necromancer who works with the police, she communicates with murder victims to bring their killers to justice. But after a normal session goes horribly wrong, Kimber realizes she’s summoned something dark and sinister. She’s unwittingly unleashed the apocalypse, and everyone blames her . . . except Duncan MacDonnough, the devastatingly handsome vampire she can’t stop fantasizing about.

As society shuts down and flesh-eating hordes close in, Duncan vows to protect Kimber. He can keep her safe from others-but not from the insatiable carnal hunger he feels for her. Now racing to reverse the chaos she’s unleashed, Kimber can’t afford any distractions. But even as she succumbs to Duncan’s seduction, she fears that he has a hidden agenda. And with the line between life and death starting to blur, his secrets might kill her-or worse . . .

Approx. 50,000-60,000 words.

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4. Spotlight and Giveaway-Sex & the Single Vamp by Robin Covington

Sex and the Single Vamp by: Robin Covington

Release Date: 3/24/14

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Synopsis:

Cici Trent, vampire and media darling, spends her days finding true love for humans and supernaturals (the “Others”) at her dating agency. But someone is trying to sabotage her business and she needs help. Unfortunately, the best man for the job is the one who broke her still-beating heart two hundred fifty-four years ago.

Deacon is a patient vampire. He’s only loved one woman in over three hundred years— CiCi— and she chose another. So when she shows up in his office asking for help, he finally has the chance to lay that demon to rest. He’ll help her, but for a price—a night in his bed.

Adrenaline, mischief, and a little late-night B&E light the passion that even a couple of lifetimes couldn’t put out. But Deacon has a secret and when Cici is suddenly mortal, his deception might be the only way restore her immortality. Can love bridge the gap between a heartbeat and forever?

Tagline: Love. Sex. Eternity. Dating never gets easier.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20944668-sex-and-the-single-vamp

Entangled Book Link: http://bit.ly/1oi65kF

Author Bio:

Robin Covington, who NYT Best Selling authors, Robyn Carr and Carly Phillips, said was their new “auto-buy author”, writes sizzling hot contemporary and paranormal romance.

A Night of Southern Comfort, her best-selling debut novel was named a 2012 finalist in the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Awards, earned 4.5 stars and was touted by RT Book Reviews as bringing a “fresh, modern feel to the genre while still sticking to the things that get our adrenaline pumping — sex and danger”. When she’s not exploring the theme of fooling around and falling in love, she’s collecting tasty man candy, indulging in a little comic book geek love, and stalking Joe Mangianello.

Robin is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Washington Romance Writers, a faculty member at Romance University, a member of the Waterworld Mermaids, and a contributor to the Happy Ever After blog at USA Today. You can find Robin on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter (@RobinCovington).

Email: robincovingtonromance@yahoo.com

Website: http://robincovingtonromance.com/

Blog: http://robincovingtonromance.com/burning-up-the-sheets/

Twitter: @RobinCovington

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobinCovingtonAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5812874.Robin_Covington

Newsletter: http://averyflynn.us6.list-manage2.com/subscribe/post?u=86d6422aba38201281a747f83&id=a525b102ea

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5. Release Day Spotlight and Giveaway-Turned by Virna DePaul

To celebrate today’s release of Virna DePaul’s Turned, I have compiled a handy list of places where you more than likely will NOT meet a hot vampire.  Please add additional places in the comments.  Thanks to the uber awesome peeps at Random House, I also have 5 copies up for grabs, so enter away!

Top 5 places you are guaranteed to NOT pick up a vampire:

Pool Party

Beach Volley Game

Church Service

Golf Tournament

Tanning Salon

Also avoid Italian restaurants, your local tent stake factory, and the Vatican.  I will bet dimes to dollars that you will never find a vampire hunk there.  Where else would you be wasting your time seeking your vampire soul mate?

Welcome to a mesmerizing world where vampires hide among humans. This centuries-old species has its own rules, code of conduct, and taboos. Only the FBI knows that vampires exist—and although the Bureau agrees to keep their secret, it also plots to give humans the upper hand.

Turning mortals into vampires is forbidden.

But there are creatures who refuse to play by the rules.

Ever since he was turned, FBI special agent Ty Duncan has had one mission: bring rogue vampires to justice. As a recruiter for Belladonna, a shadow agency formed to keep vampires in check, Ty must tap Ana Martin, a troubled ex–gang member and one of the few mortals who can infiltrate places that his kind and the law cannot. From their first encounter, Ty fights a hunger to make Ana his own.

When Ty claims to have information about Ana’s missing sister, Ana has no choice but to trust this captivating stranger who awakens her deepest desires. But as she and Ty climb the heights of pleasure and passion, an enemy is conspiring to destroy them both.

Can Ana help Ty find his humanity in a love that could heal them both, or will their passion lead them into a darkness impossible to escape?

Order your copy here:

Buy Links: Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Amazon Audio, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, iTunes

   

Virna DePaul is a former criminal prosecutor and bestselling author of steamy, suspenseful fiction.  Whether it’s vampires, a Para-Ops team, hot cops or swoon-worthy identical twin brothers, her stories center around complex individuals willing to overcome incredible odds for love.  She loves to hear from readers at www.virnadepaul.com | www.facebook.com/booksthatrock | www.twitter.com/virnadepaul

Giveaway!

Win a print copy of Turned by Virna DePaul.  US addresses only, please!

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6. Virna DePaul’s Tips For Dating a Vampire and Giveaway

Virna DePaul dropped by this morning with a couple treats to share.  First, she has useful dating advice if you have a sexy vampire in your sights, and next, she brought a copy of Turned for one of you to win!!

Virna DePaul’s Tips for Dating a Vampire

First, thank you so much to Julie and Manga Maniac Café for having me at your blog. I am very excited to share a little of my upcoming release Turned with you! In Turned my alpha hero Ty Duncan, a special agent with the FBI, is just getting used to life as a vampire and all of the urges that come with it when he must recruit Ana Martin to join the Belladonna Agency. Ana, a former gang member who’s trying to live a quiet life in Seattle, isn’t keen on joining an organization whose purpose is to bring down vampire criminals, but Ty makes her an offer she can’t refuse. When business turns personal, Ana decides she needs a crash course on dating a vampire and all things supernatural! What tips would I give her and any other woman dating a vampire?

  1. Attitude – When dealing with an alpha vampire it is always important to stand your ground. You want to be able to give as good as you get. You want to let him know that just because he’s packing fangs that doesn’t mean he gets to have his way all the time!

  2. Diet – It is important for all vampire-dating girlfriends to maintain a diet rich in foods that increase the production of red blood cells. After all, we can’t have our man going hungry. ? Grains such as cereals, leafy greens, dairy products, oranges and proteins are a must!

  3. Exercise – Staying in shape is a priority when dating a vampire because you never know when you are going to need staying power. Whether in the bedroom or out of it you want to be able to keep up with your man.

  4. Clothing – Vampires aren’t known for their subtlety. Every girl should know to keep an extra set of clothing on you at all times because you never know when your man is going to ravish you, which usually ends with your clothing in tatters.

