Sunday, January 10, 2021

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: ★★★★★

 

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, January 6, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #50 (12.1)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts. 

Chan finds himself stressed out by work, and wonders if he might be driving Evan away. See what's happening with them in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #50 (12.1)

Chan’s head throbbed, a pounding rhythm which made thinking difficult at best. The numbers on the balance sheet sitting on his desk refused to add up. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he was also acting as head teller, as the previous one had abruptly quit one day and moved away from Tucker Falls. Announced she was chasing her dream of being a circus performer. Seriously? That meant he had to make sure the tellers each balanced their drawers before leaving. And sometimes that was just easier said than done. Not to mention one of the regular tellers was out sick, and one of the two savings counselors was on medical leave for another couple of weeks. Altogether that meant longer hours for Chan, but what could he do? He had children to provide for.

He’d applied for social security on his siblings’ behalf, but that would take a little time to process. And whenever it did start, he would set it aside for them, to go toward their future education. He would provide for their needs without touching that money. Evan had agreed that was the thing to do.

Evan.

Chan sighed and closed his eyes momentarily against the pain. Evan was being so good about everything, he couldn’t be any sweeter. But things at home were not going exactly smoothly. Not for lack of trying. The children… well, they were children. And he wasn’t mad at them, he could never be. They’d been through so much.

And yet, life would be much easier if they were a little bit better behaved. And by they he actually meant Kamal. Laksha was always a little lady. Maybe she was a little more quiet than usual, but at least she wasn’t acting out like their brother. Madhu, on the other hand, was worrisome. She spoke even less than before and he seldom saw her smile anymore.

Why was life so damn complicated?

Chan opened his eyes and glanced at the time on his computer screen. Almost four. Normally, he’d be leaving soon, but he didn’t think he’d be on time tonight any more than he had been the past few nights. Evan should be headed home, if he wasn’t there already. What to do about dinner? He could ask Evan what he wanted, and then take it from there.

A mere moment later, Chan’s cell began to ring. He recognized Evan’s ringtone immediately, a song they both loved. In spite of his headache, Chan smiled as he answered.

“Hello,” he greeted Evan. “I was just thinking of you.”

“I like the sound of that,” Evan replied. “How’s your day going?”

“Don’t ask.” Chan tried not to whine, but sometimes he could hear it in his own voice, and he hated his weakness.

Chan heard a knock at his door. He barely had time to tell Evan to hold on a sec when it opened and a young blonde teller’s face appeared. Cindy was in her early twenties and had only been working at the saving and loan for a couple of weeks. Her smile was both apprehensive and apologetic. “I’m sorry, Mr. Basu. I hate to bother you… but…”

She didn’t have to finish that sentence. Chan knew instantly what was coming. “I’ll be happy to help you balance,” he said softly. “And please, it’s Chan.”

“Thank you… Chan,” she amended and made an immediate withdrawal.

Chan returned to his phone call. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I have to go. The new teller…”

“Don’t be sorry, it’s your job. Tell you what, when you get off, why don’t we take the kids out for burgers? They love those.”

That was very true. While his mother had raised them on many traditional Hindu dishes, they’d also eaten their fair share of American cuisine and thrived on it. His family was very American in that regard. Burgers, pizza… they loved it all.

“That’s a splendid idea, thank you.” At least dinner would be taken care of, one less worry. At least for tonight.

“Call me when you’re on your way and I’ll make sure they’re ready to go,” Evan said.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.”

“Don’t thank me, I love you, Chan. I’d do anything for you.”

Chan’s heart swelled at his lover’s words, knew they were true. “I love you too, Evan,” he said. “I’ll call as soon as I can.” Once he’d hung up, Chan sat there for a moment, replaying Evan’s words, basking in the glow of his love, albeit over the phone.

Oh yeah. Cindy. Work before play. He briefly massaged his temple before exiting his office to help the young woman balance her drawer so everyone could go home on time. Hopefully.

 to be continued

Now go visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them!

Cia Nordwell

J Alan Veerkamp

Carol Pedroso


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Virtual Book Tour: All Bags Go to Cleveland by CS Hale

 Good morning everyone! Please welcome author CS Hale to Full Moon Dreaming. He's here to tell us about her new release, All Bags Go to Cleveland. The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter in the tour via Rafflecopter. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!


 


ALL BAGS GO TO CLEVELAND

by CS Hale

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 

GENRE:  

 

paranormal romantic comedy

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

BLURB:

 

Angela Grimalke appears more blonde bombshell than the gremlin she is. But there is no denying her supernatural truth after her clumsiness gets her fired from her modeling career. Forced to work for her family’s upscale airline, she spends her days slinging luggage and wishing her parents would get off her back about finding a nice gremlin guy to settle down with. 

 

Relationships were the last thing on her mind, not that her family would accept that. 

 

For Dave Ford his frequent business travel made it next to impossible for him to find a woman who could tolerate his chaotic schedule. Which is why he appreciates Angela. Neither of them are looking for love, but Dave feeds Angela's addiction for chocolate while she provides him with the chaos to keep him on his toes.

 

However, as Angela’s parents bombard her with a parade of "eligible" gremlin men at their weekly family dinners, she finds herself torn between who she longs to be and her family’s expectations. Will she give in and live the life of magic they want for her? Or risk it all by to confessing to Dave that she isn’t human?

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

EXCERPTS:

 

 

“You owe me.”

 

Angela glanced up from her computer screen. Dave Ford stood in front of her. The blood drained from her face. “Do I?” She raised her “helpful” smile.

 

“Yes.” Dave handed over his passport and put the Louis Vuitton garment bag on the scale. “Last time, you sent my bag to Cleveland.”

 

“The system isn’t perfect,” Angela said, punching Dave’s information into the computer. “Things do happen sometimes.”

 

“You control the system. I think you owe me a glass of wine for having to find a tailor at six a.m. I had a nine o’clock business meeting and just my jeans and sweatshirt.”

 

“Hmm. By that reckoning, I think I’d owe the tailor for having to get you a functional suit so quickly at that early hour.”

 

“I tipped him £100. Least you can do is buy me a glass of wine in return.”

 

Angela lifted her gaze. Dave—all six feet of him with his fabulous hair— had a hopeful expression on his face.

 

“I’m not in the habit of buying strange men alcohol.”

 

Dave stuck his hand out. “Hi. Dave Ford. Business traveler.” Angela laughed. “All I’m asking for is a glass of Malbec. Or maybe pinot noir. Small price to pay in comparison to my having to fight off jet lag via acupuncture.”

 

“Acupuncture?”

 

Dave shrugged. “It was early for the tailor. His aim wasn’t quite what it could have been.”

 

Angela dipped into Dave’s mind. The tailor had stabbed him a couple of times. And Dave was playing with her. He wanted to see what she’d do.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~



INTERVIEW 12

What group did you hang out with in high school? I hung out with the drama nerds. They were the most fun group ever. We were actually a lot like Adam and his friends in The Goldbergs. And it was even the 80s. Whether it was bringing our kazoos to football games and playing “Tequila” until the band joined in, leaving the cheerleaders confused with pom poms on their hips, or slapping ourselves against the movable wall separating the stage and drama room from the rest of the multipurpose room to the cry of “Barnacle!” we always had something going on. At the private school I went to my first two years of high school, two of the students spent an entire night wiring EVERYTHING IN the history teacher’s room to the ceiling, creating an upside down classroom. There was even a paper airplane wired to skim the floor, and they reversed the magnet in the clock so that it ran backwards. Trevor lost his keys to the building after that stunt, but his partner-in-crime went on to teach physics at Edinburgh University.

What are you passionate about these days? Kindness. I have been bullied most of my life, even as an adult, and I don’t care how much you disagree with someone, there is never any excuse to be mean. Actually, the more you disagree with someone, the kinder you need to be. Your getting heated only makes you dangerous and someone who needs to be eliminated. It’s the basic fight or flight response we have little control over. I’m always willing to be open to changing my mind, but I’m also Irish and a pretty good shot. You don’t want to mess with me if I haven’t done the flight response. And I have a circle of friends who would make sure you were never found. So be kind. The life you save might be your own.

If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently? Nothing. I spent eight years trying to go traditional and it allowed me to create four separate different worlds with an eventual twelve separate books plus the other character who has been talking to me for several years. I learned a lot and watched publishing change. Some for the better. Some not. Those eight years allowed my skills to grow. I wish I had done things differently with Fall From the Moon’s first cover. That was a $1,200 learning experience, but I ended up with Melissa and an absolutely gorgeous cover in the end. Things were not in place to have that cover on the first go-around.

Ebook or print? And why? I have to confess that I don’t own an e-reader. I love paper. The way it smells. The way it feels in your hand. I do understand how handy an e-reader can be to take on vacation. I took 5 print books with me on my honeymoon many moons ago (I needed something to do on the beach).

I love that in the UK bookstores are still on nearly every corner and you see people everywhere reading print. And both my cover designer and formatter turn out gorgeous print books that you just can’t do on an e-reader. Even Cleveland had to change from fun fonts to distinguish the different characters texts to plain bold as you can’t do specialized fonts for Kindle. I get that ebooks are MUCH cheaper and easier to tote around, but check out the print interiors of Lichelle Slater’s Forgotten Kingdom series and tell me that you don’t wish every book had an interior like them.

