Giveaway! Score a Copy of Tamara Morgan’s Playing with Fire!

Thanks to Entangled Publishing, I have a shiny new digital copy of Tamara Morgan’s Playing with Fire to give to one of you! This is a fun, action-packed read.  See my review here.

Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhuman abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant…and she’s hurt enough people already.

Including herself.

But when the man behind her conversion returns to blackmail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.

Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fireball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.

And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.

Entering is easy! Just fill in the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. Open Internationally.

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Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

 

Title:  The Hallowed Ones

Author: Laura Bickle

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.

Review:

This book had me extremely freaked out at several points during the story, and I could not put it down.  Well, I did have to put it down once, because everyone else had wandered off to bed, it was dark, and I was FREAKED OUT.  I just could not sit in the living room by myself and continue to read, damn my easily frightened heart.  So I carefully marked my place, set the book down, and waddled off to bed, already counting down the hours until I would be home from work and able to read again.  It was probably for the best; it was a work night anyway, and the weekend beckoned just a few hours away.

I loved Embers, also by Laura Bickle, for both the heroine and for her cuddle-worthy elemental, Sparky.  I read a lot of books, and if I can remember most of the plot and even character names months after I have finished, it was a great reading experience.  When I saw that she had a YA title coming out, I was beside myself with excitement.  Would I enjoy it?   The Hallowed Ones intrigued me for another reason, too.  Katie is Amish, and she is about to set off on her Rumspringa, the time that young Amish are permitted to live with the English away from their communities, in order to determine whether or not they wanted to return and be baptized, and fully accepted as adults in their society.  Being baptized also meant putting aside non-Amish things, and having additional pressures to conform to accepted behavior.  I wondered if I would find Katie an interesting person.  She is supposed to be  humble and agreeable, and not make waves.  Guess what?  She is a fascinating heroine, strong, brave, and more than willing to make waves when she thought that an injustice was being committed.  This got her into a lot of hot water with the Elders, but Katie just could not step aside when she thought that someone needed her help.  Unfortunately for her people, everybody needed help after a devastating catastrophe befalls the Outside.

I can’t remember having read another book with an Amish protagonist, so I don’t know how authentic Katie is, but I liked her a lot.  She never backed down when she was needed, regardless of how unpleasant, and in several instances, how downright horrifying, the task was.  I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, because I want you to be as freaked out as I was.  Let me just say that there are evil, awful monsters Outside, and they are ravenous.  They are scary.  They are strong.  And worse of all, they are smart.  With the Elders denying that a darkness has descended and threatens to survival of the human race, things are looking particularly grim.  An Amish community, with its wooden houses and lack of technology, isn’t the first place I would choose to make my last stand with the world ending around me.  There are no radios, TV, or internet for the news, and cell phones?  Forget it!  You aren’t going to be able to send urgent, terrified text messages to your friends and family because they don’t have those there!  Several times I was struck by how difficult communication would be even without the end of days.  Heck, if I wanted to talk to my neighbors on the other end of the community, I would have to walk there.  Or hitch up my horse and drive there.  Thank goodness I know how to drive a buggy.

I thought the beginning of the story was a little slow, but now that I have finished the book, I don’t think that anymore.  We needed that calm before the storm, to establish both Katie and Elijah’s personalities, their role in their society, and what their hopes were for the future.  Katie firmly believed that she and Elijah would go on Rumspringa together, and after kicking up their heels, they would both be baptized, and then eventually they would be married and start a family of their own.  Everything was laid out in a simple path, and all she had to do was follow it.  But then the unthinkable happens, and there is no Outside anymore.  When the Elders, in an abundance of caution, closed off their community, Katie begins to question everything that she once accepted without a qualm.  She disobeys the Elders, and soon she has first hand knowledge of the evil they are up against.  Things don’t look good, and Katie thinks that it is just a matter of time before everyone in her knows and loves suffers an unspeakable end.

While I liked Katie, I think that the Hexenmeister is my favorite character.  There is just something about a crazy old guy who turns out to be a magical bad-ass that appeals to me.  While he lived on the fringes of his society because he was quite odd during times of peace  and contentment, during the end of the world he was just the guy to have on your side.  He, too, was strong and unwavering, even when confronted with the corruption that seethed within their community. 

The Hallowed Ones is an exciting, and at times, terrifying read, with a strong heroine ready to do whatever is necessary to save the lives of her family.  Without technology on her side, Katie has to rely on something many of us have forgotten how to use; her own cunning and common sense.  I enjoyed this book very much, and can hardly wait for follow-up.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Shana Galen, Author of When You Give a Duke a Diamond and Giveaway!

