Sunday, May 29, 2011

Apples and Regret and Wasted Time by Cornelia Grey

Apples and Regret and Wasted TimeHe lives in the shadows of the law. Now, wounded and stranded in the city after a job only he could do, he has no qualms about climbing through the window his old lover left open—or stealing his shampoo, at that. He has, however, not taken into account the possibility of being surprised in the shower.

Three years is a long time to go between visits, especially if you've left so much anger and hurt and desire unresolved. They try to negotiate a truce for one night—over Chinese takeaway leftovers and apples, and between the sheets.


We never hear the name of our narrator nor of the man whose home he's come to in order to lick his wounds. We don't need to -- there is "he" and "I" and a vast gulf between them. This story is a blend of hope and history, of regret, longing and the brief happiness that can be found.

The author doles out the backstory in  small details, letting us fill in for ourselves how things must have gone -- this had to have been an epic love then, and then three years of nothing, for these two are on opposite sides. They cannot be together, yet they come together as if the time had never separated them except for the echoes of pain at how it must have been.

The writing is beautifully atmospheric, both very immediate in the first person present tense and evocative of their past. Things as small as a red apple and an open window shout of how deeply these two love each other, have hurt each other just for being what each one is. They know each other well and still crash against the reality, because they are something wondrous together.

There is no HEA here, but it's a romance -- there is deep love that isn't going away, even if one of the men does.  5 Marbles

Buy here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday Story from Carole Cummings

Crepuscule Monstrum
© Carole Cummings

Cold. He hadn’t expected it to be so cold.
The wind was still but the air rimy, heavy in his chest, on his shoulders. The sun hid behind a stratum of silver-gray, its light like old metal and just as cold against his skin. He could almost taste it on his tongue—bitter and sour, with a hard tang that settled behind his teeth and slithered down his backbone.
Or maybe that was just fear.
Merrick wanted to shiver, but didn’t want to have to hear the discordant chitter of black iron that would remind him he was no initiate here, no volunteer walking willingly into the jaws of Fate. He’d fought the chains like a feral beast.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Picture is Worth...

It's that time of week again, Thousand Word Thursday! Last week's pic brought us a lovely little story from Elizabeth Brooks.

This is certainly a different pic -- that creature has a very peculiar look on it's face! Does it want to lick? Or does it want to bite? Or does it want something else altogether? The author who offers 100 to 1000 words to explain what's going on here will have the ficlet posted with links, news and covers. (See the link upper left for full details.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reach Out and Touch by Angela Benedetti

Reach Out and Touch (A Hidden Magic story; Sentinels #1.6)Cal's been working on an elaborate spell to open a portal between universes and, after weeks of work and calculations to draft out the diagram and get all the symbols right and acquire all the right powders and pigments, he's eager to actually try it. Master Aubrey wants him to wait, but Cal has a day off today, and he doesn't see why the fact that it's Halloween should make any difference. He takes advantage of Aubrey's absence to go ahead on his own. After all, this is only practice, opening a portal to an empty, pocket universe. Even if something goes wrong, how bad could it be?

Famous last words.

OMG, there's usually a reason why Aubrey wants Cal to do certain things, or not do them, or wait to do them, even if he doesn't explain. And Cal will last a lot longer if he pays attention.

Opening the portal on Halloween was one of those things, but does Cal listen? No he does not! After a substantial amount of technical spellcasting Cal opens a gate to some otherwhere -- and he can't quite get himself back. And then he's got to convince a worried Aubrey that he's there at all.

This does lead to one of the more unusual sex scenes I've ever encountered -- it's cute and effective, though hotter for them than the reader.

Cal spends a lot of this story alone, first getting into mischief and then working out the scope of his difficulties. When Aubrey does come on the scene, the depth of affection comes out, as he establishes what's happened. The balance of power in a master/student relationship shows here, so does the love of partners.

This was a fun little bite of the Hidden Magic universe, but not a full meal in itself; read it after the novel and the other shorts. And definitely read those -- this is a great series.

