Interview with Sarah Ballance, Her Wicked Sin and Giveaway!

Please welcome today’s special guest, Sarah Ballance! Sarah is here to chat about her latest historical romance Her Wicked Sin, and after the interview, enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card!

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

[Sarah] Wife of amazing man. Accidental author. Perpetually frazzled homeschooling mom of six. Sprouts random gray hairs and calls them highlights.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Her Wicked Sin?

[Sarah] It’s set in Salem, MA 1692 during the Salem witch trials. The story kicks off when my heroine comes upon the hero fallen from his horse. She has enough sense to be wary of a stranger, but since he’s hurt she figures she’s got the upper hand if he tries anything. With that in mind, she takes him back to her nearby home to convalesce for the night. When she and the hero are subsequently caught in a compromising—albeit innocent—position, he takes a false identity, acting as her husband to protect her from accusations of adultery, the punishment for which was often death. What starts as a fake relationship leads to real feelings, but when the heroine is arrested for witchcraft, he’s got a terrible choice to make. Fighting for her freedom means revealing his true identity at a time when any association with a witch could lead to his own arrest, to say nothing of the ruin it would bring to his family and his business. Walking away means saving himself and his reputation—and possibly her life—but at an unbearable cost.

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

[Sarah] ERMAGERD. Totally by accident. I saw a mention of Salem on the Entangled Scandalous submissions page, and, well, I love Salem. (Easy for me to say because no one tried to hang me there, right?) So I went caterwauling to my editor over how I should TOTALLY write a Salem historical one day. ONE DAY. She ignored that last part and asked the historical peeps if they wanted Salem. And they did, so my editor told me to write a story proposal. Erma, what? I’d never even attempted to write historical so I panicked a little, then spent some time balled up in a corner sobbing. And everything that happened after that moment has been an absolute blur. I didn’t even know what I was going to write until I saw it on the screen, but the ideas all stemmed from that one very strange moment when I said something in jest and ended up with a contract. (INORITE?)

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

[Sarah] Decisive, persevering, and heartfelt.

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

[Sarah] For this book, it’s got to be Hey Pretty Girl by Kip Moore.

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

[Sarah] The burdens of her past. But if you meant something tangible, her medical bag. (She’s a midwife).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find on Henry’s pocket?

[Sarah] Oh, MAN, this is tough. If he were a modern hero, I’d say you’d never find phone numbers from other women, so 300+ years ago I reckon you wouldn’t find him with directions to their houses, LOL. You’d also never find tobacco on him. And, erm, a riding crop. Not that a crop would fit in a pocket to begin with, but he wouldn’t carry one.

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

[Sarah] The loss of her child.

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

[Sarah] Talking with my editor about a story always gets me SO fired up. And music sets the mood and really propels me into a story, so whichever artist I’m hung up on at the moment gets credit. (Lately, that would be Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan). No single author or book, but reading also gets me going. When I read a great book, I’m incredibly inspired to write. Problem is, if it’s a great book I won’t want to put it down. J

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

[Sarah] This is probably the most boring answer ever, but here you go: my laptop (preferably with an internet connection for research), background noise (so I’m not distracted by the kids…but the background noise can’t BE the kids), and a drink (usually ice water).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Her Wicked Sin?

[Sarah] The research! I’d look for something like marriage rituals and end up reading about Puritan sex scandals. I mean, I’d barely come to terms with the fact Puritans HAD sex (they came across as so chaste when I was in school, lol) when I discovered all the naughty, freaky things they did. SO DISTRACTING!

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

[Sarah] I’ve read so many great ones. I think the last one I could NOT stop reading was “Ripples Through Time” by Rosalie Stanton. Every chapter ends on a huge cliffhanger, so needless to say I was up all night. Amazing book.

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

[Sarah] I’ve read fiendishly for as long as I can remember, so I can’t really say. But the first book that really affected my writing career was “Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch” by BJ Daniels. It was my first Harlequin Intrigue. I read it and immediately fell in love with romantic suspense, which is still my favorite genre to write.

