Interview with A. E. Rought, Author of Broken

Strange Chemistry author A. E. Rought dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her new book, Broken.  Please give her a warm welcome!

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

[A. E. Rought] Yep, and alliterative to boot! “Compulsive, creative, caring.” The compulsive and creative go hand in hand. And I’m always cooking for, listening to, taking care of people—it’s the mother in me, I guess.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Broken?

[A. E. Rought] For me, it’s reimagining the whole of the Frankenstein story, and choosing a different character to tell it. Victor Frankenstein’s story has been told, and brilliantly. So I thought about his “monster” and all the fun I could have breaking hearts if he fell in love. To make it stand apart, I told it from the point of view of the girl he falls in love with.

I took the tropes of Frankenstein, added some theology, and then told the story of Emma, the girl who falls in love with a boy who’s not wholly himself anymore, and what happens when they find the truth of what his father did to make him that way.

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

[A. E. Rought] A long chat on the phone with my beta reader. I knew I wanted to play with a classic revisit, and fairytales are so popular right now I turned to Gothic fiction. Both my beta and I adore Van Helsing (Yes, I know, not the best in its genre, but still fun) and that movie’s version of Frankenstein’s monster, so we decide to make Alex a “monster” that was a product of his ‘creator’s’ actions, and a victim of them, too. It all snowballed from there. It may be Emma’s story, but Alex came first.

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

[A. E. Rought] Stubborn, funny, broken.

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

[A. E. Rought] Oh, wow. What a tough question! I’ve gone round and round with this one since I read it. I think I have to go with So Much, by The Spill Canvas. (It fits Alex really well, too…)

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

[A. E. Rought] His cell phone. There are other things he can never leave behind, but that might give too much way…

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

[A. E. Rought] A mess because he’s one of those tidy types. A picture of his father—their relationship defies being captured in a photograph. A picture of his mother, because his father wouldn’t allow it.

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

[A. E. Rought] Leaving that balcony to go find help. Her entire future changed in that moment.

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

[A. E. Rought] My parents. Mom is always busy with a handcraft of some sort, and my dad was constantly building something. He would even make tools to get the job done. They taught me to embrace my creative side, and the many ways it can filter into my life.

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

[A. E. Rought] Caffeine, music and the atmosphere. My ultimate place of writing Zen will have a mug of tea, the current project’s playlist, and no outside distractions, like TV, family noise, etc. At the height of drafting, I will often grab up my mug, curl my laptop to my chest and slink off to the Writing Cave, otherwise known as my bedroom.

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

[A. E. Rought] I think my ultimate sock knock-offer book will always be Across the Universe, by Beth Revis. Other books have come close, but nothing has quite matched the Holy crap! response I had when I finished reading it. The tension, the layers, the concept… That book makes me want to be a better author every time I read it!

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

[A. E. Rought] I would have to say The Hobbit. I had always been a reader, but after that book, reading became something more than just an escape.

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

[A. E. Rought] I can be caught baking, sewing, weaving baskets, beading jewelry… Thanks to my mom, I’m a big handicraft person. I also like to occasionally drop my butt to the sofa, curl under a blanket and watch a movie. My latest favorite is The Avengers.

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

[A. E. Rought] I’m all over the place online!






[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!!

[A. E. Rought] Thanks for having me!!

You can pre-order Broken from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:


About the book:

Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.
A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetary and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely…familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks.

And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.

A Belated Look at Last Week’s Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha

Running around after hyperactive puppies has put a dent in my reading time, so my look at the December 10th Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha is just a little late.  Still, I managed to read the issue in between mopping up messes, washing countless dog towels/blankets, and making so many trips to the backyard that I can’t count them all.

This issue kicked off with Naruto Ch 610.  While I plan to keep reading the series, I have no idea what’s going on and continue to flounder with the story.  The epic battle with Madara and his minions continues, with Ten Tails and Nine Tails, and oh, my, I am just not getting it.  Madara is about to start the Infinite Tsukoyomi ritual to summon the moon?  Lots of speed lines, sound effects, and close ups of sweating Naruto and Kakashi.  Kind of looking forward to the start of the next story arc so I know what the heck is going on.  Any Naruto fans out there? Which volume did this story arc start in?  I ‘m tempted to go backward a little with the Viz digital manga sale….

Next up – One Piece 689!  I haven’t read this series in forever, but I didn’t have any trouble getting in the groove.  Psycho evil dude Caesar Clown picks his nose while confronted by Brownbeard!  His crimes are awful (besides the lack of hygiene caused by the nose-picking)!  He has been using Brownbeard’s crew as GUNNIEA PIGS!!  Only Caesar has given Brownbeard a muscle relaxant so he can’t expose his foul deeds!  He looks like an idiot!  Caesar gloats, impressed with his own evil genius!  The only thing I didn’t like about this chapter? Luffy shows up during the middle, ready to exact revenge and beat the snot out of Caesar, so I have to wait until the next issue  for the battle to begin.  I really like the fighting in One Piece because the odds are always stacked so far in the villains favor, but Luffy always manages to hold his own, mainly because he is so driven to do the right thing and avenge the characters who have been mistreated by the evil baddies.  The art is fun and just cartoony enough to present a unique style. 

Nisekoi Ch 52 was stupid and predictable, but I thought this was a fun read.  Two bumbling gang members beg Raku to help them open a briefcase.  They have lost the combination for the lock, which is Chitoge’s measurements, so it’s up to Raku to save the day! He has to exert his non-existent ninja skills to obtain this information before the briefcase blows up?  Implodes?  Opens a time warp?  He has no idea what’s in it, or what the consequences of failure will be, but he is certain it will cause great harm.  Instead of just leveling with Chitoge, he sneaks around the school, spying on her. See, it’s the day that physical exams are conducted at school, and he just knows that if he’s sneaky enough, he’ll get the info he needs.  This endeavor does not end well for him.  This is one of the most overused tropes in shonen manga, but for some reason I found this chapter funny.  Probably because all of the male characters are so stupid.  Who knows?

Up next – Bleach Ch 517, with a color page!  Squad Zero descends on the Soul Society in full clean up mode.  Squad Zero  is in charge of protecting the royal palace, and the rest of the squads are in charge of guarding the Seireitei.  They are disappointed with the crap job the rest of the squads have done, and they quickly take charge. They are there to collect the gravely injured captains, as well as Ichigo.  Again, I want to learn more about these guys and their powers.  I didn’t feel as lost in this chapter as I did in the prior one, and I am looking forward to next week’s installment.  This chapter was far too short.

Cross Manage Ch 11 helped to keep this series among my favorites in the magazine.  It is so easy to jump on-board and feel comfortable with the characters.  Sakurai is dejected after three of the girls quit the team, claiming that he is too harsh and the practice sessions too tough.  He begins to think that maybe he isn’t the best manager for the team.  I like him a lot.  He is an overachiever, and he just can’t comprehend not giving one’s all to a job task or activity.  I wonder what he’s going to do now that he lacks enough players to field a team.  After two chapters, I am very invested in this story, and I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal  Ch 24.  Sadly, I have nothing much to say about this chapter.  I am not a big Yu-Gi-Oh fan, and I don’t find the battles interesting or exciting in the least, and I’m not sure why.  Hikaru No Go is about an incomprehensible board game, but I find it exciting and suspenseful.  This is the one series in the magazine that I have no enthusiasm for.  At all. 

Whoa – Hunter x Hunter will be in the next two issues of WSJA.  Due to the many hiatuses Yoshihiro Togashi takes, I have tried to not get hung up on this series, so I am looking forward to getting a little taste of it.  Toriko was on break this issue, which I didn’t mind because last week’s chapter was so boring.   I hope the cooking battle commences soon!

The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–December 16th 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.

Wow.  I just do not know what to say about the horrible and tragic events that occurred CT.  I feel for the families, the children, the first responders who walked into Hell, and the entire community.  Makes me want to crawl under the covers with the puppies and never leave the house again.  My prayers to everyone involved.

Here are some puppy pix, because it is proven that looking at puppies and kitties lowers your stress levels.



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:

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson

Hallowed Circle by Linda Robertson

Fatal Circle by Linda Robertson

Arcana Circle by Linda Roberson

Wicked Circle by Linda Robertson

The Doctor and the Rough Rider by Mike Resnick

Kekkaishi Vol 34 by Yellow Tanabe (If the puppies don’t eat them, I will be marathoning the last 9 volumes in January – sorry to see the end of this series)

Kekkaish Vol 35 by Yellow Tanabe

Strobe Edge Vol 1 by Io Sakisaka

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

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Excerpt: Revival by Jena Leigh and Giveaway!

Jena Leigh wants to share an excerpt from Revival, as well as a digital copy of her book!  If you enjoy the excerpt below, please fill out the widget for a chance  to win a copy!



Declan O’Connell had been reduced to babysitting.

This was so humiliating. He was going to have to have a talk with Grayson when he got home. Surely his punishment for last month’s misunderstanding should be nearing an end.

