Excerpt: Nights of Steel by Nico Rosso and Giveaway!


Nico Rosso’s latest release, Night of Steel, is in stores now.  This is the 4th book in the Ether Chronicles, which is a collaboration with Zoe Archer.  I have an excerpt to share, as well as a chance for you to win a copy of the first 3 books in the series.



The remote hills south of Thornville, California.

“The only good place for a man is on the other end of my gun.” Anna Blue cocked the hammer of her .45, keeping the green dot of her prismatic sight hovering over “Dirty” Danny Malone’s heart. His partner in crime, Ron “Rat” Welles, stood on the other side of their little dead campfire. Anna had heard Malone was fast, but she had no doubt she could put a bullet in him before he reached the pistol on his hip. And he knew it, too.

Instead, Malone shot off his mouth again. “You ain’t too plain. Wash some of that trail dust off and you could be a pretty little flower.”

She kept her gun steady. The sun was high, but her tinted spectacles kept the glare down, as well as letting her see the green dot of her pistol’s sight. “I know you boys are stupid, but do you really think you’re the first to try to use what’s in your breeches to distract me from taking you in?”

Malone spoke up, thumbs casually hitched in his belt, but ready to draw if he had to. “Might want to reconsider that, sweetheart. A lot of things a man can do for you. A man like me.”

She laughed, but it didn’t break the tension in her body. She’d done this a hundred times—more, even. No one was better than she was at running down bounties. The image of a man with intense eyes, broad shoulders, and a two-gun rig flashed through her mind. Maybe one man was as good as she was.

“That’s right.” Welles’s nasal voice seemed to rattle in the pine needles around the campsite. “Laugh a little. Live a little. Got a bottle of corn liquor we could all share.”

“You boys could never earn the right to drink with me.” She hadn’t had a drink with a man in years. Something like that, sharing the heat of whiskey, the calm it soaked into her nerves, was more intimate than the tumbles she’d had with strangers.

Malone sucked a breath, shaking his head in disappointment. “Never met a more ornery woman.”

“That’s your problem,” she said. “Gotta stop thinking of me as a woman and start realizing I’m the bounty hunter who’s bringing your sorry hide in.”

Malone’s eyes narrowed. She saw the tendons twitch on the back of his hand. Welles shifted his feet in the dirt. Now they were serious. Even the horses that were tied on the edge of the campsite had the sense to paw at the ground and nicker nervously.

She kept the green dot on Dirty Danny’s chest. “What’s your play, Malone? Boxed yourselves in. You can’t run north. Up that way is Thornville, and everyone knows the law doesn’t even let mosquitos bite in that town. The ocean’s to the west, hunting parties to the east, coming up from New Mexico where they really want you dead.” Malone glanced in all the directions she mentioned, a tic developing at the side of his eye. She didn’t let up. “I imagine you wanted to run south, but I’m standing here.”

Welles’s nickname of “Rat” became abundantly clear when he showed his sharp front teeth in a mean sneer. “Not for long.”

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This Week’s New and Notable Releases–Part 1

There are a ton of awesome releases this week, so I split the adult list into two parts. First up are the PNR/UF and Fantasy titles. So many of these are on my wish list! What’s on yours?

Check back tomorrow for new romance releases.

Click on the covers for the Amazon product page.


Dark Currents: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey (Oct 2, 2012)

Daughter of the Sword: A Novel of the Fated Blades by Steve Bein (Oct 2, 2012)

Death’s Rival: A Jane Yellowrock Novel by Faith Hunter (Oct 2, 2012)

Ember’s Kiss: A Dragonfire Novel by Deborah Cooke (Oct 2, 2012)

Ghosts of Memories: A Vampire Memories Novel by Barb Hendee (Oct 2, 2012)

Ironskin by Tina Connolly (Oct 2, 2012)

London Eye (Toxic City Book One) by Tim Lebbon (Oct 2, 2012)

Mate Claimed (Shifters Unbound) by Jennifer Ashley (Oct 2, 2012)

Mortal Ties (Lupi) by Eileen Wilks (Oct 2, 2012)

Phantom Shadows (Immortal Guardians) by Dianne Duvall (Oct 2, 2012)

Revelation (A Novel of the Seven Signs) by Erica Hayes (Oct 2, 2012)

Savage Hunger by Terry Spear (Oct 2, 2012)

