Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: An Unholy Alliance #21 (5.5)

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

Charlemagne has gone to see Isabella, who has information for him. She lives in a home with a beautiful garden, and he finds himself relaxing there, enjoying their conversation. Until something interrupts... See what's happening in this week's chapter of An Unholy Alliance. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

An Unholy Alliance #21 (5.5)

I refocused my attention on Isabella and her friend. She was running her fingers through his thick fur, the vibrations of his rumbling purr clearly audible from where I sat. Vampire hearing, you know. Or maybe he was just louder than a cat should be. At least for the moment he’d forgotten I existed, which was more than fine with me.

“My family has lived in this area for many years,” Isabella began. “The Bufords were among the first settlers in Greene County. Did you know the county was named after General Nathanael Greene? He was a hero of the American Revolution.”

I hadn’t known that. I confess to knowing little about that period in history. Or any other, to be honest. I’d only become interested in the past after my desire to learn about my real family had been awakened. My own interests ran to the literary. I was a voracious reader, mostly the classics. And I loved music, particularly jazz and classical. I especially loved Russian composers, such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, because of the sheer depth of emotion they expressed in their compositions. Does that make me sentimental? I don’t think so.

“I’ve been told the Bufords are related to the general, at least that’s how the story goes.” Isabella laughed, that musical sound again. The one that resembled a tinkling bell. “But that’s why I became interested in genealogy. At first I just wanted to find out about my family. And so far nothing I’ve found points to a familial connection, but that’s okay too. The truth is the truth. And after that, I discovered I was hooked.”

She offered me a rueful smile. “Sorry for all the exposition. I just wanted to frame what I know before I got to the part you were actually inquiring about.”

“No apologies necessary,” I instantly replied. “There is such passion in your voice. I think it’s admirable that you care about your family so much.” Some people were luckier in their relatives than others. But I kept that thought to myself. Even so, I could see something that might be interpreted as sympathy flicker in her eyes.

I cleared my throat and turned my attention to my drink. I liked to think of myself as tall, dark, and mysterious for a reason. If I didn’t let people in, didn’t let them get to know the real me, then they couldn’t use that information to hurt me.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Isabella take a drink herself before she continued, offering no comment, for which I was grateful.

“At some point in the early 1840s, I think it was,” she continued, “the Bufords became sharecroppers for a local family, the Pattersons. The Pattersons had a lot of land back then. They also had slaves. Slavery here was different than it was in the Deep South, I think. It didn’t hurt that Missouri was greatly divided on the issue, which is why the state chose not to secede from the Union. There weren’t the huge plantations here that you’d find in Louisiana or Georgia. These were just farms that people needed help with. Slavery was still a bad institution, don’t get me wrong. But at least the slave owners in this area were more likely to work alongside the field hands than to have overseers to control them or even beat them. After the war, some of those families who had been freed stayed and became sharecroppers too.”

I furrowed my brow in thought for a moment before asking, “I’m not sure what you mean by sharecropping?” Mama Lil always told me there was no such thing as a stupid question, but I still felt dumb asking. Obviously this was something that fell outside of my usual frame of reference.

“That was a system where landowners would allow farmers with no land of their own to grow crops on their land in return for a portion of the crop. This was especially beneficial after the Civil War, after the slaves were freed. It provided a means of making a living for people whose whole lives had been spent in the fields, but as paid laborers. And the farm owners received the help they needed.”

I mulled over her words for a few minutes. I couldn’t help but think how much life could have been different for the former slaves if they’d been able to receive an actual education. Even though they’d been freed, they were far from being treated equally. If they’d been able to learn, they would have had choices, opportunities. Too many remained tied to the land, either because they were too old to start over somewhere else or because they didn’t know any other kind of life. I’d been fortunate to have been spared that, despite all my grumbling about Dominique and the harshness of life under her regime. As a child, I hadn’t realized there were worse things, but as a grown man, I understood. And I grieved for those who were given no real chance strictly because of the color of their skin.

But greater than my grief was my guilt. I’d escaped the cruelty of a slave’s life, but my family hadn’t. Who knows what they were made to suffer when I didn’t even know who they were? How dare I be so complaisant about my life and who I was? How dare I?

“I’m very sorry.”

I glanced up, my cheeks burning, as I realized I’d fallen into a sullen silence. I spent far too much time brooding since my family cast me out—that was a really unattractive quality. Who did I think I was, the black Hamlet?

“No, I’m sorry—” I began, but a distant noise brought me up short. I recognized the yip of the over-friendly pup, which meant those idiots were probably close behind. And the sound was drawing nearer.

“Forgive me!” I blurted out just before I ran toward trouble.

 to be continued

Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to!

Cia Nordwell



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Interview with Roy Landry (The Sheriff)


I haven’t done any interviews lately, especially those that require travel, but today I’m going to the small town of Burnham, Texas to talk to the sheriff there. No, not because of any trouble or anything, but because his book just came out, and I thought people should meet him.

Roy Landry is the Sheriff of Burnham. He’s agreed to meet me at Milly’s Diner. Why am I not surprised? Neither am I surprised to see he’s not alone. But that’s okay too. I like these other guys too. I know them all. By others, I mean Lee, Marshall, and Dustin.

I walk into the diner and make a beeline for their table. All four men stand as I approach, and Lee pulls out a chair for me. Milly comes to the table and greets me with a big smile. “Coffee all around?” she asks and everyone readily agrees. She returns quickly with a pot of hot java and assorted creamers and tells us she’ll come back when we’re ready to order.

“Good morning, guys,” I greet them. “How did I know you would all be here?”

Lee clears his throat and Marshall snickers. “I told Roy you wanted to talk to him, but he insisted.”

I give Roy a knowing glance, even as Dustin says, “Told you so.” Roy turns red and everyone laughs.

“Oh hush you,” he tells Dustin, which produces more laughter.

“I’m happy to see all of you,” I insist. “It’s not often I get to talk to such handsome gentlemen.”

Now Marshall and Dustin blush, and Roy and Lee chuckle.

“And how are you doing today?” Lee asks me.

I take a sip of blessed coffee, letting the warmth steal through me, and smile. “I’m doing great. It’s always a pleasure to visit with you guys.”

 I turn my attention to Roy.  “Sorry, Sheriff, if you thought having them here would keep me from asking you questions.”

Roy looks me straight in the eyes and replies, “I know better than that, don’t I? Doesn’t mean I’ll answer all those questions, though. Know what I mean?”

I know exactly what he means, and so do Lee and Marshall, although Dustin has no clue. But there are some things Dustin doesn’t need to know and I’m good with that, and so are the rest of them. Some secrets are better left… secret.

“How long have you been sheriff here?” I ask.

Roy tilts his head, thinking. “Well, when I came here, Marshall was what… thirteen?” He looks to Lee for confirmation.

“That sounds right,” Lee confirms. “He’s twenty-one now.”

“So I guess about eight years now.”

“Were you a sheriff somewhere else before Burnham?” I ask.

Roy shakes his head. “Nope, first time. Before this, I was a PI. I did some work for Lee, that’s how we met. Then ended up moving here when Lee and Marshall did and just fell in love with the place. When the Mayor asked if I’d be the sheriff I said yes.”

“Burnham is lucky to have him,” Lee says. “Roy is the best.”

Marshall agrees, and all three men exchange warm glances. It’s obvious how much they care for one another, and I feel my eyes start to tear up. I try to be inconspicuous as I dab at them, but they catch me anyway. They all smile, and Lee hands me a handkerchief.

“Always the gentlemen,” I say. “Thanks, Lee.”

“That’s him all over,” Marshall comments. “Except when he’s being ornery.”

Lee raises his eyebrows. Now Dustin and Roy snicker, while Marshall sticks out his tongue. “You know it’s true. I don’t hear you denying it.”

“I’ll show you ornery when we get home,” Lee warns him.

“Promises, promises,” Marshall counters.

