Monthly Archives: April 2023

Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol 10 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol 9     

Author: Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 21, 2023

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Action & Adventure/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Back to the cruise… Yor is fighting (undercover, of course) spies who are threatening to blow up the ship and kidnap the woman and child she is protecting. Loyd overhears that there is a bomb, but what to do with Anya? Anya supplies the solution herself, able to overhear her father’s dilemma, suggesting she go to the childcare area to play. But of course she has no intention of staying there, not when her family is in imminent danger!

The situation comes to a successful conclusion, with Loyd and Yor blissfully unaware of the part the other has played. But as Loyd goes to get Anya, he is worried that in doing his job, he’s abandoned his family again. Wait… since when does he actually consider Yor and Anya his family? Things are getting complicated.

Back at school after the break is over, Anya thinks to impress her schoolmates with her tale of having been on a huge ocean liner, but they don’t seem to care very much (they’re rich, you know, so used to such things), so she embellishes the truth a bit, including the arrival of pirates as well as the octopeople (total lies, of course). Back at home, she confesses to her family about what happened and doesn’t exactly get a lot of sympathy for having lied. Yor’s brother shows up, delighted to see his sister, though still not a fan of Loyd. He also denounces those who lie, which Anya finds hypocritical on all their parts, considering the secrets they all keep and the lies they tell on a regular basis.

Loyd is determined to retrain Bond, but Franky wants to know why does he have to be the one to play suspect? Loyd takes Bond for a walk, determined to break him of some of his bad habits, unaware that the dog can see the future. When they come upon a dangerous situation, they learn how to work together.

Taking inspiration from her beloved TV romances, Anya’s friend Becky is determined to come out in the open with her love for Loyd, so they can be together. Anya is appalled at first, when she realizes Becky’s intentions… until she begins to see that the idea could have some merit. But what would happen to Mama then?

Nightfall approaches Loyd, saying she needs to find someone who can forge a document. Loyd knows just the person! He sets up a meeting for her with Franky, who takes her undercover with him.

Mistress Donna Schlag of the Disciplinary Committee has decided to make an unexpected appearance at the school…and she’s determined to give out as many tonitrus bolts as she can! Oh dear, will Anya survive this? And what about Desmond, aka Sy-on boy?

I enjoyed the cruise arc, but it’s back to business and the main plot of the Strix Operation. It seems like Anya gets closer and closer to revealing her true nature, which in turn would probably lead to everyone’s secrets being revealed.  I know the series is based on no one knowing about one another, other than Anya, but I believe at some point this will change, and they will all begin to function knowingly with one another. I think that will just take everything to a whole new level, and I, for one, am all for it!

I love this series, so much, and look forward to it being around for a long time! Another great volume, looking forward to the next one, which should come out in October.

Saturday is Horror Day #111 – The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, It Comes at Night

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire) is a man of science. He and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson) are seeking a meteor which has fallen to earth, in search of the rare element atmosphereum.  He must study it, so he can do science.  Another couple, Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) and Lattis (Susan McConnell) are new on the planet earth, having come from outer space. Their space ship is broken, and in order to fix it, they require atmosphereum. Also, it seems as though their pet Mutant (Darrin Reed) has escape and is on the loose somewhere. Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) , unlike Dr. Armstrong, is an evil scientist who is seeking the legendary lost skeleton of Cadavra. And when he finds it, the skeleton instructs him to find atmosphereum for him. He follows the lost aliens and observes them as they find their way to a cabin in the middle of the woods, where the Armstrongs have gone. Following the aliens’ lead, Fleming makes himself a companion from a few woodland creatures, a woman he names Animala (Jennifer Blaire). And then there is Ranger Brad (Dan Conroy), who simply wants to help someone.

If this plot sounds a bit far-fetched, believe me, it’s meant to. This film is actually a cleverly made B

movie where the actors are so intentionally bad they are good. Borrowing on elements of sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s, Larry Blamire has created quite a little gem here, up to and including the skeleton. (Look carefully when the skeleton is climbing down the rock face and you’ll see the wires).

