Review: Night Owls by Lauren M Roy

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

While I love Urban Fantasy, I don’t often have the opportunity to read much of the genre because so many of the titles currently being released are part of a longer, multi-volume series, or, when a book comes along that I think is interesting, I just don’t have time to fit it into my jam-packed reading schedule.  I had seen several positive reviews for Night Owls, so I determined to make the time to read Lauren M Roy’s debut novel.  I’m so glad I did!  This is such a fun read, and it clicked for me within just the first few pages.  I couldn’t put it down and finished it in just a few hours.

Read more

Spotlight and Excerpt – Turned by Virna DePaul #FF & Giveaway!

Virna DePaul have a new book releasing in April!!  Today I’m super excited to don my Virna’s Vixens cap and bring you a look at her upcoming release, Turned.  This is the first book in her Belladonna Agency series, and it features oh so sexy vampires.  I also have an excerpt to share, so please enjoy!

Now, instead of #FollowFriday, I bring you YUM Friday!

Read more

Interview with Jenny Brigalow, author of Children of the Mist

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Jenny!  Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jenny Brigalow] I’m a mum, a writer, a dreamer, a chocoholic and a hopeless romantic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Children of the Mist?

[Jenny Brigalow] COTM is a Young Adult paranormal with a strong romantic element. It’s about skater girl Morven Smith who turns sixteen and develops boobs, acute appendicitis and a pair of pointy teeth. Whilst she is stunned by her metamorphosis into vampire, her best mate, the enigmatic Zest, is not. For the young werewolf it’s the answer to a prayer. He’s been alone for a long time. But when fate conspires to push them apart, Zest is filled with dread. In Scotland Morven will discover the truth of an ancient feud. Must the past always repeat itself? And, in the end, can they both survive?

Read more

Review: The Lair by Emily McKay

The Lair

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

When I was contacted about participating in the blog tour for The Lair, I hesitated.  I had tried to read The Farm last summer, but there was so much going on in my life that I had give up and return it to the library.  I thought the premise sounded interesting,  though, and I love post-apocalyptic reads, so I thought What the heck?  Sure, I’ll give it a try.  Let me say that The Lair can be read by itself.  I was only confused a few times, and the author did a nice job recapping the previous book, without the references feeling awkward or out of place.  As someone who hates to read books out of order, or hates starting a series in the middle, I never felt that nagging burst of frustration with The Lair, and I don’t regret reading book two without having first read book one.  I guess I should try this more often with longer series that I’m interested in, but that seem too overwhelming to start at the beginning.

Read more

Review: Cursed by S J Harper

Cursed: A Fallen Siren Novel

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Meet FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.

She’s cursed. He’s damned. Together, they make one hell of a team.

Emma Monroe is a Siren, cursed by the gods and bound to earth to atone for an ancient failure. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now that she works missing persons cases for the FBI, it could be just a rescue away. Unless her new partner leads her astray.

Read more

Review: Midnight Secretary Vol 1 by Tomu Ohmi

 

Title: Midnight Secretary Vol 1

Author:  Tomu Ohmi

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Mad Men meets Vampire Diaries

Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being an excellent secretary and a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s reassigned to the office of her company’s difficult director, Kyohei Touma. He’s as prickly—and hot—as rumors paint him, but Kaya is unfazed…until she discovers that he’s a vampire!!Kaya quickly accustoms herself to scheduling his “dinner dates” and working odd hours, but can she handle it when Kyohei’s smoldering gaze starts turning her way?!


Review:

Midnight Secretary is a very fun, fluffy read.  I wasn’t expecting much from it, and I wasn’t really in the mood for it, so I kept shuffling it from the top of my reading pile, and now I’m sorry I did.  Once I got it in my hands, the cover kind of turned me off.  I don’t find it appealing at all, so here is another instance where I misjudged the book by it’s cover.

Kaya takes pride in her job, and she wants to be the best executive secretary possible so she can get a great job, and so her mom won’t have to work so hard.  After her father died, her mother got a job at Tohma Corporation, and she worked hard to put Kaya through school.  She even helped get her a job at Tohma, and now that Kaya is getting her big break, she’s going to make her mother proud.  The big break turns out to be a mixed blessing.  She’s assigned to be Kyohei Tohma’s secretary.  Kyohei is the younger son of the senior director, and he’s a jerk.  He is a demanding boss, who works long hours, and his exacting expectations have caused countless secretaries to quit.  Kaya is determined to succeed, though, but his dismissive attitude is hard to deal with.

Kyohei has a reputation for being a ladies man, and Kaya quickly discovers that this is true.  He juggles the ladies with consummate skill, arranging meetings with them in his office after dark.  He is quick to disparage Kaya’s looks, and he grumpily complains that she’s not good looking enough to work for him.  Kaya ignores every complaint and quickly proves that she is efficient and dedicated to her job.  When she suspects that Kyohei and his girlfriends are using drugs in the office, she doesn’t hesitate to get to the bottom of her suspicions.  She’s afraid that if there is illegal drug use going on that he’ll get caught, the company will suffer, and she’ll lose her job.  What she discovers is that he’s a vampire, and that the hanky panky in his office  is Kyohei drinking the blood of his beautiful lady friends.  The illegal drug use would probably have been more welcome than working for a blood-sucking playboy!

I enjoyed Midnight Secretary because Kaya is so unflappable.  She takes the discovery that her boss is a vampire in stride, and quickly decides that she’s going to defend his secret and make sure that he is taken care of so that he can continue to perform his job duties.  Well, that and he’s threatened to have her mother fired if  Kaya quits, so she doesn’t really have much choice.  Meeting every challenge that he throws at her head-on, Kaya quickly proves that she is indispensible.  Despite Kyohei’s gruffness, she can’t help but find him attractive, especially after his secret weakness is revealed and he is forced to drink her blood.

The art is very attractive and reminded me of Mayu Shinjo.  The delicate lines are expressive, and the characters are attractive, even Kaya, who hides her baby face behind ugly glasses and a severe hair style.Midnight Secretary is fun and flirty, and I can’t wait to read the next volume. 

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: The Outside by Laura Bickle

 

Title:  The Outside

Author: Laura Bickle

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all?      In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?


Review:

Last year, I read The Hallowed Ones, and it totally creeped me out.  It was scary and suspenseful, and protagonist Katie was brave, level-headed, and firmly grounded by her Amish beliefs.  I eagerly awaited The Outside, the next book in the series, which picks up right where The Hallowed Ones left off.  The end of the world has come, in the form of a terrible sickness that turns its victims into blood sucking monsters.  Katie, her English boyfriend Alex, and Ginger are trying to stay alive after being expelled from Katie’s Amish community.  They have no shelter, dwindling provisions, and the vampires are dogging their every step.  Only sacred ground is keeping them safe at night, as they trek north to find Alex’s family.  Winter is coming (sorry GoTs fans!), and the odds of their continued survival are bleak.

While I didn’t think The Outside was as suspenseful as the previous book,  I still had a hard time putting it down.  This outing is all about the running.  Running from vampires, running from the weather, running from the knowledge that the world has ended and there few survivors of whatever horrible virus has turned humanity into monsters.  Along the way, they meet some of the desperate survivors, and Katie and Alex are at odds about what to do with the weapon they receive to alter themselves to survive the fight with the Darkness.  Alex jumps at the chance to save himself and have a better way to protect Katie, but Katie struggles with her decision about what to do.  She has already gone against her belief system so many times, and she’s afraid that this measure of self-defense will steal away whatever humanity that she has left.  I thought that this method of battling the vampires was genius, in a Ha! Take THIS evil vampires!! kind of way. 

What I enjoyed best about The Outside was Katie’s struggle to accept the bad things that had happened to her.  She made some choices in both books that had very serious repercussions for both herself and for Alex and Ginger, and while she regretted some of the outcomes, she never regretted the initial decision to save Alex.  That one choice was the catalyst for everything else that happened; being shunned, being forced from the protection of her community, seeing the terrible things she saw while she was Outside.  She is angry with the Elders for not believing the Hexenmeister, and for how their treated Ginger.  She’s hurt that her parents did nothing when she was kicked out of the community, yet she can’t stop worrying about them.  Even though her friends and everyone she knows have turned their backs on her, she is still willing to give up her life to save as many of them as she can.  She’s a very admirable character.

One quibble with the book, and it’s the same quibble I have with most post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels, is how quickly they start to feel repetitive.  The steps are always similar to this – travel as far during the day as possible, forage for food and water, seek a safe place to sleep, encounter monsters and life-threatening events along the way.  Stop to rest after finding a safe haven, then gear up and get back on the road, facing even more danger than before.  The pattern and the pacing occasionally frustrate me.  Katie was an interesting enough character that I remained engaged in this story.  With her Plain upbringing, she’s even better prepared for the end of the world than most heroines.  Katie hasn’t been exposed to modern conveniences, so she’s used to a more rugged life-style.  She knows the land, and knows how to forage.  She hasn’t had a cushy life, but instead had chores and obligations to her family and her community.  I thought this gave her a huge advantage that made her survival more believable.

I enjoyed Laura Bickle’s foray into YA, and look forward to her next project.  I like her voice and I really like her characters.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

Meet Katie From Laura Bickle’s The Outside

Please welcome special guest Katie to the virtual offices! Katie is on the run for her life, hiding from the undead.  Hopefully, they haven’t followed her here.

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

[Katie} Faltering, but not yet broken.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your typical day like?

[Katie} Before the end of the world, I had a peaceful Amish life. I worked on my parents’ farm. I raised Golden Retriever puppies and helped take care of my little sister, Sarah. There was plenty of work to be done: tending the garden, working the crops, feeding the cattle, cooking, laundry, and cleaning. But it kept me busy, and for the most part kept my mind from wandering to all the interesting things that must be in the outside world: comic books, Coca-Cola, jeans, and make-up.

But after…after the end of the world…I am on my own. I’ve been exiled from my community. With my two friends, Alex and Ginger, we search for other survivors by day. By night, we try to fight and outrun the vampires. We eat whatever we can scavenge and try to find safe places to sleep. Winter’s coming, and there’s less and less food as it grows colder.

I miss home.

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

[Katie} I know that my parents would want me to regret being shunned in the first place. Fearing contagion, the Elders made a rule that no one was to come in our community, and no one was allowed out. But I found Alex, an injured man, just beyond my fence. I brought him into our barn to heal.

I know that my parents would want me to say that I regret this, and that I regret falling in love with him. But I don’t.

The thing that I regret is not being able to make my family and my community understand what terrible evil was coming, that it could affect us just as much as it has the outside world. They didn’t believe me then. But I know that they do now.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s the one thing do you prize above all others?

[Katie} Of all things, certainly my faith. Though I wrestle with knowing that God has chosen not to intervene in this evil that has spread over the earth, I still treasure it.

In terms of material things? The only thing I really have is the Himmelsbrief my village Hexenmeister created for me. It is a letter to God, a beautiful and powerful thing. It deters the vampires, and I credit it with my survival so far.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think the world has become such a dangerous place?

[Katie] I have heard many explanations for this. My village Hexenmeister has said that the Darkness has always been with us. He says that it was with us even in the Old Country. He remembers the old ways of dealing with the Darkness: with stakes and fire and sunlight. People believed in it then, and struck it down before it had the chance to take root.

Others tell me that it is a scientific evil. That something has crawled out of a radioactive experiment in a place half a world away. Chernobyl? I can’t remember what it was called. Some think that a meteor fell. Others think that it is a virus.

I don’t know the answer. All I know is that there is Darkness and light, and that one must choose a side.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think you have survived, while so many others have not?

[Katie} Alex says that it’s because I’m used to being without modern conveniences: that I know how to make my way without electricity, cars, and telephones. I know what’s edible in the forest and which animal tracks to follow and which to avoid.

I think it’s partially because of the Himmelsbrief. Without it, I would have been devoured long before.

And it’s also because I am not truly alone. I have my friends, Alex and Ginger. We have a horse and have just been joined by a wolf. The wolf is good with hunting…more dog than wolf. He is good with finding chickens, and he shares what he finds.

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

[Katie} No more blood and Darkness.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Katie} Thank you so much!

Purchase link:

About the book:

One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?