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!

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

Interview with Linda Grimes, Author of In a Fix

 

Linda Grimes is the author of In A Fix, a new Urban Fantasy release from Tor Books.  It will be hitting store shelves next week, and in the meantime, Linda dropped by the virtual offices to introduce herself and chat about her book.

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

[Linda Grimes] My tweetography, huh? Okay, let’s see … "Linda Grimes is a smartass writer of light urban fantasy who will do anything (except take her clothes off) for a laugh."

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about In a Fix?

[Linda Grimes] Yes, I can.

Oh, wait … you want me to actually do it? Okay, I’ll give you the short and long of it.

Short version:

Ciel Halligan, a kind of human chameleon, has a great job: she steps into her clients’ lives and fixes their problems for them—as them—but collecting her hefty paycheck can be a real killer.

Longer version:

Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated. Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years – both skilled adaptors – step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended. Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.

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

[Linda Grimes] Is it too "woo-woo" to say I think they were always there in my head, just waiting for the right trigger to make them spring into view? Because, weird as that sounds, that’s what happened. The trigger was seeing a vanity license plate with the name "Ciel" on it while I was riding along on the Fairfax County Parkway. Ciel—and her story—popped into my consciousness just like that.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Ciel?

[Linda Grimes] Short, sharp, and hilarious.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Mark would never have in his bedroom?

[Linda Grimes] Ruffles, a throw pillow, and a French poodle. (So, of course, Ciel will no doubt give him a ruffled throw pillow embroidered with a French poodle for his next birthday, because that’s just how she rolls.)

[Manga Maniac Café] What is Billy’s single most prized possession?

[Linda Grimes] Oh, that’s easy—his cherry-red 1957 Chevy Bel Air. Nothing else comes close. He was born in the back seat of it, so his connection to it goes back a long way.

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

[Linda Grimes] You mean other than booze and chocolate? (Not really. Okay, maybe a little.)

No, clichéd as it sounds, I’d have to say good books (way too many of them to name here—besides, I’m terrified I’d leave some favorite off the list, and never forgive myself). Every time I read a book that really grabs me—that drags me into another world—I think to myself, I want to do that to somebody!

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

[Linda Grimes] Booze, chocolate, and … oh, all right. I’ll try to be serious. I need my laptop, quiet, and a good night’s sleep. Without those things I’m pretty useless.

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

[Linda Grimes] The Taken, by Vicki Pettersson. The rockabilly-noir sensibility, coupled with the paranormal aspects, just blew me away. It’s so original—I love it!

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

[Linda Grimes] Astrid Lindgen’s Circus Child was the first book I could read all by myself. Once I broke the key, there was no stopping me! I read everything I could get my hands on.

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

[Linda Grimes] Read, of course. But also hang out with my husband, and my kids (when they visit the nest). Not just because I’m related to them, either—they’re genuinely fun to be around.

I’m also quite fond of providing feedback to people on their cooking, as long as they don’t expect me to participate in the prep. I’m a wonderful culinary audience.

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

[Linda Grimes] They can find me at my blog, Visiting Reality (lindagrimes.com), or on Twitter (@linda_grimes).

I’m also on GoodReads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5029662.Linda_Grimes).

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, and for asking such fun questions!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can preorder In A Fix from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below

 

Author Bio:

Linda grew up in Texas, where she rode horses and embarrassed herself onstage a lot. She currently resides in Virginia with her husband, whom she snagged after he saw her in a musical number at the now defunct Melodrama Theater in San Antonio. (There’s nothing like a rousing chorus of "If You Wanna Catch a Fish You Gotta Wiggle Your Bait" to hook a man for a lifetime.) Like her globetrotting main character, Linda has spent her fair share of time overseas, though fortunately under less stressful circumstances. Kidnapping and daring rescues are all well and good in fiction, but she prefers sanity in her real life.

Interview with Marie Treanor, Author of Serafina and the Silent Vampire and Giveaway!

Marie Treanor is the author of several PRN, with her latest, Serafina and the Silent Vampire hitting stores today.  Marie stopped by the virtual offices to share some info about her new book. Check back later today for an excerpt from the book!

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

[Marie Treanor] I write paranormal romance, live in Scotland with my 1st husband and 3 kids. Love writing, reading, coffee, wine, good food. Hate housework.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Serafina and the Silent Vampire?

[Marie Treanor] Love to! Serafina is Sera MacBride, a psychic who’s recently started up a “psychic investigation” agency in Edinburgh, Scotland – Serafina’s. Sera talks to the dead, has visions inspired by touch and can spot a lie at twenty paces. She’s also not above scamming the gullible to make a little money, but she has her own standards. Anyway, being used to the company of the dead, she knows the undead are a myth – until she discovers a vampire biting her employee, and her client’s son dies from puncture wounds in his neck and then mysteriously revives! So, Sera goes after the first vampire – who can only communicate telepathically, so  no one but Sera can hear him – and discovers rather more than she’d bargained for because he’s very sexy and very hungry and it turns out they have a mission in common…

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

[Marie Treanor] It sort of grew on me. I’d been reading something about fake mediums and mind-readers and it came to me it would be fun to write a story about a psychic who was real, but also faked stuff occasionally for money. And then, since I wanted her to talk to the dead, I thought about the undead and the character of Blair seeped into my mind. I wanted him to be less of our world and more sort of – dead – so I didn’t want him to speak like a normal human. After which I got quite into the comic possibilities of his silence, and how he would get by in the real world without being able to speak. I had a blast Smile

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

[Marie Treanor] Tough, Compassionate. Secretive.

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

[Marie Treanor] Cuddly toys. Webcam. Crucifix Smile

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

[Marie Treanor] Who Wants to live Forever by Queen…

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

[Marie Treanor] Books, probably, along with people, especially faces, and music.

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

[Marie Treanor] Computer, solitude and coffee.

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

[Marie Treanor] In a HUGE way, I think The Time Traveller’s Wife, but that was years ago and it’s the kind you only find a few of in your whole life. The last one I really couldn’t put down and will pursue all the sequels of, was JD Robb’s first In Death book. Don’t ask me why I hadn’t read it before – I’m just glad I finally did!

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

[Marie Treanor] I think it was Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree when I was about six Smile

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

[Marie Treanor] Read, watch films or selected tv series, hang out with my family and friends, travel when I can.

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

[Marie Treanor] Website: www.MarieTreanor.com

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Treanor-Paranormal-Romance/105866982782360

Newsletter: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marietreanornewsletter

Blog: Marie Treanor’s Romantic Theme Party: http://romanticthemeparty.blogspot.com

Thanks so much for the fun questions!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thanks!

You can purchase Serafina and the Silent Vampire from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

$25 Amazon Gift Card Tour Wide Giveaway!

Marie Treanor is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift card!  Fill out the widget below to enter!


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Interview with Candace Havens, Author of Take It Like a Vamp and Giveaway!

 

Candace Havens is the author of Take It Like A Vamp, a new release under Entangled Publishing’s Covet line.  Candace stopped by the virtual offices for a chat, and she brought along a present! One of you can win a digital copy of Take It Like A Vamp!  Find out how after the interview.

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

[Candace Havens] I’m awesome and freaky busy. That’s how my assistant describes me. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Take it Like a Vamp?

[Candace Havens] Nick and Casey are neighbors in a hi-rise condo development that he owns. They’re best friends, who are secretly in love/hots with each other. That friendship develops into something more. There are supernatural councils, nasty witches and a lot of other fun stuff involved that make things tough on the couple. It’s light, fun and I hope it makes you laugh out loud.

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

[Candace Havens] My publisher mentioned she needed a vampire book. I told her I don’t write vampires. She said she’d love a friends to lovers story and pow! The whole story was in my head and I started telling her about it. I wrote it in four days.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Casey?

[Candace Havens]  Loyal, friendly and curvy.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Nick would never have in his bedroom?

[Candace Havens] Evil witches, bad wine and anyone who wasn’t Casey.

[Manga Maniac Café] If Nick had a theme song, what would it be?

[Candace Havens] In Love With A Girl, by Gavin Degraw

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

[Candace Havens] Hmmm. That’s tough. I think books in general and other authors. From Nancy Drew when I was a kid, to Jodi Thomas, one of my early mentors. I’ve been really lucky that way.

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

[Candace Havens] Big bottle of water. Tunes. And my dogs, Harley and Gizmo. I know that’s four, but the dogs are kind of a pair even though one is a Great Dane and the other is a Japanese Chin/Maltese.

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

[Candace Havens] Gosh, I’ve been really lucky with my picks. I guess the last one is Seducing Cinderella by Gina Maxwell. Love her hero in that one.

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

[Candace Havens] Nancy Drew.

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

[Candace Havens]  I covet sleep, but it never happens. I’m always writing. I do write about TV and Film, so that’s fun. Some day, I’d like to take a vacation to Paris where I don’t have to worry about anything except where I want to eat, shop or go next.

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

[Candace Havens] I am everywhere. (smile) My website is www.candacehavens.com I’m @candacehavens on Twitter and Candace Havens Author on Facebook. I’m also on Google plus, tumblr, myspace and probably social media sites I’ve forgotten. I’d love to hear from you guys, and thanks so much for letting me hang out.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Fill out the widget for a chance to win a digital copy of Take It Like A Vamp.  Earn extra entries for following.  Open Internationally!

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Didn’t win? You can order Take It Like A Vamp from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

About Candace Havens:

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley including, Charmed & Dangerous,Charmed & Ready, Charmed & Deadly, Like A Charm, The Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes. Her books for the Blaze line at Harlequin include Take Me If You Dare, She Who Dares, Wins, Truth and Dare, and The Model Marine. She is also in the anthology Spirited, and the proceeds go to help literacy. In addition to Take It Like A Vamp, she has the steampunk novels Iron Demon (Oct. 2012) and Iron Blood (April 2013) from the Maisy Clark series debuting with Entangled Publishing.

Her books have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards. Model Marine is a National Readers Choice Finalist. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more.

Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is the President of the Television Critics Association.

Author Website: http://www.candacehavens.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CandaceHavens

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/116617.Candace_Havens

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 

Review: Polterguys Vol 1 by Laurianne Uy and Nathan Go

 

 

Title: Polterguys Vol 1

Author: Laurianne Uy & Nathan Go

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Bree is a smart but socially awkward college girl who ends up moving into a house that’s haunted by five ghost guys. She’s the only one who can see these ghosts so she has to help them resolve their unfinished business. 

Review:

I haven’t been reading many graphic novels lately, and I’m at a loss as to why.  I think I was getting tired of the episodic formula, and more specifically, I was getting burnt out on waiting for new installments of my favorite series.  Throw in the number that have been canceled over the last few years, and well, I kind of lost any enthusiasm I had for comics.  I have received a few that looked very promising, though, so I started picking them up again.  So far, I am glad that I did, because I did miss the storytelling style.  I love the marriage of art and words, so I am slowly wading back into the world of graphic novels.

Polterguys looked cute, so I decided to give it a read.  It is cute, and the whole time I was reading it, I wondered why I never get to experience the life of a shoujo heroine.  I want a bunch of cute guys to clean my house and make me breakfast. Why hasn’t this happened yet?  I’m so jealous! Why doesn’t stuff like this ever happen in real life??  It’s commonplace in manga, but finding a guy in real life who can cook and clean – it’s about as rare as finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Bree is your typical nerd.  She is studious and dedicated to becoming a doctor.  She is awkward with others, and has no close friends.  In fact, she had to bribe some girls to pretend to be her friends so her mom could take pix of Bree and her BFFs at her high school graduation.  I was feeling a little down for Bree, because everyone deserves someone to confide in, but other than her poster of Sanjay Gupta, she has nobody.  She has also irritated the floor advisor at the college dorms because she can’t get along with her roommates.  Oh, poor Bree, just wait to see what Fate has in store for you!

When the opportunity comes to rent a room off campus, Bree jumps at the chance.  Finally, she will have peace, quiet, and the solitude that she has longed for.  Only the house is a little decrepit, and better yet, she discovers that it’s haunted!  With five hottie ghosts!  Bree quickly learns that none of them can remember much about their past, and until they can resolve the issues keeping them from  moving on, they are trapped on this plane.  Worse, they are in danger, because there is an evil ghost bounty hunter after them!  Mustering up every last bit of courage, Bree promises to help all of them find peace.

I enjoyed Polterguys because of the light tone.  While there are some dark and dangerous elements to the story, most of it is fun and humorous.  Bree’s social awkwardness is a humorous contrast to the ghosts’ charming approachability.  Only gruff Alex shows any reservation about getting involved with Bree.  As the unofficial leader of the ghosts, he feels a lot of pressure to keep everyone together and safe.  He isn’t pleased to think about the dangers and complications that Bree represents.  It turns out he was right; having Bree around is going to have terrible repercussions as the ghosts let their guard down and get a little careless.

There is some inconsistency to the art, but the style works well with the overall tone of the story.  While there isn’t really anything new here, I enjoyed the presentation, and found the cliffhanger ending more than enough to get me excited about reading the next volume of Polterguys.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by author

See Polterguys on Goodreads  Polterguys, Vol. 1

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Cover Shot! Sweet Chaos by Misty Evans

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?

I haven’t heard of Misty Evans or her Kali Sweet urban fantasy series before, but this cover for Sweet Chaos got my attention.  This is the second book in the series, and it looks pretty good.  Have you read anything by Misty Evans?

 

Three hundred years later, the ghosts from her past are hunting for revenge.

The past always finds a way to bite you in the ass.

As a three-hundred-year old vengeance demon, I’ve made a lot of enemies. The worst was Queen Maria, the Italian Court’s most devious succubus and a ruler who used me as a weapon of mass destruction to inflict pain and kill hundreds of humans in her torture chambers.

Now she’s back, this time as a ghost, and she’s invited a new friend to the party—a vampire king who wants my head on a stake. Together they’re bringing a war to Chicago that will topple the carefully constructed world I’ve protected for centuries.

But I’m Kali Sweet. I never run from my past…and I’m not about to hide from my present.

In stores now!

 

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