Monthly Archives: July 2022

Film Review: Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Dee Renjie (Mark Chao) is newly arrived in the Imperial Capital with the intention of joining the Court of Judicature and Revision. There is tension in the city due to the attack of a mysterious sea monster which destroyed many ships. Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) has charged Yuchi (Feng Shaofeng) with solving the problem within ten days. A courtesan is also arriving in the city, Yin Ruiji (Angelababy), who is to be a sacrifice to the creature. Dee overhears a plot to kidnap her. As he fights the kidnappers, Yin is kidnapped another sea creature who is more humanoid than the one she is meant to be sacrificed to. Dee rescues her and the creature escapes. Yuchi has Dee arrested and Yin put into protective custody, but Dee is able to escape with the aid of a friendly medical assistant Shatuo (Lin Gengxin).

Yin is visited by the sea creature again, which is when she realizes who he is – her missing lover, Yuan Zhen (Kim Bum). Masked thugs attack the house, but luckily, Dee, Yuchi, and Shatuo arrive to save the day and Dee is able to rescue Yuchi. Yin covers for Yuan so he can escape, then tells Dee the truth abut her lover. Dee, using his remarkable powers of deduction, deduces that the culprits come from the small war-ridden nation of Dondo, who plan to use Yuan to poison the imperial tea and kill the emperor. They find Yuan and take him to the Imperial Doctor Wang Pu (Kun Chen), who uncovers the cause of Yuan’s transformation and is able to cure him.


But how to deal with the enormous sea dragon that is still menacing the kingdom?

This film takes place before Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame. This is Dee’s first case and Mark Chao’s first appearance as the detective. I loved this film from the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed the first film and was not disappointed with this one. The action is fast-paced, young Dee is as delightful as his older self, and just as clever. Watching him square off against the Empress is a delight. Keep a special eye out for the appearance of Kun Chen as Doctor Wang Pu. He is just delightful (and he has a monkey arm. You’ll have to watch to find out why).


There is a third movie in the series, and hopefully will be others, and I will watch it, for sure. In the meantime, I’ll give this film a strong 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #72 – The Perfect Host, The Grudge 3

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 The Perfect Host


Career criminal John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) is in a bit of a pickle. Injured in a bank robbery, he’s on the lam, seeking shelter and relief for his pain. An attempt to buy the product he needs at a small store goes horribly awry when it’s held up by someone else. His name and picture are unexpectedly being broadcast on the news, so he has to lie low. Limping into a fairly posh neighborhood, he spots a postcard from Australia in a mailbox, and it’s signed Julia. He goes to the door, pretending to be a friend of Julia’s. The homeowner, Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce) turns him away at first because he is busy and is going to host a dinner party. But then he relents and admits Taylor.


Distraught over John’s predicament, as the robber claims to not be able to reach his cousin, not to mention he’s been mugged, and he’s injured, Warwick insists he stay for dinner. John decides he doesn’t like Warwick’s attitude in regard to the mess he’s making on Warwick’s floor with his still bleeding foot. When his description goes out over the radio, John knows the game is up and threatens to kill Warwick if he doesn’t shut up and let him spend the night. Just one night.

That’s when things go rather sideways…


This is a very clever, very entertaining film, with a wickedly unexpected performance by David Hyde 

Pierce. If you only know him as Niles Crane, younger brother of Frasier Crane, be prepared to see a different side of the actor. The story is full of twists and turns, the writing is very enjoyable, and everyone does a great job. But the star of this show is undoubtedly Hyde Pierce. I didn’t see a lot of this coming. My advice is to not assume anything, simply go with the flow. I give this film 4.5 Stars.


The Grudge 3

In a Chicago apartment building where a family was brutally murdered, things are not going well. Tenants are leaving – not surprisingly – and times are tough. A group of siblings are trying to hold on, Max (Gil McKinney), the building manager, and his two sisters, Lisa (Johanna Braddy) and Rose (Jadie Rose Hobson). Lisa is about to leave for an internship in New York. Excited at the prospect, she finds every opportunity to have sex with her boyfriend Andy (Beau Mirchoff) in various vacant apartments in the building, almost including the one where the family died. Rose is just a young girl with medical issues of the breathing variety. She is often cared for by older neighbor Gretchen (Marina Sirtis).  Max is feeling the pressure of Lisa’s imminent departure as well as the pressure put on him by the building owner to get new tenants or he will bring in a management company and Max will be out of a job.

In Tokyo, Kayako (Aiko Horiuchi) realizes that bad things are happening in the apartment building in Chicago, things that are the fault of her sister, Naoko (Emi Ikehata). Against the wishes of her husband, she flies to Chicago and applies for an apartment in order to have a pretext to enter the building. Lisa discovers a woman taking pictures in the dead family’s apartment. She turns out to be Dr. Sullivan (Shawnee Smith) the doctor of the only surviving member of the tragedy, Jake (Matthew Knight).  Lisa is dismayed to learn of Jake’s death. Also, Rose has spoken of seeing a boy in the building, but there are no boys there.


More bad things begin to happen, including the death of Gretchen, and tensions are rising. Is the grudge being carried on, and how can it be ended? Kayako knows that she is the key to that.


To be very honest, this film was neither very interesting nor scary, and the writing and acting left something to be desired. I thought Jake was overacting from the moment I saw him and it was very annoying. The others almost seem fresh out of acting school. Rose is tolerable, though. I watched it because I want to watch the whole series. Luckily it’s short, only an hour and a half. I hope the next (and last) entry in the series is better. I have some hope because it features Demian Bechir, whom I like. In the meantime, I give this film 2 shaky Stars.

Wednesday Briefs: July 27, 2022

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.

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #33 (7.1) by Julie Lynn Hayes

I found I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman I’d seen at the rest stop. Her image haunted me, superimposed with memories of she-who-won’t-be named… okay, by she I do mean Caroline St. Clair—well known actress and major nutty bitch. An intense feeling of déjà vu had washed over me when I’d seen her, a sensation that would not quit.

So I did what any sensible person would do. You mean forget about it, you ask? Have you met me? Of course that wasn’t my first impulse. Instead I decided to call the person most likely to know if certain crazy actresses were still locked up or not. Troy McGarrett, of course. Handsome Hollywood heartthrob and good friend to aforementioned crazy actress.

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 67 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 67     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 1, 2016

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


And now on the scene we have Askin Nakk le Vaar – Stern Ritter “D” for Death Dealing. He can calculate the lethal dose of any substance for any person and adjust it accordingly, as he explains to Oh-etsu Nimaiya, but perhaps he has underestimated the Soul Reaper. Some of the Stern Ritter are dismayed to learn that Yhwach has gone above… without them. Does this mean they are unnecessary and rather expendable?  It appears that one of Yhwach’s powers is the Consecration – “collecting the lives and powers of unnecessary Quincies and distributing them to those who need it”. Hmmm, seems as though Yhwach is not exactly a humane ruler, is he? Can someone explain why these fools are following him?

Meanwhile, back at the Seireitei, Shunsui speculates about whether the broken structures will return to the way they were once the enemy is defeated. Ukitake says if not, they will rebuild them. Shunsui then tells Ukitake not to push himself, but he is just going to go to Room 46… whatever that means.

In the Reiokyu,  Zero Squad member Ichibe Hyosube is up at bat. He tells Yhwach that he shall contain him within certain parameters. The Quincy predicts the Soul Reaper will die three steps short of his goal.  Hyosube tells Yhwach not to say his name so lightly and proceeds to slap him with Thousand Ri Heavenly Hand.

The Visoreds, including Yoruichi’s sister, arrive to find only Uruhara, Yoruichi having left with Ichigo and the others. Yushiro is dismayed as she has brought items she thought might be of assistance to her sister. Nothing to be done about it now. Yelling at Kiskue might feel good but gets them nowhere. Hyosube has a power he calls paint it black and involves a sword with no name. Yhwach seems dismayed… until he announces he has just opened his eyes. What does that even mean? And what is this power The Almighty? Will Ichigo and the others arrive in time, or is all doomed?

It’s hard to tell where the balance of power lies at this moment. While it seems as though the Quincies hold all the good cards, and the Zero Squad is putting up a valiant fight, yet we know that somehow Ichigo will save the day – he’s the hero, it’s what he does. The only question is how. And again, I repeat, what part will Uryu play in this? Right now it appears as though he has totally gone over to the Quincies. However I believe that appearances are quite deceptive. Uryu is often hard to read and somewhat of a stubborn cuss, but I think that in the end, he will not betray his friends.

Also, what is Shunsui up to?

Just gotta wait and see! Next volume coming up!

Saturday is Horror Day #71 – Umma, The Bunker Game

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes



Amanda (Sandra Oh) left Korea some sixteen years ago. She now lives quietly on a rural American farm, along with her daughter Chris (Fivel Stewart) who is sixteen and has no real knowledge of her heritage, not speaking any Korean either. Amanda is a beekeeper and makes a living selling her honey, which is in great demand, through a local shop owner, Danny (Dermot Mulroney).  It’s an isolated life, made even more so because Amanda can’t be around electricity – it makes her sick.

The unexpected arrival of Amanda’s uncle changes everything. He brings word of her mother’s death… and has brought the deceased to Amanda in a suitcase. He chides Amanda for her lack of respect for her mother, and for the way she has raised her daughter in ignorance of her heritage. Amanda hides the suitcase away, determined to have nothing to do with it, and she lives to Chris that anything has happened. But then she begins to see her mother, who calls her by her birth name, Soo Hyun, and Amanda begins to worry that she is becoming her mother.


I read some criticism of this film as not being much of a horror story, but I disagree. You have to look at 

it on more than one level, though, to gain a better understanding of what it’s about. There’s an element of horror, yes, but it’s also about family and heritage, as well as mothers and daughters, and growing up and letting go. I watch a lot of horror films, obviously, but I’ll admit straight out that I jumped a couple of times during this. Sam Raimi was a producer on this film, and he has a pretty good idea of horror movies, I think. I give this film 4.5 Stars.

The Bunker Game

A group of LARPers roleplay an alternate history in an actual underground bunker, playing Nazis. When the game is unexpectedly interrupted, the guests leave and the staff are left to deal with the aftermath. Things begin to go horribly wrong, and they find themselves trapped in the bunker, along with what might possibly be a ghostly entity. One that seems intent on killing them off.

I’m not going into the plot in much depth because frankly I was lost most of the time, trying to sort out the characters they were playing from their own personalities. The drama really starts when the mastermind behind the game, Greg, disappears, after learning that a girl he’s involved with is pregnant. Really pregnant, unlike the fake pregnancies exhibited in the game as a form of eugenics. (Nazis, remember that). The staff is torn between concern for his safety and being convinced he’s pulling something over on them.


There seems to be a ghost involved, one that seems to share consciousnesses with one of the women, who ends up in the actual time when the bunker was occupied, as the ghost.  Another aspect that is confusing is why a black man or a non-binary person would choose to role play as Nazis. I finished the film, but I had to read an explanation of what I just watched. Never a good sign. Still not sure what happened. I’ll give this film a shaky 2 Stars. Personally, I think you’re better off watching something else.

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 27 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 27     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 3, 2022

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/218 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The fight continues between Rin and Yukio, although now on the ground, having jumped off the airship which was about to crash. Rin has his sword back, and his hair has turned back to black. Maybe that’s a good sign of things to come? Rin is appalled to discover that Yukio has attempted suicide…many times! He is also furious that his brother has never said anything to him about anything! Yukio claims to be weak, says that Rin was the strong one, to which Rin replies, “If I’m strong, it’s because I had you!”

The other exorcists have begun to gather. First order of business is to find Lucifer and Dragelescu. Shima is there too. Trouble with Shima is you can never be sure which side he’s playing for at any given time. When Light finds Dragulescu, the madman dares Light to open the storage unit. Light has a feeling that would not be a good thing.

Yukio reports to Light, prepared to face his punishment for running off to the Illuminati, but none is forthcoming. When Light tells Rin they are searching the crash site for Satan, Yukio protests that he should not be there then. You know, that whole Satan is in my eye thing. The next day, Rin and Yukio make up and all is well. But hey, there seems to be someone inside the storage unit. What?  Light thinks it’s probably a replicant from the laboratory in Romania. Why don’t we look and see? To their shock, it’s Father Fujimoto! Well, a newer younger version of him.  Yukio immediately claps his hand over his possessed eye.

Don’t look, Yukio, don’t look!

And now, enter Lucifer and his cohorts! And Lucifer is looking mighty fine, if I do say so.They are determined to force Yukio to look at the new Fujimoto so that Satan can enter his new vessel.

Don’t look, Yukio, don’t look!

Damn, that didn’t go well.

Meanwhile, Shiemi becomes aware of what has transpired. It’s all about to get real. But wait, another player has just entered the game…

Remember how I wished things would move along a little faster? They sure are now. Satan is back in play, looking like Father Fujimoto. Can he be contained? Is this the beginning of the end? How will Yukio handle the knowledge that he contributed to this fiasco by looking when he shouldn’t have? Can Sir Pheles save the day?

Can’t wait for the next volume (but I’ll have to). Please, not too long, okay?

Wednesday Briefs: July 20, 2022

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 One Hundred by Cia Nordwell

I turned on shaky arms, the bile racing up my throat until I vomited what little of the morning meal I’d managed to eat. My muscles clenched, and I heaved repeatedly until nothing was left and spit and snot drooled in nasty strings from my face to mix with the tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see, and all I felt was certainty that Garjah was gone and I was going to die.  

Something nudged me in my ribs, and I collapsed onto my side. Curling into a ball, I pulled my knees up with my


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Saturday is Horror Day #70 – The Housemaid (2010), Hobo With a Shotgun

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 The Housemaid (2010)

Eun-yi Li (Jeon Do-yeon) is dissatisfied with her life and her job in a restaurant and longs for more. After witnessing an unknown woman jump to her death, Eun-yi is approached by an older woman, Byung-sik (Youn Yuh-jung) with an offer of employment in a wealthy household. She is to be nanny to the couple’s young daughter Nami. The wife, Hae-ra (Woo Seo) is also pregnant with twins and close to giving birth. Her husband Hoon Goh (Lee Jung-Jae) is a handsome and successful businessman who is away when Eun-yi arrives.

Eun-yi settles into her new chores. She quickly becomes fond of Nami, and feels well treated by Hae-raa and Byung-sik. When the husband does arrive, though, complications begin. He comes to her room in the middle of the night, armed with wine, and she admits him to her bed, beginning a torrid affair.  Not surprisingly, she becomes pregnant and keeps it a secret, but her secret is soon revealed to Hae-ra and her mother (Ji-Young Park), as well as Byung-sik. Enraged by her husband’s betrayal, the wife vows vengeance while the housemaid is determined to have her baby. 


This version of the Housemaid is not to be confused with the 2021 film, which looks like a Spanish remake, but it is a remake of the 1960 film. I haven’t seen that one, but I intend to. There is also a 2016 film called The Housemaid which is completely unrelated and takes place in 1953 French Indochina, which I have seen.

The Housemaid is psychological but also a look at the classes, the rich and the poor. Hoon is a selfish man who thinks only of his own pleasure when he turns to the housemaid as his wife, who is expecting twins and is pretty large at this point, isn’t meeting his needs as a man. He never takes Eun-yi’s feelings into consideration, as though she has none. The wife and her mother are every bit as callous, maybe worse, with some of the things that they do. 


I have to confess that a large part of my interest in this film lies with Lee Jung-Jae, who is very sexy if somewhat entitled. He is a very versatile actor and very sexy. The film is well done and is visually very stunning. I give this film a solid 4 Stars.

Hobo With a Shotgun

A hobo (Rutger Hauer) who is riding the rails gets off at a town that proves to be less than an ideal place to live. The town is under the tyrannical rule of a madman named Drake (Brian Downey), and his two good-for-nothing vicious sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman). Cruelty and pain are the order of the day, to be inflicted in any and every way possible. Hobo stays to himself, even though he doesn’t like what he sees. Spotting a lawn mower for sale in the pawn shop window, he dreams of owning it, of starting his own business and making his own way. But the $49.95 asking price is beyond his means. 

If Abby (Molly Dunsworth) ever had dreams of doing something with her life, she has discarded them 

and given up to selling herself on the streets. She does what she has to do to survive, and she is treated terribly as a result. When Hobo stands up for her and gets hurt, she takes him home and cares for him. He believes in her, thinks of her as a teacher, and wants better for her. 

While Hobo is in the pawn shop, admiring the lawn mower he can’t afford, two bullies enter and begin to terrorize the customers and the shop owner. Reaching his breaking point, Hobo reaches for a shotgun hanging on the wall and begins to enact his own form of revenge.


Be warned that this dystopian story is filled with assorted acts of cruelty and a great deal of violence and callous indifference. You gotta love Rutger Hauer as the Hobo, standing up for people that no one else will stand up for, including themselves. I love a good underdog movie. The main villain Drake is appropriately sleazy and disgusting. It’s hard not to root for his demise, as well as both of his demon spawn.  I give this film 3.5 Stars.

Book Review: The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

The Personal Librarian

Author: Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Publisher: Berkley

American release date: June 29, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Historical Fiction/352 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Sometimes who you know can make all the difference, as Belle da Costa Greene discovers when her friendship with Junius Morgan at  Princeton University leads to her applying for and winning the post of personal librarian to Junius’ father, the famous JP Morgan himself! Morgan is building his personal library and requires the skill and knowledge of a good librarian to assist him in his endeavors. Belle more than fills that bill, and is excited to take an opportunity few women in the early 1900s were ever afforded.

However, unknown to her new employer, or anyone else outside of her family, Belle has a secret, one she must keep in order to maintain her increasingly important position with the millionaire, who has become not only dependent on her talents but fond of her as well. Belle does not appear to be so, but she is black, her real name being Belle Marion Greener. She and her entire family are light-skinned. The family had originally lived in Washington DC near her mother’s family, the Fleets. But Belle’s mother wanted more for her children, a better life than they would have as black people, knowing that they would be able to pass as white. When she wrote their race as white on the census, that was the last straw for Belle’s father, who had been the first black man to graduate from his university and who was a major advocate of civil rights. The family, minus the father, moved to New York, and Belle and her siblings worked hard in order to keep them afloat. This opportunity which had presented itself was a godsend, but there was a price to be paid.

The Personal Librarian was co-written by two women, and it is a treasure trove of a book about the first African American woman to hold a position of such great power and authority at a time when women had few freedoms. But she had to suppress who she was and keep the secret. The research that must have been undertaken for the writing of this book is mindboggling. The authors weave a beautiful tale about a strong woman who lived life on her own terms, loved where she wanted, and was a great influence in shaping JP Morgan’s library but sacrificed her identity to do so.  The writing simply flows, elegant and graceful, much like Belle.

History lovers will enjoy this story, but I think others will too, and Belle’s story deserves to be read by everyone.

Wednesday Briefs: July 13, 2022

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.

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #31 (6.6) by Julie Lynn Hayes

It wasn’t long before our most excellent Uber driver dropped us off at the Visitors Center for the Museum.

“You’re gonna have fun,” she assured us in her soft Virginia drawl.

“Can we request you when we’re ready to go back?” Sarah asked, a notion we all seconded.

The driver gave us a rueful grin with a shake of her head. “Sorry, no, unfortunately. But I’ll keep an eye out for y’all when you put in your request and if I’m free, I’ll be happy to come back to getcha.”

That had to be adequate, what else could we do?

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