Win City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte!

Thanks to Penguin, I have a copy of City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte for one of you to win!  I really enjoyed this quirky book, and I think you will,too!  To enter, just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries by following.

About the book:

Cosmically fast-paced and wildly imaginative, this debut novel is a perfect potion of magic and suspense

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.

     Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.

City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.

 

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Didn’t win? You can purchase a copy from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

Review: London Eye by Tim Lebbon

 

Title:  London Eyes

Book One in the Toxic City Series

Author:  Tim Lebbon

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The Hunger Games meets the X-Men in an exciting postapocalyptic debut

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers. The rest of Britain believes that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland.

But Jack and his friends—some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday—know that the reality is very different. At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London—and it is incredible.

Because the handful of London’s survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.

Upon discovering that his mother is still alive inside London, Jack, his sister, and their three friends sneak into a city in ruins. Vast swathes have been bombed flat. Choppers cruise the streets, looking for survivors to experiment upon. The toxic city is filled with wonders and dangers that will challenge Jack and his friends… and perhaps kill them. But Jack knows that the truth must be revealed to the outside world or every survivor will die.


Review:

I am a little torn about how I feel about this book.  It was slow to pick up, but once the action started, it didn’t let up.  Until that ever unpopular with me brick wall of an ending.  This one screeches to a halt, without even the slightest hint of resolution or completeness.  Even worse, the ending opens up multiple story threads that need to be explored in the next installment.  While I don’t mind series, I do not like all of these non-conclusions.  Nothing is wrapped up, and the story lurches to a stop just as things were getting really, really interesting.  It’s like waiting in line at Cedar Point to ride the Gatekeeper, getting to the front of the line, and being told that the ride has to close due to inclement weather.  Come back next year for your anticipated thrill ride.  I am so not a fan of these kinds of endings.

London Eye is being billed as Hunger Games meets the X-Men.   Once Jack and friends enter the forbidden, toxic city of London, they are met with one life-threatening misadventure after another, and Jack is willing to risk his own life to discover the fate of his parents.  They were in London during the terrorist attacks that left it an empty husk of itself.  The only people left alive, everyone is told, are horrible monsters. The city has been completely shut off, with no electricity or access to fresh food.  People can not travel in or out without being picked up by the Choppers.  When Rosemary, an old woman with healing abilities, offers to sneak Jack and his friends inside, he jumps at the chance.  He needs to know what happened to his parents, and he won’t rest until he finds out the truth.

Beside the ending, my biggest complaint with London Eye is the pacing.  It is much slower than I’ve become accustomed to in YA dystopian novels.  If I didn’t like Jack and his younger sister Emily so much, I don’t think I would have stuck it out.  The story doesn’t pick up until about mid-way, and it ratchets up to crazy sauce (in a good way), the last 25 pages.  Which made the non-ending even more of a let-down.  I am getting to the point that I don’t even want to start a series until most of the books are already out, due to my ever growing levels of impatience.  With the deluge of titles hitting store shelves every week, I sometimes feel that my reading needs would better served if I held off on series until they are complete.  I am still stinging over the increasingly long wait times between GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels. Yes, I am one of those entitled readers who expects closure from every book I read.  I like endings, and I need closure. 

Jack and his friends don’t believe the government’s spiel about what happened in London the day the terrorists attacked, releasing Evolve, a biological weapon that sickened and killed most of the city’s residents.  Those who survived were changed, turned into dangerous monsters.  Jack knows in his heart that his parents are still alive, and he just wants to find them and bring them home.  He has been struggling to raise his younger sister, and he knows that they both need their parents.  His friends Sparky and Lucy-Anne also want to discover the fates of their relatives who were in London during the attacks.  When Rosemary shows up, they throw caution to the wind and agree to make the dangerous, forbidden journey into London with her.

As far as the world-building goes, I found it a mixed bag.  I liked the idea of a deserted London, where enhanced humans hide from the vicious Choppers, a government body that captures and dissects the Irregulars in a vain attempt to discover what makes them tick.  As Jack and his small party infiltrated the empty streets, however, I didn’t get a sense that it was all that dangerous to sneak from safe house to safe house.  It wasn’t until the end, during a bloody encounter with the Choppers and the terrifying Superiors, that I felt invested in the danger of the story.   Prior to that, it seemed to me that if you just kept your head down and crept around like a mouse, you wouldn’t draw much attention to yourself and you could just lay low, so I didn’t buy into the hazards of being trapped in the ruins of London.

While I didn’t feel completely engaged in the plot until the end, I am invested enough now that I want to see what happens next.  A sense of urgency and a clear and present threat to Jack’s continued survival was finally, firmly, engaged at the end.  I wonder how he will save all those he cares for, and fend off the Choppers and the terrifyingly powerful Superiors.  I do feel, though, that this book and next could have been combined for a more complete and finished story.  Your mileage will more than likely vary.

Grade:  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Sean Cummings, Author of Poltergeeks

Sean Cummings dropped by the virtual offices to chat about his new release, Poltergeeks. Check out what he has to say!

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

[Sean Cummings] Middle-aged introvert with obsessive compulsive tendencies. Life long cat person who is morphing into the crazy old man on your street.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Poltergeeks?

[Sean Cummings] Poltergeeks is book with a strong female protagonist who is snarky, fearless, loyal to those closest to her and who is desperate to prove herself to her over protective mother. It’s a book that is brooding vampire-free where there are romantic elements that differ from a lot of the love triangle formula you see in many young adult books these days. Julie and her best friend Marcus are quintessential geeks (Marcus, more so) who are quite happy about their social standing and comfortable in their own skin. There’s a bit of high school in the book but most of the story takes place on the streets of my hometown of Calgary. The reader is introduced to some very eccentric characters and Betty Priddy tops the list – she’s a blast to write about and the fact that she’s an immortal spirit who steals bodies at death’s door so she can manifest in the mortal plane creates a couple of interesting choices by which she pops into Julie’s life. This is a fun and funny story that gets very dark, very quickly. It’s non-stop action because the clock is ticking for Julie if she plans to save her mother’s life.

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

[Sean Cummings] The book started with the title, actually. The word POLTERGEEKS just popped into my head and I started jotting down ideas. Given that it’s been nearly thirty years since I was in high school I took a gamble when I decided to write something aimed at young adults and I wanted to make the characters as genuine as possible. So there’s mother-daughter angst. There’s a protagonist who wants very much to prove herself. There’s a missing piece to my protagonist’s life in that her father died when she was very young. All of this started to gel once I sat down and worked on an outline and the actual plot took shape very quickly once I sat down with a sheet of paper and a pencil. I wanted to write something different than a lot of urban fantasy featuring teenagers, so I adopted a mindset very quickly that my characters, though low on the social scale at school should still be quite comfortable with their standing in life. In Julie you have the hero’s journey. In Marcus, you have the Watson to Julie’s Sherlock Holmes.

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

[Sean Cummings] Feisty. Fearless. Irresponsible at times. Grounded in her friendships. Extremely loyal. Extremely self-sufficient. Comfortable in her own skin. She’s also a very, very powerful witch – more so than other witches her age. And finally, she’s snarky. A good female protagonist in an urban fantasy needs to be snarky, and Julie’s level of snark jumps right off the page.

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

[Sean Cummings] That’s a good question. He would never have car keys in his pocket because he’s all about saving the planet. He wouldn’t have a Starbucks gift card because he hates evil corporate entities save for McDonald’s. He wouldn’t carry lip balm unless he’s analyzed its chemical components first.

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

[Sean Cummings] The faint, wispy memories of her late father who died when she was four. He’s the missing piece in her life – his non-presence has shaped the person that she’s becoming. His legacy is coming back to haunt her in a very dark and dangerous way.

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

[Sean Cummings] Comic books top the list. Anything written by Alan Moore because he re-imagined what a comic book can possibly be with Watchmen. Stephen King, obviously, but also authors like Robert R. McCammon, John Saul and Simon R. Green. Believe it or not, Buffy didn’t influence me, though I did enjoy the show immensely.

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

[Sean Cummings] 1) Silence. I need absolute silence. 2) Coffee. I need that kick start first thing in the morning. 3) Early morning. I can’t write after twelve in the afternoon. I’m a morning person and my creative juices are always flowing when I’ve crawled out of bed to begin pounding away at the keyboard.

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

[Sean Cummings] The one that stands out the most is BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig. I believe that in Miriam Black, Wendig has completely re-written the rules for what’s possible in dark fantasy with a strong female protagonist. Like, completely and utterly demolished them. No, I’m serious. He hopped his ass into a Sherman Tank and bloody well smashed through them with his main cannon firing. Miriam Black is unbelievably damaged goods – she touches your skin, she sees your death. BOOM! How can that NOT mess your mind up? How can you NOT smoke a three packs of cigarettes a day or guzzle whiskey to numb everything. It’s gritty, frightening and at times downright hilarious. This is the first book in a long time where I don’t have a bloody clue the direction the main character is going to go because Miriam doesn’t really have a clue where her life is leading her either. BLACKBIRDS is the best book of the year – hand’s down. I expect you’re going to see a lot of authors writing books with similar style characters because they’ve been influenced by Wendig’s writing. God knows, I have.

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

[Sean Cummings] Oh that’s easy. WHEN THE WIND BLOWS by John Saul. It’s the first "adult" book I ever read and the irony is that its main characters are children. All of Saul’s books deal with themes that can resonate with someone writing young adult. The setting is always a small town where everyone knows each other. There’s always something dark and terrible in that house two blocks away from your house. There’s always something evil lurking in the shadows and it usually revolves around young people.

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

[Sean Cummings] I’m a massive English football fan. Love love love the game! So I watch it on the dish Saturday and Sunday mornings at an obscenely early hour when I should be writing. I like to hang out with my son. I read, obviously. I watch a lot of science fiction and fantasy with the better half. I basically immerse myself in being a happy middle aged man who lives in a nice neighborhood (finally).

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

[Sean Cummings] I’m on Twitter (saskatoonauthor). My website is sean-cummings.ca. I’m on Facebook. My email is info AT sean DASH cummings DOT ca.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order Poltergeeks from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below

Waiting On Wednesday–Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Yeah, yeah, everyone seems to be waiting for Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans.  Me, too!  I’m officially tossing my hat into the waiting pile.

In stores January 2013

    s

In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

What are you waiting on?

Interview with Ingrid Paulson, author of Valkyrie Rising

Ingrid Paulson is the author of Valkyrie Rising, a book I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on.  Ingrid very kindly took some time out of her busy day to answer a few of my questions.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] Science nerd and avid reader turned young adult writer. Former Olympic athlete (not really).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Valkyrie Rising?

[Ingrid Paulson] I’m a huge fan of girl power stories, so I set out to write the kind of book I would want to read. In a nutshell, Valkyrie Rising is about a girl (Ellie) who comes into her own while visiting her grandmother in Norway. Boys start mysteriously disappearing, including her brother, and it’s up to Ellie to save them all and overthrow an ancient power. And along the way learns a few unexpected things about her family history.

But I think the copy on the back of the galley says it best:

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s astonishingly epic coming-of-age.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] A few years ago, I went on a trip Norway with the Paulson women, and I was so inspired by the mountains and fjords that I wanted to write a book based on the setting alone. I knew right away it would include Valkyries—I’ve always loved the idea of strong warrior women.

I was actually working on a different book, but Tuck and Ellie captured my imagination so suddenly and completely that I sat down and started sketching out scenes. The rest of the story came together around those two characters and the setting.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] There are about a million challenges in writing a book–it’s hard to pick just one! But I think I struggled most with the ending and ended up re-writing it several times. I’d set up big stakes in the first three-quarters of the book and it was hard to tie everything back up together in a satisfactory way while keeping the action fast and light. Fortunately, I had an amazing editor who helped me work through those issues.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] This is hard because Ellie changes a lot during the course of the story. But the girl she becomes by the final scene is determined, resilient, and brave.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] Tucker is the type to always travel light. It’s not likely he’d have anything but his cell phone and a credit card or two. But he’d definitely never have another girl’s number, even if he’s likely to be slipped more than a few. He also wouldn’t be caught dead with anything relating to school or homework. Part of his casual confidence thing is never admitting he puts work into anything.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] I love reading and that definitely inspired me to start writing. And this might sound creepy, but I also really enjoy people watching (I’m a shameless and painfully obvious eavesdropper). I think that contributed a lot to creating the other people who reside in my head.  In the case of Valkyrie Rising, travel was also a huge influence—I was fortunate enough to stumble across incredible vistas in Norway that made me itch to describe them on paper.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] I need coffee and silence. When I hit a tricky scene or plot issue, I often work it out on a long run, so I guess I need running shoes too.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] That is a hard question! I think the biggest contributor to my love of reading was a father who would sit and read to me for hours and hours on end. His love of books is infectious. However, I was a huge fan of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein and can still recite embarrassing amounts of their works.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] Lately, I feel like I’m always either writing or secretly thinking about writing while pretending to pay attention to something else. But I live in San Francisco, pretty close to the bay, so I just love being outside and wandering the city with my daughter. I love to travel (who doesn’t) and spending time with my friends.

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

[Ingrid Paulson] My websites is: www.ingridepaulson.com

I’m on twitter @ingridepaulson.com

Facebook:  Valkyrie Rising

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Valkyrie Rising from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital.

{teen} Book Scene Tour–Meet Nick from Daniel Marks’ Velveteen

 

Thanks to {teen} Book Scene, hunky Nick from Daniel Marks’ edgy Velveteen dropped by for a short visit. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Hey, Nick, what three words best describe you?

[Nick] Uh…are there three words that mean awesome? I’ll go charming, thoughtful and flexible. Though if you asked Velvet, I’m sure she’d come up with different ones, probably of the four-letter variety.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us what you think of your new co-worker, Velveteen?

[Nick] She’s pretty scary, but I’m into that, apparently. I don’t think I would have ever thought twice about a girl like her when I was alive. We just wouldn’t have run in the same circles, but now that I’m with her all the time. I can’t stop thinking about her. She says it’s Stockholm Syndrome, that I’m only into her because I’m stuck with her. I don’t really care. She can hold me hostage forever.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Empty your pockets right now – what did you have in them?

[Nick] Lint. Ash. There’s always ash in Purgatory. You gotta ask me that question when I’m possessing a dead body. It’s crazy what people shove in their loved ones’ pockets when they think no one will ever see. Crazy. I found a petrified mouse one time, and I thought at first it crawled in on its own, until I saw it’s collar.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Is it hard being the hunkiest guy in City of the Dead?

[Nick] Well. That sort of comes naturally. No. I’m kidding. I’m absolutely not the hottest. I’m the second hottest. So when he moves on to wherever he goes, then. Then. I’ll be golden. Nah. I dunno. That’s weird.

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

[Nick] Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. My mom loved old 70s rock and that song really says it all, doesn’t it? Because there was no reaper, get it. Okay. Stupid joke.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you! I know you are a busy guy, so I’ll let you get back to business.

You can purchase Velveteen from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

About the book:

Readers of Carrie Ryan and Richelle Mead will love this dark revenge fantasy.

At sixteen, Velveteen Monroe was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in the City of the Dead. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven either. Grey, ashen and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do there. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.

Bonesaw.

Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment he deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.

It’ll be brutal…and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting could actually crack the foundation of her new world, not to mention jeopardize her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules . . . or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

Bio:

Daniel Marks writes young adult horror and fantasy, spends way too much time glued to the internets and collects books obsessively (occasionally reading them). He’s been a psychotherapist for children and adolescents, a Halloween store manager, and has survived earthquakes, volcanoes and typhoons to get where he is today, which is to say, in his messy office surrounded by half empty coffee cups. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Caroline, and three furry monsters with no regard for quality carpeting. None. Velveteen is his debut YA fantasy (Delacorte/Random House Kids). Follow the author on Twitter: @dannymarksya Check out his Youtube channel! youtube.com/dannymarksya

Interview with Laura Bickle, Author of The Hallowed Ones

Laura Bickle is a favorite around the virtual offices, and I’m always delighted when she has time to drop in for a chat.  Today we are going to talk about her soon to be released young adult title The Hallowed Ones.  This is a scary glimpse at the end of the world!  I enjoyed this thrilling, frightening, exciting read, and I wanted to ask Laura a few questions about it, so let’s see what she has to say.

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

[Laura Bickle] Cat-rancher, Tarot enthusiast, and sometime salamander chaser. Writing urban fantasy and YA as Laura Bickle and Alayna Williams.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Hallowed Ones?

[Laura Bickle] Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there…and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: no one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elders’ rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?

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

[Laura Bickle] I was thinking about what would happen if the end of the world came…I know this is a common thing to think about on an everyday basis! But that’s part of the joy in being a writer. I get to think about odd things.

I was wondering who would be best-equipped to survive a large-scale disaster. It occurred to me that the Amish would be uniquely equipped to survive. They are incredibly self-sufficient and are not dependent upon things we take for granted in our world, things like electricity and cars.

I live not too far from a large Amish settlement. When I was a child, my parents would take me to visit, and I was fascinated by a world very different than the one I lived in. I’d see Amish girls my age over the fence and wonder what their lives were like. And that’s where Katie came from.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you research Amish culture and traditions?

[Laura Bickle] I spent some time visiting the Amish settlement near where I live. I also did a good deal of reading…there are a lot of great books out there that look at the Plain way of life from a sociological perspective. National Geographic has also done a number of very good documentaries about the Amish. Many of the ideas were very foreign to me. For example, the Amish do not wish to be connected to the outside world, so power lines, phone lines, and electricity are not used. That kind of voluntary isolation is fascinating to me. The only parallel I can draw in my own life is when storms came through our area and we were without phone, cable, electricity, and internet for a week. It was very still and very peaceful.

I’m acutely conscious that I can’t know or understand everything about the Amish, never having lived in an Amish community. But I learned enough to develop an immense respect for the Amish way of life.

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

[Laura Bickle] Katie is strong, quiet, and resolute. She’s a young woman growing into her power.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things would Elijah never have in his room?

[Laura Bickle] Hmmm…Elijah is the boy Katie has grown up with, who she expects to marry someday. Elijah is something of a straight arrow. He’d never have the keys to a car, a secret stash of Star Wars action figures, or anything with a remote control.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Alex would never have in his pockets?

[Laura Bickle] Alex is an injured man Katie finds outside the boundaries of her community. Katie brings him inside her barn to recover, but can’t be sure what kind of evil he’s bringing in with him.

Alex is a graduate student in anthropology. You wouldn’t find any of the following in his pockets: more than twenty bucks, a comb, or directions to the nearest church.

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

[Laura Bickle] Hmmm. Katie doesn’t spend much time listening to popular music, but she was caught by her father humming “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones while milking the cows.

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

[Laura Bickle] My herd of cats would say they’re my greatest influences. There’s always one or two draped on me while I’m trying to type, trying to hit the delete key.

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

[Laura Bickle] Quiet, Coca-Cola, and someplace to sprawl out.

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

[Laura Bickle] FEVER by Lauren DeStefano. Her voice is so incredibly powerful – I can’t wait for the third book in the Chemical Garden trilogy. Both WITHER and FEVER were books that lingered with me for a long time after I finished – I love it when a story takes up real estate in my head and haunts me like that.

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

[Laura Bickle] My all-time favorite is Robin McKinley’s HERO AND THE CROWN. I read it when I was a pre-teen, and fell in love with fantasy ever after. It was the first book I’d read that had a female protagonist who slew her own dragons. I was hooked.

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

[Laura Bickle] In my day job, I work in a library. I get to pet all the new books and come home with armloads of books to read for research and pleasure.
My husband and I are amateur astronomers. We were excited to finally get a break in the cloud cover to see a bit of the Perseids meteor shower this year.

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

[Laura Bickle] I love to connect with readers! My website is www.laurabickle.com. I blog about nerdy stuff like my action figure collection at http://laurabickle.com/category/blog/ I’m also on Twitter and Facebook.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order The Hallowed Ones from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

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!

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