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

[Sarah] Boating (though writing ON the boat at the marina is amazing), hiking, walking, hanging out at the beach, or—don’t laugh—watching re-runs of The Golden Girls or Mama’s Family. I also love to cook, bake, decorate cakes, and ride around in the car. Traveling is fantastic (though not always feasible, lol), but when the kids are driving me NUTS I just love to throw them in the car and drive. (It’s legal—and required—to strap them down in the car. Doing so in the house is frowned upon. I’m just sayin’…)

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

[Sarah] You can find me hiding under the bed, hoping for five minutes of peace from the kids. Also at my links, which are as follows: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Find HER WICKED SIN @ Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Goodreads, and if you like haunted asylums, stay tuned for my upcoming supernatural novella RUBY HILL, which releases September 30 from Entangled Publishing.

Thanks so very much for allowing my visit today!

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you for stopping by!

Her Wicked Sin  by Sarah Ballance

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Number of pages: 147

Book Description:

Salem, MA 1692

On a moonless night, he rides into the winter forest on his beast as black as midnight…

Dashing stranger, Henry Dunham, comes to Salem on a mysterious errand, but is thrown from his horse in the dead of night and rescued by the local Puritan midwife, Lydia Colson.

Haunted by her past, Lydia is running from her own dark secrets, avoiding intrusive questions by pretending her dead husband is simply… away. But when she and Henry are caught in a compromising situation, one punishable by Puritan law, he saves her from scandal by claiming to be her errant spouse… and claiming her bed.

Forced to fake a marriage, Lydia and Henry find their passion overwhelming and their vows a little too real. As their lies become truths, a witch hunt closes in on Lydia, threatening not only their burgeoning love, but her life.

About the Author:

Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep.

She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids).

When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.

She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance.

Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on Amazon , Barnes & Noble, Kobo, For the Muse Publishing, and coming soon to ENTANGLED PUBLISHING.

Website: http://www.sarahballance.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBallance

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Balance

GIVEAWAY!

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Review: Love Lost and Found by Michelle de Winton

 

Title: Love Lost and Found

Author: Michelle de Winton

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Felicity Williams can’t remember the last five years thanks to an accident that wiped out her memory. She fled her old life in hopes of starting fresh and found refuge working on a cruise ship. But her past is coming for her…

Rick McCarthy awakens after a climbing accident to discover that his business partner and fiancée has quit her job and disappeared. He’s trying to accept that she’s run out on him, but now he needs her signature to close a deal that could literally be life or death. He’ll go to any extreme to get what he needs…even if that means becoming someone else to win her back.

But a little lie becomes a large mess when they’re stranded on a deserted island together, and old misunderstandings might ruin their chance at new love…


Review:

While Love Lost and Found didn’t completely work for me, there were several aspects of the story that I found very compelling.  After Felicity suffers from a fall while rock-climbing with her business partner, Rick, she reawakens with no memory of the last five years.  She tries to readjust to her old life, but nothing feels right.  Her apartment is cold and sterile, and she can’t remember her co-workers.  Worse, what she does remember is breaking up with her old boyfriend after catching him cheating on her.  As she contemplates the emptiness in  her life, she decides that starting over somewhere else is preferable to trying to fit back into a life she doesn’t remember, and one that seems lonely and isolated.  She takes a job on a cruise ship, and sails off into the horizon.

What she doesn’t remember is Rick, the man she has been working with and dating.  She doesn’t remember that he had proposed to her just before the accident that sent them both to the hospital.  Rick was in a coma for six weeks, and when he comes to, he can’t believe that Felicity left him, without a word or a note.  Worse, he company is on the verge of a remarkable research discovery, but he needs Felicity to sign the paperwork that will see the fruition of his labors since the death of his brother.  With Felicity’s assistance, he’s on the path to a breakthrough for a leukemia treatment.  Desperate to keep his promise to his brother to get the process approved, he hires a private detective and tracks his errant fiancée down.

First, what didn’t work for me; Rick doesn’t believe that Felicity lost her memory, so he pretends to be a prospective investor for the cruise line, and makes his re-acquaintance with Felicity under false pretenses.  There isn’t a time during the story, except for the very end, that he isn’t lying to her.  That just grated on my last nerve.  He is given the opportunity to start over with her, but every overture is based on a falsehood.  He doesn’t trust her enough to be upfront with her, and he suspects that she is faking the amnesia.  Great way to make a new start, Rick.  And by not being honest, it just made his motives for reconnecting with her suspect.  If I were Felicity, I wouldn’t have been able to believe anything he said after discovering that he wasn’t being straight up from the beginning.

The second thing that didn’t work was the couple being left on a desert island.  Rick makes arrangements with the captain of the cruise ship to have them “left” on an island with no supplies – no food, shelter, or water.  First, the liability of the scenario makes me cringe.  Regardless of whether Rick signed waivers promising not to sue the cruise line, Felicity did not.  I would have been furious when I discovered that I spent a night with no provisions  by design instead by accident.  I don’t care how romantic it was; either one of them could (and did) have gotten injured with no help nearby.  Plus, there are bugs on that island, and everyone who knows me knows how much I hate bugs.  Ugh! The whole episode on the island was like a nightmare to me.

What did I like?  Felicity looked at her old life, and realized that she didn’t like what she saw.  She had no close friends, and no real connection with anyone.  Her apartment was as barren as she suspected her life was, and so she decided to make lemonade out of the lemons life had handed to her.  She starts over, and she’s a completely different person.  Her change in circumstance opens her up to make the first real connections she ever made, and allowed her to re-discover her love for Rick.  She was all business before the accident, but after, she was able to embrace a softer side of herself and truly begin to like herself and the people in her life.  I loved this about the book.

While Love Lost and Found didn’t completely win me over, there were enough positives to keep me engaged in the story.  I just wish the hero had been more likable, and had acted a little more, well, heroic.

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Meet Henry Middlebrook from Theresa Romain’s It Takes Two to Tangle and Giveaway!

 

Please welcome special guest Henry Middlebrook to the virtual offices today!  Henry is the red-hot hero of Theresa Romain’s It Takes Two to Tangle. 

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

[Henry] Determined. Embattled but not defeated.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Henry Middlebrook?

[Henry] I wish such a thing as a typical day existed for me. During my years in the army, I could rely on a steady routine of early rising, marching, camping, shouting, helping, and any other verb that might occur to a person. Since selling my commission, I have found life among the ton in London to be less dangerous but more unsettling. At the moment, I reside with my brother the Earl of Tallant and tolerate his excessive helpfulness. It is kindly meant—and with one arm useless, I need more help than I care to admit. Nothing from correspondence to paying calls to dressing to dancing is the same as it used to be before wartime and my recent injury.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Frances?

[Henry] Stubborn, brilliant, unexpected.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you find most exasperating about her?

[Henry] She wants my trust, but she won’t give me hers. In the years since she was widowed, she has relied on her own wits and scraped by at the edge of respectability as companion to her wealthy cousin. She is proud of the life she’s built on her own terms, and quite rightly. But secrets have become a habit with her. How I shall ever convince her to trust me, I don’t know. I shall probably have to spill a few secrets of my own…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Henry] I would not ask a soldier without medical training to adjust my dislocated shoulder. The result was…let me say, unfortunate. I cannot regret my years defending England, though. And sometimes I wonder what sort of turns my life would have taken had I not been injured. Would I still be a soldier? If so, I would be nearly a stranger to my brother. And I would never have been given the chance to know Frances.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Henry] A passionate letter from “a friend.” So it is signed, but I know who wrote it. On the letters from “a friend,” I pin many hopes. These letters remind me that there is much good to be found in a new sort of life, and that love is within reach.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t attempting to woo potential brides?

[Henry] I have always liked to paint with oils, though since losing the use of my right arm, the results of my painting are not pleasing to the eye. Thinking about color and understanding the art of others is still a favorite pastime of mine. I enjoy every trip to the British Institution to look at new paintings. And if my lifelong friend Bart Crosby comes along and tries to pretend he isn’t bored within five minutes—well, that’s always good for a grin.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Henry] Paint, love, laugh, teach, learn.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Henry] Thank you. It is my honor to engage in conversation with such a gracious hostess.

About the book:

IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE BY THERESA ROMAIN – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2013

WOOING THE WRONG WOMAN…

Henry Middlebrook is back from fighting Napoleon, ready to re-enter London society where he left it. Wounded and battle weary, he decides that the right wife is all he needs. Selecting the most desirable lady in the ton, Henry turns to her best friend and companion to help him with his suit…

IS A TERRIBLE MISTAKE…

Young and beautiful, war widow Frances Whittier is no stranger to social intrigue. She finds Henry Middlebrook courageous and manly, unlike the foppish aristocrats she is used to, and is inspired to exercise her considerable wit on his behalf. But she may be too clever for her own good, and Frances discovers that she has set in motion a complicated train of events that’s only going to break her own heart…

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest and is working on more Regency romances. Please visit http://theresaromain.com/ for more information.

