Cover Shot! The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley

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 for The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley is so cool.  I love the colors and the flashes of lightning, and the creepy masked guys in the background – they are really creepy!  The world-building seems interesting, what with the automatons powered by human souls.  Human souls. Really?  I’m am very intrigued by this book!

In stores November 2012.


An alternate 1895… a world where Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace perfected the Difference engine. Where steam and tesla-powered computers are everywhere. Where automatons powered by human souls venture out into the sprawling London streets. Where the Ministry, a secretive government agency, seeks to control everything in the name of the Queen.

It is in this claustrophobic, paranoid city that seventeen-year-old Sebastian Tweed and his conman father struggle to eke out a living.

But all is not well…

A murderous, masked gang has moved into London, spreading terror through the criminal ranks as they take over the underworld. as the gang carves up more and more of the city, a single name comes to be uttered in fearful whispers.

Professor Moriarty.

When Tweed’s father is kidnapped by Moriarty, he is forced to team up with information broker Octavia Nightingale to track him down. But he soon realizes that his father’s disappearance is just a tiny piece of a political conspiracy that could destroy the British Empire and plunge the world into a horrific war.

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Interview with Laurianne Uy, Creator of Polterguys

Laurianne Uy is the creator of Polterguys, a new graphic novel series with one shy girl and a bunch of hot ghosts.  Laurianne dropped by the virtual offices to chat about Polterguys, and about her road to getting her project published.  Check out what she has to say!

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

[Laurianne Uy] Someone who enjoys writing and creating fun, compelling stories Likes visual art analysis and bubble milk tea. Internet junkie. XD

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Polterguys?

[Laurianne Uy] Sure, it’s the story of Bree — a smart but socially awkward college girl who moves into a house that’s haunted by five cute guys. She’s the only one who can see these ghosts so she has to help them resolve their unfinished business. From someone who’s uncomfortable hanging around boys, Bree suddenly has to live with a bunch of dead ones!

The series is informed by my love of ghost stories, reverse-harem manga and TV shows with awesome girls as lead characters. Some of my favorite movies from the ‘90s were Ghost, Heart & Souls and The Frighteners and I was always drawn to them for the dramatic storylines. But I always wanted to see one with a young girl in the spotlight (Why should guys have all the ghostly fun? XD)

Fruits Basket and Ouran are among my favorite anime/manga because they are incredibly entertaining with just the right amount of bittersweet-ness to them. Both series don’t have the “save-the-world” kind of arcs but their conflicts always felt so personal and intimate. The characters’ struggles were much more relatable that way and for Polterguys, I wanted familiar kinds of problems, too.

And finally, I can’t say enough how empowering shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars are for me as a viewer. Watching these tough girls take on bad guys, saving their friends and just kick ass inspires me to do the same (er…narratively, of course.) I like the idea that stories could inspire young women to be their own heroes in their daily lives. My favorite writers do that for me and this is me trying to pay it forward.

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

[Laurianne Uy] Out of nowhere, I was having breakfast one morning and an idea just came to me- "Ghost harem." Somehow, my mind connected ghosts from shonen manga like Bleach and Yu Yu Hakusho to the reverse-harem shojo trope in Fruits Basket and Ouran. I usually didn’t have strong conceptual ideas like this so I knew this was special. But I did struggle to flesh out the world. My first drafts were pretty depressing and the main character was not very relatable or sympathetic. 

Then, I moved the setting from high school to the university and suddenly, the drafts were getting stronger. It was about this girl and figuring out who she was on her own. Full disclosure, I was pulling from my experiences studying at Berkeley for college after growing up in the Philippines most of my life. I felt like a blank slate coming here and that was fueling my writing much more so than if I had a younger protagonist.

Bree is the survivor out of all the protagonists we tried placing in this unique situation and I’m relieved people have liked her (so far, haha!) As for the ghosts, I retrieved all my mental files on reverse-harem stories I’ve enjoyed and devoured in the past. The boys had to somehow clue you into that reverse-harem trope but also function as believable characters in this world. So I had a football jock as the gentle giant, the kid who’s smarter than a whip and goes to a private school, identical twins with different tastes in fashion, and a cute kid in pajamas. 

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Bree?

[Laurianne Uy] Driven. Nerdy. Lonely.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Bree would never have in her bedroom?

[Laurianne Uy] Frilly skirts, sports gear and green lipstick.  

[Manga Maniac Café] Why did you decide to use Kickstarter to fund this project?

