Sunday, April 30, 2023

Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol 9 by Tatsuya Endo


Spy x Family, Vol 9   

Author: Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 21, 2023

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Back to the cruise… Yor is fighting (undercover, of course) spies who are threatening to blow up the ship and kidnap the woman and child she is protecting. Loyd overhears that there is a bomb, but what to do with Anya? Anya supplies the solution herself, able to overhear her father’s dilemma, suggesting she go to the childcare area to play. But of course she has no intention of staying there, not when her family is in imminent danger!

The situation comes to a successful conclusion, with Loyd and Yor blissfully unaware of the part the other has played. But as Loyd goes to get Anya, he is worried that in doing his job, he’s abandoned his family again. Wait… since when does he actually consider Yor and Anya his family? Things are getting complicated.

Back at school after the break is over, Anya thinks to impress her schoolmates with her tale of having been on a huge ocean liner, but they don’t seem to care very much (they’re rich, you know, so used to such things), so she embellishes the truth a bit, including the arrival of pirates as well as the octopeople (total lies, of course). Back at home, she confesses to her family about what happened and doesn’t exactly get a lot of sympathy for having lied. Yor’s brother shows up, delighted to see his sister, though still not a fan of Loyd. He also denounces those who lie, which Anya finds hypocritical on all their parts, considering the secrets they all keep and the lies they tell on a regular basis.

Loyd is determined to retrain Bond, but Franky wants to know why does he have to be the one to play suspect? Loyd takes Bond for a walk, determined to break him of some of his bad habits, unaware that the dog can see the future. When they come upon a dangerous situation, they learn how to work together.

Taking inspiration from her beloved TV romances, Anya’s friend Becky is determined to come out in the open with her love for Loyd, so they can be together. Anya is appalled at first, when she realizes Becky’s intentions… until she begins to see that the idea could have some merit. But what would happen to Mama then?

Nightfall approaches Loyd, saying she needs to find someone who can forge a document. Loyd knows just the person! He sets up a meeting for her with Franky, who takes her undercover with him.

Mistress Donna Schlag of the Disciplinary Committee has decided to make an unexpected appearance at the school…and she’s determined to give out as many tonitrus bolts as she can! Oh dear, will Anya survive this? And what about Desmond, aka Sy-on boy?

I enjoyed the cruise arc, but it’s back to business and the main plot of the Strix Operation. It seems like Anya gets closer and closer to revealing her true nature, which in turn would probably lead to everyone’s secrets being revealed.  I know the series is based on no one knowing about one another, other than Anya, but I believe at some point this will change, and they will all begin to function knowingly with one another. I think that will just take everything to a whole new level, and I, for one, am all for it!

I love this series, so much, and look forward to it being around for a long time! Another great volume, looking forward to the next one, which should come out in October.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #111 - The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, It Comes at Night

 The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire) is a man of science. He and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson) are seeking a meteor which has fallen to earth, in search of the rare element atmosphereum.  He must study it, so he can do science.  Another couple, Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) and Lattis (Susan McConnell) are new on the planet earth, having come from outer space. Their space ship is broken, and in order to fix it, they require atmosphereum. Also, it seems as though their pet Mutant (Darrin Reed) has escape and is on the loose somewhere. Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) , unlike Dr. Armstrong, is an evil scientist who is seeking the legendary lost skeleton of Cadavra. And when he finds it, the skeleton instructs him to find atmosphereum for him. He follows the lost aliens and observes them as they find their way to a cabin in the middle of the woods, where the Armstrongs have gone. Following the aliens' lead, Fleming makes himself a companion from a few woodland creatures, a woman he names Animala (Jennifer Blaire). And then there is Ranger Brad (Dan Conroy), who simply wants to help someone.

If this plot sounds a bit far-fetched, believe me, it's meant to. This film is actually a cleverly made B 

movie where the actors are so intentionally bad they are good. Borrowing on elements of sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s, Larry Blamire has created quite a little gem here, up to and including the skeleton. (Look carefully when the skeleton is climbing down the rock face and you'll see the wires). 

The scene where they share a meal is hysterical, as is the way the alien couple tries to behave like regular human-type Earth people. Unfortunately, they chose to copy the wrong "person" at the dinner table! I love to hear Paul Armstrong talk about how he loves to do science. And his wife is the quintessential housewife!

This film is very low budget and yet in a creative way. The skeleton was actually bought off of Ebay.  If you get the chance, I recommend watching the special features which includes a Q&A and bloopers. This film was hilarious, and I loved it. I'll give it 4.5 Stars

It Comes at Night

A mysterious illness is consuming the world. Paul (Joel Edgerton) takes his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), his son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr) and Sarah's father Bud (David Pendleton) to a remote location, far from everyone. But tragedy strikes when Bud dies.

The family have isolated themselves, far from everyone. Therefore, the knock on their door is 

unexpected. Will (Christopher Abbott) approaches them for help. They are reluctant, but he is begging, saying he has a family. They put him to the test before admitting him into their home, along with his wife Kim (Riley Keough) and young son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner).

Everything seems fine at first, but Travis begins to have terrible dreams. And he sees and hears things. His father is fearful that the newcomers have brought the sickness with them. What should they do?

It Comes at Night is more psychological thriller than traditional horror film. The monsters aren't 

immediately visible, but they are there, the products of paranoia and fear. The viewer is kept wondering what is real and what is imagined, and what would I do in this situation when the slightest mistake could mean death for my family.  The pace is slow, but deliberately so, even as the tension builds to an unforgettable climax. Well done and well acted, it will make you examine yourself and wonder what would you do. I give this film 4 Stars.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #70 (15.1)

 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.

Well, the crazy actress is back in custody, all's well that ends well, right? Maybe not. Vinnie isn't so sure, and Ethan doesn't seem to be either. Her story of an unknown film director and an audition is a definite red flag. 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. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #70 (15.1)

Hours later we were back at Ethan’s parents’ house. The agents were back in position, and all the tires had been taken care of, courtesy of the US government. We’d had a long discussion with Anderson while we waited. He wasn’t entirely convinced the threat was over, but for now it was under control. He told us to lay low for a couple more days, if Ethan’s parents were agreeable, and then take Benny to Atlanta. Once he testified, Anderson had a feeling this nonsense would be over.

To my surprise, the minister was not only amenable to the idea of our staying, but said he hoped we would.  Ethan’s mother was delighted, of course, to spend more time with her brother and her son. Sarah chose to return to Mercy’s house, but they weren’t all that far away, so I suspected we would see them again before we left. I saw no sign of Joe Jr, and I didn’t really care.

I expected Troy and Brendan would head back to Roanoke, now that Anderson had essentially given the all clear, but Troy surprised me by saying they wanted to stick close at hand until they knew Ethan and I were out of danger, despite the fact that we had trained agents keeping eyes on us. I was very touched by their declaration, and I’m sure Ethan was as well. Maureen told them they were welcome to stay at the house as well, and not to worry about a thing.

“We don’t want to impose on your hospitality, ma’am,” Troy said, echoed by Brendan. But she was having none of that. The way she was glowing, I could tell she looked as though she had acquired two more sons.

Ethan’s mother is the best, no two ways about it.

Joey, of course, took advantage of the change in the situation to immediately call dibs on the spare bedroom. If he thought he was breaking our hearts, he was sadly mistaken. Ethan and I would much rather share the living room with Uncle Benny, Troy, and Brendan minus his presence than inflict him on them.

It was evening before we got everything squared away. Where had the time gone? Ethan and I volunteered to make dinner for everyone. Well, I was more of a sous chef than a chef, but I don’t think even I could screw up making spaghetti. We added a large salad as well as cheesy garlic bread, and everyone declared it all delicious. Ice cream for dessert was the perfect way to end the meal.

After dinner, Ethan’s dad retired to his study, while his mom shooed us out of the kitchen and suggested we enjoy the pleasant evening while we could. We retired to the porch, grouping ourselves on the wide steps. Ethan’s brother chose to remain inside, thank goodness. I’d noticed a few daffodils had begun to make their appearance in Maureen’s garden, a sure sign that spring was on its way. A gentle breeze was blowing, and occasionally a bird song broke the silence.

“Do you think that woman had something to do with the Atlanta threats?” Benny asked.

Good question. One I had been wrestling with myself, to be honest.

“How would she even know about that?” Troy asked.

“How did she know anything?” I countered.

“And who is this mysterious director she kept referring to. The one she was supposedly auditioning for,” Ethan said.

“You don’t think it’s that Daimler guy, do you?” I asked. Gordon Daimler had not only been the actress’ boyfriend but her director as well, including the Civil War pic where all Hell broke loose during shooting.

Troy shook his head. “No, I’m sure it’s not him. She would know who he was, first off, and she didn’t seem to know who this director was, judging by the way she was talking. Secondly, from what I’ve heard, he wouldn’t hire her if she were the last actress left in Hollywood. I heard his next film has an all-male cast.”

We all laughed at that, and joked with Troy that he should be in that one for sure, before the conversation turned serious once more.

“Surely there’s a way of figuring out who she was talking to,” Brendan said.

“Maybe there is,” Troy said thoughtfully.

“How so?” Ethan asked.

“Maybe by looking through her emails. I know all her passwords. If she corresponded with this mystery man, surely the evidence would still be there.”

That was a start, anyway.

to be continued

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

Cia Nordwell


Saturday, April 22, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #110 - Final Destination 4

 Final Destination 4

Nick (Bobby Campo) and his friends go to spend some time at the racetrack. The young people have different motives, whether it's spending time with friends or wanting to see an accident. But Nick has a disturbing premonition of a horrific accident. Upset, he wants to leave, and causes an uproar, during which he and his friends and some of the people around them end up leaving the stadium, as well as the security guard George (Mykelti Williamson) ...just before a terrible accident occurs.

Nick and the others are understandably upset by what almost happened to them and would love nothing 

more to forget all about their close brush with Death. But Nick has another vision, and then one of the survivors of the raceway accident dies, and Nick begins to wonder if they have actually cheated Death at all, or will they all die as they were meant to.

Same movie, new title, new cast, same basic plot. Let's cheat death and come up with some cool and innovative ways to "accidentally" die. If you're looking for something scary, this really isn't it because you know people are going to die. I will give them this. They do tease you a bit with what you think will be someone's death, only to pull back and say gotcha! only to kill the character right afterward.

We still don't know why these premonitions happen, or why certain people are chosen to have them. This film also feeds into the idea that if your number's up, it's up and you can't change that. My best advice is to simply watch it for the deaths and don't worry about the plot. Also, don't get too attached to any of the characters. Just not worth it. As for what I said about this one wrapping the series up, I was wrong. There is a FD 5, and allegedly the sixth installment could be coming out next year. I've requested the fifth one, so we'll see. I'll give this film 3 Stars. Just not memorable, but some decent ways to die.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Book Review: Overlord, Vol 5: The Men of the Kingdom, Part I by Kugane Maruyama


Overlord, Vol 5           

Author: Kugane Maruyama

Publisher: Yen On

American release date:  September 19, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Fantasy Adventure /272 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Brain Unglaus is but a shell of his former self. A one-time equal of the hero Gazef Stronoff, his encounter with Shalltear has broken him. Gazef is appalled at the change he sees in Brain and wants to help him. Meanwhile, a certain butler is going about his master’s business, and three masked women are determined to rid the kingdom of the horrible affliction which threatens its very integrity – namely, the drug business conducted by the Eight Fingers.  And a young boy named Climb is determined to be the very best that he can be, in order to serve the beautiful princess who commands his heart.

Leaving the wizard’s guild – a place where he is highly thought of and admired for his elegance – Sebas proceeds to continue with his mission of mapping out the geography of Re-Estize. Which means going to areas he’s never seen before, some of which might be less than safe. But Sebas is secure in the knowledge that he can handle himself. As he walks through a particularly seedy part of town, he runs across a situation he cannot have anticipated, and finds himself saving the life of a young woman who has been terribly abused and may have been about to face even worse. He intervenes and, after defeating her captors, whisks her back to the house where he and Solution are staying. But has he produced a problem for himself, and by extension, for his master?

Solution is perturbed at Sebas’ actions, especially when it leads other people coming to the house to question him. He takes care of the situation, but she is uneasy. Perhaps she should let their lord know something of what is going on that he may determine whether the butler’s actions were correct or not.

Sebas leaves the house again, and as he walks along, he realizes he is being followed by several people. Some of them have bad intentions, but two he thinks do not. The two are Brain and Climb, and having taken care of the others, Sebas decides to talk with them. Sebas tells them about the young girl whose life he saved, and what he intends to do. Brain and Climb are indignant that such a thing should happen… and they are in.

The fifth volume of Overlord is the first part of The Men of the Kingdom. Now we are seeing what have become familiar faces to us, that is Brain and Climb, as well as Gazef, and we meet some new characters. Sebas is a very interesting character. I love how the various NPCs from Nazarick have been named by their gamer/creators according to their own whims and fancies. Sebas’ last name is Tian. SebasTian – clearly named after the beloved butler from Black Butler. Still, it tickles me. Not that he looks like Sebastian. But to be honest, Sebastian doesn’t look like himself either, as he is a demon and took a form in order to pass among the humans. Sebas Tian is an elegant gentleman, with a kind heart, which may prove to be his undoing, although I hope not. I hope Ainz will be amenable to what he has done, but that remains to be seen.

Ainz is only seen in the intermission in this volume, but that’s okay too. The world continues to be a fascinating place. I admit I held a contemptuous opinion of Brain from before, but I am glad to say that is changing. I’ve always liked Climb, but I am also afraid for him. Something I read has me wondering what is going on here, and is there some deception at play? Only time will tell.

The volume ends on a cliffhanger. Can’t wait to see what happens in Volume 6. Love this series so much!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #70 (14.5)

 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.

Vinnie is so confused by what's going on. Nothing makes sense? Audition? Is she for real? 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 they're up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #70 (14.5)

Troy moved quickly, blocking either woman from getting into his rental car. He gave her an apologetic glance, even as she began to pout.

“We want to ride with you, Troy. Where you going? Back to Hicksville? Never mind, doesn’t matter.” She sidled up to Troy, giving him what was probably meant to be a winsome and oh so charming smile, even as she lightly pressed her fingertips on his shoulders, as if to anchor herself to him.

“You know what? I have the most scathing idea,” she continued, completely oblivious to everyone around her, too focused on Troy to care, obviously. “Let’s drive back to Hollywood and surprise everyone. Won’t that be fun? I’ll get you an audition too, with my director. Just think of it! The hottest actress and actor back together again! The fans will love it, don’t you know?”

I started to move toward the delusional actress, but Ethan lightly restrained me, as if to say let’s let Troy handle this, see where it goes. I responded with a reluctant nod, and the other agents followed our lead. I supposed not interacting with her would be for the best. At least, until it was necessary.

Troy never missed a beat, never appeared flustered in any way, as he kept her attention focused on him. “That would be lovely, Carrie,” he agreed. “I bet we could break some box office records, you and me.”

“Absolutely!” She seemed to visibly relax, although her friend Helen seemed a little nervous, but she didn’t say anything, just clung to her side. At least they weren’t still attempting to get inside the car, although nothing said they wouldn’t try that stunt again.

By now, the other vehicles were on their way. We just had to deal with this situation, and we could be too. But it had to be handled delicately, for obvious reasons—no telling if that gun Little Miss Crazypants was carrying was for show or for real.

“Who’s the director?” Troy continued. “Anyone I’ve worked with before? What kind of film will it be?”

St. Clair furrowed her brow in thought. “I don’t really know,” she admitted at last. “Something about a serial killer, I believe he said. Maybe a kidnapping or something? But he’s very famous. I just can’t tell you his name right now.” She released a high-pitched giggle.

My blood ran cold at the mention of serial killer and kidnapping. Could someone possibly be thinking of filming a movie about the Mangler?  If so, would that include myself and Ethan? That was a most disturbing thought.

Troy ran an exasperated hand through his blond hair, but he never lost his cool with her. Like Ethan, he has the patience of a saint. I don’t know how they do it. I just wanted to yell at her until she spilled the beans. Forewarned is forearmed, after all.

“You can tell me, Carrie,” he coaxed. “It’s me, Troy. Your best friend. Don’t I deserve to know who I’m going to audition for? I should prepare, don’t you think?”

She appeared to consider his argument, before shaking her head vehemently. “Not yet. He said it would spoil the surprise.” She cocked her head and looked up at him coyly. “Maybe if you buy me an ice cream, I’ll tell you what you want to know. I’m in the mood for chocolate mint chip, and lots of it.”

So much for that idea.

“Maybe later, Carrie.” Troy sighed in defeat and motioned to us. Ethan, in turn, gestured toward Carlos and his partner. They carefully approached the actress from behind.

“You have the right to remain silent,” Carlos intoned, as both St. Clair and her friend Helen were cuffed and led away.

The actress tried to squirm out of the cuffs, with no luck. She twisted and turned toward where we still stood. “Troy, help me!” she begged, a note of hysteria rising in her voice.

“I am,” he said softly, although I knew she couldn’t hear him now.  He appeared to be devastated, but at the same time somewhat resigned. What a sad end for someone who once had such potential.

Brendan pulled Troy into a warm embrace, and we all stood there until Carlos’s car was out of sight. The other agents remained. I knew they intended to follow us to the tire store.

“Guess we’ll catch up with you up the road a bit,” Troy said.

“Be careful,” Ethan said. Once they’d pulled away, he turned to his uncle, who of course had remained with us. “Ready?”

Benny nodded, and we piled into our rental, ready for this trip to be over, somehow knowing it wouldn’t be that easy.

 to be continued

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

Cia Nordwell



Saturday, April 15, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #109 - Final Destination 3

 Final Destination 3

End of the year, time for graduating seniors to blow off steam before becoming adults. What better way to do that than at an amusement fair just for them? Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is chronicling the night's events with the use of her trusty camera. Everyone is having a great time, when some of them decide to go on the rollercoaster. Wendy is reluctant, but agrees to come for the sake of her boyfriend, Ian (Kris Lemche). But she refuses to sit up front, so ends up at the back, with Ian's friend Kevin (Ryan Merriman). Ian asks Kevin to look out for Wendy for the duration of the ride, and he reluctantly agrees.

Just before the ride is about to start, Wendy has a terrifying vision involving the rollercoaster and the 

gruesome deaths of her friends. That is the final straw for her and she screams to be let off. The ride operators try to hustle her away before she can alarm the other patrons, and some of her friends get off as well, but when Ian tries, they refuse to allow any more people to exit. And just as predicted, the ride goes horribly wrong.

The school is devastated, of course, and Wendy finds herself alone and scared, thinking something is wrong with her. When Kevin comes to her with the story of Flight 180, and the class of French students who were killed both on and off the plane, she doesn't listen. Not until more of the survivors of the rollercoaster tragedy begin to die. Is this a repeat of what happened then? If so, who will die next, and is there any way to predict how, so they can prevent the death? Or is Death inevitable?

Once again, we find a single person's premonition of violent death at the heart of this movie. This time there is no plane involved, but a fair. The accidents are every bit as outlandish and gruesome as the first two films. And that is the heart of why people watch them. Not for the plot, which is barebones at best, but for the gorefest that takes place on the screen. No lack of blood in this movie for sure.

But the overriding question is why is this happening? Why do certain people get premonitions? And if they end up dead anyway, what's the point of having a premonition? There is a certain supernatural feel, as if some entity or other is at work here, orchestrating these happenings. Maybe Death itself, if you believe in the Grim Reaper? If so, there are no answers here. But there is one more film. Maybe they'll wrap it all up there. I'll give this film 3.5 Stars.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #69 (14.4)

 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.

Well, the cat's out of the bag now. It was Caroline St Clair all along! But why? So many questions, so few answers! 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 #69 (14.4)

“You did all of this…for an audition?”  I knew Hollywood was nutso, but this went past that. Far past that. What sort of audition required an actor to terrorize people for real, people who weren’t involved in any actual way? I glanced at Ethan. His face showed a great deal of the skepticism I felt. Even Troy seemed suspended in a little disbelief, and he worked in the industry.

Something just did not make sense here. I cast my mind back, trying to remember everything that had happened in just the past couple of days. The attempted shooting at the hotel where Benny was in protective custody. The Atlanta threats. The mysterious woman at the rest stop. The slashed tires. The call to me. The false detour that led to all our tires being blown out.

When added up and put together, this seemed like a whole lot more than one crazy actress could manage on her own. Frankly, I didn’t think she was smart enough to cause this sort of chaos. A shiver ran up my spine. Somehow, I didn’t think we’d reached the source of our problem by any means.

“Look.” Carlos lowered his voice, addressing Ethan and myself. Not that the actress was paying attention to us, prattling on to Troy and Brendan. Sarah listened to her with wide eyes. I suspected she wouldn’t be quite as starstruck after this experience. “I don’t understand what is going on here, to be honest, but I’m only here to provide back-up for you guys. So it’s your call, what do you want to do about this woman?”

What indeed? That was the million dollar question, wasn’t it?

“I appreciate that,” Ethan said, casting a quick glance toward the woman in question. “To be honest, I don’t see her as any sort of a threat. I think the more immediate concern is getting these vehicles repaired and back on the road.”

Carlos nodded. “This is going to take more than a regular roadside assistance call, I’m afraid.”

Truer words were never spoken. Luckily, the damage to the vehicles wasn’t as bad as we’d feared. The resourceful Anderson sent us a very competent government mechanic who was able to get everyone back on four wheels, at least temporarily. His repairs would last long enough to make the trip to the nearest tire store.

We sent off Ethan’s parents first, along with Sarah and Alex and Uncle Benny. To his credit, the little boy’s behavior was stellar, but he seemed to be getting a little cranky. I didn’t blame him. I was feeling a little out of sorts myself.

Once Troy’s car was back in commission, he gave Ethan and I an inquisitive look. I had a feeling I knew what he was asking, which was verified when a certain actress took her assistant by the arm and attempted to get into Troy’s back seat. Where did she think she was going?  She was truly delusional if she thought she didn’t have consequences to face.

 to be continued

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

Cia Nordwell

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Film Review: RRR


1920 India. The British are very much in control and freedom is but a dream for most people. During the arrival of the newly appointed Governor Buxton (Ray Stevenson), he and his wife are serenaded by a young Gond girl, Malli (Twinkle Sharma). When the governor's wife (Alison Doody) tosses the girl's mother a couple of coins, she naively thinks it is for the song, but the real reason is far more sinister as Malli is taken away.

In Delhi, a situation has arisen, in which the government is being threated. One man is targeted as the ringleader and the soldiers are ordered to arrest him. But they seem rather helpless against the hordes that threaten to break through the fencing surrounding the building. One man, Ram Charan (Ram Charan Teja) does not hesitate to do what is necessary. He launches himself into the crowd, kicking ass and taking numbers.

A rumor quickly arises that someone is coming to rescue the young girl who was taken by the governor 

and his wife. Without hesitation, Ram asks if he should be taken dead or alive. Catherine Buxton replies that if he is brought in alive, Ram will be promoted to Special Officer. The problem is that there are no clues to this person's identity whatsoever. How are they to look for him? In the course of his investigation, Ram is at the scene of a freak accident that has left a little boy in a perilous position in the river. Time is of the essence. Catching the eye of a man on the shore, Ram and the stranger coordinate the rescue of the child. And that is how Ram and Bheem (NT Rama Rao Jr)  meet, quickly becoming best friends.

Little do they know...

RRR is the fictional story of two legendary heroes and their fight for Indian freedom from their English oppressors during the time of the Raj. Seeming opposite, they are more alike than they realize, and their bromance is a joy to behold. Each man as seeming super powers that put him above the rest, so it is only fitting and natural that they become best friends.

This film is wonderful, filled with energy. I laughed, I cried, I sat on the edge of my seat and wondered how anything could possibly be resolved in a good way, and I cheered for these two men. The musical number is a sheer delight as they put the puny British officer in his place. The budding romance between Bheem and Jenny, despite the language barrier, is soooooo cute. The plight of Malli is heartbreaking. Although the movie is 3 hours long, it doesn't feel that way. I don't know what else you could ask for in a film, RRR has it all. I would gladly watch it again. I'll give this film 5 Stars. I highly recommend it. Right now, it is streaming on Netflix.

 Good morning everyone! Please welcome author Phoenix Blackwood to Full Moon Dreaming! They are here today to tell us about their new release, The Love That Binds Us. Phoenix will be awarding a $10 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 their tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!


The Love that Binds Us

by Phoenix Blackwood




GENRE:   LGBTQIA+ Coming of Age






From the outside, Alex has a perfect life. She has a partner who loves her, gets good grades in school, excels at most sports, and has a big heart. From the inside, Alex’s life is anything but perfect. She hasn’t spoken to her father in years. She’s hiding the fact that her once-best-friend now-romantic-partner Theo is trans and nonbinary from her homophobic mother. Bullies are harassing her and Theo at school, taunting and shoving. It’s all becoming too much for Alex to bear.

Things take a surprising turn when Alex’s mother discovers her relationship with Theo. After Alex is thrown out of her house and taken in by Theo’s foster family, Alex can live honestly. For a while, things start to feel manageable. Alex finds a new group of friends. She navigates what “family” means beyond her mother and sister. She even considers forgiving her mother’s past mistakes. But forgiveness requires honesty. Secrets Alex’s mother has been keeping are surfacing, trying to bind Alex to misery. As Alex learns the full truth of her mother’s past mistakes, she will need the love of her chosen family and friends to gently bind her life into a shape that keeps her whole.







I sat on my bed and pulled Theo down to my level, kissing them on the forehead. They sat down with me and kissed me on the lips until they were leaning over me and my hands were wrapped around the back of their neck, pulling them closer. They were so soft, always so tender. I focused all my attention on the kiss, so much so that I didn’t hear the small squeak of my door opening. Theo pulled away suddenly, jarring me and forcing me to look in the direction of their gaze.


Leah had opened the door. She stood there with her mouth open, her face frozen in wonder and confusion. She’d known Theo since we’d become friends, I bet she had never imagined finding us kissing when she opened my door.


Theo and I looked at each other in horror. The secret was out, how were we going to get her to keep quiet? We should’ve been more careful. We’d gotten too comfortable.


I signed for Leah to come sit between us on the bed. My face got hot as she sat and tears brimmed in my eyes. My mom could never, ever find out - Leah knowing was so dangerous.  She looked up at me with wide eyes and signed, “Boyfriend?”


Theo must’ve seen the panic rising up in me, because they took over. They gently rested one hand on her shoulder to get her attention and then explained, “We love each other. I’m not a boy, but I’m still her partner. I’m like a boyfriend, just minus the boy part.”


Walking through the threshold of Theo’s house was like a weight lifting off my shoulders, all the tension of home and school falling away. This was what home was supposed to feel like. I flopped down on the couch and Theo joined me a couple minutes later with two mugs of tea, handing me one. I leaned into them as they wrapped an arm around my shoulders after turning the television on to the latest show we’d been binging. This felt so safe, so calm. A feeling I rarely got in my own home. Always on edge, an internal dissonance telling me that I wasn’t good enough. Here, I was everything I was supposed to be.


We watched television until Seth–Theo’s brother–made his way down the stairs and started rummaging through the kitchen to start dinner. The house was quickly filled with smells that made my mouth water - meat searing in a pan, vegetables being chopped, pasta water boiling. I sat in the scents until I couldn’t take it any longer and my stomach growled, causing me to get up and make my way into the kitchen.


Seth shot me a sly smile. “Probably another ten minutes.”


I pouted, staring at the food and willing it to cook faster.





AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Born and raised in New England, Phoenix has always been a creative – whether it’s painting or writing. From a very young age, Phoenix has envisioned and created characters, writing them into existence and exploring them through visual arts. Having graduated to first-time short story author, Phoenix is embarking on a journey towards novel writing as they finally bring characters they’ve known for years into the world. Phoenix is neurodiverse and intersex and hopes to bring more representation to both topics with their writing. They believe in creating relatable characters that people can find themselves in and empathize with.


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 1) You’re marooned on a small island with one person and one item of your choice—who is that person and what item do you have?

The “who” is difficult, I have two very close friends that I’d want to see. However, I think one of them is better suited to the solitary life that would come with living on a deserted island, so I’d likely choose her. My other friend can blossom and become a social butterfly, and I fear he’d miss that.

Assuming one cannot get any kind of signal for various electronics that would facilitate rescue, I would choose, well, would my dog count as an “item”? She’s not a person, at least. I’d definitely want her. If not, maybe my bow for hunting, although I’m not very good with it. I’d have all the time in the world to practice.


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

Sitting at a set of traffic lights, my mind wanders and remembers how you took a hammer to my heart. The world shatters around me, like a saucer dropped out of surprise, out of anguish. I begin to shake and don’t notice the tears flowing from my eyes, down my face, a fresh wound still bleeding. No one can fix this. No one. I’m left with the searing loneliness and contemplate what life will be like without you. A life empty, meaningless.

The light turns green, but I don’t move; stuck in the echo chamber of my mind.


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

Usually, a character. My characters all have very strong voices and drive their stories forward. Sometimes, the stories start with a feeling, and words just tumble from my mind onto the paper. Plot almost never comes first, it’s something cobbled together along the way.


4) Who’s your favorite horror villain and why?

Any of Guillermo Del Toro’s creature designs. They’re beautiful to look at, and some of my favorite designs I’ve ever seen. Pan’s Labyrinth sticks out in my head for its beautiful artwork, but I’m sure there’s many more – Cabinet of Curiosities, The Shape of Water, I haven’t seen Pinnochio yet, but from the previews it looks gorgeous.


5) Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it?

A story of the rage I feel for the injustice towards intersex people in the world. I feel as though the world wouldn’t listen, and it’s one I’m definitely not ready to write at this time. The Love that Binds Us touches on it briefly, but nowhere near as much as I’d like to explore it in my mind. I want people to feel the pain that they’ve caused someone like me, like Alex. The alienation due to things we can’t – or don’t want to – change.

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Saturday, April 8, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #108 - The Order, Final Destination 2

 The Order

Alex Bernier (Heath Ledger) is a young priest with special talents he uses in the service of the Church. He is devastated to learn of the death of his mentor, Dominic (Francesco Carnelutti).  They belong to the dwindling order of the Carolingians. A priest named Driscoll (Peter Weller) sends Alex to Rome to investigate the death. Before he leaves, he is visited by Mara (Shannyn Sossamon), a young woman whom he exorcised a year before. She attempted to kill him and has been in a mental institution ever since...until she makes her escape and rejoins the priest she has a crush on. He lies in order to hide her presence and take her to Rome with him.

In Rome, he is reunited with an old friend and fellow order member, Thomas (Mark Addy). Alex does not believe the official story that Dominic committed suicide. He bribes a morgue attendant to allow him to view the body and discovers unexplained wounds which may be the sign of a Sin Eater. Alex turns to a mysterious hooded figure, head of a pagan cult, who reveals that this man is William Eden (Benno F├╝rmann), who was born during the Renaissance. His duty is to perform the last rites for those the Church deems unworthy of more traditional rites.

Alex is a priest in conflict, having feelings for Mara that he should not have. Eden reveals his life as a sin-eater to Alex, in the hopes that he will take his place. But he decides to take a chance on love instead and leaves the priesthood instead in order to be with her. Will this decision place the ones he cares about in harm's way? Is this really an offer Alex can refuse?

To be honest, I watched this because it has Heath Ledger, and I have to say he does very well. Shannyn Sossamon does okay. I don't think she's a particularly good actress, but she isn't terrible either. I loved the relationship between Alex and Thomas - you may recall Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon from Game of Thrones. These two have done at least one other film together, A Knight's Tale. Peter Weller, of Robocop fame, is chilling as Driscoll. However, that being said, the film isn't really all that interesting. I'm including it as horror, but using the term loosely. There are a lot of slow parts, and I didn't feel particularly engaged other than with Ledger. Would I recommend it? Not really. I'll give it 3 Stars, and that only because of Heath Ledger. If you aren't a fan of his, give it a pass.

Final Destination

A year after the events in the first movie, Kimberly (A.J. Cook) is headed off to fun in the sun with a few friends over their break. Just before getting on the highway, AJ experiences a strange vision, involving a horrific chain accident set off by a truck bearing huge wooden poles, one that culminates in many deaths. Freaked out, Kimberly blocks the highway entrance, refusing to move, much to the annoyance of other drivers. A passing state trooper,  Officer Burke (Michael Landes) stops to see what the problem is. She tries to explain, but he is understandably skeptical. Just then the truck she saw passes by and before their eyes, the accident occurs, with Kimberly, her friends, the officer, and the people she blocked all surviving. But does that mean they've only postponed the inevitable?

Knowing this was the anniversary of Flight 180, Kimberly is determined to figure out the meaning 

behind what happened. The only survivor of the crash still alive is Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), so Kimberly goes to visit her. The paranoid Clear isn't very forthcoming with either sympathy or answers, so Kimberly leaves. But people are still dying, and Clear can't ignore the facts.

Okay, so maybe the premise is a little lacking and doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Death making a list? Then what, checking it twice? The personification of Death is a little weird. Also the premise that when your number is up, it's up, and Death will still get you. But beyond that, it's entertaining, especially seeing all the innovative "accidents" that culminate in some rather gruesome deaths. One definite plus is the all-too-brief appearance of Tony Todd. I hope he returns in the next two films. I think it's worth watching, so I'll also give this film 4 Stars.