Monthly Archives: May 2021

Saturday is Horror Day #13 – Stonehearst Asylum, Mary (2019) – (x-posted at Full Moon Horror)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Stonehearst Asylum


Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) is a new doctor who has gone to Stonehearst Asylum to obtain practical experience in order to complete his education. The asylum is run by Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley), who has what Newgate finds to be an unusual method of treating his patients. He makes no effort to cure them, claiming that they are happier as they are. And he allows them the freedom of the asylum. Lamb’s assistant, Mickey Finn (David Thewlis) is rude and crude, with a twisted sense of humor. Newgate finds himself drawn to one of the inmates, Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale). She is beautiful and enigmatic, and he longs to learn more about her.


Wondering about Lamb’s methods and philosophy, Newgate explores the asylum and discovers more than he bargained for in the form of cells containing inmates who are locked up for some reason, including a man named Benjamin Salt (Michael Caine). They question who he is even as he questions them as to why they are there. But can he believe what they tell him? Can Salt be the real superintendent of the asylum?


Are the inmates really running the asylum?

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this film, based on a story by Edgar Alan Poe (which one, I have yet to discover). I figured out the twist right away, but after that, all bets were off. If you’ve ever seen the film Asylum, you might know what I’m referring to. Otherwise, I won’t give that away, although it’s fairly obvious early on.


The settings are well done and very turn of the century, as 1899 is about to become 1900, which event

must of course be celebrated. I think it was well written, and has quite the cast. David Thewlis is quite the chameleon. He can play the sweet, mild-mannered Remus Lupin, or this maniacal madman who doesn’t ever seem quite right. Kate Beckinsale is a tragic figure as Eliza Graves, who supposedly bit off her husband’s ear, which is why she has been placed in the asylum. A fact that Mickey Finn doesn’t hesitate to bring up. Look for a funny moment when Newgate finds humor in Finn’s name.
While this film may not be filled with jump scares or the traditional trappings of horror, it has its own horror and creepiness factor, which leaves you wondering until the end what is going to happen. Guess if you like, but I bet you won’t see it coming. I give this a solid 4 stars.


Mary (2019)

David (Gary Oldman) and Sarah’s (Emily Mortimer) marriage is foundering on the rocks, after Sarah’s infidelity, but they are working at staying together, for themselves and for their two daughters. When David runs across a less than perfect ship for sale, he envisions their future as the owners of this vessel, which they will use for charter tours and which will provide for their future. Sarah wants to say no, but she’s not really in a position to go against David’s wishes, so she bites her tongue and agrees to the purchase, although it will take everything they have and then some.

They decide to take the family on a trial run/vacation, and head up toward Bermuda, along with the crew, which consists of David’s friend Mike (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a young man named Tommy (Owen Teague). Tommy and the older daughter Lindsey (Stefanie Scott) hit it off right away, and it seems to be smooth sailing…

until it isn’t.

Sarah thinks she is seeing and hearing things, and Tommy thinks the masthead, which comes from the original vessel, speaks to him. Younger daughter Mary (Chloe Perrin), who is artistically inclined, is drawing strange figures, for no apparent reason. The further out to sea the ship goes, the worse it gets. Sarah is beginning to think there is an evil entity on this ship, and it’s after her family!


This wasn’t a bad film, but it wasn’t a great film either. Not really scary, maybe a couple of jump scares. My biggest problem is that the story behind what’s going on doesn’t really make sense to me or explain anything. The acting and directing aren’t bad (look for Gary Oldman’s manager in a small role at the beginning). But the story is definitely lacking, and if you can’t become invested in the story, what do you have? A movie that tries too hard and achieves too little.


If you’re a fan of Oldman, you might enjoy it. Or if you like creepy spirits on a ship in the middle of the ocean. I’ll give it a shaky 3 stars and say everyone meant well, but it just didn’t work well enough.

Book Review: Frog by Mary Calmes


Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

American release date: April 25, 2012

Format/Genre/Length:  Kindle/Gay Romance/Supernatural/126 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Weber Yates has been living his dream as a bull rider for a long time, but as he gets older, he comes to the realization that he can’t do it forever, and his nomadic life has to come to an end. But what’s he going to do to support himself? He’s a very self-reliant guy who’s always depended on himself and no one else. He’s also a very proud and stubborn man.

Weber has a rich lover, a neurosurgeon named Cyrus Benning. Cy loves Weber more than life itself, and wants nothing more than to be with Weber forever. But he puts no strings on him, makes no demands, and only takes what he is given. At the same time, neither man is a saint, and they know they have other hook-ups when they aren’t together, since they aren’t exclusive or anything.

On his way to a temporary job in Alaska, Weber is passing through Oakland and, on an impulse, calls Cy. Cy talks Weber into letting him pick him up and bring him home. Weber says he can only stay a day or two, because he has to find some work so he can get the money he needs so he can afford to head up to Alaska. But things don’t work out quite as planned, and Weber finds himself staying with Cy for the holidays, caring for his three young nephews, while their mother goes through a difficult time.

Caroline’s children love Weber immediately. One of them, Micah, doesn’t speak, following a traumatic event. But Weber has no problem communicating with the boy. When Weber goes with Cy to his family’s home for the holidays, he finds that he’s not the only one who thinks Weber isn’t good enough for Cy, and he thinks maybe it’s time to hit the road, and let Cy have a chance at finding his prince.

A friend of mine recommended this book to me and has been urging me to read it. I’m glad I finally did. This was a very sweet, sexy, romantic story, filled with great characters. I’ve never read Mary Calmes before, but I will read more of her books now. She has a very smooth, fluid writing style that pulls you in and hooks you. And it just goes to show that love makes equals of us all.

Wednesday Briefs: May 26, 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 Forty by Cia Nordwell

“And you are mine,” he said.  

“Hmm?” I looked up at him, too blissed out to move. “What?”  

“You said mine.” He blinked lazy eyes at me. “We belong to each other now.”  

I hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but I was glad I did. For days I’d been on edge, like the skin I was in was too tight, my muscles quivering on the verge of an explosion. Inside I’d been just as big of a mess, emotionally and mentally. Now all I wanted to do was sleep. “Rest.” I stroked his chest and one thigh.  


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Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 3 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 3     

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 7, 2006

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


When the director offers to give Kyoko a tea-making lesson, as he’s doing with Ruriko, she turns him down. She doesn’t need that, having learned how to perform a tea ceremony a long time ago at the inn run by Sho’s parents. But she doesn’t tell him that, of course.  She’s trying to put all that behind her. When she learns that Ruriko isn’t really ill, as she thought, merely spoiled and pampered, Kyoko grows angry and more determined to best her. Ren tries to persuade her to drop out of the contest, due to her injury, but he doesn’t know her very well, and she refuses to back out.

Ren runs through the lines with Ruriko, and then it’s Kyoko’s turn, and an amazing thing happens. Ren’s acting changes, as he becomes more serious with her, and his acting provokes an unexpected response from Kyoko which blows everyone away. However, Kyoko is more seriously hurt than she has let on…

Kyoko has scared Ruriko enough that she ceases her previous behavior. When Lory learns that the change in his actress is due to Kyoko, rather than Ren,  he is surprised. As a parting gift, the grateful director allows her a photo shoot, complete with make-up, which makes Kyoko very happy.

Back at LME, Kyoko unexpectedly encounters one of the other actresses from the LME auditions, who is surprised to see Kyoko there since she flunked the audition. But Moko can’t afford to be too high and mighty, as Kyoko learns that she is the newest member of the Love Me section! Kyoko is determined that the two of them will get through this together, so thrilled is she to have someone else to share her misery with.

Kyoko wants to attend the LME actor training school, in order to work on her craft, but the cost is rather prohibitive. However, when Lory requests a favor of her regarding his wayward granddaughter, Maria, Kyoko wonders if maybe this is the answer to how she can afford to get into the school.

Much going on in this volume. I think Kyoko is becoming serious about her acting, as opposed to just wanting to become more successful than Sho. It’s not just an ends to a mean, but something she really wants to learn to do well. Also, I think Ren is starting to see her as someone with more talent than he’s given her credit for. Okay, so Kyoko didn’t get the part. No one wins all the time, but she won something more. She was able to make a veteran actress change her horrible ways, and she brought out something in Ren. Or he brought it out in her. Or maybe it’s mutual.

I love Lory’s faith in her. He’s rather unconventional, but a lot of fun, and he sincerely loves his granddaughter, who is just a little girl but is being blamed for the death of her mother. No wonder she acts up! He has a feeling that Ms. Mogami can get through to her. At least he hopes so, as he doesn’t know where else to turn. I love the bonding that takes place between Kyoko and Maria (even if others might find it a little frightening). I love the humor in this series, but it’s also serious and dramatic too.

Looking forward to the next volume.

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 2 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 2     

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 5, 2006

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Kyoko’s audition for LME has failed, so she finds another day job instead.  She feels like a loser, which is bad enough, and then she sees Sho in a cosmetics commercial on TV, reminding her of why she wants to succeed in show business. Then just by coincidence a large bus pulls into the place where she works, and who should step out of the bus but Sho himself? Kyoko is terrified he’ll see her and realize her failure, but he doesn’t even recognize her (in all fairness she did get an expensive makeover after selling her Sho memorabilia).  Rather than release her anger at Sho, however, she pretends to be a number one fan, to throw him off the track, even speaking the words he longs to hear.

Meanwhile, the head of LME, Lory, is intrigued by what he has seen of Kyoko, and sets the stage for her return. At least he hopes she’ll return. Ren Tsuruga does not hope so, since he dislikes her reason for wanting to exceed in show business. But Lory sees something in her and wants to fan that spark into a flame. And go back she does, determined to succeed. Which is how she ends up in LME’s new section – the Love Me Section. Not quite what she was hoping for, but hey, it’s a foot in the door. Work her way up from the bottom? In this case, she’s starting from the basement! And she has to do anything that is requested of her, no matter how silly or menial or demeaning. How well she does will be reflected in the points she is given for her job. And if she earns enough points, she can become a proper part of the agency. What does it matter that she has to wear a bright hot pink uniform with Love Me written on back and front, and that people who see her are laughing at her? He who laughs last laughs best, after all.

Kyoko runs into LME actress Ruriko Matsunai, who wishes to make a request of her, which Kyoko agrees to. Unknown to her, Lory is hoping that by putting Ruriko into a film with Ren,  Ren can help to cure some of her bad habits. Such as lack of punctuality. And demanding to be pampered. Ruriko has had a special umbrella made for some outdoor scenes (costing a day of delay waiting for the umbrella). She wants Kyoko to carry it for her. Kyoko, thinking the actress is allergic to UV rays, is determined to be her white knight and help keep her safe. She ends up carrying the actress up a hill toward the shooting set and injuring herself in the process. Can that be Ren Tsuruga to the rescue? Le gasp!

When Ruriko displays her usual bratty behavior and refuses to work, the director gets Kyoko to step in for her, despite her injury. And suddenly Ruriko is worried that she may actually lose her role to someone she refers to as a hyena. Could this be Kyoko’s big break?

I can’t say enough good things about this series and love it to death. Kyoko is such an interesting character, and certainly not perfect. You could definitely say she has issues, chief among them Sho Fuwa. But she has integrity and she takes pride in her work, and goes above and beyond the call of duty.  And she has a very big heart. How can you not hope she gets the final laugh at Sho? Lory is quite the character, a man of a million costumes and quirks, but he has a good heart and good instincts about people.

Another great volume, looking forward to the next.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 36 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 36     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 6, 2011

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Even as the Soul Society rushes to the rescue of Karakura Town, the pendulum swings back, back, back… 110 years back to be precise. Back to what came before.

Shinji Hirako is captain of the Fifth Company, and his assistant captain is Sosuke Aizen. They, along with the other captains, are assembling to welcome the newly promoted captain among them. On the way, Shinji is suddenly attacked by Hiyori Sarugaki, assistant captain of the Twelfth Company, but she is quickly put in her place by Love Aikawa, the captain of the Seventh Company. Among the other captains arriving for the occasion is Shunsui Kyoraku, captain of the Eighth Company, and Jushiro Ukitake, captain of the Thirteenth Company. The captains line up and wait. After a time, a fellow enters through the large doors. He seems a little nervous and unsure of himself, even as he introduces himself as Kisuke Uruhara. He is the new captain of the Twelfth Company. He doesn’t make a very good first impression on the others, and is snapped at by his friend, Yoruichi Shihoin, captain of the Second Company, to enter with confidence.

The next day, Hiyori is outraged to find Kisuke changing his room, and she punches him. Despite her actions, he asks for a favor from her… to please accompany him to the Maggot’s Nest. As he explains to her on the way, the Thirteen Court Guards don’t have a plan in place for members who wish to resign. Also, there are eyes kept on all of them, searching for signs of trouble within the ranks.  Those who display such signs, and those who wish to resign, end up in a special place (translate under confinement) from which they cannot leave. Why does Kisuke wish to go to the Maggot’s Nest to begin with, now that he is with another company? There is a particular prisoner he wishes to speak with, a man by the name of Mayuri Kurotsuchi. Kiskue wants his help.

Something strange is going on in the Rukongai. People are literally disappearing, leaving nothing but their clothes behind.  Members of the squads are sent to investigate. Kiskue asks Hiyori to visit the scene of the disappearances to obtain samples he badly needs for what he is doing. Since becoming captain, he has established the Twelfth Company as Research and Development, with Kurotsuchi as his chief assistant. Hiyori dislikes Kurotsuchi and his disdain for rules, and she doesn’t want to go on Kisuke’s errand, but she grudgingly does.

At a meeting of the captains to discuss the situation, both the Captain and Assistant Captain of the Kido Corp are chosen by the Old Man to investigate. But Shunsui suggests that perhaps this is a dangerous idea. Instead of sending Tessai, he proposes his own Assistant Captain, Lisa, who just happens to be within earshot  (she’s been eavesdropping on the meeting), and she agrees to help so off she goes.

Things go from bad to worse, as the three who are well known in the future as villains, begin to work their evil deeds.

This has to be one of my favorite Bleach volumes ever, this visit to the past where we see our heroes as they once were.  I especially loved the story of Kisuke and Mayuri (who barely looks like himself!). We see the young and volatile Byakuya, as well as those who later become the Visoreds. I have to admit my heart broke, seeing them as they once were, before the perfidy of Aizen and his cohorts cost them so much. At one time I really disliked Shinji (whom I often refer to as the Little Dutch Boy), but I have come to really like him. We watch as Aizen recruits a very young Gin. And also, we see Shunsui meet Nanao, which is so cute in and of itself.

The worst part is watching the drama unfold and knowing how this story will end in much tragedy and sorrow. Yet also hope.

I’m sure there’s more to come, can’t wait to read it! Another great volume!

Saturday is Horror Day #12 – The Dentist 2 (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

The Dentist 2

Dr. Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen), the murderous dentist committed to a mental hospital after committing a number of murders (not to mention tearing out his wife’s tongue) has escaped, thanks to an inattentive psychiatrist. Deciding he’s done with dentistry, and all that other stuff, Dr. Feinstone becomes Dr. Caine, and settles into the peaceful small town of Paradise, Missouri. But Fate is not done with our good doctor, not yet….

Upon his arrival, Dr. Caine goes to his bank to retrieve his false IDs (obviously he’s thought ahead and

planned for this eventuality). He ends up renting a cottage behind the home of his very attractive landlady, Jamie (Jilliam McWhirter). Unfortunately, the doctor’s cap falls off his tooth and he is forced to go to the only dentist in town. This dentist is sadly lacking in basic hygiene, to Dr. Caine’s dismay, and he has to lecture him on such simple matters as using gloves and sterilizing his instruments. To make matters worse, Dr. Caine has barely left the man’s office when the cap falls off! He can’t let that stand, and he doesn’t.

Now that the only dentist in town is dead, Dr. Caine finds himself pressured to pick up the late dentist’s practice, which he is reluctant to do. His romance with Jamie is going well, until he spies her in town with another man, and she seems far too familiar with this man to his taste. All the old feelings come rushing back.

As if this isn’t bad enough, there is a private investigator who has been hired by the doctor’s ex-wife to find him. She wants payback for what he did to her and her lover. It’s only a matter of time until the PI catches up to him. Meanwhile, a woman at the bank is suspicious of the new dentist and starts checking on him.

I actually think I liked the sequel to The Dentist better than the original. Maybe I’m just used to his particular brand of crazy. Or maybe it’s just fun to see what he’s going to do next.  He is at war with his own nature, wanting to do good but unable to control that little devil inside of him who enjoys inflicting pain. It doesn’t help that he moves from LA to smalltown Missouri, and he doesn’t really understand the people who live there. (There actually is a Paradise, Missouri, by the way, across the state and close to Kansas City).

There’s something I’ll never understand about people in horror films, the ones who figure out someone isn’t who they claim to be. And the ones who figure out who they actually are (eg crazed dentist/killer). Why in the world would you let that person know you know who they are? That indicates some kind of a death wish, in my book. Personally, I’d just smile, never let them know I know, and get the hell away from them to alert the authorities. But of course that doesn’t happen, does it? Look for Clint Howard in a small role in this film.

All in all, not a bad watch. I’ll give it a solid 3.5 stars. Wonder if there will be a Dentist 3? Guess we’ll have to wait and find out.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 35 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 35

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 7, 2011

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Kurotsuchi has shut down Szayelaporro for a long time to come, stretching time to an infinitesimal slowness as he waits in agony for the sword to pierce his chest. So, that being done, on to other things. Meanwhile, Nnoitora and Kenpachi are still going at it. The Espada is confident that nothing Kenpachi can do will harm him. Can the Soul Reaper have met his match?

At one time, Nnoitora and Nelliel worked together for Aizen, but there is no love lost between them. Memories of their antagonism flow through his brain as the battle with Kenpachi reaches an end…

But wait… the regularly scheduled program is being interrupted by an announcement from former Captain Aizen. First, he is done with Orihime and has no further use for her. Secondly… he is about to destroy Karakura Town. He gives the location where he has put Orihime, but a choice must be made. Save the girl or save the town. Can’t be both.

Tick tock, tick tock, the clock is ticking the time away. What to do, what to do, what to do?

What would Ichigo do?

A great deal of this volume of Bleach is concerned with the battle between Kenpachi and Nnoitora, and it’s not always clear who will prevail. The part with Kurotsuchi tickles me, as Uryu and Renji watch in horror at the way he is able to revive Nemu. I must say that Kurotsuchi is very… different. And not in an entirely bad way. Still, I wouldn’t want to hang out with him.

And now we’re getting ready for the next arc, in which the Soul Society, along with Ichigo, work to save Karakura Town, as well as Orihime, and some other heroes are about to take to the stage. Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to more.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 10: The Faceless Boy by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 10: Faceless Boy   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 17, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The meeting which Kanna has arranged has been interrupted by a man who styles himself a savior, and who dies for his cause. Now the police are outside, demanding the crowd disperse. Has Kanna achieved her goals, or was this gathering a failure? The young detective, Chono, is able to keep the police force at bay, at least for now, by claiming he’s protecting a crime scene. How long can that last?

Koizumi, home from Friend Land, goes to see her favorite band but finds there is something different about them. Turns out they fired their guitarist, Damian Yoshida, because of irreconcilable differences. Koizumi can’t stop dreaming of Friend Land, and the strange boy who tries to take off his mask. She doesn’t want to see his face, though, fearful of what might happen to her if she does.

Koizumi attempts to speak with Kanna at school, but that doesn’t turn out very well. Instead, she’s approached by someone who calls themselves a Dream Navigator. They inform her that she is soon to go to Friend World, like it or not. The very thought is frightening to Koizumi. Her parents, on the other hand, seem thrilled for her and have no clue how dangerous a place it really is. A terrified Koizumi remembers the card she got from Yoshitsune. Can he help her? Things go from bad to worse when she sees the new home room teacher, and recognizes his face…

This series just gets better and better. It seems as though things are gearing up to happen during the Pope’s planned visit to Japan. Obviously, the Friends have an agenda, but what is it? To further ingratiate themselves to the world? Or maybe take it over? Either way, they need to be stopped. Not to mention, they need to be outed as the true perpetrators of Bloody New Year’s Eve, and Kenji needs to be exonerated.

Koizumi is playing a dangerous game, but with the aid of Yoshitsune, she may just turn out all right. And what we think we know turns out to be very wrong, which leaves us back at square one again. Makes you wonder why so many people put their trust in a man who never ever shows his face, based on the alleged actions of some of his followers. And what does Kanna’s mother have to do with anything? More questions than answers here!

Anxiously awaiting the next volume.

Wednesday Briefs: May 29, 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-nine by Cia Nordwell

I climbed up and slotted between his legs, gasping when his shaft stroked along mine before I could wrap my hands around them. How did he do that? My eyes threatened to roll back in my head. “You are so soft everywhere,” he rasped. “But this is so hard.”

“Uh-huh.” I ached to come already. I wouldn’t let him take me over like he had last time though. This time I was scenting him. I captured our shafts in two of my hands. His fluids and my clearer precome mingled already, easing the glide of my palms.

I hissed. “So

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