Wednesday, October 5, 2022

 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.

Vinnie and Ethan et al arrive at the home of Ethan's parents only to find Joe Jr there and Joe's spouse missing. To make matters worse, they get a call from their boss telling them they shouldn't go to Atlanta yet as their hotel has been compromised! See what's happening in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #43 (9.1)

If that didn’t sound ominous…

“What’s going on, Anderson?” Ethan asked in a low voice. To all outward appearances, he seemed calm. But I knew better. I could feel the tension in him, although I must say he controlled it well.

“Information was leaked regarding the hotel you were supposed to stay in,” Anderson said. “We have reason to believe another murder attempt will be made.”

The fact that he didn’t specify just who the target of that attempt would be worried me. Did he not believe this has something to do with Benny and his upcoming testimony against his ex? But then again, I thought I’d seen you-know-who, and she wouldn’t be involved in anything regarding Benny, wouldn’t even know who he was. And I’d been the one to receive a phone call containing a threat against me involving certain serial killers.

Nothing was making any sense right now.

“Where are you?” Anderson asked.

“We’re at my family’s house,” Ethan replied. “Just outside of Atlanta.” I knew our boss knew where Ethan’s family lived. At least he didn’t ask what we were doing there.

“By the way, do you still have your sister and her son with you?”

“We do,” Ethan replied, clearly as mystified as I was by the question.

“Good. All of you stay where you are, at least for now. I’ll send agents to keep watch on the house. And in the meantime, I’ll put decoys into your hotel room in Atlanta. Maybe we can get everything taken care of before your uncle’s due to testify.”

Get what taken care of? The more he said, the less I understood.

Not to mention, we couldn’t all stay here. First, the house wasn’t big enough. Second, as I remembered from before, Ethan and I couldn’t cohabit as boyfriend and fake girlfriend because of not being married and nothing had changed on that front other than we were now officially boyfriend and boyfriend. And engaged. Then there was Sarah and Alex besides us and Benny. And Joe Jr was already staying here. Didn’t that sound like a crowded recipe for disaster?

I know Ethan was thinking the very same thing. But before he could open his mouth to sensibly protest Anderson’s arbitrary orders, our boss had hung up.

Well, now what?

I glanced up at the sound of the front door opening and closing. Sarah had come out and was looking at us apprehensively.

“I know something’s wrong and please don’t try to deny it.”

Ethan and I were sitting on the top porch step. At his sister’s words, he scooted closer to me and patted the space beside him. She took a seat and looked at us expectantly.

“There have been developments,” Ethan admitted before filling his twin in on everything that had transpired on this rather ill-fated trip, including the latest unexpected twist.

“Wow,” she said once he finished his narrative. She seemed as cool as he did…must run in the family. “Almost like we’re circling the wagons, eh?”

I wasn’t sure that was an accurate analogy, but I wasn’t about to say anything either.

I scooted a little closer to Ethan and rested my hand upon his thigh. “Do you think we’ll all fit?” I had my doubts.

“I’m more worried about whether my dad will even allow that to happen,” Ethan admitted. He glanced at his twin. “I think maybe we should drop you at Mercy’s—”

She cut him off at the pass. “Forget it, bro. I’m not leaving you like this. Besides, I wouldn’t want to attract attention to Mercy and her wife.”

That made sense. But that still left us with persuading the minister to go along with the idea. Somehow I didn’t think he’d agree to any of it, especially under his roof.

Ethan released a long sigh but said nothing. Neither Sarah nor I broke the silence. We both knew he needed to work things out in his own way. Not like we weren’t furiously pondering the situation as well.

“There’s only one thing to be done,” he said at last. “We’ll have to make him think it’s his idea.”

to be continued

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

Cia Nordwell


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 19 by Koyoharu Gotouge

 

Demon Slayer, Vol 19      


Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 1, 2020

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

 

Inosuke and Kanao are facing the number 2 rank demon, Domo, who tries to confuse Inosuke with his rhetoric. But Inosuke refuses to listen. Just when things seem bleakest, assistance comes from beyond the grave, and a plan that was deliberately hatched some time ago. The question is, will it actually succeed? Or will Shinobu’s sacrifice have been in vain ?

Tanjiro and Tomioka have defeated Azaka and are recuperating when they learn of the battle Inosuke and Kanao are waging. Each battle is bringing them closer to facing Muzan! Meanwhile Tokito encounters an upper class Demon #1 who recognized something familiar in Tokito. Turns out he is a descendant of the demon! The demon is impressed with the skill displayed by the Demon Slayer. If these two are related, how will their skills compare? Genya joins the fight, but things aren’t looking well for him when he receives help from an unexpected quarter…his estranged brother Sanemi.

