Monthly Archives: May 2019

Wednesday Briefs: May 22, 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 #53 (13.1) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Sleeping in felt nice, especially after the rough time they’d gone through the night before. After Brandon’s precipitate departure, the band had gone on to play their last set. Ryan kept a careful eye on the door, in case Brandon came back, although what he would have done if he had he didn’t know, but there was no sign of the asshole. Everything went well, the crowd loved Salvation, and they ended the evening on a positive note. After they finished and packed up the van, the owner, Clete, had invited them for a drink. Not wanting to be rude to someone who’d given them the chance to play, they spent a few minutes talking to him before they finally left. Clete had nothing but nice things to say about them, and he told them they were welcome to come back to his place and play any time.  Nothing was said of the incident with Brandon on the drive back to Mandeville,

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Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 5 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 5     

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: August 8, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/mangaGLBT/162 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shirotani and Kurose are rescued from their elevator ordeal and emerge into falling rain. Cabs are scarce, so Kurose says he’ll walk, but Shirotani speaks up and offers to share a cab with him, which is a major step for him. Once inside the cab, Kurose prompts Shirotani to continue with what he began to say earlier, but Shirotani claims not to remember what that was, when the reality is he doesn’t feel comfortable bringing it up in that place. A disappointed Kurose has the driver pull over and gets out, since they are right by his apartment.  As he waits for the elevator, he’s surprised to hear his name and turns to find Shirotani there. Shirotani gives him an obviously fake story as to why he’s there before finally making what is a major admission for him, even if it’s phrased hypothetically. They go up to Kurose’s apartment and Shirotani requests that Kurose “make him dirty inside”.

As a child, Kurose’s parents were very busy, and he was left on his own most of the time. He strikes up an acquaintance with an older man named Nishigaki, and begins to hang out with him, even if the man claims Kurose is a pain. Kurose doesn’t understand Nishigaki’s idiosyncrasies, why he makes Kurose follow certain rules. Too late, he begins to understand what Nishigaki’s problem is. When Nishigaki disappears, Kurose blames himself. He studies all he can about germophobes, and makes a promise to himself to save the next Nishigaki.

Shirotani wakes the next morning in a strange bed. Kurose is already up and is very attentive to him, anticipating his every need. Shirotani tells Kurose he’s filled in number ten on his list and wants him to guess what it is, so then Kurose has to tell him why he is doing this. Kurose says he has feelings for Shirotani, but Shirotani knows there is more to the story than that, that it has to do with his being a germophobe. Will Kurose come clean with Shirotani?

The story is almost done, one more volume to go, and it’s so good as Shirotani and Kurose’s relationship grows stronger and stronger.  Now we know more about Kurose, and why he was initially drawn to Shirotani. It almost feels like closure for him with regard to Nishigaki. But he also says that Shirotani being a germophobe is not the only reason he is drawn to him, that he would love him anyway. Shirotani hasn’t told Kurose about his father, and what he witnessed that helped to make him the germophobe he is now. Hopefully he’ll do it in the next volume.  Ideally, I would love to see them move in together, and have an open and loving relationship. I think they can heal each other. I’m crossing my fingers for them.

Only one more to go, can’t wait!

Wednesday Briefs: May 15, 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 40 by J. Alan Veerkamp

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 1 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 1     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 19, 2004

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ichigo Kurosaki can see ghosts. This is something he’s lived with all his life, so dead people are a normal part of his existence. He’s sensitive to their sufferings. When punks break a floral offering for a young child, Ichigo shows them the error of their ways by beating it into them.  Ichigo lives with his father and two sisters, Karin and Yuzu, his mother having died some time ago. They run the Kurosaki Clinic. His father is strict, in that he demands the teen-aged Ichigo be home by 7, and he has a disconcerting habit of attacking his son without warning. It’s become something of a male ritual with them, each trying to get over on the other. The girls just roll their eyes and shakes their heads at them.

When a mysterious girl in black robes appears suddenly in Ichigo’s room, he is thrown for a loss. She is equally flabbergasted that not only can he see her, he was able to kick her. She explains to him that she is Rukia Kuchiki, and she is a Soul Reaper from the Soul Society. When Ichigo tries to have his dad remove the intruder, his father looks at him like he’s crazy. Apparently no one can see her but him, lending credence to her story. Rukia explains to Ichigo that there are two kinds of souls – the normal kind, whom she performs konso on so they can pass on to the Soul Society, and the hollows, who must be vaporized. Rukia is looking for a hollow now, in Ichigo’s house.

