Monthly Archives: April 2019

Wednesday Briefs: April 24, 2019

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Adrift: Chapter 37 by J. Alan Veerkamp

Arad had no idea how to process his day with Roku. Most attracted strangers found it easier to get along the more time spent together, didn’t they? For Arad and Roku, each passing day tangled their lives into something far more complicated. Given the growing connection between them, it shouldn’t be so easy to drive them apart. A curious situation for two people so fond of one another.

So fond of one another? What a glaring understatement.

Pulling to free the cover’s tension, Arad turned over to better see Roku in the dark. Watching Roku sleep had become a habit he should consider breaking.

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Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 21 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 21     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 1, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/202 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

The public is starting to “see” monsters! What the heck? At an emergency meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence, Lightning reminds them that Mephisto’s barrier is set to expire in February. When Sir Pheles arrives, he tells them they have to quit avoiding reality, then schedules a press conference for that afternoon. He has Shura assigned to him as security, and refers to her as the “beautiful boobalicious exorcist.”

At the press conference, the Prime Minister refers to “an anti-social organism,” as being the cause of the problem. Waiting in the wings, an amused Mephisto faces an angry Yukio Okumura, who wants him to admit he knew all along about Yukio’s flame, like his brother’s. But Mephisto refuses to rise to the bait and strides to the podium to inform the public of the existence of demons, only to be shot…

Rin watches the shocking scenario on the television and rushes to his brother’s side. Meanwhile, Shura is pointing out to the authorities who have scooped Yukio up that he can’t possibly be the shooter and they are allowing the actual shooter to escape! Thanks to Mephisto’s injuries, however, the Gehenna barrier collapses! Rin is struggling to make sense of what has happened, and why Yukio is so determined to know the truth of their birth. Is it possible he has inherited the Satan gene as well?

Rin goes to Yukio’s rescue and attempts an escape! But things do not go as planned, and everyone’s favorite double agent is on hand to add to the confusion. When the Koma sword breaks, will Rin survive?

All I can say is wow, just wow. So much going on here. It’s literally mind-blowing. I can usually tell how things will work out, but right now I can honestly say I have no clue. Yukio is undergoing his own personal trials, but so is Rin. Is Shima taking advantage of the confusion to press his own agenda? What is his agenda? I keep wondering if this is all an elaborate set-up, whereby Yukio infiltrates the other side. He’s got the brains and determination to do something like that. Rin, not so much. But I can’t tell. And what a cliffhanger too, just as Mephisto is about to spill the beans to Rin about his and Yukio’s birth.

What agony, especially not knowing how far away the next volume is. A riveting volume, a real page-turner, and one calculated to keep you on the edge of your seats! Please, next one soon!

Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 10 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 3       

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: February 14, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/glbt/178 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

When Kurose takes Shirotani shopping for a new suit, he offers to take him by his apartment first so he can change out of Kurose’s clothes, which he is borrowing. Shirotani surprisingly refuses, citing the time that would be lost with the rituals he’d feel compelled to perform. This is a definite step forward for him. He does very well with the tailor, allowing him to take most of his measurements, which of course involves touching. An interesting situation arises when they take a break, and Shirotani finds himself unable to walk properly. Kurose takes him back to his apartment and helps him find relief. In the process, we learn that Shirotani is fearful that giving oral sex can lead to a bacterial infection. Where did he get this idea?

Shirotani has had as much as he can take and hurries home, unwittingly leaving a spare key with Kurose. The next day, he sleeps late and doesn’t have time to style his hair, leaving it more natural, which garners a compliment from Mikami. Feeling a little unwell, Shirotani leaves work early, in order not to exacerbate his condition. He goes to bed, feeling unable to do anything else, much less make dinner. A concerned Kurose, who hasn’t heard from him in a few days, calls. But when Shirotani suddenly stops speaking in the middle of their conversation, Kurose becomes very worried and bicycles to Shirotani’s apartment, even knowing the other man would be uncomfortable with someone else in his home. Using the spare key, he gain entry to the apartment.

Shirotani and Kurose go to an aquarium together, then arrange to watch a movie at Kurose’s apartment. Of course, one thing leads to another, and Kurose can’t help but touch Shirotani. And then he gives him an unexpected gift which holds a great deal of promise…

With each volume of Ten Count, I think we learn a little more about Shirotani. This time we witness a flashback to his childhood, and we see what he saw that was rather traumatizing and probably the beginning of his germophobia. On the other hand, we haven’t really seen what makes Kurose tick. I suspect there is more to him than meets the eye.