  5. Extrovert – This one kind of ties in with Clothing. Vampires are constantly fighting their urges and sometimes they lose the battle in public places! A vampire-dating girl should know there is always a chance of public sex, public fighting and public fanging (a guy’s got to eat). A woman needs to be able to handle these instances with ease and pride. No need to be embarrassed; it’s always a good thing when your vampire gets so carried away with lust for you that he can’t control his feelings.

What advice would you give Ana? Comment below to win an autographed ARC of Turned.

Virna DePaul is a former criminal prosecutor and bestselling author of steamy, suspenseful fiction.  Whether it’s vampires, a Para-Ops team, hot cops or swoon-worthy identical twin brothers, her stories center around complex individuals willing to overcome incredible odds for love.  She loves to hear from readers at www.virnadepaul.com | www.facebook.com/booksthatrock | www.twitter.com/virnadepaul

Romance at Random is featuring my hero for a special column called #TyOnTuesday. If you have a chance, stop by and read some exclusive excerpts from Turned! There will be a new #TyOnTuesday every Tuesday until Turned hits bookshelves 04/01/14!

About the book:

Welcome to a mesmerizing world where vampires hide among humans. This centuries-old species has its own rules, code of conduct, and taboos. Only the FBI knows that vampires exist—and although the Bureau agrees to keep their secret, it also plots to give humans the upper hand.


Turning mortals into vampires is forbidden.

But there are creatures who refuse to play by the rules.
Ever since he was turned, FBI special agent Ty Duncan has had one mission: bring rogue vampires to justice. As a recruiter for Belladonna, a shadow agency formed to keep vampires in check, Ty must tap Ana Martin, a troubled ex–gang member and one of the few mortals who can infiltrate places that his kind and the law cannot. From their first encounter, Ty fights a hunger to make Ana his own.
When Ty claims to have information about Ana’s missing sister, Ana has no choice but to trust this captivating stranger who awakens her deepest desires. But as she and Ty climb the heights of pleasure and passion, an enemy is conspiring to destroy them both.
Can Ana help Ty find his humanity in a love that could heal them both, or will their passion lead them into a darkness impossible to escape?

Buy Links: Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Amazon Audio, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, iTunes

Giveaway!

Leave a comment answering this question:

What advice would you give Ana?

Earn extra entries by Tweeting and following!

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7. The Book Review Club - MidwinterBlood

MidwinterBLOOD
Marcus Sedgwick
YA

It's one of my favorite times of the year - kids' book awards! I waited with baited breath for the new Printz and Newbury winners and the resulting pile of spanking new stories to discover.  I started with the Printz winner, MidwinterBLOOD, by Marcus Sedgwick, and oh, what delicious fun!

Multiple, seemingly unrelated tales spanning thousands of years but that nevertheless all take place on the same island with two repeating character names slowly reveal themselves as the stories of the multiple lives of two star-crossed lovers that culminate in their final breaths. And even throws in a vampire and a WW II aviator.

Yum.

This sort of storytelling mesmerizes me. It takes the short story and incorporates it into novel length. It's a two for one that cleverly takes short stories arcs and layers them into a longer, overall novel arc.  It's pretty cool how Sedgwick pulls that off. How he takes elements in one story and reworks them, nevertheless expanding and revealing backstory in another about those elements, and the two characters they revolve around.

There were a few stories in the set that I understood less quickly and had to reread, but I'd say this is a reread all the way around, it's that rich with story and new author tools to tell story.

For other stories that will put a spring in your step before we tumble forward this weekend (hopefully out of the snow and into the flowers!) check out Barrie Summy's site. Happy reading!

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8. #FollowFriday Interview with Virna DePaul, Author of Turned and Giveaway!

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Virna!  Thank you for stopping by!

[Virna DePaul] Thanks so much, Julie and Manga Maniac Cafe, for having me here today!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Virna DePaul] Driven.  Passionate.  Shy.  Quiet.  Complex.

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

[Virna DePaul] Yes!  Turned is Book 1 in the Belladonna Agency Series.  The hero in Turned is Ty Duncan, an FBI special agent who was forcibly turned into a vampire.  The FBI uses Ty’s misfortune to its advantage, forming the Belladonna Agency, a black ops organization that tracks down vampire criminals.  Ty recruits a human female, Eliana Garcia, aka Ana Martin, who is a former gang member.  The hero and heroine are both wounded individuals who are fighting inner darkness.  Ana’s darkness comes from her past.  Ty’s darkness comes from his turning.  But in the end, love saves them both.  

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

[Virna DePaul] It started with the idea of female spies with a Charlie’s Angels feel.  Then I added a touch of Underworld with the paranormal element—beautiful human females recruited to bring down rogue vampires.  Finally, it morphed slightly because I wanted to write a prequel to my already published Para-Ops series.  The Para-Ops series began with Chosen by Blood, five years after the second civil war, after the US battled with vampires and other paranormal creatures.  Turned jumps back in time, starting at the time vampires were first discovered by the FBI.  What bridges the two series is a continuing exploration of the idea of “monster” and how being a monster is a character trait that plagues humans just as much as vampires.  And of course, both series have plenty of sizzling hot romance. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Virna DePaul] As a former gang member, Ana is extremely tough and guarded.  She spent time in prison and she did things in her past to survive that, on the surface, make the idea of her being sexually innocent ridiculous, but yet that’s exactly what she is.  I enjoyed writing a female character that is so complex, and pairing her with a hero that fears he’s lost his humanity and is unworthy of love.  They truly heal one another in the best possible ways. 

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

[Virna DePaul] I Want It All by Queen

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Virna DePaul] An open mind.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Virna DePaul] My new Apple desktop.  LOVE!  Notes from a screenwriting class.  A speaker that plugs into my iPhone so I can play my favorite music. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Virna DePaul] I continue to re-read Law Man by Kristin Ashley.  Wanted by J. Kenner was awesome.  I’ve read the novels written by my fellow Lucky 7: Bad Boys Boxed Set authors, Tawny Weber, Caridad Pineiro, Sophia Knightly, Kristin Miller, Susan Hatler, and Nina Bruhns.  They are all fabulous storytellers!

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

[Virna DePaul] Watch movies and Broadway musicals.  And read…I love to read!  Never enough time for that.

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

[Virna DePaul] They can always reach me through my website or social media!   I love to hear from them!

www.virnadepaul.com

www.facebook.com/booksthatrock

www.twitter.com/virnadepaul

Thanks again for having me here today.  I really appreciate it. :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

About the book:

  

Perfect for fans of J. R. Ward, Nalini Singh, and Lara Adrian, bestselling author Virna DePaul’s new series of paranormal romances introduces readers to a thrilling world where vampires secretly co-exist with humans, seduction rules the night, and the stakes are nothing less than life and undeath.

Welcome to a mesmerizing world where vampires hide among humans. This centuries-old species has its own rules, code of conduct, and taboos. Only the FBI knows that vampires exist—and although the Bureau agrees to keep their secret, it also plots to give humans the upper hand.

