New and Notable Releases Week of August 13 Part One

Here are some new and notable books that are releasing this week:

(This is an under-whelming week!  Did I miss any titles?)

The Sinister Touch by Jayne Castle

The Fatal Fortune by Jayne Castle

Twisted in Tulips by Nikki Duncan

 

Ikigami Vol 8 by Motoro Mase

Taming Talia by Marie-Nicole Ryan

Scandal’s Mistress by Bronwyn Stuart

Relentless Pursuit by Adrienne Giordano

Just One Look by Linda Cajio (Loveswept Classic)

The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

For Men Only by Sally Goldenbaum (Loveswept Classic)

Callie’s Cowboy by Karen Leabo (Loveswept Classic)

 

What’s on your shopping list?

Review: Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

 

Title: Spell Bound

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher:  Disney Hyperion

Also available in digital:

Spell Bound (Digital)

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium.  Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Review:

I have been waiting with a great deal of anticipation for the final book in Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall series.  I found the first book rather predicable, but Demonglass kept me on the edge of my seat.  I hated the cliffhanger ending! How could you do that to me?  I was finally onboard with Sophie and her acidic personality, and then – WHAM!  We ran into a brick wall of “See you later!”  Ugh!

Anyway, a copy finally came in at the library, so I hustled over to pick it up.  On my lunch break.  Even though I couldn’t read it until after work.  I dove into the book as soon as I arrived home, and after that uncomfortable few moments of trying like heck to remember what happened in the previous book, and who all of the characters were, I was in!  There is such a loss of momentum when you have to wait for over a year to read the next book in a series, and most of the time, they don’t work as well for me.  When I am in the reading zone provided by a book, I am also in a particular frame of mind at that place in time.  Sometimes I don’t get it back.  Sometimes I no longer click with the protagonist.  Sometimes I discover, with dismay, that I don’t even like the protagonist anymore.  While she hasn’t changed in the year and a half since we last met, I have.  I am a different person, and there have been times when I have outgrown a series or cast of characters, and I am always bummed when that happens.

Don’t worry, though! That didn’t happen with Spell Bound.  While some of the plot points didn’t work for me, I still enjoyed Sophie’s occasionally grating personality.  Her coping mechanism is to get sarcastic, and I actually liked when she was blasting out snarky comments, or better yet, making unfiltered inner commentary about whatever person happened to be pissing her off.  I didn’t like the back and forth between Archer and her fiancée, Cal, but heck, I usually never like all of the romantic triangles cluttering up YA PNR these days.  It is the one trope that drives me batty, and the one that I find the least interesting.  The resolution to this one was a cop-out, with Sophie not making a decision so much as having it made for her.  I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, so I’ll just say UGH!  Sophie gets off guilt free, and I didn’t like that.  I felt that it belittled her emotional conflict and her feelings for both guys was also trivialized. 

Moving on, I love the action in the these books.  Sophie has to always be on her toes, ready to fight for her life.  She also has to be ready to fight for the lives of her friends, and now, her family.  In this supernatural war, there are many casualties.  Sophie is under so much stress to ensure the safety of her loved ones that I’m surprised she didn’t lose all of her hair from the stress.  Worse yet, she didn’t have her powers, because they had been locked away by the villains at the end of the last book!  Her father’s powers had been completely and forcibly ripped from his body.  Sophie was running on empty, and ouch!  it wasn’t easy for her to escape from all of the danger she repeatedly found herself in.  That is one of her traits that I admire most about her character; Sophie has an innate ability to think well under pressure.  While she may lack the common sense to keep her out of danger in the first place, once she’s in it, she is able to stay relatively calm, examine the situation from every angle, and find a way to get her out of trouble without getting killed.  That she is ready to sacrifice her life when the stakes get so high that I would have crumbled into a ball of black despair, is another reason why I enjoyed Sophie, and these books, so much.

All in all, Hex Hall was a fun series, and now that they are all out, I recommend that you give them a try.  Each book was better than the last, and all of the characters, especially Sophie and Elodie, are likeable.