Gosh, we are so getting off topic here, but I find it easy to be distracted around them. Much as I’d love to be a fly on that wall and see what happens, I know that’s not going to happen, so I won’t even ask. Back to business.

“So, I hear there’s been some problems over in Tucker Falls. Isn’t that so, Roy?”

“Yes, ma’am, that’s true.”

I interrupt. “Please don’t call me ma’am.”

“Yes, ma—“ He catches himself just in time. “Sorry. The sheriff there is a friend of mine, and he asked me to look into what’s going on.”

“I think that’s great. Don’t you, Dustin?”

Suddenly Dustin won’t look me in the eye, and I have to wonder what is going on with him, with them?

“Lee and Marshall just got married.” Roy deftly changes the subject. Why is he being so considerate of Dustin? I didn’t think they knew each other that well.

“I know, congratulations to you both.” I give the newlyweds a smile.

Lee raises Marshall’s hand to his lips and kisses it before saying, “Thank you.”

Marshall’s eyes are fastened on Lee as he repeats,” Thank you. Best thing that ever happened to me.”

I can’t help but feel a warmth at seeing the happiness they radiate. I glance at Roy, and he seems both happy and… what…. Envious, maybe? Like he wishes he had what they have?

“Roy, you seeing anyone these days?” I ask.

“Nothing serious.” He suddenly busies himself with the menu. Like he doesn’t have the damn thing memorized. Just then Milly comes back and takes our orders, and I decide to leave it for now. I’m sure Roy is capable of finding some young lady who’d be more than happy to go out with him. Probably not in Burnham. But there’s always Tucker Falls.

We’ll just have to see, I guess. I decide to relax and enjoy the company. Sorry, that’s all the information for today. If you want to know more, read The Sheriff. It’s out now.



Roy wouldn’t give up being the sheriff of the small town of Burnham, Texas for anything. Maybe the circumstances surrounding his being there weren’t the best, but all’s well that ends well. He couldn’t ask for better friends than Lee and Marshall. And the people of Burnham have been nothing less than welcoming, offering him the position of sheriff after he decided to stop being a PI and settle there with his friends. Even so, sometimes he wishes he could have what Lee and Marshall have. Does such love even exist for him? Right now that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards, as none of his dates ever seem to lead in the right direction. Good thing he has his job to hold onto.

Dustin Johnson hasn’t had an easy life, bounced around between family members since he was young. He first met Marshall in a bar in Tucker Falls, coming to his rescue when he was almost assaulted by a disgruntled would-be suitor, and became infatuated with him. Not taking no for an answer, he kept pursuing him, colliding with Marshall’s partner Lee on more than one occasion. But that’s all done now. He realizes he’s made some mistakes, and he wants to turn over a new life. Beginning with a more permanent living arrangement with his cousin Denver and a job at the computer store. What he really would like to do is work in law enforcement. But Sheriff Roy Landry barely gives him the time of day. What’s a guy to do?

Just when Dustin thinks he’s found the man of his dreams, he learns just how bad a judge of character he really is. He runs to Roy for help, and Roy promises to help him do what is right. Will Roy become the white knight Dustin needs, assuming he doesn’t get killed in the process?

Sometimes love is where you least expect to find it. But if you keep an open mind and heart, you might just find what you’re looking for. 


Roy Landry raised his bottle of beer in a silent toast to the two men—his two best friends—who had just departed the wedding reception being held for them in Roy’s home. But that was traditional, wasn’t it? The newlyweds were always the first to leave. At least that was the case in Roy’s experience, and he’d been to a few weddings over the years.

Although he was beyond happy for the newlyweds, he was also jealous of them. He envied Marshall and Lee and what they had. He’d never met such a loving, devoted couple in his entire life.  And he’d never seen two people fight so hard to be together. Maybe their relationship was unorthodox in the eyes of the rest of the world, but to him they were perfect for one another. And he was happy to have become a part of their lives, even if the circumstances of their meeting were less than stellar. And he was proud to have been instrumental in their reunion after a horrific five year separation.