The major storyline in this volume concerns the two battles being waged, Inosuke and Kanao vs Domo, and Tokito and Genya against the #1. The battles are very interesting, and so is the back stories we get to learn about. I am glad to be finding out more about Inosuke, although I’m still not sure why he feels the need to wear the boar’s head. Maybe because his face is very feminine and he’s afraid he won’t be taken seriously with a girly face and a manly body.

They’re getting closer and closer to destroying Muzan. I have to believe that the final battle will include Tanjiro and Nezuko. Will the story continue once they defeat him? I hope so. This is a great world the author has built, and I’d love to see it continue. Great volume, looking forward to the next.

 

 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 4 by Keito Gaku

 

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 4    


Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: January 18, 2022

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/256 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

Tsubasa uploads an apology video before disappearing from YouTube. Opinions are divided regarding the video, but life goes on. Although Ryo is out at school, he isn’t out to his family, although his older brother suspects something because of the way Ryo has been acting lately. While out one day Ryo and the others run into the shop owner who originally rejected their line. They ask his opinion, and he tells them what he really thinks, which they find harsh. To make matters worse, Jin returns to his apartment and finds his father there, with nothing kind to say to his son.

Ryo goes to the video store and runs into a guy who is wearing their brand! Ryo is excited until he discovers the guy doesn’t really like it, he happens to have his own brand, which he’s been living off of for twenty years. He invites Ryo and the others to visit his place. They take him up on his offer and are impressed with his set-up. He tells them they have to decide on what their theme is and come up with a concept. Then he tells them he has an exhibition coming up… and they can have room there for a display of their own! That’s an offer they can’t possibly refuse! Such an opportunity!

As the day of the exhibition approaches, Jin and Ryo have to decide if they are going to say anything to their families. If so, what are they going to say? How long can they keep their secrets safe rather than being who they are openly?

In the final volume of Boys Run the Riot, we watch the boys grow along with their brand. They may not be setting the world on fire right now, but they are building a solid foundation from which to build their future. One important lesson they learn is to listen to what others say yet ultimately follow their own path, create their own destiny. It’s important to be who you are… to everyone. I feel optimistic about Boys on the Riot and think they will do well. A fitting ending to a good series. Well done! Look forward to seeing more from this author.

 

 

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #81 - Home Sweet Hell, Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It

 Home Sweet Hell


Life seems sweet for Don Champagne (Patrick Wilson). He has a successful home furnishing store that he runs with his partner Les (Jim Belushi). He has a beautiful wife, Mona (Katherine Heigl) and two great children. But life in suburbia isn't what it appears to be. A pretty young thing named Dusty (Jordana Brewster) applies for a job at the store, and he hires her, to Les' delight, because Les' wife has Crohn's disease and he likes to have eye candy to look at when he's working.






Mona is rather controlling of  everything in their lives. She even has a book of goals she means them to achieve, and she schedules everything, including their lovemaking. Starved for attention, Don is an easy prey for Dusty, and he begins a torrid affair with her. But when she turns up pregnant, now it's a whole new ballgame. What's a guy to do?


The premise of this movie is an interesting one, what with Mona doing the dirty deeds that Don can't 


find it within himself to do. But at the same time, there is something that doesn't quite ring true in this dark comedy.  It's slow to find its pace and the acting is somewhat stereotypical. Mona is unlikeable - too controlling and too psycho. It's hinted that she suffered some sort of trauma as a child but when Don asks her about it, she gets defensive and warns him that if he asks her that ever again, she'll end him.


Jim Belushi's character spends most of his time drunk and whining about his poor wife with the Crohn's Disease (and btw, those jokes are very insensitive and not funny) Jordana Brewster, whom I haven't seen since she was in As the World Turns, plays a femme fatale with an agenda but no real personality. And Kevin McKidd is Dusty's boyfriend's friend, Freeman. Typical thug types.

I didn't dislike the film but I feel it could have been better. If you're like me, you'll google the ending to figure out what happened. Guess there won't be a sequel. I'll give this 3 Stars, mostly because I like Patrick Wilson.