Turning mortals into vampires is forbidden.

But there are creatures who refuse to play by the rules.

Ever since he was turned, FBI special agent Ty Duncan has had one mission: bring rogue vampires to justice. As a recruiter for Belladonna, a shadow agency formed to keep vampires in check, Ty must tap Ana Martin, a troubled ex–gang member and one of the few mortals who can infiltrate places that his kind and the law cannot. From their first encounter, Ty fights a hunger to make Ana his own.

When Ty claims to have information about Ana’s missing sister, Ana has no choice but to trust this captivating stranger who awakens her deepest desires. But as she and Ty climb the heights of pleasure and passion, an enemy is conspiring to destroy them both.

Can Ana help Ty find his humanity in a love that could heal them both, or will their passion lead them into a darkness impossible to escape?

Advance praise for Turned

“If you’re looking for a hot, sexy, emotional read, Virna DePaul delivers!”New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J. Kenner

“A captivating start to a fascinating new series with a hero that’s to die for.”—Bestselling author Rhyannon Byrd

“Virna DePaul creates yummy alpha heroes.”New York Times bestselling author Tina Folsom

“With Turned, Virna DePaul delivers a sexy and exciting new take on the vampire novel, one that comes complete with a kick-ass heroine and a to-die-for hero. I can’t wait for the sequel!”—Tracy Wolff, bestselling author of Ruined

Turned is intense, intricate, and insomnia inducing (plan to stay up way too late!). Virna DePaul puts the awesome in the awesomesauce of paranormal romance.”—Joyce Lamb, curator, USA Today’s Happy Ever After

“The chemistry between the two was great and made for some very sexy scenes.”Fresh Fiction

“This book has everything you could want and so, so much more!”Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

Turned is an intriguing story with flawed characters who I connected with immediately. Fans of paranormal romance rejoice, here’s a compelling new series to sink your teeth into.”Harlequin Junkie


TURNED by Virna DePaul – Excerpt:

Take him.

“I want to take you,” she blurted out, her chin held high. “I want you to lie on your back and let me do whatever I want to you. Will you do that?”

He held out his hand. With a small frown, she slipped her hand in his. He pulled her to her feet but didn’t kiss her as she’d expected. Instead, he took her place on her bed.

Lying back on the crisp white sheets, he folded his hands behind his head so his biceps bulged and his abs rippled. The light dusting of hair on his chest arrowed down his torso and disappeared into the waistband of his sleep pants. At his groin, his cock pushed against the cotton seam as if straining to reach her, and her mouth went dry at the evidence of his girth. As she continued to watch, his hips arched, tempting her to action.

Her gaze shot back to his face. She expected him to be smiling again. Maybe even watching her with an arrogant look of triumph. Instead, he looked hungry. Famished. Ready to break down and beg if she didn’t touch him.

She knew exactly how he felt.

With more bravado than actual confidence, she stepped closer to him and pressed her palm against his chest. The strong thud of his heartbeat echoed the throbbing need between her legs. A slight hiss escaped him as her hand made contact. “Yes,” he groaned. “Touch me. Please.”

“I—I am touching you,” she whispered.

“Touch me with both hands. With your mouth. With your body. I need you, Ana. I need you so much.”

The naked vulnerability of his pleas made her breath catch. He needed her?

“Yes, I need you,” he said, making her wonder if she’d voiced her thoughts or he’d somehow read her mind. “And once we begin training, once you learn more about your mission, things are going to change. The way you feel about me is going to change.”

“Why? Are you going to be mean to me?” She pouted, skimming a nail across his nipple as if to punish him for any future transgressions against her.

He jerked. “I’m going to push you, and you’re not going to like being pushed. But more than that, you’re going to see me for who I really am. What I really am. And you’re not going to want me any longer. Not the way I want you.”

Instinctively, she pulled back at his pain-filled words. She had no idea what he meant, but when she opened

her mouth to question him, he shook his head wildly. “Don’t ask me to explain because I can’t. Just know that I want you and need you, Ana. Here. Now. I need you to take me, just like you said. Do what you want to me. Do anything. Do everything.”

Anything. Everything.

Most of the time, sex had always been about what someone else wanted to take from her. On the rarest of occasions, it had been about what she’d been willing to give up. She’d never thought of sex in terms of taking for herself. But now here was Ty, every luscious inch of him, begging her to do just that.

Her fears. Her insecurities. Her questions about what he’d said. They all disappeared as a maelstrom of desire overtook her. For once, she was in charge. For once, she had the power to take what she wanted.

She wanted him. She wanted to take from him. Anything. Everything.

And she was going to.

Faster than she’d ever thought possible, she stripped them both naked. His gaze devoured her bare flesh, but he kept his hands pinned behind his head, giving her total control.

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9. Review: Night Owls by Lauren M Roy

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

While I love Urban Fantasy, I don’t often have the opportunity to read much of the genre because so many of the titles currently being released are part of a longer, multi-volume series, or, when a book comes along that I think is interesting, I just don’t have time to fit it into my jam-packed reading schedule.  I had seen several positive reviews for Night Owls, so I determined to make the time to read Lauren M Roy’s debut novel.  I’m so glad I did!  This is such a fun read, and it clicked for me within just the first few pages.  I couldn’t put it down and finished it in just a few hours.

 

Valerie is a battle weary vampire, who has settled down as far away from California and the terrible memories that still  haunt her ten years after a monster hunting mission gone bad.  Now the proprietor of a late night bookstore, Night Owls, she’s made herself comfortable in a small college town, making a new life, and new friends, for herself.  When Elly races into town, she destroys the peace that Val has built around herself.  After one of her most loyal customers is murdered, Val is determined to find out the reason for his death.  What she does is open a whole giant can of worms that threatens everything and everyone she loves.

Wow!  I loved the characters!  Val is a total badass, when she finally gives in and starts fighting the supernatural enemies plaguing her small town.  Elly is, too, but she has to rely on her wits and her training to get out of her scrapes.  She’s only human, after all, even if she has been taught since childhood how to track and neutralize Jackals, scary flesh eating monsters that prey on humans.  Cavale rocked, too!  I want him to have his own freaking book!  I wish he had had a larger role in the story – and don’t get me wrong, he had lots of page time, but I liked him so much I wanted to know more about him.  Val’s friend (he’s more like a vassal), Chaz was adorable, even though he has a lot to learn about fighting and slaying monsters. 

Things go to crap for Val after Justin, one of her employees, takes a peek inside the ancient book Professor Clearwater sends to her for safekeeping.  Justin’s been given strict instructions that no one is to open the book without Professor Clearwater there.  Oops!  Curiosity really does kill the cat! Kind of serves Justin right to trigger a ward on the book and have all of its magic jump right into him.  That is one complication that Val didn’t need, and when a pack of Jackals come to Night Owls, demanding the return of the book and its magic, she knows that they are in for the fight of their lives.

I am trying very hard not to gush about this read, but I can’t help myself.  It is FUN with all capital letters, and I can’t wait to read more by Roy.  The fight scenes are exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat, the paranormal characters are blast – I enjoyed being introduced to all of them, the good, the bad, and the indifferent to Val’s dire problem.  The story takes place over only a few days, but what a danger, adventure filled period that is!  Because Val is a vampire, her fatal flaw, as well as the Jackals, is that they can’t be out after sunrise.  That’s what makes loyal humans like Chaz so valuable.  There are many tasks that need to be completed during the daylight hours, so Val has a trusted agent take care of them.  When Chaz ends up a pawn in the quest for the magic in Justin’s head, Val becomes a very grumpy, and very anxious, vampire.  The Jackals will do anything to get back their book, and Val knows that there’s a deadline to rescuing Chaz.

If you are in the mood for a fast, action-packed read, filled with things that go bump in the night, look no further.  Night Owls is a blast, and I can’t wait for more adventures with Val, Elly, Chaz, and Cavale.

Grade:  B+/A-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

About the book:

Night Owls bookstore is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk…

Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away as possible from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren. She’s experienced that life, and the price she paid was far too high for her to ever want to return.

Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.

When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safekeeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors…

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10. Welcome KC Blake–vampire fighter, werewolf hunter and creature of the night stalker (in a good way, not in that creepy way everyone else stalks creatures of the night)

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This Fun Friday The Society of YA Storyteller authors are all interviewing fellow authors! I’m the lucky one who hosts KC Blake today. Interested in stories that will keep you up long into the night? Just read one of KC’s books and you’ll see why you’ll want to read them all. When you get to the end of the interview and want to read more, there’s links to all the author interviews. Stop by each of the blogs and read about one of your favorite or future favorite authors. Click here to check out the The YA Society of Storytellers website and check out the game zone, online book club, trailers and giveaways too.

Any works in process that you are passionate about?  I am working on Warrior right now.  It is the third in the Order of the Spirit Realm Series, and I’m having a blast because I know these characters so well.  It will be hard when I finish and have to say goodbye.

Werewolf or Vampire? Vampire or Zombie? Aliens or Mole People?  Werewolf (pasty white boys don’t do it for me).  Vampire (easier to kill).  Aliens (the other is too weird).

Which of your characters is most like you?  Bay-Lee Van Helsing from Bait.  I don’t give up no matter what (I’m just stubborn that way), and I keep going no matter what life throws at me.  I’m also driven (to write, not to kill werewolves).

Which of your characters is least like you?  Lily from Witch Hunt. The girl never knows when to shut her mouth. She is constantly talking about stupid things and doesn’t notice when her friends want to slap her.

Which of your characters would you like to be friends with?  Kristen from Crushed because she is a witch with crazy powers, but she isn’t irresponsible so I don’t have to worry about her turning me into anything weird.  She would use her magic to help me out.

Which of your characters do you like writing about most?  Nick Gallos from Bait because he was an undercover rock star slash vampire slayer.  He’s angry and bitter, until he falls for Bay-Lee.  Definitely my favorite.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas tradition.  On Christmas Eve we drink hot cocoa and open up one present.  We also watch a Christmas movie.  Then on Christmas morning we eat breakfast before opening presents.  The rest of the day is spent visiting family, maybe watching another Christmas movie, and playing in the snow if we are lucky enough to have some.

Paperback or eBook?  Depends.  I love my Kindle, but I want my books in print if they are keepers.

Future plans?  After I finish up the Order of the Spirit Realm series, I am going to finish my vampire series.  Then I would like to move on to a series about other worlds and dragons.

Check out the other YA Storyteller interviews:

K.C. Blake
Bryna Butler
Heather Hildenbrand
Patti Larsen
Quinn Loftis
Liz Long
Melissa Pearl
L.M. Preston
Stacey Rourke
Christy Sloat
Heather Sutherlin
Suzy Turner


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11. DNF: The Children of the Mist, by Jenny Brigalow

Release Date: September 1st, 2013
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Overall: 2 Monkeys
Interest: Vampires, Werewolves, Aussie Lit
Categories: Paranormal, Romance, Series
Goodreads / Amazon/ Jenny Brigalow's Website 
Read in September-October 2013 

Summary:
An original paranormal YA about an unconventional girl, an unconventional boy, their extraordinary transformations, and the secrets of the Scottish Highlands.

When skater girl Morven Smith turns sixteen, she develops boobs, acute appendicitis...and a pair of pointy teeth. While she is stunned by her metamorphosis into vampire, her best mate, the enigmatic Zest, is not. For the young werewolf, Morven’s transformation is an answer to his lonely prayers. 
But they are unable to celebrate their mutual paranormalcy for long — there are too many dangers, too much suspicion, and too many questions. It’s only in Scotland that Morven can learn the truth about her past. But she discovers more than she bargained for when she meets her birth family — an ancient feud between vampires and werewolves. They may both be Children of the Mist, but only one species can survive.
My Opinion:

I first decided to read this book because I really like aussie books, I like their cool idioms and reading about places that I'd love to visit someday, in this case, Australia and Scotland. 

So I met Morven, a skater girl, 16-year-old and with a penchant for adrenaline. The first couple of chapters introduced her and her friend Zest. I read about them skating, trespassing private property and freeing a lively Dog, but I still couldn't feel anything for them. 

I couldn't tell you why, but I couldn't bring myself to care for these characters. Sometimes I'd get excited about a situation, like when Morven starts to transform, to Become, and nurses and doctors try to pin her down and stop her from escaping. 

But then the book would go back to its previous slow pace and lost its grasp on me. I read half of the book and still, I couldn't get into it. I really tried to finish it, but it's been a long while and I need to read the other books on my Review List. 

Maybe the book will make up for these things I'm listing here in its second half, but I'm not tempted to read it any time soon. Sorry, Jenny! I really hate it when I can't even finish a book. 

If any of you have read the whole thing, let me know how it ends!
xo, Ella

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12. 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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13. Black City (Black City, #1), by Elizabeth Richards

Release Date: November 13th, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Source: Bought
Overall: 5 Monkeys
Interest: Dystopia, Paranormal, Series
Categories: Dystopia, Paranormal, Vampires, Romance
Read in August 2013

Summary:
A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.
In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
My Opinion:

I'm so glad I paid attention to the many reviews for Black City! If you think like I do, that there are so, so many new dystopian books coming out and you're getting a bit tired of them, and why don't authors just write something other than dystopias, thank think again about reading Black City

This is a book that can be qualified as Dystopia/Paranormal (much like the Juliette Chronicles by Tahereh Mafi), a genre on the rise. 

Black City is told from the two alternating POV's of Natalie and Ash (it's got to be at least the fourth book in a row I read with multiple POV's). Like any other dystopia, it's got its over-domineering government and the growing resistance, but what makes it so unique are the characteristics of both sides.

Natalie is the youngest daughter of the city's Emissary, something much like a mayor. She is human, and she's been brought up to believe that Darklings are bad creatures. Ash is a Darkling stuck on the human side of the town. He's what they call a twin-blood, the son of a Darkling mother and a human father. 
They meet under some very stressing circumstances, but through the book they manage to make it. Kinda.

We're told from the start that Natalie's got a scar along her chest, and it's this simple detail what will help Richards give the story a really great turn and closure. I won't say more about it, but that it was very well thought out.

This is a dark book, and I mean dark. The human government uses its power (and here I couldn't help but compare its Purian Rose to TGH's President Snow, they're so similar) to slowly wipe out the Darkling population. There are some pretty gruesome scenes, but it just makes the book that much better.

I just have one complaint: Somewhere to the third quarter of the book we're introduced to a new character, Evangeline. And she's a pretty important character. So much so, that it's her intervention what manages to twist the future of our characters in a significant way. I just wish we could have known about her sooner, or in a different way. Her appearance just felt too out of the blue to me.

There's a big secret surrounding Natalie's family; I loved learning it and can't wait to see how it influences the next books! Ash's secret is pretty big too, and it definitely helps make his story really interesting.

Black City's secondary characters enjoy the spotlight a lot too, so kudos to Richards for making intriguing secondary characters that readers will remember.

The book's political plot is very nicely built. Natalie will learn a lot, being the Emissary's daughter, and she'll have her own opinion made out by the end of the book. Beetle, Ash's best friend, has an important role in the Humans for Unity resistance. Even Beetle's aunt, Roach, is a character with a little of backstory.

All in all, a great read. For its 374 pages, I read it in two sittings. It was that great.
Happy reading,
Ella

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14. Dracola- RC Cola Halloween

Dracola! Special-edition, glow in the dark, blood-red Halloween label for RC Cola UK.

At Asda stores throughout England. Or order online HERE.  






0 Comments on Dracola- RC Cola Halloween as of 1/1/1900
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15. Jack Templar, Monster Hunter Tour, Day 1

4 Star The Templar Chronicles, Book 1: Jack Templar Monster Hunter Jeff Gunhus 184 Pages    Ages 8 to 12 …………………….. Back Cover: If you have this book in your hands, I assume you are already a monster hunter or in training to become one. I hope my story helps you in the many fights ahead. However, [...]

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16. The Beat Comic Reviews for 12/12/12: Batman Vs Vampires

Hey! It’s one of those dates where American readers can’t shout at me for getting the day and month the ‘wrong’ way round! Hurrah! That’s a relief.

This week was Dennis Hopeless Week, with the writer bringing two new Marvel launches to the world. I’ll be reviewing one of them - the controversy-bathing Avengers Arena - along with two vampire stories and, what the heck, the latest Batman. What better way to wash away all those scary night-loving monsters than with… a third scary night-loving monster. Hm.

This week I’ll be reviewing Batman #15, The Amazing Spider-Man 699.1, Marceline and the Scream Queens #6, and Avengers Arena #1

ba1 The Beat Comic Reviews for 12/12/12: Batman Vs Vampires

Batman has proven to be an interesting comic over the last few months. Writer Scott Snyder has thrown an incredible amount of thought and planning into the series, but for some reason none of this seems to be developing into a story. This month’s Batman #15 gives us a short showdown between Batman and the Joker, before setting things up for another showdown which will happen next month. Besides a framing sequence which pauses everything to try and look into the heart of why Batman can never defeat The Joker, the rest of the issue feels rather empty and lifeless.

Surprisingly, this Death of the Family storyline has been dragging almost since the first issue, with The Joker feeling lifeless and dull, rather than chaotic and scary. Beyond the visual image of Joker’s ripped-off face – which itself looks creepy half the time and stupid the other half – there’s nothing to the character here which sells him as a scary villain. His dialogue reads as an homage to Grant Morrison’s super-sexual version of Joker in Arkham Asylum, but without any of the verve or sting. This Joker is simply camp and affectionate, and that doesn’t make the character creepy, rather he seems bloodless and defanged.

Despite the abundance of dialogue and narration boxes, it doesn’t feel like Snyder has gotten beneath the skin of any of the characters involved here, with predictable storytelling and a lot of filler. The majority of this issue is an eight-page sequence where various Batman allies argue over whether Joker once broke into the Batcave a few years ago. This is presented as the core of the story, and something which will drive a wedge between everyone – but there’s no reason for readers to find any of this relatable  It doesn’t feel important or real as a story beat, and as a result the thread is diluted.

Overall this storyline has felt perfunctory, with no surprise or intensity in the way The Joker’s plan unfolded. It’s been a disappointment. There’s a backup sequence here which appears to be setting up The Riddler as the next villain for Batman to face – but again, it’s as though everything interesting about the character has somehow drained away. All that’s left are a few tics and very little character. Forget Batman needing to protect Gotham from supervillains – at this rate they’ll all have faded into bland obscurity by next year.

 ba3 The Beat Comic Reviews for 12/12/12: Batman Vs Vampires

Amazing Spider-Man 699.1, on the other hand, is the sort of story Batman should be telling. Written by Joe Keatinge and drawn primarily by Valentine Delandro, the issue grabs on to a dark and moody character and presents him as genuinely unsettling – yet empathetic at the same time. Despite the title, this is a prologue to the Morbius series Keatinge will be working on with Rich Elson, and as such we get a look at the character’s past and present.

Delandro’s art does a lot of the work for Keatinge here, providing a distinctive representation of the character which makes him look unworldly even before he becomes, well, a vampire. Sorry, spoilers! But that doesn’t mean Keatinge sits back – this is a fascinating character study, which really gets into the skin of the doctor and works a lot of power into the presentation of the narrative. The feeling of horror grows magnificently over the course of the issue, building up and building up until a climax which feels expected, but in a thrilling fashion.

Just because we can tell what will happen by the end of the issue doesn’t mean that the journey towards it isn’t filled with dread in each word, and it doesn’t make the tragedy any less affecting. I didn’t care much for Morbius before this issue – but the creative team have here put together a very strong case for why the series should exist.

 ba2 The Beat Comic Reviews for 12/12/12: Batman Vs Vampires

 If you’re looking for a slightly less terrifying story about vampires, I don’t suggest Marceline and the Scream Queens – because it’s just as scary! Although, much funnier, and a delight. Issue #6 wraps up Meredith Gran’s miniseries with a few nice jabs at the state of comics fandom itself… as well as a vampiric rock concert and plenty of hard nudity.

The story wraps in the expected manner, although you’ll have no chance pre-guessing how Gran gets there. Throughout the series we’ve seen Gran having what looks to be a whirlwind of a time with these characters, bringing out excellent jokes from their personalities whilst not being averse to the odd left-field piece of unexpected nonsense. Issue #6 is very very funny, but weighted with character. Her art is a perfect fit for this ‘world of Adventure Time’ style as well, with her use of body language getting across emotion even when half the characters have dots for eyes.

Lisa Moore’s colouring is also superb, and I was particularly fond of the way Princess Bubblegum’s hair seems to grow brighter and more powerful with every panel, whilst Marceline’s grows somehow blacker. I don’t know if that’s a trick of my eye, but it certainly seemed that way. Eccentric in the very best way, this has been a great miniseries, and a great showpiece for Gran’s art and writing.

 ba4 The Beat Comic Reviews for 12/12/12: Batman Vs Vampires

Which brings us to Avengers Arena #1. Was this really going to prove a crude cash-grab on the success of the Hunger Games, with snuff and misery? No, no it wasn’t. It was a book with a clever, crafty central conceit, as well as great character work and stunning art from Kev Walker.

The real star of the issue may well be Frank Martin’s work on colours for the book, however, which are at once outlandish and crazy, yet keeping touch on the characters and story. The scenes in Murderworld are gaudy but visually striking for it – which plays into the way Arcade sees the venture. Yet the scenes set outside are cosy and warm, without that feeling of artifice. That is all a result of Martin’s colours. Walker also proves once more to have a solid grip on team stories, with a multitude of characters who all stand apart, and dynamic, exciting storytelling.

Dennis Hopeless’ central contribution to this first issue is the feeling that there is a plan for the book. This isn’t going to be an exploitative title (well, it is, but not in a grotesque way), but instead a character study performed in that rarest of locations: a comic where characters can die forever. It’s startling how quickly removing the barrier of ‘comic book death’ pinballs the book into immediately scary, unpredictable territory. We’re so accustomed to nothing actually ‘mattering’ beyond the next big event, that Hopeless’ freedom here to do whatever he wants to these characters is shocking and riveting.

It’d be worthless if Hopeless didn’t make the characters empathetic, however, and on the basis of this first issue he has a solid grasp on every character he voices here, furthering them as protagonists even whilst making it clear that they could be gone by next issue. Taking away the safety net brings us a chaotic series which can do anything it wants – and a creative team firing on all fronts. This could be the big hit of Marvel Now, if they can keep this up. Which is the big question now, isn’t it?

6 Comments on The Beat Comic Reviews for 12/12/12: Batman Vs Vampires, last added: 12/17/2012
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17. Morganville Vampires - Giveaway (INTL ends 12/24)


Penguin has been so awesome at sending us books from Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series this year that I thought, hey! Why not do a giveaway?

You know what that means?! It's open internationally!

The latest installment in this series is Bitter Blood (Morganville, Book 13) 


For years, the human and vampire residents of Morganville, Texas, have managed to co-exist in peace. But now that the threat to the vampires has been defeated, the human residents are learning that the gravest danger they face is the enemy within…

Thanks to the eradication of the parasitic creatures known as the draug, the vampires of Morganville have been freed of their usual constraints. With the vampires indulging their every whim, the town’s human population is determined to hold on to their lives by taking up arms. But college student Claire Danvers isn’t about to take sides, considering she has ties to both the humans and the vampires.

To make matters worse, a television show comes to Morganville looking for ghosts, just as vampire and human politics collide. Now, Claire and her friends have to figure out how to keep the peace without ending up on the nightly news… or worse.

Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open internationally. Alethea will order the winner's choice from Bookdepository.com.
  2. We are not responsible for items lost in the mail.
  3. One set of entries per household, please.
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. 
Thanks, and good luck!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 Comments on Morganville Vampires - Giveaway (INTL ends 12/24), last added: 12/17/2012
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18. Fang Girl: Guest Post + Giveaway (Intl - Ends 12/25)


We are super excited to be a part of the Fang Girl blog blitz today. Thanks to Xpresso Reads for hosting this great tour. Fang Girl has been on my TBR pile for a little while now. I love vampires and can't wait to read it. Today for our stop we have a guest post by author Helen Keeble. Be sure to read all the way to the end of the post where you'll have a chance to win several prizes, including a signed copy of Fang Girl. 


Fang Girl by Helen Keeble
September 11th 2012 / HarperTeen

Things That Are Destroying Jane Greene’s Undead Social Life Before It Can Even Begin:
1) A twelve-year-old brother who’s convinced she’s a zombie.
2) Parents who are begging her to turn them into vampires.
3) The pet goldfish she accidentally turns instead.
4) Weird superpowers that let her rip the heads off of every other vampire she meets.(Sounds cool, but it doesn’t win you many friends.)
5) A pyschotic vampire creator who’s using her to carry out a plan for world domination.

And finally:
6) A seriously ripped vampire hunter who either wants to stake her or make out with her. Not sure which.

Being an undead, eternally pasty fifteen-year-old isn’t quite the sexy, brooding, angst-fest Jane always imagined....

Helen Keeble’s riotous debut novel combines the humor of Vladimir Tod with Ally Carter’s spot-on teen voice. With a one-of-a-kind vampire mythology and an irresistibly relatable undead heroine, this uproarious page-turner will leave readers bloodthirsty for more.

Find the author: Author's Website | Goodreads | Twitter.



Fandom, Family, and FANG GIRL 
Guest Post by Helen Keeble

FANG GIRL is about two things: fandom and family.

…Okay, so it's also about a lot of other things, like undead goldfish, vampiric retail empires, and hot boys in tight leather trousers, but mostly it's about fandom and family. Let me explain.

I started writing FANG GIRL because I was immensely irritated (I suspect irritation is the major cause of novels, actually). It was at the height of Twilight fever, and it seemed like every day there was a new article in the newspapers or blogosphere about it. You couldn't click a link or turn on the radio without finding someone either dismissing all YA paranormal romance fans as utterly stupid for liking "that trash", or alternatively getting into a moral panic that these girls were being fundamentally damaged by reading it.

As I rather enjoy a good paranormal romance myself, this was irritating. Really irritating. So irritating I had to spend a year writing a novel to fully express my irritation.

See, personally I think that teenagers are a lot smarter and more discriminating than adults assume. I certainly read an awful lot of fantasy schlock as a teen, and enjoyed it immensely without ever thinking I was actually going to fall through a portal and meet the perfect knight-protector, so I don't believe that all teenage girls are having their relationship expectations warped for life by Robert Patterson's hair. And in my experience, teen paranormal fans can be hugely clever and creative -- they dissect their favorite books like ruthless surgeons, they write their own fanfic versions, they make amazing music videos with footage from movies or tv shows… it's a far cry from the stereotype of a wide-eyed, ditzy girl uncritically consuming anything packaged with a black-and-red cover.

So I decided to write a paranormal romance about a girl who's a vampire fangirl, and who is also practical, snarky, and intelligent -- so when she wakes up one night and discovers she's now a vampire herself, she's got the knowledge and wits to deal with it.

But of course, vampires are rather ridiculous creatures -- seriously, you're angsty because you're eternally young and beautiful? Seriously? I mean, the first thing I'd do is camp out in New York Public Library and read every book ever -- so I also wanted to poke fun at some paranormal romance cliches. The much older vampire hero who inexplicably falls in love with the heroine, eternal angst-filled passion, the inevitable brooding rival, the terribly glamorous vampire lifestyle… in my book, the vampires are quite aware of all these tropes, and are willing to use them to try to influence my heroine Jane. But the vampires are -- like all those columnists and bloggers -- assuming that teenage vampire fangirls actually believe all this stuff… which turns out to be a big mistake.

The other trend I'd noticed in paranormal romances is that usually the heroine's family are barely present (especially not both parents). She might have endless conversations with vampires and werewolves and bears, oh my, but parents seem to stay mostly off-page. Now, I'm not saying that I never fought with my parents when I was a teen, but mostly we got along, and my family were definitely a big influence in my life. And I think that's true for a lot of teens. So I wanted my protagonist's family to be a major part of the story. And really, if you're a girl who wakes up unexpectedly dead one night, what are you going to do? Run off alone and try to survive on the contents of your pockets (most people don't get buried with credit cards, you know), or go back home where there's bed, broadband, and people who love you even if you do now seem to have fangs? No contest!

So that's FANG GIRL: one part fandom, one part family, blended together with creamy comedy goodness and baked in the oven of righteous irritation. Can I tempt you to a bite?

---

Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open Internationally. The publisher will send the prize directly to the winner.
  2. We are not responsible for items lost in the mail.
  3. One set of entries per household, please.
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thanks for stopping by and good luck!





2 Comments on Fang Girl: Guest Post + Giveaway (Intl - Ends 12/25), last added: 12/19/2012
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19. 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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20. Baby Lit® A Christmas Carol & Dracula by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver

Today we have two books from the Little Masters, Baby Lit® Books collection from publisher Gibbs Smith, author Jennifer Adams, and illustrator Alison Oliver.  The first, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, is a coloring primer that will paint this week’s big day red and green. Then Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a counting primer, will put [...]

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21. Interview with Elisabeth Staab, Author of Prince of Power and Giveaway!

Please welcome Elisabeth Staab to the virtual offices today.  Elisabeth is celebrating the release of her latest novel, Prince of Power.  Check out what she has to say about her new book, and after, enter for your chance to win a copy!

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

[Elisabeth Staab] Well, I started hunting zombies back in the early 18…no wait…that’s my secret bio. Let’s see…

Aside from writing and vampires I am obsessed with music, caffeine, and documentaries, and I can turn almost anything into a dirty joke. ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Prince of Power?

[Elisabeth Staab] Prince of Power is the sequel to my debut novel, King of Darkness. Anton is a wizard, an enemy of the vampires, who fell in love with the half-sister of the vampire king after he was sent to kidnap her. Tyra is a vampire-hybrid who spends her days helping the less fortunate and her nights killing Anton’s kind. From the start, it would seem like their relationship is doomed to fail. Their story is about whether or not their love can triumph and survive the war between their species.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] I liked the idea of an enemy/outsider falling in love with one of the good guys, the challenges that would bring, and also the hero/heroine role-reversal. A more beta hero, a badass heroine with a little bit of a death wish. However, from the very beginning, Anton has driven this story. I “met” Anton early on when I was writing King of Darkness. He was in a dark room waiting to be tortured for defying his father on a mission. He kind of “told” me as I wrote that his mission had been about Tyra, that he’d effed up on purpose, and why. I had seen Tyra already with a fighter named Siddoh, but I realized that their relationship was in the past. Anton made it clear that he was the one for Tyra. So almost from the start of King of Darkness I knew where Prince of Power would go. That it would be Anton and Tyra’s story. And an enemy coming in from the outside, falling in love with a vampire? Talk about conflict!

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

[Elisabeth Staab] Fierce. Determined. Loyal.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” – There’s actually a really great scene near the end of Prince of Power where Anton and Tyra have a fight. A literal, physical fight while the snow is falling and she gets so mad at him that she tries to set him on fire. For me, the song fits both of them literally and symbolically. So it’s a little ballad-y for a hero, but for me this song was perfect for Anton and his overwhelm of emotion for Tyra. Not to mention her pyrokenisis. I made a whole playlist for Prince of Power, but this was “their” song.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] Actually, I think the great thing about Anton is he pretty much can leave home with nothing. He was raised without much so his material needs are few. Even as weapons go, he has a supernatural ability, the power to heat things from the inside-out, and the power to heal, so he’d be okay in a pinch. If there were anything he wouldn’t want to leave home without, I think it would be Tyra.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] Never. Hmm. Makeup or accessories. Aside from something to pull her hair out of the way when she’s fighting, it’s not really her bag. Keys. She can teleport so she doesn’t need them. Food. She’s awful about remembering to eat.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] Not knowing her mother. Not making peace with her father before his death. Those are difficult burdens.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] From reading alone, Suzanne Brockmann and JR Ward are the biggies. I discovered my love multi-POV multi-story arc novels thanks to them. Going all the way back to my teenager-hood though I read everything from Christopher Pike to Stephen King and I think you can see a tiny touch of those darker influences. I watch tons of comedy movies and stand-up, and even though I write dark I like to slide humor into my writing to breathe a little light into the darkness. Also, I’m incredibly lucky to have Damon Suede and Mary Calmes to trade beta reading with, and their suggestions have influenced my creative process heavily. I’m a far better writer thanks to them and I’m very grateful.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] These days, my laptop and reliable childcare are the two things I absolutely must have. Anyone who has tried to write a love scene while two toddlers are doing battle in the background will understand! Music and coffee are extremely helpful pluses, and I used to be pickier about my writing space, but lately so long as my kids are safe in their beds or with someone I trust enough that I can relax and let the words flow, I’m good.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] The last thing I read that really blew my mind was Broken by Megan Hart. I cried a good deal of the way through reading, and her books always leave me feeling conflicted. They’re intensely erotic and beautifully written, but emotionally they put me through the wringer.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] Sati, by Christopher Pike, I think I read it way back in middle school or high school or something. I think it was probably the first thing I read that wasn’t required by my literature class. The “adult” ideas that it presented (about a woman who claimed to be God) in a both funny and philosophical way were very eye-opening.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] Well I don’t get a whole lot of down time. What little I do have is spent with my kids, or reading, or watching a rare movie with my husband. When I can find a friend who’s game I actually like to go out and grab dinner, drinks, and dancing, but these days we’ve all got kids so that dicey, lol. Usually it’s reading. Which is fine, because then I can go anywhere.

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

[Elisabeth Staab] Web: http://elisabethstaab.com

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/lajoT

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElisabethStaab

Myspace: https://new.myspace.com/elisabethstaab/

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

G+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/115495970841282334338/posts/

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Ready for your chance to win a copy of Prince of Power?  Just fill out the widget below.  Earn extra entries for following. US and Canadian addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can purchase Prince of Power from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

About the book:

This Fight Is Personal…

Wizards and vampires have been mortal enemies since the beginning. Now Anton, son of the Wizard Master, has one last chance to steal the unique powers of the vampire king’s beautiful sister, Tyra…and then kill her. But when he meets Tyra face-to-face, everything changes…

Tyra will stop at nothing to defeat the wizards, until Anton saves her life and she suddenly sees an opportunity she never could have imagined…

As the sparks ignite between them, together they could bring an end to the war that’s decimating their people, but only if they can find a way to trust each other…

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22. REVIEW: A Driven Man in BALTIMORE: THE WIDOW AND THE TANK

TweetLord Henry Baltimore, Vampire Hunter, is more strictly speaking the hunter of a specific vampire, as THE WIDOW AND THE TANK one-shot reminds us. For such a goal-oriented guy, he certainly leaves plenty of ash-piles along the way, not to mention the corpses of other creatures he may happen to encounter. Writers Mike Mignola and [...]

3 Comments on REVIEW: A Driven Man in BALTIMORE: THE WIDOW AND THE TANK, last added: 2/24/2013
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23. 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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24. Meet Katie From Laura Bickle’s The Outside

Please welcome special guest Katie to the virtual offices! Katie is on the run for her life, hiding from the undead.  Hopefully, they haven’t followed her here.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Katie} Faltering, but not yet broken.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your typical day like?

[Katie} Before the end of the world, I had a peaceful Amish life. I worked on my parents’ farm. I raised Golden Retriever puppies and helped take care of my little sister, Sarah. There was plenty of work to be done: tending the garden, working the crops, feeding the cattle, cooking, laundry, and cleaning. But it kept me busy, and for the most part kept my mind from wandering to all the interesting things that must be in the outside world: comic books, Coca-Cola, jeans, and make-up.

But after…after the end of the world…I am on my own. I’ve been exiled from my community. With my two friends, Alex and Ginger, we search for other survivors by day. By night, we try to fight and outrun the vampires. We eat whatever we can scavenge and try to find safe places to sleep. Winter’s coming, and there’s less and less food as it grows colder.

I miss home.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Katie} I know that my parents would want me to regret being shunned in the first place. Fearing contagion, the Elders made a rule that no one was to come in our community, and no one was allowed out. But I found Alex, an injured man, just beyond my fence. I brought him into our barn to heal.

I know that my parents would want me to say that I regret this, and that I regret falling in love with him. But I don’t.

The thing that I regret is not being able to make my family and my community understand what terrible evil was coming, that it could affect us just as much as it has the outside world. They didn’t believe me then. But I know that they do now.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s the one thing do you prize above all others?

[Katie} Of all things, certainly my faith. Though I wrestle with knowing that God has chosen not to intervene in this evil that has spread over the earth, I still treasure it.

In terms of material things? The only thing I really have is the Himmelsbrief my village Hexenmeister created for me. It is a letter to God, a beautiful and powerful thing. It deters the vampires, and I credit it with my survival so far.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think the world has become such a dangerous place?

[Katie] I have heard many explanations for this. My village Hexenmeister has said that the Darkness has always been with us. He says that it was with us even in the Old Country. He remembers the old ways of dealing with the Darkness: with stakes and fire and sunlight. People believed in it then, and struck it down before it had the chance to take root.

Others tell me that it is a scientific evil. That something has crawled out of a radioactive experiment in a place half a world away. Chernobyl? I can’t remember what it was called. Some think that a meteor fell. Others think that it is a virus.

I don’t know the answer. All I know is that there is Darkness and light, and that one must choose a side.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think you have survived, while so many others have not?

[Katie} Alex says that it’s because I’m used to being without modern conveniences: that I know how to make my way without electricity, cars, and telephones. I know what’s edible in the forest and which animal tracks to follow and which to avoid.

I think it’s partially because of the Himmelsbrief. Without it, I would have been devoured long before.

And it’s also because I am not truly alone. I have my friends, Alex and Ginger. We have a horse and have just been joined by a wolf. The wolf is good with hunting…more dog than wolf. He is good with finding chickens, and he shares what he finds.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Katie} No more blood and Darkness.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Katie} Thank you so much!

Purchase link:

About the book:

One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?

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25. Review: The Outside by Laura Bickle

 

Title:  The Outside

Author: Laura Bickle

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all?      In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?


Review:

Last year, I read The Hallowed Ones, and it totally creeped me out.  It was scary and suspenseful, and protagonist Katie was brave, level-headed, and firmly grounded by her Amish beliefs.  I eagerly awaited The Outside, the next book in the series, which picks up right where The Hallowed Ones left off.  The end of the world has come, in the form of a terrible sickness that turns its victims into blood sucking monsters.  Katie, her English boyfriend Alex, and Ginger are trying to stay alive after being expelled from Katie’s Amish community.  They have no shelter, dwindling provisions, and the vampires are dogging their every step.  Only sacred ground is keeping them safe at night, as they trek north to find Alex’s family.  Winter is coming (sorry GoTs fans!), and the odds of their continued survival are bleak.

While I didn’t think The Outside was as suspenseful as the previous book,  I still had a hard time putting it down.  This outing is all about the running.  Running from vampires, running from the weather, running from the knowledge that the world has ended and there few survivors of whatever horrible virus has turned humanity into monsters.  Along the way, they meet some of the desperate survivors, and Katie and Alex are at odds about what to do with the weapon they receive to alter themselves to survive the fight with the Darkness.  Alex jumps at the chance to save himself and have a better way to protect Katie, but Katie struggles with her decision about what to do.  She has already gone against her belief system so many times, and she’s afraid that this measure of self-defense will steal away whatever humanity that she has left.  I thought that this method of battling the vampires was genius, in a Ha! Take THIS evil vampires!! kind of way. 

What I enjoyed best about The Outside was Katie’s struggle to accept the bad things that had happened to her.  She made some choices in both books that had very serious repercussions for both herself and for Alex and Ginger, and while she regretted some of the outcomes, she never regretted the initial decision to save Alex.  That one choice was the catalyst for everything else that happened; being shunned, being forced from the protection of her community, seeing the terrible things she saw while she was Outside.  She is angry with the Elders for not believing the Hexenmeister, and for how their treated Ginger.  She’s hurt that her parents did nothing when she was kicked out of the community, yet she can’t stop worrying about them.  Even though her friends and everyone she knows have turned their backs on her, she is still willing to give up her life to save as many of them as she can.  She’s a very admirable character.

One quibble with the book, and it’s the same quibble I have with most post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels, is how quickly they start to feel repetitive.  The steps are always similar to this – travel as far during the day as possible, forage for food and water, seek a safe place to sleep, encounter monsters and life-threatening events along the way.  Stop to rest after finding a safe haven, then gear up and get back on the road, facing even more danger than before.  The pattern and the pacing occasionally frustrate me.  Katie was an interesting enough character that I remained engaged in this story.  With her Plain upbringing, she’s even better prepared for the end of the world than most heroines.  Katie hasn’t been exposed to modern conveniences, so she’s used to a more rugged life-style.  She knows the land, and knows how to forage.  She hasn’t had a cushy life, but instead had chores and obligations to her family and her community.  I thought this gave her a huge advantage that made her survival more believable.

I enjoyed Laura Bickle’s foray into YA, and look forward to her next project.  I like her voice and I really like her characters.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

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