Hopefully, they’d have nothing but smooth sailing ahead of them now, to make up for some of that unwarranted turbulence. And hopefully Lee’s ex would never show her face in Burnham again. After her last reception, Roy rather doubted she would.

 “So you’re a minister, are you?”

A voice broke into his thoughts, drawing Roy back to the present. Dustin Johnson stood beside him, long neck in hand.  Dustin’s cousin Denver was a friend of theirs, part of a small group who liked to hang out at a place called Partners, in nearby Tucker Falls. Dustin had helped Marshall out of a difficult situation at Partners—got him away from a pushy jackass who didn’t know how to accept no for an answer and was willing to inflict pain to get his point across. Roy was grateful to Dustin for that. But according to Marshall and Lee, he had the ability to be a real pain in the ass, too, and Lee’d had to put him in his place more than once about his unwanted attentions to Marshall.

Knowing Lee, Dustin should consider himself lucky he only got a talking-to.

All in all, Roy trusted the boy about as far as he could throw him.

“Something like that,” Roy replied evasively. He didn’t think it was any of Dustin’s business one way or another. No, the ceremony he’d performed wasn’t legal, but there was no way anyone would allow that for Marshall and Lee, so Roy had done the best he could, and none the wiser who didn’t already know the truth. Which didn’t include Dustin, or even Denver. Theirs was not a secret to be told lightly, and Roy would never betray their faith in him by telling anyone what he knew.

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Virtual Book Tour: All is Set Anew by Jim Cheney

 Good morning everyone! Please welcome author Jim Cheney to Full Moon Dreaming! He is here to talk about his new release, All is Set Anew. Jim will be awarding a $15 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 his tour go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!


All is Set Anew

by Jim Cheney




GENRE: Thriller, Supernatural Thriller






A fast-paced examination of loss, survival, and ultimately acceptance of those things we do not understand but must contend with as if our lives depend upon it.


From deep in the rural Tennessee woods, two brothers flee their murderous father only to find that a violent, supernatural force has followed their escape and will haunt their family for multiple generations.


All Is Set Anew is the story of abandonment and its subsequent revenge, set against a backdrop of characters imprisoned by poverty and self-doubt and their struggle to outrun the evil and illness that relentlessly pursues them.







That afternoon Mary found Edgar at the hog pens and she told him that she wanted to speak with him after supper. She spent the rest of the day packing suitcases for her husband and tidying things around the house. LoLo moved about the rooms silently and Mary worried that her decision was poorly chosen each time the woman’s eyes met hers. It was not a critical exchange of glance, but the way that LoLo diverted her eyes too quickly gave Mary a sinking sensation that made her want to ask her what she would do if the decision was hers. Mary’s upbringing had been as pragmatic as it was cultured, so she looked to facts when challenged. They had let a man like Hicks onto the place. Logic told her that he had raped Katherine, although she could not prove it. Her daughter Renee had left with him, although she could not prove that either. Katherine was alive, and while traumatized, Mary believed that she could guide her back to health. If it got out that Katherine had been raped by a man that Renee had run off with, the impact to the family and its reputation would be devastating. And when she imagined her husband’s reaction to any of this, she felt as helpless as someone looking out over an arid field, begging the merciless, baking sky for relief. Katherine will recover, she told herself. She has enough of me in her that she’ll find her way through.






AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Jim Cheney was raised in North Georgia and has written professionally for more than 25 years. He has been published in media outlets throughout the United States. This is his first novel. He lives in Franklin, Tennessee with his wife, two boys and three dogs.


Amazon Author Page:



The book is on sale for $0.99


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Monday, October 18, 2021

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 6 by Koyoharu Gotouge


Demon Slayer, Vol 6       

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 7, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★


Tanjiro and the others are saved by the arrival of higher level Demon Slayers, the Hashira, but one of them, Shinobu, is intent on destroying Nezuko, who is being protected by another Hashira named Tomioka. Tomioka tells Tanjiro to take Nezuko and flee, but Shinobu is determined to slay the demon in their midst. Luckily a message arrives to take both Tanjiro and his sister to headquarters. There Tanjiro is told he is to be put on trial.

The Hashira have differing opinions on what to do with Tanjiro and his sister, and some of their solutions are rather bloodthirsty. One of them is more concerned with punishing Tomioka since he broke the rules by protecting a demon. Tanjiro tries to explain about the circumstances which led to Nezuko becoming a demon, and how she has never eaten human flesh in all this time and would never hurt a human. And how he became a swordsman in order to protect her. One rather insane Hashira, covered with scars, picks up Nezuko’s box and decides to insert his sword into it randomly. Naturally, Tanjiro attacks him, even though his hands are bound behind him and he has no weapon.

The Master of the mansion arrives, and he seems like a rather laid back sort of guy. He tells the others that he accepts Tanjiro and Nezuko, then proceeds to have read a letter from Urokodaki, verifying what Tanjiro has been trying to tell them. The Master then explains that Muzan Kibutsuji has sent agents after the brother and sister, thus exposing more of himself to them than he has ever done before. Surely this means something. The insane Hashira decides to test Nezuko for himself, though, expecting to trick her into drinking human blood.

While the Hashira deliberate, Tanjiro is sent to the Butterfly Mansion. They take him and Nezuko to the infirmary, where he is reunited with an unhappy Zenitsu and a slumbering Inosuke. The four are left to heal until Shinobu comes to tell them it’s time for their rehabilitation training. After a few days of intense training, Zenitsu and Inosuke quit showing up, but Tanjiro persists. He is determined to do his best and then help the others to succeed as well.

Since Tanjiro’s sword was broken, a new one needs to be forged. And the sword maker is not happy that this is necessary, taking it out on Tanjiro when he delivers the new blade. And in other news, another side of Muzan Kibutsuji is revealed.

I love the humor in these stories, and I love the characters. They are very much unique and well-drawn. There is also a great deal of warmth and love, especially between Tanjiro and his sister, and the way he relates to other people. Well, most of the time. He does have his moments, of course. The surprise reveal about Muzan was … well, surprising. I certainly didn’t see that coming.

Still haven’t changed my mind about Inosuke, maybe later.  Good volume, looking forward to more.

Virtual Book Blast: The Cairns of Sainctuarie by Hawk MacKinney

 Good morning everyone! Please welcome author Hawk MacKinney to Full Moon Dreaming! He's here to talk about his new release, The Cairns of Sainctuarie. Hawk will be awarding a $20 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 the tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!


Cairns of Sainctuarie Science Fiction Series

by Hawk MacKinney




GENRE: Science Fiction






The Cairns of Sainctuarie Volume I - The Bleikovat Event

Volume II – The Missing Planets

Volume III – Inanna Phantom


From a rocky outcrop a battle-widowed Etkaa, gazed down at the death and upheaval. Rancid green Murian blood stanched the dusklit breezes from the haze-dimmed river marshlands. Nothing has been spared by the Green Dragon forces of Bleikovia. In skirmishes along the Feldon River, EtkaaĆ¢'s mate is fatally wounded with deadly selvon poison. Through a gruesome mountain trek of icy blizzards, they elude the Green Dragon. The battered starving Feldovats reach the coast at Eedov City only to be confronted by their implacable enemy determined to destroy the remaining Klarvkon rabble. Taking passage on crowded Maalon freighters, the refugees escape toward a new life among their Maalon hosts. Enraged Bleikovats move against the Klarvkons, bringing indiscriminate bloodshed. War once again surfaces, as it did in the muddy filth along the Feldon River of Malfesov, and becomes a different kind of war.


Generations after the great Murian upheaval of the Malfesian War against the

Bleikovats, the Accords between planets Terato and Myr are signed.


Provisional Outpost Terato is under construction near a farm where Teratoan orphan Eklam a'Qoc lives with his uncle and cousin. Inquisitive strong-minded Eklam, Ek to everyone in the village, is captivated by the off-worlders technology, and becomes an apprentice to the Outpost Terato's Murian commander, Grand Duke Korvo. Uncle a'Qoc disapproves; wants nothing to do with these outlanders, wants their shimmering doorway portals-of-travel banned from Terato. As Outpost Terato becomes operational it seems to become a harbinger stirring ageless secrets of The Old Ones and their frightful weapons, of ancient Teratoan ruins, mysterious glowing lights, unexplained killings, a sacred book in a language no Teratoan can read, a moon that doesn't behave like a moon in its wobbly orbit.


From cosmic reaches beyond space and time the ominous secrets of Terato's

ancient ruins become more threatening. Ek and Korvo realize both their worlds face extinction with any hope buried somewhere in unknown galaxies far beyond a pastoral Terato or the sophisticated star-empire of the Murians; of missing planets in a star system with its single star in a galaxy far-removed unknown to Terato or Myr. They travel across the universe to a place long forgotten to fight this unknown foe with weapons only dreamed of. Together they face the beast that wishes to consume the entire universe.


The threat of rift invasions seems long passed. Plentiful harvests abound. The Murian first-contact Terato Outpost has grown into the sprawling Terato-Murian Terminus Terato with a hub of relay portals reaching across the vast uncharted galactic expanses and connecting with its eon-extinct Lantaraan prehistory. An exploratory Terato-Murian Jupiterr outpost is established on the gas giant seventh planet, and its quantum and gravitational energies are used to power outpost portals for an archeological survey of the fourth planet, Eorthe. The Lantaraan database aboard Terato’s ancient Downday moon shows that one or more planets of the Solaris planets have apparently been lost. Expanded archeological records on other Lantaraan orbital bodies in the Solaris system show the fourth planet from the star—Eorthe—to be a sterile wasteland. Except it is not. Eorthe’s civilization is not to the level of the Murian Empire, but it is far advanced to those of a pastoral Terato. Terato and Eorthe form the confederated United Terran League under the nominal figurehead leader of League High Judikarr Eklam a’Qoc. Jupiterr outpost expands into a major League stronghold, Jupiterr Base, when civil unrest erupts in the League, the unexpected return of rift intrusions threatens, and the Murian Emperor Klarvko Celo is assassinated. As they prepare for confrontations with an unknown ancient enemy, the internal tensions on Myr and Eorthe push Murians and Teratoans to dangerous discords.







Volume I - The Bleikovat Event


There had been warnings…far from the Feldon River, across the flat prairies and far-flung farming settlements, in the grain fields and remote gelf ranches of the far-west reaches of Feldon provinces.  Most dismissed them, “…idle gossip from those with too little to do.”


The onslaught struck late and faraway during the last harvesting moons of the growing season, and once again unsettled whispers passed.  Among the markets and along trade routes far from the fields and farms of the Feldovat fiefdoms the word spread.  That was before dispatch riders and message runners on ponderous muscled claks brought more disturbing rumors:  “Heavy raids and ambushes all along the hinterlands this side of the Bleikov-Bormeikovat frontiers.”


One grizzled Murian farmer’s slit-pupils narrowed to thin slivers.  Gently tightened the reins.  Hooked to the plough, the lumbering gelf plodded to a stop.  He laid the planed-wood handles of the plough sidewise onto the fresh furrow.  Without moving from the trenched rows the gelf reached its thick neck to nibble the green tufts around its feet.  The weathered work-aged farmer carefully slipped the reins off his shoulder.  Fingered the split creeping along one sweat-stained handle, “…get this to the woodworker before spring ploughing times.  Get it braced before I have to barter for a new plough handle.”  Pulled off his wide-brim woven hat; wiped his forehead.  Uncorked his gelf-leather water pouch; took long slow swallows.  Spit a bitter-chewed slurry of brown chakklu; scowled, "…ill-tempered uplander Bleikovats."  Another long swallow…re-plugged the pouch.  Bit off another twist of dried chakklu.




AUTHOR Bio and Links:



With postgraduate degrees and faculty positions in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. His professional writing includes articles on chordate neuroembryology, and aerospace research on muscle metabolic behavior in multi-orbital environments.


In addition, Hawk has authored several works of fiction including a historical romance Moccasin Trace which was nominated for both the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award. His Cairns of Sainctuarie Science Fiction Series and his Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series have received national and international attention.







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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 42 by Tite Kubo


Bleach, Vol 42      

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 3, 2012

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


And so the battles between the Thirteen Court Guard Companies and the Espadas continue.

Halibel is dismayed to learn just how powerful Hitsugaya is as he unleashes his Frozen Heavens Hundred Flower Funeral on her, encasing her in ice. Sai Fon and Omaeda face Reaper Barragan, and Sai Fon is forced to use her Bankai. Omaeda has never seen her Bankai before and wonders what she can do with a weapon of that shape.

Shunsui is still facing Stark, and throws his kimono down to Ukitake to catch. Stark calls to Lilinette, who is still trying to fight Ukitake, who refuses to fight a child. Turns out that Stark and Lilinette work together, their powers divided into two bodies. Not only that, but Lilinette becomes a gun that can fire cero blasts! Stark is determined to force Shunsui to use his Bankai, but Shunsui resists, until Stark ups the ante, turning Lilinette into a submachine gun. Things look bad until Ukitake steps in, claiming it isn’t unfair since there are two of them.

Suddenly a garganta appears, and Wonderweiss arrives. According to Stark, “If Wonderweiss is here that can only mean that Lord Aizen’s patience has been exhausted.” Wonderweiss’ unnatural scream shatters Halibel’s ice prison. And the strange creature that came with Wonderweiss has just extinguished the flames surrounding Aizen, Tosen, and Gin… which means they are now free to join the fray.

Although this is a matter of dismay to the Soul Reapers, there is another group who have also just arrived and are just as eager to square off against Aizen et al – namely, Shinji and the other Visoreds. They aren’t thrilled to be working with the Soul Society, but it’s more a question of the enemy of my enemy is my ally. At least for now. Shunsui and Lisa have a touching reunion, and Shinji lets Captain Yamamoto that he considers himself Ichigo’s ally, not Soul Society’s. The Visoreds get their first taste of battle when the strange creature that came with Wonderweiss spews out a bunch of Gillians. Captain Komamura steps up to fight alongside the Visoreds, and to face Tosen as well.  As he does, Hisagi, requests to join that particular fight.

Another battle-heavy volume of Bleach, but it feels like we’re finally progressing. Maybe because Aizen and his toadies have stepped into the fight. There could be no denouement without that. The appearance of the Visoreds was unexpected and very welcome. They certainly have just cause to hate Aizen, although they also have no real love for Soul Society, who should consider themselves lucky to have them as temporary allies. I loved watching Shunsui battle against Stark, and I loved the way Ukitake didn’t hesitate to join him. They’ve been friends for a very long time, and are favorites of the Old Man himself.

Nothing of Ichigo this time around, although that’s just a matter of time since he has defeated Ulquiorra. I guess he needs to figure out how to get out of Hueco Mundo first.

Another great volume, looking forward to the next.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Saturday is Horror Day #32 - Dark Water, V/H/S

 Dark Water

Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) is going through a difficult divorce. Her husband wants custody of their almost six year-old daughter Ikuko (Rio Kanno), but Yoshimi refuses to entertain the idea. Not in the best of financial situations, Yoshimi moves herself and her daughter to an older apartment building, anxious to put down roots quickly so she can keep Ikuko with her. The apartment has issues, including water spots on the ceilings, but the maintenance is less than stellar.

While exploring the building by herself, Ikoku discovers a red bag containing an assortment of little girls' toys, but her mother won't allow her to keep it. She leaves it with the building's maintenance man, who puts it into the lost and found. And yet it inexplicably turns up among Ikoku's things. A distraught Yoshimi throws it away herself.

Yoshimi is under a great deal of stress, with a new job and having to pick up Ikoku from kindergarten. She is often late, which stresses Ikoku out too. The leak in the apartment has only become worse. Yoshimi thinks maybe it's the people above them, so goes upstairs to talk to them. But no one answers her knock. Yet when she is in the elevator, she sees the door open, and a small figure in a yellow raincoat appears. When Yoshimi goes back up, though, there is no one to be seen.

Yoshimi wants to move, immediately, but her lawyer advises her that would not look well, especially

since Ikoku would be forced to change kindergartens, and stability is what is needed in the situation. Yoshimi isn't sure how much longer she can take all this water. People say that there is something wrong with the water and some won't even touch it. 

Yoshimi spots a flier in the building about a little girl who went missing in 1999. A little girl in a yellow raincoat.  She is worried that someone or something is trying to take Ikoku away from her, and she is determined to do everything in her power to prevent that.

On one level, perhaps this film can be seen in terms of symbolism. The leaking roof of the battered apartment building being the leaky relationship that is their marriage.  On another level, it's a horror movie about a missing little girl who just wants to be found and loved.  There are parallels between the two girls, Matsuko and Ikoku, with both of them waiting at the preschool to be picked up, feeling alone and abandoned. Yoshimi is so desperate to keep her daughter with her that she becomes almost irrational in her actions when faced with the idea of losing her. To some, her actions might be understandable, but they are also open to misinterpretation by her husband's lawyer. Damned if she does, and damned if she doesn't.

As the roof gets worse and worse, so does Yoshimi, until you begin to question is she really seeing what she thinks she is? A complex horror story, Dark Water was well worth watching, and somewhat sad. I'll give it a sold 3.5 Stars.


Brad (Adam Wingard) and his friends are always up for a good prank, and love to record themselves performing them, even if they are in questionable taste. So when someone wants to hire them to break into a home and steal back a VHS tape, they're up for it. To their dismay, they find an old man has expired inside the house. But at least he won't bother them, right? The trouble is, there was no indication exactly which tape is wanted, and there are a whole bunch of tapes. So while the others search the house, Adam sits down to view some of the tapes. And what he sees is.... well, disturbing.

Three drunk young men who get themselves thrown out of a night club because of their behavior, end up taking two girls to a motel room for some fun. One is very willing, at least until she passes out. The other girl is a little strange. But what the little head wants... well, any port in a storm. One guy is kind of shy but interested, and allows himself to be coaxed into a threesome, while the third guy just sits on the couch and laughs his head off. But things go a little awry.

A couple go on a road trip together. But at their motel, a strange young woman beats on their door, wanting a ride. After she leaves, they're a bit creeped out. They'd be even more creeped out if they could see what she did while they were sleeping.

A young woman and her boyfriend are separated by miles but stay in touch through Facetime. She's a little nervous in her apartment, and wakes him up in the middle of the night, having heard something. He tells her that nothing is going on. And when she insists that something is wrong with her arm, he tells her he'll take a look at it in a week, when he is there. But when she wakes him again, he begins to see she is not alone...

A guy is ecstatic when a girl he's interested in invites him to a park for some alone time. Except another couple is coming with them. And apparently she told the other girl it would be a girls day. So, what exactly is going on here?

A few friends are excited to attend a Halloween party. But when they arrive at the address they're given, there is no sign of life, so they begin to look around the old house. Maybe this is the set-up and they have to figure out where the party is happening. When one of them goes into the basement, in search of the party, he reports hands coming out of the walls. The others think that is pretty cool. But what they find next isn't quite so cool.

This is a collection of found footage stories. The title stands for video horror shorts, and these are. Shot in found footage style, I have to say the beginning seemed a little slow and I wasn't sure I was going to continue to watch. But I did, and I'm glad. As the stories progress, you begin to see the inherent horror in each. I'll tell you this right now, this film is not for the squeamish. I found it exceedingly creepy, and more than a little jaw-dropping. But that's what you want in a horror film, right? This is the kind of film you find yourself shouting at the characters to watch out 'cause they can't see what you do, and you are afraid of what is about to happen.

I would not want to live through any of these scenarios. This was definitely well worth watching. As I said, I don't scare easily, but this had a definite creep factor. And I watched it in the daytime. I can only imagine that being magnified if I saw it at night. I'll give it a solid 4.5 Stars.