Audio Review: Absolute Power by David Baldacci

May Contain Spoilers

I don’t read many thrillers, but a friend sent an Audible copy of Absolute Power to me, so I loaded it up and listened to on my drives to work. My listening was interrupted when I went to visit my dad for a few days, but I picked right up and didn’t feel that I missed too much in the week I was gone. This was a great read, though I thought the ending was wrapped up a bit too speedily.

Read more

Review: The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack

May Contain Spoilers

When I was approached about reviewing this title, I was torn.  I am completely swamped with review books, and I was hesitant to add yet another commitment to my already full schedule. But I saw that part of the book takes place in my favorite time period, Ancient Egypt, and I couldn’t say no.  I’m glad I read the book. It was enjoyable, and I wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise, as it was nowhere on my radar. Read more

Review: Vengeance by Megan Miranda


May Contain Spoilers


Wow – I enjoyed Vengeance more than Fracture, and that’s saying a lot, because I REALLY REALLY liked Fracture!  In this follow-up, the story is narrated by Decker, and boy, oh boy, is he having some issues!  Suffering from the trauma of pulling his best friend out of Falcon Lake after she falls through the ice, he performed CPR on her while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.  Delaney was under the water for 11 minutes, and while waiting for word on her prognosis, Decker wished desperately for her to live.  In those agonizing hours he waited for her to wake up, he would have traded anybody’s life for hers.  When bad things start happening to his friends, he starts to wonder if the lake really is cursed, and whether it is punishing him for taking Delaney away from it.

Read more

Interview with Kelley York, Author of Hushed

The pre-release madness for Entangled Publishing’s new Embrace imprint continues! Don’t forget to check out the post from earlier this morning so you can enter the giveaway!


Please welcome Kelley York to the virtual offices this morning!

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

[Kelley York] Capable of wanting to read/write rainbows and unicorns one second, and death and destruction in the next. I like books to make me cry.

Read more

Review: Siren’s Secret by Debbie Herbert

Siren’s Secret (Harlequin Nocturne)

May Contain Spoilers


I love mermaid stories, so when I saw Debbie Herbert’s debut, I had to read it.  I really enjoyed Siren’s Secret.  It’s told through protagonist Shelly’s POV, as well as that of her love interest, Tillman, and the serial killer, Melkie.  I didn’t find Melkie a compelling character, and wish his POV hadn’t been as prominent.  While I found Shelly and Tillman engaging, Melkie was too one dimensional for me to find him interesting. 

Read more

Waiting on Wednesday–Made of Stars by Kelley York

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

I love the tag line – even the stars are lies. 

In stores October 2013.




When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister, Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is—at first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely.

The reason they’ve never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance’s quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness—are now warning signs that something is seriously off.

Then Chance’s mom turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his dad. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent…they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?


What are you waiting on?

Review: Shift by Kim Curran

Title:  Shift (Strange Chemistry)

Author:  Kim Curran


Shift (Strange Chemistry) DIGITAL

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.


When I discovered that Angry Robot Books would be launching a YA imprint, I was excited to check out the Strange Chemistry line.  Every book under this imprint looks good.  I don’t think there can ever be enough books released with fantasy or sci-fi elements, so I was eager to start digging into the launch titles for Strange Chemistry.    First up for me is Shift; I found this one intriguing because protagonist Scott learns that he is a Shifter, and that he can undo decisions he’s made if they turn out to be bad ones.  It’s like having a non-expiring do-over card, except for those occasional unpleasant consequences.   Yes, you knew there would be consequences for using a power that cool, and after seeing the heartbreaking handiwork of one of his Shifts, he decides that maybe it’s not such a great ability after all. 

I thought the pacing for Shift was great.  I powered quickly through this book, and once I got a few chapters in, I didn’t want to put it down.  I wanted to learn more about Scott’s ability and the world he lived in.  This is a great blend of super-hero comic with equal parts futuristic thriller and murder mystery tossed in for good measure.  There were even a few pages that completely freaked me out and got my heart pounding in fear as Scott got himself into some horrific and scary situations.  For a kid who has no idea what he’s doing, he sure manages to get himself into so much trouble!  Life-threatening trouble, too!  I still can’t believe that he made it to the last page relatively unscathed.  That just proves that luck is just as important as mondo-powerful supernatural abilities.

Scott discovers that he has the power to undo decisions he’s made quite by accident.  He is showing off in front of a bunch of his classmates, and his uncharacteristic flash of bravado is just about to get him killed.  Until he wishes with everything he has that he hadn’t decided to act like a moron.  He’s never been cool, and he never will be cool, even if he completes the dare, so he wonders why he even bothered.  Being a pancake after falling from a utility pole just doesn’t seem worth it.  He regrets that he wanted to impress a pretty girl he’s never seen before, and now it looks like it’s going to be the death of him. 

I loved Scott.  He’s self-depreciating, and once he started getting over himself, he is a fun character.  Thrown into circumstances far beyond his control, he finally starts coming into his own.  As he begins to understand the consequences of  both doing and un-doing his decisions, he begins to accept some the less favorable choices he’s made.  He can no longer blame others for his poor judgment, and that helps to give him the kick in the pants he needs to start growing up.  People can live or die by his actions, and there is no blaming anyone else when he messes up.  Instead, he has to put on his big-boy pants and fix the chaos he’s caused.  He needs to risk himself to save his friends from the harm he has caused them, and this time, a simple shift isn’t going to cut it.  For a big nerd, Scott’s take charge attitude impressed me, and his determined charge to the end of the book kept me completely engaged in the story.

I had some quibbles with Shift, but they weren’t enough to ruin the book for me.  Many of the secondary characters are one-dimensional and yawn inducing stereotypes.  I would have liked more depth to all of the secondary characters.  Overall, though, this is a fun read, and it got me geeked to read more releases from Strange Chemistry.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Kim Curran, Author of Shift


Kim Curran is the author of Shift, one of launch releases for Angry Robot’s new YA imprint, Strange Chemistry.  Kim dropped by the virtual offices to induce herself and to chat about her new paranormal thriller.

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

[Kim Curran] Lives in pyjamas, wants to be a ninja. Hopeful, fretful, loyal. Laughs a lot. Hugs a lot. And (according to a 10-year old) is well cool.

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

[Kim Curran] Shift is about a teenage boy called Scott Tyler who realises he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power’s going to be really cool. But as he comes to terms with it, he realises that changing his choices can have terrible unforeseeable consequences. Consequences that could unravel his whole life. He’s helped along the way by the mysterious Aubrey Jones. Although he’s never sure if she’s getting him out of trouble or deeper into it.

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

[Kim Curran] I was sitting on a bus on my way back from work one day, looking at the people all bustling home, thinking about all the choices they’ve made in their lives. At the same time I was thinking about a book I’d just read on quantum physics. And bang. The idea for Shift came to me. What if you could change your decisions, in the same way light can ‘shift’ from particle to wave?

As for the characters, I’d just finished a (trunk) novel written 3rd person with a female lead. So I decided I wanted to try writing 1st person. And for some reason Scott Tyler’s voice came to me incredibly clearly. On the surface he’s a bundle of anxieties and yet he has this inner strength. So maybe it was like a reversal of myself (I’m strong on the outside, wobbly on the inside!). I scribbled the prologue in a taxi on my way to work one day, and it’s remained virtually unchanged since. And as I had a male protagonist, I had to have a really cool female opposite, just to get him into trouble. So Aubrey Jones was born. She’s the kind of girl I always wished I could be when I was a teenager, but never was.

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

[Kim Curran] Self-depreciating. Kind. Strong.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Aubrey would never have in her purse?

[Kim Curran] I’m not all together sure Aubrey would have a purse. But in her bag, she would never carry anything she might perceive to be too ‘girlie’. So nothing pink or glittery. She probably doesn’t carry much money in there either, as she’s not very good with it.

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

[Kim Curran] Oh, good question. Probably a vintage, still-the-box, action figure of some kind.

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

[Kim Curran] I’m hugely influenced by films and comic books. I’ve also been creatively shaped (for good or bad) by working in advertising for 15 years. So I’m always thinking about the audience and how to connect with them – and fast. As I say, not always a good thing, but there you go.  As for writers, we’d be here all day, but the few that pop into my head right now are: Lauren Buekes, Anthony Horrowitz, Patrick Ness, Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Sergei Lukyanenko, Camus.

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

[Kim Curran] I need very little. Something to write with (my MacBook Air or my Waterman pen) and something to write on! Other than that, a comfortable chair.  I can write anywhere: at home on my own, in cafes, on buses. In fact, most of the first draft of Shift was written on a bus.

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

[Kim Curran] Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. For me it’s close to being perfect. Hugely fun and yet astoundingly well written. It’s rare, I find, that literary books are so joyful in their storytelling.

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

[Kim Curran] Probably Roald Dahl’s BFG. I read it when I was about eight and then devoured all of his other books. That was when I realised I was a ‘reader’. And I never stopped.

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

[Kim Curran] Unsurprisingly, I like to read. I find it hard to read when I’m writing as I pick up voices too easily. So when I’m not writing I try and catch up on my huge TBR pile. I also love coffee with friends, watching movies and the usual stuff. I used to fence a lot, but I’ve recently hurt my hip, so I’m looking for a new sport to get into. Capoeira maybe?

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

[Kim Curran] I’m on Twitter, far too much, I have a Facebook page and they can email me via my site

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!

You can order Shift from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital