Monthly Archives: June 2019

Wednesday Briefs: June 26, 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 46 by J. Alan Veerkamp

Fitful sleep chased Arad through the night. The sound and feel of Roku’s purposeful inhales against his skin kept him from finding it, yet he wouldn’t give up the sensation for all the funds on Grey District. The tiger dozed, but his distress was clear, visible along the ragged edges of his usually smooth fur. Arad hadn’t said a word about the state of the Ansariland when Roku escorted—or carried—him from the airlock. No comment about the weight bench which had been flung against the wall and the broken exercise machine. Silence over the glints of metal showing through the hallway paint scoured with a random, overlapping quilt of claw marks.

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Book Review: Blue Morning, Vol 4 by Shoko Hidaka

Blue Morning, Vol 4           

Author: Shoko Hidaka

Publisher: SuBLime Publishing

American release date: February 11, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Yaoi/218 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Akihito has moved into humble lodgings, occupying part of a house once owned by Ishizaki’s old housekeeper. As far as the servants at the manor know, he is staying at the Ishizaki villa. This is a brand new world for Akihito, who has no practical knowledge of how anything works, including such basics as using a sink or a stove. He has a lot to learn! The reason for downgrading his lifestyle is that Akihito plans to relinquish his title in favor of Katsuragi, which he confides to Ishizaki, even as he strongly impresses upon him that Katsuragi must not find out.

Akihito confronts Amamiya at the manor. Amamiya is surprised that Akihito bears him no animosity, considering that he has been working to ensure Katsuragi inherits the Kuze house, unaware that Akihito has the same goal. His surprise becomes even greater when Akihito makes Amamiya the new butler of the Kuze household. However, Akihito is adamant that Amamiya not use Katsuragi’s old room.

Katsuragi has taken on the task of instructing Ishizaki, as once he did Akihito. While discussing the arranged marriage for Ishizaki, Katsuragi reveals knowledge of ishizaki’s true love, a geisha, and tries to tell him that he can have both. Ishizaki laughs, saying that is what Kuze has said too, so why can’t the two of them manage to do that themselves? Katsuragi has no answer to that, and Ishizaki silently wishes he could do something to help the two of them.

Getting into an argument with Katsuragi, Ishizaki inadvertently lets on that Akihito has done something stupid because of his former butler.  Learning the truth, Katsuragi goes to see Akihito in his new home, and Akihito serves him tea, while trying to gauge how much he knows. Akihito confesses to burning some bridges and the reason for doing so. Not surprisingly, a heated discussion between the two men ends with passion. The next day, Katsuragi is convinced he knows what he must do in order to save the Kuze house, but he must act quickly.

When Akihito returns to the manor, he is annoyed to learn Amamiya is in Katsuragi’s old room. But when he goes to confront him, he is surprised to find Katsuragi there as well. Amamiya leaves the two men alone, and they discuss the future of the Kuze house, which will necessitate their working together. Katsuragi makes the first move this time, and passion once more holds sway, which leads to a surprising admission on Katsuragi’s part.

It’s interesting to watch Akihito and Katsuragi go to such lengths, each for the other. It reminds me of The Gift of the Magi, in which a young couple each sacrifice something of value to them in order to give something of value to the other, but the sacrifices negate the gifts, leaving only the love. I’m hoping that’s how this turns out for these two. From the bottom of my heart, I want nothing more than for them to end up together, whether at the Kuze manor or somewhere else. I’m not sure they’re at that point, and it won’t be an easy road to happiness, but I believe they can do it. I love the passion between the two men, and the way Akihito doesn’t care about status or lack of it, he loves the man Katsuragi is and wants to be with him forever, even if he forfeits his own status and wealth to do so. Akihito is the seme in this relationship, and I wonder if Katsuragi’s accepting the role of uke is indicative of something in his past which we aren’t privy to yet. Only time will tell.

Ishizaki is proving to be a very good friend to Akihito. I have to believe his words spoken in anger to Katsuragi were simply a Freudian slip and that he wanted Katsuragi to do just what he did, in the hopes he would be able to talk some sense into Akihito. And now, with another candidate for head of the Kuze household looming on the horizon, what happens next remains to be seen. We’ll have to meet this other person to get a sense of his worth, or even his willingness to assume the Kuze title.

Wheels within wheels and a great deal of machination going on. Where will it end? No one knows. Loved this volume, can’t wait for the next one.

 

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 3 by Tito Kube

Bleach, Vol 3     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 12, 2004

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo and Rukia deal with the problem of the Mod Soul by inserting him into a stuffed lion and naming him Kon. Now Ichigo has two roommates – Kon and Rukia, who is sleeping in his closet.

The anniversary of Ichigo’s mother’s death arrives, and the Kurosaki family head to the cemetery to pay their respects. Ichigo’s friends know in advance not to expect him to be in school on that day. Surprisingly, when they arrive, they find Rukia there. Ichigo takes her aside to ask why, and she explains she wants to be near him in case a Hollow should show up.

Ichigo was nine when it happened. Even then, he could see dead people, but he couldn’t always distinguish between the living and the dead. So when he first saw the little girl standing by the river, he wanted to protect her and went to her. His mother, who was with him, came rushing after him. He didn’t see what got her, but when he looked she was dead. Since then, he’s blamed himself for her death.

Waiting for Ichigo, Rukia senses a hollow, although there hasn’t been an order. She and Ichigo hurry toward its spiritual pressure, which is close, only to discover Karin already there, on the ground. Worse than that, the same little girl is there who was by the river six years before, when his mother died. Will he be able to settle the past, or will the Hollow defeat Ichigo by dredging up his guilt surrounding his mother’s death?

Rukia pushes Kon into Ichigo’s body while he soul reaps, and she and Kon tend to Karin and Yuzu, taking them home, so Ichigo can do what he needs to do. Afterward, Rukia returns to Ichigo, but she’s promised not to interfere, as he says this is personal, and he has to do it. Can she keep from joining the fight, if Ichigo’s life is on the line?

This is a very poignant volume of Bleach and deals with a lot of what makes Ichigo tick, starting with his mother’s death, which changed him forever, and for which he blames himself.  Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship is strengthened. I have to believe that at some point they will become a couple, but as I’m 169 episodes into the anime and that hasn’t happened yet, I guess we have a ways to go before we see that happen.

The scene with Ichigo and his dad at the end is priceless. And having seen the anime, I realize something I hadn’t noticed before, but that would be shenanigans to call that out so soon, so you’ll just have to figure it out yourself or wait for the revelation, which is a ways off. Kon’s character has toned down, maybe because he’s stuck in the lion body or maybe because he isn’t in fear of being killed now, and he isn’t alone.

Next volume should be great, as we meet Don Kanonji!  Can’t wait!

 

Wednesday Briefs: June 19, 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 Eighty-eight by Cia Nordwell

“I don’t think so,” said Aparoe. “I found her right before we left the other ship. I never told anyone I did scans, but I was just as wary as you about unknown life signs after what we’d been through. I didn’t want to have any more surprises. But no one has tried to find her, like you think would happen if she was going to be used against Kohen.”

“You’d think telling your captain would have been on your agenda, at least,” Captain said. “How did you know this wasn’t part of the Elite’s plot? Or something else the

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Wednesday Briefs: June 12, 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 Eighty-seven by Cia Nordwell

“She?”

“Well, bearing young does not have to mean a female gender in all species, but it is the most common expression of gender identity for bearing species. She seems to be using your DNA and hers to create them, and you are male. I scanned the eggs and they show your distinct genetic make-up as well as hers, which is quite unique, as you know.” Aparoe turned and sat on a pile of rocks not far from the pool.

“You didn’t harm one of them to find that out, did you?” I asked, my stomach roiling at the thought 

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Book Review: Blue Morning, Vol 3 by Shoko Hidaka

Blue Morning, Vol 3     

Author: Shoko Hidaka

Publisher: SuBLime Publishing

American release date: November 12, 2013

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Yaoi/224 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Akihito is beginning to take greater control of Kuze family matters, much to Katsuragi’s surprise. All letters in regard to bank business are to go straight to Akihito. Meanwhile, Akihiko is paying his court to the fifteen-year-old Chikako, of the Sajo family, and spends their time together playing games with her. He realizes the gap that exists between the Sajos and the Kuzes, and intends to call upon the —Moriyama, as well as the Ashizakis. Meanwhile former houseboy Amimaya is visiting with the retired housekeeper, Kiku. He reveals to her some of his thoughts regarding Katsuragi, but the older woman makes no direct comment.

Akihito requests that Ashizaki act as his agent in the matter of his proposed marriage, explaining his reasoning behind this decision, which Ashizaki concurs with and agrees to help. But that help will come with a steep price. Is Akihito willing to pay such a price? Afterward, Akihito goes to Katsuragi, and initial conflict becomes into their usual method of resolution—lovemaking. Later, Katsuragi thinks on the original plans he made when he was first put in charge of Akihito’s education, the revenge he intended to extract for promises made to him but never kept, for unforgivable behavior toward him.  Has something changed now?

Akihito is not pleased that Katsuragi no longer dines with him. He tells the two highest ranking servants that they will dine with him from now on, which makes them uncomfortable. When Katsuragi arrives, Akihito informs him that he will be joining them as well.

When Amimaya returns to visit Kiku, he learns she has returned to her hometown, to his dismay. Furthermore, she has left instructions for him to clean every corner of the storehouse. Furthermore, her instructions emphasize papers that he will find there, given to her by Lord Kuze. Is this significant? Amimaya grasps what he perceives to be the meaning behind Kiku’s actions and agrees to do as she has requested. Maybe his lifelong dreams will come true after all.

Akihito seeks Katsuragi’s opinion on household matters, and as they work together, the butler does something quite unexpected—he kisses Akihito. A thrilled Akihito responds in kind, kissing Katsuragi’s hand. But the moment is spoiled when Katsuragi demands Akihito release him, and he walks away, to Akihito’s dismay.

The next day, Katsuragi receives a request for him to go to the storehouse, where Amimaya has something to tell him. Meanwhile, at school, Ishizake searches for and finds a despondent Akihito, who is no mood to talk. Ishizaki can only imagine what has him so upset, what is usually the cause of his upset—Katsuragi. Ishizaki knows what is being asked of Akihito, and he asks can he actually go through with it, but Akihito doesn’t want to listen and asks, instead, what message Ishizaki has from Katsuragi’s brother.

Amimaya lets loose some rather nasty accusations at Katsuragi. Akihito goes to see Katsuragi’s brother, and learns the former houseboy has made accusations of his own. But the elder Katsuragi also warns Akihito not to trust Tomoyuki.

Back at the Kuze manor, Akihito and Katsuragi now dine alone, as the other servants have begged off, due to their discomfort. Alone, they can talk more freely concerning what Amimaya has alleged.  Will this new information tear them apart or drive them closer together? What is Akihito willing to do in order to stay by Katsuragi’s side and raise the Kuze house, as he has sworn to do?

In this volume of Blue Morning, we learn about Katsuragi’s parentage, and we also get a glimpse into the boy he was, and the expectations he was raised to have by Akihito’s father. There are still pieces of that puzzle that are missing, and if they include, as I suspect, Katsuragi’s sexual abuse by the older Kuze, that will explain much. At the same time, we see more of Katsuragi’s own feelings for Akihito, as his tightly wound façade beings to unfurl at Akihito’s continued tenderness and unswerving loyalty, something he has received from no one before and certainly did not expect from the target of his own ambitions. No wonder he’s becoming confused and uncertain, as he never saw this coming. Will he embrace his feelings for Akihito or deny them in order to proceed with his plan? I’m leaning toward the former, but I am also a hopeless romantic. I’ll be very disappointed if this series ends and these two are not together and very much in love. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.

As usual, the artwork is superb, the story excellent. Both men are very lovely to look upon, but especially Katsuragi. I’m looking forward to the next volume.

 

 

Wednesday Briefs: June 5, 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 #55 (13.3) by Julie Lynn Hayes

“What time is Marge meeting us?” Ryan asked.

“I’m supposed to text her when we get in,” Ben said. “I think she said she’d meet us at our motel. Late afternoon, if I remember correctly.” He took a big bite of his sandwich then moaned, as though he’d just died and gone to heaven—sort of the way he sounded when they made love. Ryan thought he could watch Ben forever. Especially when he made faces like that.

Our motel. How Ryan loved the sound of that. He couldn’t wait to get Ben alone in a room of their own.  Not that he didn’t like being around the other guys, but he was always mindful of their close proximity at Cameron’s house. He liked the idea of complete privacy.

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