Monday, January 31, 2011

A Creepy Classic Review: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This month’s Creepy Classic is The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.  When I first began reading this, I have to admit; I was humming and yawning, trying terribly hard to understand where it was going.  The style of the narrator was a bit maddening with the young governess’s constant internal ramblings.  This can be exhausting to read.  Nevertheless, it still is a classic and thankfully when the apparitions entered the story, it got deliciously better.

The governess is new to the estate, hired to manage/educate her two new charges, Flora and Miles.  Things progress merrily, until she comes across – what she believes – are evil spirits, ghosts if you will.  The first time she sees Quint, she has an overwhelming urge to protect the children, who are obviously being haunted by the ghosts.  The book wasn’t terrifying, but it was definitely creepy.  As the story unfolded, I had more questions than answers.  The children, for example, were the ghosts drawn to them because they were so bad?  And with the governess’s incessant internal chattering, I finally understood her behavior was in part due to her concern for the children.  Then again, who would blame her for going loony when she’s stranded on a country estate, subjected to teaching to a couple of weird brats?

Before reading this novella, I read a ton of speculation on this tale.  Debates such as: What is the true meaning of The Turn of the Screw?  Was it really a story about ghosts or was it a story about a repressed woman slowly going mad?  The debates are steadfast and ever changing with this story.  Which is kind of funny when you think about it… because Henry James’s novel hasn’t changed one iota.  For all its speculation – whether you like it or not - The Turn of the Screw is still timeless and without a doubt still a creepy classic.

I’ll have to rate this one a 3.5.  It wasn’t my favorite, but it’s still a good classical read.

Until next time…looking for something to read, try a Creepy Classic.

Mina B.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

S’okay, I’m doing the Book Blogger Hop again.  Whoop!  Yeah, it’s cool.  I might not do it every week, but I'll participate as often as I can.  Once again, I’d like to thank Crazy for Book for doing this. It takes quite a commitment to host this every week, so…thanks!
Book Blogger Hop

And now down to business.

This week's question comes from Aliyah who blogs at Des Absurdités:

"What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book?"

Where to start…how about I give my favorite 5?

• Larissa Ione’s Eternal Rider, to be release April 2011.  Oh yeah, this one for sure will be a delicious read.  It's a spin off series of her bestselling Demonica Novels.  And BTW, I’m having a Free Book Contest for Book 1 of her Demonica Novels, Pleasure Unbound check it out!

• Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines, to be released in August 2011.  Why am I excited?  Um...hello!  It's the spin off series of Vampire Acadmey, that's why.

• Lara Adrian’s Deeper than Midnight, to be released June 2011.  This is the continuation of the vampire Breed Warrior series and its just hot, hot HOT!  Can't wait.

Jennifer Turner’s Eternal Hearts, Book 2 in the Darkness Within Series.  The release date is  TBD, but you can read the first three chapters here FREE!.  If you haven’t read Book 1, Eternal Seduction…Get on it!

• Jennifer Ashley, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, release date, August 2011.  Yeah, I realize that one’s a historical romance novel, but I’m so gaga over these books,  I’ll take any chance I get to whoop, holler and rave!  Go Mackenzies!

Anyway, that’s it! Hey, I’m sure I could keep going.

Until next time...thanks Book Blogger Hop.  That was a ton of fun!

Mina B.

Fridays with Fred: Five

Fridays with Fred is here.  Wow!  I can’t believe it’s already Friday and January is almost over.  Anyway, we had something else planned for today, but Fred wasn’t a willing participant.  See what happens when “the Talent” decides they don’t want to work?  Always seems to happen with those “creative/artsy-fartsy” types - who “almost” become famous.  So that’s what happened today.  Fred wanted to spin off in an entirely different direction and below is the result.  He loves to give five and sometimes even ten so for today…we went with it.  Enjoy!

Sup, Mom?

Looking for more ridicuoius shots of Fred?  Try here and here.  Plus…don’t forget to visit Schatze over at Mary's from BookHounds.   I just love her, dont you? 
Until next time… :0)

Mina B.

Monday, January 24, 2011

FREE Book Contest: Larissa Ione’s Pleasure Unbound

It’s that’s time again….another FREE Book Contest.  Why?  Why the hell not?  Anyway, for those of my readers that haven’t had the opportunity to get into Larissa Ione’s Demonica Novels, have I got a contest for you.  Book 1 of Ione’s bestselling Demonica series is Pleasure Unbound.  The other four are: Desire Unchained, Passion Unleashed, Ecstasy Unveiled and Sin Undone.

I’m hooked on this series.  When I finished Sin Undone (click for my review), about six months ago, I was depressed that the series had ended.  Not to fear though.  Ione’s set to release a spin off series called The Eternal Rider, to be released in April 2011.  I have no doubt this will be killer read.  But for me, when I reflect on these novels – my absolute favorite is Pleasure Unbound (check out my review.)  There something about Eidolon that just makes a reader swoon.  And my absolute favorite line in this book is one of Tayla’s first comments to Eidolon: “I’ll bet you could make a woman throw out all her toys.”   I love that line. It’s so crass, but I still love it!

Anyway My FREE Book Contest starts today, January 24, 2011 and runs through February 2, 2011, end of day.  One luck winner will win a copy of Ione’s Pleasure Unbound.  See details below and don’t miss out!

To enter
You MUST be a follower of my blog AND leave a comment below.
(Note: This contest is open to US only.)

Extra entries
+3 NEW/OLD Followers on Twitter @MinaBurrows
+1 Retweet this (limited to one RT)
+2 Like me on Facebook/Mina Burrows

Until next time...contest ends Feb 2nd, eod.  Enter to win today!

Mina B.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hallucinating Housewives: A Wicked Dress

As previously mentioned, I’ve created a series that pokes fun at married women fantasizing, specifically about anything dark, morose and preferably creepy as hell.  The first one I posted last month was called The Beast.  This installment is called A Wicked Dress.  Enjoy.

A Wicked Dress

A witch stood erect with unruly red curls, wrapped in gray clothing. Using her one good black eye, she gazed at the innocent females before her.

Bound, gagged and blindfolded, the attractive females were shivering with fear, donned in nothing but their bras and panties.

Ignoring their whimpers, the witch cursed. “They all look the same.”

A second witch emerged. She wore the same attire, except for her inky hair and eerie green eyes. She grew defensive. “It took me weeks to find these.”

“Shut up, you fool.” The head witch’s bedeviling eye scanned the group. “Bring that one here.”

The lowly witch dragged a reluctant female forward.

The unknown woman was shaking uncontrollably while praying silently. She had imitation blond hair, false blue contacts and a voluptuous set of fake “C” cup boobs – just like the others, all except one.

The head witch poked and prodded at the female, scanning her face and body, searching for signs of oriniginality. She said in disgust. “Not one is unique?”

The second witch interrupted. “This one is scarred.”

The one-eyed witch’s lips twisted. “Good.”

The second witch pushed the marred female, causing her to land on her stomach. The female writhed in pain, exposing her defect to everyone.

“Get up,” the witch snarled, pulling her up.

The female stood on trembling knees.

Both witches agreed in unison. “Perfect.”


Anna shook her head, withdrawing from her daydream, hearing her husband call again. “Hurry up. We’re going to be late.”

Hurriedly, Anna glanced at her two dress choices. Should she wear the black one and be like everybody else, or should she dare to be different?

Summoning some originality, she donned the fuchsia slip dress and matching shoes.

At the mirror, Anna turned to her back and ogled at her angry scar.  With her short ebony hair, everyone would see her imperfection. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled seductively. “Oh well…I am feeling wicked tonight.”

Copyright 2011 by Mina Burrows.
All rights reserved

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fridays with Fred: A Tea Party

Fred attended a recent tea party my 3 year old hosted.  He’s such a good sport; he even donned a scarf for the occasion. Aside from running across our makeshift table a few times, he was a model guest.  I swear he thinks he’s one of the kids – even though he kind of is.  I quickly got this shot with little effort, which shows you how much of a pro he is.  And look, he even asked for milk.  It’s fairly crazy in my household at times – this day was no exception.  Tea parties are the best! 

Enjoy your weekend!

Don't say a word to the guys.

I'll take my doggie biscuit now, please.

