Monthly Archives: August 2019

Wednesday Briefs: August 28, 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 54 by J. Alan Veerkamp

“I don’t know how we’ll be able to pay you for helping us. Roku and I are pretty much broke. We didn’t actually get paid before the crew got ashed.” Arad kept pace with Hodge’s casual steps. He’d ordered his crew members to go away so he could escort Arad and Roku in peace.

“Don’t worry about it. When I die, it’ll look nice on my good deeds list.”

Compared to the Ansariland, the Nightingale’s brighter interior was sleeker and more polished. No peeling paint on the wall plating from lack of maintenance. High contrast graphics clearly marked one section from another.

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Book Review: A Prince on Paper (Reluctant Royals #3) by Alyssa Cole

A Prince on Paper (Reluctant Royals #3)       

Author: Alyssa Cole

Publisher: Avon

American release date: April 30, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Contemporary Romance/381 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Nya Jerami is the daughter of the disgraced and now imprisoned former minister of Thesolo. Escaping to the glitz and glamor of NYC, Nya is dismayed to find the city is too big to suit her, and she feels out of place there. Her career isn’t taking off the way she’d hoped, and her love life leaves something to be desired too, only to be found in the virtual dating games she plays. Returning to Thesolo for the royal wedding of Ledi and Thabiso can either be a curse or a blessing, as she is unsure of the reception she will receive from the people, some of whom think she is as guilty as her father. However, in all her speculations as to what might happen, she never figured Prince Johan into her calculations.

Johan von Braustein is literally the red-headed step-prince of Liechtienbourgh and has long held the title of the Playboy Prince. But that works for him, as it draws attention to himself and away from his half-brother Lukas, the actual heir to the throne, who is only seventeen and not ready for the scrutiny of the press. Johan hides behind his infamous persona and admits no one. But then he finds himself up close and personal with Nya in the most unexpected way, and all bets are off.

These two are in for a bumpy ride.

As if this isn’t enough pressure, a referendum is about to be held in Liechtienbourgh, which may bring about the end of the monarchy. What will happen to Prince Jo-jo/Johan then? The paparazzi are threatening to tear down his carefully built persona, while even from prison, Nya’s father attempts to manipulate her.

On the flight to Thesolo, Nya and Johan, aka Jo-Jo, find themselves becoming friends. Neither one knows the other has been watching for a long time. Secrets are being guarded, information withheld, and emotions kept in check. Due to unexpected circumstances, they present the world with a fake engagement. But how long will they be able to maintain the charade?

Much as I loved the first two books in the Reluctant Royals series, this one took my heart immediately, especially Prince Johan. By the time I was finished reading, I knew this was my favorite, without a doubt. Watching these two people watch each other, wanting, longing, and unable to speak due to perceived problems, broke my heart. Both are wounded, although in different ways, and both are afraid to love. Love, in their experience, can be manipulative or it can lead to great loss and pain. But there is more to it than that, as they come to learn, and they will have to take a leap of faith at some point in order to make their dreams come true.

Johan’s brother Lukas is both engaging and bratty, typical teenager, although he does have reason to act out, what with the upcoming referendum. He’s been raised all his life to become a king, but what if there is no monarchy? Not to mention, he has other issues he’s afraid to discuss which make him lash out at those he loves best.

Nya’s support group, aka Ledi and Portia, are not as evident in this book, but they are there for her as much as possible, and it’s good to see them again, as well as glimpses of Thabiso and Tav.

This book resonated the most deeply with me, and I could see myself in Nya, playing her dating sims, although mine tend to be of the male variety, such as Dream Daddy. It’s easier to give your heart to a virtual lover than an actual one, but sometimes you just have to take a chance. This is a don’t miss addition to the series, but you really need to read them all, as well as the two novellas that are part of the series also, or you’ll be shortchanging yourself.

I would so love to see these books made into a series or movie!

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Briefs: August 21, 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 53 by J. Alan Veerkamp

“We got fired on by pirates. They didn’t really explain. Shot the main engine and then the captain and crew abandoned ship. Pirates blew them out of space.”

The moment Arad began explaining, he became the center of everyone’s orbit. Hodge stood quietly with a hand on Yosei, possibility the only thing keeping the vibrating pixie from exploding with a barrage of questions. Even Pakko had stopped pouting and returned to the group with Vosh as his faithful shadow. Security being the bear DemiShou’s job description, he wasted no time testing Arad’s tale.

“The crew left you two behind?”

Arad scoffed. “I didn’t say they were upstanding citizens.”

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Book Review: Blue Morning, Vol 6 by Shoko Hidaka

Blue Morning, Vol 6   

Author: Shoko Hidaka

Publisher: SuBLime Publishing

American release date: September 13, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Yaoi/250 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Katsuragi has become uncertain, both of himself and his relation with Akihito. He thinks himself weak and useless because Akihito no longer blindly obeys him—so what purpose does he serve? While dressing the morning after, at Akihito’s hotel, he notices ragged garments in the closet and wonders why they are there. And why won’t Akihito get the haircut Katsuragi keeps telling him he needs?

Akihito meets with Ishizaki at a hot pot restaurant, which irks Ishizaki because it’s a hot day. Akihito says he is about to retire to Kamakura, under the pretense of his fake illness. Much has changed since the evening at the Moriyama’s, and thanks to the reporters Katsuragi arranged for, is common knowledge. For example that Ishizaki has become the Kuze house guardian. Madam Kayoko’s trip to France and her estrangement from her husband. Akihito’s “lung illness.” One reporter asked Akihito about the importance of producing an heir, but that won’t happen, not while he has Katsuragi. Ishizaki muses that things would be easier if Katsuragi were a woman.

Master Ishizaki informs Katsuragi that he has purchased a mill and wishes him to become the president and make a profit. He accepts the position. When he tries to drop off some papers with Amamiya, the new Kuze butler insists he deliver it to Akihito himself, and also deliver something from Katsuragi’s brother, Takayuki, who Akihito has entrusted with the financial affairs of the Kuze house. Katsuragi goes to the hotel and wakes Akihito, informing him the government railways have finally given their approval. Now Akihito can set up a railway in the old fief.

Ishizaki returns home from a late night out to find Katsuragi in his room. Katsuragi tells Ishizaki to not see the geisha he’s been seeing, and if he must continue the relationship, then he must allow Katsuragi to buy her out of bondage in his own name. Akihito meets with Katsuragi’s brother, who also remonstrates with him about his unruly hair. Akihito reiterates that he will be leaving for Kamakura, as planned. When Akihito says that he wishes Tomoyuki and Takayuki, as brothers, were closer, Takayuki responds with the comment that they are not related by blood, to which Akihito enigmatically replies, “Do you really think so?”

Katsuragi calls on Saionji and catches up with him. It seems his former lover knows him pretty well, including the fact that he loves Akihito. Saionji is happy himself, with his wife and new baby. Saionji gives Katsuragi some advice on what he should do. Later, Katsuragi goes to the mill. His employees are apprehensive about what their new boss will be like, fearful they will be blamed for past failures and be let go, but Katsuragi is not what they expected.

Even as Akihito makes plans to study abroad, he is concerned with Katsuragi, knowing he wishes to know about his origins, whether he voices his desire or not. Akihito and Amamiya visit Kiku’s old house, and Amamiya wonders what might have been, know that he knows about Akihito and Katsuragi. Akihito confides his plans for the future, once the railway is in place. Despite what Katsuragi may think, he does have the best interests of the Kuze house in mind, as well as his future with Katsuragi. Will he be able to persuade Katsuragi to come with him to Kamakura?

Each volume of this series is wonderful, I can’t get enough of these characters, even as I am left on the edge of my seat, wondering when they will finally be in sync with one another. The only way I will be happy is if they end up together at the end, nothing less will do. The artwork is superb, both men are very handsome, especially Katsuragi. She is very expressive in portraying their emotions in their faces. I can see the lust that glazes Katsuragi’s eyes, feel Akihito’s own wonder and joy as he gazes at the man he loves during their intimate moments. As to who will end up with the house of Kuze, I would not venture a guess. There is a whole lot going on, and the plot just keeps on getting deeper.

Can’t wait for the next one, one of the best yaoi manga ever!

 

Book Review: The General’s Bride by M.F. Sullivan

The General’s Bride     

Author: M.F. Sullivan

Publisher: Painted Blind Publishing

American release date: August 14, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci Fi/LGBTQ/293 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

After the debacle in Jerusalem, Dominia finds herself in a place between worlds, walking with Lazarus and Valentinian to Cairo. As if that isn’t strange enough, every night, she finds and enters her father’s study and converses with the Hierophant as if that were the most natural thing in the world to do. However, there is an unnatural element at work here, a chimera that is coming to resemble Dominia’s late wife Cassandra more and more, to Dominia’s dismay. Is she upset because this creature is an insult to Cassandra’s memory, or is that she fears she won’t be able to resist the temptation of well-remembered flesh should she come to resemble Cassandra more strongly than she can bear?

Every morning, a knock comes on the Hierophant’s study door as Valentinian comes to retrieve Dominia. He returns her to the journey she is on with him and Lazarus. Sometimes she just looks at him, unable to believe he and Basil are one and the same. Dominia’s conversations with her father are both confusing and enlightening. Although she doesn’t entirely trust him, she doesn’t entirely distrust him either. And he’s oddly more forthcoming on many subjects than her enigmatic traveling companions. Sometimes she thinks Lazarus couldn’t give her a straight answer if his life depended on it. Her father warns her that her desire to resurrect Cassandra is not practical and that she is being lied to, and sometimes she just doesn’t know which way to turn – except  away from the creature which seems to resemble her late wife more and more.

Dominia isn’t sure who to believe or who to trust—everyone has their own agenda, including her. She wants to get to Cairo to retrieve Cassandra’s diamond from Miki Soto. Lazarus and Valentinian claim they want to save mankind by sending the martyrs to the far away planet of Acetia. But how can it be right to condemn an entire people for the actions of a few? Did the Hierophant come from there? There is evil on both sides, but which is the true evil?

Dominia’s journey to Cairo will be a long one, and certainly not straightforward as she finds herself in strange places, among strange people and begins to doubt everyone and everything she knows. If they are her friends, why aren’t they with her, to save her? Why does it sometimes seem as though her Father has her best interests at heart? It seems as though Dominia can only rely on herself, but will she be enough to see her through what is to come?

The General’s Bride is every bit as riveting as The Hierophant’s Daughter as Dominia continues her journey to Cairo to retrieve the remains of her wife, held in a diamond which was stolen by Miki Soto. This is indeed a mindblowing story of people and worlds and forces beyond the ken of most of us, forces that defy and shape the very laws of physics and reality. Dominia has choices to make, most of them not easy ones, and she learns that her own wishes aren’t necessarily in her own best interest and aren’t necessarily the right path to take. People aren’t necessarily what she thought they were, and there is indeed a blurred line betwixt good and evil. Even the Hierophant straddles that line, and it’s impossible to hate him as unequivocally as she thought she did for sometimes he says the most remarkable things.

Although I love Dominia, my favorite character is still the Hierophant, so I rejoiced every time he appeared. M.F. Sullivan’s writing voice is superb. She blows your mind with descriptions of metaphysical worlds and ideas, asking questions which make you truly think about what you know or think you know. Her characters are so well-drawn that you feel as if you’ve known them forever as she sucks you into the trajectory of their lives. I wish this journey could go on forever, but I know there’s only one more book, and I’m fearful that it will contain the death of the Hierophant. Nonetheless, I look forward to it and I’ll hope for the best until something else happens.

This book is every bit as good as the first one. I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Soul Eater, Volume 3 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 3     

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: March 3, 2015

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Soul is hospitalized, following the fight with Ragnarok, unaware that some of the creature’s black blood has mixed in with his. What they are all unaware of is that the witch Medusa has become a doctor at the hospital! That can’t be good! A depressed Maka blames herself for Soul being hurt, but as she leaves his hospital room, she finds her father waiting for her. She goes up to the roof with him to watch the sunset.

Black Star balks at the remedial lesson he’s been assigned by Sid—he’s charged with cleaning and straightening up the library. Not sure where to begin, he runs across the library’s collection of manga, to his delight. When he expresses his joy a little too loudly, he draws the ire of Death the Kid, who is also there. Not accidentally, as Black Star assumes, but very much on purpose. Death tells him he’s looking for a book about a legendary blade, call the “holy sword” known as Excalibur. Dr. Stein weighs in and tells them even he could not draw Excalibur. So naturally Black Star and Death the Kid want to twith hiry their hand at it! Although, perhaps this isn’t quite the adventure they were looking for.

Tsubaki accepts an assignment to deal with the Uncanny Sword Masamune, even though Shinigami-sama warns her it will be a hard fight. But she feels compelled to do it, mostly because Masamune is her older brother! She and Black Star head to the village she came from. Black Star is his usual loud self. But when a villager notices his tattoo and recognizes it for what it is, Black Star’s story begins to come out. When they find Masamune, Black Star battles him, using Tsubaki. But the fight is ultimately Tsubaki’s, and she’ll do what she must, even if that includes getting into her brother’s head.  Black Star sets up a vigil beside Tsubaki’s body and vows to wait for her as long as it takes.

In the hospital, Soul confides to Medusa about his strange dream, which has a disturbingly Twin peaks vibe and ends in the same disturbing way—with him coming out of Maka’s stomach! Medusa tells him not to worry about it. On his release, Maka throws a party for him at their apartment, and Blair gives Make and Death the Kid quite a shock. Suddenly, Maka is startled at the realization that there is a presence in Death City that should not be there.

I especially enjoyed seeing more of Tsubaki in this volume of Soul Eater. She doesn’t usually get as much attention as Black Star, probably because he’s a hog for the spotlight and she is much quieter. Her interaction with her brother is touching. I also liked watching Black Star and Death the Kid in their quest to draw Excalibur from the stone. The cover, featuring Death the Kid and the Thompson sisters, is great. As usual, I love the artwork. I liked seeing a more tender, Dad side of Maka’s father. Too bad I don’t think it’ll last. He always manages to do something wrong sooner or later.

Another great volume, looking forward to more of the same!

Wednesday Briefs: August 14, 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 52 by J. Alan Veerkamp

The cargo door slammed shut with Arad’s hand on the access pad. Green text switched to red.

***LOCKED — Rank Access Enabled***

The Ansariland would only allow a captain or above to open the door and grant access to supplies and the sleeping DemiShou inside. When it was still the Midas Ascending, Arad remembered Serene’s attitude and all the restrictions based on his status. Repeating the process made him feel a bit hypocritical, but he promised to protect Shichi and Hachi, and he refused to break his word. The Nightingale’s crew didn’t need to know about them to repair the ship.

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