Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop! Win London Eye by Tim Lebbon!

Welcome to my Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and  co-hosted by Babs Book Bistro.  This hop runs from January 1st – 7th 2013, and you can win lots of new reads.   Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I am giving away a finished copy of Tim Lebbon’s London Eye.

 

About the book:

The Hunger Games meets The X-Men in an exciting post-apocalyptic debut.

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers.

The rest of Britain believe that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. But Jack and his friends, some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday, know that the reality is very different.

At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London, and it is incredible. Because the handful of Londons survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.

 

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The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–December 30th Edition

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

The puppies are doing better with their housetraining (or maybe I am getting better at taking them out every time they so much as sniff the carpet).  They spend most of the day either tearing up the house chasing each other, or sacked out on their blankets.

Bumble trying to chill for a few on Christmas day.

This is a very unusual pose for Poppy.  She is usually sprinting through the house, chasing after her brother.  I think both Bumble and I cherish the quiet moments when she takes a nap!

On their best behavior – for about 30 seconds!

Check out my current contests! See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library. Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Assassins in Love by Kris DeLake

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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Cuddlebuggery’s Top Cuddles of 2012 Giveaway Hop! Win Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry!

Cuddlebuggery Book Blog is hosting their Top Cuddles of 2012 Giveaway Hop, so here is a chance for you to win lots of awesome books!  I am giving away a copy of Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry!

About the book:

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget below.  US shipping addresses only, please! Earn extra entries for following.  Make sure you hop around to all of the participating blogs!

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Here is a list of the participating blogs

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha–December 24th Edition!

Wow!  Super huge, 220+ page issue!  We have two new for me series, too!  Kenshin Restoration and Blue Exorcist!

One Piece Ch 691 – Now we’re talkin’!  Luffy has hit berserker mode!  That naughty Caesar Clown dude better watch the eff out!  Once Luffy is pissed, there is no stopping him!  I really like how angry Luffy gets when he discovers that someone has been treated unjustly.  When Caesar orders his men to open the vents and let the death gas in, they stupidly comply, thinking that he has some trick up his sleeve.  Yup, he does, but it doesn’t involve saving, or caring the slightest bit, about the lives of his men,  his “guinea pigs,” as he calls them.   Oops!  Talk about needing a union to ensure fair treatment by the boss.  Too late!  Most of his workforce has been sacrificed to save his own unbelievably ugly hide.  Sadly, the big confrontation between Luffy and Caesar Clown won’t go down until the next issue of WSJA!

Hunter x Hunter One Shot – Kurapika’s Memories Part Two – Kurapika’s final challenge is underway!  Can he visit the town, get the village’s shopping completed, and keep his friend Pairo safe, all without losing self-control and revealing his scarlet eyes?  Um, no, but thanks to Pairo’s cleverness, nobody is going to be the wiser of the boys’ great adventure to the outside world.  This one shot is a great introduction to the Hunter x Hunter series; at least it was for me.  Got me interested in a series I would have otherwise not given a second glance, due to the length and Yoshihiro Togashi’s frequent breaks.

Rurouni Kenshin Restoration Ch 6 – Ah, I just love Kenshin, so this rehash is such a treat.  I love Watsuki’s expressive and dramatic art; I never have to guess how Kenshin and company are feeling.  The setting is also elegantly illustrated.  Clothing, buildings, food – it all comes to life with just a few masterful lines.  The use of fonts for the sound effects and the careful use of special  effects all work together to tell a visually pleasing story that joins seamlessly with the dialog.  This is my new favorite in the magazine.

Cross Manage Ch 13 – This chapter chronicles the date that’s not a date – or is it?  Sakurai and Toyoguchi make plans to meet and shop for needed equipment for the lacrosse team.  Sakurai wonders if their impromptu shopping trip is really a date in disguise, and ever the planner, he carefully chooses his attire for the day.  When Toyoguchi shows up at their meeting place, she’s dressed in the school jersey.  Definitely not a date!  Until they share some snacks and a bottle of water.  Whoa!  It’s that indirect kiss thing that gets manga and anime characters in all genres too flustered to even speak!  So cute here!  Toyoguchi is kind of clueless, which makes her reaction very endearing.

Bleach Ch 519 – So let’s see – Ichigo soaks in a magical hot spring with Tenjiro.  Byakuya and Renji are there, too, but they aren’t conscious, so I don’t know if that counts.  Lord Reio makes an almost appearance.  This chapter was so short that I felt a little ripped off.  Hopefully there will be more going on in next week’s issue?

Toriko Ch 214 – I just can’t get into this series.  There are too many characters, and too many of them look like freaks.  So far, I am not connecting with the characters, the plot, or the awkward, odd art.

