Cover Shot! How to Dance with a Duke by Manda Collins

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?

I am a bit behind the 8 ball on this one, because it hits stores next week and I only just discovered it.  How to Dance with a Duke by Manda Collins has one word in the synopsis that always catching my eye: Egypt.  I have a fondness for books about Egyptian antiquities, so I am curious about this one.  The cover model looks like she’s getting a crick in her neck, but I like her expression.  I just wish there was a bigger splash of color somewhere, because the cover looks a little washed out to me.  Looking forward to reading this one.




What’s a wallflower to do when she’s suddenly in need of a husband? Use all the pluck and moxie she can muster to get what she wants…

Miss Cecily Hurston would much rather explore the antiquities of Egypt than the uncharted territory of marriage. But the rules of her father’s exclusive academic society forbid her entrance unless she weds one of its members. To clear her ailing father’s name of a scandalous rumor, Cecily needs to gain admission into the Egyptian Club—and is willing to marry any old dullard to do it.

Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson, is anything but dull. He’s a dashing and decorated war hero determined to help Cecily—even if that means looking the other way when she claims the dance card of Amelia Snow, this season’s most sought-after beauty. But Lucas has a reason for wanting Cecily to join the Egyptian Club: His brother went missing during one of Lord Hurston’s expeditions to Egypt. An alliance with the explorer’s bluestocking daughter could bring Lucas closer to the truth about what happened…or it could lead him to a more dangerous love than either he or Cecily could have imagined…

In stores next week!


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Review: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn


Title: The Duke and I

Author: Julia Quinn

Publisher: Avon

ISBN: 978-0380800827


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Simon Basset, the irresistible Duke of Hastings, has hatched a plan to keep himself free from the town?s marriage-minded society mothers. He pretends to be engaged to the lovely Daphne Bridgerton. After all, it isn?t as if the brooding rogue has any real plans to marry – though there is something about the alluring Miss Bridgerton that sets Simon?s heart beating a bit faster. And as for Daphne, surely the clever debutante will attract some very worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable. But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, she soon forgets that their courtship is a complete sham. And now she has to do the impossible and keep herself from losing her heart and soul completely to the handsome hell-raiser who has sworn off marriage forever!


I love the Bridgerton series, but somehow I missed out on this volume, which introduces the family to readers.  I have no idea how I missed this book, and I think I jumped onboard with The Viscount Who Loved Me, which is Anthony’s book.  Since I don’t remember much about any of them, now is a wonderful time to reacquaint myself with the large family and their romantic adventures.   I picked this up when it was on sale for the Kindle for $1.99, so if nothing else, the Kindle sales are helping me fill in my book collection.

The Duke and I is Daphne’s story.  Having grown up in a boisterous household, it takes a lot to rattle Miss Bridgerton.  Once look at the rakish Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, gives her equilibrium a shake, though.  Handsome and possessing a vast fortune, he has no interest in marriage, so when Daphne voices similar sentiments, the two of them decide to pretend to be engaged to pacify Daphne’s mother and to keep the tittering debutantes at bay.  Despite Simon’s warnings, Daphne finds herself quickly falling for her handsome co-conspirator.  Simon will never fall in love and he will never marry, so she is headed down a one-way street to heartbreak.

Ah, I loved Simon.  Here is a guy who was rejected by his father, thoroughly and humiliatingly, all because he stuttered.  I hated his father.  What a jerk!  His only concern in life is passing on his dukedom to a worthy heir, and when poor Simon shows a reluctance to speak, and then, the horrors, stammers, the duke promptly labels him an idiot.  This is a guy who couldn’t even be concerned when his wife died giving birth to his heir.  Good god!  I hated this guy and how much of a hold he had over Simon, even from the grave.  Simon’s self-esteem took a drubbing every time he had to interact with his father, and the humiliation almost destroyed him and any chance he had to find happiness.  It’s a good thing Daphne is just as stubborn and unyielding as Simon, because she wasn’t about to let him ruin their happily ever after.

While I liked Daphne quite a bit, and found her a worthy partner for Simon, I had a problem accepting her incredible naiveté.  She had all of those older brothers, so surely she must have had some idea as to relations between men and women, and where babies came from.  That one little plot point kept knocking me out of the story, and I am not sure why it bugged me so much, but it did.  Maybe because I considered Daphne too intelligent and clever to be so in the dark about this? 

