Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 16: Beyond the Looking Glass by Naoki Urasawa


Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 16: Beyond the Looking Glass    

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 16, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Fukube has always wanted to be a part of Kenji and his group, but has always been passed over and overlooked. In an attempt to get an in with them, he collects a great deal of manga. When Kenji’s new issue of Shonen Sunday turns up ruined, Fukube invites the guys over to his house to read his collection. Things seem to go well, but even so, he is devastated when they leave him to work on their secret clubhouse, and never invite him. Waiting for a time when the guys aren’t there, Fukube breaks into their clubhouse, where he is discovered by Sadakiyo, the creepy kid in the mask who has nothing to say. Finding Kenji’s Book of Prophecy, Fukube boasts that he can make better prophecies, and his are all going to come true. Fukube offers to be Sadakiyo’s friend, but on one condition. The other boy is not to call him by his given name at all… just call him his Friend.

The boys are all excited about the Expo in Osaka, Fukube boasting that he would be there all summer and would go to the Expo every day. But things don’t work out, and he not only can’t go, he doesn’t dare show himself around town, since that would mark him as being a liar. It’s a long hot summer for him, until he borrows Sadakiyo’s mask so he can get out of the house for a little bit. When Sadakiyo suggests they play at the haunted house on the hill, where no one will see them, Fukube gets an idea of how to frighten Kenji and the other boys.

Yamane approaches Fukube, trying to get back in his good graces, wondering if he is still rejected. The two boys run across a street vendor, who really has nothing to offer them that they are interested in. But they discuss Fukube’s idea of a man with a briefcase who travels around spreading a virus, to the shock of the salesman. It’s not until the strange kid bends one of his spoons, using just his mind, that the man becomes interested and gives the kid his card, telling him to look him up. And this man turns out to be none other than Manjome.

Meanwhile, in year 3 of the Friendship Era, Otcho is being hidden and taken care of by a young boy, whose sister quickly learns his secret. Funny thing, but everyone who owns a TV is ordered, by law, to turn the TV set off at the end of the broadcast day. When Otcho and the kids don’t do that, they hear a lady’s voice with an important message.

This volume differs from the others in that now, finally, we are inside the mind of Fukube, otherwise known as Friend, watching the development of the Friend persona. While it’s very easy to say that Kenji and the boys are at fault for being mean and not befriending him, I think it’s not that simple. There is something seriously not right about that boy, and when he lets his guard down, you can see glimpses of something evil. After all, how normal is it for someone to wish to destroy an entire world, and how egotistical to even think he can do so?

What I was excited about in the last volume hasn’t come to pass yet, but that’s because we shifted gears in this volume. I still believe it’s going to happen, so I’ll be patient. I can’t tell if we’re getting closer to the truth or not, but it seems that way. I’m waiting to see Kanna’s mother make her anticipated entrance. At least we know now she is one of the good guys, rather than the flake we assumed she was after dumping baby Kanna on Kenji’s doorstep. Another great volume, can’t wait for more.




Saturday, August 28, 2021

Saturday is Horror Day #25 - Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave, The Lighthouse

 The Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave

Just when you thought the zombies were a thing of the past.... Uncle Charles (Peter Coyote) is determined to make money from the cannisters of Trioxin he looted from the Army. He sells one to foreign agents, but they insist on a demonstration. To prove that this is the real deal, he injects a couple of dead bodies. Is anyone surprised when this goes horribly wrong? Little does anyone know that he has two more cannisters hidden away in his brother's attic.

Charles has been raising his nephew Julian (John Keefe) since the death of their parents. Naturally Julian is devastated to be handed at note, while at school, telling him of the death of his uncle. Alone in his late parents' house, he begins to tidy things up and comes across something weird in the attic. Looks like something was dragged, but to where? He enters a secret door only to discover two strange metal cannisters.

Julian calls his girlfriend Jenny (Jenny Mollen) and then they decide to consult with their nerd friend 

Cody (Cody Hardrict). Cody runs some tests and determines that the liquid inside the cannister has some properties very similar to ecstasy. Against Julian's wishes, he produces large quantities of the stuff in order to make some money. Luckily for him, raves are popular, and Halloween is only a week away. Jenny's brother, Jeremy (Cain Manoli) is throwing a huge rave. What better way to turn people on and make money? Unbeknownst to all of them, though, two Russian Interpol agents are on the case, Aldo (Claudiu Bleont) and Gino (Sorin Cocis). 

I am really glad that this is the last of this series, cause it's really abysmal. I suspect they were going for a combination of humor and horror, but what they came up with was just cringe and suck. Some people might consider it so stupid it's funny, but I'm not one of them. First off, these are the same characters from the last film and yet none of the kids remember the zombies, seemingly, and seem shocked at what they discover in the cannister. Also, what happened to Julian's little brother Jake? Nowhere to be seen. 

In each film the zombies get worse and worse. But in this one, they are using the drug known as Z and producing zombies out of live people, which makes no sense. If zombies are dead people brought back to "life" - and I use the term loosely - then how can you take living people and create zombies?

The Interpol agents are ridiculous and cartoonish, but I suspect they are meant to double as comic relief. But I did some digging and I discovered that Interpol works with government agencies, but does not have its own agents. It's purpose is intelligence, not enforcement. So that whole subplot sucks from the start. Not to mention the ridiculous shooting that goes on.

Another thing I disliked was that the filmmaker took every opportunity he could find - even if he had to create them - to show naked boobs. Like a college frat boy gone wild, as though he's never seen them before (who knows, maybe he hasn't).

This film isn't funny and it isn't scary, and I would not recommend it. I'm giving it a very shaky 1 Star just because someone might appreciate the stupidity.

The Lighthouse

Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) arrived together on a remote island to serve a four week maintenance shift. Wake is a veteran lightkeeper, while Winslow is new at the task, having previously been a lumberjack. He is to replace a former partner of Wake, who went mad.

The cantankerous Wake is quick to let Winslow know how it's going to be, and he will be the one in charge, no matter what the manual says. And that includes keeping watch in the lamp. Winslow grumbles but there isn't anything he can do about it. The older man is a harsh taskmaster and bullies his young assistant, forcing him to work harder and harder. Winslow is stewing, both about his treatment, and because of lack of access to the lamp, which bothers him no end.

Winslow can't help but wonder what is happening up in the lamp, but Wake keeps it locked and Winslow can't get to the key. A teetotaler when he arrived, Wake has him drinking more and more until they become regular drinking buddies. Winslow found a small figuring of a mermaid, and in his quieter moments, he masturbates to its image. One time he caught a glimpse inside the lamp, and oh what he saw....

Bothered by a sea gull, Winslow kills it, despite having been told by Wake that that is the worst thing a sailor can do. And sure enough, a rough wind begins to blow, bringing a terrible storm, and they are unable to get off the island when they're supposed to because no ship can get close enough. It's only a matter of time until truths come out, and true ugliness is revealed.

This is one unusual film. Directed by Robert Eggers, and written by Robert and Max Eggers, it is a deep look into the psyche of two men whom circumstances bring together, and whose very isolation threatens them both. The film is shot in black and white, which only enhances the eerie quality of the story. There is some damn fine photography here, so let me give a shout out to the director of photography, Jarin Blaschke.  And the film editor, Louise Ford. These are two very fine performances by Dafoe and Pattinson, for which I understand they received no recognition at all from the Oscars. Not surprising if you consider that those awards are so politically based it's not funny, and an Oscar is basically meaningless anymore.

If you watch the film and have to look up what the ending means, don't feel bad, I did too. But wait until it's over, let it sink in for a moment, then read to your heart's content. This is a very fine film, and I'll give it a string 4.5 Stars.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Virtual Book Tour: Song of the King's Heart Trilogy by Nicole Sallak Anderson

 Good morning everyone! Please welcome author Nicole Sallak Anderson to Full Moon Dreaming! She is here to talk about her Song of the King's Heart trilogy, with excerpts from the second book, Blood and Chaos. Nicole will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter during the tour. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!


Blood and Chaos – Book 2

by Nicole Sallak Anderson




GENRE: Historical Fantasy






The second chapter of Lord Ankhwenefer’s story is one of love, betrayal, and death. The world needs to know this forgotten king’s tale so that the ghosts of the past may finally rest.


Prince Ankhmakis has left his beloved Natasa for war and treacherous obstacles block his path to becoming Egypt’s last native king. He is the warrior that the men revere, and his orders are followed without question. He is strong and powerful with Natasa on his side, and the fear that breeds in those around him is more dangerous to Ankhmakis than the swords of the Greeks.


Natasa has risen higher in the mystic arts than any priestess before her—and she is in more peril because of it. All she desires is to assist her lover, Ankhmakis, in his quest to take back Egypt from the Macedonians once and for all, but his jealous queen, his plotting brother, and the truest evil in the world want nothing more than to be rid of her.


Natasa and Ankhmakis fight not only against the Greeks but also those at court who will do anything to see them both dead. Together, Ankhmakis would become a great general and Natasa the mystic healer who saves him. Apart, they may not survive.





The prince of Behdet gazed across the Nile River at the city of Panopolis, its bonfires flickering like beacons in the dark night. A hot wind caressed his sunburnt face. He turned to see his enemy’s army spread out before him, torchlights zigzagging across an island downriver like ants on honey, protecting their city with their mighty arsenal of archers ships. He wanted control of the island, needed it, if he were ever to return home to his lover’s arms.


“This war is taking too long,” he hissed under his breath.


“My lord,” Min, his personal guard, answered. “It has been a year. It took our greatest ancestor, Pharaoh Amhose I, nineteen years to banish the Hyksos filth from our lands. Prior to his victory, his father and grandfather also battled for independence. Their line of kings fought for over thirty years to take Egypt unto back unto native hands. Our war is young. Be patient.”


Ankhmakis turned to his friend and captain, his lips curled. “I don’t want this to take three generations, Min. I will not leave this task to my heirs. I will march upon Alexandria and kill Ptolemy IV with my own hands. We should at least be to Memphis by now. Instead we’re in Panopolis, held back by their army. For the second time, the Inundation is at our backs. If we don’t hurry, we’ll be trapped here when the river floods. Such a failure can’t happen again.”




AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Nicole Sallak Anderson is Computer Science graduate from Purdue University, and former CTO for a small Silicon Valley startup, turned novelist, speaker, and blogger, focusing on the intersection of technology and consciousness. Her essays range from AI and Zen to direct democracy to the loneliness of modern parenting (https://medium.com/@NSallakAnderson/pretty-birds-in-pretty-cages-could-the-nuclear-family-be-the-reason-were-all-miserable-46126d573263) — featured as a top twenty story on Medium. In addition, her work on Universal Basic Income has been included on 2020 presidential candidate, Andrew Yang’s, website: https://www.yang2020.com/policies/the-freedom-dividend/.


Her latest project, The Song of the King’s Heart Trilogy, is a series about the last native Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt and his quest to take back his ancestral kingdom from the Ptolemaic Empire. The first two installments, Origins and Blood and Chaos, are available on Amazon. The last novel in the series, Civilization’s End, will be released October 2021. You can keep up with all her latest writing on her website nicolesallakanderson.com or by following @NSallakAnderson on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NSallakAnderson/) , Twitter (https://twitter.com/NSallakAnderson), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/nsallakanderson/)  and Medium (https://nsallakanderson.medium.com/). Feel free to contact her, she almost always answers to any query or comment!


The books will be on sale for $0.99


Amazon Buy Links: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Nicole+Sallak+Anderson&ref=nb_sb_noss_2





What is something you’ve lied about? When I was in the third grade, I told everyone that the Brady Bunch was coming over for dinner. No one believed me, but I kept insisting anyway. For like a week.

Who is the last person you hugged? My husband.

What are you reading now? The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

How do you come up with the titles to your books? This is tricky. Sometimes it’s natural. That’s the way it was for The Song of the King’s Heart trilogy. “The Song of the King’s Heart” was a title found on the tomb of a small, royal child in Egypt. Origins made sense for the first book, because it was the origin of the tale. Blood and Chaos is a suitable name for a story about war. Civilization’s End worked the story of the last native king, for after his death, Egypt as we fantasize about it faded away, falling to Rome a mere century later. However, finding a name for my current work in progress has been harder. I like the title to have meaning in the story, but also perhaps play on it a bit.

Share your dream cast for your book. This is every writer’s fantasy…I’d love for The Song of the King’s Heart trilogy to be a series on Prime or Netflix, one season for each book. I think Zendaya would be perfect as Natasa. She’s beautiful, young, and carries herself like a royal priestess. I’ll be honest, I often dreamed of Chadwick Boseman as Ankhmakis while writing and was so heartbroken when he died. Way too young to lose such a fine person. Only a man with such poise and beauty could be Ankhmakis, the last native pharaoh of Egypt. Mahershala Ali would make a convincing Hugronaphor. Lupita Nyong'o is a goddess and only a goddess can play the High Priestess Neferu-Ankh-Maat. Michael B. Jordan has a way about him that fits Chanax. Daniel Kaluuya might be young, but he’s strong and powerful like General Khaleme. Finnian is hardest to cast. He’d need to be a young actor, blond with big, gorgeous, blue eyes. It’s all about the pale eyes and long, golden hair. He is the opposite of Ankhmakis. He is Apollo and Ankhmakis is Osiris.


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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: An Unholy Alliance #13 (4.1)

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. 

While researching his roots, Char is annoyed at Tyrone's unexpected appearance at the library. But not as annoyed  as when he sees a policeman who is heading right toward them! See what's going on in this week's chapter of An Unholy Alliance. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

An Unholy Alliance #13 (4.1)

Stay calm, stay calm.

I forced myself to quell the rapid beating of my heart. Such wild fluctuations would do me no good and could, in fact, be quite detrimental to my well-being. I kept telling myself I had no real reason to panic. Just because Tyrone said it, didn’t make it so. This could be a mere coincidence. A coincidence of the highest order, I had to admit, but nonetheless a possibility. Still, I had to be prepared for the worst.

“Just a county mounty,” Tyrone continued in a voice barely above a whisper, probably assuming that I could easily hear him while the approaching officer of the law could not. “Probably nothing to do with us. Don’t worry, it’ll be all right.”

What reason did I have to believe him? And what did he mean by us? There was no us.

I stiffened in my seat, my fingers quietly digging into the flimsy material of the chair, threatening its integrity. A fight or flight instinct was rapidly gaining ground within me. Fighting was entirely out of the question since I knew, fully blooded as I was, I could do some serious damage. My concern was for Casey. Also for the library and my access to it. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do something like that to her. They’d been nothing but nice to me and didn’t deserve to have their hard work destroyed so cavalierly just to save myself.

On the other hand, I had no intention of submitting to this newcomer’s so-called authority either.

As the man drew closer, I took the opportunity to observe him more carefully. In particular, the weapon in its holster at his hip, which his hand seemed to hover over like an overprotective parent. While I didn’t fear being shot, I didn’t relish it either, and I had no desire to shed any of my hard-earned blood, not for the likes of him. He appeared to be maybe about forty, had a slight paunch and a thinning hairline. Nothing that overtly labeled him as racist. Yet I could see the suspicious look in his eyes when he glanced at me, and not for a moment did I believe my skin color had nothing to do with the unease I saw there. Was he afraid of me, as a black man in a redneck community, or was he afraid of becoming entangled in a racial issue he wasn’t sure how to deal with. Either way, I had no intention of making the situation easy for him.

Perhaps we could take this fight outside…

“Hey there!” Tyrone interrupted my internal reverie. He’d risen from his seat, usual grin affixed to his face. But I sensed a deeper purpose behind the façade. Something I’d never felt from him before in our heretofore short acquaintance. Whatever it was, his tactic seemed to have worked, as the policeman shifted his attention from me to Tyrone.

“Afternoon, sir,” he returned Tyrone’s greeting, then a few heartbeats later made a minimal nod in my direction.

“Everything all right with the library?” Tyrone continued. “No problem, is there?”

“No, sir. No problem with the library.” The man paused just short of Tyrone, feet planted apart in a way that screamed he was ready to spring into action at any moment before he blurted out what he’d intended to ask from the moment he set eyes on us. Or me, actually.

“Do you know anything about that 1986 blue Chrysler LeBaron settin’ out in the parking lot?”

“Do I know anything about the LeBaron?” Tyrone parroted the question before he turned to me, faux excitement dripping from every orifice, if you can imagine that. At the same time, he surreptitiously motioned to me to stand as well, so I reluctantly acquiesced. “Didn’t I tell you there was something wrong with that car? I told you, I did. I mean the way those kids lit out of here, like they was headin’ to a fire ‘cause they had some wienies they needed to roast.”

What did that even mean? I couldn’t help but notice that the more he spoke, the thicker his accent grew.

 “I heard one of them say something like this here thing’s a piece of shit, and they could do better. You remember that, don’t you, Gordon?”

It took a moment for me to assimilate the fact that Tyrone was indeed addressing me by the fictitious name of Gordon (why Gordon?). I had to hand it to him—that was some pretty quick thinking. He’d just earned a bit of my grudging admiration for that.

The policeman eyed me somewhat suspiciously. Probably because I hadn’t spoken yet. Time to remedy that. “You did, you did, Earl (two could play that name game). I was wrong, I guess. You did say they looked a mite suspicious.” I added a hoosier drawl to my words for added authenticity. I could feel Tyrone stifle a giggle. “Looks like you was right.”

“Looks like you owe me lunch, sugar,” Tyrone added with a wink.

The policeman’s expression instantly changed from mild irritation to repugnance. No mind reader was required to know what he’d inferred from Tyrone’s words, coupled with that saucy wink. I couldn’t care less what he thought, to be honest. My own family could never decide if I was gay or straight, and I had no intention of enlightening them that I was actually ace. First, I considered it none of their business. Secondly, I was still figuring out things in that arena myself.

“How many kids?” He barely listened to Tyrone’s reply—“Two or three. Fast ‘uns, too”—before he lit out as though he was headed to the same fire.

And didn’t Tyrone seem inordinately pleased with himself? That grin just kept getting wider and wider as he turned to me, one hand held up high. What choice did I have? I reluctantly returned his high five. To give the devil his due, he had defused the situation rather handily.

 to be continued

Now visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them!

 Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb

Julie Lynn Hayes


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Virtual Book Blast: Runaway Royal by Wendi Zwaduk

 Good morning! Please welcome author Wendi Zwaduk to Full Moon Dreaming! She is here to tell us about her new release, Runaway Royal. Wendi will be awarding a Prize Pack featuring a necklace inspired by the book and made by the author to a randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter during the tour. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!


Runaway Royal

by Wendi Zwaduk



GENRE: Contemporary Erotic Romance (New Adult)






Will this runaway royal ever find her place…and true love?


All Princess Catherine Zara of Lysianna wants to do is attend college like everyone else her age. So she’s a royal and requires a security guard to move about in public, but if she goes to university, she doesn’t have to marry the man chosen for her. He’s not her true love, so why torture herself? All she has to do to get her life started is to run away to the US…


And then she meets Luke.


Luke Cobb wants to survive college with a degree in studio art and guarantees that he can show his paintings in the local galleries. All he needs is the right break to get his work mainstream and the right woman to stoke his dormant muse. When he meets Zara, he’s smitten and his creativity sparks.


Except, she’s a princess and he’s a commoner, which could be a big problem…






Once alone, she picked up her sketch book and pencil before heading back out to the balcony. She left the door open and sat on the bare concrete. The world glittered below. Sure, there had been danger in Lysianna. People robbed one another and many lied. The same ones found guilty tried to appeal to her father for leniency. Campus life wouldn’t be much different. People would be rotten to one another and they’d try to steal—boyfriends, girlfriends, supplies, grades… It was life and the world wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t mind as long as she had a chance to experience it. Her eyes were open concerning school, but she still loved the romance of being so far from home and meeting new people. The variety! Not everyone would bow to her and some might not notice her. What a concept!


She spied the tall, dark-haired man on his balcony. He held a cup of something. Coffee? Tea? Something stronger? She scooted over on her own balcony to watch him. He stood barefoot and clad in nothing but pajama pants. Was this his post-sex look? She sort of hoped so.


He wrapped both hands around the cup and rested his elbows on the railing. Worry knotted his shoulders.


She could see his face finally. He seemed handsome. Dark eyes and a killer body. Strong, muscled…she wondered if he’d finished the drawing from before and if he’d slept with the model.


She shivered. She’d never slept with anyone of the opposite sex and the times she’d slept with Corinne didn’t count because they’d actually slept. No sex involved.


She opened her sketch pad and created a list.


While I’m at university, I want to…





AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.


When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.


Find out more about Megan and Wendi at: http://wendizwaduk.com/indexMegan.htm


Sign up for the newsletter here: http://ymlp.com/xgjmjumygmgj


Website  http://wendizwaduk.com/indexMegan.htm


Blog  https://wendizwaduk.wordpress.com/


Fan Page  https://www.facebook.com/wendizwaduk.meganslayer/


Amazon Author Page  https://www.amazon.com/Wendi-Zwaduk/e/B003KA589U/


Bookbub  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/wendi-zwaduk


Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/wendizwaduk/


Goodreads  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5330530.Megan_Slayer


Twitter   https://twitter.com/#!/MeganSlayer


Buy links:


https://books2read.com/u/4jA1zD  https://www.firstforromance.com/book/runaway-royal


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VJHSJBF/ https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/runaway-royal-wendi-zwaduk/1138737040









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Monday, August 23, 2021

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 40 by Tite Kubo


Bleach, Vol 40       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 5, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


As Ichigo and Ulquiorra battle, they assess one another to see in what way their opponent has become more skillful since their last encounter. Orihime stands on the sidelines, helpless to do anything but offer her support to Ichigo, ready to heal him if necessary. Behind her back, though, others are plotting against her. Namely the two girls who were previously the object of Lord Aizen’s wrath for what they tried to do to her. They know Orihime is  no longer under his protection, so she is fair game. And they intend to get even for their imagined slights.

At that moment, Yammy arrives, eager to be part of the fight against Ichigo, although Ulquiorra has certainly not called for him and doesn’t want his help. Too bad for the girls that one chooses to be mouthy, since he obviously doesn’t like them to begin with. But luck is with them, thanks to the arrival of Uryu, but for how long? It’s getting to be a regular three ring circus there! And Uryu knows how to handle the big dummy… with a little help from Mayuri Kurotsuchi.

Turning back to Ulquiorra, Ichigo apologizes for the interruptions, saying “This is what you’ve been waiting to see” just as he goes Hollow. Ulquiorra reveals that Espada above quatra are forbidden to release beneath Las Noches’ canopy. But never fear, he knows how to remedy that. And so the fight continues. As usual, Ichigo never backs down, never considers the possibility of defeat, even though Ulquiorra insists, “I’m telling you – it’s futile!” Ichigo replies,” You thought I’d give up just because you’re stronger than me?” Uryu carries Orihime up to where the fight is taking place. Why is Ulquiorra dismayed to see her there? Is it possible he has a heart and in this heart he cares for Orihime?

This volume of Bleach is all about Ichigo and Ulquiorra, as if to make up for the lack of Ichigo in previous volumes. Not that I’m complaining about that, mind you, but in the end, Ichigo is the star of the show. Still, doesn’t hurt to let the others shine too. They’re all part of the story. But as the hero, we also know in our heart of hearts that Ichigo can’t fail, not even against Ulquiorra. So how bad will the defeat be for the powerful Espada? Only time will tell. But it’s obvious one of them must fall, and logically it can’t be Ichigo.

A riveting volume of Bleach, look forward to the next one!


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Saturday is Horror Day #24 - The Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis, The Hole in the Ground, A Christmas Horror Story

 Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis

Julian Garrison (John Keefe) and his brother Jake (Alexandru Geoana) are orphans, their parents having died in a car accident. The boys are being raised by their Uncle Charles (Peter Coyote), who doesn't seem to know or care anything about kids. Charles works at Hybra Tech, a huge  conglomerate that does everything from making food to making chemicals, boasting the latest in cutting edge technology.

Julian hangs out with a group of kids, including his "best" friend Zeke Borden (Elvin Dandel), who insists that Julian has the hots for Zeke's girlfriend, Katie (Jana Kramer), who also works at Hybra Tech, earning money for college. Zeke is something of a bully, who makes fun of Julian when he doesn't want to take his motorbike up a ramp and jump it. Not surprising since he took a nasty spill last time he attempted the jump. Showing off, Zeke does the jump and it doesn't turn out well. He ends up knocked out, so the kids call an ambulance.

The trouble starts when Julian goes to the hospital to check on Zeke, they tell him his friend died in the ambulance. Strange thing, when he calls Katie at work to tell her the bad news, she tells Julian that she just saw Zeke being brought to Hybra in an ambulance. So what is going on here?

Julian asks his uncle, who denies that Zeke is there. But Cody (Cory Hardrict) hacks into Hybra's 

computers and finds that Zeke is indeed there. The teens decide to go into action to rescue Zeke.

Oh, did I mention here be zombies? Courtesy of the Army, of course, with the help of Uncle Charles.

So let me just say that every entry in the Return of the Living Dead series is weaker than the one before. Hard to believe, I know. I loved the first two, not to much the next two.

The plot is contrived and ridiculous. And we still don't know why the hell the army keeps these zombies around. Are they thinking of recruiting future soldiers from the dead? Save on pay and food? If that's the case, they better find a manual on zombie control, because they don't have it. The acting isn't particularly good, not even Peter Coyote (who has done better films). There is one scene where a teen cries over a death, and his crying sounded incredibly fake/forced.

The soundtrack wasn't particularly memorable, being part of the school of let's slap some sort of heavy metal onto this and call it done. Real teenagers would not be this stupid, either. I don't recommend watching this. I even lost track of the action a couple times because I was bored. I'll give this a very shaky 1.5 Stars.

The Hole in the Ground

Single mother Sarah (Seána Kerslake) moves her son Chris (James Quinn Markey) and herself to the Irish countryside, presumably to start over. Chris is something of an introvert, and frightened of spiders, but very close to his mother. On the way to their home, they have an unsettling encounter with their neighbor, Noreen (Kati Outinen). The older woman, who appears to be demented in some way, besides appearing out of nowhere and almost causing an accident insists that Chris is not Sarah's son!

Exploring the land around their home, Sarah comes across an enormous sinkhole, and finds herself concerned for her son's well-being. The old woman's words continue to haunt her, which isn't helped by the woman's unexpected death. Suddenly, Sarah seems to see Chris differently, and she doesn't like what she sees. Soon, she is doubting whether he is her son or not.

This is a very well-made psychological thriller, one which can make you look at your children differently and wonder. This is a real woman in a terrifying situation. You have to feel for her. What would you do if you began to think your child wasn't really your child? Who could you confide in, when most people would think you were crazy for even suggesting such a thing. Director Lee Cronin has done a splendid job. Direction and cinematography are great, and so is the acting. 

Granted, by the end of the film, I still had some questions which went unanswered, such as why has no

one reported this sinkhole or warned her about it? Surely such a thing would need to be filled in or something, right? Still, those matters aside, it's a riveting watch and well worth the view. I give this film a solid 4 Stars.

A Christmas Horror Story

This is an anthology film with four intertwined stories that all take plus on Christmas Eve... or Krampusnacht, if you will. Santa Claus faces down a group of zombie elves, a desperate family makes a last ditch appeal to a rich relative, teenagers film a documentary of the gruesome murders that occurred at their school a year ago, and a family in crisis tries to have a normal Christmas.

The common thread within these stories, other than the particular night, is the ongoing narrative by a disc jockey who is stuck working on Christmas Eve, played by William Shatner. His co-worker has left the building, after giving the dj a disparaging message, and hopefully leaves to cover the food drive at the mall. Dan (William Shatner) just keeps on going.

Taylor (Jeff Clarke) takes his wife and two children to visit his elderly Aunt Edda (Corinne Conley), in the hopes of being able to get some money from her. What his family doesn't know is that she has no idea they're coming... he's basically waylaying her. Is it surprising that she is less than enthusiastic and can see right through him from the moment of his arrival?

Molly (Zoe De Grand Maison), Dylan (Shannon Kook), and Ben (Alex Ozerov) are filming a student documentary on the disturbing events that happened at their school. But when they find themselves locked into the school at night, things take a sinister turn. Is it possible that what killed the two students still lurks inside the building?

Scott (Adrian Holmes) was the first officer on the scene of the horrific killing, and the discovery has

taken a toll, not just on him, but on his family. In an effort to put a sense of normalcy back in their lives, he proposes they go together to chop down a Chrismtas tree. However, the land he intends to do that on is marked do not tresspass. His wife Kim (Oluniká Adeliyi) doesn't like the idea, but puts up with it for the sake of their son Will (Orion John). The parents begin to panic when Will disappears into the forest. They find him unharmed inside of a huge hollow tree. But something isn't quite right...

You don't usually see Christmas and horror in the same film, but you see plenty of it here, and well done at that. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was very happily surprised by what I saw. Each story is well told and well acted. We move from one to another, back and forth, as the tales unfold before our eyes. Each one is riveting and original, not your standard horror fare or Christmas either, an interesting and unique hybrid. There are plenty of scares here, lots of blood, and yet some laughter as well, albeit a mite unsettling. I bet you've never heard elves use the language some of these do!

William Shatner is the icing on the cake, the lone DJ who is just trying to get through the night and keep his audience entertained, while wondering where the hell his co-anchor has gotten to and why isn't he doing what he's supposed to. He's very funny, and it's always good to see him in anything.

The ending... well, I won't give it away, I'll just say I never saw that coming in a million years. This was a thoroughly enjoyable film, and I hope these guys make more like this. I'll give this a strong 4.5 Stars.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 15: Expo Hurray by Naoki Urasawa


Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 15: Expo Hurray     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 21, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Despite warnings advising against it, the Pope’s visit to Japan is moving forward as planned, including the opening ceremony of Expo 2015. Brother Luciano has returned to his home of Italy, after spending some time in Argentina, arriving too late to attend the funeral of his friend and mentor, Father Perrin. He finds the priest’s desk in the same disorganized disarray he remembered. Searching through the mess, he discovers a particular book with a receipt, which he tracks down to a bookseller of antiquities. However Brother Luciano knows this is not an old book and traces it to its forger. He is confused as to why Perrin would trouble with such a book, which is jumbled and confused, containing prophecies such as history will end in 2015. Brother Luciano realizes Father Perrin believed in this book, and did not believe they would ever see 2016 because history would end in 2015.He takes his concerns to his Cardinal, who tells him he is very wrong, and hints that he should return to Argentina. When Luciano returns to his room to find it stripped of everything, he knows what he has to do.

Back in Japan, Detective Chono goes to work, only to be given the task of interrogating someone who doesn’t speak Japanese. But Chono doesn’t speak Italian. How is he going to get through to him? And why does this man sound so urgent… maybe even desperate? Meanwhile, the virus is spreading at an alarming rate and cautionary travel measures are being taken.

Chono gets in touch with Kanna, takes the strange man to her, although she isn’t sure why, but they go to the church and the man confesses to the priest. The priest believes his story and tells Kanna and Chono that the plot to assassinate the Pope is still on. And there is worse… someone thought to be dead has been seen alive by multiple people, including Otcho and Yukiji. Friend alive? How? Now it’s more imperative than ever that Kanna remind the gangs of their promise to stand behind her and protect the Pope. They know the assassin is #13, but can they track him down and stop him before he carries out his mission? And is it possible that Friend has prophesied everything… including his own resurrection?

This volume is intense, so much going on, and omg, Friend alive? What’s up with that? Why? It can’t bode well for anyone. The virus is spreading, the Pope is due to die, can this get any worse? Especially if Friend gets back in the saddle again, what can stop him? I loved this book, and can’t wait for the next one. Especially as… dare I hope it… something I’ve wanted, longed for, and yearned for… is about to come true!

*crosses fingers*





Thursday, August 19, 2021

Book Review: Monster, Perfect Edition Vol 4 by Naoki Urasawa


Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 4   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 21, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/438 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


A PI named Richard, who was thrown off the police force for shooting a kid, is in therapy to deal with that, as well as the addiction to alcohol that almost killed him and cost him his wife and his daughter. Even now, his daughter won’t see him, although he’s on a better footing with his ex. Richard asks his therapist, Dr. Reichwein, to look at a photo and see if he can tell anything about the man in the picture. Turns out, things are starting to work out for him and his daughter has agreed to see him the next day. When that doesn’t happen, though, he contemplates turning back to drink.

Neuman, who still hasn’t revealed his true identity to the billionaire Schuwald, has introduced Johan to him, and Johan has become indispensable. Neuman’s foster parents reveal that they wish to adopt him. Without giving them an answer, he calls his employer and says he is leaving his employ, but the old man wants him to read to him one last time. Richard, the PI, tries to report to Schuwald what he has learned, but the man is no longer interested and insists the matter is settled.

Dr. Reichwein remembers a former student of his who has done very well, Dr. Gillen. He’s recently read an interview Gillen did with a serial killer named Jürgens who claimed a “friend” ordered him to commit the murders. He also asks him about a former classmate of his who did well, a doctor named Tenma.

As Richard continues to investigate the people who surround Herr Schuwald, he is starting to uncover a disturbing pattern… plus he finds himself the object of some near-misses that could have hurt or killed him. He ends up at the home of Johan’s current adoptive parents, the Lieberts.

When Dr. Reichwein  receives some devastating news, as he tries to figure out what happened and he is almost killed! He chases down his would-be killer and confronts him, demanding to know who is paying him to do this. Later, his life is saved by Dr. Tenma, and meanwhile Dr. Gillen is visited by BKA Inspector Lunge. Nina Fortner is hot on Johan’s trail, while Johan is teaching children a terrible game, and Tenma lies in wait to rid the world of a monster…

Not as much of Tenma or Nina in this volume, but the other characters and their stories are definitely riveting. The PI who is trying to redeem himself for his daughter’s sake, the therapist who has ties with two former students, including Tenma, and who is determined to unravel the mystery he’s begun to see. The obsessed Lunge, whom I suspect no longer cares if Tenma is innocent or guilty, he’s just going to bring him down no matter what. I can’t help but compare the so-called “friend” of Jürgens, who forced him to kill, with the sinister Friend of Urasawa’s Twentieth Century Boys. Both Johan and Friend are definitely evil men. I really hope Tenma doesn’t go through with his plans.