Grade:  B+

Review copy obtained from my local library 

Interview with Michele de Winton, Author of The Boss and Her Billionaire and Giveaway!

Michele de Winton is the author of The Boss and Her Billionaire, a recent release from Entangled Publishing under their Indulgence imprint.  Michele stopped by the virtual offices recently for a chat, and she brought a copy of her book for one of you to win!

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

[Michele de Winton] I’d like to think I’m like my characters: with sass, style and smarts. Love yoga, books, food, sun, girlfriends, my boys. Words are my drug.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Boss and Her Billionaire?

[Michele de Winton] Life is complicated and it’s too easy to forget our dreams when family, life and work get in the way. This is a book about following your dreams, for both characters. Michaela’s aspirations are focused around getting the dream job, having the perfect career trajectory, but along the way she finds that life without people in it is much harder work than she figured. For Dylan, his dreams of dancing (muscle rippling, sweat inducing, fabulous body making, dancing) have been on hold because of all the people in his life, his family and his brother specifically.

In The Boss and Her Billionaire I wanted to bring two people from completely different worlds together, but in order for them to meet at all, Dylan being a workaholic, I needed him completely outside his comfort zone. I needed to get a man who hadn’t taken a holiday in years to stop a moment, and smell the palm trees. Solution? Cruise ship. It’s set in and around the Pacific Islands so there’s plenty of scope for a ‘holiday affair’ to spark into reality, the difficulty for both characters is negotiating the tensions of real life verses holiday life realities. Both of these characters are strong willed so it takes some good advice and butt kicking to get them to see sense but in the end their dreams win out. Oh and the chemistry is untamed, unstoppable, and wonderfully unprofessional.

I like to ‘cast’ my characters early on so I have a solid picture of them in my mind. So if I was casting the film of the book I think Maggie Gyllenhall would play Michaela, with a blond wig. She’s definitely got enough sass to pull it off, and can play strong and sultry as well as soft and hopeful. And for Dylan, I’d cast Channing Tatum (although he’d have to wear green contact lenses). He’s got a great bod, some real smarts and he really can dance. Defiantly one to sweep ladies of their feet – literally.

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

[Michele de Winton] I was a guest writer on a Cruise ship last year. I know. Dream! I didn’t even know there was such a thing, but I had been doing a reading at an event and the CEO of a cruise ship company happened to be there. She asked if I’d be interested doing something similar. A free cruise? Count me in! Of course I said yes! It meant that my husband and I had a sort of hybrid cruise, having a full guest experience with a lovely stateroom and full access to the onshore tours etc, but also going backstage and into the staff offices and quarters of the ship. The Cruise Director was a man (there really are very few women in that role for some reason) and I never even met the Captain. But watching the dancers interact with guests and being involved with some of the onboard shows sparked something in my mind. I have also been a professional dancer so felt I definitely knew what my characters would be thinking and feeling. They burst almost fully formed onto my pages when I sat down to write them. Dylan takes a little while to see the light, but he’s my kind of hero—smart, generous and loyal. He just needed a bit of time to see that his priorities were off target. Michaela is like so many modern women that I know at the moment. She’s very focused, smart and driven, but is a little immobilised at times by the multitude of options that are available to her. Once she’d made up her mind though there’s no stopping her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Michaela?

[Michele de Winton] Smart. Driven. (and at the beginning of the novel,) Adrift.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Dylan would never have in his luggage?

[Michele de Winton] A guidebook. He always knows where he’s going and has made sure he’s done the research before setting out.

Cigarettes. His brother is a smoker and he hates the way non-smokers wrinkle their noses when the faint waft of smoke enters the room.

A Star Trek pin. Sorry, Trekkie lovers. Dylan isn’t into anything sci-fi.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Dylan had a theme song, what would it be?

[Michele de Winton] Mr. Scruff’s Get a move on. It’s got a good driving beat, makes you want to tap your toes, and well, get moving. It’s funky, with a little bit of acid jazz and a little bit of old school cool. Dylan would like to think it reflects his personality, in that he likes to be modern without being too commercial, but there is plenty that is old fashioned about him he can’t help playing a note or two of in his day to day life. And the lyrics are typical of Dylan’s need to keep moving, keep working, making sure that everyone he surrounds himself with is alright and not left behind.

The song itself is built around "Bird’s Lament (In Memory of Charlie Parker)" by Moondog and samples Shifty Henry‘s "Hyping Woman Blues" You can listen to it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS_CLIF1h-o

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

[Michele de Winton] Everyday occurrences. That sounds a bit lame, but reading newspapers and magazines, shows just what amazing stuff there already is out there in the world. When I’m ‘in the zone’ gahh, sorry that’s sounds so lame, but when I’m in that place where my entire focus is on a project, everything around me becomes writing fodder. Snippets of people’s conversations, strange names from the phonebook, a story about a property developer that threw in his job so he could build a school for some Nepali kids. All gold. The world is an amazing, juicy, rich place. And even when it’s not, I enjoy reading about ordinary people, women with wobbly bits, or too small bits, or too big bits. So I like to write about them too.

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

[Michele de Winton] Redbush tea with milk and honey, quiet, and a deadline! I do write a lot without deadlines, but there is nothing like a looming date on the calendar to focus the mind and the fingers.

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

[Michele de Winton] Her Best Worst Mistake. By Sarah Mayberry.

“The urge to strike out at him was so visceral, so powerful that she could feel her calf muscles tensing in preparation for a really good, solid kick. She had her pointy-toed Louboutin stilettos on. If she landed a good blow, she might even leave a scar.” Nice.

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

[Michele de Winton] I was a voracious reader when I was young and I have very clear memories of devouring books quite quickly. But the first book I really remember is Watership Down. I cried. And I was there with those rabbits. What an adventure for a bunch of furry friends. Not very romantic I’m afraid, but the world building and characterisation was done really well in that book, all important to me as I learn more and more about the craft of writing.

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

[Michele de Winton] I write copy for a bunch of magazines and literary novels as well as romance as Michele de Winton so I do write a lot. And I have a small boy (eleven months) so at the moment I don’t really have much free time that isn’t full of working, washing, feeding or playing. But we do manage to get out for walks, there are plenty of parks and beaches close to us and I love the sound of the ocean. I love to read and reckon it is part of my job so I have a wonderful excuse to curl up with a book as often as I possibly can. And I also love to cook. I’m vegetarian but my husband is a meat eater so I try and make every meal delicious so he forgets he’s missing what he would consider the main ingredient! Happily he loves my cooking.

Other than that, I am part of a children’s writing collective and started making soft toys as prizes for our junior “guest” writers. It’s a hobby that has stuck. All my friend’s kids now have strange monster soft toys to sleep with!

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

[Michele de Winton] I love to hear from readers so do please get in touch!

You can find me on

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/michele.dewinton

Twitter https://twitter.com/MicheledeWinton

Drop me a line or post a comment on my blog through www.micheledewinton.com

I also blog at The Naked Hero as The Luna goddess:

www.thenakedhero.com

And on the Indulgence blog:

http://entangledindulgence.wordpress.com/

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Thanks to Michele and Entangled Publishing, I have a digital copy of The Boss and Her Billionaire to give to one of you! Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget below.  Earn extra entries for following.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can order The Boss and Her Billionaire by clicking the widget below.

The Boss and Her Billionaire

Cruise director Michaela Western has everything she wants—everything except a sex life. But there are no secrets on cruise ships. She risked her job once for a dalliance with the Captain, and won’t do it again for a few minutes of toe-curling pleasure. Until a devilishly handsome new staffer with a body made for sin tempts her to walk on the wild side…
Investment billionaire Dylan Johns always gets what he wants. He is used to giving orders—not taking them—until he’s forced to go on hiatus from his investment company. To bide his time and carry out an old dream, he takes a job on a cruise ship—and ends up taking orders from his gorgeous, but uptight, new boss. He is determined to loosen her up with a fun onboard romance, but their no-strings fling turns serious and Dylan is forced to confess his lies.

When the affair threatens to shatter Michaela’s own career dreams, she finds herself caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.