While I wasn’t completely captivated by The Duke and I, I did enjoy my time spent with the Bridgertons.  I am looking forward to getting to know the family better, and have to do an inventory to see which books in the series I missed out on.  I am sure there are quite a few!

Grade: B

Review copy purchased from Amazon

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Young Adult Giveaway Hop–Win Incarnate by Jodi Meadows!

Here’s a chance to win free books!   I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Amber in Blunderland are hosting the Young Adult Giveaway Hop.   There will be a ton of chances for you to win some new reading material.  Just hop on over to I am a Reader, Not a Writer to see the other giveaways!  Click here to see the list of participating blogs.

I am giving away an ARC of Jodi Meadow’s Incarnate.  You know you want to read it!

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget.  Earn extra entries for following by RSS, Google Friend Connect, or subscribing to receive an email with blog updates.  Easy, Huh?!

You can follow me here for extra entries:

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Friend me at Goodreads

Contest Rules –

You must be 13 or older to enter.

I am not responsible for lost or damaged shipments.

One entry per person.

Earn extra entries by following!

Contest ends 1/31

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Cover Shot! Tidal Whispers Anthology

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?

I love stories that take place in or near the ocean, so I was intrigued to see the cover for Tidal Whispers by Jocelyn Adams, Claire Gillian, Julie Reece and Kelly Said.  It’s labeled as an Urban Fantasy, a genre I am quickly learning to enjoy.  I am not a huge fan of anthologies, but after developing a new appreciation for novellas, I am curious to see if this opinion has changed.  What do you think of the cover?  The colors are mysterious and attractive, but I don’t know that I like the seaweed that is painted on the cover model arm and back.


From the back of the book:

Heart’s Desire by Julie Reece
After a terrible accident, Tessa returns to her family beach house to heal. She doesn’t expect to see her first summer crush from seven years before. Cameron, though, reappears and ignites a relationship that’s far more intense than ever before. The only problem? Summer is once again coming to an end, and this time, Tessa will have to decide whether to choose life with Cameron or to never see him again.

The Sweetest Song by Claire Gillian
Under Poseidon’s rule, Circe is the most destructive siren in the Pacific ocean, her songs luring ships and their crew to their watery graves. Not Otis, the best halibut fisherman in the Alaskan waters. His ship, the Calypso, has avoided disaster each time Circe set her sights on him.

Given one last chance to deliver Otis to Davy Jones’ locker, Circe takes to land to waylay the handsome captain. Instead, it may be Otis himself who hooks the Siren.

Pearl of Pau’maa by Kelly Said
Should Miki choose to wed the local wealthy boy she doesn’t love, her stomach will stop grumbling. Her soul, however, will suffocate. With one last opportunity before she must concede, she sneaks off for a final dive to her hidden crate at the bottom of the seabed. What waits for her is more than a captured lobster. It’s a treasure she cannot claim without great sacrifice or true love.

The Undergarden by Jocelyn Adams
Nixie, a water sprite, lives a solitary existence as she struggles to understand the strange world beyond her waters.  When she meets one of the pink ones, a curious boy named Wyatt, their friendship blooms into a love that can exist only upon the sands that divide his solid ground from her underwater paradise. Some love, though, once born, cannot be undone, even in the face of death.


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Interview with Sparky, Heroic Salamander of Detroit!

I met Sparky the fire salamander while reading Laura Bickle’s Embers.  Sparky is protagonist Anya Kalinczyk’s familiar.  He’s got a tough job, because he’s like her body guard.  Anya is an arson investigator in Detroit, and she also helps dispose of unfriendly spirits.  She is constantly getting herself into trouble, so Sparky has to work extra hard to get her back out of it, and worse, he doesn’t always get the respect he deserves!  I asked him a few questions, hoping to set the record straight for him.  It’s so unfair that he works so hard, yet gets hardly any recognition!

[Manga Maniac Café] Hi, Sparky!  Can you please tell us a little about yourself? More specifically, what are you?  And why can’t I see you?

[Sparky] Greetings! I’m a fire salamander, an elemental avatar of fire. Most often, I take the form of a five-foot speckled hellbender. It’s pretty convenient in your plane of reality.

