Review: Marked by Hades by Reese Monroe

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I wanted to like Marked by Hades better than I did.  I thought there were some pacing issues that hindered my enjoyment.  Maybe it’s because I couldn’t stand Pario, the evil villain of the piece.  Pario is a demon, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow Lucifer so the demons can have their merry way without his interference.  Pario believes that Yvonne knows the location of the weapons needed to overthrow the lord of Hell.  Yvonne has been banished from the underworld for helping Sadie, a Gatekeeper, escape after she was captured by the demons.  Yvonne has no memory of her other life, when she was Dyre, a demon.  The setup is a little complicated if you are jumping into the series blind, but the confusion doesn’t last long.  I was able to read this as a standalone without too much difficulty.

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Review: Seducing the Demon Huntress by Victoria Davies

 

Title:  Seducing the Demon Huntress

Author: Victoria Davies

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Trick or treat, survive until the night’s complete.

For most people Halloween is a night of candy, costumes and revelry but for Kerilyn, it’s the most dangerous night of the year. Hailing from a line of demon hunters, Kerilyn’s family has long been hated by the ruling lords of the Netherworld. On All Hallow’s Eve, the deadly brothers are released from their realm, along with their subjects, the spirits and the demons. Like every good hunter, Kerilyn fortifies her home with spells and tricks to keep her safe. But there is one man no spell can protect her heart from.

Arawn, Lord of the Spirits, has appeared at her fence every Halloween for years. While the handsome lord may turn her head with his heated looks and seductive words, Kerilyn knows without a doubt that should she ever invite him in, her life would be forfeit. But when his brother, the Lord of the Demons, kidnaps her niece, Kerilyn must leave her sanctuary. Now she has a choice. Can the man she’s dreamed of for years be trusted, or will the spirit lord help his brother destroy her?


Review:

I have enjoyed many Carina Press novellas, and Seducing the Demon Huntress is no exception.  There are times when I want a faster read, and I turn to this publisher for a quick fix.  I like the variety of stories they publish, so I can always find something to pique my interest.  I was in the mood for a PNR, and after interviewing the author, I wanted to give Seducing the Demon Huntress a read.  I liked this novella, and would read more by Victoria Davies in the future.

Kerilyn is a demon hunter.  She comes from a long line of demon hunters, much to her sorrow.  Her entire family has been picked off, one by one, and now she’s alone.  As darkness falls on All Hallow’s Eve, she retreats into her house, fearful that she’ll be facing this frightening night by herself.  The demons and spirits of the Netherworld are out to get her, and this is the night when Abaddon and Arawn, the rulers of the Netherworld, can freely pass into this realm.  For years, Arawn has waited outside her gate for her to let him in, and for years she has harbored a terrible secret. She’s infatuated with Arawn, and she can’t help but steal a few moments with him every year.  She resists his requests to open the gate and invite him in, but she doesn’t know how much longer she can.  When disaster strikes, and her niece is kidnapped by Abaddon, she has to leave the sanctuary of her wards to rescue Sarah.  Leaving her yard will spell her doom, but Kerilyn has to try to save her only living relative.

I liked this story a lot. I found the forbidden relationship between Arawn and Kerilyn compelling.  Kerilyn has been drawn to Arawn for years, but exploring a relationship with him will quickly lead to a painful death. Her family has been killing his subjects for years, and it’s impossible to think that he, or his subjects, could ever put that aside.   Yet when she is forced to leave the sanctuary of her home, he is quick to accompany her.  He knows her lame disguise won’t fool anyone, and he’s afraid that facing his brother by herself will sign her death sentence.  I loved how quickly Arawn was willing to follow and defend her, and that he was willing to confront his brother to keep Kerilyn and her niece safe.  I was totally convinced that he was willing to kill his brother, or die trying, to protect her.  I also understood her reluctance to trust him.  How could she know for certain that he wasn’t part of a ply to get her to Abaddon, so they could kill her together.

