Review: Solstice by P J Hoover


Title:  Solstice

Author: P J Hoover


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


Piper’s world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy the Earth. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom.

Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth—her very identity….


When I discovered that Solstice was a post-apocalyptic novel with Greek gods, I was all over it.  I love mythology, and the thought of Greek gods meddling with human affairs during an environmental disaster sounded so cool,  I couldn’t wait to sit down with this book.  Ultimately, though, I was disappointed for one main reason -  I didn’t like the love triangle, and found it trying, to say the least.  Technically I guess it wasn’t even a love triangle, because Reese uses magic to get Piper to love him, so she’s basically a mindless love zombie whenever he’s around.  His scent enchants her, making her believe he’s the sweetest boyfriend in town, which is quite a feat considering that he’s a god of war.  Though I guess if you can fall for a god of the dead, you can certainly fall for a guy who lives for conflict, warfare, and bloodshed.

Piper is a high school student in Austen, amid the Global Heating Crisis.  Temperatures are far beyond the red zone, rain is rare, and deadly heat bubbles threaten to kill thousands.   Raised by her overprotective mother, Piper yearns for her 18th birthday so she can get out from under her mom’s suffocating control.  Homeschooled until recently, they have spent her entire life moving from town to town, hiding from her father, a terrorist.  Her mom refuses to tell her anything more about her father, and she seems to be terrified of him, so Piper doesn’t push the issue.  Much.  When handsome Shayne enrolls in her school, Piper discovers that everything she has believed about herself is a lie, and that her mother has never been honest with her. 

While I loved the premise of Solstice, I didn’t care for the execution.  Most of the major characters knew the truth behind Piper’s background, and none of them would clue her in.  I know, I know, Shayne was bound by a curse to not tell her or they would be condemned to the worst pit of Hell, but still. Every time it came up, it seemed like he was saying Neener, neener, I know what’s going on and you don’t, AKA, I can’t tell you the truth because it’s too dangerous.  Really?  Shayne is a Greek god, for cripes sake, surely he could come up with some clever way to clue her in without breaking the rules of the curse.  Instead, off Piper goes, into mortal danger, to find the answers for herself. 

The other sticky point for me was Reece.  He’s an evil guy, and for the most part, he doesn’t even try to pretend to be nice.  He knows what’s going on, and since it’s in his best interest to keep Piper ignorant of her past, he obviously does his best to keep her that way.  When she repeatedly resists the spell he casts over her to make her love him, he resorts to violence and attempted rape instead.  Ick – not a favorite plot device, so your mileage will vary here.

As far as my feelings for Piper, I liked her a lot.  She wasn’t content to just sit around and be a brainless puppet like everyone expected.  When she wasn’t getting any answers from the people who supposedly loved her, she was taking the bull by the horns and trying to find the answers herself.  This, of course, put her in terrible danger, which gave Shayne the opportunity to prove how brave he was by saving her. And still not telling her the truth. Ugh.

While I found Solstice to be a mixed bag, the beginning and the end made it hard to put the book down.  It’s the relationships that I didn’t care for, but if manipulative relationships don’t bother you, you should enjoy this book more than I did.

Grade:  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau


Title: The Testing

Author:  Joelle Charbonneau


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust


When I first started reading The Testing back in April, I just couldn’t engage with the plot.  I set it aside, thinking that I just wasn’t in the mood for a dystopian adventure.  After a few months, I picked it back up, and I’m glad that I did.  Though the book is very reminiscent of Matched and The Hunger Games, I found it an engaging read in its own right – it just took me a while to figure that out.

Cia Vale has been accepted for Testing, and if she passes, she’ll be attending classes at the University.  This is a dream come true for her, and she has worked hard her entire life to earn a chance to go to the University.  She is bewildered and hurt when her father tells her she shouldn’t have been chosen, and she doesn’t believe him when he implies that there is something more sinister than just academic testing going on in the capital, Tosu City.  He tells her that he and her old teacher worked hard to ensure that none of the students from their small colony were accepted for The Testing.   Though his memories have been wiped of his own Testing experiences, he is plagued by nightmares of the ordeal, and he never wanted his children to suffer through the Test.  Cia dismisses his warnings at first, but as she begins her journey to Tosu City, things don’t add up, and she begins to believe her father is correct.  She soon realizes that his advice is something that she can no longer ignore.  Trust no one.