If you miss last week’s Friday’s with Fred – you have to check it out his Neat Trick.  Also, Schatze's over at Mary's from BookHounds is one hot babe. You have to check her out too.

Until next time…tea, anyone?

Mina B.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review: Ellen Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses

Earlier last year, I listed the top 15 YA vamp novels courtesy of  Ellen Schreiber’s series, Vampire Kisses, is #12 on that list.  I recently read the first book of the series, Vampire Kisses, and truly enjoyed it.  Even though it was YA and PG perfect, it had enough humor and mystique to keep me wanting more.

Raven Madison is the typical Goth girl, who’s obsessed with vampires.  I recall first reading this thinking – oh here we go again – another Goth-obsessed, vamp girl in a teeny bopper tale.  Despite all the clichés in the beginning, Schreiber convinced me of Raven’s uniqueness.  Even as a child, Raven was different – kind of like Wednesday from The Addams Family – with more flair for drama and less morose tendencies.  The town of “Dullsville” is indeed boring for a freakishly different girl like Raven.  She lives vastly different from her family and the townspeople of “Dullsville.”  And as the odd girl out, she cares less about what others think and practically never conforms to anything normal. She has only one friend, Becky, who is the 2nd least popular teen in high school – Raven being the least.  And then of course there's Raven’s childhood nemesis, Trevor- who has spent the better part of her life, making her miserable.

The first part of the story was so incredibly enticing with constant battling between Raven and Trevor.  There are so many times when I wondered if Trevor was secretly in love with Raven. Even Raven suspects this, but that’s neither here nor there.  For those that are interested in reading this book, for me, it was the pranks or battles between Trevor and Raven that hooked me. With each one trying to outdo, completely embarrass or ruin each other’s reputation, I couldn’t help but be drawn into the YA drama.  And the “article of clothing” tricks Raven played on Trevor had me rolling. She was cute and clever and in the end, revealed the naked truth about Trevor.

These high school ruses were fun, but by far were not the main purpose.  A new boy moves into town, Alexander Sterling.  There’s something alluring about him and Raven is immediately smitten. For the first time in Raven’s entire existence, she connects with another person, Alexander.  He’s handsome, gentle and odd just like Raven and together they're in their own way, normal.  Now, I have to admit, there are times when I thought Raven’s vamp obsession was a bit tiring.  However, I guess it had a point. In the end, Raven and Alexander’s relationship became so intertwined that as a reader, you get caught up in their bliss.  But what is it about Alexander?  Is he really what Raven wants?  Oh yeah, but there's a cliffhanger in this book that stunned and saddened me at the same time.  I won’t tell you what happens, you’ll have to wait and read.

Despite the whole Goth-angle, I still really liked the book. It had laugh at loud moments, a loveable character (Raven) and endearing romance.  If you’re looking for a sweet YA vamp tale, why not give Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses a try?  I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed.  On my Killometer, I gave Vampire Kisses a 3.75.

Until next time…Vampire Kisses is oh so sweet.

Mina B.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

It's time for the Book Blogger Hop again!  I’m not sure if I’ll be doing this every week, but I will make an effort.  It’s a great way to meet other blogges and see what books are hot etc...  Last week I checked out the following blogs a bunch of blogs.  I love seeing and reading the passion that others have about books.  Check out to see all the participants in this week’s blog hop. And if you get a chance…hop on by.

Book Blogger Hop

And now…onto the Blog Hop question. This week's question comes from Barb who blogs at Sugarbeat's Books:

“Why do you read the genre that you do?
What draws you to it?"

There are two genres I’m crazy about.  First, I love paranormal romance – (YA or Adult) the darker the better – and the second, historical romance.  I’m a sucker for rogue vampires and rebellious rakes.  Go figure.  For paranormal, which I believe urban fantasy falls into this category a tad, I love the mystical side of it.  Aren’t there times in your life when you ask yourself wouldn’t it be cool to fly or have magic or live forever?  And then of course there’s the romance side of the paranormal – which is absolutely paramount for me.  I must have my romance or else…bleh!  As for historical romance, I guess it goes back last week’s previous question about “What’s your favorite book?”  I said Jane Austen, so I think it’s only natural that I adore this genre as well.  I'm fascinated with regency novels and how women were overall perceived back then.  It’s frightening to read how women's lives were easily dictated by men. Scary huh?

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and be sure and check out my posts this week:
Book Review:  Richelle Mead's Last Sacrifice
Update and Winner of Blogversary Contest
Fridays with Fred: Neat Tricks

Until next time...hop by more often.  You're always welcome!
Mina B.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fridays with Fred: Neat Tricks

Today’s Fridays with Fred is about tricks. Fred’s pretty hilarious when he’s in trick mode.  Oh and by the way, he'll do anything for a treat.  But don't feel too bad for him, because he gets plenty of rewards for his preformance.  And let's not forget the pilfering he does in the kitchen and at the table.  Trust me when I say he gets his fair share snacks and then some.  That’s probably why he likes doing tricks.  He gets treats AND my total attention.  He’s most famous for the one below.  I’ve spent countless hours with the Fredster, doing tricks and awarding treats. He’s the best, really.

Anyway, I thought you’d enjoy this.

Not again, Mom.

Can I have my treat now?

Yeah, we know...Fred's "play dead" needs a bit more work.  Want to see more of Fred? Try here and here.  Remember to check out Schatze's phoDOGraphy over at Mary's from BookHounds. 

Until next time… :O)

Mina B.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Update and Winner of my Blogoversary Contest

Congrats to Sophia the winner of my Free Book Contest for Richelle Mead’s Last Sacrifice! Wahoo!  The winner was chosen through the established and reputable

I want to thank everyone for all my well wishes/comments regarding my 1st Annual Blogoversary.  It was a big deal and I’m happy my friends celebrated it with me by stopping by and entering my contest.  I so love Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series and thought it was fitting to have her final book – Rose’s story/Last Sacrifice – be my prize for my blogoversary.  Anyway, I hope I’ve inspired you readers to dive into the series. I promise you won’t regret it.

Before I forget, be sure and stop by often, because you never know when I’ll have a FREE Book Contest.  I’m pretty lucky when it comes to sourcing my giveaways and I do plan on doing another one soon.  I’m thinking something along the lines of Larissa Ione.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Also, in February, I’ve joined up with Kathy from I’m a reader not a writer who is organizing a Valentine’s Day - Love Hop.  The dates are February 8th to February 13th.  I’m preparing a special book lover’s delight so be sure and check it out.  Oh, and tell your friends too.

Lastly, while I’m tweaking and pitching my books, I’m writing a few flash fiction series on my blog.  There kind of fun to read and oh yeah...their FREE.  So I hope my fans/friends will take a peak and have some fun in the process.  The first is a segment I call Hallucinating Housewives.  Everyone is familiar with Stepford Wives, Desperate Housewives, and then of course the classic Bravo TV's Real Housewives of “Pick a City.”   My series pokes fun at married women fantasizing, specifically about anything dark, morose and preferably creepy as hell.  I hope you enjoy them. The first one I posted last month called The Beast.

The second mystic series, I’ve created on my blog is called the Shadow Spirit series. They’re essentially ghostly beings that are marked, living an eternal life in the shadows, helping the helpless. The first of the series is call Next.  I had quite a lot of fun scribbling this tale and hope you enjoy it too. The first of the Shadow Spirit series is called Next.

Once again, thank you for all the blogoversary wishes, but most of all…thanks for stopping by!

Until next time…read anything you can get your hands on…

Mina B.

Copyright 2010-2011 by Mina Burrows.
All rights reserved.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review: Richelle Mead's Last Sacrifice

I’m reviewing Richelle Mead’s Last Sacrifice.  Before I forget, if you’re looking for a FREE copy of Last Sacrifice, you have until today, eod, to register to win via my FREE BOOK CONTEST. Although it’s the last book of Rose’s story, everyone should know by now it’s hardly the last of the series. For those interested, check out Mead's blog/website where she discusses Bloodlines and its status.  I believe it’s scheduled to release in August of 2011.  Can’t wait!

Now…onto to Last Sacrifice.  I’ll do my best not to provide any spoilers but I will have to concede a few – sorry.  After Spirit Bound, we learned Dimitri is back – no longer Strigoi and wants nothing to do with Rose.  Also, Queen Tasha was killed and Rose was framed and arrested for her murder.  The stage is set for Last Sacrifice when Rose is jailed, awaiting her trial. 

First off, it’s not a stretch of one’s imagination to know that Rose wouldn’t be stuck in a cell for too long.  I mean, hello…its Rose Hathaway.  Her friends and family had to rescue her or else she’d be convicted and put to death.  What I found odd was the journey she went on.  I loved that while Rose was hiding, she also played investigator, searching for Lissa’s potential half-sibling – Lissa’s father, Eric Dragomir’s illegitimate child.  But for me, as this part of the story unfolded, I found myself lost.  Hey, I still devoured it, but I was struggling with its purpose. Especially when “The Keepers” came into play.  I didn’t understand Joshua or the others and my only thought was Mead must have been setting up characters/scenarios for Bloodlines.

While Dimitri and Sydney were out gallivanting with Rose, Lissa, Christian and Adrian were back at court.  The plot was seemingly divided, bouncing back and forth between Lissa and Rose, of course.  Dimitri is still shunning Rose, at first – which made me sad - but after Spirit Bound, I began accepting that their relationship was over.  Adrian was the chosen knight and I was perfectly content with that scenario.  Interestingly, the plot may have evolved the way it did was because of Dimitri and Rose’s relationship.  Everyone knew they had unfinished business, but who knew what to make of it?  Their relationship had multi-layers and I thought Mead did a wonderful job at pulling back the layers, evaluating their past.  Once they did, the ending made sense to me. I won’t tell you what happened – it would be wrong on so many levels.

As for the Queen’s true murderer…I can tell you I didn’t see that coming.  I loved the ending of “who done it?”  It was classic!  As far as Lissa and her plight to save Rose and represent the Dragomir family on the Royal Counsel, I wasn’t surprised with that outcome.  We all knew Lissa was destined for greater things.  Read the book to find out.

Overall, I liked how it ended.  However, for me the story didn’t get delicious until after page 400 something.  From that point on, it captivated me until the very end.  Not enough Strigoi for me either.  As for a rating, I have to give Mead's Last Sacrifice a 4 only because it took longer for me to become enthralled.  Still, if you haven’t read the series, you’re missing out.  These books are everywhere, people (libraries, used book stores, Amazon, Barnes & Noble’s and one of your friend’s book shelves.) So technically…you have no excuse.

Until next time…Mead’s Vampire Academy series is the bomb.

Mina B.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Well, better late than never, I always say.  I’ve wanted to do the Crazy-for-Books book blogger hop for awhile now.  It only last through the weekend (ends Monday), but it still sounded like fun.  I’m always on the lookout for friends and fellow bloggers to network with, so this hop is just my cup of tea.  Each week, a question is asked and all of us fellow bloggers answer it in our post.  This week’s question is a good one.  It’s something I still ponder about to this very day.  How cool is that?  This week's question comes from Ivan who blogs at Ivan Bookworm.  

 Book Blogger Hop

What book influenced or changed your life? How did it influence/change you?  

Truthfully, I have to say Jane Auten’s Pride and Prejudice changed my life.  If you can believe this, I never read Austen’s book in high school.  I never had to.  Isn’t that tragic?  Anyway, I literally stumbled upon it in a book store – a year or so later.  I was purchasing other classics and saw this one on sale so I bought it.  And that’s when everything changed.  Why?  The characters.  They felt real, alive even.  And the fact that it was written by a woman, living in a man’s world, discussing taboo topics was for me ground breaking.  Jane Austen is without a doubt eternal inspiration.   

Until next time...thanks for the hop, Crazy-for-Books! 

Mina B.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fridays with Fred: Scandalous!

Well, Fred’s back in my good graces.  It didn’t take long, it never does.  Just look at this pooch.  Such a ham.  Someone should tell him Xmas is over and everyone’s tired of ham!  But seriously, folks, I think he’s attempting to be this month’s centerfold.  I’m telling you…female doggies are swooning around the world at this hottie!  Laptops are being slammed shut with gasps!   Scandalous!  Except, of course, for those naughty canine babes that just can’t peel their eyes away.  Careful ladies…no drooling on the carpet!  Fred…what are we going to do with you?

Hello ladies...

Want to see more of Fred? Try here and here.  Also, please stop by and see one of Fred's babes, Schatze over at Mary's from BookHounds.  Her phoDOGraphy is the best and I think she could teach Fred a thing or two. 

Until next time… just look at those paws!
Mina B.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A New Year's Tale: Next

Happy New Year, Mystic Minions!  To start the New Year off, I thought I’d write a short tale – possibly a series – about new beginnings.  One prominent occurrence in my household is purchasing lotto tickets.  They say you have better chances being stuck by lightening than winning, but the way I've got it figured – I live in Florida – which should increase my odds, right?  Maybe not.  Anyway, with that, I wrote this tale below. 

By Mina Burrows

Wiley dragged himself into the booth, opposite where his friend Dean sat at their favorite pub.

Wiley looked completely disheveled and in an obvious foul mood. His dirty blond hair was damp from the drizzle and his hazel eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep. His appearance didn’t seem to faze him though, especially after he saw what was in front of him.

A pint sat there in perfection with foam skimmed lightly over the top and a sheen of frost chilling the glass.

Wiley sighed at its beauty. “Is that for me?”

Dean nodded. “You have impeccable timing.”

Wiley snatched the brew, downing nearly a quarter of it and exhaled. “Thank god for small miracles.”

“You’re welcome.”

Wiley gulped another ounce, slamming his glass down with an exasperated sigh. “This has been the most god awful year I’ve had in my entire life.”

Dean snorted.

“I’m serious,” said Wiley. “With the exception of your fine gesture here, I have you know, I’ve spent this entire year with absolute crap luck."

Dean cleared his throat, preparing to comment, but Wiley launched into a full rant.

“I mean it - the worst year ever…”

Wiley glanced away, recalling a few dreadful memories. He winced a couple of times before draining the rest of his beer.

For the next two hours Dean listened to Wiley bitch about how shitty his life was. It was a common occurrence between the two of them, convening at the local pub, commiserating in their woes – at least for Wiley anyway.

Drunk and fumbling with his words, Wiley spoke, “And you know what’s worse, mate?”

“No, but I’m sure you’ll tell me.” Dean drawled.

“You’re a bit flip tonight,” Wiley said, noting a difference in Dean's attitude. “Anyway, to top off my demoralizing year, I bought everyone Christmas presents.”

“You didn’t buy me one.”

“Not friends, you idiot. My family. Good god, I can barely afford my own family, let alone friends.”

Dean shot Wiley a droll look, grunting once before taking a drink.

Wiley continued, “They were nothing gifts - only lotto tickets, stuffed into Christmas cards.”

“How thoughtful,” Dean said dryly.

“I thought so,” Wiley mused aloud. “I only bought ten, but that’s not what chafes me.”

“Let’s have it then,” Dean replied and then motioned to the barmaid for another round.

“I met some dolt, who gave me the blasted idea, you know…buying the lottery tickets.”

The pints were delivered and Wiley continued. “He coaxed me into doing it, the prat!”

“Did he have a gun to your head?” Dean asked with a gleam in his eye.

“No,” scoffed Wiley. He eyed Dean suspiciously. “You’re acting strange.”

Wiley stopped momentarily and took another swig. Dean’s eyes shimmered again, but Wiley didn’t catch it.

“No. No one forced me. If that’s your point. But he damn near placed the idea in my head.”

Dean shrugged his shoulders, practically hiding a smile. “What happened?”

“What happened?” grumbled Wiley. “What happened was my mum and uncle - among other family members even Katie – called me to thank me because they all bloody won! That’s what happened.”

Dean stopped, assessing his friend's demeanor. “You’re joking.”

“I wish I were. Do you know my mum already bought a new car with her winnings?” Wiley said, lowering his voice. “She won nearly £32,000. Can you believe it?”

“That’s great!”

“Great? Do you think I received any of it?” Wiled griped. “No, I didn’t to answer your question. How’s that for gratitude? My own mum!”

“You’re being ridiculous. You should be happy for your mum. She’s worked hard.”

