Saturday, December 31, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #94 - Stitches


Stitches (Ross Noble) isn't a particularly funny clown - he's rude and he's crude. Even the kids he's paid to entertain don't particularly find him amusing.  But something goes horribly wrong at Tom's (Tommy Knight) birthday party, and Stitches ends up dead. Six years later, Stitches comes back, and this time he's looking for vengeance!

Tommy and his friends are teens now. And some of the kids have grown up to be assholes. Tom still can't forget the single kiss he shared way back when, in his treehouse, with Kate (Gemma-Leah Devereux), but he hasn't had the nerve to follow it up with her and now she's dating a jock. He invited her to his party and hopes she'll come.

Through a touch of bad Karma, Stitches receives the invitation and decides to crash the party...

This is an Irish film, made in Ireland, and it is definitely a dark film. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. Some might complain that too much attention is paid to the teens in between the first and second party, but I believe it set everything up for what was to come, including how certain people died. The death scenes are definitely creative and very gory, so know that going into it. Ross Noble as Stitches is great. I could have used more of him. All in all an enjoyable film to watch. I'll give it 3.5 Stars.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #55 (11.5) by Julie Lynn Hayes

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.

The fun continues at the Thorne residence! See what's happening in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Then go visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #55 (11.5)

“That sounds like fun,” Maureen said. “We wouldn’t miss seeing our boys’ film debut for the world.”

My heart warmed when Ethan’s mother included me in such a way. And then I realized she’d actually spoken for her husband as well, at least as far as accepting Troy’s generous invitation. Maybe things had changed for the better here, at least as far as they were concerned. Certainly not their oldest son.

More small talk was made, but it was getting late. I had a feeling little Alex was not one for sleeping in. On the other hand, I didn’t see Sarah cutting short this chance to be close to her idol any sooner than she had to.

But that also brought up the question of Troy and Brendan. Ethan and I exchanged glances and then looked toward our friends, who were doing the same. We all four rose at the same time.

“We’re going to stretch our legs, be back in a minute,” Ethan explained for his parents’ benefit. For a moment, I thought Sarah might join us, but she cast a quick glance up, as if listening for something, and then didn’t move. Probably making sure she could hear Alex if he needed something. She’s such a good mother.

We all trooped out onto the porch, taking up paired positions on the steps.

“Now that I have you all gathered here, I shall unmask the murderer!” Troy announced melodramatically. His words produced a laugh from all of us, but then we instantly sobered as we realized we didn’t really know what was going on here.

“I still don’t understand why someone told you to come here,” Ethan confessed. “But most of all, how did anyone know about my parents’ house? That has me more than a little worried.”

“Are you sure that nutjob is still safely put away?” I asked. I know I’d already asked him that, but who else would even connect us? Although that didn’t explain how she found out this address. But people with money have their ways.

“I’m sure,” Troy solemnly assured us.

“What about that Florida guy,” Brendan suggested. “You know, the Mangler.”

“I thought maybe he was threatening Vinnie,” Ethan admitted. “I even wondered if maybe he did have some kind of confederate who’s still on the outside. But even if he did, he wouldn’t know about us being friends with you guys. And he wouldn’t know about Uncle Benny.”

Absolutely nothing was making sense at this moment.

“I’m worried about you two,” Troy said. “That’s why we hightailed it down here. I’m glad you’re okay, yet I can’t help but feel something isn’t right, that you’re in some kind of danger.”

I could understand his feelings, since I happened to share those same concerns.

“How about if Bren and I go to a motel and come back tomorrow to make sure everything’s okay? I don’t want to impose on your mother or anything. How about I take us all about to breakfast?”

“I know someone who won’t complain about that,” I said, producing more laughter.

“Then I’ll tender an offer immediately,” Troy said. “Then we can get out of your hair. You’ll call us if anything happens, right?”

“You know we will,” Ethan replied and I nodded my agreement.

“Want us to take Benny with us?” Brendan asked.

“He should be okay with us,” Ethan said. “But I’ll ask my mom, just to be sure.”

As it turned out, Maureen said our pup was welcome, and we quickly assured her he was very housebroken, and we would make sure to walk him regularly. Of course, Sarah was disappointed to learn that Troy was leaving for the night, but her sorrow turned to excitement at the prospect of seeing him the next day and breaking bread with him.

This seemed to be a signal for the evening to conclude. Troy and Brendan said their good nights and headed out. Reverend Thorne announced his intention of retiring. I couldn’t help but notice the expectant glance he gave his wife.

“Good idea, it’s getting late,” she said, stifling a yawn.

Sarah yawned as well. “Sounds good,” she said. “I bet little man will be up early so he can play with puppy again.”

Final good nights were said and they all headed upstairs.

That just left the boys club, aka Ethan, Benny, Joey and me. Oh joy.

 to be continued

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

Cia Nordwell


Monday, December 26, 2022

Book Review: Chainsaw Man, Vol 1 by Tatsuki Fujimoto


Chainsaw Man, Vol 1      

Author: Tatsuki Fujimoto

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 6, 2020

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★


Denji’s life is a hard one. He’s begun selling body parts just to make ends meet… and to pay off the enormous debt his father accumulated before his death. Denji’s only friend is his dog Poochita, who happens to be a devil. Despite that, they’ve become close. A desperate Denji goes to the man he owes the debt to and requests he hire him as a devil hunter.

Through unfortunate circumstances, Poochita dies, but his last act is to give Denji his heart, so the boy can live, and now he is part devil himself. And that part makes him a living chainsaw man! Then he meets a girl named Makima and falls in love… and is offered the chance to make a new life for himself. Of course, that offer does have a few strings, but what the heck. Denji may actually get to achieve his lifelong dream of touching… well, you’ll see.

The first volume of this series was pretty cool, no lie, and a great supplement to watching the anime. As usual, the manga contains information that is either missing or easy to miss in the anime. Denji is an interesting character, and so are the people he gets to work with, such as Makima and Aki and Power. Looking forward to seeing where these characters’ journeys will take them!


Saturday, December 24, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #93 - Midsommar


Following the tragic death of her family, Dani (Florence Pugh) has been clinging to her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) a bit more than usual, to the annoyance of his fellow students/friends. They'd been planning a trip to Sweden by one of the group to witness a mid-summer festival in his hometown. Christian feels compelled to tell them that he's invited Dani, but she doesn't really want to go. However, she does, so they grudgingly accept her presence among them.

There is something very beautiful and at the same time odd about the village where they end up. The people are indeed welcoming and loving. At the same time, some of their ways are... unusual, to say the least. One of the reasons Josh (William Jackson Harper) is there is to write about the festival for his thesis. When Christian suddenly decides to use that specific festival for his thesis is well, tensions begin to run high.

Still reeling from the death of her family, Dani is none too pleased when one of the village maidens 

seems to have set her cap for Christian. Another couple, Simon (Archie Madekwe) and Connie (Ellora Torchia) are there also, and Simon unwittingly does something completely unforgivable to the villagers. He inexplicably decides to leave without informing Connie, who is understandably distraught. The villagers assure here that the man who took Simon to the station will be back for her as well but she doesn't wait and runs off.

Things get stranger and stranger... and then somewhat sinister...

This movie was beautiful to behold, set in a beautiful country. Everything looks wholesome and clean, but of course what you see isn't always what you get. It all depends on how you look at it, as simply a horror story (from most people's viewpoint) or a lovely fairy tale (from Dani's POV). Although it's about two and a half hours long, it doesn't really feel long as you keep wondering what is going on and what's going to happen. Pay close attention for clues, even though they won't really prepare you for the ending. But there are hints. Might have to watch it again sometime to find more. I'll give this film 4 Stars.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #54 (11.4)

 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.

Troy and Brendan have just arrived at Ethan's family's home and just as everyone is settled, in comes the minister. What will he have to say? See what is 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 #54 (11.4)

Benny began to rise, no doubt with the intention of vacating his brother-in-law’s usual seat, but the minister waved him back down and made himself comfortable in the other armchair, closer to us. I know, shocking, right? And totally unexpected. Introductions were made, hands shaken, and we were just settling in… for what, I don’t know, as the sudden closing of the front door reminded me there was actually someone missing from this scenario. I confess I had completely forgotten about Joe Jr., but who could really blame me?

His sullen face soon appeared in the doorway as he glanced suspiciously at all of us. Like there was some kind of conspiracy going on, and he was the target. I had a feeling it was on the tip of his tongue to ask something like who the hell is this? But what little common sense he possessed—and the presence of his father, no doubt—gave him pause. He probably wanted to run, but realized there was nowhere to go other than back outside. But his father’s words quickly ended that avenue of escape.

“Come in, Joe, and meet our guests,” Joseph said in a tone that clearly indicated he would tolerate no nonsense from his oldest child.

Fresh introductions were made, but Joey didn’t seem singularly impressed. When he tried to complain that there were no seats to be had, his sister spoke up.

“There’s plenty of room on the floor.”

No arguing with that.

Joe Jr claimed a spot as far from everyone else as he could get, but that wasn’t saying much when there were so many of us. I couldn’t help but be amused at his antics, and I could see Ethan found him funny too. Not that we would ever say anything. At least not in front of everyone. In private was an entirely different matter. Although when we would have that private time was also a matter of conjecture. Certainly not that night.

“So, Troy, are you shooting something down here?” Sarah asked, her voice almost dripping with excitement. “Or maybe scouting out a location?”

Ever the gentleman, Troy replied, “They wouldn’t send me to do that. Not my area of expertise, I’m afraid.”

“You’re too modest,” Brendan spoke up, albeit softly. “You’re good at anything you choose to do.”

How cute was that? They were just adorable. I know Sarah thought so too, as I heard her squee quietly.

“Are you still working on that football film?” Ethan asked, which question produced a wince from yours truly. I couldn’t help but remember the little scenario related to that film that ended up with me being injured (entirely my fault) and Ethan inadvertently ending up in DC in the mist of a hostage crisis.

“It’s going into post-production,” Troy said. “Might have to re-shoot a scene or two, or do some dubs, but otherwise I’m done.”

“You ever going to tell me the ending?” I teased him with a playful grin. Brandon snickered, while Troy just shook his head.

“Vinny, you are incorrigible, aren’t you? And I think you know better than that. You’ll have to see for yourself.”

“What about that Civil War film?” Sarah asked. “I’ve been wanting to see that for some time. What’s the name? Oh yeah, Sweet Surrender. When’s that coming out?”

For a moment, I couldn’t place the title. And then I remembered. That stupid film with that stupid actress, she who doesn’t serve to be named. My arch nemesis. I couldn’t contain my scowl, but I bit my tongue and said nothing.

Ethan took my hand in his and squeezed tightly. He knew how upset I became at the mere mention of the woman.

“In the fall,” Troy replied. “I don’t know the exact date. I would love to have you all as my guests at the premiere.”

Oh goody. My enthusiasm knew no bounds. Of course Sarah, on the other hand, was extremely ecstatic. Especially when he added, “I bet you you won’t be able to find either Ethan or Vinnie in the film.”

“Say what?” Sarah turned startled eyes toward us. My scowl only deepened. “Are you telling me they’re both in your film?” Her question was aimed at Troy, of course, despite the death glare she was throwing our way.

“Oh yes, they both have small parts. I think Vinnie got a couple of scenes. Once as a soldier and once as a Southern belle during the reel scene.”

Oh Lord. I felt heat climb up my cheeks. Not that Ethan’s family hadn’t seen me in a dress, as they most certainly had. But not in hoop skirts. And certainly not on the big screen.

“I wouldn’t miss seeing that for the world,” Sarah said with what I felt was a malicious grin…or I could be reading into it.

Did Joe Jr. actually snicker?

to be continued

Go see what the other Briefers are doing!

Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #92 - The Descent

 The Descent

Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is recovering from a devastating life event the previous year. She meets up with some of her friends for a vacation. But their idea of having fun is exploring caves! Juno (Natalie Mendoza) is the somewhat leader of the group. She's the one who picks the cave and gets all the information they need to safely explore, making sure they all have the right gear as well.

This particular cave is actually in a hole, so they have to go down on ropes. The only way out is through the exit, as they won't be able to ascend the same way. No problem, right? Except that Juno neglected to mention that this isn't the cave she told them they'd be going to and they don't have any guidebooks for it! She thought it would be fun for them to be the ones to explore it, and also maybe bring Sarah out of her funk. Maybe even name the cave for her late daughter!

But things start to go horribly wrong, and now they're not even sure how to get back to the surface... and they are horrified to realize they are not alone.

This is one creepy scary movie! I will admit to jumping more than once. Imagine being underground and not knowing how to get back up? Assuming there is a way up? And then, on top of that, the creatures... *shudders* You may recognize MyAnna Buring as she was in Ripper Street and more recently The Witcher. This is a good horror movie. I'll give it 4.5 Stars.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #53 (11.3)

 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.

The unexpected arrival of Troy McGarrett has certainly pleased at least one member of Ethan's family (not naming names lol) but how will his father react? See what's going on 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 #53 (11.3)

I have to give Troy credit for never being at a loss for words in any given situation, even when faced with a rabid fan, such as Sarah Thorne. All right, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Sarah wasn’t quite that bad. Maybe not rabid but certainly adoring and most assuredly starstruck.

Ethan’s twin made it down the steps so fast, I was afraid she might have tripped.

“I am such a huge fan of yours,” she was saying. “I own every one of your films, and I’ve seen them all in the theater.”

“Troy, I’d like you to meet my twin sister Sarah.” Ethan made belated introductions even as he and I exchanged bemused glances. This was a side of Sarah I’d never seen before, although I shouldn’t have been surprised considering the way she’d been gushing over the mere mention of the actor’s name earlier.

“I see that beauty truly does run in your family,” Troy said as he bent over the hand Sarah had offered him. I couldn’t help but notice her pleased grin along with the suddenly scarlet complexion.

“You’re too kind, Mr. McGarrett.” Was that a giggle I just heard? Seriously?

“Please, call me Troy.”

And didn’t that just lead to more of the same. At that moment, Maureen returned with the promised pie. She quickly assessed the scene before her with her usual astute eye.

“Sarah, please release Troy’s hand so he can eat.”

Everyone was soon settled comfortably. Benny took the minister’s armchair, while Maureen insisted Troy and Brendan sit on the sofa, and she saw beside them. Ethan and I were content to sit together on the floor, as was Sarah, who sat as near as she could to her idol’s feet.

The wheels must have been turning in Sarah’s head because she suddenly threw a suspicious glare toward her brother. “Ethan Thorne, you’re so mean, not telling me Troy was coming here!” she berated him.

“I couldn’t tell you what I didn’t know, Sis,” he said. “Honestly.”

“We had no idea they were coming,” I added, immediately coming to Ethan’s defense.

Sarah looked between us and then back to Troy, cocking her head thoughtfully. Immediately, I began to regret what we’d said. She was bound to question his presence now and that involved things best not spoken aloud. Perhaps it would have been better to tell a small white lie in the interests of security. At least until we understood the situation more fully. Too late for that now, that cat was out of the bag.

“Doesn’t my mother make the best pie?” Ethan suddenly exclaimed. “Best pie maker in the whole state.”

While Maureen blushed and told him that was nonsense, and everyone else told her that was the truth, I realized what Ethan had done, and the moment passed. At least for now. Didn’t mean we were completely in the clear, though, as I heard a deep throat clear from the direction of the doorway.

Enter the minister.

Perhaps he’d heard strange voices, or perhaps he was done doing whatever he did in his study. Either way, there he was, shrewdly appraising the ever enlarging group of people in his home. I couldn’t help but wonder how he was going to take to this new invasion of his privacy… and hope we hadn’t pushed him to the limit, whether it was our fault or not.

 to be continued

Now see what's up with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #91 - Funny Games

 Funny Games

Imagine if you will an all-American family - mother, father, and son - going to visit their vacation home for some rest and relaxation. Spend some time boating, visiting with neighbors. This is the life of Ann (Naomi Watts) and George (Tim Roth) and their son Georgie (Devon Gearhart).  But the all-American dream becomes an all-American nightmare when two preppy-looking young men, Paul (Michael Pitt) and Peter (Brady Corbet) come into their lives.

It begins with a simple request for four eggs by one of the young men, who claims to need it for the next door neighbor, whom he is visiting. But this ordinary request quickly becomes a game, and the only people who are amused are Paul and Peter. They take the family hostage and announce the game - see who will live to see the following day.

This movie was well written and well executed, but I have to warn you, it is brutal and hard to watch. I found myself wondering why these adults didn't just slap the shit out of those two punks and have done with them. Or why they ever let the situation escalate the way it did. But perhaps you had to be there. And I have honestly never been in such a situation, nor do I want to be. Great performances by Watts and Roth. I know this film will stick with me for some time. I'll give it 4 Stars.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Book Review: Overlord, Vol 2 by Kugane Maruyama


Overlord, Vol 2       

Author: Kugane Maruyama

Publisher: Yen On

American release date:  September 27, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Fantasy Adventure /256 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Ainz is having issues he never dreamed of when he was playing Yggdrasil! Two beautiful women are at war with one another…over him! Whodathunkit? Two of his NPCs -  Albedo and Shalltear -  are ready to fight one another to win his love. What’s a man to do? Except, he isn’t a man, not anymore. He’s an undead lich king. Man, life is complicated.

He decides he needs more information about this new world he finds himself in, more than he has received so far. Actually, he really needs to see things for himself. He sets out with one of the Pleiades warriors, Naberal, and presents himself as an adventurer named Momon, and her name is Nabe. But it’s hard to get her to keep from calling him my lord. Guess he’ll have to work on that. Heading to the nearby city of E-Rantel, they first rent rooms at an inn, where Ainz has to deal with a troublemaker, but in doing so he accidentally breaks a young woman’s potion. She is less than thrilled with him and lets him know about it, so he gives her one of his Minor Healing potions to make them even. Little does he know….

Next they seek out the Adventurers Guild, from which they can find offers of employment and make some money as they explore the land. The trouble is that, while Ainz can speak the language, he cannot read it, never having acquired the skill to do so. In all fairness, he never thought he would need it. The jobs are posted on a board, according to skill level required. As a newbie, Ainz is at copper level, but he has no idea which jobs he would qualify for and he can’t let them see that he can’t read. So he grabs one job request and takes it to the receptionist, who disdainfully tells him that is mythril level while he is merely copper. He asks her for the highest job he can do, but before she can respond, he receives an offer from a group of adventurers who ask if he would like to join them. This doesn’t sound too bad, so Ainz agrees.

They are known as the Swords of Darkness, and their leader, who looks like a warrior, is Peter. The other members include ranger Lukrut Volve, Spell Master Ninya and Druid Dyne Woodwonder.  Lukrut seems inordinately curious about the relationship between Momon and Nabe, which mystifies him. But once he explains that they are friends, the truth is revealed when Lukrut makes a declaration of love for the girl! She shuts him down immediately, but he doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word no. Luckily, she has no problem with telling him how little she thinks of him.

Just when it seems things are settled with these adventurers, Momon receives a personal request for his services! A young man named Nfirea, a well-known apothecary in the village, wants him to accompany him while he gathers herbs in a dangerous area. But Ainz is reluctant to simply abandon his new companions, even though they say they understand. He finds a way to combine the two requests that is mutually beneficial to all. And off they go!

Meanwhile, there are sinister goings-on beneath the cemetery of E-Rantel. Something’s going to happen, and it isn’t going to be good!

I am totally loving this series! It’s like being inside an MMORPG except for real! I love Momonga/Ainz! He is coping with an unusual situation rather well, I think, and adjusting to being a skeleton instead of a man. The rivalry between Albedo and Shalltear is hilarious, but I admit to being Team Albedo. Nabe proves herself to be a good companion for this first adventure, and the apothecary Nfirea is cute! I’m looking forward to the next volume!


Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #52 (11.2)

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

After making a necessary excursion to the store for needed supplies, Vinnie and Ethan return to the Thorne residence to find... Troy and Brendan and Benny the pup! What is going on here? 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 #52 (11.2)

Has a night ever been so long?

At least Ethan had the presence of mind to remember our purchases that were sitting in the trunk of our rental car. I’d been too put off by the unexpected appearance of our friends to remember them.  We put Benny on his leash for convenience sake and divided the lot among the four of us and proceeded to the house. Ethan carefully balanced everything on one arm so he could open the front door and admit the rest of us.

Maureen and Uncle Benny were still sitting in the living room as we entered the hallway. They immediately rose when they saw us. “Thank you so much,” Maureen said, “for getting everything. How much do I—” Her words cut off abruptly, probably at the sight of our two additional guests. I couldn’t exactly blame her for being surprised.

“Mom, sorry to spring this on you,” Ethan said apologetically, but his mother wasn’t having any of that as she turned toward the newcomers and I saw all over again where Ethan’s manners came from.

“Nonsense. Any friend of yours is most welcome in our home. I’m Ethan’s mother, Maureen Thorne, and I am very happy to meet you.”

The equally smooth and gracious Troy quickly shifted his own bags in order to take her extended and make a quick bow over it. “Thank you so much, ma’am. My name is Troy and this is Brendan.” He nodded to indicate his better half.

“Very pleased to meet you, ma’am,” Brendan quickly chimed in.

Maureen seemed pleasantly flustered by their attentions, before indicating Ethan’s uncle beside her.

“Benjamin Thorne,” he supplied with a smile.

 Brendan was the first to make the connection. “Oh, you must be Uncle Benny, like the puppy!” As if to acknowledge he’d been named for this man, Benny was hovering at Uncle Benny’s feet, despite being anchored by the leash in my hand.

Everyone laughed as Uncle Benny stooped to pick up the miscreant pup. “So Ethan thinks you look like me, does he?” Benny barked, as if in affirmation.

Ethan must have realized we were standing there holding a load of perishables as well as the items Sarah had requested. “We should get these into the kitchen,” he said.

Maureen tried to pick up the items at Troy’s feet, but he would have none of it. “No, ma’am, we can handle this.” He hefted them himself and turned toward Ethan with a grin. “Lead on, MacDuff.” He followed Ethan down the hall toward the kitchen, trailed by Brendan and myself. I couldn’t help but mischievously, “Behave, or I might just have to mention you know what.”

Troy set his bags onto the kitchen table before giving me an inquisitive glance. “No, what?”

“You know. The Scottish play.” I raised my eyebrows at him for added emphasis. Ethan just shook his head, clearly used to my antics by now.

“Oh, that,” Troy said with equal exaggeration. “Well, my dear Vinnie, I am not in the theater, I’m a movie star, if you’ll recall, so you threatening to say Macbeth isn’t about to put my knickers in a twist. ‘Fraid you’ll have to do better than that.”

“I’ll have to work on that then,” I promised him with a grin.

Maureen bustled into the kitchen, and we helped her to put everything in its proper place, except for Sarah’s items. “I’m so sorry you missed dinner,” Ethan’s mother was saying. “But we have some apple pie still, with a little ice cream or some whipped cream. I made plenty.”

Troy and Brendan exchanged glances. I suspected the idea of homemade food sounded as good to them as it would to anyone in their right minds.

“I don’t want to put you,” Troy began, but Maureen saw right through his protests.

“Ethan, why don’t you all go sit in the living room and I’ll bring it right out.”

“Sounds good, Mom,” Ethan said, before adding to Troy, “No sense in arguing once she has her mind made up.”

We were headed back down the hall when I heard steps from upstairs and then Sarah’s hushed voice.

“Guys, try and keep it down, okay? I just got Alex down for the night and—” Her words ended abruptly, to my alarm. But then I realized she had come down the stairs far enough to get a glimpse of the four of us headed toward the living room. Well, one person in particular.

Her mouth flew open so wide she looked like she was about to swallow something whole…or someone. Her cheeks turned bright red and she had the distinct look of a deer in headlights. When she managed to find her voice at last, she blurted out. “Oh. My. God. Troy McGarrett.”

Didn’t I call it?

to be continued

Now see what the other Briefers have been up to!

Cia Nordwell




Saturday, December 3, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #90 - Nope, Don't Breathe 2


OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer) Haywood's lives are shaken when strange objects falling from the sky kill their father on his horse ranch. They become determined to prove that UFOs exist. While purchasing electronic equipment at a local store, they make the acquaintance of Angel Torres (Brandon Perea). He realizes they don't know the first thing about installing what they've bought and wrangles his way into doing it for them. But once he figures out what they are up to, not only is he onboard but he has some expertise to bring to the table. Along the way, they also enlist the aid of one-time child actor Ricky "Jupe" Park (Steven Yeun) and documentarian Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott).

Jordan Peele, as always, brings us his own brand of horror/sci fi with a definite side of humor. You 

might even remember Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out. In Nope, we are dealing with a UFO that isn't your typical outer space alien. OJ and his sister have to think outside the box to beat this thing which is wreaking havoc in this small California town. It's very well done, and I enjoyed it, but not as much as I did Get Out. And I confess to not always understanding what was going on. 

While there is definite bloodshed in this film, Peele is careful not to make it a gorefest, as others have done- you see enough to get the idea of what is happening, but not too much. There are flashbacks to when Ricky was a child actor and a horrific event he witnessed. Even after reading the explanation, I still don't see how it connects with the rest of the film, but that's just me.

To be honest, I would watch anything Jordan Peele does. I think he's a wonderful director. Nope has some slow spots, but it has lots of terrific moments. The first time Emerald bursts onto the screen is hilarious, as is her rapid-fire delivery. If you are a Peele fan, you'll enjoy Nope. And if you're not - become one. I give this film 4 Stars.

Don't Breathe 2

Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) lives a quiet life with his young daughter Phoenix (Madelyn Grace). Although he's blind, he is far from helpless, and he has taught her many important life skills. But the price she pays is a lonely isolation, broken only by occasional outings with their friend Hernandez (Stephanie Arcila). On their last trip, Phoenix encounters a stranger in the restroom, but she never loses her cool and gets away from him, due in part to their dog.

If Norman is overly cautious, perhaps he has reason, considering his past life, when he was less than a good man. But his precautions prove to be in vain when he and Phoenix seemingly become the victims of a random home invasion by some sketchy men. All is not as it seems, though, and Norman's past is about to catch up with a vengeance, and Phoenix is about to learn some ugly truths. The question is, will they be able to survive the ordeal and make it out alive?

I'll admit that I didn't like the sequel as well as the first one, but there is a certain satisfaction gained by 

watching people get what's coming to them. At first glance, neither side is what you might call angelic by any means. But one man will rise to the occasion and prove himself to be more than he thought he was, while the others, pretending to have loving motives for what they are doing, are nothing but scum.

I do like watching Norman in action, and I must say he has taught Phoenix well. I'll give this film 3.5 Stars.

Book Review: Assassination Classroom, Vol 3 by Yusei Matsui


Assassination Classroom, Vol 3    

Author: Yusei Matsui

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date:  April 7, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Action Adventure Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


While on a class trip to Kyoto, Kayano and Kanzaki have been kidnapped by lowlife thugs! Never fear! The class is up to the challenge, thanks to the handy dandy travel guide provided for them by their astute teacher, Koro Sensei.

Unknown to all but a few, a professional assassin has been set on the trail of Koro Sensei, with the assistance of his class, of course. They are in the perfect position to know his every move, since they are choreographing everything. But will this assassin take out their assigned target and claim the prize for himself? Or will Koro Sensei actually teach him something about assassination and life?

Karasuma receives information that upon their return to the school, there will be two new assassins sent to them, one at a time. He’s warned that the first student may look a little “different”. The other students aren’t sure what to expect, but on their arrival at the classroom, they see no one. Not until they notice the large object in the corner. Turns out this is a virtual assassin whose name is “Autonomous Intelligence Fixed Artillery”. She has the face of a young girl and is very polite. But once class starts, she is all business as she attempts to assassinate Koro Sensei. But the problem is that she spends the entire day doing that and disrupting classes. The students of 3E aren’t about to put up with those kinds of shenanigans.

Maehara is a ladies’ man, and the girls all seem to like the handsome student. But when one of them is caught with him, she turns the tables and makes it all Maehara’s fault for being in Class 3E and thus off-limits to her.  Some of the guys beat on Maehara, because they know they can get away with anything. Principal Asano sees them and doesn’t even attempt to help Maehara, but is that really surprising? However, Maehara’s class aren’t about to take this insult to their friend lying down.

Irina receives a surprise visit from the one who recommended her for this job, Lovro. He is seriously disappointed in her and wants to remove her from the assignment. At Koro Sensei’s suggestion, he agrees to give her a chance to prove herself – they will both target Karasuma. The first one to take him out wins. If Irina loses, she has to go.

Already, we can see that the Class 3E is growing and maturing in ways beyond simple assassination.  Watching them rescue their classmates and teach the bullies a lesson was awesome, as was the situation with Maehara. I also hate Asano more every time I see him. I just love this manga so much! Can’t wait for the next volume to see who can assassinate Karasume first lol



Friday, December 2, 2022

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 15 by Yoshiki Nakamura


Skip Beat! Vol 15      

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date:  November 4, 2008

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo manga/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Things are heating up for Kyoko on location! Bad enough Sho is there but Vie Ghoul too? What terrible Fate is this? Kyoko runs into Sho’s manager, Ms Momose, in the bath, and they talk. Afterward, coming from the bath, she encounters the lead singer of Vie Ghoul. Is Reino putting the moves on her or what? And then Sho unexpectedly turns up and he intervenes in what is going on and Kyoko is able to escape. But not until after she makes it clear that she and Sho are not in a relationship!

Feeling frightened of the potential for all manner of bad things to happen to her, Kyoko reaches out to Ren. But she finds that she can’t tell him what is worrying her for fear of worrying him, so makes light of her call.  Meanwhile, Sho is upset over his perception that Reino intends to make Kyoko his. Bad enough the group stole his brand new song, but now Kyoko? He intends to write a replacement song and let them have the one they stole. His manager is concerned whether he can do that or not, in his current state of mind.

Ren is sure something is wrong, despite Kyoko’s words, and asks his schedule be rearranged so he can join them at the shoot the next day. Sho sees Kyoko on the set and warns her not to go wandering off alone. When Reino comes to see her also, she hides from him and flees into the woods. But he finds her anyway, and things get… creepy. Especially when Reino announces his plans to crush Kyoko!

It’s so funny to see Kyoko as the object of interest for both Sho and Reino! How alike they are. Both of them sleazy lol I love how Ren knows when Kyoko isn’t being truthful (and isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black considering what he hasn’t told her…yet. Waiting to see the fall-out when that day arrives!)

I loved the ending and can’t wait to read the reaction to that! Great volume, looking forward to more!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #51 (11.1)

 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.

Things are getting even stranger for Vinnie and Ethan. They return from a short trip to the store to find a strange car in the driveway, but it turns out to be Troy and Brendan and Benny! What the heck is going on here? 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 #51 (11.1)

Ethan pulled over and parked the car as I continued to goggle at the sight before me. I swear, this assignment was growing stranger and stranger. Before I could even sputter out a single one of my many questions, though, I heard Anderson’s ring tone on Ethan’s phone. What incredibly eerie timing. Or a helluva coincidence. How did he know they were here? Unless, of course, he sent them. But I could think of no earthly reason why he would do that.

Ethan answered even as I opened the door and exited the vehicle. I could hear Ethan following suit.

“No, no trouble,” he was saying to our boss. “No need to worry, it’s just Troy and Brendan.”

A momentary pause and then, “I don’t know. I’ll get back with you.” He slid his phone into his pocket and joined me as I hurried up the drive toward the new arrivals.

Troy and Brendan looked every bit as confused as we were, looking back and forth from them to us. But Benny wasn’t. He leapt from Brendan’s arms and barreled straight for us with much joyful yipping. I knelt down and scooped him up and became the recipient of multiple wet kisses for my efforts.

“Are you guys all right? I mean, you look fine, but…” Troy’s words trailed off.

 “We’re fine,” Ethan responded. “Why wouldn’t we be?”

Troy ran a hand through his hair, although nothing looked out of place. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him when he wasn’t looking his best. Maybe it was a nervous gesture.

“Because we got a message telling us you were in trouble, and that we needed to come to this address if we ever wanted to see you alive again.”

Didn’t that sound like a line from some cheesy movie or something?

Wait a minute. This address? Who would even have this address? And who even knew we were here? And why? Nothing was making any sense at the moment.

“Where are we?” Brendan asked, glancing up toward the house behind us. “Are you here for work or something? I have no idea what’s going on.”

I think that made four of us.

“That’s my parents’ house,” Ethan said. “We were on a job… Actually, we still are. Long story, but we ended up here, along with my sister and my uncle Benny. Anderson has people watching the house. That’s why he called. Because they reported seeing a strange car.”

Troy and Brendan glanced from Benny in my arms back to Ethan.

“Yes, he was named after my uncle,” Ethan said before the question was even asked.

I looked at our friends with growing amazement as I realized something. “You mean you came down here from Roanoke because you thought we were in trouble?”

“Absolutely.” Troy nodded. “It sounded serious, so we were worried, weren’t we, Bren?”

Brendan affirmed his statement with a nod. “Troy got us and Benny on the next flight out of Roanoke, and we rented a car in Atlanta, and here we are.”

Here they were indeed.

“Guess we should have called first.” Troy sounded a little sheepish. “Instead of just assuming the caller knew what they were talking about. Didn’t mean to bust in y’all like this.”

Ethan didn’t seem as relieved as I thought he would, his handsome features puckered into a frown. “But why would someone go to so much trouble to get you here? This makes no sense.”

Suddenly I felt exposed, despite the existence of the agents around us. I wasn’t sure how many there were or where they were. And I didn’t like not knowing what was going on.

Ethan obviously felt the same way. “Let’s go inside,” he said, gesturing toward the house. “We’ll figure everything out there.”

I couldn’t help but think that we were about to make Sarah’s night when we walked in with Troy McGarrett. 

to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!

Cia Nordwell