Interview with J. Kathleen Cheney, Author of The Golden City

Please welcome J Kathleen Cheney to the virtual offices this morning! She dropped by to chat about The Golden City.

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

[J Kathleen Cheney] Former math teacher and retail buyer turned historical fantasy writer who’s holding her breath until November 5th.

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

[J Kathleen Cheney] In an alternate 1902 Portugal, Oriana Paredes is a spy among the social elite of the Golden City. Her people, the sereia, are sea folk banned from the city’s shores. When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris, but before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown.

Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die. Oriana vows vengeance, but as a spy she can’t take her information to the police. She’ll have to stop the killer alone. But then she crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….

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

[J Kathleen Cheney] When I started this piece, I meant for it to be about a woman (Oriana) who’s unable to go to the police, so I made her of a race that’s banned. She’s caught between two antagonists, unsure which is lying and which means her harm.

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Viz Media Gets in the Christmas Spirit with the Launch of Sweet Rein

{Editor’s Note: The guy is a reindeer.  Say what?!  Okay, I have to read this.}

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VIZ MEDIA GETS IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT WITH THE LAUNCH OF THE NEW SHOJO MANGA SERIES SWEET REIN

A Girl Takes On The Role Of Santa Claus With A Cute Boy Who Also Happens To Be An Enchanted Reindeer In A New Magical Romance

San Francisco, CA, November 1, 2013 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of manga & anime in North America, delivers a nod towards Christmas with the release of SWEET REIN Volume 1 on November 5th. The new manga (graphic novel) fantasy series by creator Sakura Tsukuba arrives from the Shojo Beat imprint in time for the start of holiday season, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

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Mini Review: Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, the Milk

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

"I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."

"Hullo," I said to myself. "That’s not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."

Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal, expertly told by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young.

Review:

I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, and I love that he’s so entertaining in so many different creative arenas.  He creates for adults and children with equal skill, and don’t forget his celebrated writing for comics.  He confidently stretches his creative muscle, and his audience is made the richer for his efforts.

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Review: Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake

 

Title: Words Once Spoken

Author:  Carly Drake

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why…

Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.

The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.


Review:

I have one major gripe about Words Once Spoken.  The story doesn’t really end, it just kind of runs out of pages.  This is the first in a planned series, and after some kickass action and an engaging journey, everything just trailed off into nothing.  I thought the ending was weak, and it didn’t fit with the rest of the story.  I am hopeful that the next book will make up for my disappointment with yet another non-ending.  There is a reason that I have been waiting to start series until they are all done, and this is an example of why. 

Evelyn has never fit in with her mother’s expectations.  Instead of desiring the life of a pampered noble, she much prefers the outdoors to being shut up inside stuffy buildings.  She is skilled with a bow and arrow, and rides like she was born on horseback.  She suffers severe stomach upsets when she eats meat and so eats only plant-life.   Just before is eighteenth birthday, her mom insists that she accompany her parents to meet the king and queen.  Her mother would like nothing better than for Evelyn to be appointed one of the princess’s handmaidens, though it would be a nightmare come true for Evelyn.  Once at the castle, she meets the handsome Lord Devon, as well as the charming young prince, and she quickly learns that nothing is what it seems, including herself and everything she thought she knew about herself.

Overall, this is a spirited adventure. Evelyn  discovers why she has never fit in, and why she has never earned her mother’s love, and puts herself in grave danger at the same time.  She sets off on her own to get answers to the many questions plaguing her, only to be joined by Liam and Padraic, her would be suitors.  Love triangles usually annoy me, but it worked here.  Maybe because Evelyn is just so much more capable of dealing with the danger that they have all been forced to confront than the guys are.  Evelyn is a strong, stubborn girl.  She’s impulsive, but she has the confidence, skill,  and courage to deal with the fallout from her rash decisions.  At first she was a little irritating, but her self-assurance quickly grew on me, especially after she packed up her things and left the castle.  This girl doesn’t need anyone to fight her battles, though she’s more than grateful to have a little bit of help when things get really crazy. 

A couple of things bugged me.  The first being that women aren’t allowed to read, yet Evelyn and Liam meet in the library several times, and Liam leaves scrolls for her to read.  It didn’t make sense that it’s illegal for women to read, yet Evelyn and the prince read often and discuss what they’ve read.  That whole thing just confused me.  The other thing I didn’t like – Padraic acts so out of character at the end of the book that I was having a hard time comprehending that it was him behaving this way.  It really knocked me out of the story, and combined with the disappointing ending, left me wondering what happened to the fun book I had been reading.