“Oh, sod off. She’s a greedy one. But that’s not all. My uncle Charlie - he won too and flew to Vegas to double his winnings. I can kiss any of that money goodbye.”

Wiley ranted for another fifteen minutes, detailing the winning streak of the tickets he purchased including his ex-girlfriend’s, Katie – the one who dumped him recently because of his neglectful ways. As a last ditched effort to save a lost relationship, he sent her a holiday card with the golden ticket. She won over £28,000 and was using it for a down payment on a London flat.

Pure fury swamped Wiley. All his attempts at a decent, normal, happy life went up in flames within the last year, all courtesy of a declining economy and a string of bad luck. By the end of the year – regrettably - when things weren’t going Wiley’s way, a cynical soul surfaced. And no one liked that side of him.

“Are you finished?” Dean asked.

Nodding complacently, Wiley wiped his sleeve under his runny nose. The poor bloke was actually tearing.

“Good,'re a no good wanker.” Dean said, thrusting a finger in his friend’s chest. It was shockingly uncharacteristic for Dean but he continued.

“You spend your entire life blaming others. You’re broke because you overspend. Your single because you treated Katie like shit. Your luck is constantly bad because you insist on living life with a perpetual dark cloud over your head. You should be grateful you were able to share your good fortune with people you love – you selfish prick. When are you ever going to learn? Everyone has crappy times – and yes, they even last from year to year – but the point is you don’t wallow in your own shit. You pull yourself out it and keep on going. Be thankful for Christ’s sake, Wiley. Be thankful for once in your pathetic existence or else your bitterness will swallow you whole, leaving you completely alone with no family and probably minus a friend, me.”

Wiley sat incapable of speaking. Dean, his lifelong friend, robbed him of his pity party, giving him a solid tongue-thrashing, one he completely deserved. He finally dismissed Dean's behavior, assuming he was drunk and then thought about what his friend said.

“God, you’re right, Dean. I’m horrific.”

The two quieted for several moments, long enough for them to inhale more of their ales.

Dean started. “You’re not horrific…you’re human. And you need to not loath life so much and try to be happy.”

“You’re right. It’s a New Year and all.” Wiley snapped his fingers. “You know what. I’m going to call Katie – to wish her well. She deserves it and the money too. It’s the least I can do. And as for the others, I’ll shut my mouth and for once be happy for someone else.”

“ that sounds like my old friend.”

After downing the last of his brew, Wiley thanked his friend and hurried out the door with a renewed spirit. He was - without a doubt - onto a better year and better life thanks to Dean.

Or was it Dean?

Seconds later, Dean shapeshifted into a raven haired beauty with locks that fell past her heaving chest and eyes the color of the sky. This lovely being who just pretended to be Wiley’s friend, was now dressed for sin, awaiting her next conquest. The humans she portrayed were typically a stark contrast to her original self, but after an eternity of stealing living personas, she practically forgot what she looked like.

It was her job to aid the good-hearted; one’s who lost their way. Every year, she started anew with her “helpless” list. She’d create elaborate ruses in order to right some wrong in an innocent’s life. Some souls took mere hours to redirect, some months, others a lifetime – but it was her job and she was damn good at it.

Her name was Skylar, leader of a group of supernaturals, specializing in wayward souls. Skylar was a shadow spirit, destined to wander among the living. Since the beginning of time, her kind lived in the shadows between dimensions, only exposing themselves to humanity for the cause.

Most humans didn’t know but when you die, some souls go to heaven, others to hell, but shadow spirits are marked for eternity. For most, endless time was maddening. Yet for Skylar, she was completely indifferent. Truth be told, she’d been at it for so long, her only focus was the list and who was next.

The waitress came over and Skylar then shapeshifted into a different human.

Skylar’s new façade was ironically Wiley – her previous innocent.

“Another round, please,” Wiley said with a wink.

“Switching seats on me are you, love?” the barmaid asked.

“You could say that,” Wiley replied.

A few minutes later, another perfect pint sat idle and Wiley’s old friend walked in the door.

Skylar eyed the next human on her list and she wondered how long this one would take. A ghostly smile crept across Wiley’s face as she spoke. “Hello, Dean.”

Copyright 2010-2011 by Mina Burrows.
All rights reserved.