Author Archives: wedbriefsfic

Wednesday Briefs: December 22, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon:Chapter Seventy by Cia Nordwell
 

It was time to cut out the bureaucracy, and I didn’t have much tact to start off with. Garjah actually seemed to do better with his people’s politics than I did with the jockeying for favor and positions I’d faced within the Institute, but he wasn’t experienced enough to deal with these people.  

Officious oafs were going to just get in the way.  

“We appreciate that you have encountered a race that may have a claim to Ardra, and that we have much to learn. Rushing does not benefit anyone, however.” Dr. Margo spoke and my mother nodded her agreement.  

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Saturday is Horror Day #41 – Messiah of Evil, House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Messiah of Evil

Arletty (Marianna Hill) is concerned about her father, Joseph Lang (Royal Dano). The artist kept in touch with her ever since he moved away, but his letters have become fewer and fewer and now they’ve stopped altogether. Arletty travels to the small seaside town of Pointe Dune to find him. But when she goes to his house, there is no sign of him. 

 

 

The next day she goes to a local art shop, but they know nothing of his whereabouts. However, a group of people have also been asking about him. Arletty meets the group, which consists of Thom (Michael Greer), Laura (Anitra Ford), and Toni (Joy Bang). Arletty is a little taken aback by their obvious arrangement, but when she questions them, they know nothing of her father. Later, they show up at her father’s house, claiming she is the reason why they were kicked out of their hotel and can’t find a place to stay. She reluctantly agrees to allow them to stay with her.

 

The town of Pointe Dune is… odd… to say the least, and the inhabitants are not particularly friendly. Arletty finds her father’s journal and begins to read. But nothing is making sense. Laura decides to leave Thom and Toni and heads out. She is offered a ride by a strange man in a pickup truck. In the bed, a group of people sit, necks craned toward the sky. She quickly regrets her decision and tries to get away, but to no avail.

A bored Toni decides to go to the movies. Thom and Arletty begin to compare notes and realize, too 

late, that maybe Toni shouldn’t be alone. Later, Arletty is taken to the beach, where a body has been discovered. They say her father had an accident while creating a work of art. But Arletty knows better.  Did she imagine someone breaking into her dad’s house? What in the world is going on and how can she and Thom get to safety before it overtakes them?

This film was made in 1973, and it certainly looks like it, with minimalist sets, horrible fake blood, and off-screen violence. Although the filmmakers weren’t shy about a certain amount of nudity (at least what they could get away with back then). I get the feeling whoever wrote this was on drugs, and not particularly good ones. It has the look and feel of a psychedelic trip. Also, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. 

If you look on IMDB.com, this film was tagged as vampire, vampire cult, and vampire messiage. But these are not vampires in any sense of the word, rather they are zombies. One reviewer called it a “macabre little gem”. I would disagree with that. Surrealistic? Quite possibly. Dread? Not really. So don’t expect too much. Do look for Royal Dano and Elisha Cook Jr. You might remember the latter from House on Haunted Hill, with Vincent Price. Or The Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart.

Reading the review on IMDB, I almost thought we watched two different films. I am giving this film 2 Stars. Watch at your own risk.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) is a millionaire with too much money and time to indulge his macabre sense of humor. To celebrate the birthday of his fourth wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart), he rents out the House on Haunted Hill, but she is less than pleased when he makes up the guest list himself, and not a one of them is a friend of either one. The guests have all been chosen by him and made the same offer – spend the night in the haunted house and receive $10,000 in the morning! That’s an offer few people could refuse. To add to the spirit of the occasion, Loren has them arrive in hearses.

Lance Schroeder (Richard Long) is a young, handsome pilot. Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal) is a psychiatrist. Ruth Bridges (Julie Mitchum) is an older woman who has become jaded with her life. Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig) is a typist at one of Loren’s companies, but has never met the man. Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook Jr) is the realtor who rented Loren the house. They are all strangers to one another and unsure why they’ve been invited to the party.

 

Annabelle instantly shows herself as petulant and demanding, insisting she will not come to the party. 

Relations between husband and wife are obviously strained. But Loren insists she make an appearance, and makes his point rather handily. Pritchard is a doom-and-gloom sort of fellow, warning everyone about the murders that have taken place in this house, and the ghosts that inhabit it, helping to create an atmosphere rife with terror. Loren doesn’t help allay their fears with his choice of party favors  pistols inside of small coffins.

Mild-mannered stenographer Nora is very sensitive and quick to pick up on strange things. When she and Lance explore the basement, Lance disappears and Nora sees a ghost. But no one will believe her. Again, later, when she finds a human head in her suitcase, the evidence disappears before anyone else can see it. She wants to leave but the unexpected departure of the servants, who have locked down the house in their wake, handily puts an end to that. They are all stuck there until the following morning!

Tensions begin to build as more and more eerie things happen, and Nora is just about at her breaking point. Armed and hysterical is no way to go through life, and may just lead to someone getting hurt. The question is, will it be by one of the trapped people inside the mansion, or by one of its ghostly inhabitants?

 

I’ve seen House on Haunted Hill many times and I never tire of it. Vincent Price is in his element as Frederick Loren, the millionaire with bad taste in wives. Annabelle is number Four. And yet, there is something mysterious about the deaths of the first three and the possibility that he had something to do with their deaths.  I love Vincent Price in everything he does. The film was directed by William Castle, who also brought us 13 Ghosts, both black-and-white films. Known for his gimmicks, for this film he used “Emergo” in theaters, which involved a skeleton on a wire that would swoop over the heads of the audience.

This film is still eerie and fascinating, even after all these years, and is definitely worth watching. I give it a sold 4.5 Stars.

Wednesday Briefs: December 15, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Garret Farm: Part 15 by J Ray Lamb

Trent took a deep breath and tried to refocus on the office around him. He’d not gotten off like that since he was a teenager and there was a mess everywhere. He was gonna have to wash down his desk, the tile floor, his laptop, and most of all, himself.

I can’t believe I still managed to get that much on me considering how much is all over the desk and computer.

It had been about an hour since he’d headed downstairs. He’d not heard the front door close or Garret coming down the stairs. Garret’s knock startled him…

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 48 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 48   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 2, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Gin returns to Aizen’s side claiming to have killed Matsumoto. However, Aizen’s no fool, and he realizes Gin wants to kill him, but he just isn’t sure how he intends to do that. But why would Gin want to kill Aizen?

Ichigo has finally returned and is ready to face Aizen. Aizen is disappointed, telling Ichigo he feels no spirit energy from him. “You’ve failed to evolve. You’ve failed to take advantage of the final opportunity I gave  you.” Ichigo tells him he wants to fight him somewhere else, and while Aizen is still voicing his objections, Ichigo has overpowered him and pushed him to another place, shocking Aizen. Suddenly Aizen realizes why Ichigo has no spirit energy… he’s converted it into physical strength.

Is this truly the final battle? How much can Aizen change? Has Ichigo learned the final stage of his bankai, and at what price? And what has Kiskue to do with anything?

This is really it, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The battle of battles between Ichigo and Aizen. And let me tell you it does not disappoint, neither is it clear from the start who will emerge victorious. Naturally, we all hope it will be Ichigo, and of course it is because there still many volumes of this series left to read. Even so, if you don’t know that, it’s very exciting to watch. For the first time, I felt empathy for Gin, even though he has been nothing but a rat in previous volumes. But now all has been revealed, and I actually cried for him, and feel bad for Matsumoto. She actually helped to humanize the snake that was Gin, and when push comes to shove, Gin, we hardly knew ye.

Aizen deserved worse than he got, wonder if we’re through with him. I hope so, I’ve seen enough of him to last a life time. Now life goes on, but for Ichigo it will bring serious changes. How will he handle them? Only time will tell. Wonderful end to the Arrancar arc, looking forward to seeing what is in store for them next!

Saturday is Horror Day #40 – Looking Glass

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Looking Glass

After suffering a devastating personal loss, Ray (Nicholas Cage) and Maggie (Robin Tunney) buy a motel in the middle of the desert to start over again. But things are strange from the get-go.  Ben (Bill Bolender), the man who sold them the motel, isn’t there on their arrival, having left the keys and a hastily scribbled note outside the door. When Ray calls him, he is very mysterious and doesn’t seem inclined to discuss anything, but wishes them well.

Even though they aren’t officially open, a woman arrives and Maggie checks her in. Then a trucker named Tommy (Ernie Lively) shows up. Apparently he’s a regular, and prefers to be in Room 10, which was always the arrangement with Ben. Ray has no problem with that and gives him the key.

Local law enforcement, Howard (Marc Blucas) shows up, looking for the pot of coffee Ben usually has going. Ray obligingly makes him a pot. The deputy says the coffee is so good he’s going to come by every day.

 

 

 

There is a lot of work to do on the motel, but Ray is handy. In looking around, he discovers an entrance that has been padlocked and chained shut. He cuts off the lock and heads inside to a storage area. But then he notices something weird, in the wall, close to the ceiling. He decides to investigate and discovers a small tunnel. Ray crawls through the tunnel and up a ladder to find himself peering into Room 10, where the maid is vacuuming. Something is very strange here, but what?

Ray and Maggie’s relationship is on edge. Ray sneaks off to the looking glass and begins to spy on 

various guests and what they do in that room, which makes him horny and sends him back to his wife. But when someone throws a dead pig into the motel pool, Ray realizes something is off here. He can’t reach Ben any more, and the deputy keeps asking to have Ben contact him. Suddenly Ray feels as though his world is spiraling out of control…

This wasn’t a bad film, but it is a sort of confusing one that could have benefitted from some clarification. Or even explanation. I confess to being a huge Nic Cage fan, so I’ll try anything he’s in once. I did like this better than Prisoners of the Ghostland. It makes more sense than that one. Even so, we are left with questions. Such as the true nature of their daughter’s death. Also, the motivation of the killer who is identified at the end. Like I said, not a bad film, but not great either. Worth watching for Nic alone, but even this isn’t necessarily his best effort. I’ll give it 3 Stars

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 47 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 47       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 4, 2012

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kira watches in disbelief as a very wounded Matsumoto ignores her injuries to go to the battle between Gin and Ichigo. Meanwhile, the new—but not improved—Aizen is still deep in conversation with Kiskue and Yoruichi. As usual, Aizen is condescending and laughs at their attempts to battle him. And then Isshin unexpectedly arrives.

Just as Gin threatens to kill Ichigo there and then, Aizen appears, having broken out of his chrysalis form, and asks what he’s doing, to which Gin replies he is only playing with the boy. Aizen orders him to open the Senkaimon and they take their departure. As they pass through, Aizen the arrogant decides he wants to play with the Kototsu, desite Gin’s warnings that is not a good idea. But Aizen gonna do what Aizen gonna do. When Isshin and Ichigo follow, Isshin realizes what Aizen has done, and he knows just how to use that to their advantage. He can train Ichigo in the final stage of his Bankai. Thanks Aizen!

And now back to the actual Karakura Town… Keigo awakens to a surreal sight. Everyone in town is sleeping in the streets. What is going on here? Hysterical, he begins to run around, yelling for people to wake up. Luckily, he runs into Arisawa, who calms him down with a quick but effective punch. They begin to gather their friends and take them to safety as obviously something is very wrong here. Meanwhile, Isshin holds down the fort while Ichigo meets with Zangetsu for his training. But this isn’t the Zangetsu he is used to.

Gin and Aizen have arrived in Karakura Town, and they run into Keigo and Arisawa. Gin tells her, “You seems to be in some trouble, girl. You should call for a hero at a time like this.” And just like that one arrives, one we’ve not seen in quite some time. But can he really be the hero that is called for? And is he enough to stop Aizen and Gin? Common sense says no.

We seem to be nearing the end of this arc. How it will end is still up in the air. Of course, the good side will prevail, but just how they’ll do it remains to be seen. I really enjoyed watching Ichigo train with Zengetsu. You have to respect him for doing what is right, even though he understands the price that is attached to what he is doing. And the unexpected reappearance of both Don Kanonji and Fro Man was great! The scenes with Keigo and Ichigo’s other friends was a bit of comic relief in an increasingly dramatic arc. From the beginning, they said only Ichigo can beat Aizen. We’ll see how true that may be in the next volume. Can’t wait!

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 9 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 9     

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 5, 2019

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tengen Uzui is one flashy Hashira! Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inoskue agree to go with him on a mission in order to spare the shy Kanao. They have no idea what they are getting themselves into! Tengen begins by explaining to the three demon slayers that he is a god and they are trash. What a way to begin a working relationship! He takes them into the Entertainment District. While he searches for a Demon, their job is to find and contact his three wives, who are working undercover there. Unsure exactly which houses they are at, Tengen has narrowed the list down to the three most likely locations and splits up the three demon slayers accordingly. However, there is a catch… they also have to dress as women and they have to be selected by these houses!

After making them up as women, Tengen approaches the first house. The owners find the “girls” ugly but decide to take the honest-looking one, Tanjiro.  A Madam from the House Ogimoto offers to take Inosuke, which only leaves Zenitsu, who is angry at Tengen because he is too handsome (he has removed his flashiness momentarily). When they clean up Inosuke, they find his natural looks much more pleasing than the make-up job Tengen did on him, not surprising since he has a girly face. Tengen manages to place Zenitsu, even though he is considered to be ugly, because of Tengen’s own good looks. But it’s the House’s lucky day as “she” proves to be very talented, despite “her” looks.

The three begin to investigate, listening and watching, and they learn that girls have been going missing, to the consternation of the other girls. Tanjiro learns that one of the missing girls is one of Tengen’s wives! Can they find the missing girls and rescue them before it’s too late?

I must say Tengen is an interesting character, although very arrogant and full of himself. I was sad when Rengoku died unexpectedly in the last arc. And even though Tengen is the way he is, I would hate to see him suffer the same fate. He certainly is flashy, though, and he knows how to fight. Seeing Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke in drag is hilarious! I wasn’t surprised that they washed off Inosuke’s make-up and found what was beneath to be much better. As usual, there is a great deal of humor in this volume as well as drama, as they search for Tengen’s missing wives. (I assume polygamy is okay here). An intriguing behind-the-scenes look at a few of the houses in the Entertainment District. I love the artwork, especially the full color pictures. The author has created some memorable characters, can’t wait to see where their adventures take them.

Great volume, looking forward to more of the same!

Wednesday Briefs: December 8, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Sixty-eight by Cia Nordwell
 

The rest of the team was ushered about their business while Dr. Vikrish, Soldier One, and two of his lackeys ushered us into their shuttle and further through the corridors toward the control center. We made an interesting parade for those crew who’d stayed behind. Dr. Vikrish lead the way, a soldier behind him and in front of us. Garjah and I were clearly newcomers on a planet reported to be unoccupied, and a wild animal with a lethal gait and roving gaze prowled at my hip. Soldier One and another soldier brought up the rear behind us.  

That made

 
 

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Book Review: Skip Beat, Vol 46 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 6       

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 1, 2007

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

After succeeding in the audition for the commercial, Kyoko and Moko are warned by the director that they have to take good care of their bodies, because that’s what professionals do, and he gives them a rather frightening glare for good measure. Entitled brat Erika is still miffed that Moko bested her and swears she will keep her from succeeding as an actress, no matter what!  Her sycophantic toadies leap at the chance to be of service to her and begin to stalk Kyoko and Moko, but no matter what they attempt to do to harm the two girls, Kyoko manages to unwittingly thwart their efforts.

Ren is on the set with his manager, Mr. Yashiro, whom he fears is coming down with a cold, when Maria appears. Right behind her, her grandfather Lori makes his usual grand entrance, complete with band. Maria tells Ren it’s for a commercial that is being shot, and Ren is surprised to learn that Kyoko won the audition. Maria, who is insanely jealous of Ren, tells him the story of how she met Kyoko at Training School, giving Ren much to think about. After he leaves, Lori becomes aware that Kyoko hasn’t been able to go to High school, but not by choice, and offers her the opportunity to do so. That means she will have to study hard!

At LME, when a manager is ill and unable to perform their duties, the company appoints a daimane, or substitute manager. But when Yashiro does indeed come down with a cold, none is available, so Kyoko is giving the job of managing Ren. Neither of them is particularly pleased with this decision but can’t do anything about it. Kyoko is afraid she will screw up and not do a good job, thus earning Ren’s wrath. Ren doesn’t think she can do a good job, and feels like he doesn’t need help, since he’s very self-sufficient. Kyoko finds being alone with him awkward. When he notices her rumbling stomach, he suggests they stop and eat, not taking no for an answer, and he takes time to eat as well, which is what Lori had counted on when he gave Kyoko the assignment, since Ren is prone to ignore such things as meals.

Kyoko is very observant and nurturing, and takes care of Ren despite himself. But when a particular scene has to be re-shot repeatedly because the actress Ren is playing against is too stupid to pronounce a word correctly, Kyoko is concerned, as it is raining and she already thought Ren was wearing himself out and could get sick. When her fears are realized, she goes above and beyond to bring him back to full health!

I really loved this volume of Skip Beat!  (Who am I kidding, I love them all!) This one was especially good because of the great interactions between Kyoko and Ren. He’s been suspicious of her motives for joining LME ever since he heard it was for revenge against Sho. But he’s beginning to realize she is really interested in succeeding as an actress. Not only that, she has a great natural talent. Who knew? Of course, he has an advantage in that he remembers her from when they were children, and she isn’t aware that he is her beloved Corn. Wonder how long he’ll keep that secret. Kyoko is growing as a person, and as an actress. Her natural abilities, plus her own kindness and goodness, continue to shine through. My biggest wish is to see these two get together, but I know that’s not in the cards for a long time to come.

Great volume, looking forward to more!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 46 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 46

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 4, 2012

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The battle between Ichigo and Aizen continues! Ever arrogant, Aizen tells Ichigo he missed his chance to kill him. “That was my last vulnerable moment.”  Then he reveals that it’s not due to super powerful regeneration skills, rather it’s because he has fused with the Hogyoku! Aizen further reveals that he has been watching and controlling Ichigo’s growth and development… from the time he was born? How is this even possible? Ichigo is confused, naturally, as he tries to process Aizen’s words. Flustered, he demands Aizen explain himself. But just as Aizen is about to tell Ichigo something perhaps he shouldn’t, another country is heard from, as Isshin Kurosaki appears, in full Soul Reaper uniform! What is going on here?

Isshin takes on Aizen, leaving Ichigo to deal with Gin.  Ichigo and Gin battle, but their fight spills over and interrupts the conversation Aizen is having with Isshin (or is that lecture?). But suddenly, another contestant enters the arena, none other than Kiskue Uruhara! AIzen is not surprised to see him, having been awaiting his appearance. He accuses Kiskue of being jealous of Aizen’s ability to control the Hogyoku. Uruhara manages to trap Aizen, but he knows that won’t last, and sure enough the villain returns, but he has… changed. What does this portend? And Ichigo is still in the midst of his battle with Gin, who warns him that they have no idea of Aizen’s true powers.

You didn’t think the fight would end that quickly, did you? Seriously? This is an epic battle, and it will not be told in one volume, or even two. The appearance of Ichigo’s father, and the questions that are left unanswered, is mind-boggling. But Ichigo shows an unexpected maturity when he sets his questions aside. “I don’t know how to ask you without being disrespecting you, so I’ll wait.” He has certainly grown since we first met him 46 volumes ago, hasn’t he? Aizen, as usual, has to run his mouth, but this makes for interesting conversation between him and Isshin, who has thrown off his usual doofy mannerisms and reveals himself for who he really is. Ichigo and Gin’s interactions makes for a fascinating read too. And at the very end, a very wounded Matsumoto becomes aware of Gin’s proximity and begins to stir. Guess we’ll see what’s up in the next volume!