Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #88 (20/6)

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.

They say it's always darkest just before the dawn, and things are looking pretty dark when Liza turns up unexpectedly on Cassie's doorstep, waiting for Ben to return. But Cassie turns a potential disaster into a win-win situation. See what happens in this week's chapter of In Pieces. This is the end of my tale. I hope you've enjoyed it. I plan to sub it to a publisher soon. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #88 (20.6)


“If you’ll have me, that is,” Cassie quickly added. “It’s your decision, of course. I’m sure you’ll need time to think about it, but I’m totally serious about this. I believe in Salvation. I think the band is going places. But most of all, I believe in you and Ryan.”

“But how… I mean… That’s very sweet of you, but…” Ben stammered. “I can’t ask that of you…”

“You’re not asking, I’m offering,” Cassie said, gently but firmly. “And if you’re worried that I can’t afford it, don’t be. Your dad left me very well off. Not to mention that Marge said you’re generating a good amount of income yourselves now.  We had quite a long discussion about your future, as well as your financial stability. She’s as much a believer in you as I am, and we’re both in this for the long haul.”

Ryan couldn’t believe his ears. A sudden lump formed in his throat, and he knew he was about to cry. This was like a dream come true.  A true deus ex machina in their hour of need. With Cassie’s patronage, they could do without any financial assistance from Liza, and she wouldn’t have the emotional leverage against them she thought she had.  Ben never had to see her again, not unless he chose to. That would be his decision. Ryan understood that despite everything, she was Ben’s mother,  and no doubt he loved her, but she’d abused that bond between them for so long that it was hard to tell Ben might choose to do in the future in regard to Liza. He just knew that whatever happened, he would be there for Ben.

He glanced at Ben, who seemed just as thunderstruck as he was, his eyes glistening with tears.

“I… I don’t know what to say,” Ben managed to say, taking a swipe at his face. “What can you say to someone who’s just saved your life, not to mention all your dreams?”

Ryan couldn’t help but notice Cassie’s blush at Ben’s words. He wished his dad could have been there. He would have been so proud of her, and would undoubtedly have backed her decision without hesitation. He missed his dad so much. He wished that he could share in the joy Ben brought to his life.

A sudden thought struck him. How could he have forgotten that Ben had agreed to marry him? In his own defense, that was when the shit had really hit the fan. Even so, this was momentous news that he wanted to share. He took Ben’s hand in his and kissed it gently.

“Cassie,” he said. “Ben and I want to get married.”

“Oh. My. God.” Cassie leapt up and crossed the short space between them, enveloping them in a group hug. “That’s the best news I’ve heard tonight! That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you! Hold on just a second.” She rushed out of the room. Ryan heard clattering from the direction of the kitchen, cabinets opening and closing, before she hurried back in, a bottle of something in her hand as well as three glasses. Ryan’s eyes widened as he recognized it as some sort of vintage champagne. His dad had collected a few over the years, setting them aside for special occasions.

As if reading his mind, Cassie set the glasses down. “I can’t think of a more special occasion than this,” she said. “Except maybe when you sell your first million albums.” She unwound the wire from the top of the bottle, then pushed off the cork with her thumb with a loud pop. Pouring the champagne into the glasses, she handed one to each of them.

“To Ryan and Ben, who’ve gone through so much but never lost sight of what’s important in each other. I know you guys can get through anything because you have true love!” She raised her glass and they followed suit, taking a drink.

Then Ryan turned to Ben. “Ben, I thought I’d never see you again, and I thought my heart had died because of that. But now I know that nothing can keep us apart, and together we can do anything. Ben Coulter, I love you, now and forever.”

“And I love you, Ryan Fremont,” Ben replied. “You’ve always had my heart and soul, and I never want to lose you again.”

Ryan twined his arm through Ben’s and they drank, then kissed. He could taste the champagne on Ben’s lips—nothing had ever tasted so sweet. He knew that as long as he had Ben, he could do anything. Including returning to his first love, writing.

The future had just turned very bright indeed.


Now see what's up with the other Briefers!


