Book Review: White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton

White Trash Warlock     

Author: David R. Slayton

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

American release date:  October 13, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Fantasy/260 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Adam Lee Binder of Oklahoma is on a mission to find the amoral warlock who is making and selling charms at the expense of the misery of members of other species. Being a practitioner of magic himself, Adam takes umbrage at this misuse of magical power, but his search is also a bit personal. He thinks the warlock just might be his dear old dad, long missing in action.

Adam lives in Oklahoma with his Aunt Sue, another practitioner, and has since his release from Liberty House, the cruelty-ridden mental institution where he was relegated as a teen by his older brother, Robert, with the assistance of their mother. Unable to handle Adam’s being different, they shut him away in what was essentially a hell-hole. No wonder he doesn’t exactly stay in close communication now that he’s out and on his own.

However an urgent text from his usually reticent brother sends Adam driving up to his brother’s home in Denver. Bobby’s wife, Annie, is… ill, for lack of a better word, and Bobby think he needs Adam’s expertise to deal with the situation. Looks like a family reunion is in the cards, as their mother, Tilla, is staying with Bobby too.

As far as witches go, well, Adam doesn’t consider himself a witch, and his power is somewhat lacking, but he does believe in patterns. The first mention of Denver came from a Saurian named Bill, the second is that Bobby lives in Denver. And the third has to do with a pool cue Adam is trying to find out about which apparently came from a pawn shop in Denver. So going to Denver becomes a no-brainer.

As Adam nears Denver in his beloved Cutlass, he sees quite the disturbing sight in the form of a large creature hovering above the city, with tendrils that reach into various places, including Bobby’s home.  Probably right into his wife, if what Adam suspects turns out to be true. This task is not going to be easily accomplished, and most likely Adam can’t do this alone. Might even have to talk to the elves about it, which he really doesn’t want to do, seeing as he has an ex who is an elf, one who ran out on him years before, breaking his heart.

Not to mention, elves can be… difficult to deal with.

Damn, life is so complicated.

I was given a copy of this book by my daughter-in-law, and I fell in love with it from the beginning.  In some ways, it reminds me of the Dresden Files, which I also happen to love. And happily this is just the first book in a series.

The writing is great. David Slayton has a deft touch with humor that I can relate to, and his characters come alive on the page. Even the ones you want to punch for being jackasses. Adam is not your typical warlock in that he considers himself to be white trash from Oklahoma, isn’t rich and doesn’t think of himself as particularly good-looking, not to mention that being locked up in a mental institution as a teenager has given him serious insecurity issues. But I think he’s great, and a much better person than he realizes. He just needs to find the right person who can convince him that he is worth loving. The story is very imaginative, and I love the different types of supernatural beings we get to see, including but not limited to Saurians, elves, leprechauns, and gnomes. And let’s not forget Death and death reapers. Throw in a little romance, and I’m in heaven.

The only criticism I can really make is that the book would have benefited from a little more careful editing, but that’s because I’m an editor and I notice these things. Most people wouldn’t. I look forward to reading more books in the series, whenever they are published.

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Wednesday Briefs: January 20, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

 

Super Trooper #52 (12.3) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Evan sat lost in thought in the station break room. His pad of tickets lay open on the table before him as well as a cup of coffee. He’d been asked to trade shifts for tonight and had readily agreed. Not only would he be helping a fellow trooper, but he couldn’t help but think in the back of his mind that maybe the others would like a night without him being there.

Not Chan, of course, he hastily told himself. He meant the children. But that thought felt disloyal as well.  As did his relief at not being there. And that only made him feel guilty on top of everything else.

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Wednesday Briefs: January 13, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Super Trooper #51 (12.2) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Although he’d finally helped the young teller to balance her drawer, it had taken a little longer than he’d hoped it would. By the time Chan pulled into the driveway of his parents’ home—he had trouble thinking of it any other way—he knew he would have to face a hungry horde. He half expected to see his brother’s face in the window, watching for him. But the curtains were drawn and there was no sign of Kamal.

Chan wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing.

When he reached the front door, he took a deep breath

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Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 24 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 24       

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 4, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/234 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Eighteen hours have passed since Yuri’s labor began and she is no closer to delivery than she was when it started. Because of the cradle barrier, medical experts are unable to give her an injection, and she is exhausted.  Not to mention that during this ordeal, the poor woman is on display, and there’s nothing anyone (meaning Shiro) can do about it. He is helpless to help her. Yuri pushes hard and manages to birth the first child, which has its own consequences. Poor Rin, an unseen silent witness to the events of the past, becomes convinced more than ever that he should never have been born.

Sir Pheles feels Rin’s pain and removes him to another place.

Meanwhile, aboard the airship Dominus Liminus, Yukio has been summoned by the commander, Lucifer, who informs him that his test results are back. While Yukio is not a demon, he is not exactly a normal human either. Yukio’s left eye shows signs of severe temptaint, which is probably why Satan is able to use the eye as a window onto Assiah.

Lucifer decides to play tour guide and takes Yukio around his airship. A set of twin pistols catches Yukio’s eye. Turns out they are the test type and prototype of the Armumahel gun and its power “has the same qualities as the black flame” they consider to be “the flame of Gehenna.” In a surprise move, Lucifer offers the guns to Yukio and he accepts.  However, Lucifer explains, before Yukio can wield both weapons, his arm needs to be repaired, which could take five or six weeks. But there is a way in which it could be done in only one day…

Lewin Light (aka Lightning) is on trial for his attack on Director Drac Dragelescu. Lightning attempts to tell them (including Arthur Angel) that Drac has been working for the enemy, working at producing clones of demons. That doesn’t go very well, so now it’s up to Suguro to find the proof of Lightning’s innocence. Is he up to the task?

Shima gives Yukio some confidential information and tells him to do with it what he will. Yukio can’t help but wonder which side Shima is on. Shima says he wonders the same thing about Yukio. But what Shima tells him about Lucifer constantly changing bodies makes sense and explains much. Also explains much about Dragulescu.

The evidence of Dragulescu’s perfidy comes a day late and a dollar short as the man has flown the coop. Meanwhile, Lucifer has allowed Yukio to witness the experiment involving so-called “chosen ones” for whom this is not their first time at the rodeo. And now Lucifer reveals the reason for wanting Yukio to be present at this time…

Shiemi finds herself among the Grigori as an honored guest and given a complete make-over. They refer to her as Lady Shiemi and her wish is their command. She is unsure of why she is there. And she makes an unexpected discovery…

I’ve been waiting a long time for this next volume, and it doesn’t disappoint. On the contrary, I am now impatient for the next one. I only hope the wait is shorter.

Rin is beginning to think he should never have been born, as if his birth was the cause of anything. I hope he gets over this soon. Yukio, on the other hand, has come back into my good graces. I should have known better. The jury is still out on Shima. Suguro is pretty awesome, and has been trained well by Lightning, who isn’t as useless as he often seems. Even Mephisto Pheles shows an uncanny knack for knowing where and when he is needed and what to do in any given situation.

I still feel bad for Yuri. She was used as a pawn for something that was none of her fault. The heart loves where it loves. Not enough Shiro in this volume, but that’s not unexpected. Important things are happening, I can’t wait to see what they are. Another great volume of Blue Exorcist!

Wednesday Briefs: January 6, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Phases of Moon: Part 60 by J. Alan Veerkamp

Darkness loomed, reaching up from the tree line, turning the sky indigo. The full moon hadn’t made an appearance yet, but its impending rise sent anxious shivers through Jimmy’s soul. Never had he wished for eternal daylight.

Damned early November sunsets.

“It’s getting dark out. We should get ready,” Jimmy said.

Sawyer’s exhale was loud and hollow. “Yeah. You’re probably right. Clock’s ticking.”

Dormant grass crunched under bare feet as they circled the house. They’d spent most of the day inside, feeding Sawyer’s bottomless appetite, and burning off nervous energy in bed. Now they found themselves saying goodbye to the sun.

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Wednesday Briefs: December 30, 2020

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Super Trooper #49 (11.4) by Julie Lynn Hayes

The first couple of weeks after becoming a family was spent in adjusting to the new situation. Some adjustments were easier than others, Evan found. He and Chan had had their own routines, but these were gone now, naturally. Although some things were similar, such as meals. They still shared the cooking duties, although Chan was by far the better chef. An opinion which was born out by his siblings, who seemed less than enthusiastic when Evan cooked. In all fairness, Evan had done little cooking for himself prior to meeting Chan, other than grilling when the mood hit him. Even so, he was trying to please their palates, just not succeeding very well.

Chan and Evan didn’t work the same hours.

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 27 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 27         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 2, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ulquiorra has taken Orihime hostage, capture while she is being escorted back to the World of the Living. Warning her that resistance is futile, he allows her to go to Kakura Town to say good-bye to one person, without being seen, and then she is to report to Hueco Mundo. Orihime agrees, rather than see anyone get hurt. And of course the one person she chooses to say good-bye to is Ichigo.

Meanwhile, the battle between the Soul Reapers and the Arrancars continues, following the arrival of Uruhara. Yammy thinks he’s killed Kiskue but the shop owner is a lot tougher than he’s given him credit for. And he’s a quick study. Fool me once, shame on you… but Kiskue won’t be fooled again.

Ichigo, along with Rukia,  is battling Grimmjow, and things aren’t going particularly well when Dutch Boy (Shinji) shows up, and he isn’t anything Grimmjow has ever seen before. And neither will he explain himself to the Arrancar, which infuriates him. But just as Dutch Boy lashes out with a Cero of his own, and it seems as if the tide has turned in their favor, the call comes to the Arrancars that the battle is and they are to return. Obviously a sign that their objective has been attained, ie the capture of Orihime, although the others don’t know that yet.

An exhausted Ichigo is taken home to recuperate and is totally unaware of Orihime’s arrival and her heartfelt good-bye in the middle of the night. But when Hitsugaya arrives the next morning and detects her spiritual pressure, that knowledge seems to change everything. Now the Soul Reapers will do nothing to assist in her rescue, claiming that she has joined Aizen et al of her own accord and is therefore a traitor. Rukia and the other Soul Reapers are ordered back to Soul Society immediately and the Captain General forbids Ichigo to help Orihime either, claiming he needs him for more important thing.

Like Ichigo’s going to listen to the old man when Orihime’s life is in danger.

Before he heads off to Hueco Mundo, Ichigo briefly returns to school and cuts ties with his friends for their own protection, then heads to the shop, suspecting Kiskue can help him get to Hueco Mundo. But rather than play Lone Ranger, it seems that Ichigo will have a couple of companions, who have been waiting for him to turn up. And they are not the only ones keeping Ichigo on their radar.

An interesting turn of events with the capture of Orihime. Now we finally understand just why Uruhara wanted to keep her from the battle, and it has nothing to do with her abilities or lack of, but it was done for her protection, knowing she will become a target of Aizen. See how well that worked out. Now is the time to find out what this seemingly fragile, mind-mannered, sweet young girl is truly made of. In order to survive Aizen and his cohorts in Hueco Mundo, it had best be something really strong.  Also interesting is her admission of her feelings when saying farewell to Ichigo.

Perhaps losing the support of the Soul Reapers – at least for now – was for the best, because that’s what is allowing Uryu to come along, providing the loophole in his agreement with his father which helped him regain his Quincy powers. But it seems that dear old Dad is not surprised, as even Isshin can tell.

In this volume, we get a little more of a glimpse into Kiskue as more than a comic relief character who happens to own a shop in the World of the Living.  Did you really think that was his only purpose? No, that man has a lot more to him, and a lot more we have to learn about him. You just don’t become a supplier to the Soul Reapers without having some sort of inside knowledge… maybe friends in high places?

The first arc of Bleach involved the saving of Rukia, and now on to the saving of Orihime. Not coincidentally, both rescues involve Aizen, the renegade Soul Reaper, who no longer has any redeeming values. That man is just bad to the bone. And more than a little egomaniacal and crazy. No telling what that kind of crazy will do, as it tends to want everything.

Another good volume of Bleach, setting the stage for what is coming, namely battle with Aizen and pals on their own turf. That can’t be good, surely, especially when he was so many bad things at his disposal. So what is his long-term agenda?  Well, he still has the Hogyoku, waiting for it to come to fruition. What’s he plan to do with it? Hard to say.

Can’t wait for the next volume.

Wednesday Briefs: December 23, 2020

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.
First Snow by Cia Nordwell

Miguel peered out the window into the darkness. It was rain mixed with slush. The edges of the window were rimed with frost, and he shouldn’t want it to snow, but he did. He had to go back to job hunting in the morning, and his coat wasn’t thick enough to keep out the cold, but could it be worse than the rain? It was still damp from his futile all day trek yesterday, even though he’d left it draped over the vent.

Maybe he should have stayed in Florida, where everything was familiar, where the weather didn’t make his

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Book Review: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box     

Author: Joe Hill

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

American release date:  January 1, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Ghost Fiction/400 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Jude Coyne, at the age of fifty-four, isn’t exactly in his prime. Not so much as the number of his years but the way he’s spent them. Jude is, or was, a hard-living death-metal rocker who likes to live life on the edge.  But he hasn’t made any new music for a while, not since most of his band have died. Doesn’t mean he’s changed his ways. He’s living in a farmhouse with a young girl thirty years his junior, who he calls Georgia. Not because that’s her name but because that’s where she’s from. He’s always called his girls by their states of origin, rather than bothering to learn their real names.  That’s just how Jude is.

Jude has a taste for the macabre, and possesses rather an esoteric collection of strange items, including a cookbook for cannibals, a used hangman’s noose, and a snuff film. So when he receives an invitation to purchase something strange and unusual, he decides to give the item a look. Imagine his surprise to discover a ghost for sale on a wannabe ebay site? How can he resist? He doesn’t, and makes a snap judgment to buy it now, so no one else can purchase it. The ghost arrives in the form of a suit, packed in a heart-shaped box. And now the fun begins.

When Jude receives the suit, his life changes forever. He will have to deal with his past in order to survive the present… or he may have no future.

This is not my first Joe Hill rodeo. He’s a really good writer, reminiscent of Stephen King. Not surprising, considering that’s his father. But that isn’t to say he’s an imitation of his father, because he isn’t. Far from it. Joe Hill knows how to tell a good story, and he tells it well. He can even take an outwardly unlikeable character like Jude Coyne and layer him in such a way that by the end of the book, you like him and are rooting for him. He draws on a vast knowledge of humankind and creates some memorable characters, including the ghost. He doesn’t sugarcoat his characters, and shows them with all their blemishes and flaws.

This book is a real page-turner, as you just can’t imagine what is going to happen, or what’s waiting up ahead on the road, and you’re really excited to find out what’s there. If you like ghost stories, you’ll love this one. Going to find more of his books and read them.

Wednesday Briefs: December 16, 2020

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Mates Come First: Chapter 4A by Carol Pedroso

Mica threw things into his suitcase and listened to the ringtone on his phone. He’d hit the speaker and flung it on the bed so he could get packed as quickly as possible.

“Mica, what’s happening. Did you find out what was going on with Owen?”

“Oh, I found out what was going on all right,” Mica growled. Owen had gone over every part of his time at the coven school. By the end, Mica had had to pay for an entirely new table. The scorch marks and chips were too bad to be covered up.

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