Cover Reveal! Eternal by Kristi Cook and Giveaway!

THERE’S NO HIDING FROM DESTINY…

In the final book of the Winterhaven trilogy, Violet McKenna and her friends find themselves right in the middle of a vampire war. The stakes have been raised, the danger unavoidable now. As the Warriors’ senior year draws to a close, not everyone makes it out alive. Who will be left standing at the end of it all? Will Aidan be a part of Violet’s future, or is he just a specter of the past?





About the Author:

YA author Kristi Cook is a transplanted southern gal who lives in New York City with her husband and two kids. Her YA debut, HAVEN, was released in Feb. 2011 by Simon Pulse.

You can find Kristi at the following

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads


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Interview with Tiffany Allee, Author of Lycan Unleashed and Giveaway!

Please welcome Tiffany Allee to the virtual offices today!  Tiffany is celebrating the release of Lycan Unleashed, the latest book in her From the Files of the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency series. After the interview, enter for your chance to win a copy of Tiffany’s new book!

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

[Tiffany Allee] Romance writer. Owned by cats. Secretly a super agent with a license to kill.

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

[Tiffany Allee] Lycan Unleashed follows Astrid Holmes, a detective and sensitive from the Chicago Police department’s paranormal unit, as she tries to solve a homicide—and clear her name after evidence disappears while in her custody. In order to do that, she has to work with OWEA agent and lycan, Mason Sanderson. Sparks and bullets fly!

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

[Tiffany Allee] This is the third installment in my From the Files of the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency series, and while each can be read as a standalone book, many of the characters cross over between stories. Astrid is one of the characters who has been in all of the books thus far, and I’ve been eager to give her the spotlight. She’s quiet and small, and with no offensive powers (outside of her sidearm), she’s easy to dismiss as weak. I wanted to tell her story, show her strength, and give her a chance at her happily ever after.

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

[Tiffany Allee] Strong. Kind. Determined.

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

[Tiffany Allee] Oh, gosh. I don’t know! Maybe, You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC. Haha!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Astrid is never without.

[Tiffany Allee] Her home base—wherever that may be—is never without her cat, Charlie. :-)

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

[Tiffany Allee] Porn. A clown. Cats.

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

[Tiffany Allee] At the beginning of the book, she regrets letting Mason kiss her the year before. More seriously, her regrets revolve around things that she really had no control over, but she regrets them all the same. I don’t want to reveal too much, but most of her regrets revolve around her family.

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

[Tiffany Allee] Gosh, lots of tough questions! I’m not really sure who has influenced me, but I love Margaret Atwood, Ilona Andrews, and Stacia Kane. I grew up reading lots of Mercedes Lackey, Stephen King, and Tamora Pierce. I’m sure these writers and plenty of others have influenced me and continue to do so, along with movies and television and my life.

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

[Tiffany Allee] My laptop, background music courtesy of Pandora, and Scrivener.

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

[Tiffany Allee] The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. The woman is able to knock me out with her writing, and simultaneously scare me to death.

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

[Tiffany Allee] Oh goodness, I’ve been a huge reader since I discovered Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James (I still vividly remember Leo the Lop). Little Women was another big one that I loved. During middle school and heading into high school Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and Christopher Pike books cemented my obsession.

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

[Tiffany Allee] I love to hang out with my husband, pester my cats, and travel to visit family. I also really enjoy hiking—but only in the winter since I live in Phoenix. I like to ski, but I don’t get around to it much anymore.

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

[Tiffany Allee] Readers can connect with me on my blog and website, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Ready to enter for your chance to win a digital copy of Lycan Unleashed? Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following! Edited to add: Tiffany is also giving away a signed bookmark featuring the series to the winner!

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Didn’t win? You can order Lycan Unleashed and the entire From the Files of the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below

About the book:

Detective Astrid Holmes is a sensitive, a human capable of feeling the energy of otherworlders. When she is dispatched to the horrific murder scene of a local vampire, she expects it to be just another day on the job. But when evidence is stolen on her watch, she is removed—not only from the investigation, but from her job as a member of the Chicago police department’s paranormal unit.

Astrid’s only hope of reinstatement lies with her ex co-worker and almost-lover, Lycan Mason Sanderson. But convincing the OWEA agent to let her assist with the investigation isn’t nearly as difficult as staying alive when the murderer realizes that Astrid may hold the key to unlocking his identity.

Fighting to take down a killer could have deadly consequences for Astrid and Mason, but working together puts their already fragile relationship in jeopardy.

Interview with Jennifer Shirk, Author of Kissing Kendall and Giveaway!

Jennifer Shirk is visiting the virtual offices today to chat about Kissing Kendall.  After the interview, enter for your chance to win a digital copy of her book!

DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS:

[Jennifer Shirk] Multi-published sweet romance author, mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person! :-)

CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT KISSING KENDALL?

[Jennifer Shirk] ! My heroine Kendall is a young widow who lost her firefighter husband in the line of duty. She’s about to start up a new career for herself as a bakery owner and who should come along to help her out with that but her good friend Brad. Brad has always held a torch for Kendall and them working together brings it right back around again. Kendall feels an attraction toward him too, but she’s hesitant to start up a relationship with him especially since he’s a police officer and she doesn’t want to lose another loved one like she did her husband.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CONCEPT AND THE CHARACTERS FOR THE STORY?

[Jennifer Shirk] The characters came from a previous book I wrote called Georgie on His Mind, but at the time Kendall was engaged to someone else. So for this book I decided to kill off the husband so she could finally be with Brad and the rest kind of developed from that.

WHAT THREE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE KENDALL?

[Jennifer Shirk] Kind, careful, and loyal.

IF BRAD HAD A THEME SONG WHAT WOULD IT BE?

[Jennifer Shirk] "Fall" by Clay Walker. If you listen to the lyrics it’s just SO Brad with Kendall! Here’s the video: http://youtu.be/cytTA8rbVYE

NAME ONE THING KENDALL WONT LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT.

[Jennifer Shirk] Her business cards. You never know when someone might need a good baker!

WHAT THREE THINGS WILL YOU NEVER FIND IN BRAD’S POCKETS?

[Jennifer Shirk] His handyman business cards, loose change, and gum.

WHAT IS KENDALL’S GREATEST REGRET?

[Jennifer Shirk] That she never had a baby before her husband passed away.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST CREATIVE INFLUENCES?

[Jennifer Shirk] Well, I do LOVE to watch romantic comedies. So I when I write I always like to picture how it would play out as a movie. Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Nora Roberts are my idols in writing and really got me into writing romance.

WHAT THREE THINGS DO YOU NEED IN ORDER TO WRITE?

[Jennifer Shirk] Quiet, coffee or tea, my story notes.

WHAT IS THE LAST BOOK THAT KNOCKED YOUR SOCKS OFF?

[Jennifer Shirk] The Book Thief by Mark Zusak. Honestly, my favorite book I read all year.

IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE BOOK THAT TURNED YOU ON TO READING, WHICH WOULD IT BE?

[Jennifer Shirk] I started reading Mary Higgins Clark and went right down the line with all her books. They had me hooked! But when I read Nobody’s Baby but Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I knew I wanted to write romance.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU AREN’T WRITING?

[Jennifer Shirk] I love to cook and bake. So when I’m not writing or actually cooking, I’m looking for new recipes to try!

HOW CAN READERS CONNECT WITH YOU?

[Jennifer Shirk] Too many ways! Pick one! LOL!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferShirk

Blog: http://jennifershirk.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/jennifershirk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjennifershirk

Thanks so much for having me today!!

THANK YOU!

Giveaway Time!!

Ready to enter for your chance to win a digital copy of Kissing Kendall?  Just fill out the widget below.  Earn extra entries for following!

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Didn’t win? You can order Kissing Kendall from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below

About the book:

Kendall Grisbaum is finally taking charge of her life—pouring her heart into opening a new bakery business and even allowing her best friend Georgie to play matchmaker for her. Trouble is, the one guy she secretly wants is Georgie’s older brother, Brad, who is decidedly off limits.
Brad can’t seem to get his little sister’s best friend out of his mind. He and Kendall used to be close friends, too, and as a local policeman, Brad can’t help but play protector, looking out for Kendall. When he offers to help her renovate her new bakery space on the side, their friendship—and their attraction—flares back to life.
Amid the temptation of doughnut muffins and blueberry cobbler, a new temptation draws them both closer. Can they take a chance on love when it means risking their friendship, even when not doing so risks everything?

About Jennifer

About Jennifer Shirk: Jennifer Shirk has a bachelor degree in pharmacy–which has in NO WAY at all helped her with her writing career. But she likes to point it out, since it shows romantic-at-hearts come in all shapes, sizes, and mind-numbing educations.
She writes sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Samhain Publishing, Avalon Books/Montlake Romance and now Entangled Publishing. She won third place in the RWA 2006 NYC’s Kathryn Hayes Love and Laughter Contest with her first book, The Role of a Lifetime.
Lately she’s been on a serious exercise kick. But don’t hold that against her.
Feel free to follow her on Twitter or become a friend on Facebook.

Waiting on Wednesday–The Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch

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 YA fantasy novels, so I am looking forward to Amy McCulloch’s The Oathbreaker’s Shadow.  In stores June 2013

 

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.
Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.
Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.
A gripping YA action-adventure fantasy, the first part of a planned duology.

What are you waiting on?

Cover Shot! Summerkin by Sarah Prineas

 

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 loved Winterling by Sarah Prineas, and I am so looking forward to reading the follow up, Summerkin.  The cover just rocks!  In stores April 2013.

From now until 2/4/2013, you can purchase Winterling (digital) for $1.99 from most booksellers.  Buy it!  It was one of the best books that I read in 2012

 

Down through the Way she fell, feeling the wind and the pressing darkness, the dizzy thump when she landed on the bank. She was through. The air felt softer here, the shadows deeper—and the pull of her connection to the land settled into her bones.

In the Summerlands, time moves slowly, roots grow deeply, and change is not welcomed. But change is needed.

After defeating the wicked Mor and freeing her kin from deadly oaths made to this false ruler, Fer is now the rightful Lady of the land. Yet her people don’t know what to make of their new Lady’s strange ways, and neither do the High Ones, the rulers of the magical realm, for Fer is an outsider—half human.

To prove herself worthy of the Summerlands crown, Fer is summoned to compete in an epic contest where her strengths and skills will be tested and her loyalties challenged. Can she trust Rook, the puck she calls friend? Can she trust herself? If Fer fails, she will lose her land and the Way will be closed to her forever.

With stunning prose, Sarah Prineas weaves an enchanting adventure in which Fer must decide if she’s ready to rule and just how far she’ll go to protect her kin.

Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Title:  Breathe

Author: Sarah Crossan

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . . The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

Quinn should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?


Review:

The premise of Breathe hooked me and made me what to read it.  I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction, and though I have been disappointed by many of them lately, Breathe kept me completely engaged in the plot.  That’s not to say that there weren’t any flaws, because there were quite a few, but I was so caught up in the story that I overlooked most of them.  One that was hard to overlook was the personality reversal of Petra, the leader of the Resistance.  When the chips were down, she went from being tough as nails to completely caving in and giving up.  I don’t understand how she was the leader of this rebel group for so long, how she sent her people out on dangerous, life-threatening missions that lead to many of their deaths, when she couldn’t even find it in herself to fight back when she’s confronted with a war.  Yes, the odds were so against her people that it didn’t look like they had a chance in Hell of winning, but just rolling over and giving up without a fight made me dislike her even more.  How she ever became the leader of the resistance in the first place is beyond me.

When Bea and her best friend, Quinn, head out of the pod for a short camping trip, their plans are disrupted by Alina, a member of the Resistance, who is fleeing from the Ministry.  Alina’s crime? She stole some plants.  Yup, in this horrific vision of the future, all plant-life has been destroyed, the oceans have been polluted, and as a result, there isn’t enough oxygen left in the atmosphere to support life.  The oppressive Breathe, the corporation that developed the pods and the life giving machines that fill them with breathable air,  making a fortune selling air to the citizens of the pod.  If you think having a gas meter or an electric meter is a pain, imagine having a monthly bill for the air you breathe.  The poor struggle to make ends meet, while the wealthy have so much money they can splurge on personal air tanks so they can jog or play sports.  Stewards patrol the streets, punishing those who walk too fast, or carry burdens without a permit.  In the public areas of the pod, there are strict rules dictating how quickly you can move or what you can do because you are sucking up all of that valuable free air into your lungs.  I love the concept behind this story!

After Bea and Quinn help Alina, their lives are thrown into chaos.  Quinn’s father holds a high ranking position in Breathe, and as a Premium, there is little that Quinn has had to do without.  Bea, on the other hand, has parents who are working themselves to death to pay for her air.  As she attends school and works hard to be promoted, Bea is consumed with guilt.  Her parents are always so tired, and always so worried about everything.  When she fails to secure a spot in the Breathe Leadership Program, she is devastated.  That was going to be her ticket to an easier life for her and her parents, and she blew it.  So a trip outside, to the Outlands, sounds like just the thing she needs to clear her head and forget her disappointment.  Quinn is providing everything she needs for the trip, so she might as well go and enjoy herself.  And she is, until they run into Alina.  Quinn, a very clueless, privileged young man, sees Alina, finds her beautiful, and immediately falls for her.  He’ll do anything in his power to help her.  Even hurt his best friend, Bea, who has loved him forever.

The love triangle did get a little annoying, because I didn’t think Quinn was worthy of Bea’s unyielding devotion, and Alina wasn’t my favorite character.  While I thought that Quinn and Alina deserved each other,  I didn’t want to see Bea hurt, because she is so kind.  She is willing to risk herself for others, without hesitation. Neither Alina nor Quinn have her best interests at heart when they both have the power over her to keep her from harm.  That was disappointing, because after everything that they had been through together, I expected better behavior from both of them.  Plus, Bea would have put herself in harm’s way to protect both of them, and they didn’t deserve that.

The ending is one of those non-endings that seem inevitable in YA books, and it left me disappointed.  I have been trying to resist starting new series until most of the books are out, but this was sitting on the library shelf, and despite a few reservations, I checked it out.  Now. When I knew the next book won’t be out until later this year.  Ugh.  I am glad that I read it now, but I worry that I won’t be in the same frame of mind when Book 2 hits shelves.

If you are in the mood for a fast-paced dystopian with a compelling premise, give Breathe a try.  I gobbled it up in a few short hours, and was engaged in the plot the entire time.

Grade:  B

Review copy obtained from my local library

Young Adult Giveaway Hop! Win Thief’s Covenant by Ari Marmell!

 

Welcome to my Young Adult Giveaway Hop! hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and co-hosted by Book Love 101. This hop runs from January 29th to February 4th, 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 Ari Marmell’s Thief’s Covenant.

About the book:

Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city’s aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces—human and other—stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder.
Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon’s underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It’s not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it’s hers.
But now, in the midst of Davillon’s political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she’s built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her—but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don’t finish the job first.

To enter, just fill out the widget below.  Earn extra entries for following.  US shipping addresses only, please.

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Review: Smashed by Lisa Luedeke

 

Title:  Smashed

Author:  Lisa Luedeke

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

A field hockey star grapples with addiction in this riveting debut that will appeal to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.

Stay out of trouble for one more year, and Katie Martin can leave her small town loneliness behind forever. She is a field hockey star on the fast track to a college scholarship, but her relationship with alcohol has always been a little questionable. Then trouble finds her. Alec is the most popular guy in school, and also the biggest bully—with his sights set firmly on Katie. When Alec turns on the charm, Katie thinks she must have been wrong about him.

     Except that she wasn’t. On a rain-soaked, alcohol-drenched night, one impulsive decision leaves Katie indebted to Alec in the worst possible way. This debut novel is a fast-paced and compelling story of addiction, heartbreak, and redemption.

 


Review:

I am not going to lie.  Parts of Smashed left me angry and frustrated.  It’s a hard book to put down, because Katie’s life is such a train wreck.  While I found it engrossing, I am torn about it.  I wanted to like Katie more than I did, but there are many times throughout the narrative that she is unlikable, and hard to relate to. She is struggling with her father’s rejection of her family, and when Alec is nice to her, she ignores her reservations about him and starts falling for him.  With a distant, distracted mother who is never there for her, she craves what Alec is giving her; attention and kindness.  When he shows a darker side, she is frightened, but when he apologizes for his abusive behavior, she forgives him, and puts herself  at risk again.  Katie doesn’t trust adults, and frankly, who can blame her after taking a long, hard look at her parents, so she instead tries to deal with all of her problems by herself.  She doesn’t even confide in her closest friends that she is in over her head with Alec.   Instead, she decides to deal with him herself, but her way of dealing with him can only have one outcome, and it isn’t a pretty one. 

Alec and his friends are the kings of her school, and they have a reputation for being bullies and getting away with crap.  When their paths start crossing during the summer, Katie starts to think that she’s been wrong about him.  He’s attentive and kind, and he’s there to listen as she vents about her family.  Sure, a couple of things don’t add up, and he gets aggressive about a physical relationship, but Katie convinces herself that she’s sending him the wrong signals.  She just wants to be friends.  But the more she pushes him away, the harder he pushes back, until he has her scared and wary of him.  When a drunk driving accident almost kills them both, Katie has to live the consequences of a very bad decision.  In the months that follow, she puts her dream of playing field hockey in college, a scholarship, and even her life in danger. 

I was so upset with some of the choices that Katie made.  There is pressure on her and her teammates to not get caught partying during the season, or they will be kicked off the team.  Instead of drinking publically, Katie starts drinking at home.  Her mother is never there, so it’s not like anyone is going to know or care.  Her mother is more focused on her job and finding a boyfriend to be there for Katie and her younger brother.   Without positive role models, Katie is struggling to find her place and struggling to deal with the challenges she is facing.  I kept wondering if and when her mother would take a step back from her own life and take an interest in her children’s.  I also felt horribly sad that Katie felt so abandoned and alone.  She feels that she has no one, so she starts drinking to forget all of her problems.

I don’t feel that Alec’s personality was developed enough, and I was disappointed at Alec’s lack of depth. I never felt that I got to know him or understand him. He’s just a one-dimensional jerk whose only purpose in the story is to propel Katie down a path of self-destruction. 

If you enjoy contemporary fiction that deal with social issues, I think you will enjoy Smashed.  It is a compelling and hard to put down read, and even though I didn’t always like Katie, I always sympathized with her.

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy obtained from my local library