Shana Galen is the author of many historical romances.  She has a new series hitting stores, and the first book is When You Give a Duke a Diamond.  Shana stopped by the virtual offices to tell us about her new series, and she brought a present! You can enter to win a copy of When You Give a Duke a Diamond after the interview.

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

[Shana Galen] mom, wife, author of fast-paced, adventurous Regency romances

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about When You Give a Duke a Diamond?

[Shana Galen] Absolutely! When You Give a Duke a Diamond is the first in my Jewels of the Ton series, which is about three glamorous Regency-era courtesans. Juliette, has been dubbed the Duchess of Dalliance, and she has a reputation as an ice queen. That’s not who she is at all, but she does have a reason to keep aloof and watch her back. Will is the sixth Duke of Pelham and boy does he ever know it! He has a lot of responsibility and likes his life orderly and routine. He doesn’t like scandal. He doesn’t like disruptions. And he doesn’t like Juliette. But when she witnesses the murder of his fiancée and becomes the killer’s next target, Will is honor-bound to protect her.

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

[Shana Galen] I had been reading a book by Jo Manning titled My Lady Scandalous because I was researching female spies for Lord and Lady Spy. The book is about Grace Dalrymple Eliott, who was a famous Georgian courtesan and also spied for England during the French Revolution. I started thinking about how glamorous a courtesan’s life could have seemed on the outside and how very precarious their position in Society was. I thought a heroine like that would make an interesting character, especially if I threw a bit of intrigue her way, as I am wont to do.

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

[Shana Galen] smart, spontaneous, and fun-loving

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things William would never have in his pocket?

[Shana Galen] He wouldn’t have money. He’s a wealthy duke and his name would get him whatever he wanted. Most aristocrats put everything on credit during the Regency anyway. It was vulgar to carry money. He wouldn’t have house keys. He has servants who had better be waiting at attention when he arrives. And he wouldn’t have any IOUs. Gambling was hugely popular during that era and so many people gambled away everything they had. Will is a practical guy. He doesn’t believe in luck or games of chance.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Juliette’s single most prized possession?

[Shana Galen] Definitely her freedom. She’s been under a man’s thumb before, and she would never consent to have her independence taken away again.

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

[Shana Galen] I never realized until I had a child how much I need quiet and time for reflection in order to be creative. So much of the time I have to run to my computer and start working as soon as my daughter takes a nap, but this way of working doesn’t inspire great writing. I have to get up at early o’clock a few times a week so I have a couple of hours of quiet and solitude to just think about my book and my characters and my plot. Occasionally, my husband has an early meeting, and he’ll come downstairs to find me sitting at the table, laptop closed, just thinking. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m very weird.

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

[Shana Galen] I can write no matter what, but if I could create the perfect situation, I’d have lots of time, silence, and a constantly replenished snack bowl.

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

[Shana Galen] The Selection by Kiera Cass.  (The Selection)  It was such a fun read.

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

[Shana Galen] Probably Gone with the Wind. The first time I read it I was in fourth grade. I already loved reading by then, but I’d never read something so complex or wonderfully romantic. I think I fell in love with historical romance reading that novel.

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

[Shana Galen] Honestly? Sleep. I also love spending time with my daughter. She’s almost three, and we play in her toy kitchen, make play dough shapes, and read library books. She has a constant supply of energy and enthusiasm.

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

[Shana Galen] My website is www.shanagalen.com; my Twitter handle is @ShanaGalen; and my Facebook page is www.facebook.com/ShanaGalen. I also blog with the Jaunty Quills (www.jauntyquills.com) and have a blog for moms called Peanut Butter on the Keyboard (www.peanutbutteronthekeyboard.wordpress.com). I love hearing from readers. My email is shana@shanagalen.com. Finally, if readers have a smartphone, they can download my free author app for Apple http://bit.ly/Lc4IRz or Android http://bit.ly/LwaG2h devices. I always have fun app exclusive content.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Want to win a  copy of When You Give A Duke A Diamond?  Entering is easy! Just fill in the widget below.  Extra entries for following!  Open to US shipping addresses.

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Didn’t win? You can order When You Give A Duke A Diamond from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital

 

WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND BY SHANA GALEN – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2012

He had a perfectly orderly life…

William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that’s the way he likes it. But he’s in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossips link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn’t begin to describe what happens next…

Until she came along…

Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance, and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It’s seriously disruptive to have the duke who’s the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William’s darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shana Galen is the award-winning author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals. She is a three-time RWA Rita Award finalist and a winner of the coveted RT Reviewer’s Choice KISS Award. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is happily married, with one daughter and a spoiled cat. Look for the next book in the Jewels of the Ton series, If You Give a Rake a Ruby, in March 2013. For more information, please visit www.shanagalen.com, or follow her on Twitter, @ShanaGalen.

Waiting On Wednesday–Solstice by P J Hoover

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

I am such a sucker for post-apocalyptic books!   I don’t know that I would be setting off on the adventure of a lifetime in a pair of shorts and a tank top, but Solstice by P J Hoover looks intriguing anyway.

In stores June 2013

 

Piper’s world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles that threaten to destroy the earth. Amid this global heating crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom.

Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth.

What are you waiting on?

This Week’s New and Notable Releases–September 24

Here are this week’s new and notable releases.  Click on the covers for the Amazon product page.  The Hallowed Ones and Archer’s Goon are both highly recommended.  Which have you read and recommend?

Archer’s Goon ebook! by Diana Wynne Jones – One of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors is getting the digital treatment!

Alchemy by K. J. Wignall

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

The Assault by Brian Falkner

The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

The Blue Door by Christa Kinde

Covet by Melissa Darnell

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Flock by Wendy Delsol

A Fractured Light by Jocelyn Davies

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

The Marble Queen (Kindle) by Stephanie J. Blake

Mephisto Kiss by Trinity Faegen

The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

The Turning by Francine Prose

What’s on your to buy list?

Interview with Susan Vaught, Author of Freaks Like Us

 

Susan Vaught’s latest release, Freaks Like Us, recently hit store shelves.  Susan stopped by the virtual offices for a chat.  Check out what she has to say!

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

[Susan Vaught] Long hair, pacifist, likes chocolate, reads a lot, has parrot, too many dogs, three cats, loves writing, likes football, works in an asylum.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you tell us a little about Freaks Like Us?

[Susan Vaught] Freaks Like Us is a fast-paced mystery, with most of the story taking place in the 24 hours after Jason Milwaukee’s best friend and sort-of girlfriend disappears. To find her, Jason has to battle his mental illness, his self-doubt, and prejudice from other people involved in the search.

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

[Susan Vaught] I have been wanting to write through the eyes and voice of a character with schizophrenia for many years, but it took me a long time to develop just the right personality so readers could relate to Jason. The other characters came more naturally, and they all contend with issues I have either faced in my own life/family, or treated in my years of practice as a psychologist. The mystery element of the story unfolded as the story moved along, surprising me at the end of the first chapter!

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

[Susan Vaught] Brave, Loving, Determined

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What three things will Jason leave the house without?

[Susan Vaught] Three things he wouldn’t leave the house without would be Sunshine’s locket, his house key, and Agent Mercer’s private telephone number. If it’s really supposed to be what he WOULD leave the house without, then the answer would be . . . just about everything else. Jason can get pretty distracted and forgetful. Lunch money, his phone, his homework—all of that might get accidentally abandoned on any given day.

[ED – oops, yes it was a typo.  Thank you for the wonderful answer Smile]

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

[Susan Vaught] Possibility, by Lykke Li. I think the haunting sound and the words/emotions have real meaning for him.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What is Jason’s most prized possession?

[Susan Vaught] Sunshine’s gold locket. It means more to him than anything other than Sunshine herself.

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

[Susan Vaught] Life, music, and other people’s brilliant art. Whenever I read a great book, hear a wonderful song, look at an amazing painting or sculpture, watch a good film, or encounter good art in any other format, it inspires me to make more of my own—not copy what I experienced or encountered, but try to come up with something brilliant, beautiful, and lasting, to pass on that gift of inspiration.

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

[Susan Vaught] A clean house or writing cabin, no distractions, and the exact right song. I absolutely cannot write without good music.

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

[Susan Vaught] Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. I reviewed it on my website. I love the originality of the writing, and the flesh-and-blood feel of the characters…even those that don’t exactly have flesh and blood.

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

[Susan Vaught] John Christopher’s Tripod series. The first book in the series was The White Mountains. I remember falling deeply into that world, into the struggles of those characters. I believe it was the first set of books I read where kids were in real jeopardy, and made a difference.

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

[Susan Vaught] When I’m not writing, I’m usually working. My day job is at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. I also help tend the many birds and animals on our farm. What I’d like to do—ha. Be at the beach!

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

[Susan Vaught] Through my website, at www.susanvaught.com . I enjoy hearing from my readers!

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

You can purchase Freaks Like Us from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

This Week’s New and Notable Releases–September 24

Here are this week’s new and notable releases for romance and UF/PNR readers. What’s on your list?

Check back tomorrow for this week’s Young Adult releases.

