Monthly Archives: October 2019

Wednesday Briefs: October 30, 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 #76 (18.3) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Within minutes of Aiden sending a text, Deacon and Keanu were knocking at the door.

“Sorry to wake you,” Ryan apologized, out of habit, once they entered the room.

“Not a problem,” Deacon assured him. “This is way more important than sleep.”

“Not that we were asleep,” Keanu added with a knowing wink.

“Thanks for coming so quickly, guys,” Aiden said. He filled in the two men on what was happening, both the situation with Ben and the one with Abby and Cameron. “That’s why we need the van,” he finished. “We need to find Ben as soon as possible.”

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 8 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 8     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 3, 2005

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kiskue Uruhara is training Ichigo so that he can go to the Soul Society and rescue Rukia before she is executed. But Kiskue’s tests are… well, something else. In fact, some might call them extreme. This one is called encroachment, where the chain Ichigo is attached to at the bottom of a deep hole begins to devour itself. If they get too close to Ichigo, they’ll devour him. If he doesn’t get out of that hole within seven days, he’ll become a Hollow and they’ll have to put him down!

Meanwhile, Mr. Yoruichi, the talking cat, is training Orihime and Chad to prepare them to accompany Ichigo to the Soul Society. But so far results haven’t been the best. The feline tells them to remember what was going on when their powers first manifested, who did they want to protect.

Jinta and Ururu think Ichigo is transforming and want to dispatch him, but Kiskue bids them to wait. Ichigo finds himself in a strange place with a strange man in black, who tries to get Ichigo to realize who he is. A figure is seen emerging from the shaft, but is it Ichigo or a Hollow?

For the third test, Kiskue tells Ichigo to knock his hat off. Sounds simple, but nothing is every truly easy where Mr. Hat-and-clogs is concerned!

Back in the Soul Society, Byakuya pronounces sentence on Rukia, who seems resigned to her fate. Afterward, he is approached by two of the other captains—Gin Ichimaru of 3rd Squad and Kenpachi Zaraki of the 11th Squad. (An odd couple, indeed)

Ichigo is finding that it’s not as easy to knock off Kiskue’s hat as he imagined. Will Uruhara really kill him if he gets the chance? Or is that just a part of his training technique?

And where is Ishida? Why isn’t he training? Or does he really intend to stay out of this?

And what the heck is the Wall of Koryu, and just how dangerous is it?

This volume of Bleach is all about Ichigo and his companions preparing themselves to enter the Soul Society and rescue Rukia, a daunting task at best. There are so many questions that need to be answered! One advantage of reading the manga, even while watching the anime, is that the manga sometimes explains things I wondered about. Like how all these people stand around in the middle of the air as though they were on solid ground. Zangetsu explains to Ichigo that it is the reishi floating in the air that coalesces and allows the Soul Reapers to apparently stand on nothing. Good to know!

Kiskue Uruhara is a very strange and unusual character. The mysterious shop owner must have more to him than we can see, considering the powers he displays when training Ichigo. Who or what is he? Sorry, gotta wait for his backstory. Same with the talking cat.

With Bleach, never assume that what you see is what you get. Or that people are what they seem. I’ve been fooled by that before. More than once. This volume has a lot going on, but there are still questions.

How can Byakuya be so calm as to accept the execution of his sister? Why is she so resigned to such a fate? There has to be more to it than this. I believe, even when this situation is resolved, that the truth goes far deeper, and that even as far as I am in the anime, I don’t know everything. But I have my suspicions, which it’s too early to share. Let me just say that I believe everything happens for a reason and nothing is coincidence.

Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 4 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 4       

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: April 15, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Medusa uses Eruka to free a prisoner from the witch jail. Surrounded by prison guards, the prisoner shows why he is no ordinary man. Back at DWMA, Maka tells Soul, to his dismay, that she has requested special tutoring from Dr. Stein. Stein warns them that if they fail, they may never be able to match soul wavelengths again. But Maka decides to take the risk, wanting to get stronger so she will never put Soul into danger again. When Stein tells them what they need to do, it sounds simple in theory, but doesn’t exactly work out that way.

Make, Soul, Black Star, and Tsubaki are in London! While attempting to cross a bridge, they encounter the escaped prisoner, who’s now working for Medusa. They realize he is on Shinigami’s list, so think their assignment is off to a good start. But this man isn’t what he seems, and he is stronger than they think! Medusa watches from the sideline, waiting to see how Soul’s black blood will react to the situation.

Stein warns his students that it is almost time for his “ultimate written exam”, which is required for meisters and weapons alike. Some students are more excited than others, and Maka is determined to rise to the top of her class. Unknown to her, her father is sending her “good luck” vibes. Maka finds getting Soul to study is difficult at best, while Black Star’s methods leave something to be desired. As far as Death the Kid is concerned, he has no need to study because he’s a Shinigami.

Death the Kid and his father are in a rowboat being rowed by the Thompson Sisters investigating the sighting of a mysterious black dragon that has apparently bitten off part of the Baltic coast!  They come upon an old ratty ship, the ghost ship Nidhogg, and the pursuit is on! Presuming this is the terrifying Black Dragon, Kid and the girls board the ship ready to do battle. In the process, they learn disturbing news concerning the DWMA.

Maka confides in Dr. Medusa her concerns regarding the black blood she coughed up, but Medusa assures her all is well and offers her some medicine. Stein may be on to her. Suspicious, he sends Sid to investigate her, which doesn’t end well. Kid tries to speak to his father of his concerns, but that doesn’t go well either.

I love the humor in Soul Eater, and I love the characters Atsushi Ohkubo has created. I even think Maka’s dad is cute, although very flaky and unreliable. Soul and Black Star are goofy and immature, but they are both good boys underneath it all. Maka and Tsubaki provide the stability in their lives. I like Death the Kid too, even if he has issues of his own. I liked the adventure with Kid and the Thompson sisters on the ship. I think it’s the first time, I haven’t seen him leave the scene to check on a supposed asymmetry.

The arc with Medusa continues, Now that they seem to be on to her, hopefully they can take measures to counter everything she’s done or plans to do. We see Crona and Ragnarok again. Hopefully we’ll see the end of all of them soon, including this new guy, Free. I’m sure there will be other villains, of course.

Another good volume of Soul Eater, looking forward to the next one!

Wednesday Briefs: October 23, 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.

The Minnesota Murders: Part 1 by J Ray Lamb

Every news station in the Twin Cities was leading with the story the horrific discovery of a burning body in Black Dog park in Burnsville.

The body was burned beyond recognition and had been sent to the BCA for identification. Police were asking for any information regarding the case, but given the relatively remote location and easy in and out access to Interstate 35W, the chances of getting any good leads seemed remotely small.

Across the Twin Cities, in Andover, the murderer sat watching the news with sadistic glee.

The murderer flicked off the TV and said to themselves, “Yes! …

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Book Review: Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

Sword of Destiny (The Witcher series)     

Author: Andrzej Sapkowski

Publisher: Orbit

American release date: December 1, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy/LGBTQ/400 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Geralt of Rivia, known as the Witcher, returns in another collection of short stories chronicling his adventures.

The Bounds of Reason – The people Geralt does jobs for are not always appreciative, and are sometimes downright dishonest. Having almost had his personal possessions stolen, Geralt makes the acquaintance of a man called Borch, known as Three Jackdaws, and his girls, Téa and Véa, two Zerrikanian warriors. They travel together to an inn known as the Pensive Dragon, where they eat and drink well, and talk about things such as dragons. Taking to the road again, they attempt to cross a bridge, only to find their way barred by soldiers who insist that only those with a safe-conduct can go through, by orders of King Niedamir, Lord of Caingorn. They aren’t the first to be stopped from crossing, and among the others Geralt finds Dandelion, who mentions the King and a dragon. Apparently a dragon appeared on the pastures outside Barefield and now the hunt is on. Three Jackdaws, amused by the tale, offers to pay the bribe required to get them through the blockade, to search for the dragon. They run into the other groups who’ve been allowed past, including a group of dwarves, a cobbler named Sheepbagger and his contingent, a sorcerer named Dorregeray, and the sorceress Yennefer, whom Geralt hasn’t seen in four years.

A Shard of Ice – Geralt and Yennefer are living together in a town called Aedd Gynvael, which translates to a shard of ice. Something about this town is rubbing Gerald the wrong way. People seem to know things they aren’t telling him. When Geralt tells the mayor he doesn’t intend to stay for any length of time, the mayor suggests he might like to talk with the wizard Istredd. When Geralt goes to see him, his worst suspicions are confirmed.

