Tag Archives: Julie Lynn Hayes

Book Review: Blue Morning, Vol 6 by Shoko Hidaka

Blue Morning, Vol 6   

Author: Shoko Hidaka

Publisher: SuBLime Publishing

American release date: September 13, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Yaoi/250 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Katsuragi has become uncertain, both of himself and his relation with Akihito. He thinks himself weak and useless because Akihito no longer blindly obeys him—so what purpose does he serve? While dressing the morning after, at Akihito’s hotel, he notices ragged garments in the closet and wonders why they are there. And why won’t Akihito get the haircut Katsuragi keeps telling him he needs?

Akihito meets with Ishizaki at a hot pot restaurant, which irks Ishizaki because it’s a hot day. Akihito says he is about to retire to Kamakura, under the pretense of his fake illness. Much has changed since the evening at the Moriyama’s, and thanks to the reporters Katsuragi arranged for, is common knowledge. For example that Ishizaki has become the Kuze house guardian. Madam Kayoko’s trip to France and her estrangement from her husband. Akihito’s “lung illness.” One reporter asked Akihito about the importance of producing an heir, but that won’t happen, not while he has Katsuragi. Ishizaki muses that things would be easier if Katsuragi were a woman.

Master Ishizaki informs Katsuragi that he has purchased a mill and wishes him to become the president and make a profit. He accepts the position. When he tries to drop off some papers with Amamiya, the new Kuze butler insists he deliver it to Akihito himself, and also deliver something from Katsuragi’s brother, Takayuki, who Akihito has entrusted with the financial affairs of the Kuze house. Katsuragi goes to the hotel and wakes Akihito, informing him the government railways have finally given their approval. Now Akihito can set up a railway in the old fief.

Ishizaki returns home from a late night out to find Katsuragi in his room. Katsuragi tells Ishizaki to not see the geisha he’s been seeing, and if he must continue the relationship, then he must allow Katsuragi to buy her out of bondage in his own name. Akihito meets with Katsuragi’s brother, who also remonstrates with him about his unruly hair. Akihito reiterates that he will be leaving for Kamakura, as planned. When Akihito says that he wishes Tomoyuki and Takayuki, as brothers, were closer, Takayuki responds with the comment that they are not related by blood, to which Akihito enigmatically replies, “Do you really think so?”

Katsuragi calls on Saionji and catches up with him. It seems his former lover knows him pretty well, including the fact that he loves Akihito. Saionji is happy himself, with his wife and new baby. Saionji gives Katsuragi some advice on what he should do. Later, Katsuragi goes to the mill. His employees are apprehensive about what their new boss will be like, fearful they will be blamed for past failures and be let go, but Katsuragi is not what they expected.

Even as Akihito makes plans to study abroad, he is concerned with Katsuragi, knowing he wishes to know about his origins, whether he voices his desire or not. Akihito and Amamiya visit Kiku’s old house, and Amamiya wonders what might have been, know that he knows about Akihito and Katsuragi. Akihito confides his plans for the future, once the railway is in place. Despite what Katsuragi may think, he does have the best interests of the Kuze house in mind, as well as his future with Katsuragi. Will he be able to persuade Katsuragi to come with him to Kamakura?

Each volume of this series is wonderful, I can’t get enough of these characters, even as I am left on the edge of my seat, wondering when they will finally be in sync with one another. The only way I will be happy is if they end up together at the end, nothing less will do. The artwork is superb, both men are very handsome, especially Katsuragi. She is very expressive in portraying their emotions in their faces. I can see the lust that glazes Katsuragi’s eyes, feel Akihito’s own wonder and joy as he gazes at the man he loves during their intimate moments. As to who will end up with the house of Kuze, I would not venture a guess. There is a whole lot going on, and the plot just keeps on getting deeper.

Can’t wait for the next one, one of the best yaoi manga ever!

 

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Book Review: The General’s Bride by M.F. Sullivan

The General’s Bride     

Author: M.F. Sullivan

Publisher: Painted Blind Publishing

American release date: August 14, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci Fi/LGBTQ/293 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

After the debacle in Jerusalem, Dominia finds herself in a place between worlds, walking with Lazarus and Valentinian to Cairo. As if that isn’t strange enough, every night, she finds and enters her father’s study and converses with the Hierophant as if that were the most natural thing in the world to do. However, there is an unnatural element at work here, a chimera that is coming to resemble Dominia’s late wife Cassandra more and more, to Dominia’s dismay. Is she upset because this creature is an insult to Cassandra’s memory, or is that she fears she won’t be able to resist the temptation of well-remembered flesh should she come to resemble Cassandra more strongly than she can bear?