In addition to being a hot love story, the battle with Abaddon is an exciting, no-holds-barred fight.  If you’re in the mood for a read with a kick-ass heroine, you don’t have to look further than Seducing the Demon Huntress.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Dweller on the Threshold by Rinda Elliot

 

Title:  Dweller on the Threshold

Author:  Rinda Elliott

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

On a hunt to save her sister, the last thing Beri O’Dell needs is love. Aren’t demons bad enough?

Beri O’Dell is investigating paranormal creatures because she wants to know what she is. Taller and stronger than most men, she astral projects and can peel through dimensional layers to see the creatures and spirits beyond.he once helped her foster sister, Detective Elsa Remington, track down killers in Jacksonville, Florida, but stopped when a nasty fire elemental turned her strength against her. Now, she finds herself pulled back when something steals Elsa’s soul and puts her into a coma.

With little time to spare, Beri searches for the reason behind her sister’s coma. She has help in her spirit guides Fred and Phro, but others come along for the ride, including a pyro-nervous witch, and an androgynous necromancer.

The last thing Beri needs is to fall in love with a mysterious stranger. But the handsome Minoan warrior Nikolos knows what creature she’s after because he’s battled it before.
It’s bad.

Really, really bad.

He calls it the Dweller on the Threshold.

Warning:
Contains a worried heroine with no time, a witch with fire problems, a pissed-off necromancer, a trapped goddess, and a damned sexy, but scary, warrior. Throw in bloody battles, mass-murderer history lessons and a bit of sexy time and you get the start of Beri’s new life.


Review:

After my success with Erica Hayes Redemption, I decided to dive into another Paranormal/UF book.  Dweller on the Threshold looked like an interesting blend of creepy and magical, and it was.  The romance is kept on the back burner, and instead the focus is on finding and taking down the dreaded Dweller on the Threshold.  There are people dropping like flies as their souls are sucked out of their bodies, demon battles galore, and an ancient Minoan warrior who possesses both brawn and good-looks.  I liked the Greek mythology that was incorporated into the story, as well as the concept of guardians, ghostly protectors who watch over their charges, usually invisible and undetected for normal people.  Beri, the protagonist, isn’t normal.

I found Beri an interesting protagonist.  She knows that she’s different, but she doesn’t know why.  She can see her guardians – the serious Fred, who was killed in a fire when he was on the cusp of manhood, and Phro, who claims to be the Goddess of Love.  Yes, that Goddess of Love.  Beri wonders what motivates both of them to stay with her, especially the beautiful Phro.  Surely she has better things to do than follow a towering, streaky haired freak of a woman around year after year.  I am still wondering what Fred’s deal is, because it’s obvious there is more to him being with Beri than meets the eye.  Maybe we’ll find out what’s going on with him in the next book of the series?  Where does he keep disappearing to, and can he be completely trusted?  With so many dangers popping up to threaten her life, I believe these are questions that Beri needs to have answered  stat.

Beri has been searching for other answers for her entire life.  Who is she?  What is she?  After being bounced around from foster home to foster home, she’s developed a thick skin, and she prefers to keep others at a safe distance.  The only person she is close to is Elsa, whose parents took Beri in before weird things started happening and they became too terrified of her to keep her round.  Now, the two women consider themselves sisters, and when Elsa interrupts a paranormal hunting trip in the swamp, Beri is obligated to help her sister, a police detective, with the case she’s working on.  Even though things ended disastrously the last time she tried to help, and Beri ended up bathed in blood and detached body parts.  Ugh.

Back in the city, Beri learns that Elsa is in a coma, and things don’t look good.  When she can’t see Elsa’s soul, Beri knows that she has to figure out what she was working on.  As danger mounts, and more mysteries are revealed, Beri has no choice but to trust Blyth, a flaky witch, and Nikolas, an old, old being who is surrounded with the darkness of hundreds and hundreds of trapped souls.  And, oh, yeah, even though he’s older than dirt, he’s a handsome, hulking warrior, and Beri can’t help but be attracted to him and all of his secrets.

I loved Nicolas’ tragic past, and all of the references to Greek mythology.  While some of the world-building was confusing or non-existent, there was enough demon slaying and demon attacking action to distract me from most of my hang-ups about the world Beri resides in.  Just throw some magic, some ugly monsters, and a kick-ass heroine into the mix, and I’m a pretty happy camper.  The action and the quest to find  and defeat the Dweller drive this story, more so than the romance or any other element, and I didn’t mind one bit.  What did kind of bug me?  The non-ending! 

Grade: B

Review copy provided by author

Interview with Paula Altenburg, Author of The Demon’s Daughter and Giveaway!

Please welcome Paula Altenburg to the virtual offices today.  Paula dropped by to chat about her new release The Demon’s Daughter, and she brought along a digital copy for one of you to win!

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

[Paula Altenburg] Easy! I’m an obsessive/compulsive couch potato with (remote) control issues.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Demon’s Daughter?

[Paula Altenburg] The Demon’s Daughter is a dystopian demon western, set on Earth in the not-too-distant future. The story theme involves prejudice, and it’s about a young woman’s search for a place to belong in a harsh world that doesn’t welcome her.

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

[Paula Altenburg] I always come up with the characters first. Hunter and Airie’s first meeting was the first scene I had in my head. I wanted Hunter to be a bounty hunter at first, which is how he got his name, and I really saw him in a western/desert setting. He morphed into a demon slayer. Airie started out as a half demon bandit. I’d meant for her to be more of an outlaw, but as she grew, it was obvious her personality was much more innocent and gentle. She has quite the temper though, and Hunter finds that out the hard way. The story world grew up around the two of them with a little prompting from my editors. I’m all about the characters and have a little trouble remembering that the reader doesn’t “see” my setting if I don’t put it into words.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Innocent, kind, and passionate.

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

[Paula Altenburg] We Will Rock You by Queen.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Fire. It’s a significant part of who she is, kind of like breathing.

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

[Paula Altenburg] That’s a great question! Hmm. 1) Pretty stones, or anything someone else might pick up out of curiosity and want to save. He’s not a collector. 2) Bullets. He’s not much into guns either. 3) Hair ribbons. That seems like it should go without saying, but the guy has seven sisters so it’s not too much of a stretch. He hasn’t seen them in years, but he still really loves them and thinks of them often.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Airie never got to say goodbye to the priestess mother who raised her. That bothers her because rituals that should have been carried out had to be abandoned, and her mother was left without a proper burial.

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

[Paula Altenburg] It doesn’t take much to get me going. My imagination’s pretty active. I’m big into “What if” scenarios, but I’m an abstract thinker and not visual at all. At some point I’d like to write a story that’s kicked off by Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” though. A song, an image, or a movie can all inspire me, but it’s usually an emotional reaction to one specific thing about them. In Hallelujah, it’s the line “He saw her bathing on a roof.” From there, an entire storyline jumps into my head.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Quiet, coffee, and an idea. If I don’t have my scene in my head, my day is ruined.

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

[Paula Altenburg]  I only read books that knock my socks off. Life is too short to read anything else. I will totally toss one aside if I’m not wowed by it because there are plenty more out there waiting to amaze me. Having said that, I have a bit of a love affair going with George RR Martin and his Game of Thrones series. He’s an author who does everything well.

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

[Paula Altenburg] I was reading before I started school, so I’m not really sure what got me started. Johanna Spyri’s Heidi sticks in my mind. So does Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. My mother tells me I read the original versions. She’s a former English teacher and alternates between horror and fascination at my reading choices. As long as the writing’s good, I’m okay with it.

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

[Paula Altenburg] I’m a reader. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. Next up comes watching movies. I also like to run. I enjoy traveling too, but overall, I’m quite boring. (Notice that travel placed last on that list?) My husband’s European and we go often, but I’ll take my Kindle and sit on someone’s couch while he visits with family. His sister and I went to Paris and Brussels together a few years ago and visited every museum and art gallery we could find because we both love history. I talked her into taking a tour of the sewers in Paris and she hasn’t forgiven me yet.

