Monthly Archives: May 2021

Book Review: You Love Me (You #3) by Caroline Kepnes

You Love Me (You #3)     

Author: Caroline Kepnes

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

American release date:  April 6, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Psychological Thriller/400 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Joe Goldberg’s dreams of a forever love with Love Quinn, mother of his future child, have been crushed following the death of Love’s twin brother Forty and Joe’s arrest on suspicion of murder—namely RIP Beck and RIP Peach. But thanks to the wealthy Quinn family, Joe is freed and given 4 million dollars to go away, with the proviso that he sign a paper that says he must stay away from his son, whom Love names Forty in honor of her brother.

Joe winds up moving to Bainbridge Island, Washington, in a house bought for him by the Quinns, where he becomes a volunteer at the local library and falls madly in love with librarian Mary Kay DiMarco. Mary Kay comes with baggage, in the form of teen-age daughter Nomi,  whom Joe refers to as the Meerkat, but so what? Joe can deal with that. But MK (as he calls her) is hiding something else from him, something that is an even greater obstacle to their happiness, in the form of a has-been rock star husband named Phil.

Simple enough for Joe Goldberg, right? Not like he hasn’t killed people before, he has. But Joe has turned over a new leaf. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, much less kill them. He’s a good boy, he is. But suddenly, people are dying, and none of it’s his fault. So why is he being made to suffer for their deaths?

The third book of the You series is just as delightful as the first two, with the deliciously psychotic Joe Goldberg as the main attraction. I love reading Joe’s voice, and his humor, even if I don’t get all the references (I do get a lot of them, though). Joe’s trying to do the right thing but the universe seems determined to get him, and his growing softness might just be the end of him.

More interesting characters along with some very unexpected events. Definite roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, and never knowing how things will turn out for Joe. Will surely be reading the next one whenever it comes out. I know this is not the end of the line for our hero, and I look forward to reading more as I wonder what he will be up to next.

 

Wednesday Briefs: May 12, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Thirty-eight by Cia Nordwell
 

Bouncer was up and snarling, his rumble a deeper counterpoint to my pissed off hissing anger. I only wished I sounded that intimidating. It didn’t matter, I had a cerops to back me up, and once I figured out who had touched Garjah, I would hunt them down and together we’d rip off all four of their arms so they couldn’t go around touching other people who shouldn’t be touched by anyone but—  

The ramble in my brain didn’t end as I circled Garjah who stood very, very still. No, it only got more violent when I realized the scent

 
 

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Saturday is Horror Day #10 – The Flesh and the Fiends, The Thompsons

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Flesh and the Fiends


In 1828 Scotland, medical research and anatomy studies depend on having cadavers to study. Dr. Robert Knox (Peter Cushing), an eminent surgeon, purchases bodies from a pair of ne’er-do-wells, Burke (George Rose) and Hare (Donald Pleasance), who are not above robbing a grave in order to supply the good doctor.

 

 

Before long, the lazy pair discover that they can get corpses without the trouble of digging them up and get more money for the fresher bodies, namely by killing people on the streets in the middle of the night! Dr. Knox remains oblivious to what they are doing, and never questions their methods,  although his assistants do. When Dr. Knox’s niece Martha (June Laverick) comes to stay after an absence of three years, she catches the eye of Dr. Mitchell (Dermot Walsh), while student Chris Jackson (John Cairney) becomes enamored of a young woman, Mary Patterson (Billie Whitelaw), who is known to frequent pubs and likes to have a good time.

 

Burke and Hare come under suspicion as people begin to turn up missing. How long can Dr. Knox turn a blind eye to their shenanigans?


I am a long-time Peter Cushing fan and was thrilled to find this film I wasn’t familiar with, on Shudder. It has the feel of a Hammer film, although it isn’t one. Peter Cushing is great, as always, and I enjoyed watching Donald Pleasance play the creepily sinister William Hare. The film is based on the true story of Burke and Hare, and can also be seen in The Body Snatcher, with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The Flesh and the Fiends is a little known, underappreciated gem among horror movies. It has a definite dark and creepy atmosphere, and is well worth viewing, especially for the performances of Cushing, Pleasance, and Rose. I’ll give it a solid 4 stars.

The Thompsons


The Hamiltons, now going by the Thompsons, have had to move on, their dark family secret having been uncovered. Knowing little of their late parents’ past, their only clue is the name of a village in England, and the name Manderson. So it’s off to Europe for the Thompsons!

 

 

Unfortunately, they run afoul of a couple of robbers, and Lenny is hurt. Now it’s imperative that they find him help as soon as possible. Francis finds the small village in question, and the pub where he may find Manderson. But again, things go awry, and he gets more than he bargained for. Turns out the Mandersons are kinfolk, and that’s not all they have in common.

 

The second movie begins where the first one ends, picking up in the middle of events as we find Francis trapped in a box, and of course he has to explain what led to this. Cue flashbacks. The entire movie concerns finding these relatives, who are even more sadistic and bloodthirsty than their American cousins, and who have their own plans for them. In particularly, for Darlene, as she seems to be the last hope for the continuation of their bloodline.

Frankly, the plot is thin at best, with not much more than the Thompsons vs the Mandersons. Mainly an excuse for fighting and bloodletting…. and more fighting and bloodletting. That wears thin quickly. The writers seem intent on showing the Thompsons in a more favorable light than in the first film, as if they are trying to make them out to be human. They’re not vampires, they have a disease, one that requires them to have a diet of blood. 

 

Honestly, there just isn’t a lot of meat to this one, and I found myself getting bored. Certainly not scary. The first movie wasn’t great, this one is barely decent. And I’m being kind here. I’ll just give it a soft 2 stars and suggest you find something else to watch. Like The Flesh and the Fiends.

Wednesday Briefs: May 5, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Thirty-seven by Cia Nordwell
 

“You don’t need to be scared,” Garjah said. He hurried over to the bed and sat next to me. The bunk edge sank under his weight. I leaned against him. The scent was even better straight from the source.  

Timok stepped closer, and I snapped my head up. He eased back, raising his hands. “Okay, so I’m going to say the bonding is not yet complete.”  

“You think?” I wanted to snap, and I was probably shorter than I even thought that came out considering I couldn’t stop glaring at him.  

Click here to read the entire Brief:

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Saturday is Horror Day – Suspiria (1977), Train to Busan

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Suspiria (1977)

On a dark and stormy night, American Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives at the prestigious German ballet school where she has been accepted as a student only to be told by a voice over the  intercom to go away. Just as she arrives, she sees another young woman rush out of the building, who mutters some strange words before disappearing into the night. Suzy Bannion returns the next day to a much better reception.

 

From the beginning, Suzy shows herself to be strong-minded, a trait not necessarily desirable at the

school, which seems to be oddly controlling. Since a room is not immediately available for her, Suzy makes arrangements to sleep elsewhere and is settled in before going to her first rehearsal. There she falls perilously ill. Despite her protestations, the autocratic dance mistress pushes her until she collapses. The proprietress of the school, Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) is very solicitous and Suzy is cared for the school’s Professor Milius (Rudolf Schundler) who puts her on bedrest and a bland diet, although he prescribes wine to build up her blood. While she is asleep, someone has gone to her lodgings and brought her things back although Suzy was very clear that she did not want that!

Strange things are happening at the school, including an infestation of grotesque maggots on the floor just below the attic, which necessitates the girls on that floor sleep downstairs in a makeshift dormitory arrangement. Suzy befriends another girl, Sara (Stefania Casini), who tells her a story about a strange snoring noise. Sara wonders where the teachers go at night, since they all leave at 8:30, and what do they do?

 

The blind piano player for the school is cruelly dismissed by the dance mistress, and ends up meeting a horrible death. Suzy and Sara are determined to get to the bottom of whatever is going on at this school But at what price?

This movie was recommended to me, I forget by which site, as a  horror gem, but for the life of me I am not sure why it has garnered such great reviews. The sets are uniquely strange, and the cinematography isn’t bad, sometimes rather effective. Ditto for the background music, with performances by a group called Goblin. The plot is more shocking than scary, and that has to be some of the worst movie blood I’ve ever seen. Straight up looked like red paint.

 

And the acting… oh, the acting…. Sorry, but it was horrible. I think I could do better, and I don’t act. Joan Bennett you may remember from Dark Shadows. I also remember her from an old version of The Man in the Iron Mask. But her delivery has always been rather stiff and stilted, and nothing has changed there. Apparently, this was her last film. The lead, Jessica Harper,  turned down in a part in Annie Hall to do this film. I wonder how she felt about that later.

I read that the actors spoke different languages while shooting and all was dubbed into English later, which accounts for the bad sound of the dialogue. The ending doesn’t provide a satisfactory explanation of what just happened. I leave it to you whether to even bother watching. I’ll just give it a shaky 3 stars out of 5, and hope that the 2018 remake is better.

Train to Busan

Su-an Kim is a young girl who lives with her father, as her parents are currently separated. Her mother lives in Busan, and Su-an misses her greatly. But her father is a busy man, and he doesn’t have time to take her to visit her mother. Seems like he doesn’t have time for a lot of things. Su-an secretly telephones her mother and says she wants to see her the next day, and swears she can take the train alone. Her father overhears, and tries to placate her by giving her her birthday present early. Turns out Dad wasn’t paying attention, and Su-an already has a Wii. So he finds himself agreeing to take his daughter to Busan to visit her mother.

As the train prepares to leave, a young lady manages to climb aboard, but she seems to be in a bad way. And as the train pulls out of the station, something very odd seems to be happening.

 

What began as a simple train ride becomes a fight for survival, as people become rabid zombies right before everyone’s eyes. And this strange phenomenon is happening everywhere. Why and how did this start? And how can anyone survive/ Is there any place that is safe?

 

This was a very unusual zombie film, and I loved it. More than a simple horror film, it is about people and about survival, about working together for the common good. But the situation also brings out the selfish and the brutal in people, who can only see as far as their own needs. Everything in this Korean film is excellent, from direction to acting to story to cinematography. I am looking forward to seeing the sequel.

Word of advice – keep some Kleenex handy for this one, you’ll need it. I give this film a very strong 5 star rating.