What is your favorite scene in this book? My favorite scene is the one where Dave and Angela first picnic by the Central Park boat pond and Dave tells Angela how much he’s always admired Stuart Little. I cried when I wrote that scene because it so perfectly summed up the theme of the book - you need to embrace your differences, instead of hiding from them, and just go out and do things.

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Catherine “C.S.” Hale has been writing fantasy since she could hold a pencil. When not holed up in a comfortable corner writing all her books out by longhand, she can be found somewhere by the sea, enjoying tea and pastries.

 

Website: cshalebooks.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CatSHale

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorcshale

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FVDJL54

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #49 (11.4)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts. 

Everyone had adjustments to make to the new situation, but Evan is afraid the children just don't like him, and he isn't sure what to do about it. See what's going on in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Then go visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #49 (11.4)

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. Well, Chan did, but Evan’s schedule tended to change. Sometimes he worked into the evening, or over the weekend, and was off during the week. On those days, he would stay home with Madhu, instead of Denise. At least that was the plan. But after she cried pitifully when left alone with him, he found himself calling the babysitter, who rushed right over. Evan didn’t know what he was doing wrong, but he didn’t want to upset the little girl. She’d just lost her parents and still didn’t understand why her whole world had changed. He didn’t want to add to the problem.

Every day, Laksha and Kamal walked home together from school, a few short blocks away. Once inside the house, Kamal would toss his backpack into his room, grab a snack and run off to play with one of his friends while Laksha studied. When Evan expressed an interest in knowing where he was going, Kamal informed him that it was none of Evan’s business, he wasn’t his father. Before Evan could react, he’d run out the door. He glanced uncertainly at Laksha, but the young girl only shrugged, as if to say not her problem, then picked up Madhu, who was tugging at her skirt, and carried her into the kitchen.

Evan debated telling Chan about what had happened but decided his lover didn’t need the added pressure. He would just have to figure things out for himself. Hopefully the children would not act up forever. Or for very much longer.

One night Evan decided to try his hand at making curry, hoping to please everyone. He found a recipe online, and luckily they had all the ingredients on hand. He grilled pork chops with it, and asparagus. Chan declared it delicious, and Laksha seemed to like it as well. But Kamal only played with his food for a while then asked to be excused and wanted to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Chan started to say no, but then gave in and agreed. Madhu picked at her rice quietly.

“I’m sorry,” Evan apologized later, when they were alone in bed. Not the way he’d wanted the evening to go, not at all.

“For what?” Chan asked, stretching his arms and legs, and then his neck until it popped and he relaxed. “Dinner was great, I promise. Thank you for that.” He kissed Evan softly and patted his cheek. “Things are different for them, that’s all. They’ll adjust. I promise.”

Evan wasn’t so sure, but he wasn’t about to express his doubts or add to Chan’s stress in anyway. So he nodded his agreement instead and buried his misgivings. Turning to face Chan, he laid one hand upon Chan’s slim hip—since moving into the house, they’d begun wearing sleep pants rather than sleeping in the nude as they had before—and began to stroke his leg, wanting Chan so badly he could taste it. Chan meant the world to him and he wanted to show him just how much.

Sliding his hand beneath Chan’s waistband, he was gratified to find that Chan greatly desired him as well. He cupped Chan’s erection, caressing his warm length, as Chan scooted closer to him to facilitate his reach.

“What did you have in mind?” Chan teased, his fingers stroking the faint stubble on Evan’s jaw.

“You, of course,” Evan replied before he claimed Chan’s lips. He tightened his grasp of Chan’s cock and began to slowly pump it.

“Chan!” An imperious voice broke into the moment. Evan recognized it immediately as belonging to Kamal. Maybe if they kept quiet…

But no, as a few seconds later, “Chan, I’m thirsty,” could be heard as well as the rattling of their doorknob. Evan wasn’t worried as he knew the door was locked, for their privacy, but even so…

“I’ll get him a glass of water and be right back,” Chan promised. “Okay?” He looked so anxious that Evan could do no less than agree.

“I’ll be right here,” he replied.

“Sorry,” Chan murmured. He rolled from the bed, adjusting himself as he did, and threw on a robe before answering the door. Just then a wail sounded from  down the hall. Madhu was crying.

The mood was broken now. Evan sighed and got up, to see if he could help in anyway. Somehow he doubted that he was wanted by any of them, though.

to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell

J Alan Veerkamp

Carol Pedroso


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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: ★★★★★

 

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, December 23, 2020

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #48 (11.3)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts. 