Nisekoi  Ch 54 – Oops! Another over-used, though amusing trope is set into motion in this chapter.  Tsugumi, AKA Black Tiger, has been hunted down by her rival, Paula McCoy, otherwise known as the assassin White Fang.  Disappointed that Tsugumi has lost her edge, Paula challenges her to a no holds barred contest.  The rules are simple – the entire town is their playing field, the contest will last one hour, and the winner is the first to –wait for it-steal a kiss from Ichijo!  The first to steal his skivvies would have been more fun, but it is what it is.  I’m kind of wondering how much of a fight Raku’s going to put up, but seeing as how both girls could beat the crap out of him without breaking a sweat, maybe he should start running.  Like, right now.  This series is very hit or miss with me, and this chapter was mostly a miss.

Naruto Ch 612 – Never ending epic battle hasn’t ended!  The combined strength of Naruto’s ninja buddies is let loose on Madara and Obito, giving rise to such attacks as Lighting Style! Flash Pillar!! and Storm Style! Laser Circus!!  And guess what? Even after the allied shinobi forces jutsu!! the battle is – still not over!!  Oh! MY!! See you next week, fierce ninja warriors!

Blue Exorcist Ch 41 – This chapter features a battle with a bathroom ghost.  This is my first exposure to this series, and I don’t think that I got a very good idea of what it’s about.  Nothing about the characters or the setting, a training academy for young exorcists, stood out or made me want to learn more.  Hopefully next week’s chapter will be more engaging?  The only real impression that I came away with here – Izumo needs to do something about her eyebrows.  Seriously.

And that’s it for this week’s WSJA!

Interview with Anne Elizabeth, Author of SEAL at Heart & Giveaway!

Anne Elizabeth, author of SEAL at Heart, is visiting the virtual offices today.  Please give her a warm welcome! After the interview, enter for your chance to win a copy of SEAL at Heart!

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

[Anne Elizabeth] I’m a romance writer, comic book creator, monthly columnist, wife, step-mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, godmother, daughter, sister, friend, and adventurer. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about SEAL at Heart?

[Anne Elizabeth] Being a SEAL means everything to Petty Officer First Class John Roaker. So when a head injury coupled with a bout of amnesia takes him out of the action, he has to find a way to heal his wounds and recover his lost memories. Enlisting the help of beautiful physical therapist Laurie Smith, he heals his body and discovers that his unlocked memories hold a dangerous secret about his last mission that threatens his life, his country, and the woman he’s starting to fall in love with.

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

[Anne Elizabeth] One night, my husband and I were sitting around the dinner table with a friend talking about SEALS and romance. The idea popped out of my mouth and I knew it was the one. BTW, my husband is retired from the Teams.

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

[Anne Elizabeth] Courageous, passionate, and determined.

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

[Anne Elizabeth] Queen, WE WILL ROCK YOU

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Laurie won’t leave the house without.

[Anne Elizabeth] Laurie would never leave the house without her purse. It holds all the magical things she cannot live without during the day–from lipstick to a small first aid kit. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Jack’s bedroom?

[Anne Elizabeth] Collectible figurines, framed photographs, and large pieces of furniture—Jack doesn’t have any of those things.  Instead, he can pack and be out the door in under an hour with everything he owns packed in duffel bags. 

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

[Anne Elizabeth] I have a lot of creative influences. From my husband’s presence to the nature surrounding us, I draw it all in and it ends up in my stories.

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

[Anne Elizabeth] In order to craft, I need a strong connection with my story and characters, support from my family and friends, and my laptop. I also need time–an opportunity to research, think, and type.

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

[Anne Elizabeth] I read a lot of books. I am huge fan of Cathy Maxwell, Suzanne Brockmann, and Anne Rice. I’ve loved all of their latest books!

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

[Anne Elizabeth] Dante’s THE DIVINE COMEDY—I’ve read that book at least a hundred times.

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

[Anne Elizabeth] I love adventures! Kayaking on the ocean, biking or hiking in the mountains with my husband and our dog, cooking for family and friends, flying, or reading a book—these are some of my favorite activities.

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

[Anne Elizabeth] Fans can contact me through my website and I’m on facebook and twitter, too.

Link to website: www.AnneElizabeth.net

Twitter: http://twitter.com/aeanneelizabeth

Link to personal Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Anne-Elizabeth/e/B002BX3M7C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Link to book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/SEAL-at-Heart-Anne-Elizabeth/dp/1402268904/ref=la_B002BX3M7C_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353888262&sr=1-1

I have a monthly column in RT BOOK REVIEWS magazine on comics, manga, and graphic novels. I also attend the Comic Cons in New York and San Diego as well as the RT BOOK LOVERS CONVENTION.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Ready to enter for a chance to win SEAL at Heart? Just fill out the widget below for your chance to win!  Earn extra entries for following.

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You can order SEAL at Heart from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the covers below.  Available in print and digital.

About the book:

Being a SEAL means everything to Petty Officer First Class John Roaker. So when a head injury coupled with a bout of amnesia makes him undeployable, he has to find a way to heal from his wounds and recover his lost memories. Enlisting the help of beautiful psychoanalyst Laurie Smith, he discovers his unlocked memories hold a dangerous secret about his last mission that threatens his life, his country, and the woman he’s starting to fall in love with.

Interview with Pamela Sherwood, Author of Waltz With A Stranger & Giveaway!

Pamela Sherwood’s debut novel, Waltz With A Stranger,  recently hit store shelves.  Pamela dropped by the virtual offices to answer a few questions about her first release, so please give her a warm welcome! After the interview, enter for your chance to Waltz with a Stranger!

[Pamela Sherwood] Hello, everyone, and thank you, Julie, for having me at Manga Maniac Café!

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

[Pamela Sherwood] Historical enthusiast, lifelong reader, & writer of “romance plus”: romance + mystery/adventure/family saga, the stories that made me fall in love with the genre.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Waltz With a Stranger?

[Pamela Sherwood] Set in late Victorian England, Waltz with a Stranger is the story of twin American heiresses–one beautiful and ambitious, one crippled and shy–and the man caught between them. Amy, the ambitious twin, intends to make a brilliant marriage to an English lord, thus improving her “new rich” family’s social status. Aurelia, the shy twin, has come mainly as a companion to her sister. But one night, while hiding in the conservatory during a ball, she meets a handsome stranger who coaxes her out of her shell by asking her to dance. For the first time since the riding accident that scarred and crippled her, Aurelia feels beautiful and desirable. After a year abroad to recover her health, she returns to England–and finds to her shock that her dance partner is now an earl, and engaged to Amy.

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

[Pamela Sherwood] I’ve long been fascinated by the transatlantic marriage market, in which wealthy American heiresses married financially strapped English aristocrats, bringing new money and new vigor to the “ruling class.” Some of these marriages were deeply unhappy, but others developed into enduring love matches.

I’d toyed with the idea of writing such a story, but I’d always assumed that, if I did, there would be one hero and one heroine. When I began plotting out the first chapters, I never expected the hero to walk out of the ballroom, where the ostensible heroine was holding court, wander into the conservatory, and meet the actual heroine dancing by herself in the moonlight. But there they were: James, Aurelia, and Amy–a triangle in the making.

Another important influence was Tennyson’s poem, “The Sisters,” in which a man inadvertently courts identical twins, with tragic results. The story stayed with me, over the years, and after James and the Newbold twins sprang into being, it attached itself to them as though they were made for each other. Three decent people, making a powerful amount of trouble for themselves as they try to reconcile their desires with their sense of honor. The resolution in Waltz with a Stranger is much happier than in Tennyson’s poem, however!

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

[Pamela Sherwood] Loyal, resilient, and determined.

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

[Pamela Sherwood] She has one in the novel: “Aura Lea,” a popular love song written in the 1860s. The song gave her her first name. Although if we’re considering a more modern song relevant to her situation, I’d have to go with “This Must Be Love (For I Don’t Feel So Well)” from the musical The Boys from Syracuse–the heroine, Luciana, has just realized to her horror that she’s fallen in love with the man she thinks is her sister’s husband!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing James won’t leave the house without.

[Pamela Sherwood] Other than his clothes? ;-) Money–he worked for his living before inheriting an earldom, and he understands better than most gentlemen how important it is never to be caught short of funds.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in James’ pockets?

[Pamela Sherwood] A cigar, a flask, or the address to a brothel!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Aurelia’s greatest regret?

[Pamela Sherwood] Riding too recklessly one certain day three years before the story begins–disaster for her and her poor horse.

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

[Pamela Sherwood] Poetry–sometimes a line or an image sticks in my mind, and then comes out in an unexpected way. Or the poem tells a story that I want to explore further, or wish to approach from a different angle, as with “The Sisters.”

Music. If poetry supplies me with ideas, music provides me with emotional fodder. A song will evoke a particular mood or atmosphere that I want to recapture in my writing.

Random details that my imagination seizes upon. And those can be pretty much anything–an obscure historical fact, a bit of trivia, an unexpected insight that, on tweaking, germinates into a plot.

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

[Pamela Sherwood] Privacy, relative quiet, and an uninterrupted stretch of time.

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

[Pamela Sherwood] In the romance genre: Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne. I love the world of Napoleonic espionage as she portrays it, which is as much John LeCarre as it is Ian Fleming. She doesn’t downplay the grunt work of intelligence gathering, and her characters–male and female–are ferociously competent and vividly drawn.

Out of the romance genre: Book of Days by Deborah Grabien, a contemporary mystery set in the music world. She captures the excitement of live performance, the no less potent thrill of musicians playing and creating together, and the details–glamorous and mundane–of life as part of a touring rock band.

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

[Pamela Sherwood] Just one? I’m not sure that’s possible! For as long as I can remember, I’ve been turned on to reading. That’s what happens when you have a mother who’s a teacher and former children’s librarian! But I remember being enthralled by Beatrix Potter’s books and Rudyard Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child when I was a kid, so my passion for reading may have started with those.

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

[Pamela Sherwood] Read! Or cook, because that is a creative process too, in which you’re working with concrete objects that don’t shift and morph constantly (unlike writing!)–and if you get it right, the results are delicious!

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

[Pamela Sherwood] My website at pamelasherwood.com

My twitter addy; http://www.twitter.com/pamela_sherwood

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Ready to enter for a chance to win Waltz with a Stranger? Just fill out the widget below for your chance to win!  Earn extra entries for following.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can purchase Waltz With a Stranger from your favorite bookseller or by  clicking the covers below. Available in print and digital.

About the book:

One dance would change her life forever…

A man who never expected to inherit. A woman who never expected to wed. A choice that pits their honor against their hearts.

Crippled after a riding accident, Aurelia Newbold shuns Society—until a dashing stranger draws her into a secret waltz and changes her life forever. After a year abroad, she returns home and discovers that the one man she’s been dreaming of is engaged to her beloved twin sister.

James Trelawney is not prepared for the vibrant woman who returns to London in the place of the wounded girl he took pity on—or his growing need for her. But forbidden love is not the only danger…a chilling secret reaches out from beyond the grave, threatening both Trelawney and the woman he loves.

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha–December 17th Edition

Oops!  I’m a week behind! The holidays are taking a toll on my reading, so here’s a quick, quick recap of last week’s WSJA -

First up – Hunter x Hunter Special One Shot – Kurapika’s Memories Part One – I liked this chapter a lot, and since I‘ve only read the first volume of Hunter x Hunter, I was surprised by how easy it was to become immersed in this story.  Kurapika, young and brash, wants to leave the forest and venture into the outside world.  It’s forbidden by his people, though, so he argues continuously with the village elder about getting permission to go.  A whimsical art-style with lots of soft, rounded edges made this a visual pleasure, and, despite relying on overused tropes, the characters are engaging and the dialog moves the story steadily along.  Looking forward to reading Part Two!

Naruto Ch 611 – More fighting!  More building of chakra!  More ominous threats from the villain!  And more reinforcements to ensure more fighting for chapter 612!

Bleach Ch 518 – Ichigo, with a little help from his friends, decides to make the journey to the Royal Palace.  Yes, that is all that happened in this chapter!

One Piece Ch 690 – Epic battling continues as fatal petrification gas closes in on our heroes!  This is news to me! Somehow I missed that there is a cloud of poison gas ready to deliver its fatal payload to our Straw Hat pirates and anyone else who gets in its path.  Smoker and Vergo are duking it out!  Why do so many of the characters look so much alike?  And why do the One Piece chapters always seem so short?

Cross Manage Ch 12 – I really like this story.  It’s easy to follow, it’s character driven, and there is no magic or epic dueling (not that I dislike magic or epic dueling).  It’s just basically about a group of high school students with completely different goals, backgrounds, and life expectations trying to get along, build a lacrosse team, and have fun while they do it.  Since Sakurai chased off three team members with his tough as nails training regimen, they no longer have enough players to field a team.  Desperate to fix what he’s done, Sakurai and Toyoguchi  get the ex-players together for a super-intense training session – without letting them know why they asked them to spend the three-day weekend with them.  No wonder Kato gets so angry and suspicious of him!  I thought this was nice chapter because instead of dwelling (mostly) on their faults, Sakurai pointed out their strengths and why he wanted them to come back to the team.

Nisekoi Ch 53 – This was another silly chapter that I enjoyed because it required zero brain cells.  Ichijo and Onodera hear their horoscopes for the day, and even though they don’t believe in that superstitious nonsense, they both go out their way to follow the advice for their lucky, or in one case, unlucky, day.  As Ichijo tries to interact with Onodera and Onodera attempts to avoid Ichijo, hijinks ensues and confusion abounds.  The ending was very cute, too.

Toriko Ch 213 – I just don’t get this one.  All of these needless, weird-looking chefs talking about oil and the need to be fit to compete in the cooking battle.  Most of these guys look like they would would struggle climbing a flight of stairs, and they are expected to compete in a triathlon to gather up their ingredients?  Only consolation – 50% of the competitors will be eliminated after the Swimming!  Biking!!  Running!!! Food Stamina Race!! portion of the battle.

That’s it for this issue, so see you for the next issue of WSJA.  I’m looking forward to catching up with Kenshin!