Skarlet: Part One of the Vampire Trinity (Vampire Babylon Trilogy) by Thomas Emson (Oct 2, 2012)

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (Oct 2, 2012)

Werewolf in Denver: A Wild About You Novel by Vicki Lewis Thompson (Oct 2, 2012)

Wicked Whispers (Castle of Dark Dreams) by Nina Bangs (Oct 2, 2012)

Courting Trouble by Jenny Schwartz (Oct 1, 2012)

Mark of the Witch (The Portal) by Maggie Shayne (Oct 1, 2012)

Wild Hearts in Atlantis by Alyssa Day (Oct 2, 2012)

Cover Shot! Midnight City by J Barton Mitchell

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?

Ever since I read The White Mountains by John Christopher when I was a kid, I have loved alien invasion books.  None of them have been able to stand up to The Tripods series, though.  Perhaps Midnight City by J Barton Mitchell will finally satisfy my craving for an incredible, impossible to put down read with defeated teens attempting to gain freedom from their alien oppressors?

In stores October 2012




In a post-apocalyptic world controlled by alien invaders, two teens and a young girl with mysterious powers embark on a dangerous journey. What they find will change everything…

Earth has been conquered. An extraterrestrial race known as The Assembly has abducted the adult population, leaving the planet’s youth to fend for themselves. In this treacherous landscape, Holt, a bounty hunter, is transporting his prisoner Mira when they discover Zoey, a young girl with powerful abilities who could be the key to stopping The Assembly. As they make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, the trio must contend with freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and perhaps most perilous of all: Holt and Mira’s growing attraction to each other.

Midnight City is the breathtaking first novel in the Conquered Earth series, and a stunning work of imagination from debut author J. Barton Mitchell

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Interview with Sangu Mandanna, Author of The Lost Girl

Debut author Sangu Mandanna has a lot to be excited about.  Her debut novel, The Lost Girl, hits stores in August, and it’s already generating a ton of buzz.  Sangu took some time out of her busy schedule to introduce herself and to chat about her book.

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

[Sangu Mandanna] Creative, stubborn… fun? I like elephants. And Sherlock Holmes. And bookshelves with sliding ladders.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Lost Girl?

[Sangu Mandanna] It’s a book about Weavers who stitch echoes, copies, from scratch. And it’s about one of those copies, a girl called Eva who has grown up having to be just Amarra, her original or ‘other’, but all she wants is to be herself. When her other dies, she has to step into her shoes, live her life, convince the world that Amarra is still alive. She’s not allowed to break the Weavers’ laws, she’s not allowed to run away, and she’s not allowed to fall in love with the wrong person. Only she does.

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

[Sangu Mandanna] I read Frankenstein in my second year of university and I remember wanting to write a whole story from the Creature’s point of view, and that made me think of someone stitching life from scratch, which made me think of a sad, eerie Tim Burton-esque Loom, with Weavers stitching echoes out of dust and bones, and I guess the world just slowly developed from there. I didn’t actually write it at the time, just sort of scribbled ideas down, but I didn’t think anything would come of it because I couldn’t see a real story.

Then, that summer, Eva appeared in my head. And I knew I had to write about her. The rest of the characters quickly became just as real and compelling to me. Having said that, if you were to ask my husband, he’d insist a certain character named Sean is a fictional version of him (he’s not).

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

[Sangu Mandanna] Ending it. I love this world and the characters so much. Once I started writing THE LOST GIRL, I realized I could have gone on writing it forever. I still hope to write more about Eva, because her story isn’t over yet, but if I’d let myself keep going it would have been very much a case of STOP NOW, EGAD, THE BOOK’S ABOUT THE SIZE OF A HIPPO.

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

[Sangu Mandanna] Brave, passionate, fiery. And none of them necessarily in a good way, either.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Eva would never have in her bedroom?

[Sangu Mandanna] Unfortunately Eva’s never really been able to choose what she’s had or hasn’t had in her bedroom! But if she could, the three things she’d never have: mango pickle, a Jane Austen novel, and Amarra’s boyfriend Ray.

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

[Sangu Mandanna] Frankenstein was a huge influence on THE LOST GIRL, but other influences would be Daphne du Maurier (her writing is just so beautiful), Tim Burton (because he creates strange, sad, interesting things) and Eva Ibbotson (just because her books are so funny and lovely).

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

[Sangu Mandanna] Music, something to drink, and an exceedingly tidy desk. You won’t believe how much an errant pencil bothers my eye.

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

[Sangu Mandanna] Oh, I can’t. I’ve been reading since I was a wee thing, there are so many books I’ve loved! Though the first book I remember reading by myself was a board-book version of The Night Before Christmas, so I guess that would be it…

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

[Sangu Mandanna] I’m a stunt motorcyclist. No, I’m lying. I only wish I could give you a totally awesome answer like that. But I like very ordinary things. Going to see a movie, standing my baby up on my knees because it makes him give me the most beautiful gummy smile, curling up on the sofa with my husband to watch House. And of course, reading, reading, reading.

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

[Sangu Mandanna] I’d love to hear from readers! My website is www.sangumandanna.com, I have a blog at http://sangumandanna.blogspot.com and I’m on Twitter (@SanguMandanna). Readers can also email me at sangumandannawrites@gmail.com. Email or Twitter are probably the fastest ways to get a reply.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can pre-order The Lost Girl from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.  It is expected in stores August 2012.

Interview with Veronica Scott, Author of Wreck of the Nebula Dream

Veronica Scott is making a return appearance in the virtual offices, this time to discuss her new book Wreck of the Nebula Dream.  Check out what she has to say about this futuristic twist on the Titanic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your new book, Wreck of the Nebula Dream?

[Veronica Scott] The novel is a loose re-imagining of the Titanic disaster, set in the far future, among the stars.

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

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

[Veronica Scott] My grandfather always said he had a relative on the Titanic, a Second Class woman passenger who did survive. I grew up with stories of the sinking and was completely fascinated by it. What would I do if I was in a similar situation? Do you get on the lifeboat? Trust that the ship won’t sink? What if all the lifeboats are already gone?

Science fiction and paranormal romance are my favorite genres, so when I decided to write a book based on the Titanic events, I immediately knew I wanted to set the action in the far future, on an interstellar luxury liner. In my SF I like to write Special Forces heroes, so then I had to figure out how and why a man like Nick would be traveling on such an expensive civilian vessel. Who would he likely meet? Who was a reasonable love interest? That led me to Mara, my very capable intergalactic business executive…and I kept going from there. Who else might need rescuing? What challenges would they face?

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

[Veronica Scott] Making time in the action, after the disaster hits, for the characters (and the Readers) to breathe for a moment or two, and for Nick and Mara to have a chance to develop their relationship. There’s no time for too much romantic heat when you’re trying to escape from a drifting hulk and save your life, but there is some warmth between the hero and heroine. They’re attracted to each other from the first time they meet at the spaceport.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What would scare you the most if you were trapped on the Nebula Dream with Nick and Mara?

[Veronica Scott] Not to provide too much in the way of spoilers, but there are some pretty intense encounters with alien pirates, including a point where Nick has to make a difficult choice between his oath as a military officer and his desire to save his little group of stranded passengers. That would be a frightening moment – if the survivors lose Nick their chances plummet to pretty much nil.

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

[Veronica Scott] Tough, smart, caring

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

[Veronica Scott] Money (they use electronic credits in his universe), tissues, keys (they use electronic access codes)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Was it easy to make the shift from writing historical fiction to writing science fiction?

[Veronica Scott] Actually I started out writing science fiction! But after recently spending a long time immersed in Ancient Egypt for my paranormal romance Priestess of the Nile, yes, it was a culture shock to go back to spaceships and more modern characters.

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

[Veronica Scott] I actually got teary eyed at the ending of Kaylea Cross’s Absolution. But as far as a book I keep returning to and rereading – Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Kiss is excellent.

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

[Veronica Scott] My blog is at http://veronicascott.wordpress.com/ and I’m on twitter all the time @vscotttheauthor

Wreck of the Nebula Dream is available from Amazon for the kindle and Barnes & Noble for the Nook at a special 99 cent price. Thanks for having me here today!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thanks!

You can order Wreck of the Nebula Dream from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

Review:The Comet’s Curse by Dom Testa


Title:  The Comet’s Curse

Author: Dom Testa

Publisher: Tor Teen

ISBN: 978-0765360779


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When the tail of the comet Bhaktul flicks through the Earth’s atmosphere, deadly particles are left in its wake. Suddenly, mankind is confronted with a virus that devastates the adult population. Only those under the age of eighteen seem to be immune. Desperate to save humanity, a renowned scientist proposes a bold plan: to create a ship that will carry a crew of 251 teenagers to a home in a distant solar system. Two years later, the Galahad and its crew—none over the age of sixteen—is launched.

