Monthly Archives: November 2018

Wednesday Briefs: November 28, 2018

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.

In Pieces #29 (8.2) by Julie Lynn Hayes

The reason for Ben’s words became apparent as they approached the overly large bridge that bisected Lake Pontchartrain. Ryan groaned.  Oh no, not again. Why hadn’t he bothered to find out where Thibodaux was? At least he would have been better prepared for this.

He swallowed hard, determined not to be the baby he’d been the last time. Bad enough Ben had witnessed his panic. He didn’t want to add insult to injury by embarrassing Ben in front of Aiden and Abby, although he wasn’t sure he could pull that off since he felt close to freaking out again at the sight of the bridge.

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Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 8 Review

Blue Exorcist, Book 8    

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 6, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes


As the ex-wires are breaking Rin out of his solitary confinement, Yukio comes face to face with the architect of their troubles – Saburota Todo. Todo taunts Yukio about Rin in order to distract him. Meanwhile, having freed Rin, the ex-wires come across the injured Ossama. Not only that but they find that the Impure King is not only huge but beginning to resemble large buildings. Kamiki and Shiemi offer to take Suguro’s father to where he can received medical assistance, while the others take on the Impure King. From his lofty perch high above them, Mephisto observes but does nothing.

Todo tries to get Yukio to admit he hates Rin, in an effort to divide them. Will Yukio fall prey to a case of sibling rivalry? Kuro takes on his huge demonic form, and allows Rin and Suguro to ride him toward the Impure King. Suguro is to put up the barrier – if he can. After that, they aren’t sure what to do, since Rin isn’t able to draw his sword. Rin teases Suguro, calling him Princess, while Yukio thinks back on life with brother Rin. However, Yukio is not without tricks of his own.

Everyone has their job to do. Shima and Koneko fight their way through the forest, trying to get through before the sac bursts. But doubts assail one of them. They tried their best, and it seems futile to go on. No one will blame them for saving their own lives by running from danger. Isn’t that the sensible thing to do?

There is a lot going on in this volume of Blue Exorcist, and people are looking inside themselves for answers and solutions. Defeating Todo and his Impure King will be no easy task. Everyone must work together or they’ll all fall. Something I was wondering about in the last volume ends up being addressed in this – namely, does Yukio have any demon in him? While we are not given an answer, that is something to ponder.

The fight against the Impure King has become a very interesting arc, and I’m enjoying the character development. I’ve forgotten to mention that some of the volumes have bonus stories. I have to say some are better than others. I am really enjoying this series and look forward to seeing what comes next.


Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 7 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Book 7     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 3, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes


Saburota Todo and Mamushi Hojo have stolen the Left and Right Eyes of the Impure King and disappeared, while Rin finds himself incarcerated, in solitary confinement! Rin has received a letter from Tatsuma Suguro explaining how he met Father Fujimoto and how Fujimoto ended up with the Koma sword. The sword contains a fire demon, Karura, summoned by a monk named Fukaku who defeated the Impure King with it. Suguro takes the sword and gives it to Fujimoto, despite the priest telling him he is going to kill a child with it. But Suguro knows better.

Todo reveals to Mamushi the terrible secret of Myodha, that beneath Goma Hall lies the body of the Impure King. If they return his eyes to him, he shall live once more, a most terrible thought indeed! Ossama catches up with Todo and Mamushi, and tries to prevent them from reviving the Impure King, but he is too late, only to learn that Todo has a different agenda!

Meanwhile, back at the jail, Yukio doesn’t want to give Rin the sword to use, not knowing if his flame will even work against the Impure King, much less defeat him. Yukio is concerned that if he uses his flame, Rin will be put to death, but Shura reminds him they have much bigger problems – such as the Impure King. Yukio reluctantly agrees but there is an unexpected wrinkle in the plan.

When Ossama returns, with Mamushi, and tells the story of what has happened, the ex-wires are torn about what to do. They decide to break Rin out of his confinement so he can fight the Impure King, but thanks to the machinations of Mephisto, that is easier said than done.

Another fast-paced volume of Blue Exorcist. It’s getting easier to tell the villains from the heroes, although sometimes the heroes aren’t entirely sure themselves and are torn in their loyalties. Mephisto is something of an enigma. Although I am unsure what his agenda is, and while his methods tend to be unorthodox, deep inside, I believe everything he does is for a good reason. Amaimon, not so much. I like seeing Yukio’s affection toward his brother, which he sometimes hides. It’s still hard to believe they’re twins, but they are. I have to wonder if Yukio has powers that are unsuspected, maybe lying deep inside, that just haven’t evidenced yet. I feel sorry for Mamushi. She really thought she was doing the right thing, and was brutally used for her naïveté and for having faith in the wrong person.

I predict that Rin will make a great exorcist, although I’m not sure if he will get to face down his father in the way he hopes. I also predict that he and Shiemi will find out they are attracted to each other. Not sure where that will go.

The series is going strong, keep the volumes coming!

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 6 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Book 6     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 7, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


The ex-wires are in Kyoto to help guard the Right Eye of the Impure King. Everyone is surprised to discover they are staying at the inn belonging to Suguro’s family. The next morning, some of the guys don’t remember the night before very well, and they blame it on whatever Shura gave them to drink. Konekomaru is confused as to why Renzo is acting so friendly toward Rin. Doesn’t he remember who and what he is? A meeting of the Myodha is being held, but Ossama is nowhere to be found. He sends word that he is busy and unable to attend. Renzo’s father, Yaozo, rises from his sick bed to inform the meeting that there is a traitor in their midst! It’s revealed that the right eye has been stolen, and six people are the major suspects, including Ossama, Juzo Shima and Mamushi Hojo.

Rin’s training isn’t going well. His first task, and he keeps blowing it! Literally. Shura set up three candles with instructions to light them, but he can’t control his power and keeps melting them. Suguro confronts his father, but to no avail. He disowns him just before his father disappears, only to be yelled at by Rin. They get into an altercation, to Shura’s great annoyance. Rin goes a little too far and finds himself revealed and incarcerated.

Yukio arrives on the scene only to learn the Right Eye has been stolen as well, and the chief suspect is High Priest Tatsumo Suguro! Yukio reveals that when the eyes come together, a poisonous gas is released! They must be found. A letter arrives for Rin from Suguro’s father, but neither Rin nor Shura can read it. Luckily Yukio can, and what a tale is revealed!

The action is getting hotter and hotter as the ex-wires are thrust into the fray. This is no exercise, this is reality! If those eyes aren’t found before they are connected, everyone will be in danger! We learn a lot in this volume, and glimpse more of Suguro and his father. Also, we watch Rin working hard to control his flame as he learns to work for the common good, a sure sign he is maturing. We see more of the softer side of Shiemi, as well, who is always ready to volunteer her help to others.

I find that the story of the Left and Right Eyes is making more sense to me now, and it’s an interesting story. I like the way the story is developing, and I find it interesting that more than a few people are suspicious of Mephisto Pheles. I’m sure he has quite a story himself.

Another great volume, looking forward to more of the same. I’m also watching the anime, although I’m only a few episodes into it, but I really like it.

Book Review: Alpha Unit One, New York by Chris T. Kat

Alpha Unit One, New York      

Author: Chris T. Kat

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

American release date: July 27, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: eBook/m/m/paranormal/181 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


In a world in which humans and shifters have learned to live together in comparative harmony, there are still some shifters who find themselves subjected to an assortment of restrictions. Namely,  small shifters and baby shifters. Small shifters are looked down upon as unequal to their larger counterparts.  Baby shifters are those who, unlike the majority of shifters, become the immature version of their animals, even though as humans they are adults. Baby shifters are forced to endure having their spouses as their legal guardians, and they are forbidden from doing anything too difficult or too dangerous. Such —as police work.

Nicholas Reed has just joined a combo human/shifter unit in New York City known as Alpha Unit One, which specializes in drug crimes. However Nick has a secret – he isn’t the human he pretends to be, he’s a shifter. Not just any shifter, but a baby shifter, becoming a snow leopard cub in his animal form. To keep his secret, he douses himself with cologne to cover the faint trace of shifter he bears. He doesn’t feel as though he is any less than any of his team members. As far as he is concerned, he’s doing what he has to do.

Sam Black is the head of Alpha Unit One, and a lion shifter. Burned by a previous relationship by a guy who pretended to love him but only wanted to use him, he is leery of new entanglements, and of humans posing as shifters. Complications arise when he finds himself attracted to the new hire, Nick. The attraction is mutual and strong. Nicky is fearful of his secret coming out, but he can’t withstand the pull of his mate. Can he trust Sam with his secret, and trust that Sam will allow him to continue to do the job that he loves? Or is he putting his future as a cop in jeopardy?

Alpha Unit One is hopefully the first in a new series by Chris T. Kat. I am a huge fan of Ms. Kat’s books, and love to read them. She especially excels in m/m romances, and one of her specialties is dealing with shifter stories. This book is no exception to that rule. It’s obvious to me that she understand humans and animals, and I love the way she draws her characters, especially the wise-cracking seme (bottom or catcher) who engages in witty repartee with the more mature, solid seme (top or pitcher).  With this book, she is delving into territory I’ve not seen before. Namely having shifters who become the baby form of their animals. It’s an original idea and very imaginative.

Besides Sam and Nick, the unit is populated with some very memorable characters. One of my favorites is Roland, a wolf shifter who is still suffering from the death of his wife, and Annie, the feisty tough shifter who is married to a human, Jake, whom she madly loves.

Ms. Kat does characters very well, and brings them to life as being imperfect and human. The story is about a group of cops, and it does delve into their work, but mostly it is about the cops themselves. The police procedural part of the story is interesting, and will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering how they are going to make it out alive sometimes.

As far as the heat goes, there is a lot of it, and a lot of love and romance. If graphic romance is not your thing, I would suggest a pass on this book. But if you like hot guys who love each other and appreciate each other’s bodies, if you like to read about shifters and especially shifters who are different, and if you enjoy a feel-good romance, then this might just be the book for you. I know there is a second book in this series, and I eagerly await its publication.

Wednesday Briefs: November 21, 2018

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.

In Pieces #27 (8.1) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Thursday night came all too soon.  The night of the birthday party in Thibodaux. Ryan’s first chance to watch Salvation in action.  He was excited and nervous both. Ben had asked him to take photos of the event to use as promo, besides for use in their book, and Ryan hoped he’d do a good job. Not like he was a professional photographer or anything. But his dad had been supportive of his efforts, told him he was good. He’d also bought Ryan a good camera, which should help Ryan’s efforts look better too.

Thinking of his father made him wonder what Dad would think of him and Ryan if he knew. Would he understand? Would he possibly approve? Ryan pushed the thought aside. He’d never know. No use in torturing himself about it.

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Wednesday Briefs: November 14, 2018

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.

Denied: Chapter Fifty-seven by Cia Nordwell

I held onto the table that separated us, staring at the thing. It. Him. Danie. Whatever it was. My stomach roiled when I touched the ports in my head. “Like… mine?”

“What?” Freska’s eyes widened. She whipped around the table and pushed my hand aside, exclaiming when she saw the ports. A light flicked on and flared past me. She nudged my head this way and that, mumbling. I gripped the table with both hands, my knuckles white, and stared at my hands.

What was I? What had Captain bound himself to?

“Freska, stop it. You don’t touch people like 

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Book Review: Missouri’s Forgotten Heroes by Ross Malone

Missouri’s Forgotten Heroes    

Author: Ross Malone

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

American release date: June 28, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/non-fiction/236 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


There are many books about the famous people in history, the heroes whose lives we study in school, the people we grow up knowing about, famed in song and story. But there are many more unsung heroes we never get a chance to appreciate. This book is about some of those people. And they are all from Missouri, which is a definite plus to me, as I am a native of the state myself.

Missouri’s Forgotten Heroes has many interesting stories to tell. Some of the names may be familiar to residents of Missouri as place names, but the people behind the names are greatly unknown. For example, Albert Lambert (Lambert Airport), John O’Fallon (O’Fallon, Missouri & Illinois), John Mullanphy (various places in Florissant, MO) and Paul Henning (of Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction fame).

There are stories about athletes and stories about pioneers, people who endured great hardships and persevered despite the odds against them. These people are not perfect, many of them have flaws, and they are all human. But that doesn’t matter. In some way, they were all heroes.

This was an interesting book from start to finish. I enjoyed reading about unsung heroes from my own state. I love history, and love to read about it, and this book is a great addition to my library. As a bonus, I received an autographed copy, how great is that? This is my first time reading Ross Malone, but it won’t be my last time. He has a wonderful way of telling a story that makes you feel as if you are there, listening to him. I would love to attend a class taught by him, or a lecture.

The only criticism I can make is that the book would have benefited with a little more editing, but that is not an authorial flaw, and I won’t ding him on that. I’ve seen so-called professional books with similar problems.

If you like history, if you are from Missouri, or if you just like to root for the underdog, this book is for you.



Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 5

Blue Exorcist, Book 5    

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 6, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/202 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Well, the cat’s out of the bag, and all the ex-wires know Rin’s secret—namely that he is the son of Satan. They have mixed feelings about this revelation, understandably. But no time to dwell on that, Yukio and Rin are off to deal with an emergency situation. The trouble began when someone stole the Left Eye of the Impure King from the Deep Keep. A senior exorcist named Todo, along with an elite force, pursued a masked man but he’s taken a child and is using him as a shield. To make matters worse, a terrible gas has been released, and the hostage child has received severe exposure. The child’s mother begs for help, and when Yukio tries to explain that they might not succeed, Rin rashly promises to rescue her son. The brothers and Todo and his elite force are off to the rescue! But not everything is as it seems.

Meanwhile, back at True Cross, Suguro, Shima, and Miwa are concerned that they are unable to contact friends and family back home. Mephisto unexpectedly turns up in the ex-wire classroom and announces they have earned the right to go on a real mission—to Kyoto! To say that Suguro is less than thrilled would be an understatement.

Rin thinks he’s being sneaky but Shura catches him practicing in secret and tells him to pack, he’s going to Kyoto. Apparently the Right Eye of the Impure King is also in peril. On the train to Kyoto, Rin discovers the other ex-wires are going as well, but nobody seems particularly happy to see him, much less sit with him.  Shura tells them all to behave so she can get some sleep, but how likely is that?

On arrival in Kyoto, the ex-wires go to the inn where they are to stay, only to be met with some surprising information that a certain someone would wish to remain unknown. As they settle in, they get to know the okami (female innkeeper) and her family. Suguro realizes there is a problem there. He has to take charge  or two quarreling families will tear everything apart!

The ex-wires are unsure how to handle their new knowledge about Rin, and it shows. Rin is becoming frustrated because he thinks nothing has really changed, he’s the same guy he was before, but how can he convince them of that? In this new volume, Rin is as headstrong and determined as ever. He’s a good boy at heart, who’s found himself in a difficult situation, and still has some maturing to do. And he’s still determined to defeat Satan one day. Also in this volume, we get some background information on Bon Suguro, which helps to flesh out his character and make him more likeable.

I’m really interested in finding out more about these stolen Eyes. What’s so important about them that someone wants to steal them? Will Rin’s fellow students ever get over his satanic birthright and accept him for who he is? Will Rin ever find the courage to admit he likes Shiemi? Enquiring minds want to know! Good volume, looking forward to the next one.


Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 4 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Book 4              

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 4, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Summer camp isn’t exactly idyllic for the ex-wires, who’ve been sent on a strange mission involving a lantern. Through trial and error, they discover that the only way to accomplish their mission is to actually work together, despite their first impressions that they needed to work alone. Shura is convinced that Rin will expose himself to the others (no, not like that lol) and when she sees the blue flame, she is convinced she was right. But appearances can be deceiving, especially at night. Matters are complicated by the unexpected arrival of Mephisto Pheles and Amaimon, unbeknownst to the others.

The lantern in question turns out to be more than the ex-wires anticipated, and getting it back to camp will be no easy task. They’ll have to utilize everyone’s unique skills to get the job done. In other words, it takes team work to make the dream work!  At least until Amaimon throws a wrench into the works!

Back at the academy, they are met by someone new – Arthur Auguste Angel, a senior exorcist first class from Vatican Headquarters. He has nothing but criticism for both Mephisto and Shura for having failed to carry out their mission properly, as evidenced by Rin’s presence among them. Will Rin suffer the ultimate punishment for being his father’s son?

And then an emergency summons takes the gang… to Kyoto?

I’m enjoying this series more and more. We are learning more about the characters as they interact with one another, and some backstories are starting to be told. There’s never a dull moment, especially when Mephisto is around. Although he is mostly cool and contained, the same cannot be said for his brother Amaimon, who is a hot mess, and that is being kind. I love the artwork. My only real complain is the need to constantly expose more of Shura’s chest than I’d care to see, but I guess we can chalk that up to fanservice, and the fact that this series is probably aimed at young teenage boys.

The action is moving right along, and I can’t help but wonder where it’s going. I’m glad I’m along for the ride. Another great volume, looking forward to more of the same.