Buy here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Pair of Knaves by Lucius Parhelion

A Pair of Knaves Working a ranch is all very well, but there are faster ways to earn a buck when the gold rush is on. Silas Plummer has been choosing his marks and making a profit with his partner, Dr. Aaron "Arid" Gifford, for the past ten years, and they agree it's time to call it quits -- after they unload one last haul of mining shares. But the shares are a hot commodity in more ways than one, and speed is of the essence if the boys are going to realize the cash.

Skedaddling from Cripple Creek to Chicago, Silas and Arid have to honor a scoundrel's agreement with a shady character from their past before they can conclude their business and enjoy retirement. From the wonders of the World's Fair to the seedier delights of Little Cheyenne, there's no end of challenges to keep their wits sharp. And all the while, Silas is wondering: does he really want this partnership to end?
A couple of sharpers, Silas and Arid have spent the last few years transferring a goodly slice of the wealth of a rough and tumble mining town into their own pockets. A high stakes poker game puts a large chunk of several prosperous mines into their pockets, to cuddle with what they already own, and they have to leave town under escort to keep it. Chicago and the man they owe right of first refusal want to take it away from them, too, and civilization proves a bit more dangerous than the wild wild West.

These two plan ahead, so far ahead that they are on the verge of dissolving their lengthy partnership to go their separate ways, when their adventures bring them into contact with Miss Julie -- someone else with a secret and dreams. Silas and Arid have been too good about keeping their own secrets -- neither one is clear that the other finds him appealing, and why not? In the Old West, this sort of thing could get a body killed.

Not that homoeroticism didn't exist -- just read some of the more exuberant passages from "The Virginian" to find prose that puts most e-publishers to shame. But these two find out about each other in the very nick of time.

This reads in the slightly stilted style we associate with Western dime novels, which I found a bit wearing, if in period. The men are quite formal with each other, something that takes on an added flavor when we find out that Arid is part Indian -- this is more respect than he would have expected to get from strangers at the time. (Is someone going to jump all over me for that term? Sorry it's not politically correct, we are talking the language and mores of an historical, okay?) Silas' respect for Arid is one of the great parts; they do acknowledge the racial biases of the time, and then ignore them.

I liked their willingness to guard each other's backs out of more than enlightened self interest -- the friendship goes deeper than they want to admit, and their discovery of more is sweet. That they also make off with a good chunk of boodle -- better yet. Sometimes the con men ought to win. 3.5 marbles

Buy here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday Story from Elizabeth Brooks

Warmth. Lips and tongue teasing, coaxing. G.T. swam up out of the depths of sleep to return the kiss in full, lifting his hands to slide into Brian's hair, soft and still slightly damp from his shower. "Mmm," G.T. murmured, "I love having you for an alarm clock."

Brian laughed and nuzzled his way around G.T.'s jaw to his ear, and bit down hard on the lobe.

G.T.'s cock was fully awake now, even if G.T. was still a little dreamy. "Oh, fuck," he gasped, "do we have time...?"

Brian's hand closed over G.T.'s cock. G.T. arched into the touch, loving the rasp of Brian's callouses. "No," Brian said regretfully. "You have an early meeting, you said, and rumor had it there's going to be an inspection at my site today, so I'd better be on time." Brian kissed G.T. again. "We can meet for lunch?"

G.T. sighed. "Let's skip lunch and meet for a nooner," he said. "Come to my office and we'll lock ourselves in the copier room again."

Brian grinned and gave G.T.'s cock one last squeeze before he released it. "It's a date," he promised. He seemed about to say more, but then glanced at the clock and cursed. "Gotta run. Love you, babe." He gave G.T. a last, hurried kiss, then jogged out of the room and their apartment.

G.T. rolled over and peered out the window, watching until he saw Brian emerge onto the street and continue his jog down the block toward the bus station. G.T. smiled and stretched, and wondered if this hard-on was going to subside before his presentation, and whether he had any pants that would be resistant to both come stains and copier toner...

Awww, I hope they enjoy their "lunch". Thank you, Elizabeth, for giving us this little peek into their morning.

Elizabeth Brooks is the author of Of One Mind and "Of Sound Mind", and her newest novella, Safe Harbor, is due out from Torquere Press in July. Find her work here, and all of her latest news at her LJ blog.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Picture is Worth...


