Cover Shot! School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I enjoyed Rachel Hawkins Hex Hall series, so I was geeked to discover that she’s working on a spin-off.  School Spirits has an awesome cover!  I am so looking forward to reading this!

In stores May 2013

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy’s mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who’s always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins’ delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!

Review: Demon Love Spell V 1 by Mayu Shinjo



Title: Demon Love Spell V 1

Author:  Mayu Shinjo

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

By the creator of Ai Ore! and Sensual Phrase

Miko is a shrine maiden who has never had much success at seeing or banishing spirits. Then she meets Kagura, a sexy demon who feeds off women’s feelings of passion and love. Kagura’s insatiable appetite has left many girls at school brokenhearted, so Miko casts a spell to seal his powers. Surprisingly the spell works—sort of—but now Kagura is after her!

Reads R to L (Japanese style) for teen plus audiences.


I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Mayu Shinjo’s works.  Her titles usually feature a douche bag uber alpha hero and a timid, naïve heroine.  I usually don’t enjoy reading stories where the hero treats the heroine, his supposed love interest, like crap.  That’s one of the problems I have with Black Bird, though I find myself helplessly flipping through whatever new volumes happen to end up in my hands.  I don’t want to like it, but I do.  Ugh!  Demon Love Spell reminds me a lot of Black Bird, so if you are a fan of Kanoko Sakurakoji, you might want to give this series a try.

Miko is a shrine maiden, and while everyone else in her family can see spirits, she can’t sense them at all.  Disappointed in herself because she has no sixth sense, she nonetheless studied hard to recognize and banish demons.  So while she is familiar with their characteristics and their powers, she can’t see them, which makes carrying on the family tradition unlikely.  Still, she has hopes and she is dedicated to both the shrine and her family legacy.

When an incubus begins to prey on girls at her high school, a moment of high emotion gives her the strength to seal his powers and confine him into an itty-bitty demon form.  Once the most powerful demon, Kagura is now helpless against stronger demons, and he can’t revert back to his former self, a tall, stunningly gorgeous young man who knocks the ladies dead.  He is a sitting duck, and so is Miko.  Since she was powerful enough to seal away Kagura’s powers, all the demons want to kill him and eat Miko to gain her strength.  Eek!  She can’t even see her enemies unless she is holding chibi Kagura!  How can she defend herself against a bunch of big, bad, ugly monsters?  To make matters worse, she can’t remember which spell she used to seal away his powers, so she can’t change Kagura back to his powerful self.  She isn’t even sure that she wants to; he’ll just go back to preying on innocent women and stealing their life essences, anyway!

Kagura can enter Miko’s dreams when she’s asleep, so he steals into them and seduces her in order to gain back some of his strength.  Miko can’t remember a thing in the morning, but she feels a burning sense of embarrassment, and she’s exhausted.  Like she was up all night long.  Which she was, in her dreams, romping around with Kagura.  She begins to question why she is forming an emotional attachment to the perverted demon, and wonders if he has cast a demon love spell over her.  She doesn’t trust him, but she can’t stop her growing feelings for him.

I enjoyed this introduction to the series.  It’s a fast read, it’s brainless, and it’s fun.  Despite some awkward proportions, Mayu Shinjo’s art is attractive, and her guys are hot, hot, hot.  The characters are engaging, and though the plot is predictable, I found a lot to like in the first volume of Demon Love Spell, and I will follow the series for at least a few volumes to see how things work out for Miko and sex obsessed Kagura.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

This Week’s New and Notable YA Releases

This week I am all about Falling Kingdoms.  Can’t wait to get my hands on this book!

Click on the cover for the Amazon product page.

