Please welcome special guest Dominic Chekovsky to the virtual offices this morning. Dominic took some time away from his busy practice schedule to introduce himself, so give him a big hello!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Dominic Chekovsky] Dedicated, competitive, sincere, misunderstood, and sensitive. What? I am.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Dominic Chekovsky?
[Dominic Chekovsky] It’s all about hockey and Diana. I get up and plug in the coffee maker for Diana while I make a protein shake for myself. Usually this takes about an hour, because Diana strolls into the kitchen looking adorable with her curls going in every direction and distracts me. Then I head to the arena for hockey practice. I play hard. It’s going to be a banner season. By the evening, I’m ready to reconnect with Diana again and relax. We’re homebodies lately, preferring to entertain ourselves at home. She’s still trying to beat me in sock hockey. Once in awhile I let her win, because it benefits me. In two weeks, we’re taking a few days to travel to Cottage Grove and meet up with our friends.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to choose one moment that made you the person you are today, which would it be?
[Dominic Chekovsky] *grows serious* My parents. Their unending support and dedication in my career have made me the man I am today. My father gave me the advice as a young boy, "Whatever you do, throw your heart into it and you’ll always be happy." I think that’s true, don’t you?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Diana?
[Dominic Chekovsky] Hot, Mouthy, Adorable. *sighs on a smile* She’s perfect for me.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you find most exasperating about her?
[Dominic Chekovsky] *scoots to the edge of his chair and lowers his voice* She argues a lot. Don’t tell her I said this, but her attitude drives me crazy. Sometimes I’ll argue with her just to set her off, so I can see the passion in her. She’s beautiful but when she fights, she steals my breath away.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?
[Dominic Chekovsky] Ugh. I approached Diana all wrong back when I first met her. I’ve learned a lot about women since we got together, thanks to her. It all worked out for the best but if I would’ve known the secret to handling women, I would’ve stayed out of trouble early on in my career. I would’ve learned to say no to them sooner, before my life derailed.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Dominic Chekovsky] My car keys. Only because if I don’t take them with me, Diana steals my Porsche out of the garage. I’ve never seen a woman so attached to a car before. She drives way too fast.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.
[Dominic Chekovsky] Babies. *grins and looks away* Yeah, babies with Diana.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
[Dominic Chekovsky] Thanks! It’s been fun. Don’t forget to watch the San Jose Sharks. We’re gonna kick ass this season.
To learn more about Dominic and Diana, be sure to read Debra Kayn’s Seductively.
Check out Wildly Book One in Debra’s Playing for Hearts series, too
About the book:
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?
Wow! This is the seventh Play by Play novel, and I still haven’t read The Perfect Play (which I purchased at Borders during their fire sale). I like that the background looks like ice. Even though everything about this cover makes me think of winter, which I hate, I still think it’s fun to look at.
In stores February 2014
Title: Falling for the Backup
Author: Toni Aleo
May Contain Spoilers
This novella did not work for me, and judging from the ratings on GoodReads, I am definitely in the minority in regards to this title. I wanted to read Falling for the Backup because it’s a sport romance with hockey, and I love hockey. How can I not? I’m from Detroit, and hockey is in our blood. What else is there to look forward to in the middle of the long, dreary winters? Why, the battle for the Stanley Cup is about all that keeps us from falling into a bleak, seasonal depression.
Jordan Ryan is a goalie for the Assassins, but after an injury that almost ended his career, he’s gone from superstar to backup. Frustrated with his life, he’s watched his career go down the toilet, his fiancée left him when he was at his most vulnerable, and now he’s warming the bench for a hotshot youngster who’s taken his position, as well as the all of the glory that goes with it. Desperate to play again, he’s shopping himself around the league with his father’s help. His father is his agent, and he’s adamant that Jordan stay on the straight and narrow and that he doesn’t do anything to jeopardize a contract offer from another team. Easy enough. Jordan’s only interest in life is getting back on the ice full-time.
Until he meets Aynslee on a flight home to Nashville. After he accidentally dumps a cup of coffee on her dress, Aynslee can’t keep her eyes, or her mind, off of Jordan. She thinks they have a connection, but after disembarking, he takes off with a curt good-bye. No phone numbers are exchanged, and Aynslee is confused. And disappointed. How could the most breathtaking guy she’d ever seen take off without even getting her number. Ugh!
When they continue to bump into each other, Jordan finally gives in and allows Aynslee to sweep him off his feet. The timing stinks because he’ll be leaving town once he signs with a new team, but he lets her know up front that they aren’t, and can’t be, a long term thing. Aynslee goes along, willing to put her worries about their breakup in the back of her mind. She’s sure that Jordan will change his mind and that they will figure out a way to stay together.
Why didn’t this work for me? Because Jordan and Aynslee are obviously meant to be together, but Jordan is too caught up in himself to even think of asking Aynslee to go with him to his new team. He’s convinced himself, without asking her, that she’s got a perfect life, with perfect friends, in Nashville, and that she would never consider moving. This just frustrated me, because after dismissing a long distance relationship because they never work out, he is resigned instead to breaking up with the love of his life and moving off to reestablish his glory on the ice. Aynslee isn’t much better, because she can’t seem to discuss their impending breakup, either. She’s just content with the way things are, and she has faith that things will work out, without any effort on her part.