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Book Review: The Lady's Champion (Disgraced Martyr Trilogy #3) by M.F. Sullivan


The Lady’s Champion (Disgraced Martyr Trilogy, #3)       

Author: M.F. Sullivan
Publisher: Painted Blind Publishing
American release date: January 9, 2020
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci Fi/LGBTQ/356 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Dominia di Mephitoli has come a long way since her stint as governor and one-time rabid general for the Martyr cause. She’s lost her wife, who was her reason for living, as well as her family, and she’s afraid of losing everyone else. And why? Because of the Martyrs, and one in particular, her Holy Father, the Hierophant.

And yet, if she doesn’t continue the fight, the world will be doomed. Worlds. All of them. Past and present and future. For they all tie together, and sometimes it’s hard to separate what was from what shall be.

Dominia kidnaps her brother Theodore, her replacement as governor. But her father does her one better and snatches Rene Ichigawa’s cousin Tenchi, putting Dominia in an awful position. What else can she do but as the Hierophant requests, in order to save Tenchi’s life. Which involves returning to her father’s house. At least she can see her sister Lavinia again, who has sorely missed Dominia. And is still as innocent as ever.

Dominia has so many questions and few answers. Can she get herself out of this new predicament, defeat her father, and also bring back Cassandra? What is the truth about the Hierophant and his origins? Does he really come from a planet called Acetia? And whose future is the true one?

The Lady’s Champion is a roller coaster ride from start to finish, one that will make your head spin. As soon as you think you understand what’s going on, the roller coaster veers off in a new direction and you have to rethink everything. Before the final curtain drops, everyone is called to the stage once more. Old friends and new. Old enemies and new. And sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who and what’s what.

The third book of the trilogy kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next, and hoping against hope that my favorite character, my darling Hierophant, would emerge unscathed. The scope and imagination of this series is staggering. A real mind-blowing story dealing with both physical as well as metaphysical realities, one that will open your mind to unimagined possibilities. Who’s to say what is real and what could become so in the future?

Dominia is a great, somewhat flawed heroine, as all good heroines are. The worst I can say about her is that her obsession with Cassandra did get on my nerves. Just my opinion, but I was never fond of Cassandra, and saw no reason for Dominia to carry on so over her loss. Of course, many will disagree with my own obsession with the Hierophant, who I admit is no saint, but there is just something about him that draws me to him. I make no apologies for him. He does some seriously bad stuff, but I still feel he has redeeming qualities.

This is a series that requires re-reading at some point, and I’m sure I’ll see things I missed and gain a new perspective of other things. I’ve enjoyed the journey greatly and will be sorry to leave this world behind, hence the need to revisit it again. I highly recommend the entire series. Give a copy to someone you love.

Congratulations, MF Sullivan, on a job well done!



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #87 (20.5)

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.

Ryan and Ben are spending time on the band's break with Cassie in St. Louis when Liza shows up unexpectedly on Cassie's doorstep, still attempting to drive a wedge between Ben and Ryan and take Ben home with her. See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to look for the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #87 (20.5)


Liza visibly flinched at Ben’s words, as if she’d been struck. She pressed one hand against her bosom in a melodramatic expression. But her eyes told the true story, battling between barely repressed anger and shock.


Cassie spoke up, filling the void. “You have ten seconds to get off my property before I call the police,” she said. “I don’t think they’ll be impressed when you tell them you lived here ten years ago. If I have to, I’ll get a restraining order against you. Don’t think that I won’t.”

Liza opened her mouth, then seemed to think better of it and quickly closed it again. She drew herself up to her full height, with what dignity she could muster. She made one final attempt, reaching out one hand toward Ben, as if she intended to stroke his cheek. He drew back, out of reach. With a final glare for Ryan, she pushed her way past him, headed toward a dark sedan parked on the street. 
Entering it, she quickly drove away.

Ryan released the breath he’d been holding. He wanted to believe they’d heard the last of her, but he had a bad feeling she wouldn’t give up quite that easily. They would deal with that later, right now he was more concerned with Ben.

Once Liza was out of sight, Ben collapsed against Ryan, as if all the strength had run out of him. Alarmed, Ryan wrapped his arms around his trembling lover and held him tightly.

“Come on, let’s get inside,” Cassie said, ushering them toward the house. Moving swiftly, she reached the door before they did, unlocked it and held it open as Ryan helped Ben inside and onto the sofa in the living room. There they sat together, arms around one another, as Cassie turned on the lights. She left the room but quickly returned, bearing a bottle of quality bourbon and three glasses. She set the glasses on the table, poured a little in each one, and handed theirs to Ben and Ryan. They downed them neatly. Ryan felt the burn of the liquor in his throat, but it was a good burn, warming him inside.

“Everything’s going to be all right,” he assured Ben. “You did great. I’m so proud of you.” He gave him an encouraging smile.

“I’m proud of both of you,” Cassie said. “I’m so sorry that happened. When I suggested you come back to St. Louis, I had no idea she would ever come here looking for you. I’m sorry, no offense, but there is something not quite right with her.”

“None taken,” Ben quickly replied. Personally, Ryan thought saying Liza was not quite right was putting it mildly. The woman was flat out crazy. But he wasn’t going to be the one to voice that. No sense in rubbing salt in Ben’s wound.

“I’m sorry that happened too,” Ben continued. He drew in deep breaths, sitting up straighter, his voice a little stronger. “I’ll understand if you want me to leave. You don’t need—”

In reply, Cassie threw her arms around both young men and hugged them. “Never,” she said fiercely. “We’re your family now. I don’t want either one of you to leave, especially because of someone like her.” She kissed each of their cheeks, then returned to her seat, pouring three more glasses of whiskey before she did. They drank them down without argument.

“I know I promised you dinner on the Hill tonight,” she said, “but I’ll totally understand if you’d rather stay here instead. We can always order in, go to the Hill another night. Up to you.”

Ryan and Ben exchanged looks. Ryan would agree to whatever Ben felt comfortable with. He was just afraid of Liza following them and maybe causing a scene in public. He was more concerned that Ben might not be up to going out.

“Would you mind if we stayed in?” Ben said at last.

“Of course I don’t mind,” Cassie assured him. “We can go another time. What sounds good?”

They decided on pizza and chicken wings and salad, and Cassie placed the order online before turning back to them. “Before dinner gets here, I wanted to talk to you. Maybe this is a good time for that, in light of what just happened.”

Ryan was mystified at her words, and he knew Ben was just as confused as he was. But he trusted Cassie implicitly. Whatever she had to say couldn’t be bad, even if there was some time to Liza. He took Ben’s hand in his and took comfort from Ben’s warmth.

“I didn’t say anything to you sooner, but I’ve been talking to Marge,” Cassie began.

That was a huge surprise to Ryan. “I didn’t know you knew her?” he said at the same time Ben said, “You know Marge?”

She smiled at them both. “I do now. I think she’s a pretty wonderful person, and she thinks the world of you both. And Salvation.”

Soothing words badly needed.

“Marge is a very wonderful person,” Ben agreed. “I don’t know what we’d do without her.”

That thought was sobering. The question now was what were they going to do without Liza’s backing? Disband Salvation temporarily? Maybe even… he tried not to think it, but he couldn’t push away the idea of a permanent break-up.

“Like I said, she and I have been talking, and I understand your situation. Financially, I mean.” Cassie took a deep breath. “And I’ve decided to become your new investor.”

Did she just seriously say that?

to be continued

Now see what's up with the other Briefers!



Virtual Book Tour: Heroes in Love by David C. Dawson

Good morning! Please welcome author David C. Dawson to Full Moon Dreaming. He is here to tell us about his new release, Heroes in Love. David will be awarding $10 Boroughs Bucks to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour via Rafflecopter. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on David's tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!






Heroes in Love
by David C. Dawson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~



GENRE: Contemporary Romance (LGBT)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

NOT EVERY HERO WEARS A UNIFORM

Can love last a lifetime? Billy Walsh and Daniel Richards never intended to be matchmakers. After all, they're only at the start of their own love story. When Billy uncovers a failed love affair, he learns it lasted more than fifty years until it fell apart. He and Daniel see their own fledgling relationship through the lens of the now estranged couple, and they vow to reunite the elderly lovers. But as they set about their task, the pressure of modern life threatens to tear them apart.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT:



“Hey. You okay?”

The voice was familiar. Billy pulled back from the window, opened his eyes, and turned to see the black wavy hair and brown eyes of the man he had collided with in the hospital entrance under an hour ago. Clumsily, he tried to wipe his eyes with the back of his hand and merely succeeded in smearing his hand with a gob of snot from his nose. His humiliation was complete.

Then the man’s oh-so-kissable lips moved, and he said,  “Come on. You need a coffee.”

The cafeteria was on the ground floor of the hospital, close to the entrance. It was noisy and packed with people, and there was a long line at the counter.

Billy’s Good Samaritan introduced himself as Daniel. He invited Billy to find a table, while he queued up to buy them hot drinks.

As Billy waited, he reviewed the rollercoaster day. True, most of it had been downhill. Steeply. But this last turn lifted his spirits. He looked across the crowded cafeteria at Daniel standing in line. His back was to Billy as Daniel ordered coffees from the bored-looking assistant on the other side of the counter. He stood tall and confident. His dark blue linen suit gave him the look of a Hollywood actor in sharp contrast to the shabbily dressed people on either side of him. His haircut was obviously expensive, and he was well groomed.

Billy looked down at the sleeve of his shirt. The remains of his egg sandwich from earlier was smeared across it. He licked his fingers and rubbed the stain, in the hope of making the stain disappear.

“Here you are. I got some chocolate chip cookies as well. I love them, and I thought you might need the sugar.”

Daniel placed a large plastic tray on the table. He handed Billy a chipped mug of cappuccino, placed a large plate of cookies on the table, and sat opposite. Billy slid his arm into his lap, to hide the egg stained sleeve. “You okay now?”

Billy nodded. “Yeah. It’s been a really shit day, and I guess it all finally got to me. Work went tits up this morning. Then I met my mother’s oncologist this afternoon, and—” He stopped. Not wanting to repeat what he had learned.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers featuring gay men in love. He’s an award winning author, journalist and documentary maker. His debut novel won Bronze for Best Mystery and Suspense in the FAPA awards, and he has published two books since.

David lives in London with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

Social Media:

website: www.davidcdawson.co.uk
blog: http://blog.davidcdawson.co.uk/#home
instagram: @davidcdawsonwriter
facebook: david.c.dawson.5
twitter: @david_c_dawson
pinterest: www.pinterest.co.uk/mrdcdawson/heroes-in-love-influences/
linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/DavidCDawson





~~~~~~~~~~~~~




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Book Review: Blue Morning, Vol 8 by Shoko Hidaka


Blue Morning, Vol 8       

Author: Shoko Hidaka
Publisher: SuBLime Publishing
American release date: November 12, 2019
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Yaoi/282 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

The time is fast approaching for Akihito’s departure for England, and there is so much to be done, arrangements to be made. Knowing the feudal system is dying, Akihito is building the future of the Kuze house on much firmer foundations, such as the railroad and various industries. He and Katsuragi must fit in as much time together as they can, knowing they will be separated for two long years.

Meanwhile, Soichiro has been coerced at least into the arranged marriage he never wanted, his heart belonging to a geisha he can never have. He girds himself to meet his intended, only to find that Katsuragi works in mysterious ways.

Their time together drawing to a close, Katsuragi bares his soul to Akihito and tells him two years away from him is too long. In talking to Amamiya, Soichiro expresses his gratitude for what Katsuragi has done for him, and wishes him and Akihito the same good fortune. Akihito has had matching watches made for him and Katsuragi, which he presents to him just before he asks would he like to come to England with him.

What will Katsuragi’s response be?

This is the final volume of Blue Morning. So much going on, so much up in the air. I grew hopeful and anxious by turns the farther I read. This is the culmination of what Akihito and Katsuragi both have been working toward, even if it didn’t always appear so. This is a story very rich in both plot and character development, as well as beautiful artwork. I invested my heart in the story of these two men, followed their relationship through good times as well as hard times. Cheered, laughed, and cried. I’m sorry the story has come to an end, yet in my heart it isn’t over, and I know it will go on forever.

Beautiful finish to a lovely story.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Wednesday Briefs:In Pieces #86 (20.4)

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.

After having a great time in Forest Park, Ryan, Ben, and Cassie return to find Liza waiting for them. She acts as if everything is fine. Will Ben be able to stand strong? Will Ryan resist the urge to punch her? See what's happening in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!


In Pieces #86 (20.4)


 “Darling, you’re looking well,” she began. “I was hoping I could have a little of your time. I know the band’s on break right now. I guessed that you might come here. There’s so much we need to talk about.” She ignored Ryan and Cassie, as if by doing so they didn’t exist.

“Excuse me,” Cassie began in a belligerent tone, “but this is my property and you are not welcome on it.”

Liza gave Cassie a disdainful stare. “I was living here long before you were even a blip on my ex’s radar, little girl. I wasn’t aware he was in to cradle robbing, but somehow that doesn’t surprise me.”

Ryan clenched his fist at the insult to his father, and he noticed Cassie drawing herself up as if to strike, but Ben’s voice diverted them both. Ryan wanted to protest. He wanted to throw himself between Liza and Ben, use himself as a shield to keep Ben safe from her. Be a barrier between them, one she couldn’t get past. But he didn’t, and he knew he shouldn’t. Ben was an adult and he was capable of dealing with the situation on his own. But that didn’t mean Ryan wasn’t going to support him in every way possible. Even if he had to step in to do it.

He was pleased when Ben took his hand and clasped it in his own as he strode toward the house, a determined look on his handsome face. Liza had risen from the lawn chair and was gliding toward them with a welcoming smile. One which became a scowl as she took in the sight of their joined hands. But the next moment, she quickly shrugged it off, focusing on Ben.

“Stop right there, Mother,” he said. “You have no right to insult either Cassie or Dad—”

“He wasn’t your Dad!” Liza snarled. She took a step toward Ben, who stood his ground.

“He was the only Dad I ever knew and he loved me!” Ben retorted.

“If he loved you so much, why did he throw us out?” Liza countered, hands on hips. Ryan expected to see lightning bolts shoot out of her eyes at any moment.

Ryan was confused at her words, and he could see that Ben was as well. How dare she say that Dad threw them out when she was the one who sneaked away, like a thief in the night? He felt Ben squeeze his hand and he returned the squeeze reassuringly.

“That sounds like revisionist history to me,” he accused her. “Dad never did that, that was all on you. You’re just trying to make Dad look bad and make yourself seem like the injured party, but it wasn’t like that, was it?”

“How would you know? You were just a child.” Liza tried to skirt around Ryan in order to get to Ben, but he wouldn’t allow it, placing himself in between them. Cassie quickly stepped to Ben’s other side.

“I was eighteen, hardly a child,” Ryan said. “Is that what it was? You saw something, didn’t you? You knew how Ben and I felt about each other, and you didn’t like it. Jealous much?”

When Liza blanched, Ryan knew he’d hit the mark and pressed on. “You couldn’t handle the idea that Ben was able to love someone other than you. You wanted to keep him all to yourself, but you saw me as a problem.”

“Ben belongs to me, I love him. What mother doesn’t love her child?”

Ryan read the fear in her eyes as glanced between the three of them. “Because your kind of love isn’t natural.”

“And yours is? Ben’s your brother—”

Stepbrother!” Ben quickly interjected. “No blood, mother. We’re not related in any way. You and I, on the other hand…”

Liza winced as if his words had physically assaulted her. “That’s different,” she protested. “We’ve always been different, you and I, Ben. We had something special…”

“Special? Are you really going to justify what you did to me like that?” Ben asked incredulously. 

“What you did was wrong. You led me to believe that Ryan only wanted to use me, and that he wasn’t good enough for me, but your love for me was right in every way… even that way…”
Ryan knew what speaking the words aloud must be costing Ben. His face was turning red, as his voice rose from his exertion.

“You abused me,” Ben continued. “You twisted our relationship into something horrible and wrong. I don’t think you even cared me that much, not until you realized that Ryan did. And you couldn’t handle the idea of someone else coming first in my life. Someone who wasn’t you being loved by me.”

Liza was struggling not to blow up, Ryan realized, her face contorting in rage. Perhaps she knew it wouldn’t help her case any, not with Ryan and Cassie right there. Although nothing would, not now, not ever.

“You were just a child, I was afraid he’d hurt you,” she said in a pseudo-tender voice.

“I was a child?” Ben echoed. “That’s not what you said when you took me into your bed after you took me away from Ryan and Dad.”

Liza took a step back from Ben’s anger, then another. “Perhaps this isn’t a good time,” she backpedaled. “You’re under an undue influence here. These two”—she glared daggers at Ryan and Cassie—“have filled your head with false notions about me. You should come home, take some time to yourself and clear your head—”

“My home is where Ryan is,” Ben interrupted. “I have nothing more to say to you.”

“What about your precious band? If I cut you off, all that’s finished.”

Ben took a deep breath, rising to his full height as he stared into her eyes for a long moment. “I.Don’t. Care.”

As he started to step around her, she reached for his arm. He drew back.

“Fuck off, Mother,” he said.

to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!









Saturday, January 4, 2020

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 12 by Tite Kubo


Bleach, Vol 12        

Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: April 4, 2006
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Renji Abarai, assistant captain to 6th squads Captain Kuchiki, after being defeated by Ichigo has only one thing to say to him—“Save Rukia! Kira and Hinamori come upon Renji and are amazed that he has been defeated, but they are too late to fight Ichigo, as he and Ganju and Hanatoro have already gone. Kira and Hinamori intend to send Renji to be healed by the 4th Company but are prevented from doing so by Byakuya Kuchiki, who instructs them to dump him in a cell! Gin Ichimaru assures Kira and Hinamori that he will send word to 4th Company anyway. Toshiro Hitsugaya appears after Gin leaves and warns Hinamori not to trust the Third Company, especially.

Head-Captain Yamamoto overlooks Gins previous actions and declares all-out war on the Ryoka.

Ichigo awakens to find himself being healed by Hanataro of the wounds he suffered fighting Renji. When he insists hes ready to go, Ganju knocks him out again, proving how weak he really is. Hanataro tells Ganju that Ichigos life was saved by a mask in his pocket, one which resembles a Hollow. How did he acquire such an object, though?

Disturbed by the idea of fighting, the peaceful Hinamori, assistant captain of the 6th Company, seeks out her captain, Aizen, to speak with him. His soothing voice and words, his calm smile, relax her so much she falls asleep. When she wakens, she finds Aizen gone and she is going to be late for assembly if she doesnt hurry. Luckily, she knows a short-cut, but in taking this route, she comes upon a horrific sight!

Hinamori finds herself in hot water when she tries to attack Gin for what she believes he has done, only to be confronted by Kira. Hitsugaya steps in between them and has both arrested, then warns Gin not to ever make Hinamori bleed. Rangiku Matsumoto visits Hinamori in her cell and brings her a letter addressed to her that was found in Captain Aizens room, revealing what he has discovered.

Ichigo, Ganju, and Hanatoro approach the high tower where Rukia is being held, which seems surprisingly empty of people, only to feel a frightfully enormous spiritual pressure. The pressure turns out to belong to the soul reaper who Ikkaku spoke of to Ichigo, Kenpachi Zaraki, captain of the 11th Company. He anticipates an interesting fight against Ichigo and is excited to get started. Ichigo tells Ganju and Hanataro to go ahead and continue with their mission while he stays behind to engage in battle with Kenpachi.

Meanwhile, Chad has run into the captain of the 8th Company, Shunsui Kyoraku, a very laid-back fellow in a pink flowered kimono. Shunsui attempts to get Chad to have a drink with him,  not wishing to fight, but to no avail. Chad is giving him no choice in the matter.

I love this volume of Bleach for many reasons, but I have to mention first and foremost that I adore Shunsui Kyoraku, and these is his first real scenes in the series, which is exciting. Also the first real scenes with Kenpachi and Yachiru. I was upset over the unexpected and tragic death that occurred in this volume, but youll find that happens in Bleach, like it or not. Its exciting to watch Ichigo work his way through the various captains and lieutenants of the 13 Court Guard Squads in order to reach Rukia. He is far stronger than they gave him credit for being. Uryu and Orihime were absent in this volume, but Im sure well see them soon.

I just finished watching the anime and am excited that I am still living the Bleach story through the manga. I understand that the manga goes beyond what I saw in the anime, so I look forward to seeing where it takes me. Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one!