Alas, only my owner, Anya Kalinczyk, can see me. Ghosts. And dogs and cats, too. I like to tell people that when their cat is staring at the ceiling, it’s likely because they see a salamander crawling on it.

I never tell my age. But I’ve been a familiar for Joan of Arc and Van Helsing. I was also implicated in that Hindenburg disaster, but I have never confessed.

[Manga Maniac Café] What’s a typical day for you?

[Sparky] My current owner is an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department by day. By night, Anya works with an oddball group of ghost hunters. During the day, there’s a lot of picking through charred crime scenes. I chase things that go bump in the night afterward. We get to do a lot of fun stuff…figure out spontaneous human combustion, explore dragon lairs in salt mines, and chat with Roman-era centurion ghosts in the museum. Fun times.

But it’s not always fun. Anya devours ghosts. It’s not a pretty process, and she tends to feel like the human garbage disposal for the ghost hunters. I try to cuddle up and be as soothing as possible after she has to incinerate a ghost. I think it helps her feel better.

And yes, salamanders can purr.

[Manga Maniac Café] What’s your favorite snack food?

[Sparky] I don’t eat things that most creatures do. I feed off of energy, so I get a charge out of blowing up microwaves, setting off fire alarms, and chewing on cell phones.

But my favorite snack food is ghosts. Ectoplasm…nomnomnom.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things you would never put in your mouth?

[Sparky] Hmmm. Gotta think hard on this one. Salamanders will taste pretty much anything at least once.

But I’m not a fan of Brussels sprouts, alkaline batteries, or vampires. They all taste funny.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you describe your relationship with the Glow Worm?

[Sparky] Sigh. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have a favorite toy. Hopefully, this doesn’t ruin my street cred. Anya bought me a Glow Worm several years ago. I can actually interact with it…turn it on and off. So I sleep at the foot of her bed, cuddling the Glow-Worm. It’s the best toy, ever.

And I will kill anyone who tries to take it from me. Grrrrrr!

[Manga Maniac Café] Which of Anya’s traits do you find most annoying?

[Sparky] Jeezus, she snores. Loudly. It’s like trying to sleep with a Mack truck.

I’m also mildly jealous of her rubber duck collection.

But I get really annoyed when she gets involved in a relationship. She has terrible taste in men. And she even resorted to drawing a magic circle around her bed to keep me out, when the mood strikes. Very insulting.

[Manga Maniac Café] Do you have a girlfriend, or are you too busy protecting Anya to have a personal life?

[Sparky] Sparky loves the ladies! But I’m too much salamander to settle down with just one. Rest assured, though, that there’s plenty of Sparky to go around.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t protecting Anya or destroying electrical appliances?

[Sparky] The time that I’m not padding around in giant salamander form, I’m taking a nap in my owner’s magic necklace. Think "I Dream of Jeannie." Ultra-posh digs with lotsa velvet , lava lamps, and Barry White in the background.

[Manga Maniac Café] What about the Lions this year?  Think they will win the Super Bowl?

[Sparky] Don’t depress me. There are some things that even supernatural forces cannot help.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can learn more about Sparky by following him on Twitter.  You can also read about him in Laura Bickle’s Embers and Sparks.  You can purchase them from your favorite book seller or by clicking the widget below

A great big thank you to Bewitching Book Tours for making this interview possible.  It is not easy interviewing a creature that you can’t see, and Roxanne’s assistance made this all possible.


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[PR] Robot Army Incoming: Announcing the Return of Open Door!

{Ed. Here’s a press release that should be of interest to all aspiring novelists!  Get busy polishing off that manuscript – you’ve got until April 16th to get it prepped for submission!  Good luck!}


During April last year, Angry Robot Books temporarily suspended its usual submission policy to run its first Open Door Month; accepting unsolicited, un-agented manuscripts from would-be genre fiction authors.

The scheme was a huge success: nearly 1,000 submissions resulted in publishing contracts for three authors – Cassandra Rose Clarke, Lee Collins, and Lee Battersby – and the commissioning of at least six brand new novels for publication for the Angry Robot lists in 2012 and 2013.

Today, Angry Robot are announcing that Open Door will return, with a second phase running from April 16th – April 30th 2012. During this frantic fortnight the floodgates will once more be opened to admit brand new work by hopeful (and, of course, hugely talented) writers from across the globe.

