Interview with Christine D’Abo, Author of Gilded Hearts



Christine D’Abo is visiting the virtual offices to celebrate the release of Gilded Hearts. Please help her celebrate and enter for a chance to win a digital copy of her book!

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

[Christine D’Abo] Silly, genuine, driven, obsessive, laid-back

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

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Interview with Paul Crilley, Author of The Osiris Curse and Giveaway!

Please welcome Paul Crilley to the virtual offices! He’s here to tell us about his latest release The Oriris Curse.

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

[Paul Crilley] A Scotsman living in South Africa. Generally quiet, loves his kids. Passionate reader. Superhero in training. Teller of tall tales.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Osiris Curse?

[Paul Crilley] It’s the sequel to The Lazarus Machine, a steampunk mystery-adventure in the vein of Dr Who, Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, and James Bond. This time round Tweed and Nighitngale are looking into the mystery of Nightingale’s missing mother, (which was touched upon in the first book). Their investigation brings them into contact with a sinister cult called the Brotherhood of Osiris, and they are forced to go undercover on the maiden voyage of the Albion, the very first luxury airship. (Tweed has to pose as a waiter, something he’s not at all happy with.) The trail takes them all the way to Egypt, where they discover that a certain mythical ‘hollow-earth’ theory might not be so mythical after all.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for your Tweed and Nightingale series?

[Paul Crilley] The whole thing started off as a single image I came up with about ten years ago. It was of a shivering, skinny Sherlock Holmes sitting on a rocking chair staring into the fire while Dr Watson looks on in horror. Only problem is, Holmes had been dead for ten years. It was originally going to be an straight adult book, (is that a term? Not Young Adult, is what I mean), told by Dr Watson, just like the original Holmes tales, but then I started adding more and more steampunk elements and then Nightingale appeared (originally as an antagonist), and that image morphed into what we have now.

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

[Paul Crilley] Analytical. Arrogant. Loyal.

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

[Paul Crilley] Her Tesla gun.

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Cover Shot! The Tinker King by Tiffany Trent

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?

Am I the only one who thinks he looks like Keanu Reeves?  Judging by all of the flames and blinding orange chaos behind him, he’s got quite a job ahead of him.  Good luck!  We’ll see if he perseveres in February 2014


After Vespa, Syrus and Bayne defeated the Grue and restored order to their world, they thought their future was secure. Empress Olivia, committed to peace and equality for humans and Elementals alike, was a fair and just ruler. And the Creeping Waste had vanished for good, giving them hope for the first time.

But rebellion is brewing in the far-off city of Scientia, and dark Elementals are plotting war in the ruins of New London. When a wave of unimaginable terror threatens to destroy everything in its path, Vespa, Syrus and their friends are plunged into a new swamp of intrigue, deception and magic—and the cost of survival may be more than any of them are willing to pay.

Character Interview with Bion Donkova from Mary Wine’s A Captain and A Corset and Giveaway!

Please welcome Bion Donkova, intrepid airship captain from Mary Wine’s A Captain and A Corset.  After the interview, enter for a chance to win a copy of A Captain and A Corset!

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

[Bion Donkova] Right. Always Right. Never, ever wrong. Ms. Stevenson calls me arrogant. I believe she is ignorant of the world. But that is a given, she’s been raised with the narrow views of Victorian society.

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

[Bion Donkova] Dedication to duty. I set a goal to become a Navigator and it is something only achieved by the best. My skills in piloting an airship must be above excellent. Security is a chief concern, so Asian fighting skills are a must and they require daily training periods. Now I have the added duty of instructing Ms. Stevenson in the arts of being a Navigator. I do not mind mentoring her but she is stubborn.

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

[Bion Donkova] Stubborn, Unfairly fortunate. She encountered a Root Ball, which transformed her sight. It’s something I have been working toward for years and she stumbled upon.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the first thing that you noticed about her?

[Bion Donkova] Madam, that is not fit for public discussion.

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

[Bion Donkova] Hummm, I believe that would involve the night that my good friend Sven and I went drinking at the Red Petticoat. I would decline the wager to seduce the madam who ran the upstairs establishment. Who might have guessed that so petite a woman might have leg irons secured so firmly to the sides of her bed?

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

[Bion Donkova] My integrity. Honor defines a man.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t saving Sophia from the forces of evil?

[Bion Donkova] Raising eyebrow. A gentleman never kisses and tells.

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

[Bion Donkova] I could never confine a definition of my new wife to so few words. I expect mayhem but confess I have become addicted to it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


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Purchase link:

About the book:

Airship Captain Bion Donkova has devoted his life to enhancing his navigational powers. When he discovers Sophia Stevenson has inadvertently received the gift of every captain’s dreams—the rare and powerful root crystal—he is just about ready to throw her overboard.

Sophia’s not so enchanted with her newfound powers—especially when she becomes the target of a corrupt airship deadset on using her powers for evil. When Sophia goes missing, Captain Bion drops his grudge and thunders to her rescue. Once the two are free of danger, it doesn’t take long before old grudges return, tempers flare, and red-hot passion ignite

Guest Post: Bec McMaster, Author of Heart of Iron and Giveaway!

Please give Bec McMaster a warm welcome to the virtual offices! Bec has taken over the dashboard with a guest post and a giveaway! Check out what she has to say!!

Guest Post by Bec McMaster, Author of Heart of Iron

In the dark world of my steampunk London, the blue bloods of the Echelon rule the city with an iron grip, forcing their strict blood taxes on the nation and holding power with their army of metal automatons. Only a select group of humans – calling themselves Humanists – dare to defy them.

In Heart of Iron, the second book in my London Steampunk series, flirtatious debutante Lena Todd is just starting to realise that the glittering ballrooms she dreamed of as a youth are not as safe as the reality. Desperate to make some sort of difference in her world, she finds herself lured into the heart of a dangerous plot against the aristocracy.

Only one man can help her. Will Carver, the notorious Beast of Whitechapel, a verwulfen warrior who guards her brother-in-law, Blade, in the rookeries. He’s the only man she can’t twist around her little finger, and the one man she wants above all others.

One of my favourite scenes is the moment when Will realises that Lena is involved in the Humanist movement threatening London’s vicious blue blood elite. No matter how much he’s afraid to be near her, he can’t deny the protective instinct of a verwulfen male when something he cares for is threatened:

“You dropped somewhat.”

Lena froze in the doorway. Her hand went immediately to her sleeve and then she spun around, her eyes widening. “Give it to me!”

Will stood, breaking the seal and unrolling the small furl of paper. He caught just a glimpse of thick black letters before Lena tried to tug it out of his grip.

“A love letter, I’ll bet.” He turned around and pretended to read it.

A whoosh of scent enveloped him, her skirts swishing against his legs. She clutched at his shoulder, trying to drag his arm lower, her breasts crushed against the broad expanse of his back. Any attempt at reading went straight out of his head.

“What would you know of love letters?” She climbed on the stool and reached for the piece of paper. The step put her on eye level with him. Dangerously intimate. “The type of woman as would have you isn’t the type to be writing poems.”

“Don’t be so sure,” he shot back. “You’d be surprised at the type of poems they whisper in me ear.”

“Urgh. You’re despicable.”

The stool teetered and their gazes clashed. Lena shrieked and clutched at him as she fell. Will found himself with an armful of soft velvet and warm flesh, and the sound of two racing hearts.

The world slowed down. Became nothing more than the feel of her in his arms. Will stared into her eyes, then his gaze dropped, unbidden, to her lips.

Lena’s eyes widened and she made a choking noise. “Put me down.”

He could barely breathe. The hunger inside him was suddenly choking him, desperate to get out and rule his body. He knew the burning amber of his gaze was intensifying; he could almost feel the molten heat of it run through his irises as the colour changed.

Will,” she whispered. “Your eyes.”

Her breath was warm on his lips. She’d been chewing something with apple and cinnamon in it. He could scent it on her breath and suddenly he wanted to taste it.


Shoving her away, he turned, the paper crumpling in his fist. Had to get out of here. Away from the scent of her. Away from the temptation to do something she’d never forgive him for.

Maybe Blade and Honoria were right. Maybe he couldn’t be trusted?

“Will,” she whispered. “You’re shaking.”

He looked down at his hands. The tremble started there, swept all the way through him. “You were right,” he said hoarsely. “Maybe I did exert meself.”

“Perhaps I’d best go?”

It seemed some sense of self-preservation had come over her.

He nodded, struggling to hold onto himself. What the hell was wrong with him? What did it matter if she’d found… someone? Instantly the anger was back, thick and choking, a red haze threatening his vision.

You shouldn’t have come. This ain’t your world now.” The words were harsh and he’d meant them to be.

Silence. “I know. I thought you wouldn’t be here. You’re never here at midday.”

Which was why she only visited at those times.

Then why don’t you go?”

“My letter?”

Soft footsteps shuffled behind him. Her skirts brushed against his legs and then her hand slid down his arm, closing over the letter in his grip. A letter she was so desperate to regain.

There was only one reason she wouldn’t want him to see it.

Suddenly he couldn’t stop himself. He had to know, even if the answer was one he wouldn’t particularly like. Lena cried out, fighting him for it.

It tore in half and both of them staggered apart, left with a piece each. Will unrolled it, his gaze darting over the piece of paper. Not letters. Not writing. His gaze sharpened. He’d seen this before. The same bloody cipher he’d found on the men who’d fired the draining factories.

His stomach dropped. “What the hell are you doin’ with this?” he whispered, his voice filled with a cold, inexplicable dread.

Lena gave a strangled cry and darted for the door. Will grabbed her skirts almost as an aside, shock running its icy fingers down his spine. “Don’t think you’re goin’ anywhere. Not until you tell me where the bloody hell you found this!”

“I picked it up,” she lied, the bitter smell of it all over her.

Will grabbed her by the shoulder and spun her towards the stool she’d almost toppled. “Sit,” he growled, shoving her into the seat. “And explain. And if I were you, I wouldn’t dare tell me another lie.”

© Bec McMaster, 2013

For a sneak peek at the London Steampunk world, I’m offering an e-novella called Tarnished Knight (set after Kiss of Steel and before Heart of Iron) for free download for the month of May. See here for details.


Ready for a chance to win the first book in Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk series? Just fill out the widget below for your chance to win Kiss of Steel! US addresses only, please.

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In the mist-shrouded streets of London’s dreaded Whitechapel district, werewolves, vampires and a clockwork army are one step away from battle…


Lena Todd is the perfect spy. Nobody suspects the flirtatious debutante could be a rebel against London’s vicious elite—not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can’t twist around her little finger.

Will Carver, is more than man, he’s a verwulfen and he wants nothing to do with the dangerous beauty who drives him to the very edge of control. But when he finds Lena in possession of a coded letter, he realizes she’s in a world of trouble. To protect her, he’ll have to seduce the truth from her before it’s too late.

Deftly blends elements of steampunk and vampire romance with brilliantly successful results…darkly atmospheric and delectably sexy.”

Booklist, starred review for KISS OF STEEL


Award-winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. The third book in the London Steampunk series, My Lady Quicksilver will be in stores in October 2013. Read more about her at or follow her on Twitter @BecMcMaster.

To purchase Heart of Iron:

Barnes and Noble




Discover a New Love


Cover Shot! The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

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?

Kady Cross must have pleased the cover gods, because all of her books are blessed with incredible covers.  The Girl with the Iron Touch has the best so far! This is another May 2013 that I can hardly wait to get my hands on!


Finley Jayne, Griffin and their crew are stunned when one of their own is kidnapped. Emily has a way with machines—she can literally talk to them. But the automatons who abducted her aren’t ordinary machines. They’re almost human—and they want Emily to do something as horrifying as it seems possible.

To save Emily, Finley must contact the highly unsettling Jack Dandy and face her feelings for two vastly different men, even as Griffin’s nightmares threaten to turn into a reality that might just end them all.

Interview with Adrienne Kress, Author of The Friday Society

Please welcome Adrienne Kress, author of The Friday Society, to the virtual offices today.  She’s here to chat about her latest release.

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

[Adrienne Kress] An author/actor who is utterly fabulous in every way, and beyond humble.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Friday Society?

[Adrienne Kress] In very brief:  Steampunk Charlie’s Angels without the Charlie.

In slightly less brief: Three female assistants to powerful men in London society (lab assistant, magician’s assistant, combat assistant) realise that they are just as talented (if not more so) than their bosses and team up to solve a series of murders and thefts, as well as save the city from general destruction, in London 1900. 

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

[Adrienne Kress] This is a tough question.  The story is kind of a combination of many different things I’m interested in, Steampunk, strong female characters (as well as strong female friendship – no cattiness in my story, no frenemies, just true loyal quality friendship like the relationships I have with my female friends), mystery, humour.  I’ve also been a temp to make ends meet so I know what it’s like to be an assistant and not really get the credit or respect you are really owed.  I figured pairing that with the sexism of the Late Victorian/Early Edwardian period could result in a pretty interesting story about girls finding their way in life, as well as learning that they are strong individuals and worthy of stepping out of the shadow of their bosses.

In general I have an interest in (and distaste for) labels and how society puts everyone into categories and doesn’t seem to want to recognise people as individuals.  This is also why I address classism and racism in my story, not just sexism. 

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

[Adrienne Kress] Honest, sweet (though prone to anger), bold

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Cora won’t leave the house without.

[Adrienne Kress] Her pistol that her boss, Lord White, had customised for her.

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

[Adrienne Kress] Comfortable bedding, any decorative features, friends. (Michiko lives with her boss, Sir Callum Fielding-Shaw, and he doesn’t treat her particularly well.  He provides a roof over her head and food, but not much else.  He also doesn’t permit visitors.)

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

[Adrienne Kress] Douglas Adams, Shakespeare, Edward Gorey, children’s authors such as A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, J.M. Barrie, Norton Juster

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

[Adrienne Kress] Computer, tea, focus

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

[Adrienne Kress] A rather disturbing (and definitely not for kids) adult fantasy novel called THE PATTERN SCARS by Caitlin Sweet

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

[Adrienne Kress] I can’t think of just one.  The books of Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary really made me love reading as a kid.  But THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY made me see books (and writing) in a whole different light.

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

[Adrienne Kress] I’m a huge cinephile, so I enjoy going to the movies a lot.  Otherwise just spending time with friends and family makes me perfectly content.

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

[Adrienne Kress] Easiest way is to email me at adriennekress(at)gmail(dot)com.  Or I’m on Twitter at @AdrienneKress.  I also have a website (and blog):

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order The Friday Society from your favorite bookseller or by following the links below.  In stores December 6th.

About the book:

An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns–and the heroines who use them all

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.