To Purchase It Takes Two to Tangle:

Barnes and Noble

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IndieBound

Chapters/Indigo

iBookstore

Sourcebooks

Giveaway!

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Interview with Marisa Cleveland, Author of Reforming the Cowboy

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Hi, Marisa, welcome to the Manga Maniac Café!  Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Marisa Cleveland] writer. reader. infinite dreamer. that’s me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Reforming the Cowboy?

[Marisa Cleveland] Thanks for asking! This book is about a guy who needs a girl to help him get back on the Country music charts. It’s also about a girl who needs a guy to help her launch her dream of owning a successful coffeehouse. But as they both help each other get what they want, it makes them better people and changes their perspective.

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

[Marisa Cleveland] There are many different ways this story came into existence. One piece of it comes from my addiction to espresso and music. So, I gave Lacey the coffeehouse and Billy the Country tunes. I’m a huge fan of Blake Shelton, The Voice, and Starbucks. This story let me combine all three!

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

[Marisa Cleveland] Creative. Loyal. Reformed!

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

[Marisa Cleveland] Oh! I love this question! Theme song… theme song… there are too many! Okay, the best one for her pre-Billy would be BareNaked by Jennifer Love Hewitt.

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

[Marisa Cleveland] His guitar. :)

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

[Marisa Cleveland] Oooooh! How fun! Her phone, bubble bath, and cookies!

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

[Marisa Cleveland] Billy’s greatest regret is not being able to save his parents.

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

[Marisa Cleveland] I’m influenced by so much of the world around me, but my hubby is definitely one of my greatest creative influences. Him and champagne.

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

[Marisa Cleveland] Besides the computer/tablet/phone to pour out my heart, I also need champagne and hand lotion.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Reforming the Cowboy?

[Marisa Cleveland] Hehehehee… my hubby! He’s working on his doctorate in information systems, and we converted a bedroom into an office. I love that we are in the same room, but I will admit, it’s distracting at times. ;)

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

[Marisa Cleveland] I have read so many fabulous books lately! I mean, it’s crazy amazing how many great authors are out there! The last knocked my socks off book that I read comes down to timing. I was lucky enough to grab Jaime Rush’s Dragon Awakened (releasing in December), and WOW!

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

[Marisa Cleveland] I don’t remember a time without books, so I can’t say for certain which specific book turned me on to reading. But I do remember sitting in front of the stereo (record player) and following along to my favorite books over and over again.

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

[Marisa Cleveland] When I’m not writing, I’m usually daydreaming or thinking about writing or I’m reading. My hubby and I take long walks and talk about random topics that spring to mind. We like to play chess, eat strawberries, and Fox Trot around the kitchen. Sometimes I play with Adobe Photoshop or Corel VideoStudio. I have a sewing machine I don’t know how to use. But mostly I’m writing or reading.

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

[Marisa Cleveland] I love to connect with other readers through social media!

Social Media:

Website – http://www.marisacleveland.com

Twitter – http://twitter.com/marisacleveland

Facebook – http://facebook.com/marisacleveland00

Google Plus – http://plus.google.com/102206201174009013772

Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/marisacleveland

Tumblr – http://marisacleveland.tumblr.com

Goodreads – http://goodreads.com/marisacleveland

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I love your unicorn graphic. Unicorns are a personal fave of mine.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you so much for stopping by!

Purchase link

About the book:

Country singer Billy Hardy needs to get back on the charts. His manager assures him headlining the opening of a cafe in South Beach is his best chance at getting back to the big time. If he fails, his career is over for good this time.Lacey Durant can’t believe opening night includes the country singer she crushed on through college. And her customers agree he’s dreamy. But his playboy reputation threatens her cafe’s image and she can’t afford that. She insists Billy stay with her so she can keep an eye on him, and thwart overenthusiastic fans.Billy’s charms and Lacey’s sexy curves prove more than either can resist, but she refuses to be just another lyric in his well-known songs of heartbreak.