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

[Paula Altenburg] Through my website at www.paulaaltenburg.com, on Facebook, and Twitter @Paula Altenburg. I swear I will friend and follow, and respond to all e-mails!

Thanks for having me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Giveaway Time!!

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You can order The Demon’s Daughter from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

 

About the book:

Hunter is the only man capable of killing the demons that left the world in ruins. But when he’s hired by a notorious priestess to bring a thief to justice, the Demon Slayer gets more than he bargains for.

Airie was raised in an abandoned temple as a priestess’s daughter, having no idea of her true origins. In a time when any half-breed spawn of a demon is despised by mortal and immortal alike, not knowing the truth is the only thing keeping her safe.

Forced to flee her home in the wake of disaster and discovery of who she is, Airie must place her trust in a man who believes she should never have been born. And when a demon uprising threatens lives he has sworn to protect, Hunter has to make a choice: abandon Airie to an uncertain fate, or overcome his own personal demons and love her for who she truly is.

Review: Redemption Erica Hayes and Giveaway! Win a Kindle Fire!

 

 

 

 

Title:  Redemption

Author: Erica Hayes

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Japheth the Tainted is on the hunt for a mysterious demon vampire. But meeting her face-to-face might disarm his warrior spirit—and spark an unquenchable passion with apocalyptic consequences.

As a fallen angel, Japheth is determined to make his way back to heaven by staying pure and slaying hellspawn. With a new scourge of vampires unleashed by a blood-drinking demon, the Prince of Thirst, there’s plenty to be done. But Japheth is after one vampire in particular—the one they call the Angel Slayer.

Rose Harley never wanted to be a vampire, but the Prince of Thirst can turn even the kindest soul into a soldier of hell. Feeling abandoned by God, she stalks the West Village taking revenge on his angels—until she meets her match.

When Japheth and Rose encounter each other, the battle is fierce and charged with desire. But when they discover a common enemy—the Prince of Thirst himself—they form a dangerous alliance that could either cost them their eternal lives, or spark a love more powerful than heaven or hell


Review:

I don’t read many paranormal romances, and I’m not sure why.  I enjoy them on the odd occasion when I do pick them up, and Redemption was no exception.  This is the second book in Erica Hayes’ The Seven Signs series, and I didn’t have much trouble figuring out what was going on, even though I haven’t read the first book, Revelation (which has a zombie virus, so I will be reading it, hopefully soon!).  The series features the war between angels and demons and the prophesied end of the world.  I enjoyed how the angels were portrayed in this story; just because they are angels didn’t mean that they were “good.”  What was even better; Japheth, a Tainted angel, is working tirelessly for his redemption, so he can return to Heaven.  His fellow Tainted behave like fraternity boys; drinking, chasing women, and partying in between missions slaying demons and hellspawn, and trying to stop the Apocalypse from happening.

Michael is in charge of the angels, and he’s a ruthless jerk.  I hated him.  He’s power hungry and cruel, and he doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice his angels if it will fulfill his ambitions.  He sends Japheth to kill Fluvium, the Prince of Thirst, and recover the vial of wrath in his possession.  Japheth doesn’t know why Michael cast him out of Heaven.  He’s always been brave, righteous, and dedicated to serving God.  All he wants is to be let back into Heaven.  He lives a life a purity, distaining pleasures of the flesh, and obeying orders to the letter.  What does he get for his sacrifices?  A never ending hard-on and no sense of humor.  Poor guy.

Rose Harley is Japheth’s unlikely match.  Like Japheth, she’s been tricked, and now she’s a vampire, the slave of Fluvium.  He’s ordered her to steal Japheth’s soul, or he’ll throw her into Hell.  Terrified of the never-ending agony of Hell, Rose is determined to carry out his commands.  She’s killed angels aplenty – they don’t call her Angel Slayer for nothing.  When the two meet, however, they both discover that they have clearly met their match.  They are both fierce warriors, they are both driven to carry out their mission at all costs, and they both have preconceived notions about the other that are wrong, wrong, wrong.  Circumstances have fooled them both, and robbed them of their dreams.  Rose has lived through the horror of being a demon lord’s plaything, and Japheth is the casualty of another’s powerful ambitions.

