Interview with Ciye Cho, Author of Florence

Ciye Cho is the author of Florence, a YA paranormal romance featuring one of my favorite mythical creatures – Mermaids!  Ciye dropped by the virtual offices to chat about his new book, so read on to see what he has to say.

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

[Ciye Cho] Daydream believer… who may (or may not) have been a merman in a past life.

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

[Ciye Cho] Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is lost beneath the waves. Kidnapped and dragged down to Niemela–the hidden world of merfolk–she is the coronation gift for a mer prince named Kiren. But nothing is what it seems in the war between Niemela and the dark ocean–a conflict that will drive her between two brothers… and force her to find out where she belongs.

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

[Ciye Cho] I’ve always loved mermaids and mermen. Who doesn’t? And I thought it would be cool to present a different take on the mythology of merfolk. Instead of playful sirens in conch bras… why not make them multicolored warriors armed with rifles, spears, and the occasional super power? Instead of putting them in a shell castle… why not put them in a city made of coral and jellyfish… stuck in a valley of deep-sea volcanoes? I wanted to take the classic mer theme of belonging and take it to another level by making the Niemelans (the merfolk in "Florence") exceptionally regimented and driven by a sense of order and purpose.

This is where the idea for the characters came from. I liked the idea of having characters who don’t quite fit in with the rest of their world. Like Kiren who rebels against the rules of Niemelan life; or Rolan who follows each commandment to the letter… only to find he can’t truly connect with the world he was born into. And, of course, Florence Waverley who doesn’t have a place in any world–deep-sea or otherwise.

I think a lot of people feel out of sync with the world they live in. Like they’re (fishes) out of water.

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

[Ciye Cho] Trying to make all the interactions feel real. The young-adult genre is incredibly sophisticated and YA readers have high expectations of they books read. They might be willing to suspend their disbelief over vampires, elves, and mermaids… but the interactions between the characters have to feel real. I don’t know how well I succeeded, but I spent a great deal of time rewriting the core interactions between Florence and the mer she encounters.

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

[Ciye Cho] Outsider looking inside.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Kiren would never have in his bedroom?

[Ciye Cho] Kiren doesn’t actually have many possessions in his kelp tower. Niemelans are super-obsessed with purpose, work, and order… and therefore material possessions are rare if they don’t serve a purpose. I don’t even know if he could answer this question.

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

[Ciye Cho] Like Kiren, Rolan has little need or want for material goods. Like a true Niemelan, he doesn’t even have a bedroom.

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

[Ciye Cho] I did a lot of research into marine life while writing Florence. One thing I picked up from stuff like nature docos was this idea that life will thrive wherever it must–be it in a warm reef… or in a desolate ocean. Somehow… some way… life will thrive in even the darkest corners of the deep blue. This concept helped me come up with a mindset and worldview for the Niemelans.

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

[Ciye Cho] Quiet. Spare time. Inspiration.

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

[Ciye Cho] "The Chosen" by Ricardo Pinto. I love books that take you to far off worlds, and I have never read anything quite like Pinto’s world of Osrakum. The cruelty and beauty of the Chosen… the intricate rituals of the Wise… all of it was astonishing.

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

[Ciye Cho] It’s hard for me to pinpoint a single book, but some of the first books I read during my childhood were by Roald Dahl.

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

[Ciye Cho] I love to create illustrations of the things I’m daydreaming about. I also enjoy reading YA books and listening to wonky pop. As I type this I’m listening to "Electra Hearts" by Marina and the Diamonds.

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

[Ciye Cho] They can check out my facebook page ( or my twitter page ( I also have a website where they can watch an animated trailer and read the first few chapters of "Florence" (

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

Check out the Florence trailer, too!

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

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Review: Deep Autumn Heat by Elizabeth Barrett


Title: Deep Autumn Heat

Author: Elizabeth Barrett

Publisher: Random House-Loveswept Romance

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In this sexy new Star Harbor romance series, featuring the too-tempting Grayson brothers, a celebrity chef turns up the heat for a local café owner—and things start to sizzle.

Lexie Meyers decides there’s nothing sweeter than watching Sebastian Grayson’s perfect, wicked mouth devour her coconut cake. He’s hot, he’s hungry, and he’s sizing her up like she’s the best thing on the menu. But she’s been burned in the past and flings just aren’t her thing. Too bad Sebastian can’t resist a challenge.

Worldly, famous, and notorious with the ladies, Seb had planned a weekend of fishing and relaxation with his brothers. Until Lexie, with her kissable lips and frosty “get lost” attitude, makes him want to forget his culinary empire and create some magic with her. After he fires up his charm—including challenging her to a televised cook-off to break through her resistance—it’s now hotter in the bedroom than it is in the kitchen and Lexie isn’t sure whether she’s lost her mind . . . or just her heart.


I don’t think I have read many romances featuring chefs.  Either they didn’t make an impression on me at all, or my innate dislike of cooking has steered me away from books with chefs.  I just don’t find them very sexy.  Sure, it would be divine to have a culinary artist at my beck and call, preparing mouth-watering dishes to please my taste buds and tame my wild heart, but then I remember what a glutton I am, and I realize that if I did find a sexy chef of my own, I would soon weigh as much as my horses.  Like, both of them put together.

In Deep Autumn Heat, both protagonists make a living by cooking.  Lexie runs a small restaurant in Star Harbor, a tourist town on the East coast, and Seb is a glamorous and wealthy chef. His New York restaurant is popular, expensive and five-stars in every way, and his skill in the kitchen has made him rich.  His good looks has landed him a TV show, and, well, this guy has an ego the size of a houseboat.  His first opinion of Lexie’s place is that it’s quaint and a step or three beneath him.  He makes a terrible impression on Lexie; first, he treats her like she’s “just” a waitress, and then he acts as though being in her place should be an honor for her.  He’s THE Sebastian Grayson, after all, and he is eating in HER restaurant.  Then he tries a slice of her coconut cake and it’s all over for him.  He loves her cake and wants to know what’s in it.  After sizing her up again, he decides that he wouldn’t mind getting to know what’s in her pants, either.

Lexie, for her part, is too busy and too focused on making her business successful to give Seb much more than a second glance.  OK, so she gives him a third and a fourth glance, because he is drop dead gorgeous.  Of course he is!  He’s rich, dresses in black, and rides a motorcycle, too, which makes him like a bad boy chef.  A bad boy chef who knows how to clean pots, pans, and various cooking implements, and has a smile that makes every woman’s brain go numb when he flashes a great big smile her way.  Kind of like gulping down a gigantic Slurpee and getting a case of brain freeze.  That is Seb’s effect on all women, including Lexie, though she does try her best to take little sips to minimize the brain freeze effect.

Even though Seb spent most of the book being a pompous ass, I still liked him.  I want a big, sexy hunk of man to cook me breakfast and then clean up the mess.  I want to go on rides on the back of a motorcycle, too.  Le sigh.  This is not in the cards for me.  While I do remember with fondness Dean whipping up Mac & Cheese dinners when I was in college and working full-time, he didn’t do such a good job cleaning up, and he has never owned a motorcycle.  Boo!

I enjoyed the banter and the sparks that flew between Lexie and Seb, and I loved how she calmly put him in his place.  Like, all the time.  She had a gift for thinking well under pressure, she was a natural leader in the kitchen, and better yet, she could cook every bit as well as Seb.  I thought their cook-off was a very fun scene, and enjoyed the interaction between all the characters during that sequence.  I can’t believe that such a diverse cast of people could be crammed in one kitchen and not come to blows.  While Lexie and Seb’s relationship was very competitive at first, they quickly become a team – both in and out of the kitchen.

Which brings me to the part of the review where I share what didn’t work for me in this story.  Lexie has fled from a previous, abusive relationship, and when it appears that her ex is stalking her, she refuses to accept that she might be in mortal danger, or that he might have tracked her down.  Instead, she is convinced that all of the threatening notes and little mishaps that have been plaguing her are the work of a rival who wants her coconut cake recipe.  While it turns out that lots of folk are after the secret behind her yummy cake, Lexie is a really smart woman and her firm denial was annoying.  She was already threatened by the slime ball she used to live with, and she was more than familiar with how awful he could be, so some of her behavior didn’t ring true.  When everyone is telling you that you are in danger, most rational people pay attention, especially if they are scared to death of the person and have experienced the violence they are capable of first hand.  

I thought the pacing was a little slow for the last 20% of the story, and even though I enjoyed Buster’s kick butt moves, I thought that the plot thread introduced during Lexie and Buster’s supply run didn’t fit well in this book.   It’s set up for another book in the series, but to me it just felt like an under developed plot point, and I wouldn’t have missed it if it hadn’t been included.

Deep Autumn Heat is a quick read, with scorching sex scenes.  The electricity between Lexie and Seb quickly flared out of control, and I loved the book until Seb had to go back to his business in New York.  Then, without the blazing encounters between the protagonists, the story lost some steam.  Lexie’s emotional baggage was also resolved too quickly, but overall, this is a fun summer read, so load it on your reader before heading to the beach!

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

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Interview with Elizabeth Barrett, Author of Deep Autumn Heat and Giveaway!

Elizabeth Barrett is the author of Deep Autumn Heat, a new Loveswept Romance that kicks off her Star Harbor series.  Elizabeth dropped by to answer a few questions, and she brought along a digital copy of Deep Autumn Heat for one lucky reader to win!

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] I’m a reader, writer and mother. I love my family and have built my life around them. I’m passionate about music (especially jazz) and food.