The scene where they share a meal is hysterical, as is the way the alien couple tries to behave like regular human-type Earth people. Unfortunately, they chose to copy the wrong “person” at the dinner table! I love to hear Paul Armstrong talk about how he loves to do science. And his wife is the quintessential housewife!

This film is very low budget and yet in a creative way. The skeleton was actually bought off of Ebay.  If you get the chance, I recommend watching the special features which includes a Q&A and bloopers. This film was hilarious, and I loved it. I’ll give it 4.5 Stars

It Comes at Night

A mysterious illness is consuming the world. Paul (Joel Edgerton) takes his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), his son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr) and Sarah’s father Bud (David Pendleton) to a remote location, far from everyone. But tragedy strikes when Bud dies.

The family have isolated themselves, far from everyone. Therefore, the knock on their door is

unexpected. Will (Christopher Abbott) approaches them for help. They are reluctant, but he is begging, saying he has a family. They put him to the test before admitting him into their home, along with his wife Kim (Riley Keough) and young son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner).

Everything seems fine at first, but Travis begins to have terrible dreams. And he sees and hears things. His father is fearful that the newcomers have brought the sickness with them. What should they do?

It Comes at Night is more psychological thriller than traditional horror film. The monsters aren’t

immediately visible, but they are there, the products of paranoia and fear. The viewer is kept wondering what is real and what is imagined, and what would I do in this situation when the slightest mistake could mean death for my family.  The pace is slow, but deliberately so, even as the tension builds to an unforgettable climax. Well done and well acted, it will make you examine yourself and wonder what would you do. I give this film 4 Stars.

Wednesday Briefs: April 26, 2023

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 #70 (15.1) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Hours later we were back at Ethan’s parents’ house. The agents were back in position, and all the tires had been taken care of, courtesy of the US government. We’d had a long discussion with Anderson while we waited. He wasn’t entirely convinced the threat was over, but for now it was under control. He told us to lay low for a couple more days, if Ethan’s parents were agreeable, and then take Benny to Atlanta. Once he testified, Anderson had a feeling this nonsense would be over.

To my surprise, the minister was not only amenable to the idea of our staying, but said he hoped we would.  Ethan’s mother was delighted, of course, to spend more time with her brother and her son. Sarah chose to return to Mercy’s house, but they weren’t all that far away, so I suspected we would see them again before we left. I saw

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Saturday is Horror Day #110 – Final Destination 4

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Final Destination 4

Nick (Bobby Campo) and his friends go to spend some time at the racetrack. The young people have different motives, whether it’s spending time with friends or wanting to see an accident. But Nick has a disturbing premonition of a horrific accident. Upset, he wants to leave, and causes an uproar, during which he and his friends and some of the people around them end up leaving the stadium, as well as the security guard George (Mykelti Williamson) …just before a terrible accident occurs.

Nick and the others are understandably upset by what almost happened to them and would love nothing 

more to forget all about their close brush with Death. But Nick has another vision, and then one of the survivors of the raceway accident dies, and Nick begins to wonder if they have actually cheated Death at all, or will they all die as they were meant to.

Same movie, new title, new cast, same basic plot. Let’s cheat death and come up with some cool and innovative ways to “accidentally” die. If you’re looking for something scary, this really isn’t it because you know people are going to die. I will give them this. They do tease you a bit with what you think will be someone’s death, only to pull back and say gotcha! only to kill the character right afterward.


We still don’t know why these premonitions happen, or why certain people are chosen to have them. This film also feeds into the idea that if your number’s up, it’s up and you can’t change that. My best advice is to simply watch it for the deaths and don’t worry about the plot. Also, don’t get too attached to any of the characters. Just not worth it. As for what I said about this one wrapping the series up, I was wrong. There is a FD 5, and allegedly the sixth installment could be coming out next year. I’ve requested the fifth one, so we’ll see. I’ll give this film 3 Stars. Just not memorable, but some decent ways to die.

Book Review: Overlord, Vol 5: The Men of the Kingdom, Part I by Kugane Maruyama

Overlord, Vol 5                     

Author: Kugane Maruyama

Publisher: Yen On

American release date:  September 19, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Fantasy Adventure /272 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Brain Unglaus is but a shell of his former self. A one-time equal of the hero Gazef Stronoff, his encounter with Shalltear has broken him. Gazef is appalled at the change he sees in Brain and wants to help him. Meanwhile, a certain butler is going about his master’s business, and three masked women are determined to rid the kingdom of the horrible affliction which threatens its very integrity – namely, the drug business conducted by the Eight Fingers.  And a young boy named Climb is determined to be the very best that he can be, in order to serve the beautiful princess who commands his heart.

Leaving the wizard’s guild – a place where he is highly thought of and admired for his elegance – Sebas proceeds to continue with his mission of mapping out the geography of Re-Estize. Which means going to areas he’s never seen before, some of which might be less than safe. But Sebas is secure in the knowledge that he can handle himself. As he walks through a particularly seedy part of town, he runs across a situation he cannot have anticipated, and finds himself saving the life of a young woman who has been terribly abused and may have been about to face even worse. He intervenes and, after defeating her captors, whisks her back to the house where he and Solution are staying. But has he produced a problem for himself, and by extension, for his master?

Solution is perturbed at Sebas’ actions, especially when it leads other people coming to the house to question him. He takes care of the situation, but she is uneasy. Perhaps she should let their lord know something of what is going on that he may determine whether the butler’s actions were correct or not.

Sebas leaves the house again, and as he walks along, he realizes he is being followed by several people. Some of them have bad intentions, but two he thinks do not. The two are Brain and Climb, and having taken care of the others, Sebas decides to talk with them. Sebas tells them about the young girl whose life he saved, and what he intends to do. Brain and Climb are indignant that such a thing should happen… and they are in.

The fifth volume of Overlord is the first part of The Men of the Kingdom. Now we are seeing what have become familiar faces to us, that is Brain and Climb, as well as Gazef, and we meet some new characters. Sebas is a very interesting character. I love how the various NPCs from Nazarick have been named by their gamer/creators according to their own whims and fancies. Sebas’ last name is Tian. SebasTian – clearly named after the beloved butler from Black Butler. Still, it tickles me. Not that he looks like Sebastian. But to be honest, Sebastian doesn’t look like himself either, as he is a demon and took a form in order to pass among the humans. Sebas Tian is an elegant gentleman, with a kind heart, which may prove to be his undoing, although I hope not. I hope Ainz will be amenable to what he has done, but that remains to be seen.

Ainz is only seen in the intermission in this volume, but that’s okay too. The world continues to be a fascinating place. I admit I held a contemptuous opinion of Brain from before, but I am glad to say that is changing. I’ve always liked Climb, but I am also afraid for him. Something I read has me wondering what is going on here, and is there some deception at play? Only time will tell.

The volume ends on a cliffhanger. Can’t wait to see what happens in Volume 6. Love this series so much!

Wednesday Briefs: April 19, 2023

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.

Broken Path, Starless Tail: Chapter Seven by Cia Nordwell

“Hey! Where are we going?” They’d left the other creatures behind quickly, but that didn’t mean the world had gone quiet around us. The spring temperatures rapidly moved toward an early summer feel and the heady mix of treen leaves and flowers filled the air along with the buzz of insects and calls of other… things. Beckett wasn’t sure what they were after what he’d seen so far, and that made him nervous.  

“Your new home.” The tiny dragon’s wings flapped fast, not hummingbird speed or anything, but enough that Beckett was able to walk at a comfortable speed behind


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Saturday is Horror Day #109 – Final Destination 3

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Final Destination 3

End of the year, time for graduating seniors to blow off steam before becoming adults. What better way to do that than at an amusement fair just for them? Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is chronicling the night’s events with the use of her trusty camera. Everyone is having a great time, when some of them decide to go on the rollercoaster. Wendy is reluctant, but agrees to come for the sake of her boyfriend, Ian (Kris Lemche). But she refuses to sit up front, so ends up at the back, with Ian’s friend Kevin (Ryan Merriman). Ian asks Kevin to look out for Wendy for the duration of the ride, and he reluctantly agrees.

Just before the ride is about to start, Wendy has a terrifying vision involving the rollercoaster and the

gruesome deaths of her friends. That is the final straw for her and she screams to be let off. The ride operators try to hustle her away before she can alarm the other patrons, and some of her friends get off as well, but when Ian tries, they refuse to allow any more people to exit. And just as predicted, the ride goes horribly wrong.

The school is devastated, of course, and Wendy finds herself alone and scared, thinking something is wrong with her. When Kevin comes to her with the story of Flight 180, and the class of French students who were killed both on and off the plane, she doesn’t listen. Not until more of the survivors of the rollercoaster tragedy begin to die. Is this a repeat of what happened then? If so, who will die next, and is there any way to predict how, so they can prevent the death? Or is Death inevitable?

Once again, we find a single person’s premonition of violent death at the heart of this movie. This time there is no plane involved, but a fair. The accidents are every bit as outlandish and gruesome as the first two films. And that is the heart of why people watch them. Not for the plot, which is barebones at best, but for the gorefest that takes place on the screen. No lack of blood in this movie for sure.
But the overriding question is why is this happening? Why do certain people get premonitions? And if they end up dead anyway, what’s the point of having a premonition? There is a certain supernatural feel, as if some entity or other is at work here, orchestrating these happenings. Maybe Death itself, if you believe in the Grim Reaper? If so, there are no answers here. But there is one more film. Maybe they’ll wrap it all up there. I’ll give this film 3.5 Stars.

Wednesday Briefs: April 12, 2023

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 #69 (14.4) by Julie Lynn Hayes

“You did all of this…for an audition?” I knew Hollywood was nutso, but this went past that. Far past that. What sort of audition required an actor to terrorize people for real, people who weren’t involved in any actual way? I glanced at Ethan. His face showed a great deal of the skepticism I felt. Even Troy seemed suspended in a little disbelief, and he worked in the industry.

Something just did not make sense here. I cast my mind back, trying to remember everything that had happened in just the past couple of days. The attempted shooting at the hotel where Benny was in protective custody. The Atlanta threats. The mysterious woman at the rest stop. The slashed tires. The call to me. The false detour that led to

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Film Review: RRR

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


1920 India. The British are very much in control and freedom is but a dream for most people. During the arrival of the newly appointed Governor Buxton (Ray Stevenson), he and his wife are serenaded by a young Gond girl, Malli (Twinkle Sharma). When the governor’s wife (Alison Doody) tosses the girl’s mother a couple of coins, she naively thinks it is for the song, but the real reason is far more sinister as Malli is taken away.

In Delhi, a situation has arisen, in which the government is being threated. One man is targeted as the ringleader and the soldiers are ordered to arrest him. But they seem rather helpless against the hordes that threaten to break through the fencing surrounding the building. One man, Ram Charan (Ram Charan Teja) does not hesitate to do what is necessary. He launches himself into the crowd, kicking ass and taking numbers.

A rumor quickly arises that someone is coming to rescue the young girl who was taken by the governor

and his wife. Without hesitation, Ram asks if he should be taken dead or alive. Catherine Buxton replies that if he is brought in alive, Ram will be promoted to Special Officer. The problem is that there are no clues to this person’s identity whatsoever. How are they to look for him? In the course of his investigation, Ram is at the scene of a freak accident that has left a little boy in a perilous position in the river. Time is of the essence. Catching the eye of a man on the shore, Ram and the stranger coordinate the rescue of the child. And that is how Ram and Bheem (NT Rama Rao Jr) meet, quickly becoming best friends.

Little do they know…

RRR is the fictional story of two legendary heroes and their fight for Indian freedom from their English oppressors during the time of the Raj. Seeming opposite, they are more alike than they realize, and their bromance is a joy to behold. Each man as seeming super powers that put him above the rest, so it is only fitting and natural that they become best friends.

This film is wonderful, filled with energy. I laughed, I cried, I sat on the edge of my seat and wondered how anything could possibly be resolved in a good way, and I cheered for these two men. The musical number is a sheer delight as they put the puny British officer in his place. The budding romance between Bheem and Jenny, despite the language barrier, is soooooo cute. The plight of Malli is heartbreaking. Although the movie is 3 hours long, it doesn’t feel that way. I don’t know what else you could ask for in a film, RRR has it all. I would gladly watch it again. I’ll give this film 5 Stars. I highly recommend it. Right now, it is streaming on Netflix.

Saturday is Horror Day #108 – The Order, Final Destination 2

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Order

Alex Bernier (Heath Ledger) is a young priest with special talents he uses in the service of the Church. He is devastated to learn of the death of his mentor, Dominic (Francesco Carnelutti).  They belong to the dwindling order of the Carolingians. A priest named Driscoll (Peter Weller) sends Alex to Rome to investigate the death. Before he leaves, he is visited by Mara (Shannyn Sossamon), a young woman whom he exorcised a year before. She attempted to kill him and has been in a mental institution ever since…until she makes her escape and rejoins the priest she has a crush on. He lies in order to hide her presence and take her to Rome with him.

In Rome, he is reunited with an old friend and fellow order member, Thomas (Mark Addy). Alex does not believe the official story that Dominic committed suicide. He bribes a morgue attendant to allow him to view the body and discovers unexplained wounds which may be the sign of a Sin Eater. Alex turns to a mysterious hooded figure, head of a pagan cult, who reveals that this man is William Eden (Benno Fürmann), who was born during the Renaissance. His duty is to perform the last rites for those the Church deems unworthy of more traditional rites.


Alex is a priest in conflict, having feelings for Mara that he should not have. Eden reveals his life as a sin-eater to Alex, in the hopes that he will take his place. But he decides to take a chance on love instead and leaves the priesthood instead in order to be with her. Will this decision place the ones he cares about in harm’s way? Is this really an offer Alex can refuse?


To be honest, I watched this because it has Heath Ledger, and I have to say he does very well. Shannyn Sossamon does okay. I don’t think she’s a particularly good actress, but she isn’t terrible either. I loved the relationship between Alex and Thomas – you may recall Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon from Game of Thrones. These two have done at least one other film together, A Knight’s Tale. Peter Weller, of Robocop fame, is chilling as Driscoll. However, that being said, the film isn’t really all that interesting. I’m including it as horror, but using the term loosely. There are a lot of slow parts, and I didn’t feel particularly engaged other than with Ledger. Would I recommend it? Not really. I’ll give it 3 Stars, and that only because of Heath Ledger. If you aren’t a fan of his, give it a pass.

Final Destination

A year after the events in the first movie, Kimberly (A.J. Cook) is headed off to fun in the sun with a few friends over their break. Just before getting on the highway, AJ experiences a strange vision, involving a horrific chain accident set off by a truck bearing huge wooden poles, one that culminates in many deaths. Freaked out, Kimberly blocks the highway entrance, refusing to move, much to the annoyance of other drivers. A passing state trooper,  Officer Burke (Michael Landes) stops to see what the problem is. She tries to explain, but he is understandably skeptical. Just then the truck she saw passes by and before their eyes, the accident occurs, with Kimberly, her friends, the officer, and the people she blocked all surviving. But does that mean they’ve only postponed the inevitable?

Knowing this was the anniversary of Flight 180, Kimberly is determined to figure out the meaning 

behind what happened. The only survivor of the crash still alive is Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), so Kimberly goes to visit her. The paranoid Clear isn’t very forthcoming with either sympathy or answers, so Kimberly leaves. But people are still dying, and Clear can’t ignore the facts.


Okay, so maybe the premise is a little lacking and doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Death making a list? Then what, checking it twice? The personification of Death is a little weird. Also the premise that when your number is up, it’s up, and Death will still get you. But beyond that, it’s entertaining, especially seeing all the innovative “accidents” that culminate in some rather gruesome deaths. One definite plus is the all-too-brief appearance of Tony Todd. I hope he returns in the next two films. I think it’s worth watching, so I’ll also give this film 4 Stars.