It wasn’t his fault they needed a new roof in the atrium. That had been entirely Nathaniel’s doing. Declan had merely supplied a little motivation. It was the Golden Boy that did the glass breaking.

So how was it that the Golden Boy kept picking up all the choice jobs, while Declan was stuck trailing around after high schoolers?

He leaned heavily against the brick wall of the alley and watched as his target disappeared into a restaurant across the street, only to reappear a few moments later on the wraparound patio, trailing after a hostess. They settled in at a table overlooking the water.

At least with this vantage point he wouldn’t have to follow them into the restaurant.

She’d spotted him twice already. Not that he was particularly trying to hide from her at this point. It made things easier when the target didn’t know he was there, sure, but there wasn’t any hard and fast rule about it.

Declan had been shadowing the pair for nearly an hour before he’d realized that something was off.

Usually, his job involved protecting innocent humans from the monsters that walked amongst them unnoticed. From the things that went bump in the night. Things a whole lot like him, just without the charm … or a functioning moral compass.

Judging from the haze of static electricity that followed the girl around like a rain cloud, however, there was something very different about this mark.

Playing a hunch, he’d broken his cover and followed the two girls into a clothing shop. Ten minutes later the store’s registers were toast and his suspicions had been confirmed.

He wondered if the girl knew what she was.

Better yet, he wondered if Grayson had known when he’d given Declan the assignment and just hadn’t said anything.

“I want you to keep an eye on the girl, Declan.”

“No other specifics?”

“Just keep her away from bookstores, if you can.”


Thanks, Grayson. That helps.

Apparently whoever said, “no harm ever came from reading a book” hadn’t met this girl.

Grayson’s orders were usually pretty detailed. The fact that these weren’t could mean a couple of things. Either Grayson didn’t know the specifics of the danger the girl was facing, or he did, but for whatever reason, he felt Declan didn’t need to know.

It was the second possibility that worried him.

He didn’t think that Grayson would ever intentionally send him out on an assignment at a disadvantage—but if Grayson felt like he couldn’t trust Declan with the details, then Declan wanted to know why.

The cell phone tucked in his jacket pocket began to vibrate. He fished it out and checked the screen.

The caller ID read “GRAYSON.”

Declan narrowed his eyes at the shuddering phone. Weird. Grayson never called anyone while they were in the field. He knew better.

Returning his gaze to the restaurant patio, Declan answered the call. “Miss me already?”

“I want an update on the girl.”

Declan considered telling him what he’d learned about her, and then thought the better of it. That could wait. “She’s spending the day shopping with a friend.”


“Clothes shopping. No bookstores in sight. Not so far, anyway.”


“You going to tell me why this girl is so special you’re calling me for updates? My next check-in’s not for another two hours.”

“Just do your job, Declan. Keep her safe.”

The line went dead.

If Declan had been suspicious before, now he was outright convinced that something was up.

What was so important about this girl?

If you enjoyed this excerpt, be sure to hop over to Jena’s website to read another excerpt. 

More about the book:

Possessing the uncanny ability to fry a television set from twenty paces can really wreck a girl’s social life.

If you’re looking for proof, just ask sixteen-year-old Alexandra Parker. After catching her boyfriend in the arms of the prettiest girl in school, she made the journey from social elite to social pariah in a haze of electricity and exploding electronics. But finding herself at the bottom of Bay View High’s social hierarchy was nothing compared to the shock of discovering who—and what—she really is.

After being zapped out of a burning bookstore by the mysterious Declan—a hero nearly as handsome as he is infuriating—Alex finds herself under the protection of the powerful Grayson family. It’s through them that she learns the truth: that the world she’s always known is nothing like it appears to be… and that she has far more in common with them than she might want to believe.

Now, on the run from a fire-wielding hit man and a secretive government organization, Alex must navigate a strange and treacherous new world filled with superhuman mutants known as Variants. As she begins to unravel the many secrets of her family’s past, she uncovers the real reason for her parents’ death twelve years earlier—and finds out that the threat to her family, and to everyone she cares about, is still dangerously real.

Giveaway Time!!!

Ready for your chance to win a digital copy of Revival?  Please will out the widget below.  Earn extra entries for following.

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Didn’t win? You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

You can order Revival from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below. Available in both print and digital (the eBook is only 2.99!)

Win City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte!

Thanks to Penguin, I have a copy of City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte for one of you to win!  I really enjoyed this quirky book, and I think you will,too!  To enter, just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries by following.

About the book:

Cosmically fast-paced and wildly imaginative, this debut novel is a perfect potion of magic and suspense

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.

     Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.

City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.


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Didn’t win? You can purchase a copy from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

Review: Stepping on Roses Vol 7 by Rinko Ueda


Title: Stepping on Roses V 1

Author:  Rinko Ueda

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi’s financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition: he’ll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi fool high society into thinking she’s a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth giving up everything for this sham of a marriage?

Soichiro’s reputation becomes tainted when Sumi’s true background is exposed, and even his position as president of his company is threatened! Sumi feels terrible for the trouble she’s caused Soichiro, so she decides to leave him. Will Soichiro choose to let her go, or will he forsake everything for her instead?


I just love this series!  Rinko Ueda has a knack for telling beautifully illustrated romances with lots of angst and melodrama. These are better than afternoon soaps.  Seriously! If you ever enjoyed a soap opera, download the sample chapters from the Viz Manga website and start reading Stepping on Roses.  I love the elegant drawings and the historical setting.  The contrast between the wealthiest and some of the most humble Japanese at the time makes for so many opportunities to add almost insurmountable challenges to  Sumi’s life.  Now, after Nozomu’s diabolical plans, Soichiro has lost control of Ashida Products, and he’s forced to face a life of poverty head on.  After throwing his lot in with Sumi and refusing to give her up in order to keep his company, he’s discovering just how unpleasant life can be.  So long abundant food, clean clothing, and warm baths!  I used to despise Soichiro, but my feelings for him have completely reversed in the last few volumes of the manga.

Now, Nozomu, on the other hand, has turned into a complete slime ball.   After his plot to wrestle control of Ashida Products comes to fruition, thanks in part to Sumi’s lazy, greedy brother, he let his true colors show.  Brilliantly!  Complete with a new evil-guy, slicked back hairdo, all of his focus is aimed at destroying Soichiro and stealing Sumi away from him. Her feelings don’t matter to him.  All he wants is what his ex-BFF has.  What is wrong with this guy? How could I have so completely misjudged his character?  Nozomu is the perfect villain, because part of me still feels some lingering affection for him.  I can’t help it!  He was such a nice guy, and it’s hard to accept that he’s taken an irreversible turn to the dark side.  He always seemed so gentle and kind!  Maybe he still is, somewhere in there, under all of his jealousy and hatred for Soichiro.  I am so dying to find out what is going to happen next, so this manga is a great example of the correct way to use cliffhangers, at least to keep me engaged in the plot.  How can I not want to know what happens next, with all of these high emotional final pages? 

While Sumi slips seamlessly back into her former life, privileged Soichiro has a much harder time.  He was willing to give up his company so he could be with Sumi, but things aren’t going to be a cake walk.  He can’t find a job, Nozomu keeps popping up at the most aggravating times, and the loss of his company stings.  From being one of the movers and shakers to barely scraping by, Soichiro’s new reality is  going to test him in ways he can’t even imagine.  When is he going to start resenting Sumi for his reduced circumstances?  When will he begin to blame her for everything that’s happened?  I so want to hope that his feelings for Sumi are real and that he’s grown up and is willing to take responsibility for his new life, but I’m also afraid that he won’t. Argh!  Good thing I have volume 8 so I can get another fix soon!

Grade:  A

Cover Shot! The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

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?

Kady Cross must have pleased the cover gods, because all of her books are blessed with incredible covers.  The Girl with the Iron Touch has the best so far! This is another May 2013 that I can hardly wait to get my hands on!


Finley Jayne, Griffin and their crew are stunned when one of their own is kidnapped. Emily has a way with machines—she can literally talk to them. But the automatons who abducted her aren’t ordinary machines. They’re almost human—and they want Emily to do something as horrifying as it seems possible.

To save Emily, Finley must contact the highly unsettling Jack Dandy and face her feelings for two vastly different men, even as Griffin’s nightmares threaten to turn into a reality that might just end them all.

Puppy Update

My puppies are keeping me hopping, so I haven’t had much time to read. I spend most of my time at home removing things from their mouths (like books, my iPad, my iPhone, my jacket, my shoes – you get the picture). Here are some pictures – forgive the poor quality; they don’t ever stop moving.

Puppies never do what you ask them to do. I have used the word “No” more in the last week than I have my whole life.

Puppies never stand still. I am burning those pesky calories chasing those pesky puppies.

Puppies have the attention span of fleas. They spend most of their waking hours jumping on each other and wrestling. Or chasing leaves. Or trying to eat fluff off the carpet. Or trying to eat anything that’s not nailed down. *sigh*

Puppies look like angels. Don’t be fooled. They are really devils. Especially this one. She has the innocent, sweet puppy look down pat. She waits until you are ready for a cuddle to kamikaze your face.