I think I went one character over. Should we take off the last period?

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Deep Autumn Heat?

[Elizabeth Barrett] Sure! The book is set on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and is the story of two stubborn chefs who find that despite their very different personalities, they can’t resist each other. Lexie Meyers wants to open a catering business as an extension of her already-successful Star Harbor restaurant, but Sebastian Grayson, a famous New York City chef and former local bad boy, is back in town and has Lexie in his sights. Sparks fly in more than just the kitchen when Lexie and Seb clash. When Lexie is threatened both personally and professionally, she turns to Seb for help…and he’s happy to oblige. The book features two hot-as-heck chefs and one delectable coconut cake.

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] I spent three idyllic summers in high school and college living and working on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. That area is gorgeous and so very romantic. When I decided to write my first book, I knew I’d have to set it on Cape Cod. As far as the specific characters, I personally love strong heroes and even stronger women who can stand up to them. I also love cooking and follow the food industry pretty seriously. The idea of a brash, charismatic celebrity chef and the spunky café owner who won’t let him run the show was just too enticing to resist.

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] Getting Sebastian to toe the line between arrogance and obnoxiousness. He kept wanting to run away with the book and it was very difficult not to let him.

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] Spunky, and warm, but guarded.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Seb would never have in his kitchen?

[Elizabeth Barrett] Imitation ingredients, people who can’t cook, anything that would jeopardize his health code rating.

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] I take a lot from nature, actually. I love watching the seasons change, and the little details that can sometimes get overlooked. Like the color of the daffodil stems when they first emerge from the ground is this pale green. You look back a few days later and it’s darker. That’s what I notice.

I also closely watch people…and things…and mannerisms. I like the way people smile. Do they do it slow or fast? Do they show their teeth? Do their eyes crinkle at the edges? Do they get those little brackets around their mouths?

I don’t think this is really answering the question, so I’ll just say, “life observations.”

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] My laptop, a chair that won’t maim my back, and relative quiet. White noise is okay.

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] Wow. Okay – one book? From a young age, I was always really into reading. I’d just devour books. As a young woman, though, I’d say Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery. I must have read that book fifty times. It had everything I loved (and still do): a small town, a tight-knit family, and an amazing heroine.

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] Oh, man, this is so tough, but if you’re forcing me, I’ll say Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. It’s a quiet, slice-of-life story and the prose is just gorgeous. It keeps resonating long after you finish reading.

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] Spend time with my family, read, sing, hike – the usual stuff. My kids have figured out that I’m really good at making up stories, so they usually beg for some tall tales I’ll spin just for them.

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

[Elizabeth Barrett] You can reach me at my website, on my blog, or on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads!
Thank you so much for having me here today!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!


Ready for your chance to win a digital copy of Deep Autumn Heat?  Answer the question below and fill out the widget to enter!  Extra entries for following.  Open Internationally.

Elizabeth says:

One commenter on my interview will be randomly selected to win a NetGalley preview of Deep Autumn Heat. Contest ends July 8th at midnight (EDT).You’ll need a NetGalley account, and to answer the question below:

I told you the last book I read that knocked my socks off. What’s yours?

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Didn’t win?  You can purchase Deep Autumn Heat and Blaze of Winter from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:

Cover Reveal – Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

ZOMG!!!  Stop the presses!  The cover for Veronica Rossi’s Through the Ever Night has  been revealed!!  Under the Never Sky is one of my favorite books – EVAR!!!!  I am so excited  to read Through the Ever Night!!!  January can’t come soon enough!!!!  I love this cover and feel that it compliments the first one perfectly.  What do you think? Are you looking forward to reading this??


Check out Veronica’s website to learn more about her books, and if you haven’t read Under the Never Sky, what are you waiting for??

Cover Shot! Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown

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 thought Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown put a fantastic spin on mermaid mythology, and I can hardly wait for Deep Betrayal, the next book in the series.  Sadly, I have a long, long time to wait!

In stores 2013.

It’s been thirty days, two hours, and seventeen minutes since Calder left Lily standing on the shores of Lake Superior. Not that she’s counting. And when Calder does return, it’s not quite the reunion Lily hoped for. Especially after she lets her father in on a huge secret: he, like Calder, is a merman. Obsessed with his new identity, Lily’s dad monopolizes Calder’s time as the two of them spend every day in the water, leaving Lily behind.

Then dead bodies start washing ashore. Calder blames his mermaid sisters, but Lily fears her father has embraced the merman’s natural need to kill. As the body count grows, everyone is pointing fingers. Lily doesn’t know what to believe—only that whoever’s responsible is sure to strike again. . .

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Interview with Jacqueline Gardner, Author of Thoughtless

Jacqueline Gardner is the author of Thoughtless, a suspenseful YA novel with a heroine who can read minds.  Jacqueline stopped by the virtual offices to introduce herself and chat about her book.

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] I’m a mellow, easy-going, sarcastic (at times), fitness nut with a cupcake obsession.

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] During a high school football game, Bridget accidentally stumbles upon a dead cheerleader in the janitor’s closet.  There’s a killer out there.  And worse, somehow the killer knows Bridget’s secret.  The one time she actually tries to embrace her talent, it’s useless.  Bridget can’t figure out who’s blackmailing her, who killed Stacey, and why she can’t hear her boyfriend’s thoughts!

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] Thoughtless started with a random thought that popped into my head one day.  What if I could have read my friend’s thoughts in high school?  From there I wrote a chapter with the characters in my head to see if they had chemistry, and they did!

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing Thoughtless?

[Jacqueline Gardner] Deciding how far to go when it came to hearing other people’s inner self talk.  I wanted it to play a comical part in the book but I also wanted to bring in a lot of honesty.  I did my best to find a happy medium of the two.

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] Quiet, skeptical & sarcastic!

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] Her BF Emma (although Emma is a person)!  Bridget realizes throughout the course of the book just how lucky she is to have an honest and loyal friend.  For a while, she takes Emma for granted.

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] I’d say things I dream about and music.  I keep an idea journal next to my bed and I can’t write without my music.

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] Music (anything but absolute silence), a notebook to doodle in, and gum.

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] I just started the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  It’s fantastic!

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] The Witches by Roald Dahl

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] I live in the Rockies so I love the outdoors – hiking, camping, biking.  I’m also an amateur cake decorator.

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

[Jacqueline Gardner] website/blog:
twitter: @Writer_Jacque
And I’m on Goodreads!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can order Thoughtless from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.

Interview with Susan Dennard, Author of Something Strange and Deadly

Susan Dennard is the author of Something Strange and Deadly.  This YA historical takes place in an alternate Philadelphia, one with zombies!  This is one of my most anticipated 2012 reads, so I was thrilled when Susan agreed to stop by for a chat.

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

[Susan Dennard] I’m a reader, writer, animal-lover, and cookie-fiend!! I was a marine biologist, but now I’m an author!

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

[Susan Dennard] Okay, so…you can’t laugh at how cliche this is, but…the original idea for SS&D came from a dream! You know those dreams that haunt you all day long? I had one of those about a girl whose older brother had gone missing, but the only way she could rescue him was to get help from a group of outcasts–outcasts with special skills and even magic. I took that basic premise and started to build on it. I chose Victorian times because I thought it would add a nice dollop of conflict (so many social restrictions! Not to mention the difficulty of running in a corset!) and I thought I’d enjoy researching it. Then I fleshed out my cast of characters to fit this setting–and to fit the people I remembered from my dream. Finally, I threw in walking dead because there is nothing in the world that scares me more than a zombie!

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

[Susan Dennard] Curious, impulsive, and brave.

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

[Susan Dennard] For one, Eleanor would never have a boy in her room–at least not without a chaperon of some sort. 😉 She wouldn’t have much in the way of comfort either–her bedding is threadbare, and her wardrobe is quickly getting that way too!  Her mother may pretend they have wealth by doing up the "public" rooms, but in the bedrooms, you can really see just how hard the Fitt family has it. Finally, Eleanor would never have any sort of wall adornments. She hates the Victorian fad of stuff-stuff-stuff, and so she likes to keep things simple and empty. (It’s funny because I am SO not like that! I’m all about clutter and wall ornaments!)

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

[Susan Dennard] This is suuuuuuuch a hard question, Julie!! Yikes! I started reading very young, and I devoured books. I have a distinct memory of the original Nancy Drew getting me especially exciting about reading. So much so, that I made my mother take me to the library EVERY day. I wanted to read all 56 books in the original series over my summer break, so I literally read one (sometimes two) a day! My poor mother…

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

[Susan Dennard] I’m actually trying really hard this year to be MORE balanced with my time. It used to be all write-write-write-work-work-work, but that’s not a very happy way to be. Plus, it wears out your muse. 😉 So nowadays, when I’m not writing, I spend time with my husband and dogs. Weekends are devoted to being outside–hiking, swimming, walking, whatever!–and evenings are for watching TV (right now, we’re obsessed with Psych!) and cooking. My husband and I make pretty elaborate meals, so it’s nice to use it as quality time together.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can learn more about Susan by visiting her website.

You can pre-order Something Strange and Deadly from your favorite book seller, or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital

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Waiting on Wednesday! Dualed by Elsie Chapman

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

Lots of peeps are waiting on this one!  I love the sci-fi feeling, and the shadow is so creepy!  I hope Dualed by Elsie Chapman lives up to all of the hype.


Would you live through the ultimate test of survival?

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

In stores 2012

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