The other aspect of the novella that bothered me was that both characters acted too young for their ages. Jordan is in his early thirties, but his behavior was closer to a guy in his early twenties. Sure, his confidence has taken a few knocks after losing his starting position and after getting dumped by his girlfriend, but it was like he reverted to a much younger version of himself, and I just couldn’t buy into that.
This is a quick, steamy read, and you can get beyond the contrived conflict, it will make a great beach read.
Review copy provided by publisher
Title: Game. Set. Match.
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
May Contain Spoilers
Wow! Coliloquy does it again! Here’s another book with lots of angst, set amid the ultra competitive world of tennis. Here’s a secret; I can’t stand tennis, and yet I couldn’t put this book down! The interpersonal relationships had me hooked. Would Penny get over her fling with tennis bad boy Alex? Would Jasmine live up to her parents’ legacy? Would Indy ever fit in at OBX and make her dreams of being a top tennis player come true? Will I get over the cruelty of those painful little words – THE END??
While I don’t enjoy tennis, I was drawn to this book because I love sports stories. It doesn’t matter what the sport is, either. As long as the protagonists are committed to training hard and being the best they can be, I’m onboard. There is just something about a competitor refusing to be second best that keeps me engaged in their struggles. I want to see them persevere, to overcome all obstacles in their path, and become the best they can be. Throw in rivals, disinterested parents, interfering parents – in short, any emotionally distracting relationship, and I am that much more invested in the story.
Game. Set. Match. has three central characters, and the book is told in alternating POVs. Penny has just won her first major tournament, defeating the world’s number one player. She’s determined to win the French Open next, but she’s still having flashbacks to a disastrous competition where Alex Russell messed with her mind, her heart, and destroyed her game. To her utter dismay, her coach has brought Alex to OBX to help her train. Can she keep herself together and ignore the attraction raging between them? Can she ever trust him again? I loved this story line, because Alex is such a player, yet he’s ready to make a commitment to Penny, if only she’ll give him the time of day. There was a lot of great tension between Alex and Penny, as they both strove to train for their matches at the French Open. Penny has so many pressures now that she’s finding success, from potential sponsors to rivals waiting in the wings to take her down a notch. Great stuff here!
Jasmine is probably my least favorite character, because she came across as a spoiled princess. Her parents were both tennis superstars, and since she was seven, all she’s wanted was to follow in their footsteps. When Indy shows up at OBX and promptly derails her dreams and hopes for the future, she lashes out at her new tennis opponent. Jasmine lost the mental game long before she even stepped out on the court. She expected that success would just fall into her lap, without her truly working for it. While I did like her better by the end of the book, it took a lot for her to win me over.
Indy gave up on tennis after her mother’s death. After Penny wins the Madrid Open, her fire to play tennis is re-ignited. She is surprised that her offer to attend OBX is still open, and jumps at the chance to train at the best tennis academy in the country. I really liked Indy and found her story arc highly engrossing. Still reeling from her mother’s death, she and her father have a distant relationship at best. She’s never been as interesting to him as his work, and Indy has resented his indifference for years. Now she’s facing the toughest competition of her life, and she’s learning the hard way that tennis is more about the mental game than she realized. Her early success at OBX hasn’t earned her any friends among her classmates. She’s surprised to discover how down to earth Penny is, and the two girls soon become close, which leads to more rivalries with the other girls at the academy. Indy’s story was my favorite, and I thought that her romantic pursuit of Jack, Penny’s older brother, was very sweet.
Game. Set. Match is a great read with lots of emotion. Even if you don’t usually enjoy sports stories, give this a try. It’s more about relationships and chasing your dreams than tennis.
Grade: B / B+
Review copy provided by publisher
I’m excited to help with the cover reveal for Toni Aleo’s Blue Lines. This is book 4 in Toni’s Assassins series. What do you think? While I love the guy’s back, I don’t think I’m over the moon about his jeans. Would I like it better without them? Ummmm…yeah. What do you think?
About the book:
Random House and other retailers: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/227840/blue-lines-the-assassins-series-by-toni-aleo
This issue clocks in at 171 pages.
First up is Toriko Chapter 219- I guess there is nothing as intimidating as group of pissed off chefs. As the Gourmet Corp launches a fearsome attack during the cooking competition, Toriko and his buddies counter with some powerful, yet ultimately useless attacks. Oh, my! Komatsu is in trouble! I don’t think all the cooking skills in the world are going to help him save himself from the freaks attacking him. It’s a good thing the other chefs seem more competent at defending themselves. Plus they will probably get pissed if their carefully prepared dishes are ruined. This series is still not one of my favorites, but at least there were lots of speed lines and attacks to keep me somewhat entertained.
