Spotlight–Blonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Blonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman hit store shelves this week.  It looks like a fun read, so check back next week for my review.

Expelled from yet another boarding school for hacking, sixteen-year-old Rebecca “Bec” Jackson is shipped off to Rome to intern for Parker Phillips, the editor-in-chief of one of the world’s top fashion magazines. But when a mysterious accident lands Parker in a coma, former supermodel and notorious drama queen Candace Worthington takes the reins of the magazine. The First Lady is in Rome for a cover shoot, and all hands are on deck to make sure her visit goes smoothly.

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Review: Bang by Lisa McMann

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

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

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Graphic Novel Review: Bleach, Vol. 4: Quincy Archer Hates You by Tite Kubo

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This volume of Bleach gets off to a fantastic start as Kon, feeling unappreciated, runs away from Ichigo’s room.  He is beset by one misadventure after another, until he runs home to Ichigo’s arms, screaming like a girl.  Poor Kon!  He really gets no respect!  If Rukia isn’t trying to clean him with a bathroom broom, Yuzu is dressing him in fru-fru clothes and gluing flowers to his ear.  Ichigo’s gruff indifference would certainly be preferable to that!

The next story arc is a winner.  It’s absolutely hilarious, and packed with explosions and ghostly wailing.  When TV sensation Don Kanonji arrives in town to excise a spirit at an abandoned hospital, Ichigo is forced to tag along with his family.  Yuzu and his dad are nuts about the popular spiritualist; Ichigo, not so much.  He thinks the celebrity is a big phoney, so  imagine his surprise when it turns out that Kanonji actually can see spirits.  Too bad he turns a chained spirit into a Hallow. Oops!  Not one of his better moments!  Good thing Ichigo is there to save the day, as well as the enormous crowd of cheering fans.

I love Don Kanonji.  He is so flamboyant and a total attention hog, but he takes his position as role model for his young viewers very seriously.  When the ghost changes into a Hallow, instead of running away, he’s ready to sacrifice himself so Ichigo can send him off with his zanpakto.  This is one of Ichigo’s most amusing adventures so far, and I found myself laughing aloud several times during the story arc.  Even my favorite supporting character, Kisuke makes a timely appearance, enabling Ichigo to race to Don Kanonji’s aid.

The volume closes with the start of a story arc introducing Uryu Ishida, a bow toting Quincy who hates Soul Reapers.  He’s made it his mission to take out the Hallows before Rukia and Ichigo can even get to the scene, and then he taunts them for their incompetence.  It’s a promising beginning for Ichigo’s next challenge, and I can hardly wait to read the next volume of Bleach. 

Grade:  A

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A new reality-show craze is sweeping the nation, garnering legions of screaming fans (the majority of them being teenaged girls). But this program comes with a supernatural twist – the host, a media-savvy spiritualist, travels to local hotspots and performs exorcisms, live on national TV!

Surly Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki has his doubts about this primetime prima donna, and his assumptions are about to be put to the test – the show is heading straight for his neighborhood. what effect will this unprovoked media presence have on the fragile balance between Earth and the spirit world?

Interview with Libby Bishop, Author of Ghosts of Kingston Cottage and Giveaway!

 

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Good morning, Libby!  Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Libby Bishop] Bibliophile. Lover of laughter, autumn, family, fishing, and horror movies. I harbor an obsession for Lindt dark chocolate, the Syfy Channel and The Walking Dead!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Ghosts of Kingston Cottage?

[Libby Bishop] Ultimately, the story is about a woman who is trying to learn to trust again after having her heart broken. She’s a medium and a paranormal investigator with a strong dislike of skeptics- for good reasons. But her latest investigation puts her in close quarters with a rather sexy and smart one. The ghosts she’s trying to reunite remind her that sometimes, the dead can teach the a thing or two to living- including how to open your heart when it’s been crushed.

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Manga Review: Bleach Vol 3 by Tite Kubo

 

Bleach, Vol. 3: Memories in the Rain

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Sorry for the long break between volumes of Bleach.  The Viz Manga app wasn’t working on my Kindle Fire for some reason.  I deleted it and re-installed it, and that made things even worse. Then today, several weeks later,  I tried to use it again, and – viola!  It worked again!  I thought technology was supposed to make things easier, not more confusing!

I loved this volume!  It gives so much insight into Ichigo’s character.  On the anniversary of his mother’s death, his family visits her grave, and Ichigo is forced to remember the terrible day that she was killed.  He blames himself for her death, and when a Hallow attacks his sisters, he realizes it’s the same spirit that killed his mother.  He’s enraged and determined to kill the Grand Fisher, even though he’s hopelessly overpowered by the evil being.

The reason I like this series so much is pretty much summed up by this volume.  Ichigo will do anything to protect his family, even sacrifice himself, without a second thought.  As the facts of his mother’s death are slowly revealed, one little tidbit at a time, we learn what Ichigo was like before her death, and how his guilt changed him.  He is consumed by his inability to protect his mother, and now he’s allowed the Hallow to injure his sisters.  With his new Soul Reaper powers, he’s got a fighting chance to do what he couldn’t do in the past.  The Hallow mocks him for being impulsive and for allowing his emotions to get the best of him, but these are the qualities that give Ichigo his strength.  With his limitless compassion and desire to do what’s right, he is able to tap into a limitless wellspring of strength.  He faces his own regrets, and asks Rukia to let him keep her Soul Reaper powers for a while longer, so he can protect those who are weak and in need of help.  This is the first time that he acknowledges that he has a greater duty to save others, and his reluctance to destroy Hallows disappears.

I like Bleach because Ichigo is a good guy (this is also why I like Kekkaishi and Kenshin).  He has manufactured a tough guy image, but deep down, he is a knight in shining armor.  He wants to help and he wants to protect, even if it means putting himself in danger.  How can you not like a guy who is willing to do that?

This volume continues to improve on the series, and I am looking forward to reading Volume 4!

Grade:  A-

From Amazon:

Ichigo Kurosaki was a little boy when his mother passed away. One rainy day, Ichigo, whose ability top see the undead is a blessing and curse, tried to stop young girl from drowning in a nearby river. His mother, Masaki, ran after them, frantically trying to rescue her only son. Then everything went black, and Ichigo awoke only to discover his mother dead and the little girl gone.

It’s the anniversary of Masaki’s death, and the entire Kurosaki clan, along with former Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki, head to the cemetary to pay their respects. Sleeping demons rarely ever stay still and pretty soon Ichigo confronts the Grand Fisher, the Hollow that may be responsible for his mother’s demise.

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Cursed by S J Harper

Cursed: A Fallen Siren Novel

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Meet FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.

She’s cursed. He’s damned. Together, they make one hell of a team.

Emma Monroe is a Siren, cursed by the gods and bound to earth to atone for an ancient failure. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now that she works missing persons cases for the FBI, it could be just a rescue away. Unless her new partner leads her astray.

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Novella Review: Mercy by Jan Coffey

Mercy (Entangled Ever After)

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Julia Klein’s life has begun to unravel—her daughter Amy has been suspended from school, Julia is about to lose her job, and her boyfriend Garrett is being transferred thousands of miles away. Overwhelmed, she and Amy leave for a weekend at a rambling old colonial inn. Julia never suspects that Garrett, desperate to find a way to keep Julia in his life, has decided to surprise her by joining them. Nor does she expect her daughter to befriend a mischievous ghost…or that she herself would be possessed by the malevolent spirit of a long-dead mother.

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

Review:

Zowie!!  Mercy is a great Halloween read!  I wasn’t expecting much, and in fact only picked this novella up because it’s short and I thought I could polish it off fairly quickly.  I did!  But because I couldn’t put it down once I started it.  It’s creepy and the pacing is unrelenting!  Good thing it’s short, because my heart couldn’t have taken much more!  I am usually not a fan of ghost stories, and even though this is fairly predictable, it’s well written and engaging because the characters are so personable.

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Spotlight and Giveaway! Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HAWTHORNE.

Mind. Blown.

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

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

Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

ISBN: 9781622662258

Book Description

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

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

Amazon BN Goodreads

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

Until the body belonged to his brother, Cash.

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

About the Author:

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

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

Website: http://sarahballance.com

Blog: http://sarahballance.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBallance

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

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

Giveaway:

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

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