All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen (Dec 11, 2012)

City in Love by J. Minter (Dec 11, 2012)

Conspiracy Girl by Karen Chacek (Dec 11, 2012)

The Deadly Game: The Malichea Quest by Jim Eldridge (Dec 11, 2012)

The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon by S. S. Taylor and Katherine Roy (Dec 11, 2012)

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Dec 11, 2012)

Finding You Finding Me (You & Me Trilogy) by Kailin Gow (Dec 11, 2012)

Flawed by Kate Avelynn (Dec 11, 2012)

Foretold (Demon Trappers) by Jana Oliver (Dec 11, 2012)

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (Dec 11, 2012)

Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee (Dec 11, 2012)

Magicalamity by Kate Saunders (Dec 11, 2012)

Review: Jane’s Gift by Karen Erickson




Title:  Jane’s Gift

Author: Karen Erickson

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

A devastating house fire cost Jane Clark nearly everything: her husband, her confidence, and her looks, with the physical scars marbling her body. Now, two years later, she’s living and healing back in her childhood hometown of Lone Pine Lake. The upcoming holidays are the perfect opportunity to bring some Christmas cheer into her young children’s lives, starting with a visit to the firehouse, where her brother’s best friend has offered to help quell their residual fears.

Lone Pine’s resident playboy, fire captain Christian Nelson is happy with his single-guy lifestyle. He’s an everyday local hero, so he’s never wanting for attention around the holidays. But when Jane Clark shows up, Chris is immediately drawn to the beautiful widow—even though kids and commitment have never been his style.

Despite her brother’s warnings about his friend’s playboy status and dangerous occupation, Jane can’t help but fall for the gorgeous fire captain. The holidays are a time of new beginnings, but can two scarred people find the strength to let go of their pasts to live in the present, when a lifetime together might be the sweetest gift of all?


Some books come out of nowhere, start quietly, and before you know it, you’re completely hooked by the characters.  Jane’s Gift was like that for me.  I had no expectations when I picked it up, other than I wanted a quick read with a holiday setting.  It’s all about the holidays now, and I wanted to latch onto a little Christmas spirit.  Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down, and I polished it off in almost one sitting.

Jane is recovering from a house fire that took her husband’s life and left her with horrible scars.  She is understandably terrified of fire now, as are her young children.  When she moves back to her small hometown, her brother suggests she take her kids to meet the fire chief to help ease their fear of fire.  I had a hard time getting into the story at first, because it seemed a little hokey.  But I kept turning pages, and before I realized what happened, I was completely invested in the characters.  It’s the protagonists that give Jane’s Gift a breath of life, and once I got to know them, I didn’t want to step away from their fears and hang ups.  Jane thinks it’s too soon to become emotionally involved with another man, and Chris has sworn off of serious relationships after watching the train wreck that was his parents’ marriage.  As time slowly passes, both Jane and Chris find themselves drawn to each other, and as they get to know each other better, they can’t help but care for each other.

To add a little conflict to their relationship, Jane’s daughter isn’t happy about having Chris around all the time, and she makes her unhappiness known.  Jane begins to question the wisdom of a relationship with Chris again, wondering if it’s a good idea to involve her children in Chris’ life.  He has such a dangerous job, and she wants to protect them from any more emotional disasters.  She is uneasy with the thought of Chris facing death every day, when she does her best to run as far away from risk as possible.  Jane’s emotional conflict was convincing, and when she does push him away, it’s understandable.  She doesn’t know if she’s strong enough to support him, and as the reader, I kept hoping she would somehow find the strength to be there for him.

Chris turned out to be a wonderful hero.  At first he pulled a few douche bag moves, but as he allowed himself to get to know Jane and her kids better, he allowed himself to care for them.  Suddenly their feelings and well being were more important than his own.  He realized how empty his life was, and how much he wanted to be part of Jane’s family.  He actually came around faster than Jane did, though he did have less to lose.  Jane’s whole focus was on her kids, and with her scars from the fire, she didn’t think she would ever find a man who could accept her as she was after the horrible accident.  It took her a while to trust Chris enough to believe that her scars didn’t mean anything to him.

Jane’s Gift is a wonderful holiday romance with likable characters and a convincing HEA.  I am looking forward to reading more by this author.

Grade:  B+, wavering on an A-

The BLI Holiday Reading Challenge