Show Review: Cherry Magic! 30 Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!

Cherry Magic! 30 Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! Credit: Crunchyroll.

This Japanese drama was AMAZING. It is based off the Japanese manga with the same name, which is also cute, but the drama has its own appeal. The actors Keita Machida (Alice in Borderland on Netflix) is the handsome and popular Kurosawa and Akasa Eiji is the shy and socially awkward Adachi. Adachi is turning thirty years old, and he’s never been in a relationship or had sex. As a virgin, there is this urban legend that on your thirtieth birthday you acquire powers, and this happens to Adachi on his birthday. He can read minds when he touches people, and the magic turns his world upside down.

Adachi deals with intense social anxiety already. He doesn’t think he’ll ever be loved. He’s very introverted and finds pleasure in reading, his job at the stationary company and food. He doesn’t like to be touched or even to be approached. He’s too kind to his superiors and will work overtime to do other people’s work (just to keep the peace).

Since he’s hearing the thoughts of everyone he touches, he changes his morning routine and goes to work early so he has to touch less people, and he ends up hearing the thoughts of one of his coworkers, Kurosawa Yuichi, who is handsome, charming and seemingly perfect. Immediately, Kurosawa’s thoughts show that he’s overjoyed to meet his work crush in the morning. Adachi has no idea who it is until the elevator fills up and people push them together in an awkward (and defining) moment where Kurosawa is thinking about how lucky he is to be this close and he hopes that Adachi doesn’t hear his racing heartbeat.

The defining moment. GIF credit furuba on Tumblr.

Soon, as they all exit the elevator, Adachi realizes that HE is Kurosawa’s crush, and at first he doesn’t believe it. He thinks he might be wrong. Thus, he starts to have more encounters with Kurosawa that proves that Adachi is indeed whom Kurosawa likes. He not only likes Adachi, but is deeply in love with him, and Adachi can’t understand it, but through the series, Adachi likes being cherished and he gets to know Kurosawa more. He finds out that Kurosawa is not “perfect”, he has anxieties and fears too, and Adachi starts to fall for him as well.

However, this is all new for Adachi and hearing Kurosawa’s thoughts and confessing to him is overwhelming. I would even say that his “Anxiety” is another character in this show, even more so a villain.

Under some odd circumstances, Kurosawa stays with Adachi at his place for a bit, but it’s basically torture for Kurosawa (because he wants to be intimate with him). He finally confesses to Adachi and doesn’t expect Adachi to return his feelings. Adachi…takes some time to process things, pretty much a day, and he realizes that his thoughts are filled of Kurosawa, he likes being with him and he ends up running after him after work to confess. The two start dating and Kurosawa has the presence of mind to know that Adachi will need to take it slow. Everything is his first experience, and Kurosawa is more than thrilled to be there with him.

Kurosawa is a bit of a lady killer too. MeOWWW. GIF credit – tianphupha on Tumblr.

Eventually, as they continue to date, Adachi’s anxiety gets the better of him, especially after telling Kurosawa about his magic, not feeling like it’s fair to keep it from his boyfriend. He breaks up with him, and both men are just heartbroken. They even had a date set up for Christmas Eve, which basically eats at Adachi as he realizes he made a mistake.

The ending is satisfying. The scenes between these two men are sweet, fluffy and a slow build romance. The touches, the thoughts, the fantasies from the mind reading, and the confessions are swoon worthy and worth the watch.

There’s a side plot to Adachi and Kurosawa that is…kind of a let down. Adachi’s best friend Tsuge also becomes a wizard when he turns 30 as a virgin, and his reactions to the mind reading are a bit over the top. The acting is…um, well, cringe worthy. He starts to have feelings for a delivery person who warms up to him because Tsuge adopts a stray cat.

The cat is cute. The delivery guy is cute and enduring, and Tsuge means well, but he acts like a complete psycho.

I watched Cherry Magic twice through the 12 episodes and second time around I mostly skipped through the Tsuge scenes. He annoyed me too much.

There is also this adorable Ace supporting character named Fujisaki who cheers to the two main leads on. I kind of wished she would have more screen time than Tsuge. Her story was way more interesting.

This is BL (boys love) but it’s not explicit, just a tender romance with two adorable leads and a great story around social anxiety and not judging people by their looks. There are also a lot of lovely moments worthy of GIF reuse.

Too many adorable moments between these two. GIF credit sushishorts on Tumblr.

Stream it on Crunchyroll. You won’t regret it.

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Magazine Review “Indie Bites, Vol. 1: Vampires & Voyages”

Cover of “Indie Bites” from Goodreads

As an indie author myself, I try to support independent authors and new authors who are trying to do what they love. There’s nothing stronger than word of mouth, right? It is also helpful that I’m such a bibliophile, LOL.

Silver Sun Books published their first Magazine anthology of short stories. Their first theme was “Vampires & Voyages” and comprised of short stories that used one theme or both. The cover on the anthology is spooky and gorgeous with ominous crows in a misty forest. As this is their first magazine, they are taking submissions for their second one with the theme “Mermaids & Myth”.

Here is their submission page for more information.

Now, onto the review! Please be aware there are spoilers.

Ah, these little tales were lovely! I enjoyed every one of them, and each one had their own individual charm to it. I will say that I was enthralled for each one, and none of them at all was lacking. Such a good mix of writing here for sure.

My favorite of all of them is by far “Enduring Wrecks” by Chris Dunsten. Holy crap, this was so good. It was like the perfect short story… a piece of heavenly cake with a well-rounded main character and depth of story and the lush environments the character finds himself in. Short stories are HARD, so reading this I was not only completely addicted to this story and wanted to know more about this character, but I also felt like WOW, how did this author write the PERFECT short story (and can he tell me his secret)? It left me wanting more, BUT I was still satisfied; it was just the right beginning, middle and ending. The ending… wow, it was such a beautiful, enduring gesture. I really loved how just one character grew so much in this little story. And the characters really had fleshed out personalities with their dialog and descriptions, and probably no easy feat in a short story format. I really want to read more by this author. AHHH, I NEED TO READ THIS OVER AGAIN IT WAS SO GOOD.

I also really enjoyed “Something Like Absolution” by Rebecca Crunden. I really loved how the main character was able to go back to his marriage and it was still strong after all this stolen time, after the hardships and gaps. They WERE. STILL. IN. LOVE. And it was so strong too. And the ending, it really fit the overall story and ended it with a pretty bow. No more lingering conflict, just a rock-solid marriage and two lovely men overcoming this supernatural hiccup through their unwavering love. Although thinking your lover was dead for so long, it would be HARD to go back to but it was like, “Hi honey you’re home, let me just kick out this other mug and let’s catch up.” I think the pacing for that, even with the insecurities and awkwardness between them, was well done and fit the story’s pace as well as the believability.

“Living Underground” by Josie Jaffrey was eerie but interesting. There was a lot of moments where I just wanted to know more about this couple. Very cool, engaging little story.

“A Dramatic Gesture” by Matthew MacLauchlan was intense. I was on the edge of my seat. It felt really like Grimm fairytales in its format. What great descriptions and pacing of this story. (I kind of want to read this to my daughter…haha)

“A Little Drop of Blood Goes a Long Way” by NJ Simmonds was fun, though the beginning was a bit…dark, I loved to explore more of Jemima’s character through the rest of the story. I was scratching my head to her reasons for suicide, but her encounter and interaction with a vampire really lightened the mood, and it seemed so realistic. I love the portrayal of a main Ace character. And the ending, even though it was…a positive in the way Jemima lived out her undead life, the payoff was gloriously sadistic. (We all have that one person in our life we’d want to do this too…). And the vampire’s name. I LOVED her reaction to it. I laughed out loud because yeah, what is with vampires and hokey names?

“Another Interview with a Vampire” by Sam Hall was also interesting. This was the one story I just wanted to be longer. I wanted to know more about the vampire, to see more of an interaction, maybe even some tension, UST, between him and the narrator/main character. I do like this author’s take on the theme here, another “this vampire is not like the normal trope” kind of thing, A vampire with a heart of gold, sort of thing. Fantastic.

Such a great little anthology! I can’t wait to see more from this publication!

This review is also posted on Amazon.com and Goodreads.

New cover for “Unbridled”

Over this last week I updated the kindle version cover for my debut novel “Unbridled”.

New cover. Find out more about the book here at Goodreads
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A second edition of the book is coming soon, along with a new paperback version as well. Stay tuned.

With a new job, motherhood and my string of health issues, things have been a little slow but I’m determined to catch up and start writing and publishing again soon.

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Big Changes

Holly says “Hello! And why aren’t you writing right now?”

I’m planning on several big changes for this site soon. There will be more sections added for reviews, articles, and other offerings. I plan on making this a little more active. It seems I say this and nothing happens, but I assure you it’s a lot of planning in my notebook and new posts will be coming soon as well as new stories and more insight and upcoming publications.

So far on the horizon you can expect:

  • Unbridled the second edition and new cover. I’m finishing up edits for this.
  • a camping themed short story
  • NaNoWriMo 2020 project – Hello, Professor – a new romance!
  • Articles on self-publishing, design and mindfulness
  • more reviews!

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these crazy times.

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Review – Gakuen Heaven (anime)

I figured since this journal is so quiet I at least should do some reviews of things I’ve watched or read. One of the things that I’ve been doing in all my “free time” other than writing and freelancing is make some progress on my queue, specifically anime, which I’ve been obsessed with since junior high (a long long time ago). I started watching the anime Gakuen Heaven on Amazon Prime, free to subscribers and 13 episodes long.

Gakuen Heaven on Amazon Prime

The perk here is Amazon Prime has a lot of free Anime to watch from Retro Crush, a digital rights company that has a lot of old school anime, some of it I grew up with and am happy to revisit.

I had never seen Gakuen Heaven, but I’ve started to really get into the M/M and BL community, whether it’s manga, novels or TV and movie series. And this month being Pride Month, it’s even more fitting to celebrate LGBT+ stories.

Back to Gakuen Heaven – this is about the anime ONLY. I know there’s a manga and RPG but I don’t have access to them, so I’ll stick to talking about the anime. This is about the Japanese audio and English subtitled version, as they did not have the dub available.

Amazon rates this as 13+ ages, so it’s not as explicit as some Yaoi anime can be. I see this more as Shonen-Ai (boys love) so the romance is mild and fluffy. As with most Shonen-Ai anime, the formula is pretty typical. It’s an all boys school, so there are no female characters. None. There are effeminate boys that could be considered girly, obviously the “uke”(bottoms) label, and there are dominate “seme” (tops) males.

The main protagonist is Keita Ito, who is an effeminate boy with large blue eyes, wild reddish-brown hair, and is shorter than most of the other boys characters. He’s specifically of the “fandom bicycle” trope, though he does have interactions with other guys that are interested in him or flirt with him, but his true love interest is obviously his childhood friend Kazuki Endo. There are other boys that don’t care for Keita in the beginning, but quickly he wins everyone over, even the scheming twins who antagonize him and basically just throw barbs at him and eye daggers. They don’t really do anything other than kvetch that he’s even at the school.

Keita is invited to attend Bell Liberty Academy (BL Academy, get it? Har har) in the middle of a semester. Bell Liberty is known for only accepting exceptional students that have a particular talent, whether it’s computer science, arts, or sports. Keita is completely ordinary. He is an average student and doesn’t have an specific talents. The only thing that may be considered his talent is that he’s “lucky” because he does get into certain dire accidents and comes out of them completely unscathed for the most part. However, he is still offered to attend by a mysterious “Chairman” of the school. With good reason, other students that have talent start to wonder what the motivation is to accept such an average student to their school.

Kazuki Endo is Keita’s dorm neighbor and immediately he dotes on Keita and wants to spend time with him. The two go to breakfast together, as well as dinner, and Kazuki watches him to the degree that he’s in love with Keita, even before he comes to the school. We find out later that Kazuki is actually the “Chairman” and he’s busy doing a lot of meetings and dealing with board members who don’t believe he’s fit to take the position. The Chairman relies on the Student council who is headed by the King, who immediately warms up to Keita as well.

In a short time that Keita is at Bell Liberty, he amasses some powerful friends, some of them who make passes at him immediately, like Nakajima (who is far too creepy and makes Keita visibly nervous) to Naruse, the tennis captain, who immediately claims ownership of Keita, is overtly lovey dovey with him, and calls him “Honey” and tries to force him on dates. Naruse comes on strong, but he’s not creepy, just an obvious lover boy. Keita tries to rebuff him kindly, and even cool and calm Kazuki gets angry when Naruse is around trying to advance on Keita.

Kazuki is the most doting (boy)friend. He’s possessive of Keita but it’s more enduring than excessive. SWOON.

There are other characters, quiet and reserved, who open up or have personality shifts because of Keita. Keita is a bit of a Gary Stu, but Gakuken Heaven, though obviously formulaic of BL anime, does not take itself too seriously.

Even the supposed danger Keita is in does not last for long, as his long line of student council or pretty boy friends come to his immediate rescue, or Keita wins them over with his charm – Jin Matsuoka one of them, whom was intent on slitting Keita’s throat at one point.

The unfortunate thing with the Jin Matsuoka arc was it was tacked on the end. Jin wasn’t around much throughout the whole series, but he appears in the last two episodes as someone who believes Keita is responsible for his lover being in a coma as the both of them had the same virus, but Keita was “lucky” and came out of it unscathed in childhood whereas Hiroya, Jin’s lover, is in a coma. Of course at the end, Hiroya comes out of it and wakes up to Jin, and everything is hunky dory. The story wasn’t really fleshed out well at all, and Jin’s hatred of Keita seemed to come out of nowhere.

Obviously the MVP story arc is the best, with the boys uncovering the corruption of the Vice-Chairman who wants to expel Keita to get at Kazuki so he would resign as Chairman, because the Vice-Chairman and his skeevy board member allies don’t want some punk kid in charge of the school.

Keita and Kazuki join the MVP contest, where more is revealed about Kazuki to Keita, and Keita, for whatever reason, starts to remember Kazuki as his childhood friend who made a promise they would go to school together. The two win the MVP contest, with Keita solving some of the riddles and helping the twin boys that hate him out when they are in danger. Even with the Vice-Chairman’s interference of hiring goons to take out Keita during the contest, Keita and Kazuki win, with a little help from their friends of course. Nakajima and the King specifically come out of the shadows to rough up the goons who try to taser them, and even Shunsuke runs over a couple of goons with his bike, unknowingly. Like I said, everything comes out perfectly for the heroes and the Vice-Chariman is fired and shamed for all his shady dealings.

Kazuki finally confesses to Keita, and during a meteor shower, they snuggle and share a kiss. It ends with all the other characters enjoying their own happiness and watching the meteor shower too. And also during that meteor shower, Hiyora wakes up from his coma to Jin, and they embrace, and Hiyora appreciate’s Jin’s long hair, which he grew out no doubt for him. It’s a feel good ending, and the two main boys get together. There’s kind of a hilarious epilogue in the morning where Keita is coming out of the bushes frazzled and running late to his classes, blaming Kazuki. Kazuki winks at him, and it’s up to the viewer to assume whether they did more than kiss the night before.

(they totally banged)

Okay we know you got some, Kazuki.

It was a cute anime story. I liked the 13 episode format, and there was no drawn out drama or stupid misunderstandings, which I’ve come to like in anime. I’ve seen enough anime with big seasons and multiple episodes that just draw stuff out and I just can’t get into that. It was a feel good ending, the anime boys are pretty to look at, and there’s some good humor throughout the plot. Nobody is really in danger and even the coma boyfriend of the evil school doctor comes out with a win.

I wished there was a little more development of Jin/Hiyora but other than that, I think they treated the reveal of Kazuki’s true identity to Keita in an appropriate way.

If you want to watch a cute, boys love anime with not a lot of uncomfortable explicit scenes, this is for you.

Disclaimer: I pulled some of these images from the web on Google. If any of them are yours I’d be happy to credit. Thanks!

2020 Update & Upcoming Topics

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I know it’s been awhile since I last updated this blog. My writing has been… scattered, and to be perfectly frank, I haven’t done the amount of it I’ve wanted. I wanted to work on War Fury, the sequel to Mod Fury, as well as my other WIPs and short stories. I have plans, but time has been limited. Being a mom has taken up most of my time.

Back in mid-March I lost my full time job, a job which I loved, to the COVID-19 hardship and have been job searching ever since. In the meantime, I’ve been catching up with projects, freelancing, learning new skills and updating my portfolio website.

I am also a full-time mom now, as our shelter-at-home decree have forced the family to stay home, that means my daughter is not attending daycare as much. Taking care of a three year old is a full time job. I’m teaching her baking, painting, and we’ve mastered riding a bike! Being able to be with her during these pivotal life moments is a priceless treasure I wouldn’t trade for anything.

However, as job searching is starting to slow for me, I’m starting to shift back to my writing projects. There are a couple of projects in the pipeline:

  • Protector, a short story part of an anthology. This has been on hold as only half the group have turned in stories. I’m one of the authors behind… It’s in the editing process at the moment.
  • Blazing Heat – Just a short story romance story, almost finished.
  • Unbridled – 2nd version, with a new cover and some more editing.

I’m hoping to keep up with these, as well as begin to work on some of the other stories that need heavy editing and drafting.

I hope to keep the blog more updated and active. I’ve been thinking about posting some articles on various topics, like navigating the self-publishing world, as well as give some insight on some of my processes.

I became inspired to do this when a friend came to me to ask me where I published my book, and she seemed surprised that I did most of it myself, albeit with the help of freelance editors and betas, but as for the artwork, fonts and layout, that’s all me. She was surprised because a friend of her used a professional publisher to publish her children’s book, paid a hefty sum of money on it, and the artwork and layout of the story is terrible, the pictures are too dark and the font choice was COMIC SANS (RAGE), and it was not only used on the titles and sub titles, but also in the actual story.

No professional worth their salt would ever do the things this publisher did to this woman’s story. It was supposed to be a cute story about a dog, and it’s a huge mess.

No design student would use Comic Sans. No design student in MIDDLE SCHOOL would use dark pictures on dark backgrounds. Nor would they draw the main character in the CREASE of the binding.

I was appalled. This poor author saved up her money to have this half ass book made for her, a children’s book that was soft cover, no less, like something you get printed at Staples, and she has 3 reviews on Amazon.

I cannot stand predatory vanity publishers. Every time I see the commercials for publishing companies on TV peddling their book packages to new authors, I cringe. You can do the hard work and send queries and get an agent and have a big boy publish your work, or you can self publish and utilize the tools out there, do your own marketing, and build a network of freelancers, reviewers and betas to help with your book. Both situations do not promise a bunch of bullshit for a large fee and then you end up getting a subpar product.

So something must be done about this. I hope with some of my guidance and experience, I can help.

Take care, everyone, and stay healthy. See you next time very soon!

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Apologies

malachycollage.jpg

I know that I haven’t been around here in some time. Unfortunately, we lost our dear beloved dog Malachy this last month, and things have been rough for me to get into any sort of writing or creative endeavors. His health had been failing for some time, so taking care of a senior pet up until we had to make that tough decision really takes a toll on you.

We adopted Malachy in 2007. He was three years old, so he was a part of our family for 13 years. It almost seems unreal that he’s not with us anymore, that he’s not at my ankles following me around, or that I can’t put my hand down and feel his cold nose sniff me as he rubs his scruffy head against me.

It’s rough. He was family and now adjusting to his absence is very painful.

So writing has been on a pause. I finally finished up a short story for an anthology and sent to my beta reader. Hopefully that’ll be polished for publication soon.

NaNoWriMo is coming up and I’m going to attempt to do it in order to make progress on my Avenging Sisters series.

If you have pets at home, give them a big hug for me. Treasure every second with them. They don’t have as long as we do, and their love is irreplaceable.

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Spellbinding: An Anthology of Magic RELEASED

spellbinding cover

Spellbinding: An Anthology of Magic is available on Amazon Kindle!

Authors: Meredith Anderson, Sara Coates, Alyssa Corbett, Rebecca Crunden, Kristina Decker, John Flynn, Kasey Kubica, L.J. LaBarthe, H.K. Rowe
Genres: Fantasy, Anthology, Urban Fantasy
Links: Amazon | Goodreads (add to your to-read or currently-reading lists)
Available in ebook (and paperback soon).
Summary: Everyone knows magic isn’t real … But what if it was?Nine tales, each one a snapshot of what happens to those who suddenly find themselves entangled with magic. From the wish that grants one sudden, unimaginable power, to a dark hex upon a wood, to faeries with nefarious intentions and hunters seeking blood, this anthology showcases the intricate web of adventure that comes from messing with magic.
My short story is “Promise to Keep” and is about a modern-day mage, Katrina, and a werewolf police captain Alastair! (I’ve always liked that name.) The story has action, urban fantasy, and two-knuckleheads in love — oh, well, they have feelings for each other, but one of them has a problem keeping them from making that first move…
promisetokeep-promo
There are other great stories to read in this anthology by a lot of talented authors. Please grab your copy and support indie writers by leaving feedback! I know you’re enjoy all the diverse stories of magic!
Thanks for the support. Cheers,
H.K. Rowe

“Promise to Keep” short story

promisetokeep-promo

Credit to Photo by Aiony Haust on Unsplash of the beautiful woman. The gorgeous man was found and paid for from Dreamstime. Graphic design by Stargazer Heather Designs.

Soon I’ll be releasing another short story within an anthology with a group of talented writers. The anthology itself will be a collection of magical stories, and I’m very excited to share this with you. The release is right around the corner; though, I don’t have a definitive date yet.

I will post an update once the ebook is live!

My contribution is a story called Promise to Keep about a modern-day mage, Katrina, and a werewolf police captain Alastair! (I’ve always liked that name.) The story has action, urban fantasy, and two-knuckleheads in love — oh, well, they have feelings for each other, but one of them has a problem keeping them from making that first move…

Here’s a short preview except of the story…


Lightly and carefully, she pulled Alastair out and leaned him against her for support. She looked around, glad that there weren’t any onlookers. It was late enough in the night, yet there was still potential for people to stop by and see them. ‘Try to stand upright and not look so wounded. We don’t want people to get suspicious.’

He made a ragged noise of affirmation and straightened up as best as he could. He steadied his breathing, trying to hold back the pain.

When they got inside the building, one of his night volunteers, Raye, rushed over to them.

‘Oh my God, what happened?’ she exclaimed, immediately helping Katrina prop him up. They steered Alastair into the office with the sofa and laid him down.

He sighed in relief when his back met the soft cushions, but when Katrina started inspecting his wound, he flinched. Pangs of agony throbbed through him.

‘He was attacked. Go get the medical kit and my healing herbs in my desk,’ she said, and Raye turned dutifully.


Stay tuned for updates on the release of this anthology.

In the meantime, I plan on finishing War Fury soon. The recent death of one of my dogs, as well as my full time job’s demands have made it a challenge to keep up. Mod Fury will get its sequel soon.

Cheers!

H.K. Rowe

SPIRITS ABOUND IS FREE!

The anthology Spirits Abound: Ghostly Little Tales is now FREE for Kindle ebook from today until Monday. Please pick up your copy!

spiritsabound-cover

Summary:

In The Hitchhiker…Out of luck and out of battery, Madeleine Cooper is too prideful to go back to campus to call for a ride after she misses the last bus out of town. Determined to walk the full distance back to her current home just south of Seaside, Oregon from Astoria, one thing after another goes wrong and she’s forced to try thumbing for a ride on a secluded coastal road. Little does Madeleine know that her savior is more than they appear on this dark and stormy night.

In The Ties That Bind… She’s drawn to certain places and certain things, and they never fail to lead her somewhere interesting. It’s a long drive through a clear night, and there’s something waiting at the end, in the dark, biding it’s time. It has a story to tell.

In Deathly Ever After… Three young high school girls live out the last day of their torture and murder over and over again. Lanie starts to realize that they have been caught in this nightmare, and she wonders if there’s any way she can break free and save her friends.

In Whispers… After two life-altering tragedies, Katie finds herself alone. She returns to her childhood home to make a new start. But she has some unexpected and mysterious intrusions into her life awaiting her.

Please support indie writers and pick up a copy! We’d love to hear what you think. Find the book on Goodreads too and add it to your reading list!

 

Thanks,

H.K. Rowe