Whoo -- our last pic netted an excerpt from Marie Sexton. What kind of ideas does this yummy guy inspire in you? Any author who has 100-1000 words to tell us his story, share with us. I'll post cover, news, and links for you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Highway Man by Eden Winters

Highway Man
If their gravelly-voiced front man died in the wreck that claimed the rest of Trickster, what's he doing filling in for a tribute band's absent guitarist? All Killian Desmond wants is to forget that tragic accident, make a few bucks off rodeo wins and pick-up gigs, and occasionally find a willing one-night stand. A listening ear in the form of a fellow musician he dubs Tex reopens old wounds. Tex knows the songs and hears the pain—Killy may have found more than he was looking for.
Eden Winters is at the top of my must-read authors, I bet even her grocery lists are good. But this is way, way different than anything that's come before. Different good. Different amazing.

Killian Desmond's running from his demons -- everyone thinks he's dead and he's content to let them believe it, he'd prefer not to be found and connected with the rock star he was, and he's hiding in plain sight, letting his name and everyone's preconceptions cover him. He's leading a drifter's life, never staying on long, never kissing the one-night stands he finds on the Internet or at a truck-stop, and he probably won't stay til morning anyway.

He won't even call the man he makes a date for sex with by his name --that means remembering, forming a tie. Letting the hurt catch up maybe. Killy will call him Texas instead, and isn't prepared for the quiet acceptance of who he is and why he's running. Not prepared for the homespun wisdom behind why Texas is willing to toss their gig aside for whatever might come next.

Tex reached into his pocket, extracting a crumpled pack of gum. He popped a strip into his mouth, chewing vigorously. “What does this taste like?”

Killy scratched his head, perplexed. “How the hell am I supposed to know?”



“If you ain’t the one doing the chewing, how can you know what it tastes like?” He paused, letting the words sink in. “If you ain’t the one doing the living, how can you know what I want?..."

We're used to humor, we're used to angst, we're used to solid writing from Eden Winters, but this is dark, gritty, and primal. There's pain on a soul-deep level. And, something we are used to from this writer, there's hope. 5 Marbles

Excuse me, I gotta go read this again.

Buy here, not kidding.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Learning to Waltz by Jenna Jones

Learning to WaltzConor was hired by the Todd family to keep Gabriel safe and sober. Conor has done his job so well that Gabriel no longer needs a caretaker, but they can’t bring themselves to part ways.

Gabriel and Conor live in a comfortable rhythm, pushing and pulling each other in a cautious dance. Conor doesn't think he's Gabriel's perfect partner, but Gabriel may have other ideas…


After three years of looking after Gabriel, Conor's lost his heart but has resigned himself to being the employee/friend who runs interference at the club, with the family, and everywhere else. It's a pretty intimate job, even if Conor doesn't have to inspect for track marks anymore. Seeing Gabriel at the club with a pick-up in his arms isn't new -- what's changed is how Gabriel not only picks someone who looks like Conor, but discards him in a heartbeat in favor of going home and eating popcorn and watching movies with Conor.

The waltzing is a sweet way of convincing Conor that Gabriel's intentions have changed. The close dance, first in private, then in the public eye of Gabriel's family, leads them to a different kind of intimacy -- Conor's willing to throw over his job as nanny in favor of a romantic relationship. The transition is sweet and the sex is hot.

The ending left me thinking that Conor's read a little too much into the actions of someone he knows is kind of manipulative, but I was still rooting for them to make it.

The writing is lovely and gets a lot said with subtly and misdirection -- Conor's extreme dislike for Gabriel's brother is a shining interaction. So maybe the author thinks she's been a little clearer about final declarations than I think she's been. 4 marbles

Buy here

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday Story by Marie Sexton

Photos of La Playita, Quepos

A snippet from "Between Saints and Sinners"

They went out for dinner and lingered over dessert, then went back to the room to get Dolly and headed for the beach. It was a bit chilly, and they zipped their jackets as they walked. They stopped a few yards from the water and stared out at the ocean. The light was fading, but they could still see the waves crashing several yards offshore.

“It’s nice here,” Jaime said.

“I’ve always liked Charleston,” Levi said. “This is where I learned to surf.”

“Too bad it’s so cold. We could rent a couple of boards and go tomorrow while they fix the car.”

Levi smiled over at him. “I’ve converted you.”

Jaime laughed. “I guess so. But by the time it’s warm enough to go again, I’ll probably have forgotten how.”

Levi was watching him closely. His eyes were uncharacteristically intense, and Jaime found himself a bit disconcerted by what he saw in them. He couldn’t tell if Levi was laughing at him, or proud of him, or—

“I’ll just have to teach you again,” Levi said.

Jaime laughed, feeling uncomfortable for no reason he could put his finger on. “I’m sure you have better things to do with your time.”

Levi didn’t laugh. He stood there, looking gorgeous as he always did, and he continued to give Jaime that look. “Why would you think so?” he asked.

Jaime felt like they weren’t having the same conversation at all. He felt as if he was in a play, but only Levi had the script. His heart was suddenly hammering in his chest. “I was kidding,” he said, and was surprised to find his voice shook.

Levi hesitated, his head cocked to the side as if he was debating something. Then he seemed to make a decision. He reached over, very slowly so Jaime could pull away if he wanted to. But Jaime didn’t want to. He let Levi take his hand. Levi stepped closer. Jaime’s instinct was to back up, but Levi had anticipated him and used his grip on Jaime’s hand to keep him from stepping away. Jaime tried to stop shaking. He tried to make himself breathe.

Levi reached up with his other hand and brushed his finger down Jaime’s cheek. “I’ll always have time for you,” he said. He put his hand on the back of Jaime’s neck as he moved closer.

Was Levi going to kiss him? The very thought of it took his breath away. He closed his eyes and willed his heart to stop racing.

He was aware of everything. The surf pounded to his right. People laughed on his left. A cool breeze off the ocean ruffled his hair. He held Dolly’s leash in his left hand, and Levi still had hold of his right. His knees felt weak. Levi’s hand was warm and strong on the back of his neck. He had no idea what had come over Levi to prompt this moment, but he found he didn’t care.

He tried to make sense of what he was feeling. It was a bit like panic. It was a bit like joy. It felt like flying—giddiness and sheer, heart-stopping terror all rolled in one. It was the curve at the top of the big hill where the roller coaster train stops climbing, but gravity hasn’t quite pulled it down. It was the moment on top of the high board, knowing it was time to jump. It was a heartbeat of drawing breath, waiting to fall, waiting to scream. It was the most exhilarating moment of his life.

He wondered briefly how he’d manage to even go on living after this moment. He felt certain he’d never be able to think rationally again. He wondered how Levi would taste. He knew with sudden certainty he wanted to find out. He leaned a bit closer and heard Levi’s breath catch. He felt Levi’s breath against his lips.

OMG, Marie just gave us Levi and Jaime's first kiss!  Between Saints and Sinners will be out from Amber Allure on May 29, 2011, and wow will that improve Memorial Day Weekend! I'll put a buy link here when it's live.

Levi Binder is a Miami bartender who cares about only two things: sex and surfing. Ostracized by his Mormon family for his homosexuality, Levi is determined to live his life his own way, but everything changes when he meets massage therapist Jaime Marshall.

Jaime is used to being alone. Haunted by the horrors of his past, his only friend is his faithful dog, Dolly. He has no idea how to handle somebody as gorgeous and vibrant as Levi.

Complete opposites on the surface, Levi and Jaime both long for something that they can only find together. Through love and the therapeutic power of touch, they’ll find a way to heal each other, and they’ll learn to live as sinners in a family of saints.

Keep an eye on Marie's blog for further updates.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Picture is Worth...

Photos of La Playita, Quepos

Sorry about the delay in posting a prompt pic, but Blogger is working again! The dashboard was down for almost two days.

Our last couple of pictures brought lovely little stories: CT Piatt wrote mermen for us, and  JL Merrow  told us what those young rowers were up to.

What about these two? Anyone who has a little story, 100-1000 words, to tell us can have it posted here (see the upper left sidebar for details on the Thousand Word Thursday page) with links, news, and covers.