About the author:

Marisa Cleveland loves to laugh, hates to cry, and does both often. As a writer, she writes. Every day. If she couldn’t express herself through writing, music, and dance, she would die. Perhaps because she married her best friend, her adult romance novels focus on playfully naughty relationships developed through friendship and family-oriented values. She believes romance novels are the perfect “how to” books, because no matter the obstacles, the characters keep working toward their happily ever after. She loves to connect with writers and readers through social media.

Excerpt

He stepped back, his eyes regarding her with unreadable scrutiny. "Do you have to control everything?"

A shiver of fear slid in her stomach. She was a private person. She didn’t want the whole world to know how close she’d come to failure. "Just promise me."

Flashing her a sardonic smile, he drawled, "Honey, I don’t make promises I can’t keep."

Her hands fisted at her sides. "You are so insensitive! For just once in your life, why can’t you be reliable and make a promise and keep it?"

Her eyes widened as she realized what she’d said.

He advanced forward, and she shuffled back until her back hit the refrigerator, even though nothing but the ferocity of his gaze pinned her in place. "Honey, in Country, in order for a song to be good, it has to be honest. This is me being honest."

Interview with Sofia Harper, Author of Hot Knight in Paradise

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Sofia, and welcome to the Manga Maniac Café!  Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Sofia Harper] Part smart aleck, part book nerd. The rest of me is pretty much coffee addict.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Hot Knight in Paradise?

[Sofia Harper] Leah’s stranded, broke and in need of a job so she can get back home. Her only hope is Marshall. He’s pretty much exiled himself from America and runs a bar creatively named the Rum Shack. (Yeah. I know.) Until she earns enough money to end her disastrous vacation, they’re stuck together. Sparks fly. Pasts are revealed. Love happens. So, it’s your basic boy meets girl while girl is stranded with a hot man.

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

[Sofia Harper] I wanted to write a redemption story. I love those. I’d been watching the now defunct show Life and the idea of feeling guilty of wrong you didn’t commit appealed to me. At the time there was a huge kerfluffle online about rape culture. Leah and Marshall stepped into my head and the story came together.

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

[Sofia Harper] Will shoot trespassers.

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

[Sofia Harper] DayDreamer by Adele. “He can change the world with his hands behind his back.” It’s song about an amazing, sexy man. This song fits him down to the bone.

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

[Sofia Harper] This is a tough one because Leah gets mugged of all her belongings. The first things she buys is something to tame her hair. If I’d given her a choice, she’d have grabbed her hair products along with her ID and passport.

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

[Sofia Harper] Cologne, nose hair trimmer and baby powder.

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

[Sofia Harper] Not being there for her cousin when she needed her the most.

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

[Sofia Harper] Music. It shuts off the world and I can hear the story in my head. I need some form of solitude to tap into my creative well. Sometimes I need words that fit a character or scene perfectly.

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

[Sofia Harper] Coffee, computer and place to sit. I’ve written without pretty much everything else I sometimes I feel I need, but without those three I’m not likely to get any work down. lol

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Hot Knight in Paradise?

[Sofia Harper] Sleep. It’s not often that a story writes itself, but this one was it. I wrote the last 20,000 words in two days. So, sleep was definitely something that kept me from finishing sooner.

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

[Sofia Harper] Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox. I have a hard time reading contemporary because I write it. The internal editor is always talking while I’m trying to enjoy the book. She shut up while I read this book. It was simply incredible. And fresh.

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

[Sofia Harper] The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I read this book as a child and the world just seemed so wonderful. The idea that you could walk into something as mundane as a closet and there were worlds to be found. I loved it.

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

[Sofia Harper] Spend time with children. They are wonderful, if I say so myself. They’re funny and entertaining. I also watch a lot of TV shows on DVD. It’s a family thing. I’m currently trying to get my daughter to stop watching Degrassi though. OMG, talk about teenage emo drama. I sat through nine seasons. Please make it stop at ten.

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

[Sofia Harper] These are the places you can find moi:

Website: http://sofiaharper.com

Blog: sofiaharper.blogspot.com/?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sofiaharp?

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/sofiaharper.author?

Goodreads Page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/7154484.Sofia_Harper

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase link

About the book:

Stranded in paradise with no way to get home, Leah Smith needs a miracle, and fast. Instead, she gets Marshall Jackson, surely the sexiest man alive. Too bad he’s got an emotional wall around himself–and her only hope of getting off the island … Marshall has a strict no damsels in distress policy, but there’s something about Leah that makes him want to break his own rules. He agrees to let her work in his bar until she earns enough to get home. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is to deny the scorching attraction between them. Soon hot island nights provide balm to their wounded souls, but will these two flawed exiles make peace with the past in time to claim the future they deserve together–or will paradise be lost?

About the author:

Sofia Harper started writing contemporary romance a long, long time ago. When Sofia’s not spending time with imaginary people in her head, she’s corrupting two little trouble makers. Currently she lives in California where the wine is good. She also going full-throttle on the ride called publishing. These two thoughts are not related.

Extended Excerpt:

“I find it hard to believe a man like you would consider bartending his calling.” She gave him a dubious look. “And I’m feeling like a margarita. Got some limes?”

Read more

Review: Bleach Vol 1 by Tite Kubo

 

Title: Bleach Vol 1

Author:  Tite Kubo

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach, has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.


Review:

Bleach is one of my favorite series, and I realized with a great deal of dismay that I am far, far behind in my reading of this title.  I don’t think I’ve reviewed many of the volumes, so I opted to take advantage of a comp copy through Vizmanga.com to reacquaint myself with Ichigo, Rukia, and the rest of the gang.  This is a very fun series that features a ton of action, surprisingly touching emotions, and fan favorite protagonists in both Ichigo and Ruikia.  If you enjoyed The Ghost and the Goth or The Curse Workers by Holly Black, I think you should give Bleach a try.  Admittedly, the length of the series is daunting, and it’s still being published, but there are enough volumes released in English that you can read it in manageable chunks by utilizing online sales and trips to the library. 

Ichigo Kurosaki is 15 years old and he can see ghosts.  His sisters can too, though all they can see are faint outlines.  Ichigo can see, touch, talk to, and channel these pesky spirits that he thinks are a pain in the butt.  He just wants to be left alone to mind his own business but NOPE!  That’s not happening.  Ichigo also has a high moral obligation to help anyone in trouble, even those troublesome ghosts.  When an evil spirit threatens to hurt his family, he’s forced to borrow Soul Reaper powers from Rukia, a Soul Reaper who was badly injured saving his bacon.  Too hurt to fight, she offers to lend Ichigo half of her dark powers so he can save his family.  She’s dismayed to discover that he’s so spiritually powerful that he steals all of them, and now she can’t get them back!

I love the relationship between Ichigo and Rukia.  Their back and forth banter is humorous and full of snark.  While Ichigo isn’t exactly disrespectful, he doesn’t understand the need to put himself in danger, fighting the Hollows, regardless of the obligation he acquired when he snatched away all of Rukia’s power.  When the chips are down, though, her forceful prodding  makes him realize how important a Soul Reaper’s duties are.  If he doesn’t take care of the restless spirits, they will eventually turn into Hollows, and once they become these evil monsters, they lose their last shred of humanity.  There is no going back, and the Hollows have an insatiable need to feed on souls.   Rukia put her life at risk to save Ichigo and his family, so he acknowledges that he has a duty to help Rukia until she can figure out a way to get her powers back.

Ichigo is one of my favorite characters because he can’t stand to see an injustice and not want to correct it.  He and One Piece’s Luffy have a lot in common. Both of them will give their heart and soul, not to mention their life, to defend those needing help.  They are white knights in attitude.  Ichigo can’t turn his back on bullying, or just stand by when someone is about to get hurt.  He’s not perfect, and there are many times when he should learn to keep his mouth shut, but he can’t do it.  He is fiercely devoted to his friends and family, and he won’t let anyone hurt them.  Now that he’s a Soul Reaper by default, he can’t ignore when a soul is in danger, either.

The first volume of Bleach is fast-paced, brimming with frantic action, yet it doesn’t let the characters and their interactions take a back seat to all of the fighting.  That is what I enjoy most about Bleach.  The character come to life for me, and I so badly want Ichigo to master his new powers so he doesn’t come to harm.  It’s hard watching such a likeable guy getting the crap beat out of him, even though I have few doubts that he’ll always persevere.  That assurance is the main appeal of manga for me.  I know that even as the protagonists are facing certain doom, they will eventually find a solution to all of their problems.  Reading along as they figure that out is what makes reading them so rewarding.

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Kathleen Shaputis, Author of Her Ghost Wears Kilts

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Kathleen, and welcome to the Manga Maniac Café! Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Kathleen Shaputis] A wanna-be hermit trapped in the disguise of a working full-time wife and grandmother who winnows her other spare time in writing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Her Ghost Wears Kilts?

[Kathleen Shaputis] Inspired by the movie “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” this book is a paranormal romance where Baillie, is a 54 year-old business owner and the ghost Kai is a gorgeous 27 year old (plus three hundred or so) Highlander. Baillie inherits a castle in Scotland and Kai tries to warn her of threats on her life. But does she listen? No-o-o. Stubborn and independent, Baillie leaves Washington and finds herself in the middle of an ancient clan dispute, with her life on the line.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] The original concept came in a 1993 writing class exercise where we had to brainstorm an idea for a genre we didn’t read. Mine was mystery. My outline or mind mapping started as more a clash between two clans, the Baillies versus the Bruces and a working title of The B & B Mystery. I kept my notes in a drawer where eventually Gillian Nation, a character from my debut romantic comedy “Changes in Attitude” demanded inclusion in this musty old story idea. He was the nudge to finally write the book. Being gay, he couldn’t be the love interest, but loves to steal a scene every chance he gets.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] Independent, stubborn, likeable.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] Hmm, though not a theme song I have to mention during one part of the story I could hear Bonnie Tyler singing “Holding Out for a Hero” in my head and goose bumps ran up and down my arms.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] First impulse is to say she’s never without a Diet Coke. But that’s not true in the castle. I’d say she’s never without her sense of wonder, the ability to look at the world with rose-colored spectacles.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] Those cutesy little guest soaps shaped like seashells or flowers; a variety of partly-used hair products as she’s rather brand dedicated and definitely no bathroom scale.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] I would say she regrets not being adventurous in her younger years, traveling more, opening her world. She was content over the decades, a gentle lifestyle like riding the carousel over and over, but not necessarily happy. And now she’s discovered the thrill of stepping off the safe ride onto something more intense and she sparkles.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] Movies and music, absolutely. I am thoroughly addicted to movies: light-hearted romances, musicals, black and white classics and the three-tissue animal stories. I have no problem going to the movies alone if I don’t have someone tagging along. I can watch a good movie over and over again, picking out different nuances in dialogue or surroundings. My dialogue tends to flow as if I’m watching a movie of my characters. A good instrumental soundtrack of violins, large wind section and drums will also lead me down the road of words.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] Three? Hmm, that would be something to write on, something to write with and a Diet Coke. Whether it’s a pad of paper and a pen, a pencil and the back of scratch paper in my purse, I’ll use anything if the muse strikes. And I tend to dry up if there isn’t a can, glass or paper cup of Diet Coke within reach. I’ve used AlphaSmarts to write with, a variety of notepads and notebooks and you don’t want to know the dozens of various pens I have in almost every room of the house including my purse.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Her Ghost Wears Kilts?

[Kathleen Shaputis] Besides life in general? Have you seen my world with adult children moving in and out, grandchildren everywhere, taking care of aging parents and a sibling until they passed away plus that full time job I need to help pay the bills? Actually it was more myself in the way. I finished almost a dozen other books before I let myself be serious. The storyline never moved too far from the back of my mind but I let other things, other people keep pushing it to the back of the line. I love this story, but I guess it wasn’t its time. Now that’s it’s done, the sequel is not letting much get in the way.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] That’s easy, the ebook “Wool” by Hugh Howey. That little novella thing just plunked me into his alternate reality and I couldn’t believe how quickly I was drawn in and strapped down. I’ve read the series and his easy style of writing is deceiving.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] I would have to say “The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I acted out scenes in the book for months, especially eating pieces of cheddar cheese with plain bread slices. My husband found a first edition for my birthday one year. It is my treasure.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] I have grandchildren who seem to fill up most hours. But relaxing comes with watching movies on Lifetime, Hallmark channel, TMC, AMC, and an occasional theater romp with my own box of buttered popcorn. And of course, I read before falling asleep, a delicious way to wrap up the day.

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

[Kathleen Shaputis] https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gifI enjoy getting a chance to talk with my readers. My website is www.shaputis.com (Yes, it was a good thing my husband was cute, sticking me with a Lithuanian name) or my blog at HerGhostWearsKilts.com. My Twitter handle is NwAuthor and I have a Facebook fan page.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase link

About the book:

Something’s not right at Baillie’s popular used bookstore in rain-soaked western Washington and frigid, heart-stopping air is her first clue. When the cat refuses to enter the shop and Baillie hears faint bagpipes in the travel book section, her nerves are rubbed raw.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the heir of a local castle falls to a suspicious death. An evil banker claims ownership of the castle, leaving the staff to ponder their fate.

How are these events connected? The answer lies in a Ghost and Mrs. Muir tale 21st century style that flips the table with a ghostly twenty-seven-year-old hunk, Lord Kai, and fifty-something bachelorette Baillie.

Her gay best friend Gillian Nation and his girls dash to Scotland to Baillie’s rescue when the combination of alcohol, villainous banker, DNA, and good old-fashioned jealousy throw Baillie into the fight of her life. Will she choose to reclaim her normal Northwest existence or grab onto an unorthodox love that makes life magical and breath-taking?

About the author:

Author of six published books and ghostwriter of another dozen, Kathleen Shaputis lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob and two Pomeranian pups, Brugh and Bouncer.

Interview with Tara Pammi, Author of A Hint of Scandal and Giveaway!

 

Edited to add giveaway :)

Please give a warm welcome to guest Tara Pammi! She’s visiting the virtual offices to chat about A Hint Of Scandal.  She also brought along a copy for one of you to win!

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

[Tara Pammi] Author, work-in-progress wife, mom, and coffee fueled insomniac

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about A Hint of Scandal?

[Tara Pammi] A Hint of Scandal is a story of opposites falling in love. Alexander King is perfection personified, a control freak who’s long ago cut off any emotion from his life whereas Olivia as Alexander calls her is an Emotion Junkie thriving on everything she feels- whether love or hurt or attraction.

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

[Tara Pammi] This is going to sound hooey…but the characters always come first to me. In this case, it was Olivia first. Olivia had so much love to give but the problem was that she kept giving it to the wrong men. Once I had in Olivia in mind, I thought of what kind of a man would find her irresistible but would want nothing of what she had to give and Alexander came into picture.

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

[Tara Pammi] Impulsive, loving, loyal.

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

[Tara Pammi] Poison and Wine by Civil Wars.

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

[Tara Pammi] Her bright red lipstick- her armor against a world that has never been kind to her

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

[Tara Pammi] Anything that belonged to his ex-girlfriends, or scented calendars and in the beginning of the story- anything that belonged to Olivia either…;-)

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

[Tara Pammi] That in search of someone who loved her, in search of validation, she fell in love with the wrong man at the age of nineteen.

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

[Tara Pammi] My father who had been a writer. I remember him sitting at his table, with a pen and paper in hand, writing, and in the middle of it sometimes realizing I was there, and smiling.

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

[Tara Pammi] Coffee, quiet and my laptop ?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on A Hint of Scandal?

[Tara Pammi] LOL…this one’s the easiest. It is always the Internet. Writing is such a solitary occupation that you want to forever see who’s on twitter/FB etc. so that you feel like you are interacting with people other than those in our heads.

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

[Tara Pammi] Nalini Singh’s Heart of Obsidian.

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

[Tara Pammi] I grew up surrounded by books and it’s really hard to pick one.

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

[Tara Pammi] Read, and playing board games with my girls.

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

[Tara Pammi] I would love to hear from readers.

They can email me at tara.pammi@gmail.com or drop me a line through the Contact form on my website www.tarapammi.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you

Purchase link

 

About the book:

 

Notorious socialite in over her head?  Olivia Stanton’s name has been synonymous with scandal-every bad choice scrutinized in the headlines–but she’s finally getting herself together. That is, until her twin sister disappears right before her wedding and Olivia’s needed to stand in–as the bride! 

Alexander King’s ruthless determination for perfection is world renowned and he’ll make Olivia pay for her latest stunt–by enforcing their marriage vows! He expects her to be the model wife in public. And in private? With her feisty attitude and his strong will, it won’t be long before the tension between them reaches boiling point!

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