I enjoyed the world building in Redemption.  I loved how the lines between the hellspawn and the angels blurred, leaving me wondering who was good and who was truly evil.  There is a large cast of characters, and I want to know more about several of them, both angels and demons.  I’m sure they’ll be back for future installments of the series.  What I really want is to see the characters I dislike meet their comeuppance.  There are several who deserve the wrath of both heaven and hell.

The pacing is blistering.  After all, Japheth is racing to complete his mission and put a stop to the Apocalypse, all at the same time.  He’s saddled with Rose, a vampire he doesn’t trust, but is forced to rely on.  He has nothing but contempt for Rose, and he won’t even consider that there might be more than he realizes about her turning into a vampire.  Nope, she’s hellspawn scum, and the sooner he finishes his mission, the sooner he can put an end to her cursed life.  Nice guy!  Maybe he’s not so righteous after all?

Though he took a while to warm up to, I did come to like Japheth.  His fall from grace was only possible because he couldn’t see the evil in those he served.  He was the ideal warrior – fighting for the faith he believed in with all his heart, making his betrayal that much more bitter.  It takes him a long, long time to come to terms with what he believes his fellow angels should be, and the reality of what they are.  I wouldn’t want to have to trust any of these guys, because I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them.

The action is intense, and the sparks between Japheth and Rose are blinding.  As they begin to trust each other, their attraction for each other blazes out of control.   If only Japheth wasn’t trying to stay so pure! 

Redemption is a fun, action-packed romp through a nightmarish vision of the Apocalypse, where the lines between good and evil aren’t all that clear.  The romance between Japheth and Rose, two strong and noble characters who have had their faith and trust shattered, is hot and steamy and will leave you believing in their HEA.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours

GIVEAWAY!!

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More about the book:

Redemption
The Seven Signs, Book 2 by
Erica Hayes

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

ISBN: 978-0425258385

Number of pages: 330

Cover Artist: Kris Keller

Paperback: Amazon BN Book Depository

Ebook: Amazon BN iTunes

About the Author:

Erica Hayes was a law student, an air force officer, an editorial assistant and a musician, before finally landing her dream job: fantasy and romance writer.

She writes dark paranormal and urban fantasy romance, and her books feature tough, smart heroines and colourful heroes with dark secrets.

She hails from Australia, where she drifts from city to city, leaving a trail of chaos behind her. Currently, she’s terrorizing the wilds of Northumberland.

http://www.ericahayes.net

http://erica-hayes.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/ericahayes.author

http://www.twitter.com/ericahayes

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2922003.Erica_Hayes

Review: Demon Love Spell V 1 by Mayu Shinjo

 

 

Title: Demon Love Spell V 1

Author:  Mayu Shinjo

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

By the creator of Ai Ore! and Sensual Phrase

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

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


Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Jill Archer, Author of Dark Light of Day

 

Jill Archer is the author of Dark Light of Day, an urban fantasy about a law student who is training to represent demons.  I think the premise is brilliant!  I don’t know what’s scarier – lawyers or demons! (Just kidding!)  Jill dropped by the virtual offices to introduce herself and to chat about her new book.

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

[Jill Archer] Eclectic night owl who loves Sour Patch kids, Twizzlers, organic salads, Vitamix smoothies, my Keurig coffee brewer, wine, books and movies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Dark Light of Day?

[Jill Archer] In a nutshell, Dark Light of Day is about Noon Onyx, a first year law student who is being trained to represent demons. But the story’s as much about Noon’s magical and romantic struggles as it is about her academic ones. I should also mention that, even though the book is considered "urban fantasy," the setting is not contemporary. The story mostly takes place in New Babylon, a city with a circa 1900′s technology level that was built on top of the ancient battlefield of Armageddon in a country called Halja.

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

[Jill Archer] Noon Onyx is very loosely inspired by the librarian Evelyn "Evie" Carnahan from the movie, The Mummy.

I used to be a lawyer. A few years ago, I was at a writer’s group event and sat next to a librarian during one of the lunches. We each commiserated with the other about how dull we felt our day jobs were, a feeling each of us couldn’t believe the other had. It led to a discussion about Evie’s character and I got the idea to see if I could somehow create a similarly bookish lawyer character who lived in some sort of "otherworld."

Around the same time, I came across my old copy of Scott Turow’s ONE L ("the turbulent true story of a first year at Harvard Law School") and thought, "Hey, how cool would it be to write a story about a first year law student who is being trained to represent demons?"

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Jill Archer] Weaving together the sub-plots. Dark Light of Day has fantasy, romance, and mystery elements. I tried to tie the sub-plots together with common themes, motifs, and/or plot nexuses.

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

[Jill Archer] Strong, smart, and kind

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Ari would never have in his pocket?

[Jill Archer] A cell phone, a match, and a flower. (No boutonnieres for Ari either!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Noon’s single most prized possession?

[Jill Archer] Despite her privileged background, Noon’s not that into material possessions. She does love her collection of high necked sweaters, cloaks, and wraps though because they allow her to hide the telltale "demon mark" of a waning magic user.

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

[Jill Archer] My love of nature, forests, and flowers helped me to create two of the main types of magic in the book: waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery magic that’s used to control demons, and waxing magic, the soft, creative, nurturing magic that’s used to grow gardens and heal people. The idea evolved from my fascination with the duality of nature’s forces (forest fires versus summer blooms, tsunamis versus spring rains).

Other creative influences: demons and deities from around the world, Christian mythology, pagan holidays, even legal concepts. I played fast and loose with all of them. I tried to be respectful of my sources, while at the same time staying true to my primary goal, which was to write an entertaining story. I thought it would be interesting to create a world within which the traditional sides of bad and good were more muddied than they are in our world.

I’ve also been influenced by other authors. I admire writers such as Lois McMaster Bujold, S.M. Stirling, Colleen McCullough, Naomi Novik, and Elizabeth Peters. I would never, and could never, emulate their style, but just reading their work and knowing there are writers out there writing such fantastic novels influences me to put out the best work that I can. When I read the work of someone I admire, it’s an invigorating feeling!

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

[Jill Archer] An idea, a computer, and coffee. :-)

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

[Jill Archer] The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. Last summer, I attended a writer’s workshop presented by him and Simone Elkeles. It was tearfully funny, but the point is the moment David described that book, I knew I would like it. I left the session and went straight to the temporary bookstore that had been set up in the hotel for the conference and bought it. When I finally read it, I didn’t just like it — I loved it.

I love that the story is told out of order. I love that it’s not told in chapters but in dictionary entries like "kerfuffle" and "cocksure." I love its ending, its humor, and its honesty. But most of all, I love how the reader has to work a little to get it. It’s not a story that’s spoon fed to you. And yet, it’s very light and easy to digest. You can read it in a night if you want or easily before bed over the course of a few. It was in my TBR pile for a year, but it was worth the wait.

If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. My fourth grade teacher read it aloud to the class that year and I was hooked from that point on. What a story! I just read it to my kids this past year and then we all watched the movie. So fun!

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

[Jill Archer] I like to hike and bike, although I don’t have as much time to do those things as I would like. Of course, I love to read. I also love to watch movies and, occasionally, TV (I’ve been known to go on a streaming binge if I find a series I particularly like). I love to hang out with friends and family. We take a lot of day trips. My husband is a recreational pilot and we have a small Cessna that we fly around in on the weekends.