The rest of us are going to stand here saying "Aw!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ink Illusions by Val Kovalin

As a gay man, Aaron never dreamed he'd end up in Houston, Texas, helping a female friend raise her child. Then he learns that the child's father has just been released from prison. Will Travis threaten Aaron's new family? To find out, Aaron conceals his identity and meets Travis during the chaotic splendor of Mardi Gras, when no one is what he seems. Travis is ruthless when it comes to locating his child. Otherwise, he's not the criminal Aaron expected. Aloof and intuitive, he works as a tattoo artist. The intricate tattoos on his body celebrate his commitment to Asatru, a Norse pagan religion. Meanwhile, Aaron is his polar opposite, a talkative Jewish sales rep from Las Vegas, who never misses a chance to have fun.

What they have in common is neither man can turn down a fight. Neither can resist their affair, which turns into an intensely erotic struggle as each seeks to master the other. As their lust deepens to love, Aaron knows he must tell Travis the true reason they came to meet. Meanwhile, he fears that the darkness inside Travis's soul may lead him to break the law and end up back in prison.
The central philosophy of Asatru is the interconnectedness of all things, all life, Travis tells Aaron, and the connection between them is strong, immediate, and while it takes a while to play out, it directs their lives from the moment they meet.

Travis is newly out of prison, where he'd spent most of his daughter's life. Belinda's seven years old, a darling little tomboy with a passion for Yiddish words that she uses with devastating effect. Travis doesn't know his daughter at all; her mother, Rosemary, has broken contact with Travis and his family. Rosemary and Belinda live with Aaron, provider of Yiddish words, male parenting presence, and home, which is a mutual benefit arrangement, not romantic, because Aaron is gay.

Rosemary is the pivot point of all this interconnectedness, and her refusal to be reasonable brings Travis and Aaron together. Instead of making some rational visitation arrangements, she assumes the absolute worst of a man who went to prison for protecting her, and eventually pushes him into doing what she fears the most. Rosemary redeems herself by the end of the book, but not before needing to be slapped six or eight times.

Aaron and Travis meet at Mardi Gras, where Aaron has gone to suss out Travis on Rosemary's behalf -- they head nearly straight to bed, which gets derailed because of some of the choices Travis had to make while in prison. They back off and take it slowly, getting to know one another before another romp in the sack, although Aaron's role in Rosemary and Belinda's lives doesn't come to the surface for a while. But it's a situation that could work to everyone's benefit with some goodwill from all. Getting to that goodwill is the challenge.

I loved Aaron -- he's caught between a rock and a hard place when he falls for his best friend's hated and feared ex, trying to broker an agreement that will work for everyone, using his salesman's wiles and a mean right hook. Travis is the conflicted one, trying to reconcile protecting himself and his family with the things he has to do to accomplish that. He knows he's done wrong things for good causes, and fears that they will cost him Aaron's love.

This story is tied more tightly to the calendar than anything non-historical I've ever read, we know day, year, and day of the week for major milestones, but it isn't clear why; weeks and months pass without action, until Travis does what he's been repeatedly warned not to do, out of the blue. The pacing bothered me -- when things were happening, the story perked right along, but there were close to five months where absolutely nothing happened, except possibly an offstage unmentioned romance between Rosemary and the loathsome Chad, and the primary romance shouldn't suffer for trying to grow plausibility for a secondary couple. Fortunately that time was heavily condensed, but it didn't seem necessary for Travis and Aaron.

I enjoyed the second half of the story greatly, when some secrets came out, the relationship between Travis and Aaron had to change and grow, and Rosemary got her head out. 3.5 marbles

Buy here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday story by C.T. Piatt

The Hunt by C.T. Piatt

The meeting spot is not hard to find, though when I arrive Miztan is not amongst the waving seagrasses. A few manatee graze, a younger one blunders forward to investigate me. His sad face, still chewing, closes in on mine. Tiny eyes peer at me. I reach below his huge chin and scratch. He turns on to his back, rubbing his side against my chest. I feel his smoothness rasp across my scales. I smile as he turns and rubs me again, his grunts of pleasure causing his mother to lift her head. I am no threat. She returns to her continual grazing.

I enjoy the silent company of this young manatee, his affection based on his pleasure. He offers no attachment, requires no obligation. I am there for him to use, a scratching post, just as he would use the coral, a rock. My only difference is that he can direct my attentions.

"Acoloti. You waited. I feared you would leave." Miztan swims over, oblivious to the retreating manatee. I have swapped a welcome silent companion for one overfull of words.

"The manatee kept me company."

Only then does he look. "Can you believe the humans mistake them for us?" He smiles. "Are their eyes so blind they can not see the difference?"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows #1) by Charlie Cochrane

Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows, #1)St. Bride’s College, Cambridge, England, 1905.

When Jonty Stewart takes up a teaching post at the college where he studied, the handsome and outgoing young man acts as a catalyst for change within the archaic institution. He also has a catalytic effect on Orlando Coppersmith.

Orlando is a brilliant, introverted mathematician with very little experience of life outside the college walls. He strikes up an alliance with the outgoing Jonty, and soon finds himself having feelings he’s never experienced before. Before long their friendship blossoms into more than either man had hoped and they enter into a clandestine relationship.

Their romance is complicated when a series of murders is discovered within St. Bride’s. All of the victims have one thing in common, a penchant for men. While acting as the eyes and ears for the police, a mixture of logic and luck leads them to a confrontation with the murderer—can they survive it?

Repressed mathematics lecturer Orlando Coppersmith doesn't know what force of nature took his seat by accident in the Senior Common Room, but Jonty Stewart is the sunlight and rain that will nourish his world and crack his façade. Orlando is the brilliant and polite example of Edwardian ideals, never straying into physical impropriety, and entirely unaware of such scandalous things as men lying together. Jonty knows more, including the secret underbelly of single-sex societies; Orlando's innocence is something he both treasures and hopes to channel into a pure love that can also be physical.

The unfolding of their love is very much complicated with a string of murders within the college, the work of someone with a need for vengeance that Jonty and Orlando can understand once it's exposed. In best Gaudy Night style, (and thank goodness for having read that or this American would have been a bit lost in the environment of St. Bride's) Jonty and Orlando assist the police and find the murderer, but not before three bodies need to be returned to grieving families.

Orlando blooms under Jonty's attentions, feeling his way into love and sex, though he's shocked by the raunchy books found in the first murder victim's possessions, and needs time to reconcile these two aspects of sexuality. Jonty gives him time and distance as needed, and once in a while, a little shove in the right direction. Their relationship is sweet, tender, and I want to pour them a nice glass of port and lock the bedroom door behind them.

The murder mystery part of this novel worked for a time when gentlemen sleuths could work hand in hand with the police and forensics was a hopeful idea and not a science. I'm not quite convinced the clues were there and the mystery fair -- we don't really get to see much of the suspects. The reasons for the murders and the resolution were certainly tragic.

I very much enjoyed this excursion into a more formal time, when there were things that gentlemen just did not do, or didn't get caught doing, where the exchange of names was considered nearly as intimate as exchanging bodily fluids. The slow pace of the relationship was lovely, being so emotionally involved, with the sharing of secrets and sorrows.

I picked this up as a free read on Amazon, and what a great thing -- there are more Orlando and Jonty stories! Now I have to read them all, Ms Author, so the free read did exactly what you hoped to draw me into this world.  4.5 marbles

Buy here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday Story by JL Merrow


Firm Pressure
A micro-sequel to Stroke to His Cox

Oh, God.

I should have bloody known. I mean seriously, I should have known.

It was hard enough—pun bloody well not intended—before me and Archie got together. But now? Every time I look at him, pumping away rhythmically in front of me as we cut through the water, his face screwed up with the effort as those muscular shoulders power the boat forward, all I can think of is, well, various other things getting screwed and pumping away rhythmically.

Look, it's not my fault. I mean, have you seen Archie? He's about six foot six, blond, with shoulders of granite and legs like tree trunks.

And he's mine.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Picture is Worth...

Oxford University boat race crew, 1955
Oxford University boat race crew, 1955

I still have some hope for our merman to attract an author's attention, but it's Thursday again, how did that happen? I have some reviews coming up, but this has been a difficult week with health and other obligations, so bear with me. I'll make it up to you, promise.

So, who has an idea for these gorgeous young men listening to "Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!" all up and down the river? A fic of 100-1000 words will go up on the blog with links, covers, and news.