Despite the tragedy, life goes on, and so it is with Evan and Chan. Evan returns to work, to be greeted by his friends, who are glad to see him. See what's going on in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's going on with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #48 (11.3)

“I’m so sorry about Chan’s parents.” Christina’s brown eyes were warm and sympathetic as she greeted Evan when he entered the station on his first day back at work. Her desk was always the first place he stopped when he began his shift, to check for calls he needed to take right away or simply catch up on what was happening and pass a few minutes before the day started. “How is he doing?”

“About as well as expected, all things considered. Thanks for the flowers. They were beautiful.” Christina had sent a sympathy card and a bouquet of chrysanthemums and marigolds to the house. Evan and Chan had gone out with Christina and Nathan a couple of times, despite her protestations that she and the other trooper were just friends. Everyone pretty well saw through that nonsense, though. It wasn’t hard to see that Nathan was very taken with the young Latina desk clerk, and she was equally attracted to him.

“You’re very welcome. Those poor kids.”Christina sighed. “I can’t even imagine what they’re going through. I know I would have been devastated to lose my parents at such a young age. I wouldn’t handle it well even now, as old as I am.” Evan knew her parents were both alive and well, as she talked about them frequently. They’d come up to Texas from Mexico many years before and set down roots in Tucker Falls. They still had family in Mexico, and there was frequent visitation across the border.

Evan had no such happy familial ties, but he realized that this wasn’t an easy time for Chan or the kids. All they could do was hang in there and try to get through it as well as they could. He had to admit to himself, though, that he wasn’t used to being around children all the time. Their proximity still felt odd to him. He imagined that would change over time. At least he hoped so.

“Want some coffee before you head out?” Christina asked. “I just made a fresh pot.”

At that moment, with perfect timing, Nathan walked in the door. He must have heard her question and assumed it was meant for him.

“I’d love some, beautiful,” he said, taking up a position next to Evan, who was leaning over the front desk while he conversed with Christina.

“You know where it is,” Christina replied, never missing a beat.

Evan couldn’t help but snicker.

“Yes, but nobody makes it like you. You add that extra little something that makes everything so much better,” Nathan shot back.

“You mean arsenic?” Christina said sweetly.

“Actually, I had sweetener in mind.” Nathan turned toward Evan and winked. “Don’t let her fool you. She’s sweet on me, just hides it well.”

“Very well,” Evan agreed. “C’mon, let’s get some coffee and get out of her hair.”

“Whose side are you on?” Nathan pretended to pout as he followed Evan into the break room, but not until after he’d blown Christina an air kiss. Evan noticed with no surprise that she caught his kiss and pretended to put it in her uniform pocket, smiling all the while.

They each poured coffee into plastic cups from the pot that was always brewing, no matter what time of day, added cream and sugar, and a lid. One never knew when the first call would come. If nothing else, they would take it on patrol with them as they began their rounds.

“Ooh, donuts!” Nathan exclaimed at the sight of a familiar bakery box on one of the tables in the room. Nathan liked to say he didn’t how cliché it was he loved his coffee and doughnuts. “Thank you, beautiful!” He raised his voice in order to be heard at the front desk. That was generally not a problem, since his voice carried very well, especially when he wanted it to.

“Don’t think I did it for you,” came the cheeky reply. Evan had to smile. Luckily, some things never changed.

They each snagged a doughnut from the box, then began to munch, leaning against the kitchen counters as they ate.

“How’s it feel to be a father?” Nathan asked between bites.

Evan frowned. He wouldn’t say he felt very fatherly. He wasn’t even sure if he qualified as any kind of uncle, either, or evan an older brother. Despite being with Chan for a while, he was mostly a stranger to them. Just one who happened to be dating their brother. He had a lot to adjust to himself, he realized. Maybe not in as dramatic a way as they all did, but a change nonetheless.

He must have taken too long to reply, he realized belatedly, judging by the shrewd look Nathan was giving him. He really wasn’t sure how to respond, but was saved having to do so when another trooper walked in, an older man who was heading toward retirement in a few years but showed no signs of slowing down.

“Hey Wally,” Evan greeted the newcomer. He gestured toward the table. “Donuts, courtesy of the lovely Christina.”

“She’s a good damn woman,” Wally said, making a beeline toward the pastries. “Damn shame no one’s scooped her up.” His last words were aimed squarely at Nathan, whose face reddened.

“Not for lack of trying,” Evan quipped.

They all shared a laugh, and the previous topic was dropped, to Evan’s relief. At least for now.

 to be continued

Now go visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them!

Cia Nordwell

Carol Pedroso


Thursday, December 17, 2020

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: ★★★★★

 

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.