There are a few things about YA dystopian novels that I have a hard time buying into, and I think it’s because I have read so many now.  The first being – what is wrong with all of these adults?  The leaders of these bleak societies think nothing of their children murdering each other to get ahead in life.  Really?  The United Commonwealth has suffered the loss of countless citizens during a horrific period of war and environmental catastrophe, and they are willing to weed out the most cunning and brutal young adults to become the next leaders of the government?  Isn’t this part of the reason that the planet was inches away from total destruction?  There are 108 students in Cia’s Testing class.  108!  Only 20 will be allowed entrance to the University.  While we don’t know for certain what happens to the students who survive all four stages of the Test, but aren’t chosen for the Univesity, we do know what countless numbers of them were killed or murdered during the Tests.  It’s to the point now that I have to be in the correct frame of mind to enjoy stories that revolve around kids being victimized like this.  At least in The Hunger Games the brutality against most of the populace had a purpose, and that was to keep the downtrodden so frightened they would never rebel again.  In The Testing, the candidates who survive have their memories of the Tests wiped, so I’m confused about WHY all of these adults sit idly by while their charges slaughter each other.  These are the brightest and the best that their society has to offer.  I hope it’s explained in the next book, because that was the major stumbling point that kept me from completely enjoying this story.

What’s the second thing that drives me nuts? They talk about food. A lot.  More than I do, and I am a big foodie.  Reading these survival type stories makes me hungry. Except for the possum. Not so sure I would ever want to eat that.

I did love the in your face narrative.  Cia thinks, at first, that it’s a huge honor to vie for a place in the University.   She wants to help revitalize the country, which has been decimated by warfare.  Like the humans, all life in the Commonwealth teetered on the brink of extinction.  Water sources have been polluted and rendered undrinkable, animals have been mutated into scary monsters, and plant life struggled to survive in the poisoned ground.  Cia’s dedication to assisting with the healing of the land is one of her defining characteristics, and it’s an easy one to like.  It keeps her going, even when everything else has become a nightmare for her.  She also resists acting like an animal during the final, deadly stage of The Test.  She was raised to see the value in all life, and she has a hard time killing anything.  To give her a personal challenge, she is constantly threatened with death, so she must re-evaluate her personal ethics.  I loved this about the story, too.  Even though she is good and just, she doesn’t hesitate to defend herself or her friends.  She doesn’t sit around and wait for some guy to save her, either.  Most of the time, she is the one doing the saving.  I thought that Cia kicked butt, and I am curious to see what happens in the next book, when she is in, presumably, less harrowing  surroundings.

With interesting world-building and a heroine who is not afraid to take charge and control of her own destiny, The Testing is a hard book to put down.  I thought that the pacing of the 2nd half of the book was  much better than the first, and read most of it in one sitting.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book!

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Possession Series by Elana Johnson Scavenger Hunt!

 photo Elanas-Button1_zpscc8012ab.gif Welcome to the Possession series scavenger hunt! We’re celebrating the release of the third and final book, ABANDON, in the series. You can find out the details of the series scavenger hunt on Elana’s blog. Elana has given us a short excerpt today from Abandon. This is Zenn and you’ll be able to find the city clue in the excerpt. Once you know the city, you can ENTER TO WIN a prize package of signed paperbacks, as well as a $50 Amazon gift card.

Not only that, but there is a series swag package up for grabs every day during the scavenger hunt, which runs until June 14. Be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, onto the excerpt!

Abandon Excerpt June 8

To continue the hunt today, go to My Reading Room. If you get lost, you can always go back to Elana’s blog and click through to the right links.

Happy hunting!

As a bonus, S&S will be lowering the price on the ebook of POSSESSION from June 4 – 11! Grab it for $3.99 while you can!