Two years of training have prepared the crew for the challenges of space travel. But soon after departing Earth, they discover that a saboteur is hiding on the Galahad! Faced with escalating acts of vandalism and terrorized by threatening messages, sixteen-year-old Triana Martell and her council soon realize that the stowaway will do anything to ensure that the Galahad never reaches its destination. The teens must find a way to neutralize their enemy. For if their mission fails, it will mean the end of the human race….


I haven’t read many sci-fi novels lately, so when I was given the opportunity to read The Comet’s Curse, the first book in Dom Testa’s Galahad series, I jumped at the chance.  The premise intrigued me; 251 teens are sent away from Earth after a comet unleashes a deadly plague on the planet.  Nobody over the age of 18 is immune to it, and there is no cure.  Fearing that the disease will continue to wipe out a bigger and bigger percentage of the population, a noted scientist urges a desperate plan to save humankind, instead of waiting for a cure that may never come.  Proposing to send a group of gifted young adults into space in search of a new home, his plan is met with mixed reactions.  Some openly oppose wasting the time and money on saving such a small group of kids.  Others see the wisdom of this last ditch effort to preserve the species, and agree to devote the time to implement the desperate plan.

I loved this book when the focus was on the kids on the space ship.  They have had to say good-bye to their families and their homes, and they will never see any of their old friends again.  They have the sad knowledge that everyone left behind will eventually succumb to the virus.  They also have a lot of pressure placed on each and every one of them.  In order to ensure their survival, they all have to work together and learn everything they can to help once they find a new planet to colonize.  They have to know how to raise enough food to feed everyone, how to build shelters, how to provide for themselves entirely.  They will lose contact with everyone from Earth early in their journey, so they are essentially on their own. 

With so much at stake, and so many different personalities packed into a small space, there is bound to be some drama.  Without adults to guide them there is also a lot of self-doubt.  Are they handling each crisis correctly?  Will they be able to fend for themselves?  The chapters spent on the ship kept me totally engaged in the plot, and I was reluctant to set the book aside.  I wanted to know how Triana, the young leader of this group of kids, would handle the challenges tossed her way.  How would she keep the peace between the crew, when even she has clashes with some of the members of the Council, the small group in charge of the mission?  I thought these chapters were great, and started wishing that most of the action took place on the ship.

Which brings me to what I didn’t enjoy about The Comet’s Curse.  There is a ton of set-up, and I found that the pacing for these chapters bogged the story down.  Unbearably so, at first.  We are spoon fed all of the background details behind the comet and the mission to save mankind, and I thought it was a little boring.  I got that the virus was terrible and it attacked its victims in different ways, making it almost impossible to discover a cure.  I got that Dr Zimmer, the man behind the Galahad mission, and Dr Scofield, his most ardent opponent, had vastly differing ideas about how to handle the very dire situation confronting every single human on the planet.  The problem with these chapters were that we are told every tiny detail, but not in a compelling way.  These sections were dry and failed to hold my attention.

Now that the set-up is over, though, I am looking forward to the next book.  The teenaged characters are likeable and engaging, and I want to see how they handle all of the challenges that they are sure to face.  What are they going to do, once they leave the solar system and lose contact with Earth?  What are they going to do when they start to really get on each other’s nerves?  I enjoyed the soap opera elements of the story, and I’m hoping for more interpersonal conflict as the series moves forward.

Grade: B-

Review copy provided by publisher


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The Galahad Legacy Blog Tour with Dom Testa and Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of The Galahad Legacy, the final book in Dom Testa’s Galahad series, Tor Books is hosting a scavenger hunt blog tour!  You can win the entire Galahad series, as well as learn more about Dom and his books.  Today I have an excerpt from The Galahad Legacy for you to enjoy.  If you want to read all of the excerpts, please visit this link at Tor Books.


“Well, besides the smoky haze, I could see things moving around inside. Various sizes. Very graceful. Almost…peaceful.”

Lita stared at Triana for a moment, then said: “The thing you brought back. I take it that was one of the…graceful creatures inside the…” She chuckled. “I don’t know what to call anything.”

A wry smile creased Triana’s face. “Well, for the sake of this discussion, and until we know more, let’s just continue to call the things outside our ship vultures. We can call the floating blobs amoebas. And the thing I brought back…”

She hesitated, then finally shrugged.

“Well, we all know exactly what it looks like, so let’s be blunt. We’ll call it a jellyfish.”


Please visit Bookshelf Banter tomorrow for the next excerpt from the second chapter of The Galahad Legacy.

Want to learn more?  You can follow Dom Testa at these websites:

* Follow Dom on twitter: @HeyDomTesta

* Like Dom on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DomTesta

Watch Dom discuss his books:

Dom will be making several public appearances in April.  If you live nearby, stop in to say “Hi”

* Saturday, April 14th:  Murder by the Book, Houston, TX;  11:00 am

* Wednesday, April 18th and Thursday, April 19th: Texas Library Association Annual Conference, Houston, TX; various times

* Friday, April 20th:  Barnes & Noble, 1000 Research Drive, Austin, TX; 7:00 pm

* Saturday, April 21st:  Barnes & Noble, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, San Antonio, TX; 2:00 pm


You can enter for a chance to win the entire Galahad series!  Following gets you extra entries.  Open to US and Canadian addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win?  You can order the series from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:

Interview with Aubrie Dionne, Author of the New Dawn Series

Aubrie Dionne is the author of the New Dawn series, a sci-fi romance offering from Entangled Publishing.  Since there aren’t many sci-fi romances out there, I was curious about Aubrie’s series, so I asked her to drop by the virtual offices for a chat.

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

[Aubrie Dionne] Coffee lover, flutist, blogger, closet unicorn lover, driven, hard working, a little too intense at times, clothes hoarder, eye shadow guru, princess wannabe, afraid of public speaking, abhorer of eggplant, pizza devourer, cookie monster.  That about sums it up.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your New Dawn series?

[Aubrie Dionne] This series follows colony ships as they leave a post apocalyptic Earth searching for paradise planets to restart mankind.

There’s everything I’d want in a space opera: spaceships, mysterious aliens, answers to the universe, laser battles, scary monsters, handsome space pirates, evil space pirates, desert planets, ice worlds, jungles, I could go on forever!

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

[Aubrie Dionne] I’m a big worry wart, and I worry about the end of the Earth all the time. I think I watched too many of those Ancient Alien episodes about the Mayan Apocalypse. Anyway, I wondered what it would be like if we could colonize other planets. What if people had to live their whole lives on a ship and each generation furthers the mission to the paradise planet? You know, normal things a musician thinks about while sitting in orchestra counting her rests.

[Manga Maniac Café] What has been the most challenging aspect of writing the series?

[Aubrie Dionne] Ummmm….tying it all together! The third book is my masterpiece. I thought about it for many long and hard hours trying to tie in every single thread from the last three books. I didn’t want anyone to say: what about those mysterious aliens, where did they go? Or what happened to Aries and Striker? Or, she never explained the golden liquid stuff in the orb. I wanted everything wrapped up and dealt with in a satisfying way. That was hard. I’m not sure I pulled it off. You’ll have to read the series to make your own judgment!

[Manga Maniac Café] Why did you decide to write science fiction romance?  What appeals to you most about the genre?

[Aubrie Dionne] I grew up watching Star Wars and Star Trek, so you can see where the inspiration came from. I wish there was a new Star Wars movie every six months, but sadly, they are all done. (WHY? Secret message to George Lucas- make more. ) So, I had to write my own space opera to keep myself busy!

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

[Aubrie Dionne] Music, my flute playing, Star Wars and Star Trek (as stated above), all movies to a certain extent, and other books of all genres.  

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

[Aubrie Dionne]  Computer, internet-for research, Radio Gaia internet radio.

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

[Aubrie Dionne] OMG I have to share this but it’s embarrassing: The Secret of the Unicorn Queen books 4-6. umm. Yeah. The series is beyond awesome if you’re twelve years old in the 80’s. Check it out.

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

[Aubrie Dionne] Play music, spend time with my family, plot in my head!

Thanks for this fantastic interview!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can learn more about Aubrie by visiting her website and her blog.

Aubrie’s New Dawn series is available now! You can order the books from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the links below:


Thanks to Bewitching Book Tours for arranging this interview!


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