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It




Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren are a married couple who know a little something about demonic possession. Called to assist with the exorcism of an 8-year-old boy David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard), they are successful in ridding him of his demon... but only because the demon has unknown to them transferred itself to Arne Johnson (Ruairi O'Connor). Arne invited the demon in to save David. Be careful what you ask for. After returning home, he ends up getting into an altercation with his friend Bruno (Ronnie Gene Blevins) and kills him. Up on trial for the murder, Arne's lawyer pleads not guilty...by reason of demonic possession. The Warrens have to prove this is so.




The Warren's search for the truth is hampered by Ed's ill health when he suffers a serious heart attack. But nothing will stop Ed in assisting with the investigation and looking after Lorraine.



This is the third film in the series about real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. I 


 can't vouch for how accurate the films are compared to the real couple, or how much of the stories are true. But they are interesting. And again, we have Patrick Wilson to look at. Nuff said. I don't find this series as scary as Insidious but I do enjoy them. I have another Annabelle movie to watch and the Curse of La Llarona (from the same universe). Also, look for actor John Noble in this one. I would recommend the series as worth watching. I'll give this film 3.5 Stars.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 74 by Tite Kubo

 

Bleach, Vol 74     


Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 2, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

This is it. The last volume. The big battle. And so it begins…

Hard to believe the journey is over. Ichigo vs Yhwach. I don’t believe there was ever any doubt as to the outcome. Even so, there are obstacles to be overcome. Like Yhwach knowing the future, and planning for it. Such as the way he breaks Ichigo’s sword. That’s a hard one to overcome. But now the ghosts of the past rematerialize and all things are possible.

This last volume is filled with a lot. Old faces, new losses… and happy endings. We learn the truth about Uryu (which I said was coming), as well as the shocking truth about Yachiru. Will we ever see her again? We have lost close friends, such as Ukitake, while others have changed who they are.

I do have one question, though, if anyone can answer that. What happened to Aizen, after the battle? Where did he go? Is there room for another round of Bleach? Or will it become one of Bleach’s little mysteries?  I don’t know about that, but I do know the ending is very cute and heartwarming, and I am so glad I took this journey, even if I will miss all my companions on this wonderful voyage. Looking forward to seeing the new anime that is coming next month.

Bleach is awesome! Gotta read it all!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #42 (8.5)

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.

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #41 (8.5)

“I’m so sorry.” Maureen continued to apologize for her ill-mannered child, even though she clearly wasn’t to blame for his bad behavior. And honestly I couldn’t fault the minister either. Face it, Joe Jr. was just a bad egg.

Ethan, Sarah, and Benny were quick to assure her that his words were not his fault, while I maintained a stoic silence. Both because I didn’t feel it was my place to intrude in this family moment and also because I had nothing but expletives to use regarding him and didn’t think that would be appropriate behavior on my part.

The minister retreated to his study, at least momentarily, leaving the rest of us to ourselves.

“I’m so sorry, where are my manners? I bet you’re all thirsty after your long trip. What can I get you?”

We all protested that we didn’t want to be any trouble but in the end Maureen prevailed, and Benny went into the kitchen with her to help bring out glasses of homemade Southern sweet tea. Not until everyone was settled with their drink, including Alex who was enjoying fruit juice in his special cup Grandma kept just for him, did the conversation return to the original subject of Joe Jr’s missing wife.

“Heather moved out suddenly one day,” Maureen explained. “I don’t know her reasons as I haven’t talked to her. And Joey hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with information.” She sighed. “Haven’t seen her or heard from her since then. Neither has Joe, and you know how close they were.”

Ethan and I exchanged glances but neither of us said a word. Didn’t seem appropriate somehow. Also, what could we say? From where we stood, they seemed closer than close. I didn’t want to be the one to accuse Ethan’s father of infidelity without at least some evidence of it, but they sure gave a good impression of being cheaters.

Well, there was that time we caught them shopping together, back when I was dressed like a woman and Ethan’s mother was in the hospital, before I came out as me. There was a negligee in their cart, a delicate little red thing, it was. And never mind that until we saw them, I had the strangest feeling Ethan was angling to get one of those same skimpy garments for me to wear. Thank goodness, that never happened.  Truth be told, we never did receive an explanation of what was going on that day, and they never offered to explain.  Not like we asked, either. Talk about awkward. I had ended up diffusing the situation by pretending to be hurt, thus drawing Ethan’s attention to something other than his possibly cheating father.

Still, although that in and of itself might look damning—and trust me, it did—I don’t think that testimony would fly in a court of law.

Caught up in my own thoughts, I almost missed what Maureen said next. That Joe’s insurance business had gone belly up (my words, not hers), and that’s why he was back home. Unemployed, without his wife, and generally miserable.