This time around, the rules are slightly different. Angry Robot will only be considering submissions that meet the following genre criteria:

a) Epic Fantasy – ideally with a bit of an edge or the sort of left-field twist the Angry Robot audience has come to expect.

b) YA – any subject welcome, but must be science fiction or fantasy, and intended for a Young Adult audience, for potential publication via Angry Robot’s new Strange Chemistry imprint.

More details can be found at

Interview with Trisha Wolfe, Author of Destiny’s Fire

Trisha Wolfe is the author of Destiny’s Fire, an steam punk novel with shape-shifters, airships, and cute guys.  Trisha dropped by the virtual offices to tell us more about her book.

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

[Trisha Wolfe] Extremely trivial and dramatic with moments of sheer clarity that results in determination and madness.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, Destiny’s Fire?

[Trisha Wolfe] It’s really hard for me to sum it up. I’ve tried…many times lol. So how about the blurb? I worked on that for a long time:

It’s the year 2040, and sixteen-year-old Dez Harkly is one of the last of her kind—part of a nearly extinct race of shape-shifters descended from guardians to the Egyptian pharaohs. Her home and her secret are threatened when the Council lowers the barrier, allowing the enemy race to enter the Shythe haven.

As the Narcolym airships approach, Dez and her friends rebel against their Council and secretly train for battle. Not only is Dez wary of war and her growing affection for her best friend Jace, but she fears the change her birthday will bring. When Dez’s newfound power rockets out of control, it’s a Narcolym who could change her fate… if she can trust him.

Dez’s guarded world crumbles when she discovers why the Narcos have really come to Haven Falls, and she’s forced to choose between the race who raised her and the enemy she’s feared her whole life.

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

[Trisha Wolfe] For me, the characters always come first. They just pop into my head, like I’ve known them my whole life, and then I start building the world around them. When Dez came to me, she came packaged with secrets and powers, and I had to find a way to implement that into a story. I made a list of things I loved, and ancient Egypt was at the top. I did some research, and then started the story.

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

[Trisha Wolfe] Dez and Jace’s relationship. I believe I struggled with it as much if not more than Dez. I love Jace, and there were some very difficult scenes that I wrote, that almost got cut or changed, but I decided to be true to the character and to people in general in the end. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, and that’s a big part of learning and growing. It’s a part of life, and I felt that both Dez and Jace needed to go through some things to discover the truth. If it had been avoided, I feel it would have made a weaker relationship between them.

[Manga Maniac Café] Name three things Dez would never have in her pockets.

[Trisha Wolfe] Anything. She carries all her stuff in a belt bag 😉

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

[Trisha Wolfe] Anne Rice and Voltaire’s Candide.

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

My bed. Reese’s Sticks. Coke.

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

[Trisha Wolfe] Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.

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

[Trisha Wolfe] I listen to a lot of music, and if I can fit it in, TV and movies. Once a year I must have a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon, and I watch all the seasons in order. I do have a family, so I guess I take care of them, too.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!

You can learn more about Trisha by visiting the following websites:


Destiny’s Fire is available now! You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.  It is available in both print and digital format.


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Waiting on Wednesday–Blood Before Sunrise by Amanda Bonilla

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I enjoyed Amanda Bonilla’s first Shaede Assassin book, so I am looking forward to more.  Blood Before Sunrise hits stores in July.  I love the cover!


“She needed a bargaining chip and this was it. Raif’s daughter’s life for hers. And he knew damn good and well I was right. Just like he’d assured me the night I’d killed Azriel, this was far from over. His daughter was alive, I knew it. And I was going to find her.”

For months Darian and her Shaede guardian Raif have searched for the Oracle who attempted to overthrow the Shaede Nation—and kill Darian in the bargain. But now that they’ve finally found the half-crazed Oracle, for their efforts they are granted a possibility too painful for Raif to imagine, and too enticing for Darian to ignore.

Darian is determined to reunite Raif and the daughter he thought was dead, but her mission quickly proves dangerous when her lover Tyler is almost killed. And when a brooding and mysterious Fae warrior offers his guidance—at an extraordinary price—Darian finds herself willing to risk everything. As her single-minded hunt turns into an obsession, and she and Tyler grow further apart, Darian finds herself caught between the man she loves like a brother, and the man whose love she can’t live without…

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