Every morning, a knock comes on the Hierophant’s study door as Valentinian comes to retrieve Dominia. He returns her to the journey she is on with him and Lazarus. Sometimes she just looks at him, unable to believe he and Basil are one and the same. Dominia’s conversations with her father are both confusing and enlightening. Although she doesn’t entirely trust him, she doesn’t entirely distrust him either. And he’s oddly more forthcoming on many subjects than her enigmatic traveling companions. Sometimes she thinks Lazarus couldn’t give her a straight answer if his life depended on it. Her father warns her that her desire to resurrect Cassandra is not practical and that she is being lied to, and sometimes she just doesn’t know which way to turn – except  away from the creature which seems to resemble her late wife more and more.

Dominia isn’t sure who to believe or who to trust—everyone has their own agenda, including her. She wants to get to Cairo to retrieve Cassandra’s diamond from Miki Soto. Lazarus and Valentinian claim they want to save mankind by sending the martyrs to the far away planet of Acetia. But how can it be right to condemn an entire people for the actions of a few? Did the Hierophant come from there? There is evil on both sides, but which is the true evil?

Dominia’s journey to Cairo will be a long one, and certainly not straightforward as she finds herself in strange places, among strange people and begins to doubt everyone and everything she knows. If they are her friends, why aren’t they with her, to save her? Why does it sometimes seem as though her Father has her best interests at heart? It seems as though Dominia can only rely on herself, but will she be enough to see her through what is to come?

The General’s Bride is every bit as riveting as The Hierophant’s Daughter as Dominia continues her journey to Cairo to retrieve the remains of her wife, held in a diamond which was stolen by Miki Soto. This is indeed a mindblowing story of people and worlds and forces beyond the ken of most of us, forces that defy and shape the very laws of physics and reality. Dominia has choices to make, most of them not easy ones, and she learns that her own wishes aren’t necessarily in her own best interest and aren’t necessarily the right path to take. People aren’t necessarily what she thought they were, and there is indeed a blurred line betwixt good and evil. Even the Hierophant straddles that line, and it’s impossible to hate him as unequivocally as she thought she did for sometimes he says the most remarkable things.

Although I love Dominia, my favorite character is still the Hierophant, so I rejoiced every time he appeared. M.F. Sullivan’s writing voice is superb. She blows your mind with descriptions of metaphysical worlds and ideas, asking questions which make you truly think about what you know or think you know. Her characters are so well-drawn that you feel as if you’ve known them forever as she sucks you into the trajectory of their lives. I wish this journey could go on forever, but I know there’s only one more book, and I’m fearful that it will contain the death of the Hierophant. Nonetheless, I look forward to it and I’ll hope for the best until something else happens.

This book is every bit as good as the first one. I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Soul Eater, Volume 3 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 3     

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: March 3, 2015

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Soul is hospitalized, following the fight with Ragnarok, unaware that some of the creature’s black blood has mixed in with his. What they are all unaware of is that the witch Medusa has become a doctor at the hospital! That can’t be good! A depressed Maka blames herself for Soul being hurt, but as she leaves his hospital room, she finds her father waiting for her. She goes up to the roof with him to watch the sunset.

Black Star balks at the remedial lesson he’s been assigned by Sid—he’s charged with cleaning and straightening up the library. Not sure where to begin, he runs across the library’s collection of manga, to his delight. When he expresses his joy a little too loudly, he draws the ire of Death the Kid, who is also there. Not accidentally, as Black Star assumes, but very much on purpose. Death tells him he’s looking for a book about a legendary blade, call the “holy sword” known as Excalibur. Dr. Stein weighs in and tells them even he could not draw Excalibur. So naturally Black Star and Death the Kid want to twith hiry their hand at it! Although, perhaps this isn’t quite the adventure they were looking for.

Tsubaki accepts an assignment to deal with the Uncanny Sword Masamune, even though Shinigami-sama warns her it will be a hard fight. But she feels compelled to do it, mostly because Masamune is her older brother! She and Black Star head to the village she came from. Black Star is his usual loud self. But when a villager notices his tattoo and recognizes it for what it is, Black Star’s story begins to come out. When they find Masamune, Black Star battles him, using Tsubaki. But the fight is ultimately Tsubaki’s, and she’ll do what she must, even if that includes getting into her brother’s head.  Black Star sets up a vigil beside Tsubaki’s body and vows to wait for her as long as it takes.

In the hospital, Soul confides to Medusa about his strange dream, which has a disturbingly Twin peaks vibe and ends in the same disturbing way—with him coming out of Maka’s stomach! Medusa tells him not to worry about it. On his release, Maka throws a party for him at their apartment, and Blair gives Make and Death the Kid quite a shock. Suddenly, Maka is startled at the realization that there is a presence in Death City that should not be there.

I especially enjoyed seeing more of Tsubaki in this volume of Soul Eater. She doesn’t usually get as much attention as Black Star, probably because he’s a hog for the spotlight and she is much quieter. Her interaction with her brother is touching. I also liked watching Black Star and Death the Kid in their quest to draw Excalibur from the stone. The cover, featuring Death the Kid and the Thompson sisters, is great. As usual, I love the artwork. I liked seeing a more tender, Dad side of Maka’s father. Too bad I don’t think it’ll last. He always manages to do something wrong sooner or later.

Another great volume, looking forward to more of the same!

Wednesday Briefs: August 14, 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 52 by J. Alan Veerkamp

The cargo door slammed shut with Arad’s hand on the access pad. Green text switched to red.

***LOCKED — Rank Access Enabled***

The Ansariland would only allow a captain or above to open the door and grant access to supplies and the sleeping DemiShou inside. When it was still the Midas Ascending, Arad remembered Serene’s attitude and all the restrictions based on his status. Repeating the process made him feel a bit hypocritical, but he promised to protect Shichi and Hachi, and he refused to break his word. The Nightingale’s crew didn’t need to know about them to repair the ship.

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Book Review: Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy (Reluctant Royals 2.5)     

Author: Alyssa Cole

Publisher: Avon Impulse

American release date: February 19, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: eBook/Contemporary Romance/LGBT/384 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Being the personal assistant to a prince has its ups and downs, even for the very efficient Likotski Adele. One of the downsides is that her personal life, what little she has, tends to suffer. At one time, she didn’t mind so much, but ever since she met Fabiola C on an Internet dating site, life has not been the same. From the moment she’d seen Fab’s picture, Likotski had been intrigued, and meeting her did nothing to change her opinion. Everything was great… until it wasn’t. Until Fab coldly and unexpectedly broke up with her, citing Likotski’s leaving as the reason.

Now Likotski is back in New York with the prince and his princess, and she can’t stop thinking of Fab.

The past is past, and Likotski is determined to let go, aided by the new shoes given her by her father for Christmas. His note said: New shoes point toward the future…. But how can she think of the future when her heart lies in the past? Now Likotski is taking some time for herself, visiting a list of places she’s made up for herself. While on the subway, she receives an unexpected text from a source she does not recognize. Is Fate so cruel that she should run into the one woman she is trying to forget in a city the size of New York? Or is it that Fate is not done with them yet and has something else to say?

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy is a Reluctant Royals novella, and it packs a sweet punch in its short length. In the first book, A Princess in Theory, we see Likotski secretly and happily but love, but something goes horribly wrong, although she never reveals what that is. In this novella, we find out exactly what that something was, and who it involved. A chance meeting on the subway brings Likotski and Fab back together, but can they get past the things that kept them apart before? Communication is key to any good relationship, but neither one is very forthcoming. Something has to change if they have a change of making it together.

This was a very sweet story, very romantic. I hope we see more of this couple in future books, but this novella was just perfect, and I enjoyed it greatly. I recommend it to anyone who is reading the series.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Briefs: August 7, 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 51 by J. Alan Veerkamp

“I wasn’t sure anyone would get the message this far out. The ship had a bad fold jump and the main engine’s dead. I don’t suppose you have a mechanic on board?” Never show how truly desperate you are unless it gets you somewhere. A rule born on the streets of Grey District. The Ansariland needed aid, but Arad didn’t know Captain Hodge and couldn’t be sure the man wouldn’t exploit the situation.

“Sure do. The Nightingale’s a cargo vessel specializing in medical tech transport. We wear a fair number of hats on this crew to keep up. How long you been out here?”

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Wednesday Briefs: July 31, 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 50 by J. Alan Veerkamp

Roku tensed under Arad, and not in a carnal way. His eager erection flagged, and slid from its welcome home to slump between his thighs, the moment lost. The interruption gnawed at Arad. In full force, the craving stupidly urged him to finish what he’d started and answer the com afterwards. Thankfully he had enough sense not to listen to the newfound demands of his sex drive.

Before he tried to continue, he climbed from Roku’s lap and unlocked the cuffs using the key on the console. Fun time was over. Roku practically pounced on Franc’s old station, where sensors struggled to pull basic information from the incoming call.

Click here to read the entire Brief:

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