Cover Shot! Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

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?

Ah! This cover is so awesome! Look at that bulldog!  And Clover is autistic?  I can hardly wait to get my hands on this book!



After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.

Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.

When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined… and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.

Interview with Gina Lamm, Author of The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl and Giveaway!

Please welcome Gina Lamm to the blog today!  She is celebrating the release of The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl, which blends video games, time travel, and blistering romance.  After the interview, enter for a chance to win a copy of the book!

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

[Gina Lamm] Gina Lamm is a writer, a gamer, a geek, and a kickass female. She does everything too passionately, and is trying her best to learn control.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl?

[Gina Lamm] I’d love to! Jamie, a modern-day gamer girl, gets ported through a mirror into 1816 London. She tries her best to adjust to the rigid rules, but it doesn’t always go well. Micah Axelby, Earl of Dunnington, has decided to settle down with a nice proper miss, but Jamie’s arrival in his home completely screws that up. Through misadventure, passion, and true love, Micah and Jamie find where they truly belong.

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

[Gina Lamm] I wrote what I liked! I’m a gamer and a Regency fan, and the contrast between the two really made me happy. I got to blend two of my favorite things!

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

[Gina Lamm] Independent, Clever, Passionate

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

[Gina Lamm] Something like the Moonlight Sonata, I think. Deep and strong, but full of feeling.

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

[Gina Lamm] Her cell phone. Even in 1816 England!

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

[Gina Lamm] A laptop, a light bulb, or a USB cable. 🙂 Much to Jamie’s dismay, none of these things are available.

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

[Gina Lamm] Believing that her ex was the one. She wasted too much time on him.

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

[Gina Lamm] Books. When I fall into other people’s worlds it makes me remember why I do what I do.

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

[Gina Lamm] A screen, my fingers, and determination! 🙂 I’m not picky other than that.

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

[Gina Lamm] Oddly, Mister Monday by Garth Nix. My brother recommended it, and I really loved it. It was odd and complex and weirdly wonderful.

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

[Gina Lamm] Oh gosh, I can’t remember that far back. I’ve been reading voraciously since I was a little kid!! But I do remember the first romance I fell in love with. Scarlet Butterfly by Sandra Chastain.

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

[Gina Lamm] Game! I play both PC and PS3 games. I love to read, to play with my two crazy dogs, to snuggle with my hubby, and go fishing with my family. My life is so full and wonderful, and I’m very lucky!

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

[Gina Lamm] Tweeting me is always good! I’m @GinaLamm. They can connect with me on Facebook, my website , and Goodreads, too!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Giveway Time!!!

Ready for a chance to win The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl? Just fill out widget below. Earn extra entries by following. US addresses only, please.

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About the book:

The Stakes Have Never Been Higher…

An avid gamer, Jamie Marten loves to escape into online adventure. But when she falls through an antique mirror into a lavish bedchamber—200 years in the past!—she realizes she may have escaped a little too far.

Micah Axelby, Earl of Dunnington, has just kicked one mistress out of his bed and isn’t looking to fill it with another—least of all this sassy, nearly naked woman who claims to be from the future. Yet something about her is undeniably enticing…

Jamie and Micah are worlds apart. He’s a peer of the realm. She can barely make rent. He’s horse-drawn. She’s Wi-Fi. But in the game of love, these two will risk everything to win.

Review: Tempted by Trouble by Michelle Smart


Title: Tempted by Trouble

Author: Michelle Smart

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Socialite Pippa Rowantree has always provided excellent fodder for the UK’s gossip rags. After another unfortunate scandal sends the gossips into a feeding frenzy, her shamed family retaliates by forcing her into hiding at old family friend Marco Capello’s lush Caribbean estate—literally the last place on earth she wants to be.As far as Marco’s concerned, wild child Pippa has ruined his life once and he’ll be damned if he lets her do it again. But it’s hard to reconcile the adolescent he knew with the mature, beautiful woman who stands before him. Soon he’s questioning if everything the media is claiming about PIppa is the truth or if he should trust his heart.


I love the premise for Tempted by Trouble.  Pippa is a socialite who has gained notoriety due to her bad behavior.  I have to admit that I was drawn to this book because I was hoping Pippa would be bad.  No such luck.  She’s now the reformed Pippa, working hard to make ends meet and forget about her distant, uncaring father.  She blames her step-mother in part for her father’s rejection of her, and ever since her mother died when she was a young girl, she has been trying to get attention – any kind of attention.  From her father or from Marco Capello,  a family friend.  Marco’s kindness has earned him a crush that just won’t die, and as the years roll by, Pippa thinks up more and more outlandish ways to try to get him to notice her.  Pink hair, loud clothes, bold makeup, and even bolder behavior.  In the folly of her youth, Pippa has become a party animal, and since there’s no one who seems to care, she just spirals faster and faster out of control.

Flash forward to the present.  Twenty-five year old Pippa has left her father’s house and has been working waitress jobs to pay her bills.  She has given up the parties, and she’s given up on her father.  He didn’t want her around when she was a child, so why should she be hurt when he doesn’t want her around now that she’s an adult?  Though she’s striving to put her past behind her, the paparazzi won’t leave her alone.  They stalk her and snap pictures of her every move, plastering lies about her in tabloids, online, and anywhere else they can find the space for their stories.  Because she has a record and has had her share of encounters with the police, she knows that nobody would believe the truth, so she tries to ignore the negative press about her.

After being assaulted by her employer, Pippa finds herself in another mess.  She’s going to be charged with assault, and because her boss was unconscious and bleeding all over the floor, the police don’t believe her story.  Her father bails her out of jail and trundles her off to Marco’s home in the Caribbean, where she’s to stay until her case goes to court.  Battered, bruised, and resigned, Pippa’s welcome to Marco’s home is less than enthusiastic.  He tells her the only reason that he’s agreed to allow her to stay in his house is because his mother asked him to, and because his house is large enough that they shouldn’t have to see each other.  Oh, boy! Someone else who believes all of her  bad press.

I didn’t like Marco at first, and  I was worried that I never would.  He always believed the worst of Pippa, kept flinging her past in her face, and treated her like a child.  He was certain that the assault was her fault, even after seeing the painful and vivid bruises marring her skin.  He was so pompous! So arrogant!  So alpha that I could almost smell the testosterone wafting from my iPad.  Ugh! He was so Italian!  He was the worst of my relatives rolled into one angry character who kept blaming a messed up, lonely kid for his problems.  Ugh! again!  His light bulb moment was almost too late for me to accept his remorse, but when it finally happened, I believed that he realized he had done wrong and that he needed to make up for his poor behavior. 

Pippa, I liked right away.  She’s carrying so much baggage that it’s hard to not feel sorry for her, even though that would be the last thing she would ever want.  She is a fighter and a survivor, and somehow she’s going to make it out of this mess, too.  The thought of going to jail is daunting, but she refuses Marco’s offer to foot the bill for a cut-throat defense attorney.  She doesn’t like to be in anyone’s debt, and she’s damned if she’ll be in his.  While I wanted her to just give in a little and take Marco’s help – after all, she is looking at jail time here – I could understand where she’s coming from.  The men in her life certainly hadn’t treated her well, or given her cause to trust them, so it made sense that she would be wary of accepting his help.

While I wasn’t always a fan of Marco, he did turn around near the end of the book.  Pippa’s emotional and personal troubles are immense, and I thought that the resolution of her relationship with her estranged  father was too simplistic and not convincing.   Still, I found Tempted by Trouble a quick, engrossing read that kept me engaged in the story.  With the warmer weather coming, this would be a great title to toss in your bag for a leisurely afternoon at the beach.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Excerpt: The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl by Gina Lamm


Thanks to Sourcebooks, here’s an excerpt from The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl by Gina Lamm. 



Her sword glittered as it swung in a wide arc, whistling as it cleaved the air. She smiled as the goblin bolted.

“Jamie, I need heals.”

Ignoring the call for help, she advanced on another goblin. The tide was turning now. Her allies had almost annihilated the threat.


With a wild cry, she loosed a spell on the disgusting creature. It staggered backward before recovering and charging on her in a berserk rage, eyes wild and fangs extended. Her next swing missed, and she took a critical hit.

“Jamie, for chrissakes, we’re dying here!”

Some quick spellwork took care of the goblin, and Jamie reluctantly turned her attention back to her allies. Whoops. Three of the guild’s portraits were glaring red, signaling their imminent deaths.

“Hang on, guys. I’m here.”

Targeting the leader, she cast her most powerful healing spell. The computer screen flashed: OUT OF MANA.


She fumbled in her bags for her mana-restoring potions. She’d just managed to find one, clicking to activate it when the screen went gray. YOU HAVE DIED. RESURRECT NOW?

The guild’s groans sounded through her headset as she slumped back in her seat.

“Jamie, where the hell were you?”

“Worst. Healer. Ever.”

“I wouldn’t use your heals for a paper cut, Jamie. That was pathetic. Haven’t you ever run this level?”

She shoved her long highlighted brown hair over her shoulder, glaring at the computer screen. “Of course I have. I can heal this run in my sleep. I just got a little carried away with the mobs. It won’t happen again.”

Kurt, the guild leader, let out an audible sigh over the chat channel. “Fine. One more run. Everyone ready?”

Jamie readied her character’s potions and spell rotation. Typical. They figured since she was the only girl in the guild, she should be the healer. She didn’t mind healing, especially in the more difficult dungeons, but she wanted to do her part to take down the bad guys too. It wasn’t fair. Men never took her seriously. That’s why she played these games. It was supposed to be a level field. But the game, like her life, was rarely ever exactly what she thought it should be.

The Lords of Discord guild cleared the dungeon run easily that time, with Jamie focusing on healing alone. She picked at the chipping mauve polish on her fingernails between fights, only needing to keep half an eye on the large computer screen.

“Great job, Lords.” Kurt’s voice held a ton of relief as he divvied up the loot.

After securing her share of the rewards, Jamie said her good-byes to her guild-mates, logged out, and switched to her other character, Killaz. A hulking Amazon melee class in a chain-mail dress with a huge two-handed sword, Killaz was how Jamie saw herself in her mind’s eye—kick-ass, tough, and more than a little bit intimidating. As she cut a swath through the forest full of giant spiders, she wished that she was anything like that in real life. If I was as tough as Killaz, then that jerk Logan wouldn’t have broken my heart and walked all over me like a dollar store welcome mat.

After an hour of grinding out daily quests, a vibration in the front pocket of her shorts made her jump. Her groan echoed through her junky living room when she saw the text: “Go help Pawpaw Milton with the antiques or I’ll sell your Comic-Con pass. Love, Leah.”

Jamie slogged up the stairs with a huge sigh, studiously ignoring the piano with half-written songs strewn across the bench. The last thing she wanted was to move dusty furniture and knickknacks in the triple-digit heat. But her best friend, Leah, had had enough of Jamie’s post-breakup isolation and had put her foot down where it hurt—right on the pop-culture fan’s trip to the Holy City.

As she drove downtown to the storage unit she was helping Pawpaw Milton clear out, she tried to believe that everything would go back to normal. Well, before-Logan normal. With Leah’s help and this part-time job, maybe she could get there. Maybe even start writing music again. And besides, she’d grown up a lot since the last time she’d worked at the antiques store. Her first summer job there had ended after only three days. The antiques were probably way less fragile now.



The resounding crack of glass echoed through the storage unit, making Jamie flinch. Pawpaw Milton had left her alone in the unit to go to an estate auction. The hundred-degree heat had her dripping with sweat—not the best condition for handling two-hundred-year-old crystal.

Jamie hoped that Pawpaw hadn’t noticed the pretty bowl tucked away in the corner. She carefully shoved the evidence of her klutziness into a large black garbage bag. What he doesn’t know won’t get me fired, she figured, though she couldn’t exactly shake the guilt.

Holding the end of her ponytail atop her head, she gulped from the giant bottle of water like a frantic desert survivor. This was hell.

Jamie pulled her phone from her pocket: 2:00 p.m. Another three hours to go before she could escape to her cave and take a shower. Oh well. It would be worth it in two months when she got to Comic-Con. Hopefully.

She unknotted the bottom of her tank top and dried her face and hands with the tail of it. Even in her thinnest tank top and shortest shorts, she still felt overdressed for this weather.

After carting out and cataloging a number of fragile items without incident, all that remained was the large furniture on the opposite side of the unit. Well, other than the big sheet-covered monstrosity behind the table. What is that, anyway?

Reaching up, she stood on tiptoes to toss back the corner of the dust cover for a quick peek. But she tugged just a little too hard, and the white fabric billowed as it floated down on top of her, dust and cobwebs coating her sweat-slicked skin. Arms flailing, she fought free of the cover, stomping it in a fit of frustration when it lay on the concrete at her flip-flopped feet.

“What the hell is your problem?” Jamie yelled at the innocent-looking mound of fabric. It said nothing, just laid there looking smug.

She turned her back on it to see what it had been covering.

The piece was a tall bureau, made of a rich mahogany that almost glowed gold from deep within the wood. It sloped outward in the middle, wider at its drawer-filled base than the top. Mirrored doors covered the upper portion.

She touched the wood lovingly. It was beautiful, cool to her skin even in the sweltering heat. When she’d reached up as high as she could, she sighed and trailed her thumb down the center of the shiny mirror on one door.

Her thumb dipped into the center of the glass.

With a gasp, she pulled, trying to free her hand. It wouldn’t move. She was stuck.

She yanked backward with all her strength. The mirror pulled on her hand, drawing her farther into the glass. She braced against the bottom of the bureau, using her legs to give her leverage. She was in up to her wrist now.

“Help!” she yelled, frantically scrabbling against the mirror’s hold. “Somebody, please!”

Using all her weight, she jerked backward, nearly dislocating her shoulder in the process. The mirror refused to release its hold. She whacked the slanted middle with the flat of her free hand in frustration.

With one last effort, she braced her feet against the bottom drawer and pulled with all her might. Without loosing its grip on her, the furniture tilted dangerously, almost tipping before she hit the floor to right it again.

Well, this sucks, she thought, slumping against the bureau. Her right ear was traveling through the mirror now.

So much for Comic-Con. So much for her place in the Lords of Discord guild. So much for showing Logan she could be fine without him. She hadn’t really been doing a good job of that anyway, but dammit, she deserved better than being consumed by antique furniture!

Once she gave up fighting, the pull went much faster. Within moments, the glass had swallowed her entire head.


If you enjoyed this excerpt, you can order The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl from your favorite bookseller or clicking the links below:

About the book:


The Stakes Have Never Been Higher…

An avid gamer, Jamie Marten loves to escape into online adventure. But when she falls through an antique mirror into a lavish bedchamber—200 years in the past!—she realizes she may have escaped a little too far.

Micah Axelby, Earl of Dunnington, has just kicked one mistress out of his bed and isn’t looking to fill it with another—least of all this sassy, nearly naked woman who claims to be from the future. Yet something about her is undeniably enticing…

Jamie and Micah are worlds apart. He’s a peer of the realm. She can barely make rent. He’s horse-drawn. She’s Wi-Fi. But in the game of love, these two will risk everything to win.

Cover Reveal: Eyes of Ember by Rebecca Ethington and Giveaway!

Paperback, 380 pages
Expected publication: April 6th 2013 by Imdalind Press
Eyes of Ember is the second book in Ethington’s Imdalind Series.

Joclyn is in hiding, hunted by the man she still desperately loves. Ryland is gone, his mind erased, no memory of Joclyn remains. But, Joclyn’s heart desperately begs her to hold out hope. While, in reality the black eyed monster that possesses him, attempts to kill her over and over.

If it wasn’t for Ilyan, Joclyn would be dead by now.

Ilyan. The man who once stalked her, is now Joclyn’s protector, the only thing she has left. He protects Joclyn from the men who seek to end her life, and while she is haunted by dreams where Ryland begs her to break the bond between them.

Ilyan is there. Always there.

Ilyan trains and prepares her, teaching her everything she needs to know in the hope that one day she can avenge Ryland, if not protect herself from him.

And then there is her father.

The man who has never been there, is suddenly responsible for everything. And who he is has made Joclyn into something she never wanted to be.

The Siln?.

Kiss of Fire (book #1)

Find Rebecca Ethington…

Books Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble


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