Another great volume, can’t wait for the next one.



Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: An Unholy Alliance #12 (3.5)

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. 

Charlemagne is less than pleased when Tyrone shows up at the library where he is trying to research his family. How and why? See what's going on in this week's chapter of An Unholy Alliance. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale.

An Unholy Alliance #12 (3.5)

The last thing I wanted to do was create a scene. Not there and then. Later? Well, I wouldn’t guarantee anything about what might occur, given the opportunity.

Shelving my irritation, at least for the moment, I gave him a withering look. “Why are you here and how the hell did you find me?” I knew I hadn’t given him any clue as to where I was going when I’d received the text from Casey. I mean, why would I have? I hadn’t even said good-bye, or any variation thereof.

“Pure dumb luck,” he chuckled. “And a little bit of deductive reasoning.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I caught him eyeing my tea a bit too suspiciously for my taste, so I protectively moved it closer to me, just in case he had designs on it. Let him ask Casey for a cup and see how far that got him. Although they were nice, and might just give him one, not knowing how annoying he truly was.

“What kind of tea is that?” He was glancing more openly at my cup now. I shot him a baffled look at the way he’d not-so-subtly changed the subject. Like I’d forget what I’d asked.

“What difference does that make?” I countered. “And you didn’t answer my question. How did dumb luck, which I suspect is something you’re more than passing familiar with, and a bit of deductive reasoning lead you here, of all places?”

Again he ignored me. “You should probably drink green tea. It’s rich in antioxidants. Do you know what those are?”

“Do I look stupid?” I snapped.

He shook his head. “No, of course not. I just don’t like to assume anything. Then you know that antioxidants, like those found in green tea, help to improve blood circulation. Considering your condition, I assume you need all the help you can get in that area.”

“It’s not a condition,” I blurted out without thinking through my words. And now I’d just admitted to being what I am… and didn’t I feel stupid. I felt my temper begin to flare. How was he able to manipulate me so easily? I found him…that is, Tyrone was… damn the man, he was very… infuriating.

I was beginning to lose my words, and that I would not countenance.

“I don’t need lessons in biology from someone like you! I’ve studied at more universities than you can even imagine. What have you done? Graduated from tech school?” Now who was making assumptions? I couldn’t believe I’d let myself be goaded into engaging in a battle of wits with this… this… person. To what end? I could leave here at any time and never see him again. And yet I didn’t.

I told myself that was because this was my library, not his. If anyone was going to leave, it would be him. But if I were to be completely honest with myself, that wasn’t the truth. Whether I was willing to admit it then or not.

“Sorry,” he chuckled again. His hand seemed to snake toward me, as if he intended to pat my arm, perhaps in some manner calculated to soothe the savage breast. I jerked back, maintaining a respectable distance between us. That should let him know I didn’t want to be touched. Not that I owed him an explanation, I just wanted things to be clear between us.

“I guess it’s the biologist in me,” he explained. “I love talking about it. Well, you may have noticed I just enjoy talking…”

Isn’t that the truth?

“…and most of the people I talk to don’t have a science background, so I kind of take that into account and I end up explaining things more often than not. I certainly didn’t intend to insult you, I promise. I have no doubt you know many things, probably a lot more than I do. I mean, you’ve been studying for a lot longer than I have, so it’s only natural. Plus you sound very well educated, if you don’t mind my saying so. I can hear it in your voice. You have a very nice voice, by the way.”

I couldn’t decide if I was more flattered or insulted, or some combination of the two. And this conversation was drifting farther and farther afield.

As if he could read my mind (something I was beginning to wonder about, I admit), he finally answered my question. “I heard it on the police scanner. The BOLO.”

The what? What language was he speaking? And what did he hear?

“You know. Be on the lookout.” He must have noticed the blank look in my eyes and forged ahead. “The car. The Chrysler I spotted in the parking lot. The timing was too perfect. I mean you take off, the car gets stolen, here it is and here you are…” He made a hand gesture and his face wore a you see what I mean expression.

“The blind luck came in that I just happened to be coming this way. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen it and figured out it might be you. I wasn’t positive, but I was fairly sure. And of course, as you can clearly see, I was right.”

I couldn’t tell if he looked more complacent or smarmy or just plain pleased with himself. A desire to leave was growing within me, but I couldn’t. At least not until I finished looking through the books Casey had found. The papers I could keep, they were just print-outs she’d made for me. But not the books. I couldn’t check them out, not being an actual patron, not even a resident of the area.

“Damn!” Tyrone whistled under his breath.

What now?

I glanced up sharply to find what appeared to be a policeman heading our way with undoubtedly foul intent.

What had Tyrone just brought upon me?

 to be continued

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

Cia Nordwell