One Piece – chapter 696 – Lots of eating and celebrating their escape from the island. The rescued kids are going to go with the Navy, and Luffy has big plans! He’s going to crush all four emperors! Hopefully this wraps up all involvement of Caesar, because I thought he was obnoxious and I’m not going to miss him much.
Naruto – Chapter 617 – Naruto hands out chakra like it’s candy. The ninjas get ready for an all out attack. Naruto’s shoulder is dislocated! But wait! Now it’s not! Can Naruto’s buddies keep Neji’s death from being a tragic waste? Maybe we’ll find out next issue! Nah, probably not, but maybe the fighting will start again?
Nisekoi - Chapter 59 – Christmas chapter! Chitoge’s mom is coming home for the holiday! She’s a terror, too. Everyone is terrified of her, despite her less than imposing appearance. When her secretary collapses, she quickly lassoes Raku in to handle the job until Christmas Eve. Poor guy! She wants to see what he’s made of, and I think his work experience with her won’t be pleasant. I am curious to see just how bad Chitoge’s mom can be! If he can stick it out, she’ll reward him with a stay for two in a penthouse suite at a deluxe hotel. Can he make it that long?
One-Punch Man – Chapter 2 – Another short chapter, giving more background on Saitama. He became One-Punch Man after taking on a crab dude, and then trained like a fiend, losing his hair (as well as his good looks) in the process. I am a bit disappointed with the length of the chapters so far, and the lack of a story. Maybe we’ll get a story next issue?
Bleach – Chapter 524 – Oh MY! The battle between Unohana and Zaraki rocks! That is all.
Cross Manage – Chapter 18 – Soccer team manager Chiumi drops by to watch the lacrosse teams’ second game, and she has a crush on Sakurai! She’s studied up on lacrosse, and she’s all ready to wow him with her knowledge of the game and the team. She knows Sakurai has some problems communicating with girls, and she’s going to help him with that, and earn some brownie points at the same time. This chapter was bogged down with lacrosse rules, and it didn’t hold my attention like previous chapters.
Kintoki One-shot – Cute color splash page! Though I enjoyed this one-shot, it’s more a throw away chapter than anything else. Great art but not much substance. It did get a few chuckles from me, and that’s saying a lot since I am sick as a dog today.
Oh, they will start running a colorized DBZ starting next issue! And there will be new series announcements next week, too!
Author: Lisa Luedeke
May Contain Spoilers
I am not going to lie. Parts of Smashed left me angry and frustrated. It’s a hard book to put down, because Katie’s life is such a train wreck. While I found it engrossing, I am torn about it. I wanted to like Katie more than I did, but there are many times throughout the narrative that she is unlikable, and hard to relate to. She is struggling with her father’s rejection of her family, and when Alec is nice to her, she ignores her reservations about him and starts falling for him. With a distant, distracted mother who is never there for her, she craves what Alec is giving her; attention and kindness. When he shows a darker side, she is frightened, but when he apologizes for his abusive behavior, she forgives him, and puts herself at risk again. Katie doesn’t trust adults, and frankly, who can blame her after taking a long, hard look at her parents, so she instead tries to deal with all of her problems by herself. She doesn’t even confide in her closest friends that she is in over her head with Alec. Instead, she decides to deal with him herself, but her way of dealing with him can only have one outcome, and it isn’t a pretty one.
Alec and his friends are the kings of her school, and they have a reputation for being bullies and getting away with crap. When their paths start crossing during the summer, Katie starts to think that she’s been wrong about him. He’s attentive and kind, and he’s there to listen as she vents about her family. Sure, a couple of things don’t add up, and he gets aggressive about a physical relationship, but Katie convinces herself that she’s sending him the wrong signals. She just wants to be friends. But the more she pushes him away, the harder he pushes back, until he has her scared and wary of him. When a drunk driving accident almost kills them both, Katie has to live the consequences of a very bad decision. In the months that follow, she puts her dream of playing field hockey in college, a scholarship, and even her life in danger.
I was so upset with some of the choices that Katie made. There is pressure on her and her teammates to not get caught partying during the season, or they will be kicked off the team. Instead of drinking publically, Katie starts drinking at home. Her mother is never there, so it’s not like anyone is going to know or care. Her mother is more focused on her job and finding a boyfriend to be there for Katie and her younger brother. Without positive role models, Katie is struggling to find her place and struggling to deal with the challenges she is facing. I kept wondering if and when her mother would take a step back from her own life and take an interest in her children’s. I also felt horribly sad that Katie felt so abandoned and alone. She feels that she has no one, so she starts drinking to forget all of her problems.
I don’t feel that Alec’s personality was developed enough, and I was disappointed at Alec’s lack of depth. I never felt that I got to know him or understand him. He’s just a one-dimensional jerk whose only purpose in the story is to propel Katie down a path of self-destruction.
If you enjoy contemporary fiction that deal with social issues, I think you will enjoy Smashed. It is a compelling and hard to put down read, and even though I didn’t always like Katie, I always sympathized with her.
Review copy obtained from my local library