Eternal Flame – Geralt runs across Dandelion, who is having a variety of objects lobbed at him by an angry woman. The two men head to the nearest inn, but Dandelion is broke, as usual, and Geralt has spent his unds on a new jacket. At the inn, they run across a Halfling of Dandelion’s acquaintance, Dainty Biberveldt, who is talked into buying them food and drink. Imagine their surprise when another Dainty Biberveldt burst into the room, the first one’s doppelganger. And the fun has just begun.

A Little Sacrifice – Geralt finds himself intervening between a lovesick duke and the object of his affections—a mermaid. The two would-be lovers are at an impasse, neither willing to concede what the other wants. The duke wants her to have legs and live on land, Sh’eenaz wants him to grow a tail and come into the sea with her.

Geralt and Dandelion are traveling together and broke. It’s Dandelion’s fault, but Geralt is not angry. When an opportunity arises for Dandelion to make some money, he acts as if what he is being offered is beneath him, but Geralt unhappily reminds him they need the money. His nose out of joint, since Geralt seems to pick and choose his jobs without commentary, Dandelion agrees to accept the offer with Geralt’s promise that he will accept the next job that comes his way.  As it turns out, another bard has also been hired for the occasion, one whom Dandelion knows—Miss Essi Daven, aka Little Eye.

Sometimes love requires a little sacrifice.

The Sword of Destiny – Geralt finds himself in Brokilon, which is not a safe place to be, as evidenced by the bodies he finds. Brokilon is a forest and it belongs to the dryads, who do not suffer intrusion lightly and do not hesitate to shoot their arrows at trespassers. Geralt finds one person still alive, a man he knows by the name of Frexinet. The wounded man begs Geralt to find a princess, and then they are attacked. Good thing Geralt has friends in high places. But is this something he wants to become involved in?

Destiny has a way of happening anyway.

Something More – While crossing a bridge, Geralt finds a merchant cowering beneath his wagon, having been abandoned by his companions. He convinces the merchant, whose name is Yurga, that he means no harm but that he needs to leave this place quickly as it is dangerous. Yurga begs Geralt to help him and he’ll give him anything he wants? Geralt says he wants whatever Yurga comes across on his return but did not expect, and Yurga agrees. However, in protecting Yurga, Geralt himself is gravely injured and Yurga must save him.

Sometimes what you ask for is something more.

This second collection of Witcher stories is every bit as good as the first. Andrzej Sapkowski takes what could have been an ordinary sword and sorcery tale and brings it to life. He gives depths to his characters, monster or human, and he does a great job of world-building. His action scenes are riveting, and I can see Geralt in my mind’s eyes, whirling and slashing and dodging and throwing up witcher signs.  I love Geralt, he is a great character and, despite his claims to the contrary, I believe he is more human than he lets on, capable of greater emotions than he thinks he is. I love Dandelion (although I would never date him, I much prefer Geralt). Together, they make a great team. I don’t care for Yennefer much, but I’m afraid we haven’t seen the last of her. In this book, we first meet Ciri. I know we’ll see more of her.

Geralt must have gone through hell to become a witcher, and that as a child. It’s inconceivable that someone could do that to a child, and yet apparently it happened. What an unnatural sort of mother was Geralt’s to allow this to happen. I love the theme of destiny that runs through the stories, and how everything works out because of it.

If you like the video game, you’ll love the books. Looking forward to the next one!

 

 

Wednesday Briefs: October 16, 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 24.1 by Carol Pedroso

Jenny kept her senses turned up full as she crept down the abandoned hallway. The dust was thick, showing no one had been down it in a long time, however, she didn’t want to take any chances. Faint voices pulled her forward and after a few yards, she put her ear to the wall.

She had to pull her head back slightly as Cheryl’s yelling voice echoed out.

“How did this happen? I told you none of those traitors were to be allowed to meet their mates.”

Another quieter voice answered, “The cat met his mate before they even arrived at the bears.

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Wednesday Briefs: October 9, 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 One Hundred and Four by Cia Nordwell

A hissing roar drowned out the shouts in the distance, and there was a flurry of activity around me. I still couldn’t see, couldn’t move, didn’t really want to. I was tired, so tired. In my short life, I’d lived lifetimes of pain and suffering, and I was done.

Regret pushed at the corners of my brain but not enough to want to stop it.

“Aparoe? He’s not breathing!”

“I’m trying. Stay calm, he needs you calm.”

“He’s not breathing! I can’t feel him! No! Get off me! Deke! Stop it!”

What was happening? Deke… that asshole had better… No.

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