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 

Interview with Laura Powell, Author of Burn Mark

Our special guest today is Laura Powell, the author of Burn Mark.  This new Bloomsbury release features one of my favorite romance tropes – forbidden love!  Let’s see what Laura has to say about her new book.

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

[Laura Powell] I’m half-Welsh, half-American, and live in a London attic. I can read fortunes in tea leaves and Tarot cards, and like to bake cakes and binge-sleep in between books.

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

[Laura Powell] It struck me that a witches’ coven is quite like the Mafia: they’re both secret criminal organizations, hunted by the law, a source of fear and loathing to many, but seen as quite cool and glamorous by some.

Since modern-day witches would make great gangsters, I thought there would need to be a specialist police force to protect people from black magic – the Inquisition. Once I’d got these two opposing forces, I decided that my heroine, Glory, should come from a famous crime coven, while my hero, Lucas, should belong to an equally famous family of inquisitors. When their worlds collide, sparks fly!

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

[Laura Powell] Stroppy, ambitious, brave

[Manga Maniac Café]  What are three things Lucas would never have in his pocket?

[Laura Powell] Any kind of discount voucher, a lock-picking set, lint

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

[Laura Powell] The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. She’s probably my favourite contemporary novelist. Now that I’ve finished that, I’m on to her post-apocalyptic thriller, The Year of the Flood.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can learn more about Laura by visiting her website.

Check out the trailer!

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

Waiting on Wednesday–Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

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

Strange Chemistry has an awesome lineup of books slated to release the last half of this year.  Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings looks really, really good!  In stores in October.

 

15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it’s pretty obvious to Julie there’s a supernatural connection.

In fact, there’s a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town.  After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie’s high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it’s a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won’t just lose her mother’s soul, she’ll lose her mother’s life.

In stores October 2012

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Leap into Books Giveaway Hop–Win Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood!

Here’s a chance to win free books!   I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Jinky is Reading are hosting the Leap into Books Giveaway Hop.  The giveaway is February 29 – March 5.   There will be a ton of chances for you to win some new reading material.  Just hop on over to I am a Reader, Not a Writer to see the other giveaways!  Click here to see the list of participating blogs.

I am giving away an ARC of one of my favorite books of 2012: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood!  This book is awesome!   You know you want to win!

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget.  Earn extra entries for following on Twitter, Goodreads, or subscribing to receive an email with blog updates.  Easy, Huh?!

You can follow me here for extra entries:

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Review: Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

 

Title: Princess of the Wild Swans

Author: Diane Zahler

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 978-0062004925

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment–cast by their conniving new stepmother–has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.

Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.

With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam–a pretty half-witch and her clever brother–Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.

But if she fails . . . all will be lost.

Review:

I read and enjoyed The Thirteenth Princess, so I was curious to see if I would like Princess of the Wild Swans as well.  The fairy tale that this book is based on has never been a favorite, and I wondered how I would feel about Diane Zahler’s reimagined version.  I liked it!  A lot!  The characters, once again, are what made the story, as well as the urgency of Meriel’s task.  If she doesn’t find a way to save her brothers soon, winter will set in and they will have to fly to a warmer climate.  Since it is autumn, that doesn’t leave her much time to come up with a solution!  To make matters worse, there isn’t anyone for her to confide in, because everyone seems to have succumbed to the evil Lady Orianna’s enchantments.

Diane Zahler’s princess protagonists make these stories for me.  They are kind and concerned, and though they might be slightly spoiled, when the chips are down and danger beckons, they will do anything to save the people they love.  Though she is frightened and confused, Meriel quickly finds the determination to save her brothers.  She knows that something terrible has happened to them – they all just disappeared, after all – and she is going to figure out where they all went.  With her father bewitched by her new, beautiful stepmother, she has no adult to turn to.  After chance encounter with Riona, her brother Cullan’s girlfriend, Meriel discovers some equally determined allies.  Both Riona and her brother, Liam, will do anything to help Meriel.  They know that the new queen is evil, and they fear what will happen to the kingdom if she triumphs in her evil deeds.

Just when Meriel is ready to give up, the townsfolk provide assistance to keep her moving doggedly forward.  Hers is a terrible task, one that she isn’t prepared to tackle, but with help from her friends and her subjects, she finds the resolution and the courage to get the job done.  Meriel matures and gains confidence in her ability to save her family, and as she discovers an impressive inner strength, she makes things happen.  She knows that if she fails, her brothers will remain swans forever, and that is all of the motivation she needs to find a way around every obstacle that springs up in her path.  Her brothers, and even her father, may have treated her like a helpless child, but Meriel will show them all that she is more than capable of taking care of herself, and them as well!  Even though each road block was more overwhelming than the last, and Meriel was overcome with self-doubt, she continued to do everything possible to save her brothers.

Diane Zahler’s writing is reminiscent of Patricia McKillip and Robin McKinley, two of my favorite fantasy authors, so it’s no surprise that I am enjoying her books as well.  I just purchased A True Princess ($5.99 for my Kindle – WIN!).  She has, in fact, been moved to my auto-buy list.  I can hardly wait to see what other adventures she has in store for her very relatable and likeable characters.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by the author

 

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Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood


 

Title: Born Wicked

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Publisher: G. P. Putnam

ISBN: 978-0399257452

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Blessed with a gift…cursed with a secret.

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship – or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood – not even from each other.

Review:

When I signed up for this book tour, I wasn’t expecting to receive a review copy, so I was delighted when one appeared in my mailbox.  After reading the introductory letter written by Arianne Lewin,  Executive Editor at G P Putnam, I was even more excited to dive into the book.  I haven’t read many YA books set in the 1800s, let alone an alternate New England.  I love reimagined time periods, so Born Wicked had me intrigued.  I was a tiny bit skeptical that it would be worthy of all of the gushing praise, but once I started reading, I could not stop.  I was totally sucked into Cate’s world from the first page.  I immediately felt sympathy for her.  I immediately connected with her plight.  Here is a young woman, still grieving for her mother, who has the weight of the world on her shoulders.  No wonder she seems to be so joyless and stern at first.  She is scared to death that if her sisters’ secret is exposed, she will lose them, too.

Cate’s mother was a witch.  Cate and her two younger sisters are witches, as well.  In their New England of the 1890s, being a witch is a terrible crime.  The Brothers firmly keep control of the populace, swiftly doling out punishments when they discover behavior contrary to their stern teachings.  Suspected witches are imprisoned in a mental hospital or sentenced to hard labor on a ship, or worse; they simply disappear.  Women are second-class citizens in Cate’s society.  They must be ever vigilant against the evil influences of suspected witches, and upon their majority, they must declare their intention before God and the members of their church.  Girls only have two choices; to marry, or to join the Sisterhood.  If a girl doesn’t know which she prefers, the Brothers make the decision for her.  Ugh!

In this grim setting, Cate not only has to worry about her own future, she has her sisters to worry about.  Unlike Cate, they are chafing to use their magic, and they aren’t always discrete about it.  In a world where being a witch can prematurely and very unpleasantly end your life, Cate is stressed about about everything.  Not even her father knows their secret.  Cate was made to promise to keep their secret and to keep Tess and Maura safe at her mother’s death bed.  She takes her promise very, very seriously, because she understands the consequences of their discovery.  She has heard about the girls who have been disappearing, either sent to the insane asylum or simply vanishing without a trace.  She is terrified that they will be next.  In addition to this burden, she also has romantic entanglements to work out.  This is one love triangle that actually didn’t grate on my nerves, and I am so curious to see what happens with it in the next book.

I thought the stark, stifling world of this New England was fascinating.  The Brothers control just a sliver of this alternate North America – other stronger, more progressive countries control the rest.  The borders are kept firmly closed against outsiders.  Books and manuscripts are regularly banned and burned.  Not following the teachings of the Brothers gets you labeled a deviant, and puts you at the mercy of their cruel punishments.  Women are always treated more harshly than men, and even the simplest of infractions can lead to disaster.

I could not put this book down.  I thought about it when I was forced to do something else.  I counted the hours until I was free to pick it up again.  The characters charmed me, especially Cate and her sisters.  Their interactions were as complicated and compelling as their relationships.  The younger girls don’t understand Cate’s reluctance to use and learn about her magic.  They don’t understand her fury when they carelessly weave spells where others might see them.  While it is obvious to see how much they love each other, it is also painfully obvious to see how Cate’s rules are going to tear them apart.  Cate’s greatest nightmare is only an eye-blink away, but the tighter she tries to control Maura and Tess, the faster the time bomb starts ticking.  With three powerful witches in the same house, struggling to exert control over themselves, it was only a matter of time before something awful happened.  And happen it did, with exploding glass, splintering furniture, and an emotional chasm that will take more than a hug to mend. 

I found Born Wicked to be a unique read; I don’t think I have read anything else quite like it.  Jessica Spotswood took the usual paranormal tropes and twisted them up into something new and wonderfully compelling.  YA tropes that normally drive me nuts kept me firmly engaged in the story, wondering what would happen next.  The character development kept me enthralled, too.  While I would never call Cate a carefree kind of girl, she does begin to accept herself and to open up to others, which made her an even more sympathetic character for me.  When she kept herself isolated, she was taking the chicken exit; without putting herself out there, without accepting any emotional risk, she came across, at first, as a stunted, immature girl.  As she began to take emotional risks, she began to blossom into a believable, likeable young woman.

So, do I have any gripes about Born Wicked?  Yup, only one.  It’s part of a series, and it is going to be a long, long wait for Book 2!

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by {teen} book scene

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Teaser Tuesday–Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Last week it was all about Mr. Kennedy. This week, it’s all about Born Wicked, the first book in Jessica Spotswood’s Cahill Witch Chronicles. This book, with its reimagined New England, is freaking fantastic.  I couldn’t put it down! 

But Maura stares at me in the mirror, like she knows what I’m thinking. “We’re witches, Cate. We were born that way.  Magic isn’t shameful, no matter what the Brothers would have us believe. It’s a gift. I wish you would accept that.”

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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