Posts tagged “historical

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)

 

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Throwback Thursday: The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick

I thought I’d share one of my favourite books by Amanda Quick for this week. I can’t count the number of times I have read and reread The Paid Companion – in fact I’m currently rereading it again – so I wanted to highlight this book is a Throwback Thursday post. Plus, I don’t think I’ve shared too many of Ms. Quick’s novels on the blog – a conscious decision because she is one of my favourite authors and whenever I start talking about a book by an author I adore, I start gushing and fangirling like crazy! 😛

The Earl of St. Merryn needs a woman. His intentions are purely practical-he simply wants someone sensible and suitably lovely to pose as his betrothed for a few weeks among polite society. He has his own agenda to pursue, and a false fiancée will keep the husband-hunters at bay while he goes about his business. The simplest solution is to hire a paid companion.

Finding the right candidate proves more of a challenge than he expected. But when he encounters Miss Elenora Lodge, the fire in her golden eyes sways him to make a generous offer.

Her sorry financial circumstances-and dreams of a life of independence-convince her to accept. But St. Merryn appears to be hiding a secret or two, and things seem oddly amiss in his gloomy London home. Elenora soon discovers that this lark will be a far more dangerous adventure than she’d been led to believe. And the Earl of St. Merryn will find that the meek and mild companion he’d initially envisioned has become a partner in his quest to catch a killer-and an outspoken belle of the ball who stirs a bothersome passion in his practical heart.

All of Ms. Quick’s heroines are strong leads with a sense of honour and boundless optimism and Elenora  is no different. Plus, they all get a chance to actively save themselves and the hero at some point in the novel. Left destitute and alone, she finds a way to overcome her situation by becoming a paid companion for old ladies of the ton. Saving her wages, she plans to open a bookshop – a dream I can relate to. 😉

St. Merryn – Arthur – is also a trademark Quick hero. Faithful, relentless and slightly arrogant, he’s a neat foil for the heroine. Arthur balances out Elenora more innocent and optimistic personality, but they also balance out and make up or each other’s weaknesses and they hunt for the villain in the story.

Suspenseful and romantic, The Paid Companion has long been one of my favourites by Amanda Quick.

Rika Ashton

(The Unpaid Writer)


Teaser Reveal: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Jeremy Keane

WARNING: Read with caution. This post contains spoilers from the Duke’s Men series, and has been updated with exclusive info from Sabrina Jeffries herself!

The cover for Dom and Jane’s story.

Who is the mysterious Jeremy Keane?

A. Scene-stealer in How the Scoundrel Seduces

B. Cousin to Zoe Keane

C. Hero of Sabrina Jeffries‘ work in progress

D. Self-proclaimed arse

If you answered all of the above, you are correct!

Ms. Jeffries recently revealed that she is hard at work on Jeremy novel and released a very small, very fun, snippet!

The following exchange takes place at Jane and Dom’s wedding, in Jeremy’s book which will begin the new series, tentatively titled The Sinful Suitors:

“Didn’t I hear that you were jilted by the bride?” Jeremy asked.

Blakeborough scowled. “Didn’t I hear that you were an arse?”

Jeremy shrugged. “That does sound like me.”

Fun, right? Makes me wish Ms. Jeffries was finished with Jeremy’s novel so I could get my hands on it already! Though there is no official title for Jeremy’s book (September 2015) or the Christmas novella (October 2015).

But we can only hope that Ms. Jeffries keeps the teasers coming!

Rika Ashton

(Exclusive Eavesdropper)


Find Out How the Scoundrel Seduces in Sabrina Jeffries Latest!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in return for an honest and spoiler-free review.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Sabrina JeffriesHow the Scoundrel Seduces a few months ago and I didn’t waste any time diving in! Ms. Jeffries has proven herself to be a talented writer of intricately plotted mysteries that can link several novels together. As she did in the School for Heiresses series, where she kept the reader guessing until the very end about who Cousin Michael could be, Ms. Jeffries keeps us turning the page as we try to figure out the motives of this series’ villain and how he will ultimately fall…

The Blurb:

The third deliciously sexy novel in the New York Times bestselling Duke’s Men historical romance series, featuring an investigator who sets out to find gypsies— and unexpectedly finds love.

Investigator Tristan Bonnaud has one aim in life— to make sure that his half-brother George can’t ever ruin his life again. So when the pesky Lady Zoe Keane, the daughter of the Earl of Olivier, shows up demanding that the Duke’s Men find a mysterious gypsy woman, he seizes the opportunity to also hunt for a gypsy friend who knows secrets about George. Tristan doesn’t expect to uncover Lady Zoe’s family secrets, as well… or end up falling for the woman who will risk all to discover the truth

The Review:

Few authors can make a historical setting come to life as well as Sabrina Jeffries and, in How the Scoundrel Seduces, she seems to have mastered the technique. Characters, setting, and language are so well controlled and utilized on Ms. Jeffries latest novel that you really feel the historical context come to life.

And speaking of characters, Zoe is one of the smartest heroines I have read from Ms. Jeffries. The soon to be Countess was a scene-stealer on When the Rogue Returns, but had real moments to shine in this novel. We get to see more facets of her characters as she searches for her parents. Resourcefulness, spunk and humour were some of Zoe’s trademarks – making her the real selling point of the novel.

However, compared to Zoe, Tristan didn’t stand out as much for me in this novel. He was fun and generous, but not the standout character that Zoe was. On the other hand, Tristan had amazing chemistry in his scenes with Zoe. In a romantic sense, Zoe brings out the best in Tristan – now whether Ms. Jeffries intentionally or accidentally wrote Tristan that way is anyone’s guess?

But a character that surprised me was Jeremy Keane, Zoe’s cousin. I didn’t expect to like Jeremy so much, especially considering the fact that he was rarely in the novel, but I adored all his scenes.

With its well-written setting, fun characters, and suspenseful pacing, I recommend How the Scoundrel Seduces to all fans and new readers!

RATING - 4

Rika Ashton

(aka Zoe’s Fan Club President)


Throwback Thursday: Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress by Elizabeth Boyle

For this week’s Throwback Thursday I picked a novel that received both criticism and praise upon it’s release, and, although I wasn’t exactly a critic, Elizabeth Boyle‘s Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress (book five) was not my favourite book in the Bachelor Chronicles series.

What if all you have are the memories of a pirate…

…and the scandalous red dress that nearly brought you to ruin? Remembrances of the kisses he stole? Or his seductive, rakish smile as he charmed his way into your bed, stole your innocence and your heart? To proper and respectable Philippa, Lady Gossett such memories are best locked away. At least so she thought until a stranger arrives on her doorstep and offers her a chance to tempt fate once again… to tempt Dash back into her life and quite possibly into her bed…

But the man Pippin loved all those years ago, and the man she discovers are hardly the same. Captain Thomas Dashwell has a score to settle with the now widowed Lady Gossett, the vision in red who has haunted his life for so long — ever since that fateful night when she betrayed him and married another. She’s the one woman he’s vowed to hate until the end of his days… and the one woman he can never forget…

 

I adore all the prior installments of the series and with the intensity that has surrounded Pippin and Dash’s love affair, I wanted a more long-lived conclusion. The prior books, and this one, were so well written that I had really gotten to know the characters almost as if they were real. I DID NOT want a drawn out conclusion set some 20 years later, when Pippin was 40-something and Dash older.

Before I go on, I have to say that there is nothing wrong about a 40-something heroine, what struck me in this novel was that 40-something meant that Pippin had only a few more years to live considering the era this is written in and the fact that people just did not live very long…maybe 20 at most and since Pippin and Dash are reunited so late they would have a very short time together before one, or both, of them died.

And although, I have enough of an imagination and desire to hope that characters are immortal even though a book has ended, this one was so well entrenched in its history that I couldn’t escape the reality presented in the novel. In this case, Ms. Boyle’s spectacular world building worked against her, in my opinion.

On top of it all, this book made me cry – not pretty sobs, but gut-wrenching noisy blobs of water leaking from my eyes – because it was so bloody sad that the characters had wasted so much time. Not to mention Dash’s ongoing alcohol withdrawal – which again was VERY real.

But, as I said, this novel received plenty of praise for its originality, and some people were clearly able to read the novel without reading the character expiration dates between the lines and so its worth an honourable mention as this week’s Throwback Thursday pick.

Rika Ashton

(aka The One Who Could Not Escape Reality)


A Review for Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair by Stephanie Laurens

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest, and hopefully spoiler-free, review.

As I raved in my review post for The Masterful Mr. Montague, I adore Barnaby and Penelope as a mystery-solving couple, so I started reading Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair by Stephanie Laurens – book three in the Casebook of Barnaby Adair series – with gleeful anticipation.

The Blurb:

Miraculously spared from death, Malcolm Sinclair erases the notorious man he once was. Reinventing himself as Thomas Glendower, he strives to make amends for his past, yet he never imagines penance might come via a secretive lady he discovers living in his secluded manor.

Rose has a plausible explanation for why she and her children are residing in Thomas’s house, but she quickly realizes he’s far too intelligent to fool. Revealing the truth is impossibly dangerous, yet day by day he wins her trust, and then her heart.

But then her enemy closes in, and Rose turns to Thomas as the only man who can protect her and the children. And when she asks for his help, Thomas finally understands his true purpose, and with unwavering commitment, he seeks his redemption the only way he can—through living the reality of loving Rose.

The Review:

Loving Rose can be termed an original work for Ms. Laurens. This is the first time that she’s taken a villain, Malcolm Sinclair initially from A Taste of Innocence, and transformed him into a hero – Thomas Glendower. And it wasn’t a rapid transformation, but rather well done as most of this novel seems to be about Thomas. This is a romance where the hero is front and centre, which makes it different from the norm. As a reader, we are taken in a journey of transformation and redemption along with Thomas. Rose, who is an important character in this novel, serves as a reason for that change, but it is nonetheless Thomas who carries the weight of this story.

That isn’t to say that the mystery and romance aspects of Loving Rose are not explored or well-portrayed, they are but they are not as important to the story as Thomas/Malcolm’s journey. This novel is a romantic tribute to the hero’s journey of old.

And of course, we get cameos from some old friends and new!

My only quibbles with this novel were that I wanted a more dastardly villain, especially since Malcolm had been such a good villain in his own novel, but a true evil mastermind was sadly lacking in this novel and I also wanted to see Malcolm’s new identity as Thomas Glendower challenged in some way, but it never was to my satisfaction.

Yet, overall this novel was fun enough to make me dread the wait until 2018 for the next one! 😦

For those of you lucky enough to just be starting the Casebook of Barnaby Adair series, you have three amazing novels to tide your over for the next three years. But, of course, Ms. Laurens never sits idle so, while we may not be getting another installment in this particular series any time soon, she is returning to her beloved Cynsters for the next batch of novels. 😀

RATING - 4

Rika Ashton

(aka Book Reviewer)


Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard: A Review Post

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. And as always, spoilers are handled with extreme caution!

The talented Susan Dennard, author of the Something Strange and Deadly series – which began with the first installment of the same name, if you don’t count the prequel A Dawn Most Wicked – concludes her series with the final installment, Strange and Ever After.

The Blurb:

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus…all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

The Review:

I’ve been on this “strange and deadly” ride since the beginning and, despite some frustrating turns, I did not want it to end. Ms. Dennard has created a darkly compelling world of complex characters and intricate conflict. And Strange and Ever After was a fitting conclusion for this series.

Strange and Ever After, although I tale of romance at heart – if you’ll excuse the pun, also has enough adventure to keep the most restless of readers turning the page. Where we first got to visit 1876 Philadelphia, and later Paris, we are now taken to the pyramids of Egypt. Of all the worlds we’ve explored in this series, I think Egypt is my favourite – but, really, who could resist mummies and magic?

With enough world-building to make the escapist in all of us happy, I think Strange and Ever After is one very perfect summer read!

RATING - 4

Rika Ashton

(aka Sometimes YA Book Blogger)


Cover Lover: SAY YES TO THE MARQUESS by Tessa Dare

Book two of the Castles Ever After series by Tessa Dare has a brand-spanking new cover, which was revealed last week! But if you were hiding in your hermit cave  like me and missed it, I thought I’d share the cover and the dose of coverlust on the blog. Here is the gorgeous cover for Say Yes to the Marquess!

Tessa Dare Stepback - Say Yes to the Marquess

The step back cover for Say Yes to the Marquess designed by the talented Alan Ayers.

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?

● He starts with flowers. A wedding can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn’t kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

Is this cover beautiful or what?

Rika Ashton

(aka Blogger in Coverlust)


Throwback Thursday: THE PIRATE PRINCE by Gaelen Foley

If you love historical romance with a darker edge, then Gaelen Foley is a must-try author! Her books, particularly her older ones, are dense, emotional roller coasters. The Pirate Prince is her earliest work and a heavy read about redemption and revenge – and the first of the Ascension Trilogy. which continues with Princess and Prince Charming. It’s set in the latter half of the 1700s in a kingdom close to Italy, so not a typical, Regency-era pirate romance.

On a calm, moonlit night, as the scent of jasmine and pine embraces the island of Ascension, the pirate prince Lazar di Fiore returns with lethal grace to avenge what was stolen from him: his kingdom, his birthright, his soul.

When Allegra Monteverdi, the daughter of Lazar’s sworn enemy, throws herself on his mercy, Lazar agrees to spare the lives of her family—but only if Allegra sails away with him as his captive.

Alone at sea with this dark, intriguing man, moving between seduction and fear, Allegra realizes it will take more than her growing love for this pirate prince to bring peace to her beloved home. For Lazar must face the demons of his shattered past – if he is to forge the destiny that is theirs to claim…

The Pirate Prince is not the darkest of Ms. Foley’s novels, but it has it’s moments. However, Allegra’s gentleness keeps the novel from going over the edge and gives it – and Lazar, our very tortured hero – some hope for a happy ending. 🙂

The story is not without it’s flaws, but with her writing and imagination, Ms. Foley pulls this novel together with flair!

What are some of your favourite pirate romances?

Rika Ashton

(aka News Reporter from Ascension)


Throwback Thursday: A KISS TO REMEMBER by Teresa Medeiros

The 2001 hardcover edition.

Love a duke? Love fairy tales? Love Teresa Medeiros (but in a very non-creepy way)? Then you are definitely in the right place for this week’s Throwback Thursday!

No one can write historical romance quite like Ms. Medeiros. With her combination of humour and poignancy, Ms. Medieros has a very unique style that has given her a multitude of loyal readers and made her a very popular name in the industry – even though I sometimes forget how to spell her surname. 😉

For this weeks blast to the past, I thought I’d take us all the way to 2001 with A Kiss to Remember – my very first Teresa Medeiros novel and the one that started my, very classy, fandom. 😛

AWAKENED BY A KISS

Laura Fairleigh needs a husband. If she is to keep a roof over her siblings’ heads, the prim rector’s daughter must wed by her twenty-first birthday. When she finds a mysterious stranger with the face of an angel and the body of Adonis unconscious in the forest and with no memory of his name or his past, she decides to claim him for her own. Little does she know that her fallen angel is really the devil in disguise.

Sterling Harlow, the notorious rakehell known as the “Devil of Devonbrooke,” awakens to the enchanting kiss of a lovely young woman who informs him he is her long-lost betrothed. With her sun-kissed cheeks and smattering of freckles, she looks every inch the innocent, but her curves possess a woman’s allure. When she assures him he is the perfect gentleman, he wonders if he’s lost his wits as well as his memory. He would have sworn he was not a man to be satisfied with mere kisses—especially from lips as sweet and luscious as Laura’s. As he attempts to uncover the truth before their wedding night, A Kiss To Remember ignites a passion neither of them will ever be able to forget…

A Kiss  to Remember reinvents the story of Sleeping Beauty in a new, refreshing way, packed full of hilarity, sibling antics and timeless love.

2002 paperback cover

Rika Ashton

(aka Fairy Tale Lover)