Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #10 (2.6)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Evan has followed Chan to his apartment, still playing their game of the State Trooper and the speeder, and now they've taken the next step when Evan carries Chan into his bedroom! Chan has never brought anyone to his home before, and he can't wait for Evan to be inside him. See what's going on in this week's chapter of Super Trooper! Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!

Super Trooper #10 (2.6)

This must be how a bride feels on her wedding day.

Chan was almost giddy with excitement, secure within the warmth of Evan’s strong arms. He couldn’t decide which fantasy appealed to him more—the wedding day scenario or the trooper and the speeder story. Then he decided it didn’t really matter, as long the end result was the same. He would just follow Evan’s lead and do as he instructed.

Chan had a full-sized bed, which he’d acquired second-hand when he moved into the apartment, one which was more than adequate for his needs. He’d never brought anyone he’d dated to his home before. His limited experience with men until now had been conducted in small motels, far off the beaten path and away from prying eyes.. He hadn’t disliked the sex he’d had but afterward he was always left feeling that something was missing. That there was something not quite right about what had happened—a feeling which was only enhanced when both of his partners lost interest in him shortly after he slept with them.

Something inside of him told him this time would be very different from those other occasions.
Within moments of entering his bedroom, Chan found himself lying flat on his bed, Evan prone on top of him. Enough light filtered in through the blinds on his window, which he kept slightly open, that he had a good view of Evan’s sexy face. Expecting Evan to tell him what he wanted him to do, he was pleasantly surprised when the trooper kissed him instead, over and over and over, as if he couldn’t get enough of Chan. A light stubble brushed against Chan’s cheeks but it was surprisingly soft, not scratchy. Like the man himself. Chan resisted the urge to purr, but moaned instead, deep inside his throat, a sound which was echoed by Evan.

Not sure what he should do with his hands, Chan waved them at indecisively at first, before he found the courage to reach for Evan. He hadn’t been told not to, so he deduced this must be permitted. Besides, he wanted to so badly, he was willing to take a chance on being wrong. He slid his fingers into the longer hair on top of the blond’s head, gripping him firmly as he arched into Evan’s touch. It would be impossible for the other man to miss the signs of Chan’s arousal as he rubbed against him. Just as he couldn’t mistake Evan’s own interest in him.

Up close like this, Evan smelled incredible. A familiar scent he couldn’t quite place. Maybe a touch of citrus? A little musk. And something that was probably Evan.  Also, Evan tasted better than any man he’d ever kissed. Chan felt as though he could lie in Evan’s arms and kiss him for hours, although, to be honest, he was hoping for more.

Evan obviously had the same idea. He released Chan’s lips after leaving a last lingering kiss. He traced Chan’s mouth with his tongue then began to lick along his jaw, up to his ear. He drew the earlobe into his mouth and sucked on it, sending tingles shooting through Chan. He relaxed his grip on Evan’s hair and slid his hands down toward his back, wishing he could feel flesh rather than material.

“Undress me,” Evan whispered hotly in Chan’s ear, as if reading his mind. “Undress me if you want me naked.”

Was that even a question? Of course he did.

With a sudden movement that took Chan’s breath away, Evan reversed their positions. Now Chan found himself sitting on top of the sexy trooper, looking down at him. And his desire for Evan was overcoming his normally shy nature. Feeling inexplicably emboldened, he reached for the buttons of Evan’s long sleeve shirt and began to release them, one by one, revealing pale flesh beneath. Once all the buttons were undone, he pushed back the material, baring Evan’s chest.

Acting on an urge he’d never felt before, he leaned down and took one of Evan’s pink nipples into his mouth and began to suckle. The response was instantaneous. Now Evan arched beneath him, his body vibrating.

“Yes,” he moaned. “Oh yes, just like that.”

Continuing to suckle, Chan reached for the other nipple and pincered it, producing more moans. Chan wanted to have more of this flesh, wanted to see that glorious body naked beneath him. Just as he’d been instructed to do, he turned his attention to divesting Evan of his clothing. He unlatched the huge silver belt buckle and pushed it back before pressing the palm of one hand against Evan’s crotch, enjoying the feel of the firm bulge there. He couldn’t help but lick his lips in anticipation as he lowered the zipper.

No underwear. Was that a sign or what?

Evan’s cock sprang out when released, and it was a beautiful sight to behold. Forgetting for a moment what he was meant to be doing, Chan leaned down and took the head into his mouth. It tasted as glorious as the rest of the man himself.

to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 18 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 18       

Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: April 3, 2007
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

The time has arrived for Rukia’s execution, the Sokyoku has been released and Rukia has been strapped to the scaffold. She awaits her fate with resignation, grateful to those who attempted to rescue her. The halberd assumes its true form as the firebird king, ready to impale Rukia and complete the sentence. Only a deus ex machina can save her now.

And here one is, in the person of Ichigo Kurosaki! And Ichigo is single-handedly holding back the firebird king itself!  How can that be? Instead of being grateful, Rukia calls him a fool and asks him why he came back, warning him Byakuya will surely kill him this time. Meanwhile, the spectators below are marveling at what has happened and wondering who in the world was able to do that.
Before the bird can strike a second time, which would surely be fatal to them both, Ukitake arrives, to Kyoraku’s relief, and proceeds to destroy the Sokyoku. At that, Ichigo destroys the scaffold and takes Rukia in hand. Can her rescue possibly be this easy?

Of course not.

Ichigo tosses Rukia down to Renji and tells him to take her to safety, as he turns to confront Byakuya. Sai Fon sends her people after those who are working to rescue Rukia, then finds herself facing a foe of her own—her former captain, Yoruichi! Ukitake and Kyoraku are about to attempt to talk to Sai Fon, but they are called to task by the Head-Captain himself, and have no choice but to face him down together!

This volume of Bleach is certainly not lacking in action. Everybody seems to be fighting against someone! And the lines between the good guys and the bad guys is most definitely blurred, as two captains—the first two captains to graduate from the Soul Reaper Academy—choose to do what they believe to be right, even if it means defying old man Yama.

Ichigo is his usual cocky self. Remember he’s only fifteen, and still believes himself invincible. But besides that, he has strong sense of honor, as well as a strong desire to protect his family and friends from harm. He won’t allow Rukia to give up, no matter what, a very admirable sentiment indeed. I don’t find manga-Rukia nearly as wishy-washy as I did anime-Rukia. Maybe that’s because we are more privy to her inner thoughts in the manga than in the anime.

I was especially thrilled to see so much of Shunsui in this volume, especially as he is so obviously on the side of right. He and Ukitake are such good friends and so very much in sync with one another. It’s very heart-warming. (On the other hand, although I write fanfiction, I have no desire to slash them, although I’m fairly sure that’s been done already. I don’t see either one of them as being gay, and they certainly aren’t written that way. I mean, have you ever watched Shunsui with the women? Seriously?) One thing about the manga that I love is that I sometimes end up having questions answered that bothered me from watching the anime. Such as what’s wrong with Ukitake. He’s always treated as if he’s fragile and might keel over at any moment. But common sense says that if he’s strong enough to become a Soul Reaper, he’s not a wilting flower either. Well, the answer is at the back of this volume, which has bios of both Ukitake and Shunsui. Apparently Ukitake has a lung ailment! That explains much and answers that question.

I like the little vignettes in between chapters involving those left behind in the World of the Living. Kon (in Ichigo’s body) has become involved in a soccer game with Jinta and Ururu and Karin, and notices that Jinta has his Kon body! The result is hilarious and is still ongoing.

I liked the scenes between Yoruichi and Sai Fon. I think you’d have to be pretty blind not to realize that Yoriuchi and Kiskue are a couple. But also, Sai Fon has a huge crush on Yoruichi, which probably contributes to her behavior at times.

With most of the strength of the Sereitei arrayed against them, can Ichigo and his friends pull off this daring rescue? Only time will tell. Looking forward to the next volume!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Book Review: The Killing Moon (Dreamblood #1) by N.K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, Book 1)     

Author: N.K. Jemisin
Publisher: Orbit Books
American release date: 2012
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy /448 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Guajareh is a city of peace, prospering under the loving guidance of Prince Eninket. Even in death is peace, for that is the job of the Gatherers of the city. They ease souls into Ina-Karekh through the most beautiful of dreams. The Gatherers serve the Goddess, Hatawa. They work primarily at night, under the auspices of the Dreaming Moon. One such Gatherer is Ehiru. He is given a commission to ease a man of the Bromarte, Charleron of Wenkinslan. But things do not go as they should, and Charleron tries to warn Ehiru that he is being used. Disturbed, Ehiru returns to the Hatawa, expecting to be reprimanded, concerned for his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Nijiri. Despite what has happened, though, he is given a new commission from the Prince himself, who is Ehiru’s brother.

Nijiri had been meant to have Una-une as his mentor, but the man’s untimely death has changed that, and he has been placed under Ehiru’s wing instead. Nijiri is not opposed to the change, although saddened by the reason, for he has deep feelings for Ehiru, despite the fact that his new mentor is forty years of age. He has known Ehiru for most of his life and would do anything for him. To Nijiri, age is immaterial, as well as gender, although he knows it is not allowed for Gatherers to indulge in such passions. But being near Ehiru and learning from him are enough for Nijiri.

Sunandi is from the neighboring country of Kisua, sent to Gujaareh by her master Kinja She Kalabsha to study Gujaareen magic as part of her apprenticeship. But that doesn’t mean that the two countries agree in the way they do things. Sunandi senses something wrong in Gujaareh. If only her master hadn’t died.  She finds Prince Eninket charming, and rather seductive. Doesn’t mean she trusts him. And she certainly can’t afford to let him find out what her true purpose is in being there.

Sunandi is summoned to a meeting with General Niyes, who shows her something shocking, and relates to her the strange events of the past few years. He tells her that war is imminent and that she must carry the news back to Kisua as soon and as stealthily as possible. He warns her that her life may be in danger, and the sooner she and her servant Lin leave the better.

That night, however, an unexpected presence turns up in her room—a Gatherer and his apprentice, whose purpose is to send her to Ina-Karekh. Sunandi makes Ehiru see that his so-called commission is nothing less than assassination, sowing seeds of doubt in his mind. When he becomes convinced that she is telling the truth, and that politics are at play here, he realizes he must keep her safe for the sake of all.

This book was recommended to me by my daughter-in-law, and I am so glad she told me about it! N.K. Jemisin weaves a fascinating world, a unique world, with many strange concepts and many people. At first, I was focused on remembering who was who and stumbling over the strange words and ideas, but suddenly I found myself very immersed in the story and the names became real people to me, and I realized I was hooked.

Ehiru is a very conflicted man, whose beliefs are crumbling around him, barely able to hang on, if not for the love and support of Nijiri. Nijiri is wise beyond his years, and it’s hard not to like him, as well as Sunandi. The author modeled much of the belief system and the countries in her novel after those of ancient Egypt, while also drawing on Freud and Jung. The concept of easing people into death seems meant to be a loving form of euthanasia, but obviously there is much room for abuse in such a system.

At the heart of this story is a tale as old as time itself—power and greed, the eternal struggle between right and wrong, life and death,  recognizing what is right and finding the strength and courage to do what must be done. I loved these people so much that I hated to see the book end. Good thing there are two more, even though the first one is filled with a fair amount of heartbreak. I will have to look for more of Jemisin’s books after I finish this trilogy. She is an awesome writer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #9 (2.5)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Evan and Chan are engaged in a little role play - the State Trooper and the speeder. Having pulled Chan over for "speeding," Evan offers him a chance to prove he's sorry. See what's going on in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #9 (2.5)

Evan was operating strictly on primal instinct. He’d never done anything even remotely like this before, never even considered the possibility. If you had asked him before this what were the chances of his pulling over a motorist, while not in uniform, to pretend to give him a ticket, and then locking lips with him, right there in public, he would have said that could never happen. Would never happen.

And yet here he was, and it just had.

Chan’s lips were soft against his own, comfortable and inviting. He lightly brushed against them with the tip of his tongue and they parted in response. Suddenly aware of how much he wanted to tangle his tongue with the other man’s, and that perhaps the side of the road was not the proper place for such a display, Evan reluctantly drew back. But not until he’d savored a little more of Chan’s sweet breath.

Now what? They weren’t exactly playing by the rules, at least none that he was aware of. Naturally, he had no intention of giving Chan a citation, speeding or otherwise. All Evan knew was that he wanted him, wanted him very badly. And if Chan’s reactions were any indication, he wanted Evan just as badly. He knew the situation wasn’t like any he’d ever been in before with other men. But something about Chan attracted him, and he was determined to explore that attraction and see where it led, even if that was only to a single night of passion.

In the back of his head, a little voice warned Get off the road. Now. Good advice which also dovetailed with his own agenda.

“Since you seem sincere, and perhaps you didn’t realize just how fast  you were driving,  I think perhaps I can allow you to show me how contrite you are,” Evan said at last, bringing his heavy breaths under control. “But not here. Here’s what we’ll do. I want you to continue to drive to your place of residence. I’ll be right behind you. Once we are… alone… we can… discuss the matter further.”

Chan’s smile was intoxicating. “Yes, sir. I would like that.”

Evan couldn’t refrain from kissing him again before tearing himself away from Chan so he could return to his car. Strictly speaking, he probably shouldn’t have used either the lights or the siren when he wasn’t engaged in the pursuit of an actual suspect. But he realized nobody who passed by the two vehicles would notice what he’d done or think anything about it either, grateful not to be the object of his attention. Besides, using them made what they were doing more realistic, which was an ultimate turn-on. He quickly killed the lights and waited as Chan started his car and pulled back onto the highway.

Evan had already done his homework earlier in the day, after he’d taken Chan’s license. He knew that Chan lived in a small apartment complex on the outskirts of Tucker Falls. He’d been on calls in the area before, assisting local law enforcement, but on the whole it was a quiet area. No high rise apartments these, they were single floor dwellings, more like duplexes than apartments, with common areas behind the buildings for parking. Arriving at the correct address, he followed Chan into one such area, parking his state issued vehicle beside the other man’s compact.

They exited their cars at the same time. Chan seemed a little nervous, unsure of himself, so Evan decided to take matters in hand to help put him more at ease. Pocketing his keys, he approached Chan with sure strides and gave him a confident smile, momentarily forgetting that he was supposed to be barking orders according to their role play. “Lead the way,” he encouraged him.

He followed Chan up a set of concrete steps flanked by wooden railings. He noticed Chan made no attempt to touch the rails as he ascended the stairs. Briefly touching them himself, he understood Chan’s reluctance, as they wobbled slightly. Not a good sign, his professional mind protested, wondering what other violations might wait inside, but he withheld judgement.

Chan unlocked the back door and stood back to allow Evan to precede him inside. The door led into a small square kitchen with little counter space and no room for a table. Probably just right for a single person, such as Chan.

Evan turned as Chan closed and locked the door behind him. He stood uncertainly for a moment, before moving past Evan. He reached for the wall and flipped on a light, revealing the living area. Which meant the door directly off of the kitchen was most likely the bedroom.

“Would you like something to drink?” Chan offered, waving in the direction of the refrigerator. “I have some beer. Or I could make some tea. I have very good tea—”

Evan closed the short distance between them and stemmed the other man’s words with his mouth. He felt Chan’s moan vibrate through him. Evan had a good six inches of height on the other man, but when they pressed together, he could easily feel Chan’s growing excitement, which matched his own.

He drew back far enough to murmur, “Tea can wait,” then swept Chan into his arms and carried him into the bedroom.

to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #8 (2.4)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Chan can't believe he actually ran into the sexy state trooper from that morning, and the trooper, whose name is Evan, is interested in him too! Not only that, but apparently they are going to indulge in some role play. Who knows where this will lead? See what's going on  in this week's chapter of Super Trooper! Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!

Super Trooper #8 (2.4)

Chan maintained a discreet distance behind Evan, to avoid giving the impression that they were leaving together. Not that he really believed anyone was paying attention to what they were doing. And not like other men didn’t do exactly this same thing on a regular basis. After all, Partners was famous for being a place for people, particularly gay men, to hook up with one another.

Still, doing so added to the illusion of the role play which they were apparently engaging in. Chan shivered in anticipation. He’d never done anything like this before, had never even considered the possibility. But right now it seemed to be the most natural thing in the world for him to be doing.
Only belatedly did it occur to him that he didn’t know what kind of car Evan drove. All he’d seen was the official trooper vehicle which had pulled him over. What if he couldn’t find Evan among all the other cars in the parking lot, and he lost this once in a lifetime opportunity? As he exited the club, he felt the beginnings of panic engulf him. His heart was racing ,  and his mouth had suddenly gone dry. He scanned the parking lot anxiously. If nothing else, Evan’s height would be a dead giveaway, right?

Chan almost cried in relief when he spotted the police cruiser parked in close proximity to the building. How he’d missed that on his way in, he didn’t know. Maybe because his mind had been on other things? Evan stood just beside the vehicle, obviously waiting for him. Chan hastened his steps.
Did he imagine it, or did he see a small smile flash across Evan’s lips at his approach? Perhaps it was just an illusion. A figment of his hopeful imagination.

“Where are you parked?” the other man asked.

“Toward the back of the lot.” Chan gestured vaguely behind him. “Near a light.” Better safe than sorry was his motto.

“Head for home,” Evan directed him.

Disappointment flared through Chan at this apparent dismissal, until he realized this was all part of the game. Of course. He nodded his understanding, asked no questions then immediately turned to obey. Part of him wanted to glance behind him, to search for the look of approval which surely would be there. But common sense told him that would not be the right thing to do. Obedience was what he needed to offer right now. Hopefully the rest would follow in good time. Looking straight ahead, he strode with determined steps toward his car. Evan would be behind him, of that he had no doubt.

Exiting the parking lot, he saw no sign of Evan behind him, no matter how many times he checked his rearview mirror. Perhaps he’d mistaken the trooper’s words, misinterpreted his directions. But no, that couldn’t be. Determined to keep playing the game, Chan merged onto the highway toward home. Not like he didn’t have to go that way anyway. He’d just hoped he wouldn’t be making the trip solo.
Chan was maybe halfway home and so completely caught up in his own thoughts and daydreams that the sound of the siren behind him startled him. Shit, what now?

Then the realization struck him—this was just what was supposed to happen, of course. What they had talked about. A surge of confidence renewed his flagging spirits. He made sure to signal before he pulled over, slid the car into park, turned off the engine, and waited in excited anticipation.

Moments later, Evan’s car had halted at an angle in front of him, lights flashing, siren now silent. It occurred to Chan, somewhat belatedly, they hadn’t exactly discussed what would happen when Evan pulled him over. The thought made the encounter all the more exciting.

He rolled down his window, breathing in the scent of honeysuckle that rose from bushes along the roadside. The peaceful night was broken only by the chirr of katydids, and the occasion vroom from a passing motorist. He laid his arm along the window frame, tapping his fingers against the side of the car before he decided that looked too casual, so he drew it in again and clutched the steering wheel instead.

Look normal. Act normal, he admonished himself.

The slam of a car door echoed loudly. Evan stood beside his cruiser for just a moment. He adjusted his cap before his hands fell to his holster, as if by reflex, before making his way to Chan’s car. Chan’s heart beat faster at the sight.

“Are you aware how fast you were going?”

Chan thrilled at the very same words he’d heard just that morning before realizing the question called for an answer. To be honest, he had paid no attention to the speedometer, already knowing he would be pulled over regardless of what it said.

“I was speeding, I ‘m sorry,” Chan apologized, even as Even leaned down into the window, so close he could smell whatever aftershave he wore, feel his warm breath. Goose bumps pimpled Chan’s flesh.

“And you think an apology is sufficient?” Evan asked almost belligerently. “Say you’re sorry and I’ll let you off, just like that?”

“No, sir,” Chan immediately replied. “I never thought that at all. I… I just wanted you to know it wasn’t deliberate. Speeding, I mean.”

He dared to look up then, into Evan’s gorgeous eyes, which glinted in the moonlight.

“I could write you a ticket, of course,” Evan considered thoughtfully, just before licking his lips with intent.

Chan restrained a moan at the sight. “Of course you could,” he agreed. “But perhaps there is something I can say… or do… that would help plead my case?” He wasn’t sure those were the words he meant to use, but Evan seemed satisfied with them. Chan wondered if the trooper had ever done this before, but pushed the thought aside. That didn’t matter right now.

“Perhaps there is,” Evan said just before he kissed him.

to be continued

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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 23 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 23       

Author: Kazue Kato
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: February 4, 2020
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/210 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

We’re still in the backstory of Yuri and Satan, as Sir Pheles accompanies Rin on his voyage of discovery into his past. Deep below the Academy, in Section 13, exorcists are researching elixirs of immortality and developing clones to house the spirits of demons, including Lord Lucifer himself. But a new demon has arrived, one much stronger and more powerful than the rest—none other than Satan himself! However, they are unaware of his identity… at least for now.

Lucifer’s hopes of receiving a new body before his old one completely fails are slowly diminishing, as another body goes to the demon Amaimon. But Lucifer never gives up hope. The next demon to emerge manages to escape and runs into Yuri. She is shocked to recognize Rinka. Unfortunately for him, he is captured immediately after their reunion and returned to Section 13.

Yuri is the only one who can get through to Rinka, so Mephisto decides to enlist her aid with the newborn demon. Although practically an infant at first, Rinka learns quickly under Yuri’s tutelage. But his intellect far outstrips his emotional development, as well as his reasoning powers, leaving him subject to violent outbursts. Shiro agrees to help Yuri with Rinka, which leads to some head-butting between the two. But Rinka is clever, and although Yuri tries to keep him from learning too much, he gets around her and makes even greater strides. And he now realizes who he really is. New arrivals contain the area, leaving Yuri without access and unable to visit Rinka.

Shiro finds himself in control of an orphaned little girl named Shura, to his chagrin, who dreams of one day marrying him. Satan is making his demands known, on behalf of himself and Lucifer. And one demand is to have Yuri brought to him. But they don’t bring her right away and he doesn’t repeat his demand. However, Yuri decides to go to him on her own, determined to save him in exchange for his release of the demons. She succeeds, and for a while they are happy together. But Satan’s body is weakening… and Yuri is pregnant. What to do, what to do, what to do?

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this volume of Blue Exorcist, definitely worth the wait. This explains so much that I’ve wondered from the beginning, mostly what would attract an exorcist to consort with Satan himself. This is actually romantic, and I think they are cute together (sorry, Shiro!).  Alas, I already know the ending all too well. Perhaps I should write a fanfic where they are not torn apart, Yuri doesn’t die, she tames the demon, and they live happily together with their twin sons.

Other familiar figures have entered the scene, ie Todo and Niehaus,  And we also see the Koma sword, which we are more than passing familiar with at this point. I love the little picture in between chapters, with Rin hiding his face at what is going on and Mephisto munching on popcorn like he’s watching a movie.

You have to feel sorry for Shiro. It’s obvious he’s deeply in love with Yuri, but it’s his own fault for never having said anything to her about it. His feelings for her also explain his love for Rin and Yukio, and his vigilance in regards to Rin and his concealed powers. I’m not sure if he realized the truth about Yukio. If he did, he trusted him to handle it, which he didn’t trust Rin to do. At least not until it became a necessity when he was dying, having fought against Rin’s father. He saved the son but lost his life in the process.

I also feel sorry for Yuri. That is no way to spend a pregnancy, which should be a happy time but which has become a nightmare for her. Separated from her baby daddy, treated like a test subject.  I hope that at least Rin comes away from this knowing that he and his brother were conceived in love, albeit an ill-fated one. I imagine the backstory will stop with the birth of the twins, but that remains to be seen. No sign of Yukio in this volume since it was all backstory. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 17 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 17      

Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: February 6, 2007
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

The countdown to execution has begun! No time to lose if Rukia Kuchiki is to be saved! Renji is determined to save his friend, even if he has to go through Byakuya, his captain, to do it. Byakuya is confident in his ability to defeat Renji, but Renji has been training with Ichigo and has a few surprises up his sleeves!

Kenpachi is happily facing the masked Komamura and the blind Tosen. Finally, a real challenge! As Rukia is being led to the Sokyoku, across the bridge, she encounters Gin Ichimaru, who can’t resist a last chance to tease the condemned Soul Reaper. He informs her that Renji is still alive, and offers to help her.  Reaching the Sokyoku,  she is asked if she has anything to say, and makes a last request.

Realizing Captain Tosen has used his bankai, Hisagi wants to go to him, but Yumichika tells him they are not finished. When Tosen questions his abilities and standing in his company, Yumichika enlightens him as to why he holds the position that he does. In fact, Yumichika will show him something, if Tosen promises not to tell the other members of his squad.

The execution has begun. It’s now or never, if Rukia is to be saved.

This volume is becoming a real nail-biter as Ichigo and friends battle to save Rukia from what they consider to be an unwarranted execution. Ichigo is conspicuous by his absence, still working to learn how to bankai. But he has an indomitable spirit and refuses to consider failure to be an option. No doubt we’ll see him in the next book.  Tosen’s backstory is poignant, and the revelation of Komamura’s actual face is enlightening. You can’t help but love Yachiru, the way she refers to Orihime as “Chubby”, and calls Ichigo “Itchy”. Although perhaps that should be translated as Ichi. It’s hard to tell, and translation can be a tricky thing.

There are so many questions here that beg to be answered. Is Rukia’s so-called infraction really of such a serious nature that it requires her execution? And, if you go with the idea that Soul Society is a sort of heaven, where the dead go, and that therefore the Soul Reapers themselves are not alive and not human, then how can she be executed and what does this really mean to them? Why is Byakuya such an uptight and cold monster, who is willing to see his own sister lose her life?

Plus we still have the mystery of who killed Captain Aizen. We know it wasn’t Ichigo and Company, despite what the Soul Society thinks. So who is the killer, and why was he killed? So many questions, so few answers. .. yet.  Something’s gotta give, hopefully in the next volume.

Looking forward to the big event, be there!