Sunday, June 26, 2011

Author Interview- Alretha Thomas

I have a new interview for all of you today. I am interviewing women's fiction author Alretha Thomas.


Favorite color- Pink
Favorite author-Terry McMillan
Favorite book/books- "Waiting to Exhale" by Terry McMillan, "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, "What You Owe Me" by the late Bebe Moore Campbell, "She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb, and "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt, to name a few.
Zodiac sign-Libra
Place of your dreams-In my car on my two-hour commute home every day.
Your motto- Do what you love and the money will eventually follow!

The serious questions

1. Is the life of a writer as you imagined it to be?

Ans. I never imagined what a writer's life would be like. I've always envisioned what I wanted my life to be like as a writer. My dream is to be well off, free from the 9-5 grind, writing books, plays, having my books optioned for movies, and being apart of those movies as a producer. I saw myself being apart of every aspect of the movie making process, from casting to the red carpet premiere. I also saw myself being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Entertainment tonight, and all the other entertainment shows. Am I there yet? No. But I'm having a ball getting there.

2. What genre do you write and why?

Ans. I write fiction geared toward women. This genre allows me the freedom to use my imagination and to tap into incidents in my life that have impacted me most and that most women can relate to. For instance, my current novel "Dancing Her Dreams Away" involves the protaganist Shelia getting a job in dance hall at night so she can audition during the day. I did the same twenty-five years ago.

3. What inspires you the most?

Ans. My inner life. I have so many stories buried within that I have to give birth to. So far I've had two children. My debut novel "Daughter Denied" and my current novel "Dancing Her Dreams Away."

4. What kind of characters/setttings do you like?

Ans. I like characters who are flawed but that a reader can relate to and feel empathy for. I like modern day settings. Mainly Los Angeles and San Francisco. I grew up in those cities.

5. As a reader, would you prefer to read comedy, romance or sci-fi/fantasy?

Ans. (The one which is the closest to your interests) I prefer romance.

6. Have you ever suffered the dreaded writer's block?

Ans. How do you deal with it? I have never suffered from writer's block. Stories just pour out of me. However, I have a very strenuous editing process.

7. What message would you like to give your fans?

Ans. Thank you so much for your ongoing support. I would be nothing without you!

Here are some sites where you can find out more about her-


Shelia King needs to keep her days open for auditions. With eviction looming, she scrambles to find a night job and convinces the owner of a hostess club to hire her. When her agent pitches a topless role, Shelia, fearing her grandmother's disapproval, declines. But after considerable thought, she agrees to meet the producer. Gregory is rich, suave, and ridiculously fine. Shelia shapes plans to win the role and his heart. She gets both, works hard to give an Oscar worthy performance, but when the movie wraps, nothing can prepare her for the revelations about Greg’s past and the aftermath of a dream gone awry.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book review- Mistress of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

Mistress of Pleasure is a historical romance debut novel by Delilah Marvelle. It tells the story of Maybelle- the granddaughter of a French courtesan whose grandmother runs the famous 'School of Gallantry' where men are schooled in the art of pleasure.

Granddaughter of a renowned courtesan, Maybelle de Maitenon has no interest in her grandmother's school in London where gentlemen receive instruction - in the art of seduction. Her only desire in life is to remain independent, free from men and that shackles of marriage. But when Maybelle lays eyes on Edmund Worthington, the Duke of Rutherford, at a soiree, and hears of his scandalous reputation, she decides he's the perfect person for her to have a tryst with no strings attached...

Unbridled passion has again muddied Edmund Worthington's family name. After his very public dalliance with the strikingly beautiful and sensual Maybelle, his mother insists he marry her. But much to the Duke's surprise, Maybelle scoffs at his proposal. Never has he encountered such a brazen - and maddeningly irresistible - woman. But when Maybelle's grandmother falls ill, forcing Maybelle to take over the operation of her school, Edmund devises a plan to make her his. He enrols in the school, where no lone other than Maybelle must give him expert lessons in carnal pleasure. (from

The best thing about this book was that the female lead was not a lady of good breeding but a rather unusual character. She likes to read Volatire. Maybelle is also not like the usual timid/meek female protagonists in many other historical romances. Her character was one of the strongest in the book.

It is quite obvious right from the start that she and the Duke are made for each other. Both of them are very passionate and will give everything for love, but like all other romance protagonists, deny it to their last breath.

Unlike Maybelle, though the Duke's character is very stereotypical. The scandalous past of his father seems like a half-hearted attempt to make him stand out among the tons of other troubled, good-looking and haunted dukes who populate so many historical romances. Even then, there is nothing wrong with him, only that he is too predictable at times. But sometimes, he might surprise you.

The real good thing about this book was the extra characters- especially Maybelle's grandmother, the Duke's mother and most definitely all the gentlemen in the School of Gallantry. I would have liked to read a story featuring each of them. They were in fact, more interesting that the protagonists!

Overall, a good book if you love the Historical romance genre or are looking for a read that will put you in the mood for love.


Book cover-4.6

Pros- Nice cover
Interesting characters
Strong female lead
It's a quick read

Cons- Hero is a little predictable
Could have been longer

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book review- Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

I read this book a long time ago but didn't have time to review it.

This book is a part of Lisa Keypas' Hathaway series which centres around five Hathaway siblings who come into limelight after Leo, the eldest sibling inherits the title of a Viscount. It follows the love life of each of the siblings. Leo's book is the fourth one although he is the eldest.
Lisa Kleypas' books have some of the nicest trailers. You should go and watch them on youtube if you have the time.

Married by Morning centres around Leo, the eldest Hathaway sibling with the title of a Viscount who has just recovered from the death of his love after indulging in self destruction for a long time. Catharine Marks is a governess who tutors his sisters Poppy and Beatrix. She is unusually sharp tongued for one- she is always cutting Leo's statements, arguing and critisizing him. She is sick of Leo's rakish ways and hates him. However, this unlikely couple begins to fall in love.

Out of all the books in the series, this is clearly my favourite. Every romance writer has an obligatory governess novel in his/her list of novels. This one was quite interesting. Catharine Marks is a strong heroine who is determined not to fall for Leo. Leo is persistent and has a good sense of humour.

The heroine's character shows inconsistency after she falls on love but Leo's character is consistent. He is a classic alpha male however, Catharine Marks' strong character balances his. The plotting is good although it could've been cut short by avoiding some scenes. Catharine has some secrets which slowly reveal themselves through the course of the story. There is a lot of humour and wit in their arguments.

Overall, an entertaining romance novel. The pacing is good, characters are interesting and the plot is strong.



Book Review- Arabella by Georgette Heyer

I went on a romance novel rampage and ended up reading more than twenty five romance novels in a month. Now, I am trying to remember all of them and review them. I'll start with the latest.

Arabella is a historical romance novel by Georgette Heyer, a popular romance novelist noted for her precise historical details and clean romances. I tried reading April Lady by her long time ago and fell asleep before I could get to the second chapter. After someone recommended her to me, I decided to try another book of hers. Arabella had glowing reviews on so I decided to read this one.

Arabella is the daughter of a clerk who gets the chance of a lifetime to go to London for her debut. Her godmother sends a letter to her saying she is willing to house her and help her make her debut. On the way to London, her carriage meets with an accident and she lands in Mr. Beaumaris' house who thinks she is a fortune hunter staging an accident to get him to marry her. Arabella lies that she is a very wealthy heiress who is sick of being courted for fortune and therefore, has come to London where people do not know her. In time, Mr. Beaumaris falls for her unique charm and compassionate nature.

Her style is pretty much like authors of that time eg: Barbara Cartland but contains more detail. I am used to reading old novels like these with more description than dialogue so, I found it good. One of the good things that should be noted is her historical detail. Most writers these days just write contemporary romances in historical settings but in her novel you can truly see how English society was at that time. Her dialogues when compared to dialogues of recent historical romances are much more genuine. At that time, people spend more time in formalities than actual talk.

The characters are quite typical of the victorian era but contain some uniqueness. The hero is an alpha hero but more realistic. The supporting characters are not very interesting (except the dog). The hero shows some sense of humour in the form of monologues with the dog. The name of the novel and the protagonist is exotic. The ending appeared a bit rushed though (especially the last two pages).

Overall, a good read. The story is more or less consistent with genuine victorian feel. The initial part can however, be boring or too long but if you endure it, the rest of the story is good.

Plot- 3.5/5
Development- 4.3/5
Dialogue- 4.2/5
Style- 4/5

Genuine historical feel
Romantic development
Well researched

Too much description
Slow in the beginning

Book Review- Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

I interviewed Delilah Marvelle a few days ago (or weeks). Today, I am reviewing a book by her. It is a part of her Scandal series and is called 'The perfect scandal'.

It is the story of the fourth Marquis of Moreland and author of 'How to avoid a scandal', a prim and proper gentleman who finds himself falling for his mysterious neighbour Countess Zosia who daringly proposes marriage when she finds him staring at her window one night. He later discovers that Zosia has a secret past which could change their lives.

The book can easily be categorised as historical romance. Delilah has a unique style of writing. All of her chapters begin with an amusing extract from 'How to avoid a scandal' a book written by the hero of the story. I have seen this pattern being followed in her debut novel 'Mistress of Scandal' too. This gives her writing style a unique twist. The plot was okay for a romance novel.

The characters seem to depart from the traditional style. The hero and heroine both have their weaknesses. He is a masochist while she is crippled. However, her handicap doesn't seem to be very important during the story. She wants to dedicate her life to feeing Poland from Russia, a dream her mother had too. Character development is evident in the story which is one of the good things about the story. However, the heroine is a little overbearing- she has a better title and is stronger (emotionally) than the hero. The supporting characters are strong and sometimes one seems to like the more than the protagonists.

Overall, a nice book. If you're looking for a historical romance with a unique twist or different characters (not the alpha hero and weak or seemingly strong heroine) this book is a very good read. I also loved the texture, colour and design of the cover. It is very well designed considering its target audience.

Writing Style
Cover and packaging

A little slow in the beginning

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Manga review- Kaichou wa Maid-sama

Kaichou wa maid-sama is probably the first unfinished manga that I am reviewing on Review Carnival. Since a lot of mangas are just not ending, I have decided to review them in parts. This review is for all chapters upto Chapter 70.

Kaichou wa maid-sama (The President is a Maid!) is a shojo manga series by Fujiwara Hiro which tells the story of Ayuzawa Misaki- a hyper charged, 'perfect' girl and Usui Takumi- a mysterious and quiet guy who discovers Ayuzawa's biggest secret- that she is a maid in a maid cafe. He however, agrees to tell it to no one, without asking for anything in return. Even at this point, Maid-sama distinguishes itself from other mangas where mostly the discovery of such a secret leads to instant romance or a master-slave relationship which eventually develops into romance.

(Summary from Once an all boys school, Seika High, a renowned school full of reckless and filthy students, has recently become a co-ed school. However, with the female population still remaining a minority even after the change over the recent years, Ayuzawa Misaki takes it into her own hands to reform the school and allow a chance for the girls to feel safer in the rough environment.

Training, studying and even becoming the first female student council president of the school, Misaki has gained a reputation, among the male students body as an uptight boy-hating demon dictator and as a shining hope for the teachers and fellow female students. However, despite her tough-as-nails appearance, she secretly works part-time at a maid cafe in order to support her family. Unfortunately, her secret is soon revealed when the somewhat impassive Usui Takumi, a popular boy at school, nonchalantly discovers her in a maid uniform after school.

One of the best things about this manga was that it is the heroine who is 'perfect', not the hero. Ayuzawa is not your typical soft-spoken, eternally klutzy and awkward progtagonist. She is strong, always comes first in the school exams, knows martial arts, studies hard and also works part-time because her family is poor! The romance develops very, very slowly. Even when they kiss, they go back to being 'just classmates' in teh chapters after that, which was a bit disappointing.

But this slow development makes the romance more believable. Usui is a very quiet, mysterious, good-looking (a shojo manga wouldn't be complete without this!) guy, who always comes second to Ayuzawa in school. He id not competitive at all, though. He just observes things and doesn't talk much. His character is actually very interesting, changing multiple times througout the story. He goes from reserved, to bold, to knight-in-shining-armour to lover to rich boy from old family and much more throughout the course of the manga. He actually starts liking Ayuzawa much before she starts liking him.

Ayuzawa, on the other hand, doesn't really change significantly. The manga is very interesting and well-written, with wondeful visuals. Later in the series, Usui's mysterious past provides a much needed change of mood from school-life.

This manga is a must-read for those looking for something different in the shojo world. A word of caution- this starts out as a very stereotypical shojo manga but gradually you will find that it is a masterpiece in itself.

Fujiawara-san has been liberal in throwing in eye candy scenes and plot twists with equal ease. I am really looking foward to reading the rest of this manga!



Pros- Strong female lead.
Good art
Interesting twists and sub-plots
Likeable characters
Good pacing

Cons- The male lead started out unusal but became 'perfect prince' by half of the series.
Boring initially/ too stereotypical initially

Book Review- Aron White- Shrouded Path

It has been a long time since I reviewed a book. I have a young adult wuxia novel today. It is called Shrouded Path by Aron White. It is the first of the 'The Doorway Cycle' series.

I have never heard of western writers experimenting with chinese wuxia novels earlier. I guess that gives the book unique twist.

The book follows the adventures of Jun who is seperated from his father in the beginning of the novel. The novel follows his life as he searches for his father. He gets together with his friend and seeks jutice from the corrupt governer of Kunming who is connected to his father's disappearance.

The novel is rather short and reads more like a slice-of-life story than an action novel. The novel goes all the way from Jun's father's disappearance to his kung fu training and return to Kunming.
There are essential 'chinese' elements like village, dragon, kung fu and rice. However, this makes the novel rather stereotypical. There is more conversation than action and the novel doesn't 'take off' until the end by when it is too late. The action is more realistic than what we see in Hollywood films but not as exciting. One more thing that made the novel a little boring was the lack of 'high' stakes.

The climax (if there was one) didn't have the desired effect because the story didn't build up step by step. I am used to watching Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee kung fu action movies with high entertainment value and unrealistic stunts so I probably didn't like the realistic action without any 'wow' factor. Someone else could have a different opinion on this but since the novel is aimed at young adults who like quick and entertaining books, it could've used faster pacing. Also, action looks better on screen.

The book started well (initial chapter) and ended well (final chapter) but the rest of it was not so 'well'. The novel ends with a cliffhanger leaving the reader wanting more in the next book.

Overall, good for someone willing to try something new. However, be warned that the story progresses slowly.

Unique genre
Writing style

Unconvincing action
Does not live upto expectations of non-native Chinese for whom Wuxia means Jackie Chan movies with unrealistic stunts

Note: Review copy was provided by the author.

You can purchase the book at or Barnes&Noble bookstore.
Here's a link to the author's site: