Wednesday Briefs: November 13, 2019

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.

Unicorn Quests: Chapter Two by Cia Nordwell

“She’s a buxom wench, with hair on her chest, and a dwarvish gold mine if I swive her!” The shriek and resulting laughter was so loud Londe’s ears twitched back, and I wanted to cover mine.

‘You have to be kidding me,’ Londe said. ‘You can hear her out here! She’s drunk already.’

“Not likely. She gets the hiccups when she’s drunk, and there wasn’t a single hic in that whole verse.” I slid off Londe’s back in front of the Bleating Banshee. The ramshackle building stood on the edge of a town barely big enough to call it that,

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Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 22 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 22   

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 3, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/218 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Things are not looking good for humanity as demons are on the loose and visible! People are encouraged to stay home. In case of trouble, they should contact their local police, or the knights of the True Cross. Shiemi finally awakens, and Kamiki fills her in on what is happening. When she asks about Rin, Kamiki thinks Sir Pheles has him in custody. But their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of members of the Grigori, who have come to take Shiemi with them! What is going on here?

Mephisto tells Rin he must handle the current situation so Rin has to journey to the past alone, with the aid of a key he gives him, a master key known as the kamikakushi key. He gives Rin a special patrol uniform and sends him on his way, telling him that if he wants to move forward, he has to accept reality for what it is and accept his past. Meanwhile, Yukio is taken to a meeting with Lucifer where he is introduced to Lucifer’s younger brother, Egyn, King of Water, and Amaimon questions Mephisto about things he should have noticed before.

Rin travels to the past and meets up with Mephisto, who looks just the same as in the future, and sees the young man who will one day be Father Fujimoto. And he sees his mother, Yuri, as well. He follows their story as they move from living on the streets to being accepted into the Cram School, and their journey to becoming exorcists. Rin learns about Section 13 and the cloning program to find a suitable vessel for Lucifer, but there’s still a lot to learn about their pasts.

Things are not looking good for humanity. Can the Knights and the Grigori handle this influx of demons? Will Lucifer take control of Assiah too? I suspect Mephisto has something up his proverbial sleeve, and he is putting wheels into motion through his machinations. Although I sometimes wonder whose side he is on, I do believe he has Assiah’s interests at heart, even if he is a demon. He’s the perfect example of appearances can be deceiving!

Rin’s trip through time is not only very interesting but rather enlightening, as well. Before he became a priest, Shiro was not particularly nice, and a far cry from what he later became. We know he’s going to change into the more kindly but still outspoken and somewhat rough priest, but watching the transformation is fascinating. We also know the journey ends for Yuri after she gives birth to Yukio and Rin, but it’s nice to see what she was like before that, before her involvement with Satan, and what led to it. My biggest questions after reading this volume are: why the heck does Yuri remind me so much of Shiemi? And where did they take Shiemi, and why? She almost confessed to Kamiki about who she likes, until interrupted by the Grigori. Is it Rin? Is it Yukio? Or is it a player we’re unaware of yet? I like seeing the friendship between Shiemi and Kamiki deep and solidify. They both need friends, especially Kamiki.

We didn’t see much of Yukio this time, and I’m still stumped as to what’s going on with him and his motives for being where he is. Is he coming to grips with the fact that he’s also part demon or does he have another agenda? I find it hard to believe he never suspected, since he and Rin are twins and have the same parents, that he had demonic power of some sort.  Guess we’ll have have to wait and see.

Another solid volume of Blue Exorcist, can’t wait to read more!

 

Book Review: Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals novella)     

Author: Alyssa Cole

Publisher: Avon

American release date: March 19, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Contemporary Romance/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Regina Hobbs—Reggie to her family and friends—refuses to think of herself as disabled. She can do just about anything from her wheelchair that other people can, and some things a lot better. She runs her own nerd culture website, GirlsWithGlasses.com, after working for years as an analyst for her parents’ real estate investment fund, which she hated. Now she’s in her full glory, doing what she wants to do. So why is it hard to find someone to share her life with? She’s so stressed currently that she isn’t sleeping well at all. She needs help in the worst possible way. Remembering the voice from a podcast she’d once listened to on a regular basis, a man whose very fine voice had helped her sleep back then, she reaches out to him in desperation. The podcast is no more, and she isn’t at all sure he’ll acquiesce to her request—assuming he doesn’t dismiss it as utterly creepy. But Reggie doesn’t know what else to do.

When he responds and wants to actually talk on the phone because he has questions about what she wants, she has to wonder what she is getting herself into.

Gustave Nguyen—Gus to those who know him—is autistic and he loves puzzles, which is why he used to have his own podcast about them. But that’s over now, has been for a few years. Now he’s working on designing escape rooms. The email he’d received from 26InchRims—the only person who’d listened to his podcasts and even interacted with him—was surprising, to say the least. But he’d be lying if he said he hadn’t thought about her a lot, especially after his last breakup. Dating isn’t exactly his forte, and he hasn’t had a relationship that lasted. And now the only person who’d ever listened to him had almost literally shown up on his doorstep.

His current project is an escape room that is turning out to be the most anticipated feature of the upcoming Anime Con, one that’s based on the popular anime Reject Squad Ultra. Gus had jumped at the opportunity without having seen a single episode of the show. And now that he’s started watching it, he doesn’t get it. What’s so romantic about this? How’s he going to make the escape room fun and believable for the fans if he can’t see what they do?

And what’s he going to do about the unusual request from 26InchRims—what’s her real name? Oh yeah, Reggie. When he tells her he has questions and wants to talk on the phone, is he being honest, or does he just want to hear her voice? Supposing she agrees to his request, where do they go from there?

I have to say I’ve enjoyed every single one of the books in the Reluctant Royals series, and this novella is no exception.  Although it’s short, it packs a lot of story and heart into its pages. I like that the main characters are people you don’t normally find in romance novels. Reggie is in a wheelchair and Gus is autistic. Too many romances feature perfect people with perfect bodies who find each other and fall in love. It’s nice to see something different, more like real life.

Both Reggie and Gus are inspirational, and people I would like to hang out with. I loved watching them fall in love, once they got past themselves in order to do it.

I think the series is done now, although this novella actually comes before the last book, A Prince on Paper. I’ll miss these characters. Guess I’ll just have to re-read the series some day!  If you enjoy romance and finding someone who is perfect for you, if you like people who are different and march to the beat of their own drummer, and yet have the same problems and family issues we all do, then give this novella a try. Read the whole series!  You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Sinners’ Opera by Linda Nightingale

Sinners’ Opera (Obsession)     

Author: Linda Nightingale

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

American release date: October 7, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Paranormal Vampire Romance/460 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

When you have all the time in the world, you can learn to do many things. And if you make the right investments over the course of many years, you can live like royalty. Although Morgan D’Arcy really is royalty, being a peer of the realm, a British lord. But he’s also a world-renowned accomplished pianist. At least in this “lifetime”, he is. Morgan is also a vampire, which means that because of his longevity—read immortality—he has to reinvent himself every so often. People get suspicious of someone who never ages, even the good-looking ones. And Morgan is undeniably good-looking. Just ask his good friend and mentor, Lucien.

But there is something Morgan wants more than anything else, something he has been unable to attain. Or should I say who, for Morgan’s obsession is with a woman named Isabeau. A woman he’s been watching and guiding since before she was born. She knows him, but not as Morgan. To her, he is Gabriel, the man who visits her in dreams. Who watches out for her and cares for her. With his help, Isabeau has become one of the foremost leading geneticists in the country, if not the world. With her help, Morgan hopes she can cure the genetic defect which keeps him from siring an actual child, and together they can have a baby. But how to explain all that to her, as well as the truth about what he is?

Isabeau has been quietly in lust with her Gabriel for a while now, but it’s hard to have a relationship with someone who comes and goes at his own whim, and who leaves no real evidence that he’s ever been there. She has her job, of course, and her friends. And a boyfriend she plans to marry. But Gabriel… he’s so much more. If only she knew if he were real or just a figment of her lusty imagination.

Morgan has very strict rules under which he lives, enforced by a council of vampires which includes Lucien. He’s spent his various lives doing pretty much as he pleases, within the parameter of those rules—it’s easy to live dangerously when you know you can’t die. From fast horses to fast cars, as technology progresses over the years. Women of all sorts, his for the taking. But something has changed. Now he has so much more to live for… and he’s willing to break the rules in order to have that.

This can either be a love affair made in the heavens or one with origins a little bit south of that….

I have to say that I fell in love with this book from the beginning, particularly with Morgan D’Arcy. He is sexy as hell, so charming it should be illegal, and yet possessed of a certain vulnerability that makes you want to hug him close (before turning to other activities, of course). I love the world this author has created with its own vampires and their own unique qualities. There are many vampire stories out there, but this one stands out to me. Linda Nightingale knows how to make us see and feel what she’s writing about, very vividly, on a very visceral level. I felt as though this book ended far too quickly, I just wanted it to go on forever. At the same time, it’s dramatic, romantic, intense, and heartbreaking.

If you enjoy romances, if you love vampires, if you love drama and excitement and characters who both attract and repel, I highly recommend this book. Morgan D’Arcy is like a drug, one I cannot get enough of. I hope there’ll be many more books featuring this enchanting man!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 9 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 9     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 10, 2005

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo, Ishida, Orihime, and Chad, along with Mr. Yoruichi the cat, race through the Precipice in order to get to the Soul Society to save Rukia. If they don’t do it quickly enough, they risk being killed! To make matters worse, the Cleaner is right behind them! Luckily they make it and find themselves in the Slum District, known as the Rukongai, where souls live when they first come to Soul Society, just outside the Seireitei, where the Soul Reapers live. An exuberant Ichigo decides to sprint right into the Seireitei, but quickly learns why that isn’t a good idea when a huge gate slams down in front of him, along with its ginormous guardian, Jindanbô. Yoruichi and Ishida want to regroup and formulate a plan, but Chad and Orihime rush headlong after Ichigo, in order to help him. However, Jindanbô informs them there is only two to a duel, so they have to wait to fight him.

After being defeated by Ichigo, Jindanbô agrees to let them pass, but when he raises the gate, trouble is waiting on the other side in the form of a Soul Reaper by the name of Gin Ichimaru. As big as he is, Jindanbô quails at the sight of Gin, who punishes the gate keeper. When Ichigo protests his treatment of the gentle giant, they briefly skirmish before Gin pushes the giant out of the way, lowering the gate. Guess they’ll need to find another way to get inside!

Ichigo and his group find themselves the object of interest by some of the locals, who usually prefer to keep to themselves. But they are kindly disposed toward Ichigo for standing up for Jindanbô against Gin even as Orihime works to heal him. Chad unexpectedly sees a familiar face among them. But now they have to formulate a new plan and actually listen to Yoruichi. The cat suggests finding Kûkaku Shiba. However it seems this person moves around a lot. Suddenly a wild boar appears, followed by a strange man attempting to catch up to it. Right away he notices a Soul Reaper is present, ie Ichigo, and becomes belligerent. The man’s name is Ganju, and it doesn’t take long for him and Ichigo to get into it!

Before things go too far, one of Ganju’s associates, who are all mounted on boars, reminds him that it’s nine o’clock, and away they all ride. Ichigo is determined to wait for him to come back to finish what was started but Yoruichi puts the kibosh on that idea. They head out to search for the person Yoruichi is sure can help them get into the Seireitei.

In this volume, we get our first introduction to the world of Soul Society. I still have questions about that place. And about Soul Reapers. This isn’t a spoiler, since I still don’t know the answer, even after watching more than 300 episodes of the anime. The people they meet are souls, so they must be dead, and yet it seems like they’re living regular lives here. Also, are the Soul Reapers dead?

The encounter between Ichigo and boar-rider Ganju is hilarious, and you just know they’ll meet again somehow and continue the fight. Assuming nobody interferes or tries to stop them. Ichigo also apparently rubs Ishida the same way. The Quincy doesn’t like to be told what to do and resents that Ichigo assumes leadership of the group, something that Chad and Orihime apparently have no problem with. Mr. Yoruichi seems to be there in an advisory capacity but isn’t always listened to, obviously.

In this volume we see a little more of the enigma that is Gin. Don’t worry, you’ll be seeing more of him. Judging by the way the Seireitei is walled off from everyone else, there seems to be some class division here. Do they think themselves too good to mingle with the others, or is there another reason? I couldn’t tell you. The ending is pretty good and since I know what’s coming, I look forward to it. As usual, Bleach is filled with both action and humor, but don’t discount the author’s ability to delve into his characters. The more we travel with them, the more we’ll learn, layer by layer. Many surprises lie ahead.

Many.

Looking forward to volume 10.

 

 

 

Wednesday Briefs: November 6, 2019

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.

Adrift: Chapter 64 by J. Alan Veerkamp

Several scans to test the integrity of Pakko’s patch on the hull were performed before Arad overrode the emergency protocols to reestablish the atmosphere and drop the bulkhead separating them from the engine room.

Balling up a fist, Pakko gave Arad a gentle tap on the shoulder. “Told ya the weld would hold.”

“I’ve already seen people blown out into space. I’m not looking to for a repeat.” Arad shuddered.

“I hear that.”

The rupture hadn’t been large, but ragged lines in the metal webbed where the air violently escaped after the shot. The breach was sealed, but Pakko planned to weld additional layers from the inside as insurance.

Click here to read the entire Brief:

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Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 5 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 5

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: November 4, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

DWMA is having a celebration! It’s their much-anticipated anniversary and should be a blast! Unless a certain someone gets her way, aka Medusa the Witch, who has plans of her own.

Maka is concerned about Soul. He’s hanging out by himself, but denies there’s anything wrong. She tries to get him to dance with her, thinking it will help with their Soul Resonance, but ends up with her father as a partner instead, to her dismay. Meanwhile, Crona and Ragnarok have entered Death City and are waiting for Medusa to give them the signal.

A rather drunken Dr. Stein drags Medusa out onto the dance floor, to her embarrassment, but it seems he has his own agenda, and confronts Medusa with the knowledge that she’s a witch. He connects her presence at the school with the presence of a kishin beneath the Academy, and she admits that he is right. Sid returns, having survived the explosion at Medusa’s lab, and warns everyone to get out. But it’s too late, the trap is sprung, the school sealed. No one can get out! Free warns Eruka the seal will only  hold for about an hour, as she sends in the Mizune.

Stein tells them the only way to stop the intruders is by going underground and asks if anyone wishes to go with him. Maka, Soul, Black Star, Tsubaki, Kid and the sisters all volunteer. Meanwhile, Shinigami-same tells those who remain the story of the Kishin beneath DWMA.

Blair the Witch, in cat form, is strolling through Death City, wishing she could be at the DWMA celebration, which apparently is only for students, when she runs across the guy from the fish store who gives her free fish and he isn’t looking very good. Just then the mizune attack!

Stein instructs all the weapons to remain in weapon form and not take human form. He realizes the enemy has split up, lying in wait for them. Taking charge, he tells them he will take on Medusa as Make, Black Star, and Kid break through Medusa’s wall. Kid, being fastest, is to go after the ones who are after the Kishin. Maka is to pass Medusa and the Demon Sword and catch up to Kid. Black Star will hold back the Demon Sword so Maka and Kid get past, driving his soul wavelength into the enemy.

However, Maka has her own ideas of how things will go down. She is determined to get back at the Demon Sword for what he did to Soul!

This is one of the more action-packed volumes of this series, as Stein and his students work together to prevent Medusa and her minions from getting to and reviving the Kishin beneath the Academy. As always, the story is interspersed with the author’s humor. I love the scene with Stein and Medusa as they dance, and the one with Maka and Soul is very sweet. We learn about Crona and his background (his mother is a real witch!) and one has to feel sorry for him. (I keep forgetting that Crona is male, since he looks female to me). I guess we’ll find out if this treatment has destroyed his humanity or if there is a good person lurking underneath.

I liked the scenes with Stein and Death Scythe. Even though Death Scythe tends to be on the sleazy side, I can tell he really loves his daughter. Be aware that there are scenes involving Blair Witch that some might describe as ecchi. But I’ve seen worse in Food Wars lol

There is also another consideration here, that of Soul having the Black Blood in him. How will that work out, and will it become a problem? More to come, can’t wait to read it!