Monthly Archives: September 2019

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 7 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 7     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 15, 2005

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Rukia has been confronted by two Soul Reapers, newly arrived from the Soul Society, who have announced their intention to take her back to Soul Society—for her trial and execution—when unexpected assistance arrives in the form of Uryu Ishida. Ishida claims to just be in the neighborhood, going to a 24-hour dressmaking shop. No one’s actually buying that. Meanwhile, Ichigo comes across a trussed-up, smelly Kon behind the toilet. Once freed, Kon tells Ichigo that Rukia is gone and left a note, which they have to decipher. Once the message is read, Ichigo decides to go after her, but he has a problem—he can’t become a Soul Reaper without Rukia’s help! What can he do? Luckily help arrives in an unexpected form, and Ichigo is soon on his way.

He arrives just to time to find Ishida laid out flat. One of the Soul Reapers, Renji Abarai, can’t figure out who or what Ichigo is, and Ichigo isn’t exactly forthcoming on details. The other Soul Reaper is Renji’s Captain (or taichou), Byakuya Kuchiki, and he has heard of Ichigo. Renji has to laugh when he learns that Ichigo has no idea what his zanpaku-to’s name is! Renji has seriously misjudged Ichigo, though. In the ensuing battle, Ichigo is felled, presumably killed, to Rukia’s horror. But you can’t keep a good man down (and seriously, what hero dies at the beginning of a manga?), and Ichigo regains his feet, determined to keep fighting. Rukia has to act fast, so she does, announcing rather loudly that she will return to Soul Society with her brother and Renji.

Ichigo is saved by the same savior as before, who is none other than Kiskue Uruhara, whom Ichigo refers to as Hat-and-clogs. Ichigo expresses his frustration at not being able to get to Soul Society to save Rukia. The enigmatic Kiskue says he knows how, but he’ll only tell Ichigo if he agrees to train with him for ten days. Otherwise, he says, Ichigo will die if he tries to save her. Of course Ichigo agrees. Meanwhile, unknown to him, Orihime and Chad and Ishida end up together, also determined to go to Soul Society to save Rukia. They end up with a rather unusual mentor of their own.

Kiskue’s training isn’t easy. The question is, can Ichigo survive it, or will he turn into his own worst nightmare?

Watching the anime as well as reading the manga gives me a somewhat unique perspective, and lets me pick up on things in the manga that I don’t remember from the anime. This volume is a good example. At one point, when it looks as though Byakuya has killed Ichigo, he comments that he somewhat understands Rukia’s motives, that Ichigo does resemble him. Who’s him? And why wasn’t this in the anime? Or did I miss it? Hmmm, keeping an eye on that one.

I have to say that Rukia, at this point in the manga, isn’t nearly as doom and gloom as she is in the anime. I love how Tite Kubo sets up so many questions, many of which won’t be answered for a long time to come. To keep us wondering, I guess lol One such mystery is Kiskue Uruhara. He obviously isn’t just another shopkeeper, despite his attempts to appear innocuous and innocent. But first off, he knows about Soul Reapers and he sells their merchandise to Soul Reapers in the Land of the Living. So why is he there? What about his mysterious employees – the large Tessai, and the children, Ururu and Jinta? And a talking cat? I know there’s a story there.

This volume is the beginning of the Rescue Rukia arc (not sure what the official name is but that works for me). Forces are gathering, plans are being made, and everyone is preparing to fight the entire Soul Society if necessary in order to save Rukia’s life. This is our first glimpse of Renji and Byakuya. They grow on you, trust me. Especially Renji. The jury’s still out on Byakuya, ‘cause frankly he has a major stick up his backside and an attitude for days. Ishida grows on you too, although right now he’s something of a pain too. But Renji is a pretty good guy. Some of my favorite characters have yet to appear, looking forward to that.

All in all, a good volume, and a good set-up for what’s to come.

Wednesday Briefs: September 25, 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.

Here Kitty Kitty: Chapter 23.4 by Carol Pedroso

Tristan winced at the sharp sting as Carl’s claw cut into his palm. He quickly held his hand over the bowl and four drops of bright red blood fell in before the cut magically sealed itself.

“Chant and keep chanting until I tell you to stop,” Nev murmured into Tristan’s ear. Tristan nodded and began the chant.

The rush of power that rushed through him almost made him falter but he managed to stay on track and not miss a word.

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Book Review: Innocence and Carnality by J. Alan Veerkamp

Innocence and Carnality       

Author: J. Alan Veerkamp

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

American release date: April 23, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/LGBT Romance/350 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Nathan is a bird in a gilded cage. A member of the Deilian aristocracy, his life is proscribed by a series of rigid rules. But something goes horribly wrong when his “inclination” is discovered—that is, his homosexuality. Suddenly he has become the black sheep of his family, and his future looks bleak indeed, as the people of Deilia do not tolerate such behavior. Nathan’s father has him fitted with a chastity belt to keep his virtue intact until such time as he can find him someone who is willing to wed him, sacrificing his very dignity in the process.

Nathan’s father eventually comes up with a husband for his wayward son… enter Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III. He shows up one day and is unlike anyone Nathan has ever met. He is quite open about being gay, and is very obviously interested in Nathan. The wedding takes place right away—this is a man who doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet when he wants something—and he whisks his handsome and innocent young husband off to the strange and seductive land of Marisol.

Delaga House is not what Nathan expected. In fact there’s no way around it, it is a bordello. With some very interesting occupants.  Such as Alexandra, the very competent manager, and Blythe, the rather large bodyguard with a mind of his own and a mouth to match, and Vivian, who has a sharp tongue and an inflated sense of her own importance. Luckily, Nathan has brought his valet Harston with him, with whom he is close, someone to anchor him in this strange land.