I think these two are really good together, and that they would make a great couple. Shirotani is already making great strides under Kurose’s tutelage. I think he has strong feelings for Kurose that he isn’t ready to express. He wants his touch and he enjoys his touch, but he has a hard time dealing with this knowledge because it also feels dirty to him. I think this all stems back to his boyhood trauma. I’m glad that Kurose established their relationship the way he did, as friends rather than therapist and patient. If it were the latter, he’d have been crossing a line, now they are equals.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Wednesday Briefs: April 17, 2019

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

In Pieces #48 (12.2) by Julie Lynn Hayes

The day had been perfect, and so far the night was gearing up to be more of the same. While Salvation rehearsed during the late morning and early afternoon, Ryan took advantage of the time to organize his thoughts for the book, setting up a tentative outline on his computer. Subject to change, of course, should inspiration steer him in a different direction.

When he’d first been contacted about the job with the band, he’d wondered why him, of all the authors in the world. He wasn’t exactly famous, and his area of expertise, such as it was, lay in the realm of fiction, not biographies or whatever this actually would become. Of course he realized now that was all because of Ben, that he was Ben’s first and only choice and his selection was far from accidental, for which he was grateful. Still, he was determined to do the best job he could in this unfamiliar genre. He wanted Ben to be proud of him. He wanted the entire group’s approval, since his book would reflect on them as well.

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Wednesday Briefs: April 10, 2019

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Denied: Chapter Seventy-eight by Cia Nordwell

“If you want to kill your father, do it yourself!” Freska demanded. “But my friends are not your pawns. And before you even think to order those guards to do anything to us, know that I have skills you did not even know I possessed. Did you wonder what I was doing before you pretended to wake up? Do you know I don’t need to touch electronic systems once they’ve let me in? I know that this whole place is wired for vid and sound.”

Rilecca gaped at her. “What?”

“See, I figured you would need proof of them killing 

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Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 2 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 2           

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: November 8, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/glbt/184 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shirotani is devastated after Kurose tells him they won’t be seeing each other any more. He curls up on his bed, and ceases to function, to the point where his boss and his co-worker/friend, Mikami, become concerned. He isn’t answering his phone. Mikami mentions to their boss that the only other friend he knows of is Kurose. The president gives him Kurose’s number and Mikami explains what is going on. Kurose texts as well, but receives no response. When Shirotani finally rouses himself, he realizes his phone battery is dead. After charging it, he discovers a number of messages, including one from Kurose telling him to meet him at the café on Saturday at 2 pm, and he’ll wait as long as it takes. But it’s already 7 pm! Surely Kurose isn’t still there? Shirotani can’t help but go to find out, expecting everything but what he sees—Kurose is there, waiting for him. Shirotani explodes at Kurose, in public no less, then rushes off, forgetting his train pass and his wallet in his hurry. Unable to do anything or go anywhere, he sits in the rain and despairs… until Kurose finds him.

 

Kurose envelops Shirotani in his warmth and explains why he thought he needed to put distance between them—because he realized he was falling in love with Shirotani, and he finds it harder and harder to resist the urge to touch him. They discuss the situation and Shirotani reveals that he wants to keep seeing Kurose.

 

Shirotani arrives at their next scheduled meeting only to discover Kurose not there. He receives a text from him explaining he had to cover for someone at the clinic, and he didn’t know when he can get away. So Shirotani goes to the clinic instead. Alone in the clinic, Kurose, as he has warned Shirotani, cannot resist touching him, kissing his hands… and more. Shirotani is both disgusted and turned on by what is being done to him. They finally decide to meet for the dinner that never was, although Shirotani, as usual, doesn’t eat, but does drink some champagne. Perhaps it’s the influence of the champagne that loosens his tongue when he admits that he’s been thinking all day about Kurose touching him. Kurose tells him to come with him, he wants to take him somewhere he can do even more unpleasant things to him.

 

There is so much going on this volume. It’s obvious that Shirotani is both attracted and repelled by Kurose. The chemistry between these two men is palpable. The one thing that bugs me about Kurose, though, is that as a trained therapist, he has made no attempt to get to the root of Shirotani’s problems. It’s obvious to me that Shirotani has been abused, and he’s never dealt with what happened, which has led to his disgust with and inability to be touched. So far, Kurose is just treating the symptoms, not the disease. I’m worried that at some point, something he does is going to trigger something in Shirotani that might make him worse.

 

I’m sure Kurose has his own backstory, and I look forward to knowing more about both of them. This is not your typical m/m romance, and yet it is very romantic and sexy. I especially appreciate the artwork, and that the graphic scenes have not been erased in any way, as is the case with most yaoi manga. Four more volumes to go, can’t wait!

 

If you like men who are real and not perfect, and real romance, this maybe the manga for you!

 

 

Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 2 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 2   

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: May 6, 2014

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shinigama-sama has given Maka, Soul, Black Star, and Tsubaki a remedial lesson – they must take the soul of one Dr. Stein. Watching from a distance, Death the Kid tells his father this is much too difficult a task for a remedial lesson. Dr. Stein is an unusual man,  stitched-together and more than a little clumsy. Dr. Stein tells Maka and Soul that their soul wavelengths are unstable, because she is a serious, hardworking person and he is a rebellious and cynical soul. Looking at Black Star and Tsubaki, Stein observes that Black Star has one of the most self-centered souls he’s ever seen, and that Tsubaki is highly cooperative and very accepting of people.

Meanwhile, Maka’s dad, Death Scythe, is having a good old time at the Cabaret Club Chupacabra’s. But his high spirits take a nosedive every time he thinks about his recent divorce, and the daughter who doesn’t love him.

Dr. Stein asks Maka if she is Spirit-senpai’s daughter, which was her dad’s name before he became Death Scythe. Apparently Dr. Stein was once his partner. According to Death Scythe, Stein experimented on him in his sleep, for five whole years! Stein tells Maka how much he would enjoy dissecting her, thinking of all the things he would do to her! Death the Kid tell his father he is going to go help them and when his father argues that he is not a student at DWMA, Kid instructs his father to add him to the Student Register, takes his guns and goes even as the students battle Dr. Stein for their lives!

Death the Kid has decided to go to school. But promptness is apparently not his forte, as he is already three hours late on his first day! Maka and Tsubaki are in class, where they belong, but Black Star is lying in wait for the shinigami’s son to arrive, because he can’t stand the idea of someone getting more attention than him, and Soul is just hanging out with him to skip class.

Death Scythe has been replaced as their teacher by none other than Dr. Stein, much to their chagrin. Maka says that for the first time she’d rather see her dad!  Death the Kid arrives, along with Patty and Liz, and Soul and Black Star are on it! Kid isn’t too concerned, until one of them spoils the symmetry of the school, then all bets are off! When the class becomes aware of the fight going on, Maka informs Stein that he is required to go out there, which he is less than willing to do, so he takes Maka and Tsubaki with him. Since Maka has learned to see souls, Stein gives her an extra assignment, to look at the wavelength between each meister and his weapon(s) and evaluate their resonance.

In Florence, a witch overs over the Santa Mario Novella Basilica. Inside is a demon sword master, Crona, and his demon sword, Ragnarok. Meanwhile, Maka and Soul are on assignment, devouring souls, when Maka hears strange noises coming from the Basilica. She senses a meister inside, along with fifty or sixty human souls. As they draw nearer, suddenly she can’t sense the souls anymore. It’s probably not a good idea but she’s determined to find out what’s going on….

I like the character development that is taking place in this series. You never know when someone you think is bad will turn out to be good, after all. Relatively speaking. For example, there is Dr. Stein, who is certainly eccentric but also brilliant.  I loved the scene where Death Scythe shows up at the school to see Maka but detours to the nurse’s office first for some TLC and runs right into his old meister, Stein, who is not hesitant to mess with him again. Death Scythe is easy to intimidate. He’s a lover, not a fighter. But later on, in the basilica, we see the fighter side of him, which is impressive.

Soul and Black Star teaming up to go against Death the Kid is hilarious. It’s no surprise to discover that their souls do not resonate.   The story of the encounter with the kishin in the Basilica is a good one, and the entire volume ends with an unexpected twist.

I’m enjoying the series and looking forward to the next volume.