Ichigo realizes to his horror that his family is in danger, and they are being attacked by a Hollow. His guilt only grows when Rukia surmises the Hollow is looking for Ichigo because of his strong spirit pressure, unlike other humans. Ichigo is determined to fight for his family. Rukia only intends to lend Ichigo half of her power so he can combat this enemy, but to her dismay, he absorbs all of it, rendering her unable to use them.

The next day Ichigo is confused to find his family have no memory of the attack and believe a truck drove into their home, causing extensive damage. He goes to school, wondering what’s become of Rukia. Did she return to her Soul Society? To his surprise and dismay he finds her as a new student in his class. What’s up with that? He confronts her in private and asks why she didn’t return to where she belongs, only to learn that she can’t because he took all her powers. So until she can get them back, he has to perform soul reaper duties in her place!

Ichigo and Rukia run into Ichigo’s friend, Orihime, who is something of a space cadet and a klutz but a super sweet girl. Rukia notices a strange bruise on Orihime’s leg, which she laughingly attributes to clumsiness, but Rukia isn’t sure that’s really the case. That night, Ichigo’s sister questions him about some missing items, such as her pajamas and a dress, but he has no idea where they are, why should he? In his room, he hears a phone go off, which turns out to be Rukia’s, and she is sleeping in his closet? No time to argue, a Hollow is nearby and they must confront it! When they find the monster, Ichigo is appalled when he recognizes who it is!

I’ve been watching the anime for several months now but am just starting to read the manga. It’s every bit as good as the anime, and I love seeing the characters in print. One thing I didn’t realize from the anime is that Ichigo has a nickname, which is Strawberry. My daughter explained that it’s because his name translates to strawberry. Learn something new every day!

In this first volume, we are meeting people, such as Orihime and Chad, and of course Rukia. Her sensing Ichigo’s spirit pressure is what starts everything moving.  The Kurosaki family is great, I love their interactions. Dad is really something else. But everything is done with love, and it shows. Ichigo may have been reluctant to take on the duties of a soul reaper, but once he’s agreed to do it, he goes into it wholeheartedly, as it’s his nature to stand up for other people who might not be able to stand up for themselves. He’s a good boy, he is.  The only criticism I can make (and it’s not something unusual to Kubo alone, it’s most of the male manga artists) is the tendency to draw women with huge breasts. But what can you do? I guess their primary target audience are teen-aged males.

Great first volume, lots to go, looking forward to it!

 

Book Review: Blue Morning, Vol 1 by Shoko Hidaka

Blue Morning, Vol 1       

Author: Shoko Hidaka

Publisher: SuBLime Publishing

American release date: May 14, 2013

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Yaoi/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Akihito Kuze inherits the title of viscount at the tender age of ten, on the death of his father. Because of his mother’s frail health, he has always lived with her, apart from his father, who allowed Akihito to stay with her so she wouldn’t be lonely. Having never lived in his father’s home, he’s in for something of a shock on his arrival at the large mansion which is now his and meets the man who is in charge of raising him—butler Tomoyuki Katsuragi. Before he died, Kuze’s father told him to listen to Katsuragi on all things. Akihito is surprised to discover how young the butler is—only eleven years separates their ages. A reception is held in honor of the new viscount, who feels very much out of place. He notices, to his surprise, that most of the people there are drawn to Katsuragi, and actually seek him out. What sort of a man is this butler? Confiding to Katsuragi that he has never learned Western manners, the butler covers for him by telling everyone he is ill and sending him to his room.

Katsuragi takes control of Kuze’s education, and Kuze finds him a stern taskmaster. One day he notices a carriage belonging to a wealthy family seems to come to the estate often, bearing Master Shigeyuki. Curious about his reason for being there, Kuze investigates, and witnesses a kiss between Shigeyuki and Katsuragi! He also overhears the other man trying to entice Katsuragi to send Kuze away and come to live in his house! Kuze is overheard and the meeting comes to an end, Shigeyuki taking his leave. Kuze tries to get Katsuragi to explain things to him, but a clear explanation is not forthcoming. He merely asserts his desire for Kuze to be as perfect as possible.

A few years pass. Now seventeen, Kuze is taking classes at a prestigious academy, but he has permission not to sleep in the dorm. Arriving home early one night he learns Katsuragi is with a visitor and not to be disturbed. Kuze disturbs him anyway, only to find him with a woman of the noble class. Katsuragi insists that everything he does is for the Kuze family, even this. He purposely opens the door to reveal the woman’s presence, thus ensuring her cooperation in future matters concerning the Kuze.

Kuze has always sought Katsuragi’s approbation, but there’s more to that now. He finds himself attracted to the man. And when Katsuragi implies that all he has to do is command him to go to Kuze’s room, he will obey. Does he mean what Katsuragi hopes he means?

This is my first time reading this author. I especially enjoy the artwork, it’s very well drawn, and Katsuragi is certainly easy on the eyes. There is so much more here than the average yaoi manga, wheels within wheels, and I find myself as confused as Akitio at times. I’m sure things will become clearer as we go along. Katsuragi is indeed an enigma. He entered the service of Kuze’s father when he was nine, and was told in no uncertain terms not to go to the Katsuragi house ever again, which he hasn’t. Akihito particularly doesn’t understand this, especially now that Katsuragi’s father is in failing health. He begins to ask questions, and even arranges a meeting with Katsuragi’s older brother, who is in banking.

Kiku has been the housekeeper for the Kuze household since before Akihito’s arrival, but she is older now and in ill health, so has left their service. She is the only servant left from the time of Katsurago’s arrival, the only one that knows about him. But what does she know?

Katsuragi drives Akihito crazy with his cold, inflexible exterior, and yet Akihito wants nothing more than to please him. What will it take to get through to the man? Ordering someone isn’t the same as having them want to do it. Will he be able to make Katsuragi want him the way he wants the butler?

I enjoyed this volume very much and look forward to reading more of the series.

 

Wednesday Briefs: May 8, 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 #51 (12.5) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Leaving the bar, they noticed some of the customers had also gone outside. They stood in a cluster, cigarette in one hand, drink in the other. Obviously because smoking wasn’t allowed in the bar. As they passed, Ryan thought he heard someone say “goddamned president”, but he didn’t have the time or inclination to worry about politics at this moment.  Rounding the corner of the building, out of sight of the others, they came to a stop by mutual consent. Ben immediately wrapped his arms around Ryan and held him tightly against him. For this moment, not a word was spoken between them. Ryan closed his eyes and rested his face against Ben’s neck, closing out everything and everyone else.

Ryan felt Ben’s fingers stroke his hair gently, felt Ben’s lips caress his head. He felt himself on the verge of purring like a contented can when Ben drew back slightly, looking into Ryan’s eyes. “What’s wrong?

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Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 4 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 4     

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: May 9, 2017

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shirotani has gone to Kurose’s apartment, ostensibly to watch a movie, but did he seriously think Kurose wouldn’t try to take advantage of the situation to touch him in some way? On some level, he must have known that would happen. So when Kurose introduces him to an anal plus, Shirotani’s protests are weak at best. Once the plug is in place, Shirotani is both disgusted and turned on. When Kurose removes the plug and suggests he replace it with himself, Shirotani fights against the idea, claiming Kurose is manipulating him. To his surprise, Kurose claims that Shirotani is the one who is actually in control. Shirotani worries that if he becomes cured of his germophobia, Kurose will lose interest in him.

Shirotani leaves, but doesn’t get very far in his turgid condition and, against his better instincts, enters a public lavatory, torn between not being contaminated by his surroundings and relieving his need. As he fantasizes that Kurose is touching him, he replays memories in his mind, of his childhood, and the incidents which were the start of his germophobia.

Avoiding Kurose, Shirotani throws himself even harder into his work. The weather has turned ugly and there is talk of an impending typhoon. Shirotani’s boss apologetically asks him to deliver some urgent documents to a client, which of course he does.  Leaving the office of the client, heading down in the elevator, he sees Kurose come on but keeps his back to him, assuming Kurose won’t know him. Unfortunately, a power outage halts the elevator, and Shirotani is forced to face his fears, as well as Kurose. Can they reach a new understanding of their relationship together?

Another great volume of this series. More and more we are beginning to understand what drives Shirotani to be the way he is. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him, and also to hope he can be cured of his fixation. I believe he is fixable, and that Kurose is the key. I suspect there is more to Kurose than meets the eye. He’s already admitted to being attracted to Shirotani in large part because he is a germophobe, but there must be more to the story than that.

Some people might argue that there is some dubious consent here, but after careful consideration, I don’t believe that to be the case. While it might appear that Kurose is going against what Shirotani says, I believe he is receiving his cues from Shirotani, as he claims, and Shirotani is actually setting the pace and controlling the action. There is also the matter of Item number ten on the list, which has yet to be named. I’m not sure it ever will, but I hope so.

Looking forward to the next volume!