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Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 15 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 15   

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 4, 2020

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


As dawn approaches, Tanjiro is concerned that Kanroji’s strength won’t last and the demons will get away once more. The demon tries to evoke Tanjiro’s pity and accuses him of preying on the weak. Realizing he needs to devour human flesh, the demon homes in on nearby humans. Oh no! Tanjiro attacks but his sword becomes stuck in the demon’s neck! What can he do now? Luckily, aid comes in the form of another blade, thrown to him for his use. He attacks the demons with renewed vigor. But now the sun has risen, and poor Nezuko wasn’t able to enter the shade! Oh no, she is lost forever now!

Or is she?

A miracle has occurred! Not only has the demon been defeated and Kanroji saved, but Nezuko is somehow able to walk in the sunlight safely! She hasn’t become human again, though. So is she in the process of reverting to human, or is she evolving as a demon? Whatever the reason, she now has a target painted on her back, and Muzan is determined to devour her so he too can walk in the sunlight.

Tanjiro is healing after the battle. The swordsmith village has been relocated. Luckily, they have spare villages for just such occasions. When Zenitsu returns, he is overjoyed to be able to see Nezuko in the sun and immediately expresses his desire to marry her. He is less than overjoyed, though, when she addresses him as Inosuke, as the boar-headed boy has drilled his name into her by repetition!

The Hashira meet to discuss what has occurred, but unfortunately the Master is too ill to join them just now.  They discuss the meaning behind the marks that have begun to appear, beginning with Tanjiro. Haganezuka visits Tanjiro as he recovers and brings his new weapon, which has been mounted on Rengoku’s hilt. Tanjiro admires the beauty of this blade, but Haganezuka is still salty that it was used before he was done with it.

And now begins the Hashira training!

A lot going on in this volume, but the most amazing and spectacular thing is about Nezuko being able to withstand the sun! How exciting is that? Hopefully she is on the road to becoming human again. But of course this means Muzan will be more determined than ever to catch her and consume her, so I’m sure we’ll see more of him from now on. I feel as if Tanjiro is coming more and more into his own, as he continues to rise in strength and ability. I bet before too long they’ll make him a Hashira. Is there anything stronger, I wonder? If so, he’ll be that too! I worry about the Master, hope he gets well soon!

Another great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 60 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 60    

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 1, 2014

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Isshin encounters an unusual foe in the form of a black Hollow, unaware he is being observed by the Gruesome Trio, aka Aizen, Gin, and Tosen. Masaki senses the Hollow’s spiritual pressure and is determined to do something about it, but Ryu tells her not to interfere. He says that is the job of mixed breeds such as Katagiri, not a pure bred Quincy such as Masaki. Turns out this Hollow was created, with the use of a Soul Reaper’s soul! Masaki steps in and saves Isshin. She is concerned he might find out she’s a Quincy, considering what he is, but to her surprise, it doesn’t matter to him.

Isshin makes his report to the Soul Society, but conveniently doesn’t mention the Quincy he met. He slips away to the World of the Living, leaving a note for Rangiku, because he hopes to run into the girl again. Why didn’t he think to get her name? When Masaki returns to the Ishida household, Ryu castigates her, but suddenly she collapses. Turns out she was wounded in the recent battle after all. Thinking quickly, Ryu snatches her up and runs out to find help. He runs into Isshin, who is battling another Hollow. Isshin is appalled at what he sees, but doesn’t know how to help! Luckily, Fate intervenes in the forms of Kiskue Uruhara! (funny how that works sometimes)

Kiskue tells Isshin and Ryu what must be done to save Masaki, and only one of them can do it. Ryu knows what must be done, as Isshin agrees to bind himself to her for life, setting the two of them on their own path which will eventually lead to the birth of Ichigo and his sisters. And now his dad has told him everything… except for the night of his mother’s death. Why she was killed when she should have easily been able to defeat that Hollow. Now he can return to the palace to get his sword. But he has another truth he needs to learn.

Hitsugaya has lost his bankai, but he won’t just accept being powerless. He requests to be retrained, starting with the basics. And Captain Komamura decides to face his own past.

Wow, oh wow, this volume of Bleach is filled with all sorts of revelations, truths, and heartbreak. So much to absorb! And undoubtedly there is more to come. We finally get a picture of Ichigo’s mother, and right on the heels of that she is lost to us. And what I predicted before came to pass, but no more mention of that for now until the next volume. This explains so much about Ichigo. I can see both his parents in him. He has Isshin’s eyes and Masaki’s stubbornness, plus their combined commitment to justice and defending the weak.  If this is true for Ichigo, what about Yuzu and Karin? Will they go through the same thing? Now we know more about Uryu’s daddy too. And I got a brief glimpse of Shunsui lol

Great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Wednesday Briefs: May 18, 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 Ninety-one by Cia Nordwell

Ases sent his mech to the far side of the room where it extended its legs and looked down on the room. We’d been announced, and the applause had sounded sincere enough. The knots of people were slow to approach our trio, however, even after the mech moved away.  

“The clothing is certainly interesting.” Many people wore outfits that mirrored the patterns on their skin, spots or stripes, but in many different hues. Others wore draped robes held over a single shoulder or wraps in plain colors but accessorized with gaudy jewels. “I’m glad I packed several formal outfits.” He


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Book Review: Pluto, Vol 3 by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 3      

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 19, 2009

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Uran is a robot who looks like a little girl. She has the unique ability of being able to sense emotions, even from great distances. As she and Atom leave the police station, Atom notices an odd man heading into the station, but he can’t tell whether he is robot or human. Turns out he is Professor Abdullah. From Persia, he is considered to be Central Asia’s greatest intellect. The police requested he come in to discuss some of the people he met with on a recent visit, some of whom are now dead. As the Professor leaves the station, he requests directions to Central Park where something just happens to be emerging, something dark and sinister-looking.

In Dusseldorf, a family are enjoying their breakfast. The wife reminds her husband, Adolf, that it is the three year anniversary of his brother’s death, and he needs to claim the body. When he does, he requests to see the body and is shocked by what he sees.  Later he attends a clandestine meeting of people wearing hoods who all espouse the cause of death to machines, and seek to eradicate all robots. It appears his brother was practically pulverized by a particular type of weapon which few robots can wield. He is determined to find out which robots are capable. He researches reported incidents involving such a weapon and learns the only one within the last few years since the war was reported just the previous night, and that one involved Inspector Gesicht.

With the help of a friend, Hercules has “borrowed” a military battle suit, knowing this is a serious offense, one that could end his career. As he is testing it out, suddenly a second sun appears in the sky. It turns out to be a robot named Epsilon, who says he had to stop Hercules before he got himself killed, like Brando and Mount Blanc. Back in Germany, Adolf takes his findings to his group, to request their help in locating and destroying Gesicht. They tell him not to take any action as this could reveal the awful things Adolf’s brother did, but let them handle the matter. Epsilon approaches Gesicht and tells him of the children he cares for since the war. One particular little boy, the sole survivor of his village, saw something terrible, and the only word he will utter now is the name Bora.

In Tokyo, Uran oddly wakes to find what seems to be a tear on her pillow. Since when do robots cry? Leaving her building, she says she senses someone in emotional distress, perhaps an animal, and goes off to find it.  Going into a closed park which is forbidden for anyone to enter, she finds a man inside an abandoned building who is in apparent distress. Except he isn’t a man, he’s a robot. When she asks what sort of nutrient he requires, she tells him she can’t get that one but gets the closest thing to that she can find. She helps nurse him back to health and begins to piece together his story. In the meantime, Professor Abdullah has sent out a robot on a mission… and who is Pluto?

Maybe I’m late to realize this and am only stating the obvious, but it seems to me that Pluto can be seen as an allegory about the human condition, even though it involves robots. It has themes of prejudice and hate, which of course are reflected in our everyday lives with people who hate others based solely on the basis of their skin color, sexual identification, religions, etc. People fear what they don’t understand. They also fear people who know more than they do (whether they are willing to admit to it or not) So robots are a double threat in that regard. And these robots are eerily human as well, some of them. That hooded hate group looks remarkably like the KKK – imagine that. Now it seems that Gesicht has a target on his back, assuming he didn’t already just because of who he is. How many more robots have to die before this menace is stopped? Who or what is Pluto?

Another great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Saturday is Horror Day #61 – The Grudge 2, Unfriended

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Grudge 2


Aubrey’s (Amber Tamblyn) sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is being held in Tokyo, accused of burning down a house. Their mother is too ill to fly to Japan to deal with the situation but demands Aubrey do so, even though she has gone no contact with Karen. Aubrey goes and finds her sister under lock and key at a hospital. Karen is actually happy to see her and begs her to get her out of there. Aubrey meets a young man named Eason (Edison Chen) who also wants to talk to her sister. He is a journalist and he is trying to figure out what happened in that house, but Aubrey isn’t receptive to the idea.

Allison (Arielle Kebbel) is the new kid  at an elite academy in Tokyo. But she quickly becomes a target by some of the popular mean girls. Two of them take her to a house which was the scene of some horrific crimes and persuade her to go inside with them. There they play a vicious prank on her, locking her inside a closet, where she sees something horrifying. But the prank backfires when one of the girls goes missing, and Arielle just wants to go home.


Meanwhile, in Chicago, Trish (Jennifer Beals) has moved in with her boyfriend Bill (Christopher 

Cousins) and his two kids – Lacey (Sarah Roemer) and Jake (Matthew Knight). She wants to get to know them, but they aren’t sure about her. Jake thinks something strange is going on with their next door neighbors, but he isn’t sure what, other than they’ve come in with someone who huddles beneath their coat and can’t be seen. Strange things begin to happen. Trish and Bill are nowhere to be found, and he thinks there is something wrong. He sees things he is sure can’t really exist. But when he meets the girl next door, she tells him they followed her home.

The Grudge 2 picks up where the first one leaves off. There are three intertwining stories here, which sometimes makes it difficult to follow the plot. I’m still not entirely sure why these things are happening, although the film gives the same explanation as the first one. Again, not a bad film. I hope everything is wrapped up in the final installment. I’ll give this one 3.5 Stars as well.


A group of friends who are Skyping find themselves with an uninvited stranger in their midst, one they cannot get rid of no matter how many times they exit and enter. As if this wasn’t odd enough, someone is posting on the Facebook of a dead girl named Laura, who committed suicide… one year before. The intruder claims to be Laura and is determined to reveal all the group’s secrets, including who posted the embarrassing video that caused her to kill herself.

The intruder, who calls herself Billie, but whose account is linked to Laura’s, wants to play a game of Never have I ever. And secrets are being revealed that will tear friendships apart. But worse than that, breaking the rules of the game could prove to be deadly.


This film is told from the POV of the participants, as we watch them Skype on their individual screens. As the night progresses, the teens turn on each other as their secrets are revealed in the midst of this deadly game. It has a fair amount of scares and shock value to be interesting without being too obvious. In fact, at the end you can’t really be sure what exactly happened. 


None of these teens is exactly innocent, they were all cyber bullies who received their just desserts. Lesson to be learned – be careful what you do on the Internet, it will live there forever. I did enjoy this and will give it 4 Stars.

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo     

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Publisher: Washington Square Press

American release date: May 29, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/LGBTQ Romance/400 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Monique Grant had high hopes when she accepted the position of staff writer at Vivant magazine, thinking this would be her springboard to writing fame. But so far, she hasn’t exactly been overwhelmed with great opportunities for thoughtful articles. Still reeling from her husband David’s departure and divorce, she is surprised to be called into her boss Franky’s office one day to receive a new assignment. Turns out that well-known actress Evelyn Hugo, who has been around forever and is still a very beautiful woman,  is donating some of her gowns for a charity auction and is willing to be interviewed regarding the donation. What is surprising about this is that Ms. Hugo has been reclusive for a very long time. Infamous as much for having been married seven times as for her acting career, talking to her would be a feather in any journalist’s cap. So why is she telling Vivant she wants to talk to Monique Grant and only Monique Grant? Monique is completely baffled herself, as she has no ties with the actress, has never met her. The only answer she can get is that the actress read her article about the right-to-die and was impressed. Her employer tried to replace her with someone else, but Hugo was adamant – Monique or no one. So Monique goes off to meet the woman and see what she can find out, although what is there to say about some dresses?

But not everything is as it appears to be. In fact, quite the contrary. At their first meeting, Evelyn discloses that this has nothing to do with dresses or the auction, but that she wants Monique to write her biography. Not ghost write it, to have Evelyn Hugo’s name slapped on it, but actually write it. Furthermore, Monique is going to sell it to the highest bidder (and there will be many of those, Evelyn assures her), because Evelyn won’t be around for much longer, and Monique is to keep all the royalties for herself. ALL THE ROYALTIES FOR HERSELF!

What’s the catch?

Monique is in disbelief, but Evelyn is adamant. She won’t tell Monique why, at least right now, but she assures her that she will find out the truth when the time is right… and she will hate Evelyn for it. How can a girl say no to such an offer? But she can’t let Vivant know what is going on, she has to string them along thinking she’s doing the piece about the dresses, because a girl has to eat, right? While in reality Evelyn is telling her life story, about each and every husband and her meteoric career, while also answering the question – who was her greatest love? This book could set Monique up for life easily.

At first I thought this was just about a Elizabeth Taylor-like actress who bagged and tagged multiple husbands while living the grand life. But I realized early on that it was so much more.  It’s an amazing story of an amazing woman and her journey through life – her loves, her husbands, her career. Certainly not perfect, she made mistakes and she did what she had to. But it’s an epic tale. It’s also Monique’s tale, her desire to hear and tell this story. And to learn its relevance to herself, even as she battles her own self-doubts and problems. I was so sorry to see this story end, but in a very satisfying way. Evelyn Hugo wasn’t free to love as she wished, born into an era which would never allow that to happen. How different things would have been if she’d come along now.

I will definitely have to look for more books by this author.

Wednesday Briefs: May 11, 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.

Garret Farm: Part 31 by J Ray Lamb

Jaosn knew his time at the farm was rapidly coming to an end. He stood quietly as his mind replayed his comments earlier in the day about how Murphy poaid him for doing nothing and also what Murphy had just said.

Claire sat quietly and tried to hide the smile that threatened to spread across her face. She and most of the female workers around the farm had been wanting Jason gone since the time that he had been brought on to the farm. Even several of the gay guys had had their run-ins with him and wanted him gone

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 59 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 59     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 2, 2013

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Step One in the healing process sees Ichigo and Renji arrive at the Bowing Pig Palace where their only job is to eat and get full! Ichigo digs right in, and although Renji has reservations about some of the things they are eating, that doesn’t stop him from stuffing himself also. Kirio Hikifune, whose palace they are enjoying the hospitality of, is the soul reaper who created the temporary soul and the ability to insert it into a body. She warns them that the guy in the next palace, though, is unpredictable. He is Oh-etsu Nimaiya, of the Phoenix Palace. He created the zanpaku-to.

Ichigo and Renji find Oh-etsu just a little offputting, as well as his bevy of big-busted beauties. But then he isn’t exactly impressed with them, saying they are heartless jerks who allowed their zankpaku-to be be damaged.  Can he fix them? That depends on them. He explains to them what Asauchi are, and how Soul Reapers imprint their soul upon one of them through long and difficult training.

Meanwhile, in the underground great prison, Zaraki and Unohana are about to square off in an epic battle, one Shunsui could not forestall. One in which only one Captain will survive… Each has made such farewells as they care to make, for the outcome of this battle is uncertain.

At the Phoenix Palace, Oh-etsu announces that Renji has passed, but Ichigo has failed, which means he has to go home. Ichigo doesn’t accept that, but Oh-etsu tells him that doesn’t mean it’s over, just that before he can move forward he has to go back to his roots. Back home, Ichigo can’t face Isshin and runs away. He takes refuge at his boss’ house, but Isshin finds him anyway. Isshin takes him home… and tells him the truth about his mother. Finally.

Omigosh, this volume is chock full of valuable information, stuff I’ve been wondering about for some time and stuff I should have been wondering about.  For example, who did Kenpachi beat to become Captain? Well now I know, and man, I never realized just how scary she is. This is a whole other side of her. Also, we learn more about Ichigo’s mother than we’ve ever learned before in a flashback to the past. Holy cow, she’s a Quincy? And she was raised in the Ishida household? Mindblowing stuff! Also, Isshin was a captain himself? And his name isn’t Kurosaki, it’s Shiba? Kurosaki is Masaki’s name.  Seeing past incarnations of Aizen and Gin gave me chills, too, since this is all pre-the bad times.

So, once he learns he is part Quincy, where will Ichigo’s loyalties lie? And when will Uryu make an appearance, which I’m convinced he must at some point. Can’t wait to see what the next volume brings!

Saturday is Horror Day #60 – The Funhouse, Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Funhouse

Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge) doesn’t get out much, under the watchful eye of her parents, but when the opportunity arises to go on a double date with her friend Liz (Largo Woodruff), she takes it. Amy’s date is hunky Buzz Dawson (Cooper Huckabee) and Liz’s date is the more nerdy Richie Atterbury (Miles Chapin). Amy tells her dad the two couples are going to the movies, instead of their original plans of going to the carnival, as her dad had told her not to go. But they end up there anyway. On a whim, they decide to spend the night in the Funhouse, and Amy tells her parents she is spending the night at Liz’s house.

Amy’s little brother Joey (Shawn Carson) has been a pain in the butt, but he loves horror movies, and he knows where his sister is going, so he sneaks out of the house and heads toward the carnival.  The two couples hide inside the Funhouse, and after hours, they’re making out when they hear a noise. They are able to see a room below them, where the drunken fortune teller, Madame Zena (Sylvia Miles) is talking to the man with the Frankenstein’s monster’s mask, who was operating the Funhouse. They make a transaction for money but when things don’t turn out to the man’s satisfaction, he wants his money back. Although technically he doesn’t say that since he seems to be only capable of grunts. When Madame Zena refuses, he flies into a rage and strangles.


Now the couples want nothing more than to get away from this place. But that seems less and less likely, and the creature knows they’re there and is after them. Turns out he’s dealt with this sort of problem before. Can the teens make it out of the Funhouse alive?

This film has something of a pedigree, with director Tobe Hooper, who you may recall from such films as Poltergeist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And writer Lawrence Block. Their combined work adds some quality to what is otherwise a forgettable film. It’s not so much that it’s bad, but I think the “freak” who is the oddball in the film and prone to violence if not handled correctly has been a bit overdone. There is no explanation of what is wrong with him, and how he came to be the way he is.


All in all, not a bad film and worth checking out. I’ll give it 3.5 Stars, mostly because I like Tobe Hooper

Human Centipede III (The Final Sequence)

To be honest, I wasn’t going to touch on this despite watching it today, but I’ll give it a brief mention anyway. First, you need to watch the first two, just because. They’re not exactly sequels but they also are. In the second one, we saw the first one as a film on DVD, and now in the third one, the first two are films on DVD. The doctor from the first film, Dieter Laser, is back as Bill Boss, the sadistic tyrant of a prison warden. Laurence R. Harvey, who was in the second film, is back as Boss’ accountant, Dwight Butler. Boss is beyond bad and terrorizes everyone, including his secretary Daisy (Bree Olson) and makes inappropriate sexual demands on her (not that there are appropriate sexual demands, just saying). 

Butler is obsessed with the Human Centipede films and makes Boss watch them, but he isn’t impressed. Neither is he impressed with the idea of making a human centipede at the prison, although Butler argues it will solve a lot of problems, including morale, discipline, and budgetary issues. The prison doctor, Dr. Jones (Clayton Rohner) is also a fan of the films and claims he can make it happen. Together, he and Butler think they have even improved the original techniques. Btw, Dr Jones is lucky to be able to work there, as Boss reminds him, because he has no medical license, so can’t be employed anywhere else. Boss changes his mind when the plan meets with the approval of Governor Hughes (Eric Roberts), although the governor doesn’t really realize what they intend to do.


Well, there is the basic premise. Let me just say it’s the weakest entry of the three, and most of the film consists of Boss’s ranting and raving and sadistic treatment of everyone inside that prison. Of course it’s gory, it’s a Human Centipede. Is there an actual 500 man centipede? Yes, but not until almost the very end. If you just want to finish the series, go ahead and watch it. If you want the same experience as the first two, do yourself a favor and skip it.

Well, I guess that wasn’t really brief, was it? Look for Tom Six playing himself. And you might remember one of the prisoners as playing the president in The Fifth Element. Anyway, I’ll just give it 2 Stars and will not rewatch.

Wednesday Briefs: May 4, 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 Eighty-nine by Cia Nordwell

“The Galactic Council wants peace between the many unique species all over the universe.  I have come with Garjah and Essell to start the introductions.” Ases stepped forward and bowed. “My name is Ases. I hope that you will give me time to learn your culture and forgive any mistakes in my manners, but know I have nothing but the best of intentions as we create a bridge to bring your worlds alongside the Galactic society.”  

“This is not our way.” That question was not staged. A contingent of new arrivals pushed their way through the crowd, but they were


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