I could have told her he struck me as a very miserable person who deserved everything he got, but I wisely held my tongue.

Evening was already approaching. I hadn’t noticed before but a delicious aroma emanated from the kitchen, one that made my mouth fairly water. And reminded me we had miles to go before we slept, unfortunately. Ethan must have read my mind. We exchanged glances. I could see he felt worse than I did. It wasn’t often he was able to enjoy being in the bosom of his family like this, even if his brother was right upstairs. I liked the way this felt myself, so I could understand he was reluctant to end it.

But it’s also not like we had a choice.

“You’ll stay to dinner, won’t you?” Maureen asked. “I have a pot roast in the oven, with potatoes and vegetables. And I made fresh bread today.”

That sounded so very good.

“Mom, I wish we could—” Ethan’s phone rang, cutting him off mid-sentence. Anderson again? The hairs on the back of my neck stood up in alarm.

Ethan rose and beckoned to me to do the same. He excused us and we headed to the front porch as he answered the call, putting it on speaker for my benefit.

“How far from the hotel are you?” Anderson asked. No hello, no preamble.

“Maybe an hour and a half or so,” Ethan said. “What’s up?”

“I think maybe you should stay away from Atlanta for right now. Maybe for a few days even.”

 to be continued

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

Cia Nordwell


Virtual Book Tour: Love Potion #999 by C.S. Edwards

 Good morning everyone! Please welcome author C.S. Edwards to Full Moon Dreaming! She is here today to tell us about Love Potion #999. She will be awarding a $25 Amazon?BN GC to one ramdomly 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!


 


Love Potion #999

by C.S. Edwards


 

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GENRE: Paranormal Romance

 

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BLURB:

 

Did you hear what happened when a witch doctor met a witchologist in a bar? Well, mayhem ensued! What else did you expect? It's all because everyone had too many Gnome Island Iced Teas, not to mention the cloud of intoxicating glitter that put everyone under the table even if they didn't drink a drop. But the real punch line in that fateful tale were the two potion-filled arrow toting cupids. For one witch, after that night, stuff got real.

 

You see, the witch doctor was none other than the famous apothecary and alchemist, Betsy Babington. She's a celebrity! Famous, successful, single, and... bored. Before she walked into that bar, Betsy was itching to change things up. So, she enlisted her coven of misfits and two mischievous cherubs to make a rogue love potion recipe — destined to be the next big thing in her famous potions brand. She never once thought about making Love Potion#999 for herself! Definitely not! Well, maybe she did, just a little...

 

For the whole truth, you'll have to read the story. All I can really say is some magical historians have said Betsy Babington's tangle with the trouble of Love Potion #999 was like opening Pandora's box. Now that was a little extreme. For the folks who were there, it was more like a weekend in Vegas.

 

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EXCERPT:

 


“It definitely makes a statement. Doesn’t it? The silver color is so regal,” Jessica said.

 

“Beautiful.” Lola drew the word out in a muddy Central European accent.

 

“Agreed. I’m super pleased with this one. I think it’s going to do really well.” Betsy sighed.

 

“That was not convincing at all. What’s up, Betsy? Do you not like the vials? They are the finest crystal we could get.” Ron held a sample size vial up in the air. The sun, streaming in from the bank of floor to ceiling windows in the apartment, hit the silver potion, making it dance like liquid glitter.

 

“Of course, I do. I think this potion is great. It’s just… well, I wish we could do something really different. Something super cool and interesting. A potion for the ages. You know. One that would change everything.” Betsy raised an eyebrow.

 

“Like what?” The coven responded in unison.

 

Betsy paused for a split second before she slid the tattered loose-leaf paper out of her pocket. “Like this.”

 

The coven stared at the wrinkly, yellow sheet. Its scripted writing danced across the page, captivating them all. No one spoke. No one looked away.

 

“It’s a love potion. We’re going to make the magical world’s first love potion in 200 years,” Betsy said.

 

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

 


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

I was born in Ashland, Kentucky, the youngest of three children, and grew up in the small Eastern Kentucky town of Inez. I moved to Lexington to finish high school. Attending Transylvania University for two years, before graduating from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia - with a degree in Economics - go figure! After a stint in New York City, I moved back home to Kentucky and have since built my life around family.

 

Living just outside of Cincinnati with my husband, Sean, and our five amazing kids, and a precious goldendoodle, I work hard to find time to balance family, work, and writing.

 

My first passion is weaving mysteries and I'm working on several new fiction projects now. This past year, I also found great joy in creating useful journals, trackers, and planners. I have big plans for publishing more of these creative notebooks in the future! As always, I cannot wait to share my next novel with you. I hope you enjoy, and welcome hearing from you!

 

 

https://csedwardsauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authorcsedwards/?ref=pages_you_manage

https://www.instagram.com/authorcsedwards/

https://twitter.com/CSEdwardsauthor

https://www.facebook.com/candaceswordedwards

https://pin.it/3J5Ye4K

https://magicandmayhemuniverse.com/c-s-edwards/

https://www.amazon.com/author/c.s.edwards

https://books2read.com/ap/nmOXwE/CS-Edwards

 

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The Questions – please choose at least 5

2) Which musical would you say best exemplifies your life – and which character in that musical are you?

Musicals! Who doesn’t love them? Well, I do, and for my life, I’m choosing the magnificent -- Movin’ Out – the rock show based on the best music ever by Billy Joel. Seeing this show was my own virtual walk though some of the best songs ever written. I loved every minute and sang along – I’m sure the folks seated near me were not pleased! Music is one of my biggest inspirations in writing, so I can’t help but think a musical about music is just fitting for my life. Of course, my character would be the Piano Man, who orchestrates the entire story – because I’m not only an author, but I’m a bit of a control freak and like to be in charge. It’s perfect all the way around.


3) Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scene using them: hammer, saucer, traffic lights

Cindy watched Corey Kyle Soto toss his rainbow-colored sledding saucer against the traffic light pole, and dust off his jeans. She pushed her hair behind one ear and leaned into the pole. Puffing a long string of frosty air between her parted lips like cigarette smoke, she sighed, hoping he’d look her way. He was by far the hottest boy in 9th grade. Cindy was not that hot. But maybe he wouldn’t notice. Corey grabbed the saucer and said, “you wanna take a turn with me?” Her heart thumped like a hammer. She nodded and said, “sure.”


4) What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other?

Romance is like art – all in the eye of the beholder. Some of the most romantic times with my husband have been simple pleasures like a walk in a park holding hands, or a lazy afternoon drive just to get out of the house. When you can spend time doing nothing and laugh, talk, and even just enjoy the silence, you’ve found your better half. There is one special thing we do each summer – we get re-married – not formally, but usually by a friend who has specifically gotten ordained (usually online) just for the occasion. We don’t stick strictly to the date we were married, but pick a weekend that suits everyone’s’ schedules. We don’t go anywhere fancy – it’s been in our backyard, on our porch, etc. It’s sweet, simple and sometimes hilarious – and the most romantic thing my husband could ever do in my eyes.


5) When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot?

Character – always. I’m not much of a plotter. I do have an idea of how I want my stories to go, but that changes as they unfold. That’s not to say I don’t know the ending of the stories. I always know the ending. It’s just the middle that is fuzzy. For me, not having a very defined path for a story leaves a lot more room to develop the characters – or really for the characters to develop themselves. Sometimes I’m just as surprised by what a character does or says as anyone else. That makes writing the meat of a book really exciting.


6) If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you?

I think my movie would be a dramady – with a lot more laughs than drama! So, I’d have to say Sandra Bullock. She’s the perfect combination of serious, sassy, smart, and sweet that I would want to be portrayed as the movie me. LOL. Plus, she has the whole clumsy thing down – we all saw her in Miss Congeniality – and that fits me perfectly. She’s not afraid to snort-laugh, eat pizza in her sweats, and dance like she doesn’t care who’s around. All things that would be musts when being C.S. Edwards.

9) Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive yet.

Wow. This is a BIG question. Honestly, I would hope that our world is ready to receive any idea. I’m a dreamer that way. I’d prefer to think there are ideas so amazing they just haven’t been conceived yet. But when they are, we’ll all gather them in with open arms and minds. If you can’t tell, I’m more of a glass ½ full gal, which lends itself toward the truth that we can handle anything – ideas and stories might provoke healthy debates or disagreements, but we should always be ready to listen. Otherwise, we stop learning. My husband would tell you I’m not ready to tell you the tale about The Drawbridge – but one day I will.


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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 73 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 73      


Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 3, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

Quincy Nakk le Vaar boasts that he can acquire immunity to anything that is thrown at him – but he hasn’t figured on the infinite ingenuity of Kiskue Urahara! Le Vaar, although impressed, has something else up his sleeve, and manages to pierce Kiskue’s eyes . Now, at long last, Kiskue feels he has no choice but to utilize his never before seen Bankai. What can it possibly be?

Hitsugaya is still battling Gerard Valkyrie when Byakuya steps in for the assist. When they see Kenpachi arrive, Toshiro and Byakuya exclaim “Here comes trouble.”  They consider him to be like a bull in a china shop, one who acts first and thinks later. But in this case, his actions might cause the Quincy to grow beyond their ability to handle if they can’t control him.

The final battle is about to begin – Ichigo vs Yhwach!

If this is going to happen, it has to happen soon as the series is almost done at this point. The battle with Hitsugaya and Byakuya against Gerard Valkyrie is monumental, and takes up a great deal of this volume, but it has one unfortunate and unforeseen consequence. No one is safe in this world, alas.

I am happy to say that Uryu is no traitor to his friends, but more of that later. The important thing here is that everything is drawing to a close, and we have one more volume to go! It should be epic!

  

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #80 - Hangman, Bad Ronald

 Hangman


Will Ruiney (Karl Urban) is a homicide detective who finds himself on the trail of a serial killer who is playing a sadistic game of Hangman with his victims. He calls his own partner Ray Archer (Al Pacino) out of retirement to assist in the case. Nosy reporter Christi Davies (Brittany Snow) inserts herself into the case and insists on following the detectives around, despite the potential danger to herself. Each victim is found hanging, with a letter carved onto them. 






I'm not gonna beat around this bush - this is not a good movie. In fact, it's fairly awful. The only saving grace is that it's short. And I'm saying this despite the fact that I do like both Pacino and Urban. But even they couldn't save this disastrous formulaic boring film. Urban basically phones in his part, Pacino is just playing Pacino and he seems to be amusing himself as much as anything. And Brittany Snow isn't much of an actress, at least not in this.


The writing is awful, the plot boring. I read someone's description of it as imitating the film Seven (which was good, btw). I almost turned it off, I was so bored. The killer doesn't appear until the end, and he isn't very good either. I'm just going to give this 1 Star because I do like Pacino and Urban, but I recommend you not watch this horrible movie.

Bad Ronald


Ronald Wilby (Scott Jacoby) is a rather shy, introverted young man who lacks some of the social graces. It doesn't help that his peers have a tendency to tease him mercilessly and relentlessly. Ronald lives with his ailing mother Elaine Wilby (Kim Hunter) in an old Victorian mansion. One day, Ronald cracks and accidentally kills a young girl. He confesses to his mother, not knowing what to do. Together they devise a plan whereby they make the downstairs bathroom into hiding place, remove the door and replace it with drywall so no one will know it is there and Ronald can live there until it's safe for him to surface again. He does the work himself and adds a small opening in the walk-in pantry where his mother can give him his food.




But things go wrong after his mother goes into the hospital for routine surgery...and dies. The house is sold to a couple with three daughters - the Woods (Dabney Coleman and Pippa Scott). In his hideaway, Ronald continues his hobby of drawing and painting the fantasy world he has created, with himself as the hero. He spies the Woods and becomes immediately drawn to one of the daughters, Babs (Cindy Fisher). He spies on her and her family through holes he has drilled himself, and fantasizes about Babs. Sometimes he takes a chance and goes into the house when no one is home. But the nosy neighbor Mrs Schumacher (Linda Watkins) spots him one day, and things are about to go downhill


This film is from 1974, a time when films didn't show as much violence as many do now. This film is 


no exception, but still manages to convey a very creepy vibe. Imagine someone living behind the wall in your house? And not just anyone but a murderer. Spooky, right? Scott Jacoby gives a chilling performance as Ronald, the titular character, just the right combination of naivete, nerdiness, and downright creepiness. This is an early role for Dabney Coleman, and for once he isn't the creepiest in the room lol


I really enjoyed this film, but it is really short, about an hour and a quarter. I think it's well worth the watch, and thanks to my friend Vinny, who recommended I watch this. I give this film 4 Stars.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #41 (8.4)

 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.

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #41 (8.4)

Gone? As in she left the little shit? Or gone as in she disappeared? The word gone could mean so many things.

Maureen appeared troubled as we followed her into the house. She took a seat beside her brother on the sofa while her husband settled into the armchair. Sarah had plopped onto the floor within reach of Alex, who was still in his grandfather’s arms. I supposed we would follow suit until Maureen patted the couch beside her.

“There’s room for you two here,” she said. “Make yourselves at home.”

She was right, we fit on the large comfortable sofa with little trouble. And I probably didn’t have to move as scoot to Ethan as I did in order to save room, but let’s just say I wanted to and leave it at that.

“Did something happen to Heather?” Ethan asked his mother, concern evident in his voice. He can’t help himself, he’s too nice for his own good. “I mean, is she all right?”

“Like you care?” another voice intruded. My heart sank when I glanced up to find Joe Jr. standing in the doorway. He seemed a bit…disheveled. Wrinkled clothing, bloodshot eyes, five o’clock shadow. All in all, not a pretty picture.

“Joe, please don’t talk to your brother like that!” Maureen’s voice sounded weary.

Oh oh, trouble in Paradise?

Ethan’s brother took a couple of steps toward Ethan, and I immediately sprang to the edge of the couch protectively. I didn’t trust little Joe not to try to hurt Ethan. I’d hit him before and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I think he remembered our last little encounter because he took a quick step backwards, out of my reach.

“It’s true. He doesn’t care about this family, never has. Mr. Hotshot Federal Agent. Comes to visit when it’s convenient for him and his… his…” He was studiously avoiding making eye contact with me, and it took every ounce of will power not to spring up and flatten him right then and there. But common sense—and the gentle touch of Ethan’s hand on my arm—kept me in check.

“Never calls to see how I am. Thinks he’s better than us when he’s just a sinner, he is. Living in sin, no better than his sister and her sin baby….”

The outpouring of hatred and bigotry momentarily floored me, but only for a second. And then everyone was yelling at once, and I found myself on my feet, along with Ethan, Benny, and Sarah. Chaos and confusion reigned, and it was only a matter of time until the first punch was thrown.

“Stop!”

Joseph Senior’s voice rang out over everyone else’s and we all fell silent. He was calming a perturbed Alex, undoubtedly upset by the bedlam around him. When Sarah reached for her son, he gave him to her then stood.

“There will be no more of that in this house,” he said in a stern voice that brooked no opposition. Undoubtedly the same fire and brimstone tone he used in the pulpit to keep his parishioners in line. “Joe, I would like you to go to your room until you can behave in a civilized manner. But first, I want you to apologize to your brother and sister.”

I didn’t think that would go over very well, and Joe’s body language clearly showed that was indeed the case. He stiffened, almost visibly digging in his heels. But then he cast a quick glance toward his father and immediately cast his eyes toward the floor.

A long moment passed. “I… I apologize.” And didn’t he sound just like a sulky teen-aged boy, rather than a fully grown adult of twenty-seven.

Not waiting for a reply—I’m not sure anyone wanted to make one—he spun on his heel and hightailed it out of the room. His noisy footsteps clattered up the stairs then faded into silence.

Well, that happened.

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

Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Book Review: Alice in Borderland, Vol 2 by Haro Aso

 

Alice in Borderland, Vol 2     


Author: Haro Aso

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 15, 2022

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Dystopian/344 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

 

Ryo, Karube, and Chota have teamed with Saori to defeat the land of Borderland and make their escape by playing their stupid games. It’s Karube who figures out they needed to head to the Beach, wherever that is. But then they find themselves playing a game from which only one operson will emerge alive and everything changes.

Afterward, Ryo stops caring about what will happen, unable to stop thinking about his friends and what has happened to them. He is found by a girl named Usagi, who brings him back to a semblance of himself after telling him her story. He decides that they need to fight on together. They decide to carry on the search for the Beach, asking players they run across. But eventually they realize they are talking to the wrong crowd so they decide on a strategy, waiting for the games to be over and talking to the survivors. Through trial and error, and clever deductions, they eventually reach their goal, although it isn’t quite what they expected.

The Beach isn’t an actual beach, it’s a hotel where a number of the players have gathered. On arrival, they are each ranked according to the cards they possess. The goal is to collectively gather all the cards necessary to leave the island, which appears to be the entire deck. But no one knows if more than one person will be able to escape. And some cards are more difficult to acquire than others, while no one has even seen the face cards yet.

But are the players at the top manipulating the others for their own agenda? Can Ryo and Usagi survive this place, and is there any actual chance of escape?

This is certainly a dangerous place to be for all involved, but somehow there is a question that really hasn’t been addressed. Probably because they’re all too busy trying to survive. But I have to wonder who is behind this, and what purpose does this serve? This manga is certainly a dark version of Alice in Wonderland, full of twists and turns. I will have to wait for the next volume because it is just now coming out, so the library won’t have it right away. Looking forward to it.