[Laurianne Uy] I’ve seen Womanthology do pretty well on Kickstarter and have heard of other webcomic artists get their projects funded the same way. But to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure I could successfully raise enough money for the project. It wasn’t a question of whether the project itself was good because we had all the confidence in it. Nathan and I talked it over and we decided we didn’t have much to lose by trying. Kickstarter does streamline the rewards and pre-ordering process and there seems to be a great community of backers already comfortable with being a patron of the arts.   

[Manga Maniac Café] What’s the first word that came to your mind when you reached your campaign goal?

[Laurianne Uy] "MA~~!" (In my head, that sounded exactly like Fran Drescher.) I think my mom and my sister backed us that night when we were this close to getting funded. Haha, it would have been cool if strangers did it for us but they must have wanted the honor (and gotten a bit impatient).

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

[Laurianne Uy] Oh, that’s a good one. Let’s see. The Disney golden years (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin), Friday night cartoons (Spider-Man, X-men and Batman the Animated Series) because I was banned from watching TV on weekdays , CLAMP manga, Joss Whedon’s writing. It’s kind of all over the place, isn’t it? 

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

[Laurianne Uy] A comfy booth (because Nathan and I usually solve story problems in coffee shops so we’re not tempted to get up and check e-mail), paper for recording those sessions, and of course, Microsoft Word.

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

[Laurianne Uy]  The Fault in our Stars. It’s not a comic but the writing and the characters are just so brutally honest. It destroyed me but I loved it so much for doing that. I have this weakness for stories about mortality and dying. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie, TV show or comic, I will cry my eyes out if I care about a character, they know they don’t have much time left and they’re struggling with that burden. Nathan makes fun of me for it because I’m so predictable now. He eyes me from the side and prepares the tissue box. 

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

[Laurianne Uy] I can’t remember if I picked this up myself or if it was given to me but the first book I remember owning was Nancy Drew: The Quest of the Missing Map. I must’ve not cared about continuity (Vol. 19? It’s okay!) or the garishly pink cover because there was a map involved! Buried treasure! I loved mysteries and Nancy was a pretty awesome gal. Looking back, she was my proto-Buffy. I was a super shy kid and felt pretty helpless all the time. She could do all these things I couldn’t. My parents forked over a lot of money to the Carolyn Keene estate. 

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

[Laurianne Uy] I draw! I guess I should hand in my artist card if I don’t say that first. Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to draw more complex illustrations and using more copics. It’s hard to experiment with more expensive tools but I do want to get better at them. I also watch a lot of TV drama and try to soak in good writing through osmosis. When I read for fun it’s either the latest Terry Pratchett novel, a graphic novel I picked up from the library or a non-fiction bestseller. 

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

[Laurianne Uy] I blog every week on my website at If you’re not into RSS or bookmarking the site, I also have a monthly newsletter you can sign up for so my updates and posts arrive in your inbox. I’m all over your social networks as Laurbits on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Deviantart so you can always hang out and catch up with me on there. 

Thank you so much for having me, Julie. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Purchase links coming soon!

Review: The Flowers of Evil Vol 1 by Shuzo Oshimi



Title: The Flowers of Evil Vol 1

Author:  Shuzo Oshimi

Publisher:  Vertical

May Contain Spoilers



ZOMG!  I feel a bit guilty for enjoying this tale of blackmail as much as I did.  In a moment of complete stupidity, shy, timid Takao steals the gym clothes of the girl he is crushing on.  Little does he know that this one lapse in judgment will bring about his downfall.  Witnessed by Nakamura, the weirdest girl in his class, she threatens to rat him out to their classmates if he doesn’t do everything she demands.  As he spirals deeper in to misery, Takao is at his wit’s end.  How does he get Nakamura to leave him alone, without being outted as a perv in the process?

I haven’t laughed this much in a long time.  I couldn’t help myself.  Poor Takao is such a wimp.  And an idiot to boot.  I hope those clandestine sniffs of Saeki’s t-shirt and shorts were worth the pain and embarrassment that this  hapless middle-schooler is destined to suffer.   Nakamura is one tough cookie, too!  She is relentless, and she won’t let Takao get away with anything now that he’s under her power.  I felt so bad for him!  He’s like a little puppy that keeps getting whacked with a newspaper.  And darn me, but I kept laughing at all of his discomfort. 

Even as his relationship with Saeki, she of the enticing gym clothes,  blooms, his dealings with Nakamura keep bringing him nothing but trouble.  His friends are rapidly ditching him because he’s too busy dancing to Nakamura’s tune to hang out with them, and his mother is fit to be tied because of his strange behavior.  I fear that Takao will need serious therapy sessions if this continues much longer.  I am eager to read more of this series, because I’m curious to see where it goes.  

Grade:  B+, leaning towards an A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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Vacation Reads Giveaway! Win A Long Way From You by Gwendolyn Heasley

Welcome to my  Vacation Reads Giveaway,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Bookish Mama.  This hop runs from July 19 to July 25, and you can win lots of new reads.  Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I am giving away a finished copy of  A Long Way From You by Gwendolyn Heasley.  This is a quiet, reflective book, perfect for a lazy summer afternoon! 


Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget.  Earn extra entries for following on Twitter, subscribing to my emails, or Tweeting about the giveaway.  Easy, Huh?!  US shipping addresses only.

You can follow me here for extra entries:

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A Multitude of Mermaids

So here’s me, without a planned post for the day.  Oops! To rectify that situation, here are some mermaid books that I discovered while trolling through Goodreads.  Mermaids have quickly become one of my favorite paranormal beings.  Think of all of the sushi they get to eat while traveling the wonderful, wide oceans.  It would be a drag to not have a massive book collection in my underwater home, but I guess some sacrifices would have to be made.

Have you read any of these?  Can you recommend a good book with mermaids?

Promises by Amber Garr is the start of her Syrenka series.  My search started with this, because I received an email regarding the third book in the series, which released in July of this year. Click here for the Goodreads description.

This is me totally judging a book by the cover.  The Secret of the Emerald Sea by Heather Matthews is a release from Sugar and Spice Press.  Never heard of them. I think I will have to hunt this down. Click here for more info.

The cover for Fins by Ashley L Knight doesn’t wow, but the description is very intriguing. Click here to read the synopsis.

Seven Tears into the Sea by Terri Farley is a Simon Pulse release, and I’m surprised that I haven’t seen it before, because I like this imprint.  I think I will track this one down first.  Read more about it here.

If you have more title suggests, drop a comment below.

[PR] VIZ Media Debuts New Shojo Manga Series JIU JIU

{ED. Wolf shapeshifters? Count me in!}



High School Gets Complicated For A Girl From A Family of Demon Hunters In A New Shojo Series From VIZ Media

San Francisco, CA, June 19, 2012 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, unleashes the demon-hunting romantic fantasy of Touya Tobina’s shojo manga series, JIU JIU, on July 3rd. The new series will be published under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

Born into a family of “Hunters,” Takamichi’s destiny is to pursue and slay demons. When her twin brother is killed, she is saved from despair by a pair of Jiu Jiu – shape-shifting familiars – in the form of two wolf pups named Snow and Night. Now Takamichi is in high school and an active Hunter. Snow and Night can’t wait to attend school in their human form to "protect" her. But are they ready to go off leash…?

“JIU JIU is an intriguing new series that offers a strong combination of romantic drama, supernatural action, and humor centering on the deepening bonds between a girl and two wolf shapeshifters,” says Annette Roman, Editor. “Growing up in a family of demon hunters isn’t easy. Things become more complicated when the pair of cute wolf pups grow up into her bodyguards, learn to shift into (hot!) human form, and decide to follow their mistress to school. Don’t miss this new rhapsody of swords, fangs and romance from Shojo Beat this summer!”

Manga creator Touya Tobina is originally from Tokyo. In 2005, her series, Clean Freak Fully Equipped, won the Grand Prize in the 30th Hakusensha Athena Newcomers Awards. Her series Jiu Jiu originally debuted in Japan as a one-shot manga in the shojo magazine, Hana to Yume.

For more information on JIU JIU, or other shojo manga titles from VIZ Media, please visit

About VIZ Media, LLC

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan.  Owned by three of Japan’s largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular monthly manga anthology SHONEN JUMP magazine and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages.  VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products.  Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at

Interview with Jessica Therrien, Author of Oppression

Jessica Therrien is the author of Oppression, her debut YA novel and the kick-off of her Children of the Gods series.  I am a sucker for anything based on Greek mythology, so I excited when  Jessica dropped by the virtual offices to discuss her new series.

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

[Jessica Therrien] I’m a closet goofball, T.V. addict, pajama lovin’ YA book fanatic. I married my crush. I’m 26. I enjoy writing and singing in the shower.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Oppression?

[Jessica Therrien] OPPRESSION tells the story of Elyse, a seemingly young woman with an extraordinary ability and a unique destiny. Elyse ages five times slower than the average human, which means that even though she appears to be almost eighteen, she’s nearly a century old. When her parents died, she believed herself to be the only one in the world with such a condition. But after moving to San Francisco, determined to keep herself hidden and alone in the middle of the big city, she quickly discovers she’s not alone. On the contrary, there’s a whole society of people just like her, who age five times slower than normal people, and who have strange, almost magical abilities.

Overall it’s a love story full of heartbreaking conflict and that last shred of hope.

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

[Jessica Therrien] The concept was just an intriguing thought I had after realizing that some of the places in Greek Mythology are actually thought to exist. What if other parts of mythology were real? What if there was some explanation for the myths, like the Greek gods were never really gods, just a supernatural race of people whose abilities were embellished?

The characters started off being based on people I know. I was falling in love with my husband as I was writing Oppression, so he was my inspiration for William. Once the book got going, though, the characters developed into themselves and my creative brain just sort of took over.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Jessica Therrien] Editing was the hardest part for me. I had to do some re-writes. It was extremely difficult for me to tear into my manuscript after I had already considered it “finished.” Little did I know, I had yet to write the best parts. The rewrites were well worth it.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Elyse would never have in her backpack?

[Jessica Therrien] A ball gown. Make up. A banner that says, “I’m going to save the world.”

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

[Jessica Therrien] Most of my creative influences are people….My mother and sister, my husband, my critique partner Holly, Molly the Magnificent (as I call her) with ZOVA Books. Also, amazing authors such as JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, & Moira Young.

And…I really have to say the writers of The Vampire Diaries T.V. show. They are masters of plot.

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

[Jessica Therrien] I need to be in the mood to write, and that’s it.

I’ll write on a napkin in a noisy restaurant if an idea strikes. Eventually, I do need my computer so I can put it all in my manuscript, but that’s obvious.

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

[Jessica Therrien] Harry Potter. I had never read anything so fast in my life. It officially started my eternal search for the next suck-me-in-go-without-sleep kind of book.

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

[Jessica Therrien] Watch T.V. J That’s mostly because I’m tired after a long days work. If I had more time, I would concentrate on my other hobbies: playing guitar, sewing, making jewelry, scrapbooking…I know, basically I’m a grandma trapped in this 26-year-old body.

Thanks for a wonderful interview!!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can learn more about Jessica by visiting her at the following websites:





Oppression is out now!  You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:


Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She’s been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than average people, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she’s closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don’t make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she’s been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Some are waiting for her to put an end to centuries of traditions that have oppressed their people under the guise of safeguarding them. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning – and she’s not entirely willing to play by their rules.,

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Review: Stepping on Roses Vol 6 by Rinko Ueda


Title: Stepping on Roses Vol 6

Author: Rinko Ueda

Publisher: Viz

ISBN: 978-1421539768


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi’s financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition: he’ll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi fool high society into thinking she’s a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth giving up everything for this sham of a marriage?

Pronouncing Sumi and Soichiro’s marriage superficial, Nozomu becomes even more dogged in his quest to make Sumi his. As Nozomu teams up with Natsuki to bring Soichiro down, Soichiro finds his carefully arranged life unraveling before his very eyes…


I love this series!  So much drama! So much angst!  So many people plotting against Sumi and Soichiro!  Trouble follows them like a cat follows mice.  Even worse, it seems as though the people carefully planning their downfall are so much crafter than they are!  It’s like they don’t have a chance, and that has me even more engrossed in the impending disaster.  Soichiro is too focused on himself to steer clear of trouble, and he doesn’t really have any allies left in his corner to watch his back.  Pissing off Komai was an incredibly short-sighted thing for him to do, but Soichiro hasn’t been known to actually think things through.  Nozomu, on the other hand – he’s got the chessboard memorized and has even figured out what moves Soichiro is going to make long before his former friend has even touched the game pieces.  With Kujo in  his corner, it looks like he will be unbeatable.  Mix in Komai, and oh my!  Soichiro is in for a rough time!

Sumi can’t help that she’s utterly clueless.  She’s been thrown into the lion’s den, and she has no idea that she’s about to be an amusing toy for the men who are out to get her husband.  Sumi takes everyone at face value, and can’t see the deceit that is roiling around her.  Her brother isn’t helping matters, either.  With his weakness for gambling and his humble background, he is ripe for the plots that have been set in motion to implicate him in crimes that he will not be able to defend himself against.  Worse, still – he’s dragging Sumi down with him, by taking advantage of her soft heart, and her inability to read isn’t helping matters.  With Komai’s angry words still ringing in her ears, Sumi is also dealing with a lot of guilt for events that really aren’t her fault.  Now, when it looked like things were going to finally fall into place for her, everything is unraveling before her eyes.  Gah!  Poor Sumi!

I love how readable Rinko Ueda’s stories are.  Once I pick up a new volume of her manga, I can’t put it down.  I am held captive until the end of the book, and then I gnash my teeth because I have to wait for the next installment of the series.  Her artwork is so expressive, too, that I can’t help but get caught up in the emotions playing out across the pages. 

Highly Recommended

Grade: A

Review copy purchased from Rightstuf

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