Tag Archives: Julie Lynn Hayes

Book Review: Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole

Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances     

Authors: Alyssa Cole, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan

Publisher: Courtney Milan

American release date: October 17, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Gay Romance/Interracial Romance/378 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Hamilton’s Battalion is a trio of novellas, set during and after the American Revolution. After the death of her husband, Alexander Hamilton, Elizabeth Hamilton collected reminiscences from those who knew him, particularly those who fought with him during the war. That was the inspiration for these tales, told by three different authors.

Promised Land by Rose Lerner

Corporal Ezra Jacobs is actually Rachel Mendelson, a Jewish woman who also wants to fight for her country. Once married to Nathan Mendelson, she left that life behind five years ago, letting him think her dead. Don’t ask—it’s complicated! But when she accidentally runs into him in the middle of her camp, she pegs him as a spy and turns him in. However, things are not what they seem. Now Rachel and Nathan have to make sense of who they were as opposed to who they are now. Have they been brought together for a reason… and will the war tear them apart in the most final way possible?

The Pursuit of… by Courtney Milan

Corporal John Hunter is serving in the rebel army with the promise of being freed from his condition of slavery once the war has been won. His concern is for his sister and her child, and he wants to return to them as quickly as possible to make sure they are all right. When he accidentally runs across a British soldier named Henry Latham, Henry’s first comment to him is “Nice weather for a siege, isn’t it?”

These men are opposites, yet they soon find themselves together under circumstances which would have been impossible before the revolution, as they travel to Rhode Island. What began as a confrontation could change… but for the better or not remains to be seen. John has never met anyone who talks as much as Henry. And as for his cheese… well, the less said about that the better.

As opposite as night and day, they find themselves drawn to each other by a power too strong to fight. But considering the day and age, will they be allowed to be happy together? Or will they be forced to separate forever?

That Could be Enough by Alyssa Cole

Mercy Alston works for Elizabeth Hamilton, helping her to preserve the stories she collects from the people who served with her late husband, Alexander Hamilton. When another young black woman, Andromeda Stiel, comes on behalf of her grandfather, Mercy is immediately drawn to the beautiful dressmaker. Andromeda is lively and flirtatious and utterly enchanting… and she seems to be very attracted to Mercy as well.

But Mercy has known too much heartache from other women, so she’s buttoned herself up and walled off that part of her heart which might respond to Andromeda. Mercy doesn’t believe happiness is in store for her, and she’s not willing to take a chance again. Not to mention society frowns on such as they. She has her work with Mrs. Hamilton, as well as taking care of her daughter Angelica, who has not been the same since her brother Phillip was shot in a duel years before, while defending their father.

Can Andromeda get through to Mercy and show her that she deserves to be loved? Or will she live in the memory of lost lives, like Mrs. Hamilton and her daughter?

I loved each of these novellas. Each tells a different story, and each writer has her own style, but together this is one great read. I love all things Hamilton, so when I ran across the book, I had to buy it. I’m glad I did. Each story has one thing in common… love. People in love. And each couple has its own obstacles, whether it’s an interfering Jewish mother-in-law or a society that does not allow people of the same sex to love one another or people who are of different races.

Prior to reading this, I was familiar with Alyssa Cole, and have reviewed several of her books, I didn’t know Rose Lerner, and Courtney Milan was on my to-read list.

If I had to pick my favorite couple, that would be a hard choice, but I think I would go with John and Henry, because I do love a good story about two men, and these two are wonderful, each in his own way. The first story was a good introduction to many Jewish customs and traditions I was unaware of. And while I did not warm up to Mercy and Andromeda immediately, it didn’t take long for them to click with me. Especially when I realized Andromeda felt the same as I do about Mrs. Hamilton wasting her life on a man who not only is dead but who mistreated her when he was alive and certainly didn’t deserve to be canonized.

This is a must-read for anyone who loves Hamilton, but I also recommend it to those who enjoy history, and those who like good love stories. This has all of that and more!

 

 

 

Wednesday Briefs: May 13, 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.

Unicorn Quests: Chapter Twenty-eight  by Cia Nordwell

I stopped, panting, my blade drooping in my grip as I stared at the dead Being. It wasn’t the first time I’d killed, not even close, but I had never done it in front of my family before. I didn’t want to look at them; didn’t want them to look at me. Death shouldn’t have touched my foals—they deserved to be home, safe from all the ugliness of the outside world.

“Papa, I’m so sorry!” Colete rushed to me. “Are you hurt?”

“No, no, I’m fine. Why are you sorry?” I was sorry. “Careful!” I quickly ran my blade

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Wednesday Briefs: April 29, 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.

Unicorn Quests: Chapter Twenty-six by Cia Nordwell

The sun was setting when I got my answer. Tinn and Wenn refused to say, their already large eyes getting wider. They kept their ears swiveling as we entered the trees and didn’t stop as we traveled between the blackened trunks.

It wasn’t as if they’d been burned. There was no scent of smoke in the air. None of the strong smells like that emitted from my forge as I fed it hardwood to make coal beds to craft metal into artistic marvels. No. These were… sick? Dead? There was a scent of something about them, not right.

They had

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Wednesday Briefs: April 22, 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.

Unicorn Quests: Chapter Twenty-five by Cia Nordwell

“We will go with you.”

“No. I won’t take you away from your family, especially since you were just reunited with your son.” I crossed my arms over my chest, expecting Tinn’s ears to roll like Tinn’il’s always did when he curled into himself and hid away.

The locus was not nearly as meek as his son. Clearly that had been a feature of Tinn’il being young, not a trait the Beings possessed as a matter of course. “He was brought home safe because of you. You have young who are not yet safe. I would return the favor and

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Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 9 by Atshushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 9   

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: April 8, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/204 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Death the Kid has gone to the DWMA library, determined to learn all he can about the mysterious Eibon, who is supposedly the same as the Shinigami. Wth? He tells the librarian he needs to go through the books in the level 4 stacks, but she tells him he isn’t allowed access, as he’s just a one-star meister. But when he shows her his badge, and she realizes he’s the Shinigami’s son, suddenly she’s all kinds of cooperative and offers to fetch the books he wants herself. Unfortunately, the one book on Eibon the library owns was checked out two months previously and never returned. The only signature is a single M. Kid has a bad feeling he knows who that is.

Crona is in a touch position. He is beginning to make friends for the first time and has been accepted by Maka and her friends, only to be approached by his crazy mother, Medusa, who has an errand for him. How can he please her without betraying his friends? Does he even have the strength to stand up to her, even after the way she has treated him? Ragnarok is no help, constantly reminding Crona that if he doesn’t do as Medusa says, she will get very angry with him. Crona just can’t handle anger…

While searching DWMA for the secret vault, Crona runs into Marie, and is fearful she will be suspicious of his being where he should not be. Luckily, she is clueless and thinks he is lost, just like her, and offers to help him find his way. The blind leading the blind! Will her assistance be worse than her thinking he’s up to something?

Crona receives his next assignment, when he fails to find the vault. He has to bug Dr. Stein’s lab!

The worst meister ever at DWMA is Hero, a guy the other students pick on and use for menial tasks. But Hero has a goal—to claim the Holy Sword as his weapon. Then no one will treat him like that. So what if it comes with some strange requirements he has to meet. The fight is on! How long will DWMA remain under Hero’s control?

Shinigami informs Stein that Arachnophobia knows the whereabouts of another Demon Tool known as Brew. Stein must begin more intensive duel instructions with his students immediately! Teams who are unable to synchronize their wavelengths will be cut from Stein’s class by the end of the day! Maka, Black Star, and Kid are failing spectacularly, and things aren’t looking good for them. Maka wants Black Star off the team, but Stein refuses. Can they get their act together in time or will they end up being cut?

Brew is located on an island just north of Alaska, Lost Island. But there’s a catch. Once the witches had a demon tool development facility on the island, but it was accidentally destroyed. Because of that a magnetic field has arisen, keeping people from approaching the island. Anyone who lingers inside the magnetic field risk permanent damage to their body. Twenty minutes is the limit. The timer has begun, the race is on!

This volume of Soul Eater introduces us to a couple of students we haven’t met before, including Hero, Pot Meister Kilik Rung, Lamp Meister Kim Diehl, and Spear Meister Ox Ford. Before this, we seldom saw other students, so it’s good to have that chance now.

Death the Kid is one of my favorite characters. Despite his quirks, he’s a really good Shinigami, and has a strong sense of justice. I know he will research Eibon until he finds an answer, no matter where the information leads him.  Stein has come a long way since we first met him. I can see what a good instructor he is. He won’t let the students get hurt if he can help it. Interesting that he and Marie are living together now. I hadn’t seen him as the domestic type. You have to feel sorry for Crona, caught between a rock and a hard place—the mother he loves, for some unknown reason, and the new friends he’s made at DWMA. I suspect that when the time comes, he will do the right thing.

Justin is on top of his game in this volume, and shows he is more than just that annoying weapon. Watching Maka, Black Star and Kid attempt to resonate together, and failing at it, is just a reminder that despite what kind of students they are, they are still teenagers who have a lot to learn. But they will, I’m sure.

Another appearance by Mifune, whom I truly believe will end up on the right side in the end, and DWMA will learn a lesson in tolerance as well.

A special mysterious guest appearance at the end of the book sets us up for the next one! Not sure when I’ll be able to read that, since the libraries are closed right now because of COVID-19, but will get to it as soon as I can. Looking forward to it!

 

Wednesday Briefs: April 15, 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.

Unicorn Quests Chapter Twenty-four; by Cia Nordwell

“Is that why he was stolen?” Londe asked.

“It was my fault,” Serai said. Her ears started to curl, and she rubbed her face against Tinn’il’s head. “My baby was taken from me.”

Squeaks broke out through the group, and the adults all looked up, fear writ across their furry features. Several darted back into their holes. I frowned, but the squeaks came again, this time from some of the young who were dancing around Marces’ hooves.

“It’s fine. We’re safe,” Tinn called.

“What you fear, it comes from the sky?” The mist… from the outside, I couldn’t see above

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Wednesday Briefs: April 8, 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.

Unicorn Quests: Chapter Twenty-three by Cia Nordwell

Tinn’il took one look at the mist and withdrew inside my cloak. I glanced over my shoulder. “Londe?” His horn was glimmering, but he was calm.

“I don’t sense anything.”

Anything evil, he meant.

“Are we going in there, Papa?” Colete asked. She was leaning on Londe. He hung his head over her healing withers, gently nosing her cheek.

“We have to, Tera says. This is the way to Tinn’il’s family.” I didn’t want to take my family through the mist, but I couldn’t leave them behind unprotected either.

“I keep telling you I’m not your enemy,” Tera said. She

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Wednesday Briefs: April 1, 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.

Unicorn Quests: Chapter Twenty-two by Cia Nordwell

“Oh, thank the spirits. You found him, Tera!”

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” The locus poked his head out of my cloak, and his eyes couldn’t be any bigger. Those ears were unrolled and standing up straight, quivering.

“Who are you? What have you done with our son? If you harm him, nothing will save you from a torturous existence before a gruesome death,” a female hissed.

Their faces were larger versions of the little Being’s in my arms, the female’s features leaner with a sharp chin. I couldn’t tell their coloring, since they were appearing in the flames. But the young

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 18 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 18       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 3, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The time has arrived for Rukia’s execution, the Sokyoku has been released and Rukia has been strapped to the scaffold. She awaits her fate with resignation, grateful to those who attempted to rescue her. The halberd assumes its true form as the firebird king, ready to impale Rukia and complete the sentence. Only a deus ex machina can save her now.

And here one is, in the person of Ichigo Kurosaki! And Ichigo is single-handedly holding back the firebird king itself!  How can that be? Instead of being grateful, Rukia calls him a fool and asks him why he came back, warning him Byakuya will surely kill him this time. Meanwhile, the spectators below are marveling at what has happened and wondering who in the world was able to do that.

Before the bird can strike a second time, which would surely be fatal to them both, Ukitake arrives, to Kyoraku’s relief, and proceeds to destroy the Sokyoku. At that, Ichigo destroys the scaffold and takes Rukia in hand. Can her rescue possibly be this easy?

Of course not.

Ichigo tosses Rukia down to Renji and tells him to take her to safety, as he turns to confront Byakuya. Sai Fon sends her people after those who are working to rescue Rukia, then finds herself facing a foe of her own—her former captain, Yoruichi! Ukitake and Kyoraku are about to attempt to talk to Sai Fon, but they are called to task by the Head-Captain himself, and have no choice but to face him down together!

This volume of Bleach is certainly not lacking in action. Everybody seems to be fighting against someone! And the lines between the good guys and the bad guys is most definitely blurred, as two captains—the first two captains to graduate from the Soul Reaper Academy—choose to do what they believe to be right, even if it means defying old man Yama.

Ichigo is his usual cocky self. Remember he’s only fifteen, and still believes himself invincible. But besides that, he has strong sense of honor, as well as a strong desire to protect his family and friends from harm. He won’t allow Rukia to give up, no matter what, a very admirable sentiment indeed. I don’t find manga-Rukia nearly as wishy-washy as I did anime-Rukia. Maybe that’s because we are more privy to her inner thoughts in the manga than in the anime.

I was especially thrilled to see so much of Shunsui in this volume, especially as he is so obviously on the side of right. He and Ukitake are such good friends and so very much in sync with one another. It’s very heart-warming. (On the other hand, although I write fanfiction, I have no desire to slash them, although I’m fairly sure that’s been done already. I don’t see either one of them as being gay, and they certainly aren’t written that way. I mean, have you ever watched Shunsui with the women? Seriously?) One thing about the manga that I love is that I sometimes end up having questions answered that bothered me from watching the anime. Such as what’s wrong with Ukitake. He’s always treated as if he’s fragile and might keel over at any moment. But common sense says that if he’s strong enough to become a Soul Reaper, he’s not a wilting flower either. Well, the answer is at the back of this volume, which has bios of both Ukitake and Shunsui. Apparently Ukitake has a lung ailment! That explains much and answers that question.

I like the little vignettes in between chapters involving those left behind in the World of the Living. Kon (in Ichigo’s body) has become involved in a soccer game with Jinta and Ururu and Karin, and notices that Jinta has his Kon body! The result is hilarious and is still ongoing.

I liked the scenes between Yoruichi and Sai Fon. I think you’d have to be pretty blind not to realize that Yoriuchi and Kiskue are a couple. But also, Sai Fon has a huge crush on Yoruichi, which probably contributes to her behavior at times.

With most of the strength of the Sereitei arrayed against them, can Ichigo and his friends pull off this daring rescue? Only time will tell. Looking forward to the next volume!

 

Book Review: The Killing Moon (Dreamblood #1) by N.K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, Book 1)   

Author: N.K. Jemisin

Publisher: Orbit Books

American release date: 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy /448 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Guajareh is a city of peace, prospering under the loving guidance of Prince Eninket. Even in death is peace, for that is the job of the Gatherers of the city. They ease souls into Ina-Karekh through the most beautiful of dreams. The Gatherers serve the Goddess, Hatawa. They work primarily at night, under the auspices of the Dreaming Moon. One such Gatherer is Ehiru. He is given a commission to ease a man of the Bromarte, Charleron of Wenkinslan. But things do not go as they should, and Charleron tries to warn Ehiru that he is being used. Disturbed, Ehiru returns to the Hatawa, expecting to be reprimanded, concerned for his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Nijiri. Despite what has happened, though, he is given a new commission from the Prince himself, who is Ehiru’s brother.

Nijiri had been meant to have Una-une as his mentor, but the man’s untimely death has changed that, and he has been placed under Ehiru’s wing instead. Nijiri is not opposed to the change, although saddened by the reason, for he has deep feelings for Ehiru, despite the fact that his new mentor is forty years of age. He has known Ehiru for most of his life and would do anything for him. To Nijiri, age is immaterial, as well as gender, although he knows it is not allowed for Gatherers to indulge in such passions. But being near Ehiru and learning from him are enough for Nijiri.

Sunandi is from the neighboring country of Kisua, sent to Gujaareh by her master Kinja She Kalabsha to study Gujaareen magic as part of her apprenticeship. But that doesn’t mean that the two countries agree in the way they do things. Sunandi senses something wrong in Gujaareh. If only her master hadn’t died.  She finds Prince Eninket charming, and rather seductive. Doesn’t mean she trusts him. And she certainly can’t afford to let him find out what her true purpose is in being there.

Sunandi is summoned to a meeting with General Niyes, who shows her something shocking, and relates to her the strange events of the past few years. He tells her that war is imminent and that she must carry the news back to Kisua as soon and as stealthily as possible. He warns her that her life may be in danger, and the sooner she and her servant Lin leave the better.

That night, however, an unexpected presence turns up in her room—a Gatherer and his apprentice, whose purpose is to send her to Ina-Karekh. Sunandi makes Ehiru see that his so-called commission is nothing less than assassination, sowing seeds of doubt in his mind. When he becomes convinced that she is telling the truth, and that politics are at play here, he realizes he must keep her safe for the sake of all.

This book was recommended to me by my daughter-in-law, and I am so glad she told me about it! N.K. Jemisin weaves a fascinating world, a unique world, with many strange concepts and many people. At first, I was focused on remembering who was who and stumbling over the strange words and ideas, but suddenly I found myself very immersed in the story and the names became real people to me, and I realized I was hooked.

Ehiru is a very conflicted man, whose beliefs are crumbling around him, barely able to hang on, if not for the love and support of Nijiri. Nijiri is wise beyond his years, and it’s hard not to like him, as well as Sunandi. The author modeled much of the belief system and the countries in her novel after those of ancient Egypt, while also drawing on Freud and Jung. The concept of easing people into death seems meant to be a loving form of euthanasia, but obviously there is much room for abuse in such a system.

At the heart of this story is a tale as old as time itself—power and greed, the eternal struggle between right and wrong, life and death,  recognizing what is right and finding the strength and courage to do what must be done. I loved these people so much that I hated to see the book end. Good thing there are two more, even though the first one is filled with a fair amount of heartbreak. I will have to look for more of Jemisin’s books after I finish this trilogy. She is an awesome writer.