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

[Jill Archer] I have a website and blog through WordPress, which people can find at www.jillarcher.com. I blog about books, movies, interesting people I’ve met, day tripping in our little Cessna, and miscellaneous things I find interesting. Although it’s time consuming, I enjoy blogging. I like to write shorter pieces on a variety of topics just to keep things fresh and I love connecting with other people who have blogs on subjects that interest me. Recently, I experimented with a summer romance guest blog series and that’s been tons of fun! I’m also on Twitter (@archer_jill) and Facebook.

I appreciate your interest in Noon Onyx and Dark Light of Day. Thank you, Julie, for interviewing me for Manga Maniac Cafe. Best wishes and happy reading to you and your readers!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Dark Light of Day can be pre-ordered from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below:

Review: Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

 

Title: Spell Bound

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher:  Disney Hyperion

Also available in digital:

Spell Bound (Digital)

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium.  Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Review:

I have been waiting with a great deal of anticipation for the final book in Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall series.  I found the first book rather predicable, but Demonglass kept me on the edge of my seat.  I hated the cliffhanger ending! How could you do that to me?  I was finally onboard with Sophie and her acidic personality, and then – WHAM!  We ran into a brick wall of “See you later!”  Ugh!

Anyway, a copy finally came in at the library, so I hustled over to pick it up.  On my lunch break.  Even though I couldn’t read it until after work.  I dove into the book as soon as I arrived home, and after that uncomfortable few moments of trying like heck to remember what happened in the previous book, and who all of the characters were, I was in!  There is such a loss of momentum when you have to wait for over a year to read the next book in a series, and most of the time, they don’t work as well for me.  When I am in the reading zone provided by a book, I am also in a particular frame of mind at that place in time.  Sometimes I don’t get it back.  Sometimes I no longer click with the protagonist.  Sometimes I discover, with dismay, that I don’t even like the protagonist anymore.  While she hasn’t changed in the year and a half since we last met, I have.  I am a different person, and there have been times when I have outgrown a series or cast of characters, and I am always bummed when that happens.

Don’t worry, though! That didn’t happen with Spell Bound.  While some of the plot points didn’t work for me, I still enjoyed Sophie’s occasionally grating personality.  Her coping mechanism is to get sarcastic, and I actually liked when she was blasting out snarky comments, or better yet, making unfiltered inner commentary about whatever person happened to be pissing her off.  I didn’t like the back and forth between Archer and her fiancée, Cal, but heck, I usually never like all of the romantic triangles cluttering up YA PNR these days.  It is the one trope that drives me batty, and the one that I find the least interesting.  The resolution to this one was a cop-out, with Sophie not making a decision so much as having it made for her.  I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, so I’ll just say UGH!  Sophie gets off guilt free, and I didn’t like that.  I felt that it belittled her emotional conflict and her feelings for both guys was also trivialized. 

Moving on, I love the action in the these books.  Sophie has to always be on her toes, ready to fight for her life.  She also has to be ready to fight for the lives of her friends, and now, her family.  In this supernatural war, there are many casualties.  Sophie is under so much stress to ensure the safety of her loved ones that I’m surprised she didn’t lose all of her hair from the stress.  Worse yet, she didn’t have her powers, because they had been locked away by the villains at the end of the last book!  Her father’s powers had been completely and forcibly ripped from his body.  Sophie was running on empty, and ouch!  it wasn’t easy for her to escape from all of the danger she repeatedly found herself in.  That is one of her traits that I admire most about her character; Sophie has an innate ability to think well under pressure.  While she may lack the common sense to keep her out of danger in the first place, once she’s in it, she is able to stay relatively calm, examine the situation from every angle, and find a way to get her out of trouble without getting killed.  That she is ready to sacrifice her life when the stakes get so high that I would have crumbled into a ball of black despair, is another reason why I enjoyed Sophie, and these books, so much.

All in all, Hex Hall was a fun series, and now that they are all out, I recommend that you give them a try.  Each book was better than the last, and all of the characters, especially Sophie and Elodie, are likeable.

Grade:  B+

Review copy obtained from my local library