Thanks to his strict upbringing, Nathan has trouble adjusting to the sensuality of his new life, but it feels oh so good. And just when he thinks maybe life as a married man in Marisol will be good, he the blinders torn from his eyes. Has he traded one kind of cage for another? Where can he turn and who can he trust? If he doesn’t lost his innocence and learn how to deceive, he will never survive the experience.

Innocence and Carnality is my first book by J. Alan Veerkamp, but it won’t be my last. I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since I saw snippets of it in our writer’s group. It was well worth the wait. It’s sci fi with a definite steampunk vibe that I love. I especially loved Nathan, and enjoyed reading about his journey, and the things he had to do to survive as he became less and less innocent through necessity. The author has a wonderful writing style that flows easily, and he creates very memorable characters. The sex scenes are very hot and steamy and very explicit.

If there is a lesson one can take away from this book, perhaps it’s that there are no absolutes with good and bad, and what may seem to be good may not be, and what is looked down on as bad might be just a matter of understanding. I think this book would make an awesome movie.

In all good books, a character should grow in some way, not simply exist. Veerkamp has accomplished that with young Nathan, who not only experiences new things, but learns from them and develops as a person. You can’t help but cheer for him and hope he rises above the bad in his life in the end in order to emerge triumphant. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy men having hot steamy sex but are also a romantic heart, and liked it with a touch of sci fi.

Well done, J. Alan, well done indeed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Briefs: September 18, 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 57 by J. Alan Veerkamp

The Nightingale’s gymnasium fostered a seed of jealously in Arad. Sleek, well-equipped and more square footage than the Ansariland’s, it was a beautiful thing. A padded sparring ring sat dead center with everything surrounding it, including the crew as spectators.

Vosh entered from the adjacent locker room wearing only a snug pair of black shorts. Less defined than Roku, he still packed an impressive furry physique. Meaty and powerful, the man was big everywhere. The clinging shorts proved that. Arad’s full attention flashed to Roku as he stripped out of his shirt. Muscles flexed and tensed as he readied himself.

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Wednesday Briefs: September 11, 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 #69 (17.2) by Julie Lynn Hayes

When the first set ended, the band took a break and the dance club switched to a computerized music system. Ryan expected Ben to take a seat at the table he was sharing with Marge and relax before the next set, but apparently Ben had other ideas. Standing in front of Ryan, he reached for his hand as he swung his hips to the rhythm of the music that surged around them.

“C’mon, baby, let’s you and me shake it up a little!’

How could Ryan refuse such an invitation?  He couldn’t.

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Book Review: Blue Morning, Vol 7 by Shoko Hidako

Blue Morning, Vol 7     

Author: Shoko Hidaka

Publisher: SuBLime Publishing

American release date: March 13, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Yaoi/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Akihito finds one of his father’s old suits and tries it on, only to find it fits him as if it were made for him. He has a reason for dressing this way. He’s going to pay a visit to the dying head of the Katsuragi house. Meanwhile, Tomoyuki is returning to the Ashizaki house, along with Amamiya, having spent the night with Akihito. Now he has to face the anger of Saemon Ashizaki.

On Akihito’s arrival at the Katsuragi house, he is met by Takayuki Katsuragi, who is highly displeased at this unannounced visit, fearing it’s being done to cause him to lose face. Akihito insists he has no desire to place Tomoyuki as head of the Kuze house, he merely wishes to speak with Takamasa Katsuragi before it’s too late.

Soichiro returns home to find Katsuragi in his room, and he’s surprised to find the man has been drinking. Not surprising considering what happened between him and Soichiro’s father. They speak of Akihito and his plans to spend the summer at Kamakura before leaving for his studies in England.

When Akihito, dressed in his father’s suit, is finally permitted to see Takamasa Katsuragi, the dying man confuses him with his father, and at Akihito’s urging, begins to spin a tale going back some thirty-odd years. Afterward he retires to Kamakura. Time passes, and summer is nearly gone, but no sign of Katsuragi.

Katsuragi and Soichiro have a confrontation regarding the latter’s marriage, as well as the geisha he loves, but it’s not satisfactory to him, even after Katsuragi explains his reasoning. He dismisses Katsuragi peremptorily, tells him to get out.

Things are surely coming to a head in this series, truths are coming out, revealing a complicated web of lies. Akihito has learned that which Tomoyuki yearns to know, and is about to tell him the truth. Surely, using this information, they can find a way to stay together and be together, as equals? I believe that is what it all comes down to in the end, finding the common ground on which they can be equal partners, not master and servant, and free to live their lives together.

Even so, I worry that there are forces who may work against them. At this juncture, although Soichiro has long been supportive of their relationship, right now he is angry, so there’s no telling what he may do. His father is angry too. I think the next volume is the last one, and should be here in just a few months. I’m looking forward to seeing these two men get the happy ending they deserve.

Another great volume, waiting anxiously for the next one!

Wednesday Briefs: September 4, 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.

 

Here Kitty Kitty; Chapter 23.2 by Carol Pedroso

Kitryn sighed as he looked around the group sitting at the extended conference table. Three more elders had arrived. Elder Jamison was a fae representative who was also a friend of Carl’s; Elder Orion was a dwarf who was short even for his kind and had to sit on a booster seat to be able to reach the table comfortably. Lastly, there was Elder Dorian who was a Goblin. He had a habit of tapping his claws on the table and Kitryn was getting close to asking if someone had some handcuffs he could borrow.

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