Click the covers for the Amazon product page

Blaze by Joan Swan (Sep 25, 2012)

Unleashed by Crystal Jordan (Sep 25, 2012)

Dawn’s Desire by Donna Grant (Sep 25, 2012) – Novella, only .99!

      

Lord of Temptation (Lost Lords of Pembrook) by Lorraine Heath (Sep 25, 2012)

Hunk for the Holidays by Katie Lane (Sep 25, 2012)     

Josh by R.C. Ryan (Sep 25, 2012)

My Scandalous Viscount (Inferno Club) by Gaelen Foley (Sep 25, 2012)     

Outlaw Derek by Kay Hooper (Sep 25, 2012)     

An Outlaw’s Christmas (Mckettricks) by Linda Lael Miller (Sep 25, 2012)

      

Rules to Catch a Devilish Duke by Suzanne Enoch (Sep 25, 2012)     

Secrets of a Wedding Night by Valerie Bowman (Sep 25, 2012)     

Seduction’s Shift (Shadow Shifters) by A.C. Arthur (Sep 25, 2012)

      

Shadow Rising: The Shadow Slayers, Book 2 by Cassi Carver (Sep 25, 2012)  

When the Duchess Said Yes (Wylder Sisters) by Isabella Bradford (Sep 25, 2012)

The Undead In My Bed by Katie MacAlister and Jessica Sims (Sep 25, 2012)

How a Lady Weds a Rogue  by Katharine Ashe

Thirst by Karen E. Taylor (Sep 25, 2012)

Alchemystic by Anton Strout (Sep 25, 2012)

      

Blood Riders by Michael P. Spradlin (Sep 25, 2012)

Boyfriend from Hell (Saturn’s Daughters) by Jamie Quaid (Sep 25, 2012)

The Sundering (Time of Legends) by Gav Thorpe (Sep 25, 2012)

      

Dark Light of Day by Jill Archer (Sep 25, 2012)

Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel (Sep 25, 2012)

Earth to Hell: Journey to Wudang: Book One by Kylie Chan (Sep 25, 2012)

How to Marry a Warlock in 10 Days by Saranna DeWylde (Sep 25, 2012)

Immortal Surrender (Curse of the Templars) by Claire Ashgrove (Sep 25, 2012)

The Moonstone and Miss Jones (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator) by Jillian Stone (Sep 25, 2012)

Personal Demon by Susan Sizemore (Sep 25, 2012)

Sacrifice the Wicked: A Dark Mission Novel by Karina Cooper (Sep 25, 2012)

Something Witchy This Way Comes: A Jolie Wilkins Novel by H. P. Mallory (Sep 25, 2012)

A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan (Sep 25, 2012)

Review: Playing with Fire by Tamara Morgan

 

 

Title: Playing with Fire

Author: Tamara Morgan

Publisher:  Entangled Publishing

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhuman abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant…and she’s hurt enough people already.

Including herself.

But when the man behind her conversion returns to blackmail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.

Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fireball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.

And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.


Review:

I am a huge fan of superheroes, and when I saw that Entangled was publishing a series of novellas about super heroes, I had to read them. It was a little scary at first, because I was afraid I’d be disappointed, but Playing with Fire by Tamara Morgan is a fun, action-packed introduction to the Holding out for a Hero anthology series. I loved this story, and it even featured one of my favorite tropes – the second chance.  This read kept me entertained from the first page to the last, and I can hardly wait to read more of the anthology.

Fiona is a character I could immediately sympathize with.  She has the ability to hurl fire balls, but it comes at a steep price.  When her emotions get out of control, her powers do too.  She’s afraid of getting close to anyone because she is terrified of hurting them, and her last, failed attempt at intimacy ended disastrously, with her lover being badly burned.  To make this situation even worse, she didn’t even want the superhuman abilities to begin with.  Her manipulative boyfriend coerced her into it, and now she’s resigned herself to a sad and solitary life.

Into her life steps Ian, her childhood friend and the boy who broke her heart.  He was also responsible for her being bullied at school, so I did have a few issues warming up to him.  To be fair, Ian tried to rectify his past mistakes, but there were times when I felt that he didn’t do enough.  When it was his friend taunting Fiona, he quickly tried to put an end to the hurtful name calling, but when all Fiona wanted was for Ian to trust and believe her, he fell a little short.  In the end, he does gallantly redeem himself, but of the two of them, Fiona is obviously the more heroic. 

I enjoyed the world building, and am interested to see how other authors tackle a new world where superheroes , and super villains, could live next door. 

If you are looking for a fast-paced read with gobs of action, romance, and danger, look no further.  Playing with Fire was quickly gobbled up, followed by a “Please, sir, may I have some more?” plea from me.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher