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My Top Five Manga Obsessions

In case anyone didn’t know I am a HUGE fan of manga (Japanese comics). When I’m not reading novels or trying to write novels, I’m usually hunting for the latest copies of my favourite manga and there are quite a few series that I am currently obsessed with.

cover1Skip Beat…this one is a bit of a cheat, since I’ve been obsessed with it for years. But I thought I would share it as my number one because I have yet to fall out of love with this funny, romantic, and at times suspenseful series.

Kyouko Mogami lived solely for her childhood friend Shoutaro “Shou” Fuwa. She follows Shou to Tokyo so that he may realize his dream of becoming a famous singer. When his dream is realized, Kyouko overhears the truth behind his decision to bringing her with him: he was using her as a maid.

Shocked and enraged, Kyouko swears to take revenge by outdoing him in show business. With a new look and a new attitude, she joins LME, the agency where Ren Tsuruga (Shou’s rival and the #1 actor of LME) works, in the hopes of achieving her goal of destroying Shou’s pride.

Along the way, she discovers her true self, makes new friends (and enemies), and finds herself at the heart of some interesting situations that will change her life, and the lives of all others involved, forever.

coverYona of the Dawn. Words cannot describe how epic this series is. The heroine grows from a spoiled, pampered princess to a warrior in hiding. Also, this series probably has the most complex characters I have ever read. You find yourself rooting for everyone (despite all the bad that has happened) to somehow be friends again at the end.

Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Soo-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when she witnesses her father’s murder!

cover4Yamada and the Seven Witches. This manga was a complete surprise for me. But one word:  HILARIOUS! The supernatural elements in this manga are important plot twisters and much random hilarity ensues.

Ryuu Yamada is a second-year student at Suzaku High. Ryuu is always late for school, naps in class and gets abysmal grades. His life is a dead bore. The beautiful Urara Shiraishi, on the other hand, is Suzaku High’s brightest student.

One day, without explanation, their bodies are swapped! Ryuu ends up in Urara’s body, and Urara in Ryuu’s.

cover2Noragami. This was another unexpected, but very pleasant surprise. It’s got great characters, and the central story about a god without a shrine and worshippers but who is trying to get into heaven is such a cool idea. (That summary doesn’t really do it justice and the manga is so much more than that. But I can’t go into a lengthy description without spoilers.)

Yato is a minor god whose dream is to have a lot of followers worshipping him and praying to him. Unfortunately, his dream is far from coming true since he doesn’t even have a single shrine dedicated to him. To make things worse, the only partner he had to help him solve people’s problems, had just quit the job. His godly existence and luck just might change when he stumbles upon Iki Hiyori and saves her life; a feat which also leaves her in quite a predicament so she is stuck with him until her problem gets resolved. Together with Hiyori and his new partner-weapon Yukine, Yato will do everything he can to gain fame, recognition and just maybe, one shrine dedicated to him, as well.

cover3SDK (or Samurai Deeper Kyo). Since I’ve read this manga series over ten times without getting bored and discovering something new each time, it has to go on my top five list. It’s male-focused with a heavy emphasis on action and violence but has moments of comedy.

At the dawn of the 17th century, at the end of the era of civil wars, in a world of chaos, the epic Battle of Sekigahara was joined.One man emerged from the largest battle ever fought on Japanese soil; a terrible warrior of unspeakable power, he was nicknamed ‘the unconquerable.’ Kyoshiro is a peaceful medicine peddler who harbors the soul of an assassin. He accompanies a young bounty hunter across Japan in search of a murderer and on a quest to discover the terrible secret of his own identity.

These are my top five, but trust me when I say it was hard to choose. I have so many manga that I am obsessed with but that does mean I don’t want recommendations. I’m always looking for more great reads! (Especially one’s like Skip Beat…the one month wait between chapter updates is killing me…and it’s even longer to get the bound editions at Chapters.)

Who else is a manga fan? Got any that you are absolutely obsessed with?

Please share,

Rika Ashton (aka Shameless Manga Addict)

 

Blurb Reveal: THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH by Amanda Quick

Edited to add (August 17, 2016): Jayne Ann Krentz tweeted me about a name change for the hero. I will edit to add the new name once we have details.

Edited to add (August 18, 2016): The hero’s new name has been added. The old name was Hutton Axton in case anyone was interested. 

I stumbled across some news about the next Amanda Quick novel by accident, but it comes from a trusted source. Get this, the next novel is titled The Girl Who Knew Too Much (which sounds amazing) and it’s set in the 1930s!

And here’s the amazing back blurb I found:

Welcome to Burning Cove, California, an idyllic small town on the coast that has become a refuge for Hollywood moguls and stars seeking privacy for scandalous trysts and wild parties…

Cordelia Carter is a reporter working undercover for Whispers, a Los Angeles based gossip tabloid. She arrives in Burning Cove on the trail of the biggest story of her career.

Oliver Ward is the new, enigmatic owner of one of the most elegant resort-spas in Burning Cove. Before he can get a read on the mysterious Cordelia, she discovers the body of a beautiful, fast-rising film star in one of the hotel spa pools. It soon becomes apparent to Oliver that Cordelia, as the first person on the scene of the murder, may be a suspect. As for Cordelia, she is convinced that the killer she’s trailing has committed murder again.

I did a little (or a big) happy dance after reading this blurb. The whole concept seems so exciting and new, but have the romantic suspense undertones that we know and love in an Amanda Quick novel.

As of now, the novel is set for a May 9, 2017 release. And, of course, because the release date is so far away some details of the book may change (title, etc)…but I hope not, because it sounds pretty exciting as it is!

Can’t wait,

Rika Ashton (aka Breaking News Reporter)

Review: THE WIDOW’S AUCTION by Sabrina Jeffries

Disclaimer: I received a digital arc of this novella in exchange for an honest review. 

28803825Sabrina Jeffries’ The Widow’s Auction was re-released today, but you may have previously read the story in the Fantasy anthology.

Though Isobel Lamberton, the widowed Lady Kingsley, is confounded by her dealings with the obstinate Justin Antony, Lord Warbrooke, his commanding presence sparks something deep within her. But such romantic thoughts are for naught. For Justin’s political aspirations always come first. And Isobel’s own secret past could damage both of them permanently.

So when Isobel’s friend talks her into participating in a scandalous auction of masked widows at a gentleman’s club, she reluctantly agrees…and soon begins to relish being an object of desire. But none desire her more than Justin, who recognizes the outspoken Isobel in disguise and sets out to teach her a lesson worth far more than money…

I remember reading this novella in the anthology but, even now, years later it has not lost it’s charm. Short and sweet, the novella features two complex, compatible characters – Isobel and Justin – whose interactions are riddled with humour and romance. Though the novella is told in first person, there is a greater focus on Isobel’s character and we see Justin mainly through her eyes. I would have liked to know more about his thoughts, but for the short length of the story, his character was developed quite well. As is the case with most well-written novella’s, the story does leave you wanting more. However, if you’re looking for s quick escape this summer, then The Widow’s Auction is a neat little trip back to the Regency era.

RATING - 3

 

Readers’ Watchlist: INTO THE FIRE by Jeaniene Frost

23586994Jeaniene Frost is concluding her Night Prince series and word is that the new release date for Into the Fire is February 28, 2017. It’s been a long wait and is still going to be a lot longer…I confess, I have completely forgotten where the story ended off, so I may have to read the previous books before I get this one. (But I think I’ll wait until its closer to the release date so I don’t have to live too long with withdrawal symptoms…breaking a book habit is hard and I really don’t want to.)

For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.

A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

Has anyone else been keeping up with the Night Prince series?

Readers’ Watchlist: WHEN ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE by Jayne Ann Krentz

final_JAK.inddI’m always on the lookout for the next Jayne Ann Krentz romantic suspense and I was not disappointed when I stumbled across a blurb and cover for her next book, When All The Girls Have Gone (the title just gives me the shivers…so cool):

When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way…

I am beyond excited for this release. Her latest works under the JAK name have featured such amazing characters and I can’t wait to read this book. Spoiler alert…it will be a page turner. When All The Girls Have Gone releases on November 29th.

Happy reading,

Rika Ashton

A Sunday Tease…

I believe I owe you all an excerpt from my work-in-progress, Dagger of the Sun (or DotS as I affectionate like to call it).

Without further delay…here it is:

The night air was causing gooseflesh to spread over her arms and legs and the flimsy pale blue tunic wasn’t doing much to protect the rest of her either. Delphyne cursed whatever gods had brought the prince back from the barracks tonight of all nights. She judged the distance from her vantage point to the throne room’s entrance to be less than a minute, but the trick would be crossing the crowded floor without being stopped by someone interesting in hearing about a hunter’s tale.

Or I could jump from the balcony.

It honestly didn’t look that high. If she bent her knees on the landing, she would be fine. She leaned over the railing, letting her fingers encircle the cool stone.

“I would advise against it.”

Delphyne swivelled, heart nearly popping out of her chest. “Don’t scare me…I thought you were —”

Apollo raised an eyebrow.

“Nevermind,” Delphyne amended. “Where have you been?”

She had lost track of Apollo seconds after the feast had started. Apollo had noticed a poet friend of his in the crowd and wandered off. After that, it had been difficult to catch sight of him for more than a minute as he flitted around the room like a butterfly.

“Making the rounds,” Apollo said. “But I’m more interested in knowing why you’re standing here peeping at the statues?”

In the moonlight, the statues in the garden behind her looked even more lewd. Not to mention the occasional moans that drifted up from the shadowed maze.

“I was…” She paused. How could she phrase her words so that she didn’t sound like either a coward or a pervert? “I was getting some fresh air.” She finished rather lamely.

“It has gotten rather stuffy.” A pause. “More so now that the prince has arrived.”

Damn.

“You know?”

“Asclepius told me.” Apollo looked at her, a small smile forming on his lips. “Did the prince really ask you to marry him…by telling you that you’d be a good breeder?”

Delphyne gave him a look that implied she would not be discussing this at length.

“And did you really punch him in response?”

Clearly, her look got lost in translation. “I didn’t have my sword with me, so punching him was my only recourse.”

Since this is a work in progress, I am very open to criticism and feedback…any thing that will help me improve. So please, please, leave a comment or suggestion below.

Now it’s back to the writing board!

Rika Ashton (aka Book Hermit)

In The Land of Olympians

greek-chill-apollo-3

Not exactly what Apollo looks like in my novel, but it was such a cool pick I had to share. Photo credit goes to whoever is responsible for creating the picture.

I’ve started writing again (after a bit of a hiatus), and I’m beginning to get back to my usual schedule!!! Not going to lie though, it’s been hard and gruelling and I was very tempted to give up on Dagger of the Sun but after having put so much time into it the previous year, I wasn’t ready to let go just yet. Instead, I dove back into the land of the Olympians and it started undergoing some rewrites (apparently, I was a very, very bad writer a year ago and threw similes and metaphors into every chapter like I was a rapper with unlimited atm access.)

I don’t have anything to share yet excerpt wise, but I’me hoping for something juicy by the end of the week – so keep your fingers crossed.

But I can share that I’ve written almost 25, 000 words and have nearly edited all the kinks in the first few chapters that were making it difficult for the story to move forward. I spent most of July and June editing the previous chapters and looking through the infinite versions of chapter four (there are at least 5 very long, very different versions of this chapter) and deciding what parts I wanted to keep from each and trying to consolidate them into one legible chapter.

I will keep you guys posted with more updates soon and thank you to everyone that has stuck by me on the long journey that is DotS. There will be a notable lack of reviews for a while as I’m trying to focus on my writing, but I will eventually have to take a break for some reading and reviewing so I don’t crash and burn.

But for now, that’s all!

Thanks,

Rika Ashton (aka Woman Currently in Writer Mode)

Cover Reveal: ARCHANGEL’S HEART by Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh shared the very stunning cover for Archangel’s Heart earlier today – and while I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek a few days before – I am still stunned by how amazing Elena looks. (Yes, I am still lusting over her dress.) Fair warning, Elena, I will be spending more time in your closet.🙂


However, we still have a while to wait before we can read about the occasion when Elena gets to wear this blue maxi as the novel does not release until November 2016 (which is really just in time for my birthday – just thought I should put that out there in case there are any ARCs lying around).

But till then, we will have to satisfy our readerly hearts with this tease of a blurb:

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.

Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

I feel like I have been waiting for another Elena and Raphael novel since the last one ended. If you haven’t had a chance to read about this angelic (kickass but not so innocent) power couple then you are very lucky – not only do you not have to suffer book withdrawal but you get to catch up with their story before the next one releases.

Happy reading,

Rika Ashton (aka Book Addict)

Review: THE STUDY OF SEDUCTION by Sabrina Jeffries

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Sabrina Jeffries‘ second installment of the Sinful Suitors series, The Study of Seduction, has hit the shelves!

25814323When Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, agrees to help his best friend’s impetuous ward, Lady Clarissa Lindsey, in her time of need, he knows he’s in for trouble. He’s been hunting for someone to wed, and she’ll just get in the way. Although captivated by the whip-smart, free-spirited beauty, he fears she’d be all wrong as a wife … if she would even take such a gruff cynic for her husband. Too bad he wants nothing more than to have her for his own.

Clarissa has no intention of marrying anyone—not Edwin, whom she’s sure would be an overbearing husband, and certainly not the powerful French diplomat stalking her. But when matters escalate with the diplomat, she chooses Edwin’s gallant offer of a marriage between friends in hopes that it will deter her stalker. She expects nothing more than an amiable union, but their increasingly tempestuous kisses prove more than she bargained for. When her stalker’s vow to expose the lovers’ deepest secrets threatens to destroy their blossoming attraction, will their tenuous bond withstand public ruin, or will Edwin lose all that’s important to him to protect his bride?

The Study of Seduction was a pleasant surprise for me. Ms. Jeffries explores some darker issues in this novel that haven’t been discussed in her more recent works – all of which were more lighthearted. This novel has the signature Jeffries warmth and humour, but becomes a more dense, emotional read as details of Clarissa’s past are revealed.

At first, I found it difficult to relate to Clarissa – in part, because she was not behaving according to my own bias of how I thought a trauma victim would behave. However, my judgement was subconscious at first. It sound insensitive to say – and it absolutely is – which is why I needed to check myself (and throw my own biases out the window) before I began to reread the novel with a broader perspective. I have often heard that everyone reacts a different way to trauma, but I have been fortunate enough never to experience this first hand. My inexperience made me judge Clarissa, much to my shame, and forget what I have been taught about reading a work of literature from multiple perspective – and never, NEVER, judge a character by how you think they should act. (Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, but none that apply here.)

On my second read through, although I still found aspects of Clarissa’s character contradictory or even historically beyond her time, I was more able to recognize some of her behaviors as coping mechanisms for her tragedy (at least, I believed they were intentionally written as such). I found myself able to see her as a real individuals – one who does not behave according to a preset mold, but makes us question what we know about human psychology.

Very deep stuff, I know.

But on a less deep, and more superficially attractive eye-candy level, we have Edwin. (I’m not kidding…have you seen the cover model?)

In all seriousness, I found Edwin to be a decent, like-able character on both my first and second reads, but he paled in comparison to Clarissa on my second read and I found him less memorable. The amateur psychologist in me was more intrigued with analyzing aspects of Clarissa’s character on my second foray into the novel and I didn’t pay much attention to Edwin. I found him to be a pleasant (and for Clarissa, necessary) addition to the novel but less complex in terms of development.

But, who knows, this could change on my third read?

Nonetheless, based on my two reads so far, I would give this novel a solid 4 out of 5 rating.

RATING - 4

Happy reading,

Rika Ashton

(aka The Self-Credited Psychologist)

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