Though there are a few jarring inconsistencies with Words Once Spoken, I did enjoy my time with Evelyn, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Blog Tour – Review: Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters by Diane Zahler

Welcome to my stop on Diane Zahler’s blog tour for her newly released Middle Grade fantasy Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters.  I’m excited to be part of this tour because I love Diane’s books!  I’ve read almost all of them, and they have all captivated me with her twists on familiar fairy tales.  As the title of Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters suggests, this is an alternate version of Sleeping Beauty that chronicles the adventures of Sleeping Beauty’s daughters. They are 12 and 9, and don’t understand why they live such an isolated existence.  There are no sharp knives or scissors, or anything with a pointy end to be found anywhere in the castle. All food is sent from the local village in bite sized pieces.  Their father heads to the village to get his hair cut, and the castle guards don’t even have weapons (maybe they have mallets to fight off possible threats of attack?). 

After Luna accidentally cuts herself, giving their emotionally fragile mother quite a fright, they learn about their mother’s history.  She was cursed as a baby, and after being pricked on the finger, she fell into a deep, deep sleep that lasted one hundred years.  Their father awakened her with a kiss, and when the evil fairy Manon discovered that they were living their happy ever after, she cursed them again.  This time, it would be one of their daughters that would fall into a deep, deep slumber, only when she woke up, everyone she knew and loved would be dead and gone.  That’s really scary!  It would terrify me to find myself completely alone, so I could easily imagine how terrifying that thought was to Luna and Aurora.  When Aurora pricks her finger due to Luna’s carelessness, it becomes a desperate race to find their fairy godmother before Aurora takes a really, really long nap.

As in every Diane Zahler book, the characters made the story for me.  They are young and have little practical world experience, yet they rally together to accomplish great things.  Luna is stubborn and bold, while Aurora is more timid and hesitant to face new challenges.  Her idea of a good time, like mine, is curling up in the library with a good book.  The curse and the threat of sleeping for a century get them both moving to find a cure, and with the help of an orphan fisherman, they head off into danger.  Each adds strength to their group, and without all three working together, they would fail at their task.  They all grow and gain confidence as they face one frightening challenge after another.  They aren’t content to just sit around and wait for an adult to solve their problems; nope, they dive right into action, determined to find a way to reverse the terrible curse that’s been placed on Aurora. 

The other thing I love about these books is that the girls don’t take a backseat to the boys.  They are every bit as brave, strong, and courageous as the guys.  Probably more so, because the girls are the ones to get things moving in the first place.  I like that they wait to be rescued; they take control of their own destiny and try to figure things out for themselves.

Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters is very fast-paced, as the sisters race against time to save Aurora from her terrible fate.  Along the way they learn to embrace both the good and bad in each other.  They also make friendships that will last a lifetime, and face terrors beyond their imagining.  Through all of their adventures, they discover a new appreciation for each other, and the courage to overcome any obstacle – together.

So…did I like it?  You bet!  4.5 / 5 stars! 

 

About the book:

The classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty is transformed into a dazzling new story of two sisters fighting a powerful curse by Diane Zahler, the acclaimed author of The Thirteenth Princess. Briskly paced and full of lush descriptions, readers who enjoy the work of Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine will be swept away by this spellbinding novel.
The daughters of Sleeping Beauty, Princesses Aurora and Luna, have grown up in a cliff-top palace by the sea, where they are carefully protected by their parents. No one visits, the girls cannot stray beyond the castle walls, and all sharp objects are forbidden here.
But accidents will happen—particularly when an old curse still has power. Soon, in spite of all precautions, Aurora is struggling not to slip into an enchanted sleep.
Frantic, the princesses accept the help of a young fisherman named Symon and embark on a daring ocean voyage to find their aunt—a fairy who may be able to break the spell. From fearsome beasts to raging storms, many dangers befall them, yet they must not give up . . . for if Aurora sleeps, she will not wake for one hundred years.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour:

August 27: www.theresabook.com

August 28: www.bookalicious.org

August 30: http://www.iceybooks.com/

August 31: www.greenbeanteenqueen.com

September 1: http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/search?q=zahler

You can learn more about Diane by visiting:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Giveaway! Win The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams!

Thanks to DAW, I have a copy of The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams to give to one of you!  The second book in the series, Happy Hour In Hell, hits stores in September, so enter to win the first book now so you can get caught on the Bobby Dollar series.

About the book:

THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN

Volume One of Bobby Dollar

Tad Williams

Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.
But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.
When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.
You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.
Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.

 

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