Monthly Archives: August 2022

Wednesday Briefs: August 31, 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 and Five by Cia Nordwell

Ases wrinkled up his nose before he even drank the tuber milk, but I kicked him under the table. I’d warned him in the transport what he had to do, and I knew he could drink this and lie about it. I’d once seen him swill an entire bottle of bar mixings on a dare.  

He’d vomited profusely within minutes, but that was alcohol and sugar. This was just fermented tuber milk. Totally fine. He was a shifter; he should like milk.  

I upended my cup, suppressing my shudder at the gloopy nature of the thickened milk and the bitter


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Saturday is Horror Day #76 – The Housemaid (1960), Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 The Housemaid (1960)


Mr. Kim (Jin Kyu Kim) works at a factory, giving lessons to the workers. Unbeknownst to him, one of the young women, Kyung-hee Cho (Aeng-ran Eom) has a crush on him, despite the fact he is married and has two children. But she is scared to say anything so her bolder friend, Seon-young Kwak (Seon-ae Ko) writes a note and slips it into the piano. But his reaction is not what they expected. He tells the supervisor and Miss Kwak is suspended for three days. Never mentioning her own complicity, Kyung-chee asks to take private lessons from Mr. Kim in his home, just after he announces he is taking students. Mr. Kim and his pregnant wife have recently moved into a home that is still a work in progress.  Mrs. Kim (Jeung-nyeo Ju) is pregnant and works tirelessly at her sewing machine to help provide for her family. Mr. Kim decides they need help and asks Miss Cho if she knows of anyone. She refers another worker, Myung-sook (Eun-shim Lee).


This is when things begin to spiral. Kyung-hee, having made great strides in her lessons, finds the nerve to tell Mr. Kim of her feelings and he throws her out, but tells her to come back for the lessons, because they need the money. Kwak overhears what has happened and blackmails Mr. Kim, threatening to go to the police and accuse him of raping Miss Cho if he doesn’t sleep with her. The situation goes from bad to worse when Kwak finds out she is pregnant.


There is some very interesting social commentary going on in this film, including the factory workers 

who attend the lessons in order to appear cultured. Miss Kwak might be slow but she’s smart enough to seize an opportunity when she sees it, and she becomes a holy terror to the household. Mr. Kim has two children. The older, a girl who uses crutches to get around, and her younger brother. The boy is an unmitigated brat and taunts his sister cruelly at every turn. Mrs. Kim works hard but she is frail. Her husband is devoted to her, and he is trying to spare her by giving in to the blackmail of Miss Kwak.


Inevitably, something’s got to give as Miss Kwak becomes bolder and bolder in her demands, terrorizing the couple. Mrs. Kim even blames herself because she wished for a new house, else none of this would have happened. The framework of the film is interesting too, beginning with a couple who read about a case in the newspaper about an employer who has an affair with his maid. As if that would happen.


Watching The Housemaid is like watching an accident as it happens right before your very eyes, one you can’t look away from. I find myself still thinking about it, several days later. I’ll give this film 4.5 Stars

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin

Margot (Emily Bader) has wondered since she was a child about her real mother, who abandoned her as an infant. So when she is tracked down by a relative, an Amish young man named Samuel (Jaye Ayres-Brown), Margot is ecstatic. Her friend Chris (Roland Buck III) convinces her that her story needs to be told in the form of a documentary, so off to Amish country they go, along with their tall friend Dale (Dan Lippert). They meet Samuel at a restaurant and learn how very naive he is regarding the ways of the world. When questioned how he was able to find her, he explains that he is on his one year journey of discovery, which is allowed within their religion.

They travel to the family farmhouse, and Samuel persuades Jacob (Tom Nowicki) to allow them to stay, as well as to film. Margot is delighted to meet her relatives, and makes inquiries about her mother. But she quickly gets the feeling that something isn’t right here, that they are withholding something, maybe about her mother. They discover a strange church about a mile away from the isolated farmhouse but are told to stay away. Why so far away? And what aren’t they allowed to see in there? What is her new-found family hiding?


First, my biggest complaint is that this film does not belong in the Paranormal Activity series. This is not what I look for when I see the words Paranormal Activity in the title. PA involves security cameras set up to capture any untoward activity, but this isn’t that, as these people are filming a documentary. Second, we’ve all seen this storyline before, strange people involved in strange rituals, either summoning to trying to defeat a demon of some kind. Nothing original here, and nothing particularly interesting. Or scary. The film isn’t bad, just isn’t particularly interesting. I found myself wanting it to be over and it’s not even all that long. I mean, I just watched Shawshank Redemption which is over two hours long and never got impatient for the end like I did this PA. Unfortunately, the film ends in such a way that definitely leaves room for a sequel. I hope that sequel never comes. I’ll give this film 1.5 stars and hope this is the end.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 71 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 71     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 7, 2017

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


In a surprise move, Nemu has not only acted on her own, not waiting for instructions from her Master Mayuri, but she has openly defended him. But at what price? Captain Kyoraku attacks the Quincy Lille Barro, utilizing his ability to turn a child’s game into reality. He isn’t really surprised that Nano has kept up with him. She says she won’t leave, but he sends her to deliver a message to the others. She vows to return afterward. Hinamori is confused when Shinji doesn’t immediately offer to assist Shunsui, but he says he knows that the help is not wanted or needed, that Shunsui will be fine, and there are other fires to be put out.

Kisuke and the others run into another Quincy, one with a winged helmet. He claims they will never get past him, and he wants to take all of them on, all at once!  Ichigo runs into the Quincy who battled Grimmjow. His name is Naak le Var. Meanwhile a wounded Shunsui is adrift in his past until he is yanked awake by Nanao, who reminds him of the promise he made her mother!

And still the fight continues. Only three volumes left, barreling toward the conclusion, whatever that might be. I have to believe that all will end well, and yet I am biting my nails, fearful for Shunsui. This volume ends on a cliffhanger, of course, ala Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid involving Shunsui and Nano. Let’s hope it has a better outcome! Can’t wait for the next one!

Wednesday Briefs: August 24, 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 #37 (7.5) by Julie Lynn Hayes

“Roanoke is very nice,” Ethan agreed. “Vinnie and I like it there, don’t we, Vinnie?”

“Very much.” I quickly added my enthusiastic endorsement to his statement. “I think I like it even better than Richmond.” While I did enjoy living in Richmond with Ethan, Roanoke had come to feel more like home. Maybe because we lived in an actual house, and we had Benny, and we’d made some real friends, both on the police force and outside of it. While some of our other assignments had taken us to different locations around the country, these been short-term stays for the most part. Richmond and Roanoke were the only two cities where we’d spent any amount of serious time. I didn’t count the Mangler case,

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Book Review: Pluto, Vol 6 by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 6

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 17, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci-Fi Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Gesicht is ordered to go back and let others handle the case of Darius XIV’s attempted suicide, but Gesicht says he is too close to quit. Apparently he has a hunch…who even knew robots could have hunches? On the streets of Samarkand, he helps up a poor orphan robot child who was callously knocked over.  Gesicht goes to meet with Professor Abullah, head of the Ministry of Science. Gesicht is momentarily confused by Abullah, who says many feel that way upon meeting him. He says that he lost most of his human body during the war. Gesicht questions him about Darius, a man called Goji, and something called the Tenma chip. Abullah says supposedly the chip belonged to the world’s most advanced robot, but because the AI was so advanced, the robot could never gain consciousness. Allegedly, he’s still sleeping beneath the Persian ruler’s former palace. When Gesicht shows him a photo of a man standing in a field of flowers, Abullah says he doesn’t recognize him.

After Abullah leaves, Gesicht buys a good luck charm from a street vendor who tells him it is a charm of the great sage Goji! And then the little robot child, whose name is Muhammad Ali, tries to sell Gesicht a flower, and he tells the inspector he recognizes the man in the photo! He tells Gesicht he wants to get to be a great man, just like Sahad. Apparently, Sahad left Persia for the Netherlands in order to learn how to make the desert bloom with flowers.

Gesicht follows this new lead to New Amsterdam, where he discovers the boarding house where Sahad once lived. He speaks to one of Sahad’s professors, who has nothing but good things to say about the robot. Plus he has a tulip in a glass case that Sahad left with him with instructions not to plant it until after his return. He also speaks with a woman who owns a flower shop, who knew Sahad well. He spoke to her of his dreams, and of the flowers he cultivated, which he gave individual names. But something changed and he said he had to go home, in order to enlist to fight in the war. One day he went to his field and all the flowers were dead…all except for one…the one he had named Pluto.

Gesicht goes back to see Brau, asking about the sleeping robot, and was that even possible. Brau claims that the AI could wake if someone introduced an extreme emotion. Of course, there is no telling what sort of robot this awakened AI would be. Gesicht asks Brau where he thinks Pluto might have gone after his fight with Hercules, and he says home…his tulips home.  Meanwhile, even as an order goes out to arrest Gesicht, Professor Abullah goes to see Professor Hoffman. Gesicht receives a call that the professor has been kidnapped and he is to return immediately and he says he will but not right now…as he has just found Pluto!

Things are rapidly escalating here, as layers upon layers are being peeled back. But at what price? Has the unthinkable really occurred? Or is this just a red herring? Only three volumes to go. Real nail-biter this is. Afraid to look at what comes next, but can’t look away.

Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 2 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 2     

Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: July 27, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Wing is an LGBTQ Youtuber whose videos are being talked about at Ryo’s school. Elated at their first sales of Boys Run the Riot merch, Jin treats Ryo and Itsuka to a celebratory feast of burgers! He tells them they need to reach out to stores to get them to carry their line in order to boost their appeal. He arranges for a meeting with a rep from a local store, but that doesn’t go very well.

The three decide they need to get part-time jobs so they have the cash to continue to produce their merchandise. Ryo applies to a karaoke bar, and is about to get the job, but when he requests that he be treated like a boy, at first the interviewer seems to understand. But then he laughs and says that can’t happen. So Ryo ends up getting a job at a restaurant, Izakaya. Luckily the uniform isn’t gender specific. But when Ryo unthinkingly starts to undress in front of the guys, they practically shove him into the girls’ change room, where a girl named Mizuki is changing, to Ryo’s chagrin.

Ryo fits in well with the others and he likes the job. But when Mizuki asks him if he is a boy, he is suddenly uncomfortable with admitting the truth. They go out for beer after work one day, and Ryo gets to know her better and begins to relax. Some of the guys at work announce they’re having a welcome to work party for Ryo, and Mizuki agrees to go. But it turns out two of the boys have ulterior motives.

Ryo calls off sick for a couple of days after that, and meets up with Jin and Itsuka. Jin has a surprise for them. He takes them to a house where they are greeted by a girl named Tsubasa, who just happens to be the Youtuber Wing! Seriously? She introduces them to her cousin Yutaka. Turns out he was their first customer! And now Boys Run the Riot is gonna do a collab with Wing! How awesome is that?

During the course of the photo shoot, Ryo gets to know Tsubasa, and she gives him some advice. But when the video comes out, there is a huge oops moment!

I am really enjoying this series. It’s not often you see transgender stories in manga, particularly with transgender males.  The author obviously has great insight into transgender people and helps us to understand what Ryo is going through in his desire to be who he is, not who he appears to be. Gender stereotypes and misperceptions have been around forever, but now it seems as though, thanks to a more open-minded younger generation and the power of the Internet, greater knowledge is forthcoming, along with greater acceptance and understanding.

Even as we get to know and understand Ryo, Ryo is learning more about himself. Perhaps the oops moment will turn into something wonderful. Looking forward to the next volume.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 70 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 70   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 4, 2017

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Bazz B has worked hard to get close to Yhwach in order to kill him. But he never expected Jugo to succeed where he himself failed. When Jugo tells Yhwach there must be a mistake, the Quincy tells him that he has seen Jugo’s power, which is the same as his own – the power to share power. And now, years later,  Jugo is trying to prevent Bazz from killing Yhwach, which was the goal all along. What’s up with that?

Grimmjow takes off after one of the Quincies, leaving Ichigo and the others behind, wondering where he went. But Grimmjow ends up poisoned for his troubles. Meanwhile, Kurotsuchi and Kenpachi find themselves face-to-face with an extremely weird Quincy (coming from Kurotsuchi, that’s saying something!). Kurotsuchi attempts to keep Kenpachi from being too impetuous, but that is easier said than done. While the two captains debate how to handle this fellow, Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Nemu discuss just why they can’t interfere with their captains. Namely because they would be severely chewed out for doing so.  They seem uneasy at the idea that Kurotsuchi is about to release his rather poisonous bankai. The Quincy shows itself to be more than they realized… and so does Nemu.

Not a lot of Ichigo et al in this volume, but I suspect his time is coming soon. Only four more volumes to go! This one has more to do with Bazz B and Jugo, but mainly it’s the Kurotsuchi/Kenpachi show, which is well worth the price of admission! Watching the odd Captain of the 12th Squad is fascinating, as he hasn’t been seen as much in these books as some of the others. But he is really brilliant, in his own quirky way, and it’s a pleasure to watch him in action… albeit, from a distance.

The volume ends on a cliffhanger, naturally. Can’t wait to see how that turns out in the next one!

Saturday is Horror Day #75 – Brightburn, The Belko Experiment

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Tori and Kyle Breyer (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) have struggled to conceived. They want a child more than anything. So when, out of the blue, some kind of alien spaceship crash lands in their backyard, its sole occupant a baby boy, their dreams seem to have come true. Or is it their nightmares?



The couple tell their friends and family that they have adopted, and they name the child Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) and raise him with much love on their farm located just outside the small town of Brightburn, Kansas. Kyle insists that Brandon stay out of the barn, because it’s dangerous and not a place to play. But the truth is that the spaceship he arrived in is locked up beneath the barn.


Everything seems fine until about the time that Brandon reaches puberty. He seems drawn to the barn, and to whatever is hidden there, although he is discouraged from going there. When his dad gives him a little talk about puberty and some of his feelings, he misunderstands his words as having permission to do what he wants, and proceeds to terrorize a girl in his class that he finds attractive. He only succeeds in frightening her and the results during a class trust exercise are horrific.


Brandon is hearing voices from the spaceship, and he comes to understand that he is special… but not in a good way. His hidden drawings reveal his true nature, as well as his plans to take the world. The adults in his life begin to understand there is something terribly wrong with the boy, but it’s too little too late as one by one they fall victim to his unusual powers…

This film was brought to us by the same guy who gave us Guardians of the Galaxy. But this superhero is not here for good. This is no Superman. This alien wants to rule the world. Creepy and effective, perhaps the message here is not to automatically believe that aliens from outer space are our friends and to be cautious at all times. I’ll give this film 4 Stars.

The Belko Experiment

It’s just another day at the office for the employees of the Belko Corporation as they arrive for work in their isolated high-rise corporate office building in Bogota, Columbia. But things seem a little off. There aren’t as many of their co-workers as usual. And who are the strange security guards on the grounds, and what are they doing in that unused hangar? Perhaps things are not what they seem. A mysterious voice over the loudspeaker system announces that there are eighty employees in the building. They have two hours to reduce that number by thirty, and if they do not, then sixty employees will die. And to show they mean business, they kill a few for good measure.

The employees listen in stunned disbelief. Their first thought is to flee, but to their dismay the building has been shut off and escape is not possible. The head of the company, Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn) is quick to decide they have to do as they are told and kill off thirty employees rather than lost sixty. His obnoxious crony Wendell Dukes (John C McGinley) aka the office pervert is quick to agree.  Mike Mitch (John Gallagher Jr) is one of those who disagree and say there must be a way. But it quickly becomes clear that some people think only of themselves and have no problem in committing murder.


And is there any guarantee that if they obey the rules, they will be allowed to live?

This film is about a horrendous social experiment involving human interactions under pressure while on the job. But this experiment comes with a high price, and these deaths are forever. Very interesting concept. Not surprising that the men at the top only think of themselves first but decide who will live and who will die. When the security guard refuses to give them the keys to the weapons area, they find a way around that and arm their most trusted people. You’ll see some familiar faces, including Owain Yeoman, who played Benedict Arnold in Turn, Abraham Benrubi, who played Jerry on ER, and Michael Rooker of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Walking Death. John C McGinley plays an asshole well, and this is no exception. This time he’s a perverted asshole. 


The ending implies that the story doesn’t end there, but I see no evidence there will be a sequel. The action is fast-paced and horrifying, as co-workers are pitted against one another in a deadly game. I have to admit some of the deaths were satisfying. I give this film 4 Stars.

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 17 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 17   

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 6, 2020

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Shinobu and Tanjiro battle Doma, Upper Demon  #2, still reeling from the death of their kind-hearted master. Meanwhile, Zenitsu faces one who was once his senior, but now is a demon. And the new head of the Ubuyashiki family carries on as best he can, with the assistance of his younger sisters, even though he is only 8 years old!

Kaigaku taunts Zenitsu for his perceived weakness, despite not having seen him in some time. Zenitsu admits he can only do the first form, and that Kaigaku can do everything but that. Surprisingly, Zenitus doesn’t seem upset by anything this demon says or does. Perhaps he has changed in the course of his training? When Zenitsu uses a technique that Kaigaku doesn’t know, the demon is dismayed that he wasn’t taught this move, then shocked to learn it’s one that Zenitsu came up with himself! Urokodaki watches over Nezuko, waiting and hoping that she will be able to become human once again, both for her sake and to foil Muzan’s plans.

Tanjiro and Tomioka encounter Upper 3, Akaza, who is surprised to find Tanjiro still alive after their last encounter on the Mugen train. He and Tomioka are both impressed with Tanjiro’s technique development. But Akaza makes the mistake of denigrating Rengoku to Tanjiro, who remembers something that Inosuke taught him.

Tanjiro has come quite a long way since he first began his journey as a Demon Slayer! Where before he could barely face the lower demons, now he battles with the upper ones, well on his way to confront Muzan himself. Interesting back story in this volume, and I have to admit to being more impressed by Zenitsu than I was before (still like him asleep the best lol). How long before they come face to face with Muzan? Good volume, looking forward to the next one!

Wednesday Briefs: August 17, 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 and Three by Cia Nordwell

“How did you find me?” I stared at him, wide-eyed in shock. I jerked away from the tree, crouching with my lower arms braced against the ground. I could dart left or right, though he was blocking the direct path toward the spring where Bouncer and Ases were hunting. I wasn’t sure I wanted to lead him toward them anyway.  

“I didn’t find you. I found him.” He pointed over his shoulder at Bouncer. He slipped around Timok, as silent as I’d expected him to be, and came to stand at my shoulder. I put one hand on his back


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