Interview with Shannon Stoker, Author of The Registry

Please give Shannon Stoker a warm welcome to the virtual offices.  She dropped by this morning to chat about The Registry.

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

[Shannon Stoker] A happy author/researcher who tends to fall in love with something and stick with it. I love writing, reading, the Northern Illinois University Huskies, my family, and my little dog. I’m OBSESSED with the color pink and cupcakes. I also collect Care Bears and their memorabilia. If I ever feel down I put on something pink, hug a Care Bear and eat a cupcake.

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

[Shannon Stoker] The Registry is about a futuristic America where young girls are sold into marriage through an online system. Mia has been picked up by a younger, handsome groom only problem is he is awful. She decides to escape the system with her best friend Whitney and the reluctant Andrew, a farm hand who works for Mia’s father. The three try to make it out of the country without being picked up by federal agents or Mia’s intended. I hope that readers find it an entertaining way to escape into another world for a few hours.

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

[Shannon Stoker] One of my friends refuses to join facebook. She says facebook is evil. I think facebook is far from evil and I really enjoy connecting with my friends and family. In my mind I was kind of like “I’ll show her an evil facebook” and that is how the Registry started.

For the characters I wanted Mia to come off as real. She makes a lot of mistakes and some of them are stupid, but nobody has ever made the right choice every time. Andrew on the other hand is patient and kind with a hard exterior. He is a bit of my “dream boy” so a lot of his qualities are just what make me swoon. Grant is my favorite. I had such a good time writing his scenes. He is pure evil and someone once said true evil is unexplained. I think I tried to weave that in a bit. He’s an enigma, but I hope readers still get a kick out of him. Sometimes I think about doing a novella just on Grant because I like writing him so much!

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

[Shannon Stoker] Impulsive, Intuitive, and Stubborn

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

[Shannon Stoker] Around the World by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers

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

[Shannon Stoker] A mirror. At first it’s so she can look at herself, but by the end it’s in case she needs to start a fire or send a signal.

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

[Shannon Stoker] Keys (she’d forget them)

A hair tie

Her hands

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

[Shannon Stoker] Not being more patient. Sometimes circumstances forced her into action, but there are moments where if she could have waited a bit longer she would have gotten what she wanted.

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

[Shannon Stoker] My friends, family, and coworkers. I steal a lot of what they say or stories they tell. I have also been known to frequently borrow their names.

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

[Shannon Stoker] Fuzzy socks (I frequently write in my basement and it gets cold!), Tea, and my dog. He always gives his honest opinion and is willing to lend an ear when I get stuck on something.

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

[Shannon Stoker] The Elite by Kiera Cass was fantastic. I always judge a book by how angry I am when it ends. I wanted to keep reading!

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

[Shannon Stoker] I’ve been a huge reader all my life, my parents said I used to throw books at them and scream read before I could even walk. This resulted in bruises on their legs from the corners of little golden books. I make no apologies. The first book I remember reading over and over again was Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz. That led to the Fear Street books which were pretty easy to pick up at any garage sale in the mid 90s. Those were my pleasure reads for sure.

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

[Shannon Stoker] I am a television junkie, I watch pretty much anything. I just finished Hemlock Grove and I loved it! My other favorites are Supernatural, Game of Thrones, Dexter, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Sherlock, Elementary, Law and Order SVU, Criminal Minds, Modern Family, Suburgatory (and the list goes on and on)

I’ve also been accused of “motherboying” my dog. Nucky is a nine pound terrier mix. He is my little angel and I spend as much time with him as possible. I love dressing him up and he gets so excited when I pull out his little sweaters, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

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

[Shannon Stoker] They can follow me on twitter @ShannonRStoker


Or look me up on Goodreads.

I’d love to hear from everyone!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase The Registry by clicking the links below:

About the book:

The Registry saved the country from collapse. But stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained by the state to fight to their death.

Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year. But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous thoughts. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.

All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.

Interview with Jordan Link, Author of The Sacrificed and Giveaway!

Please give Jordan Link a warm welcome! She’s visiting the virtual offices to chat about her new book, The Sacrificed.

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

[Jordan Link] I’m a sophomore in the tenth grade, and am currently contracted with Entranced Publishing for my novel, The Sacrificed, which is due to be released as an E-book on May 6th, 2013. A few months before I was whisked away into long hours of editing, I became the first place winner of the Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest in 2012 for my short story "The Bubble". I was accepted soon after into the Oh, the Stories They Tell! anthology for my short story "Demon Slayer."

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Sacrificed

[Jordan Link] The Sacrificed is a young adult dystopian fantasy novel. It follows 16- year-old Emerald Hayden as she struggles to survive in the City of Centsia. There are two classes in the city: the winged, and the walkers. For a long time, it seems that the division between the two can never be breached, until Emerald meets Dusk, a winged who is undoubtedly different from the rest.

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

[Jordan Link] The concept was really a spur of the moment decision. Often times, for short stories, I brainstorm dystopian plots. The two questions I ask are what type of division is there, and how can that division be penetrated?

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

[Jordan Link] Persisting, enduring, and rebellious.

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

[Jordan Link] That’s a hard question. I’d have to choose Maroon 5 – Runaway. It would work for both Emerald and Dusk, actually.

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

[Jordan Link] Persistence: throughout her whole ordeal, and despite the many obstacles that threaten her goal, she never loses sight of what she wants.

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

[Jordan Link] You would never find any photographs or trinkets of or from the walkers, including Emerald. In fact, Dusk has to dissociate himself from the lower level completely to keep Emerald safe. But since that answer is rather vague, I’ll list three things that you would always find: a few slices of bread, a note for Emerald or a piece of blank parchment paper, and a small tin of ingredients. You’ll have to read the novel to find out what’s inside!

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

[Jordan Link] Emerald has little to regret, but her misunderstanding of the winged is definitely her greatest. For years, she scrounged for food in the winding streets of Centsia, cursing the winged, not knowing what else to think of them.

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

[Jordan Link] My greatest creative influences are other young authors; people who have struggled or are struggling to get published and who, hopefully, see their dreams fulfilled.

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

[Jordan Link] I need a writer’s state of mind, a laptop, and a glass of something delicious.

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

[Jordan Link] The last book that I read that truly knocked my socks off was The Selection by Kiera Cass. It wasn’t because of the quality of the writing, or the creativity of the plot. It was very relatable and incredibly hard to put down.

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

[Jordan Link] That would be The Naming by Alison Croggon. The descriptions and details in the book are abundant and dark. While reading it, I truly felt like I was there, in a world filled with the terror and beauty. And to think that someone could create that with words—that was what turned me on to reading.

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

[Jordan Link] I love to log in to fantasy roleplaying games, and to flip through the pages of a good book. And when I’m not indulged in those, I’m at a friend’s house, or wandering through the streets of Old Ellicott City.

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

[Jordan Link] Readers can connect with me by liking The Sacrificed’s Facebook page, by reading my blog, or by following me on Twitter at JordanLink3.

Thanks for the interview!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase links coming soon!

About the book:

Emerald Hayden lives in the City of Centsia, a half-winged among the other walkers. She has no family, friends, or food: only a grim future filled with tiresome labor in the upper level’s factories. But everything changes when she meets Dusk, a winged from the place that she previously scorned. He opens her eyes to a new possibility: the possibility of the unity of winged and walkers, of freedom, and of love. Together, they decide to challenge the upper level’s supreme, winged council. But when a friend betrays them, they must choose whether to sacrifice their beliefs and save their own lives, or to remain along the thin line that divides the city in two. Success could mean liberty; failure, death

Book Trailer –

Buy Links:




About the Author:

Jordan Link is currently contracted with Entranced Publishing for her novel "The Sacrificed", which will be released on May 6, 2013. She won first place in Jack L. Chalker’s Young Writers Contest of 2012 for her short story “The Bubble”, and attended Balticon 46 last year. She earned an honorable mention on December 3rd for the Young Voices Foundation Short Story Contest and will be published in their anthology "Oh, the Stories They Tell!" which will be available on Amazon. Her early love of reading inspired an equivalent passion towards writing, and she plans to continue doing so.

Author Links:


Author Blog:


Twitter: @JordanLink3

Giveaway Code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Slowly, ever so slowly, she dropped to her knees and peered around the corner.

There was a winged boy standing there, muttering something to a few walkers. It was impossible to distinguish the color of his eyes, or even his expression from her sheltered position, but his features were still rather shocking. His hair was a creamy white, a pigment that Emerald had only ever seen on the heads of other winged. His skin was pasty and faded. She wondered between pounding heartbeats how the winged remained so pale when they spent so many days in the sky above Centsia, arcing near the curve of the sun and circling back around again as they went to and from their duties. The boy’s wings, however, were by far his most striking feature. The feathers seemed to form intricate pictures as they fluttered in the midnight breeze. Emerald continued to stare as the boy withdrew something from his pocket.

It was bread.

Review: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner


Title:  Maggot Moon

Author:  Sally Gardner


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


In Sally Gardner’s stunning novel, set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing. What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the "train-track thinkers." So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big…One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.


Wow!  I was stunned and breathless when I reached the last page of Maggot Moon. I should have picked up from the book’s title that things are not happy in Standish’s world, but whoa, I wasn’t expecting something quite it dark.  Standish’s voice is compelling and haunting; here is one young boy who has seen too many things that he shouldn’t have.  Poverty, repression, violence against himself, his family , and others.  Standish’s world is dark and disturbing, and not a place that I ever want to witness first hand.

Standish is dyslexic, which on it’s own is enough to make him a social outcast.  To make his life even more difficult, he has different colored eyes as well.  In his oppressive society, he should have been sent away, to a school for those with impurities, or worse, to be maggot meat.  Instead, his parents enroll him in the school where they work.  Because he is different, he is mercilessly bullied, which only gets worse after his parents are vanish.  Alone with his grandfather, Standish just tries to keep his head down and not draw any more unwanted attention to himself.  Being at the bottom of the social ladder, that’s not really too tough.  It’s only after Hector and his family move in next door that Standish’s world is tilted on its axis.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, so I’m trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum.   This is a fast-paced read, with explosive bursts of violence and action.  Standish is passive and takes his beatings without much of a fuss, until after Hector and his family are also taken away.  Then he’s had enough and all he wants to do is save his best friend.  When he learns that the government is pulling the biggest history in the history of hoaxes, and that if they succeed they will be an indisputable world power, he is determined to do something about it.  I loved this about Standish.  He realizes that he is David to a powerful, corrupt, and deadly Goliath, but he doesn’t care anymore.  He is going to find way to throw his stone and topple the monster that threatens the entire world.

A word of caution; while I loved this book, it might be too intense for younger readers.  Maggot Moon is a bleak story, with a bleak ending. Despite the affection and support from his Gramps, Standish’s life hadn’t exactly been a happy one.  Everyone he knows and cares about has either been taken away by the government or is in immediate, mortal danger.  It’s scary.  It’s overwhelming.  And at times, it will leave you just as numb as Standish has become to all of the brutality around him.   I wondered where Standish kept finding the courage to keep going on. This book was impossible to put down, and  I gobbled it up on a Sunday afternoon.  Standish’s voice will be with me for a long time to come.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Cover Shot! The Registry by Shannon Stoker

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

The cover of The Registry doesn’t really stand out much for me, and I think it’s very similar to the cover of Kimberly Derting’s The Pledge, but the premise hooked! 

In stores June 2013


The Registry saved the country from collapse. But stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained by the state to fight to their death.

Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year. But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous thoughts. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.

All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.

Interview with Paula Altenburg, Author of The Demon’s Daughter and Giveaway!

Please welcome Paula Altenburg to the virtual offices today.  Paula dropped by to chat about her new release The Demon’s Daughter, and she brought along a digital copy for one of you to win!

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

[Paula Altenburg] Easy! I’m an obsessive/compulsive couch potato with (remote) control issues.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Demon’s Daughter?

[Paula Altenburg] The Demon’s Daughter is a dystopian demon western, set on Earth in the not-too-distant future. The story theme involves prejudice, and it’s about a young woman’s search for a place to belong in a harsh world that doesn’t welcome her.

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

[Paula Altenburg] I always come up with the characters first. Hunter and Airie’s first meeting was the first scene I had in my head. I wanted Hunter to be a bounty hunter at first, which is how he got his name, and I really saw him in a western/desert setting. He morphed into a demon slayer. Airie started out as a half demon bandit. I’d meant for her to be more of an outlaw, but as she grew, it was obvious her personality was much more innocent and gentle. She has quite the temper though, and Hunter finds that out the hard way. The story world grew up around the two of them with a little prompting from my editors. I’m all about the characters and have a little trouble remembering that the reader doesn’t “see” my setting if I don’t put it into words.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Innocent, kind, and passionate.

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

[Paula Altenburg] We Will Rock You by Queen.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Fire. It’s a significant part of who she is, kind of like breathing.

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

[Paula Altenburg] That’s a great question! Hmm. 1) Pretty stones, or anything someone else might pick up out of curiosity and want to save. He’s not a collector. 2) Bullets. He’s not much into guns either. 3) Hair ribbons. That seems like it should go without saying, but the guy has seven sisters so it’s not too much of a stretch. He hasn’t seen them in years, but he still really loves them and thinks of them often.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Airie never got to say goodbye to the priestess mother who raised her. That bothers her because rituals that should have been carried out had to be abandoned, and her mother was left without a proper burial.

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

[Paula Altenburg] It doesn’t take much to get me going. My imagination’s pretty active. I’m big into “What if” scenarios, but I’m an abstract thinker and not visual at all. At some point I’d like to write a story that’s kicked off by Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” though. A song, an image, or a movie can all inspire me, but it’s usually an emotional reaction to one specific thing about them. In Hallelujah, it’s the line “He saw her bathing on a roof.” From there, an entire storyline jumps into my head.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Quiet, coffee, and an idea. If I don’t have my scene in my head, my day is ruined.

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

[Paula Altenburg]  I only read books that knock my socks off. Life is too short to read anything else. I will totally toss one aside if I’m not wowed by it because there are plenty more out there waiting to amaze me. Having said that, I have a bit of a love affair going with George RR Martin and his Game of Thrones series. He’s an author who does everything well.

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

[Paula Altenburg] I was reading before I started school, so I’m not really sure what got me started. Johanna Spyri’s Heidi sticks in my mind. So does Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. My mother tells me I read the original versions. She’s a former English teacher and alternates between horror and fascination at my reading choices. As long as the writing’s good, I’m okay with it.

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

[Paula Altenburg] I’m a reader. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. Next up comes watching movies. I also like to run. I enjoy traveling too, but overall, I’m quite boring. (Notice that travel placed last on that list?) My husband’s European and we go often, but I’ll take my Kindle and sit on someone’s couch while he visits with family. His sister and I went to Paris and Brussels together a few years ago and visited every museum and art gallery we could find because we both love history. I talked her into taking a tour of the sewers in Paris and she hasn’t forgiven me yet.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Through my website at, on Facebook, and Twitter @Paula Altenburg. I swear I will friend and follow, and respond to all e-mails!

Thanks for having me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

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About the book:

Hunter is the only man capable of killing the demons that left the world in ruins. But when he’s hired by a notorious priestess to bring a thief to justice, the Demon Slayer gets more than he bargains for.

Airie was raised in an abandoned temple as a priestess’s daughter, having no idea of her true origins. In a time when any half-breed spawn of a demon is despised by mortal and immortal alike, not knowing the truth is the only thing keeping her safe.

Forced to flee her home in the wake of disaster and discovery of who she is, Airie must place her trust in a man who believes she should never have been born. And when a demon uprising threatens lives he has sworn to protect, Hunter has to make a choice: abandon Airie to an uncertain fate, or overcome his own personal demons and love her for who she truly is.