 

 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #79 - Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead

Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead


In pursuit of the Tall Man, Reggie (Reggie Bannister) and Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) run into a few snags in their plan to prevent his unholy invasion. Mike is kidnapped and Reggie has to find him. But along the way he acquires a couple of new friends - a little boy named Tim (Kevin Connors) and a young woman named Rocky (Gloria Lynne Henry). They also keep seeing Mike's dead brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) who seems to be residing in one of the Tall Man's silver balls.







The third entry in the Phantasm series is weaker than the first two, and some of the acting leaves something to be desired. The Tall Man is becoming very one note, and the special effects aren't so special. I hope this is not an indication of what is to come as I see a few more films ahead in this series. I'll reserve judgment on them, but this one gets 1.5 Stars.



Not really a lot to say other than watch at your own peril, but I found it to be not very frightening.



Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #40 (8.3)

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.

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #40 (8.3)

Well, let’s just say luck was not on our side when we arrived at the Thorne family home. Thanks to having been alerted by Sarah, Maureen was waiting for us when we pulled up the long drive, but she wasn’t alone. Her husband sat beside her on the porch swing. He stood when we pulled up but made no move to follow her as she flew down the steps toward the car.

I was surprised to hear Ethan mutter something under his breath that sounded like a curse, surely not at the sight of his mother. Alarmed, I glanced around us, not sure what he was upset about. And then I noticed the other car parked on the grass and I recognized it from our last visit. Joe Junior. Weren’t we just the lucky ones? And why did I think his being here had nothing to do with the return of his uncle to the family fold? Also, shouldn’t he be working? Doing whatever insurance agents did every day?

I started to comfort Ethan but he had already exited the rental car before I could get the words out, so I simply followed him. Benny was ahead of both of us, and he and his sister were already embracing. Sarah brought up the rear. Understandable as she had to release Alex from his car seat.

By then, Joseph Sr. had strolled down the steps and approached us.  His face lit up at the sight of his grandson, who seemed just as excited to see him, wriggling in his mother’s grasp.

“Yes, yes, it’s Grandpa. Calm down a second.” She handed her son into her father’s outstretched grasp. He leaned down and kissed her cheek then turned toward Ethan and I with a nod, even as he hugged little Alex. I had to admit, he was crazy about that little boy.

“Hello Ethan, Vinnie. Did you have a good trip?” he asked us. I was gratified to see that he wasn’t excluding me in any way. I knew he was trying, and that had to be worth something, right? Even so, I let Ethan answer for both of us. I wasn’t sure what he would say, or how much he would reveal.

“We’ve had worse trips,” he answered evasively, although at the moment I couldn’t remember when that was. Maybe he was referring to Florida, but I wouldn’t exactly describe that as a road trip.

I worked at maintaining a strict poker face when my future father-in-law gave me a sharp glance. He didn’t say anything, so either I had succeeded in fooling him or he was withholding judgment. Hard to tell.

However, at the sound of his wife’s voice, he was most definitely paying attention. She repeated his name. She nodded toward her brother, whose hand she held within her own. I wasn’t sure what to expect, all things considered, and the way Reverend Thorne had previously treated Benny.

It wasn’t until Joseph Sr. took a step toward Benny, free hand outstretched, that I realized I’d been holding my breath. I quickly exhaled and glanced at Ethan. He seemed as relieved as I felt.

“Welcome home, Benjamin,” Reverend Thorne said, and I heard nothing untoward in his manner, thank goodness.

Benny took the proffered hand. “Thanks, Joseph,” he said. “Good to see you again. By the way, you’ve got quite the grandson there.”

Those words did it. Joseph Sr. smiled widely, tucking Alex onto his hip. “I do indeed,” he agreed. "Why don’t we all go inside and get comfortable?”

Crisis definitely averted. I’m not sure what I’d been expecting, but this wasn’t it. Looked like Ethan’s dad was still evolving into more of a human being all the time. Ethan and I exchanged glances and I could see he was a relieved as I was.

Joe Se. led the way, followed by Sarah and Benny. Ethan and I brought up the rear, stopping only to greet Ethan’s mom. She was in great spirits, and her color was quite a bit rosier than when I’d first met her, at the hospital, after her stroke. She had her family together, and I could tell she was happy about that.

Still, there was that elephant in the room. I knew Ethan would ask about it, and he did.

“Is Joey here?” he asked.

“I haven’t had a chance to tell you yet,” his mother apologized. “Things have been a little hectic last couple of days. Joey moved back home. Temporarily,” she hastened to add.

Holy shit, what was going on?

Before we could even ask, Maureen said, “Heather’s gone.”

What did that portend?

to be continued

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

Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb