Book Review: Pluto, Vol 8 by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 8     

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 19, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Atom has awakened, but everyone wonders what will he do now? Meanwhile, those behind the dastardly plot are rejoicing that their work is almost done. However, one witness remains. Within the United States of Thracia, Eden National Park opens, hailed as the greatest healing zone in the world. Uran is worried about her brother. His behavior since awakening is odd. He’s writing lengthy equations on the walls. When Professor Tenma visits Brau 1589 in prison, the robot asks Tenma what he did to Atom. Brau already knows what formula Atom is writing – the formula for an antiproton bomb.

Atom meets with Gesicht’s widow and lets her know that her husband was always thinking of her and that he loved her very much. Atom has a piece of Gesicht inside him now, including his hatred. That could be dangerous. Also, it’s becoming evident that the world is in danger from something below the surface of Eden Park, something that concerns both Pluto and Bora.

As the trial of Darius XIV begins, an earthquake can be felt. He tells them not to worry, it’s the beginning of the end, although having nothing to do with him.  He tells them it was all Abullah’s doing. At long last, the truth is coming out. About Pluto and Bora, about Abullah and Sahad. Why so many good robots had to die. But will Atom be able to reverse what has been set into motion, or is the entire planet doomed?

This is it. The last volume. I didn’t expect to cry over it, but I did. As I read the seven volumes that came before, I mourned the death of each and every robot, especially Gesicht. I was so sure he’d survive. I worried about how everything would end. Urasawa is amazing, and he’s told a very amazing story. The ending is all you could ask for and then some. Masterpiece all the way around. Glad I was able to take this journey with such remarkable characters.

Wednesday Briefs: November 2, 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 #47 (10.1) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Dinner was absolutely wonderful! I hadn’t really had a chance to appreciate Maureen’s cooking in its full splendor before since she’d been recovering from a stroke during our first visit. And how she managed to stretch this most excellent meal to accommodate all her extra guests was beyond me but she did and her efforts were most definitely appreciated. I could only imagine what Thanksgivings must be like here, at least from a culinary standpoint. Ethan and I tended to eat out on holidays, for the most part. I know he was as happy as I was at our unexpected largesse.

Of course, the fly in the ointment as far as holidays went, was Ethan’s older brother. He sat through the meal like the proverbial bump on a log and only spoke when he was directly addressed…which meant not very often.

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Saturday is Horror Day #85 – Hellraiser (2022), V/H/S 99

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Hellraiser (2022)

Riley (Odessa A’zion) has a problem with addiction. She lives with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) and his boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison). Even though he is concerned for her welfare, she likes to push him to test his limits too. One night she goes out with her boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey) to help him with a little job, one that involves robbery. They break into a container only to find a safe. Riley manages to open the safe with brute force, but inside they only find a smaller ornate box. Disappointing to say the least. But  Riley takes it anyway. Afterward she gets into a fight with her brother, who throws her out. She plans to sleep in her car but isn’t tired, so she takes the box to the park, where she manages to open it, cutting herself in the process.

And then the weird things begin to happen…

This is a reboot of the original 1987 Hellraise by Clive Barker. I’ll be frank – it could have been so much better. In this version, we have a new Pinhead, a female Pinhead, played by Jamie Clayton. I think the role had so much potential, but it was wasted. The plot was rather lackluster, and the Cenobites less menacing. I found myself not caring about anyone, especially not Riley, which makes it hard to care about what happens. I was thrilled to see Goran Visnjic as a greedy millionaire with more money than common sense, and he does fine, but his is not a sympathetic character either.

I think there were a few nods to the original Hellraiser films. I just found out there were ten of those,

which I didn’t know, but the first two are the best and the third is tolerable, with the rest forgettable. This one could have been so much better. I do think they used the original composer, so the music gets a nod. But otherwise, don’t rush to see this. I’ll give it 2.5 Stars.

V/H/S 99

V/H/S is back with a new collection of found footage gems designed to unnerve the most discriminating of horror palates.

In “Shredding”, a punk rock band with a high opinion of themselves known as R.A.C.K. like to perform pranks. They decide to look into the legend of a band called Bitch Cat, who supposedly died under their fans’ feet, trampled to death during a fire. They even go so far as to prank one of their members by pretending to be possessed. But their actions come back to haunt them.

In “Suicide Bid”, a college freshman named Lily has her sights set on a particular sorority, and does

even bother applying to any others, although she knows that is considered to be a suicide bid. The girls watch her video interview and then meet with her. They tell her she has to perform a dare in order to be admitted – she has to spend the night inside a coffin. She agrees, despite learning that another student who did the same thing mysteriously disappeared. But then things go upside down….

In “Ozzy’s Dungeon”, a children’s competitive game pits two kids against one another. But just when Donna is about to win, the other contestant injures her badly and wins himself. A few years later, Donna’s angry family decides to wreak their vengeance against the horrible host of the game show by kidnapping him and forcing him to compete in a dungeon of their own making.

In “The Gawkers”, teenage Peeping Toms get a lesson as they spy on the young woman who lives across the street.  In the last segment, “To Hell and Back”, two friends are hired by a cult to video them on the eve of Y2K. But they end up fighting for their lives in Hell. And this is where they meet Mabel.

Also, threading through the other stories, is another story involving a young man who is filming his toy soldiers in action. I did like this new addition to the VHS series. I am a huge fan of found footage films, as you can tell by the many I have reviewed. I especially liked Ozzy’s Dungeon, but I have to say Mabel steals the show. I’ll give this 4 Stars.

Wednesday Briefs: October 26, 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 Thirteen by Cia Nordwell
 

“We’ve already given away the element of surprise,” Garjah said. “They will expect me to try to flee the city, so they’ll be on the lookout for anywhere I might go, like my house or the port.”  

“Which is why you won’t do that,” Ases said. “We’re going to get my mech. You’re staying here to distract the Kardoval.”  

Garjah raised his eyebrows, the skin on his forehead wrinkling around the ridges pushing back from his forehead and curling around his skull. He looked skeptical. “How exactly am I doing that?”  

Ases had been somewhat vague on that part of

 
 

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Saturday is Horror Day #84 – A Quiet Place, Annabelle Comes Home

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

A Quiet Place

Monsters have invaded our world, terrifying blind creatures with preternatural hearing. At all costs, don’t let them hear you or your life is forfeit. Survival is the name of the game for the Abbott family. Lee (John Krasinski), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their three children. They are always on the move, staying ahead of the creatures, keeping silent in order to not be heard. But little children sometimes do stupid things, and the Abbotts’ youngest is taken from them. Daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) feels guilty for what has happened, and feels that her father blames her too, and doesn’t love her as much as her brother Marcus (Noah Jupe).

The Abbotts have a farm where they have set up a system of lights that warn of danger if the lights are red. Lee works with electronics and sound and has devised ear plugs that two people can use to share music. He takes his terrified son out one day and explains to him that if there is a louder noise, that noise will attract their attention every time. Evelyn becomes pregnant, which brings its own problems with it, such as a crying baby, but they have provided for that with a special place for the newborn. However, when plans go awry, the whole family finds itself in danger.

 

This film demands you give it a certain amount of attention because so much of it is visual as the people dare not speak. It’s a post-apocalyptic world, although I’m not really sure how the creatures got there. But they’re there, and the world is in serious danger. It’s bleak and somewhat horrifying. I can’t imagine having to deal with this kind of life. I know if I can’t listen to my music at the office, the silence drives me nuts. They can’t talk to one another, play music, and they always have to worry about making any sound. John Krasinski is also the director of this film, and I think he did a good job. I’m looking forward to the second one. I’ll give this film 4 Stars

Annabelle Comes Home

Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren are going on a business trip so they engage local teenager Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). Mary Ellen’s classmate Daniela (Katie Sarife) learns of her job with the Warrens and invites herself over to the house. She befriends Judy Warren (McKenna Grace), who doesn’t have many friends. Daniela is excited to be in the Warrens’ home and asks a lot of questions, especially about where the haunted items they collect are. She is told they are downstairs, but the door is locked and no one is allowed down there.

Daniela persists and finds an opportunity to stay at the house while Mary Ellen and Judy are gone. She immediately begins snooping, and manages to find the key, letting herself into the forbidden area. She is fascinated by what she sees, especially the creepy looking doll in the glass case which has a sign warning not to open it ever. But as she’s looking around, the doll seems to move, and curiosity gets the better of the girl, and she opens the case.

 

This isn’t the worst film of the Conjuring series, but it isn’t exactly good either. Somewhat predictable, it 

utilizes cheap jump scares. We do find out why Daniela is obsessed with the Warrens, as she wants to contact her late father, who died in a car accident while she was driving. I think the film suffered from the lack of the Warrens, but then it would never have happened either because they would not have allowed access. If you are just into watching the series, go ahead. Otherwise, not worth it. I’ll give it 3 Stars, mostly because I like Patrick Wilson.

Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol 8 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol 8   

Author: Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 20, 2022

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Action & Adventure/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Yor receives an assignment that necessitates her to accompany the target she is protecting on a luxury cruise.  But luckily, Loyd and Anya have won a vacation on the same ship! What luck! However Loyd and Anya have a suite in third class while Yor is in the first class section. Tor feels bad for her subject, Olka, who has lost her husband and her family. All she has left is her child, and now she is being relocated for her own safety. When Olka requests that she be allowed to stretch her legs, how can Yor refuse? She tells Olka that her own husband and child are on the ship, but they don’t know about her real job. So Olka gives her something to disguise herself with.

Meanwhile, there is a spy on the ship who has ears on everyone, and overhears Olka conversation with Yor, and is able to pinpoint what name she is traveling under, and which room she is booked into!  Back in the room, Yor and Olka hear a knock at the door. It’s a steward with a cart… but they never ordered anything! More than a little suspicious. As this is going on, Loyd and Anya are having a stand-off in the gift shop over a skeleton keychain that Anya insists she must have, but Loyd think it’s useless junk. He worries that if he doesn’t give it to her, people will suspect he is not her real father. Such a dilemma!

Anya reads the mind of one of the bad guys and realizes he intends to battle her mama right outside of where she and her papa are! She has to keep him occupied, otherwise he’ll find out what Yor really does and that will ruin everything!  To stall for time, she insists that Loyd has to dress in a way that conveys he is having fun. “That should keep Papa busy for a while,” Anya thinks to herself.

After the battle, as Yor sits guard to protect the client, she worries about leaving Loyd and Anya, and questions why that thought even bothers her. After all, they’re just for show… right? The next day, a concerned Anya wants to check on her mama, but she has to devise a way to distract Papa. Otherwise he’ll just ask questions she won’t want to answer. She tries various activities, to no avail. Turns out, though, that the festivities for that night include fireworks!

Excitement plus in this volume of Spy x Family. I love this series so much! And the anime is soooo adorable! I especially love how Yor is beginning to realize her feelings for her family are more genuine than she bargained for, and she would do anything for them. At some point, I have to believe they are all going to find out about one another, and they will become a real family in every sense of the word.

Great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Wednesday Briefs: October 19, 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 #45 (9.3) by Julie Lynn Hayes

“That sounds like a good idea,” Ethan agreed. “Thanks, Dad. I’ll let Mom know what’s going on and see what we can do to help her. I don’t want us to be any trouble to her.”

Ethan’s father nodded his approval to this suggestion, for all intents and purposes giving the appearance of a loving and thoughtful spouse, although I wasn’t entirely sure about that. But maybe this leopard had managed to change its spots. And maybe nothing had really happened between him and his daughter-in-law. I hoped that was true, for Maureen’s sake. Or if it did, I hoped it was over now.

Sheesh, such a tangled web.

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Book Review: Pluto, Vol 7 by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 7     

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 19, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Professors Tenma and Abdullah keep watch over the sleeping robot as it tries to assimilate the billions of personalities that have been programmed into it, unsure if it will ever awaken. Professor Tenma receives a request to meet with Gesicht’s widow before she returns home. She gives him something of her late husband and asks Tenma to ensure Gesicht did not die in vain. Tenma still hopes he can bring Atom back to life.

Epsilon, disturbed by Gesicht’s death, receives a surprise visit from Hogan, who has been assigned to protect him, under the assumption that he will be the next target. He wants to take Epsilon to a safe house, but Epsilon says he can’t go. It’s his birthday and the children have organized a party, complete with gifts. Hogan tells him to make it short then. Epsilon learns that the non-verbal Wassily has drawn something for him. The child shows him the drawing, saying “Bora” and then he begins to speak. And then something sinister unexpectedly appears…

Uran is discovered by her principal in the library after hours. She tells him she has felt two enormous sources of grief, but isn’t sure where they come from. She is reading Pinocchio, and has her theories about both Pinocchio and Geppetto and about being manipulated, like a puppet. While Epsilon is away on business, authorities come to the orphanage in order to take Wassily and have him adopted by humans in Norway. By the time Epsilon returns, the child is gone and the robot is upset. Wassily is turned over to none other than Professor Abdullah. When he sees him, Wassily screams out “Bora!”And not only that, but Pluto is there, and Abdullah refers to himself as Pluto’s father! Epsilon goes to rescue Wassily and finds himself in combat with Pluto. “Who is inside you?” Epsilon asks.

Professor Tenma encounters Uran at Atom’s grave and takes her to where Atom is. Epsilon is able to get through to Pluto, but the other robot warns him that something bigger is coming… Bora…And just then Atom awakens!

So much grief and sorrow, how much more can we take? I can’t believe Gesicht is gone. Seriously? And now another robot? When will the madness end? Only two volumes left. Dreading what might come in the next one. Fantastic series, sheer genius.

Saturday is Horror Day #83 – Speak No Evil (2022), The Curse of La Llorona, House at the End of the Street

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Speak No Evil (2022)

While on holiday in Italy, Danish couple Bjorn (Morten Burian) and Louise (Sidsel Siem Koch) meet a Dutch couple, Patrick (Fedja van Huet) and Karin (Karina Smulders). They hit it off well. Each couple has a child. Bjorn and Louise have Agnes (Liva Forsberg) while the other couple has Abel (Marius Damslev). After the holiday, Bjorn and Louise receive an invitation to visit the other couple in the Netherlands, an invitation that includes Agnes. They decide to drive, as it’s only 8 hours and cheaper than flying.

On their arrival, they found Abel to be a bit sullen and nonverbal, but don’t think much of it. The visit begins well, but then begins to go downhill. Patrick and Karin invite Bjorn and Louise to dinner at a nearby restaurant, but don’t tell them until the last minute that it’s adults only and they’ve arranged for a babysitter. They unwillingly go along with the plan, but dinner becomes awkward at best, perhaps because of too much alcohol.

More red flags appear and the couple thinks perhaps they should just leave. But little do they realize what they are actually up again.

This was a very interesting film, although my friend and I kept yelling at the couple not to ignore the red flags and get the heck out of Dodge. But did they listen? Of course not lol Until the end, we didn’t know why these things were happening and speculated as to the cause, but as it turned out we were wrong. The reality was worse than what we imagined. Very creepy film, and the music added to the ambience, becoming rather chilling during otherwise innocuous scenes. I give this film 4 Stars

The Curse of La Llorona

Anna (Linda Cardellini) is a social worker who sometimes has to make difficult decisions. When she goes to visit one of her clients, Patricia Alvarez (Patricia Velasquez) because of her two boys truancy, she finds the boys locked in a closet and has no choice to but have them removed. She doesn’t listen to the mother’s pleas that it’s for their safety.

However Anna soon finds herself in a similar predicament when her children begin to display bruises she can’t account for and certainly didn’t inflict. She talks to Father Perez (Tony Amendola), but he tells her the church cannot help, and gives her the name of someone who can. Anna and her children find themselves plunged into a supernatural world, and a witch named La Llorona, who steals children in compensation for the ones she lost. Can they fight against her? And can they defeat her once and for all?

This film is part of the Conjuring series, but only tangentially, through Father Perez. So if you don’t

watch it, it won’t detract from the Conjuring. There are definite flaws here and not enough good points, I’m afraid. Linda Cardellini, who you may remember as Samantha from ER, isn’t a strong enough actress to carry the lead role, and Patricia Velasquez, whom I last saw in The Mummy, does okay. But the plot is painfully thin, the scares are primarily jump scares, and the witch isn’t really all that scary. Unless you’re like me and want to watch the whole series for closure, I would skip this one. I am giving it 1.5 Stars.

House at the End of the Street

Four years after a double murder, Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) move into the house next door, unaware of the murders. Thinking the house to be unoccupied, Sarah is shocked to see a light there in the middle of the night. She asks a police officer at the hospital where she works about that and learns that the dead couple’s son Ryan (Max Thieriot), who wasn’t living there at the time of his parents’ deaths, now lives in the house and the neighbors are not happy about that. They think having a murder house in the neighborhood is bad for real estate values.

Wanting to make friends and fit in, Elissa meets Tyler (Nolan Gerard Funk), who invites her to a party. But things don’t turn out well and she begins to walk home. That’s when Ryan drives by and offers her a ride home, so she reluctantly accepts. She learns that he is really a nice guy, just misunderstood, and they begin to grow close. However, Sarah is suspicious of him and goes out of her way to let him know it.

Rumor has it that Ryan’s sister Carrie Anne, who was responsible for the death of their parents, is hiding out in the woods, which is a creepy thought. But just maybe things aren’t what they appear to be.

This didn’t turn out to be the predictable film I thought it was going to be, it was actually better. Not great, but decent. I don’t regret having seen it. It’s hard to know whose side to be on here, or who is good or bad. It’s not clear-cut. Jennifer Lawrence is good as Elissa. I think this came out before she got onto the A list. I’ll give it 3 Stars

Wednesday Briefs: October 12, 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 Eleven by Cia Nordwell
 

“Are you all right?”  

I stopped and stared at Garjah. He sat on the edge of the bed in our quarters, and I was pacing in front of him. “You’re asking me that?”  

He still had that look in his eyes at times when he wasn’t talking to someone. It was like the world grew still around him, and he froze. I tried to always be close when that happened, and touch him gently, pulling Garjah back to reality in a way that would soothe him and keep those around us safe.  

Deep dents marred one wall where he’d lashed

 
 

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