Tag Archives: Julie Lynn Hayes

Wednesday Briefs: August 10, 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 #35 (7.3) by Julie Lynn Hayes

By my reckoning, we were maybe an hour and a half, more or less, from our destination of Imperial, Georgia.  Smooth sailing, right? Drop Sarah and Alex off at her friend Mercy’s place, bid the pair a fond farewell. Maybe talk about future plans to get together once all this was behind everyone, particularly Benny. Not to mention Sarah and her again ex—did that make him an ex twice removed or something? Then continue on to Atlanta, spend a couple of days at a hotel with Benny until it was time for him to testify and put his own ex away for a very long time (lot of exes going on here, I’ve noticed. Glad I don’t have any).

And then I heard Sarah ask, “Ethan, can we get off at that rest area? Alex needs to go.”

How could a trip that seemed so short take so long?

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Book Review: Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An), translated by Robert van Gulik

Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An)     

Author: Robert van Gulik (Translator)

Publisher: Dover Publications

American release date: June 1, 1976

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Detective/237 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

In the first half of the seventh century AD, during the Tang dynasty, Judge Dee (Dee Jen-djieh) is appointed magistrate of Chang-Ping.  Dee has four assistants. His chief assistant is Hoong Liang, known as Sergeant Hoong, whom he has known since he was a small boy. Two others, Ma Joong and Chiao Tai,  are of special use in the dangerous task of apprehending criminals and were once “brothers of the green woods”…that is, highway robbers. His fourth lieutenant is Tao Gan, a reformed swindler.

Those who wish to avail themselves of the tribunal when it is not currently sitting do so by striking a gong, alerting the magistrate that he is need to adjudicate. One morning this is done by Koong Wan-deh from the Six Mile Village, where he owns a hostel. According to his tale, two silk merchants stayed at his hostel overnight and left the next morning. Apparently they were robbed and murdered on their way out of town. The village warden, Pang Deh, believing that Koong had killed the two and dragged their bodies to the road to avert suspicion from himself, dragged the bodies back to the hostel and accused the hostel owner of their murder. So he hastened to the tribunal to set matters straight.

While investigating this case, Judge Dee disguises himself as a physician and heads to the town in question. In the course of selling his drugs, he is approached by an older woman with a sad tale involving the death of her son. Deciding this case needs a closer examination, Dee accompanies the woman to the house. All the while, she extols the virtues of her late son’s wife, so grief-stricken that she shuts herself up in her room for most of the day, a serious widow. Dee suspects there is more to this case than meets the eye.

A third case concerns the death of a beautiful young bride on her wedding night. The distraught father of the groom blames a young man who was present at the teasing of the couple, whose jests went too far. He accuses the young man of being jealous of the bride and thus killing her by an unknown poison.

Chinese detective stories have their own unique style, a direct result of the culture in which they were written. Many of them begin with the knowledge of who the criminal is, although that is not the case with these stories. The translator, Van Gulik, has written an introduction to the volume as well as extensive notes. I would definitely recommend you read the introduction, as it provides valuable as well as interesting insight into the stories.

These three stories intertwine, and were definitely fun to read. This is my first time reading Judge Dee, although I know a little of the character having seen two Detective Dee films (based on the same character). It is also important to note that in Chinese courts, it is not uncommon for them to torture witnesses in order to get them to confess, and such is the case here. That being said, these stories are well written as are the characters. They are very interesting, and I enjoyed figuring out the mysteries involved (sad to say I don’t believe I guessed correctly on any of them). I look forward to reading more of the series. This is a must read if you enjoy detective stories as well as stories involving Chinese culture.

Saturday is Horror Day #73 – The Great Hypnotist, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 The Great Hypnotist

Xu Ruining (Zheng Xu) is a successful psychologist who specializes in hypnotherapy. His former teacher, Professor Fang (Zhong Lü) refers a rather troublesome patient to him, Ren Xiaoyan (Karen Mok). Red has been to other therapists, but no one believes her when she says she can see dead people. Dr Xu doesn’t especially seem to believe her either, but he’s determined to get to the bottom of her problems, which involve having been abandoned as a child and left in an orphanage, even as he tells her that no one leaves his office without having been cured.

Sounds like a challenge, but which one will come out on top?

This is a beautifully filmed, well-acted and well-written thriller about two protagonists who are both strong-willed and determined. The plot and the characters suck you in until you don’t know which side to believe. Does Ren really see dead people? Can Dr Xu bring her back to reality? It seems as though the more he tries, the more he is sucked into her reality. Is it reality or is it something else?

 

You may remember Zheng Xu (Dr Wu) from another film I recently reviewed, Lost in Hong Kong. This 

role is like night and day from that other one, showing the actor’s versatility. I’ll have to look for more of his films.  I enjoyed watching this film and will give it 4 solid Stars.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Evelyn Wang’s (Michelle Yeoh) life is not quite the way she once pictured it. She and her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) own a failing laundromat. Her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is at odds with her, and Evelyn can’t bring herself to tell her aging father, Gong Gong (James Hong) who lives with them, that Joy has a girlfriend. The business is being audited by the IRS. Evelyn, Waymond and Gong Gong go to the office to meet with agent Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis). And that’s when everything begins… to change?

Evelyn finds her attention is wandering from Deirdre and her incessant complaints, when she finds herself looking at a strange note telling her to do strange things, such as put her shoes on the wrong feet and think herself inside the janitor’s closet. When she does, she finds herself with a man who looks like her husband but who says he is from another universe, and it is up to her to save the world…

 

Say what?

To say this movie is a wild ride would be an understatement, and on the surface it seems chaotic and 

erratic as Evelyn tries to make sense out of everything, but in so doing she learns to come to terms with her own life and the people in it. Great cast and imaginative writing make this sci-fi thriller is sure to become a cult classic. It requires multiple viewings, I think, and I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see it in the theater. I hear it was mind-blowing. I give this film 4.5 Stars.

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 13 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 13     

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 1, 2008

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga//2 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

It’s a sink-or-swim moment for Ren! He has to convince both the President of LME as well as the director of the film that he can play Katsuki not only well but better than his predecessor. Mostly he has to convince Lory, who knows him too well to think he can accomplish this. Ren requests to ad lib a scene, expressing his confidence that his co-star Itsumi will not only be able to do so, he will make her react the way he wants her to. The scene begins…where will it end? Most importantly, will Lory approve?

Afterward, Kyoko is amazed that Lory has figured out that Ren is in love with a girl…although she is clueless to the fact that the girl is her! Mr Yoshiro suspects the truth, and tries to give Kyoko a clue, but the poor girl remains oblivious to his hints. When Kyoko offers Ren the precious stone she once received from Corn (whom she believes to have been a fairy but was actually Ren), what will he do?

Most of this volume is taken up with Ren’s test, but it’s well worth the price of admission to watch him in action, drawing on newly discovered although unadmitted feelings for Kyoko. Between the two of them, they don’t have a clue! Guess we have to wait to find out which one catches on first!

Great volume, can’t wait for more!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 68 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 68   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 1, 2016

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Yhwach has slain the god Reio – his own father! Or has he? Kiskue has called an emergency meeting of the captains, although they don’t all show up, some being dispatched on other business. And some, such as Kenpachi, being laid up. Kiskue’s purpose is for them to storm Reiokyu. Yhwach kindly offers to lay Ichigo to rest by his own hands. Does anyone think even for a moment Ichigo will take him up on his “generous” offer? Not likely! The Visoreds assemble as well, and are given Soul Reaper uniforms.

Yhwach tells Ichigo that if he pulls the sword from Reio, he can destroy the Soul Society with his own hands. He appeals to the Quincy blood that flows through Ichigo. As the world begins to tremble, Orihime offers to heal Reio, but is told that cannot work. This is when Ukitake steps up and offers to take Reio’s place! Say what? How does that even work? And what effect will that have on Ukitake, who is fragile at the best of times?

Meanwhile, Shunsui has business of his own to attend to. He is attempting to make a deal with the devil, aka Aizen, still confined far beneath the barracks. He offers to bring him to the surface under certain conditions, in return for which he will use his spiritual pressure to aid the Soul Society. As Ichigo argues with Yhwach, Uryu appears, but his appearance seems to be no cause for joy because, as he puts it, “I am a Quincy.”

Will Ukitake’s sacrifice be in vain? Will Uryu prove to be a traitor to his friends? Will Shunsui really be able to control Aizen, and will Aizen be of aid to the Soul Society? Holy cow, so much going on. With each volume, we draw closer to the end. I have to believe Ichigo et al will triumph, but there are no guarantees, especially in a manga.

Onward to the next volume!

 

Wednesday Briefs: August 3, 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.

The Garret Farm: Part 38 by J Ray Lamb

Murphy was sitting in his office crunching the new financials when Trent charged through the door.

“God dammit Garret, do you have to tell EVERYONE about my sex life?” bellowed Trent as he made his way to Murphy’s desk.

Murphy looked up with a bemused smirk but didn’t say anything until after Trent had walked right up to his desk.

“You assume that I told Chris about your sex life? Think about Trent. Chris is one of Sandy’s friends from school. She likely knows all the gruesome details.” Murphy said as he stood up, “Now, get out of my office…

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Film Review: Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Dee Renjie (Mark Chao) is newly arrived in the Imperial Capital with the intention of joining the Court of Judicature and Revision. There is tension in the city due to the attack of a mysterious sea monster which destroyed many ships. Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) has charged Yuchi (Feng Shaofeng) with solving the problem within ten days. A courtesan is also arriving in the city, Yin Ruiji (Angelababy), who is to be a sacrifice to the creature. Dee overhears a plot to kidnap her. As he fights the kidnappers, Yin is kidnapped another sea creature who is more humanoid than the one she is meant to be sacrificed to. Dee rescues her and the creature escapes. Yuchi has Dee arrested and Yin put into protective custody, but Dee is able to escape with the aid of a friendly medical assistant Shatuo (Lin Gengxin).

Yin is visited by the sea creature again, which is when she realizes who he is – her missing lover, Yuan Zhen (Kim Bum). Masked thugs attack the house, but luckily, Dee, Yuchi, and Shatuo arrive to save the day and Dee is able to rescue Yuchi. Yin covers for Yuan so he can escape, then tells Dee the truth abut her lover. Dee, using his remarkable powers of deduction, deduces that the culprits come from the small war-ridden nation of Dondo, who plan to use Yuan to poison the imperial tea and kill the emperor. They find Yuan and take him to the Imperial Doctor Wang Pu (Kun Chen), who uncovers the cause of Yuan’s transformation and is able to cure him.

 

But how to deal with the enormous sea dragon that is still menacing the kingdom?

This film takes place before Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame. This is Dee’s first case and Mark Chao’s first appearance as the detective. I loved this film from the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed the first film and was not disappointed with this one. The action is fast-paced, young Dee is as delightful as his older self, and just as clever. Watching him square off against the Empress is a delight. Keep a special eye out for the appearance of Kun Chen as Doctor Wang Pu. He is just delightful (and he has a monkey arm. You’ll have to watch to find out why).

 

There is a third movie in the series, and hopefully will be others, and I will watch it, for sure. In the meantime, I’ll give this film a strong 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #72 – The Perfect Host, The Grudge 3

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 The Perfect Host

 

Career criminal John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) is in a bit of a pickle. Injured in a bank robbery, he’s on the lam, seeking shelter and relief for his pain. An attempt to buy the product he needs at a small store goes horribly awry when it’s held up by someone else. His name and picture are unexpectedly being broadcast on the news, so he has to lie low. Limping into a fairly posh neighborhood, he spots a postcard from Australia in a mailbox, and it’s signed Julia. He goes to the door, pretending to be a friend of Julia’s. The homeowner, Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce) turns him away at first because he is busy and is going to host a dinner party. But then he relents and admits Taylor.

 

Distraught over John’s predicament, as the robber claims to not be able to reach his cousin, not to mention he’s been mugged, and he’s injured, Warwick insists he stay for dinner. John decides he doesn’t like Warwick’s attitude in regard to the mess he’s making on Warwick’s floor with his still bleeding foot. When his description goes out over the radio, John knows the game is up and threatens to kill Warwick if he doesn’t shut up and let him spend the night. Just one night.

That’s when things go rather sideways…

 

This is a very clever, very entertaining film, with a wickedly unexpected performance by David Hyde 

Pierce. If you only know him as Niles Crane, younger brother of Frasier Crane, be prepared to see a different side of the actor. The story is full of twists and turns, the writing is very enjoyable, and everyone does a great job. But the star of this show is undoubtedly Hyde Pierce. I didn’t see a lot of this coming. My advice is to not assume anything, simply go with the flow. I give this film 4.5 Stars.

 

The Grudge 3

In a Chicago apartment building where a family was brutally murdered, things are not going well. Tenants are leaving – not surprisingly – and times are tough. A group of siblings are trying to hold on, Max (Gil McKinney), the building manager, and his two sisters, Lisa (Johanna Braddy) and Rose (Jadie Rose Hobson). Lisa is about to leave for an internship in New York. Excited at the prospect, she finds every opportunity to have sex with her boyfriend Andy (Beau Mirchoff) in various vacant apartments in the building, almost including the one where the family died. Rose is just a young girl with medical issues of the breathing variety. She is often cared for by older neighbor Gretchen (Marina Sirtis).  Max is feeling the pressure of Lisa’s imminent departure as well as the pressure put on him by the building owner to get new tenants or he will bring in a management company and Max will be out of a job.

In Tokyo, Kayako (Aiko Horiuchi) realizes that bad things are happening in the apartment building in Chicago, things that are the fault of her sister, Naoko (Emi Ikehata). Against the wishes of her husband, she flies to Chicago and applies for an apartment in order to have a pretext to enter the building. Lisa discovers a woman taking pictures in the dead family’s apartment. She turns out to be Dr. Sullivan (Shawnee Smith) the doctor of the only surviving member of the tragedy, Jake (Matthew Knight).  Lisa is dismayed to learn of Jake’s death. Also, Rose has spoken of seeing a boy in the building, but there are no boys there.

 

More bad things begin to happen, including the death of Gretchen, and tensions are rising. Is the grudge being carried on, and how can it be ended? Kayako knows that she is the key to that.

 

To be very honest, this film was neither very interesting nor scary, and the writing and acting left something to be desired. I thought Jake was overacting from the moment I saw him and it was very annoying. The others almost seem fresh out of acting school. Rose is tolerable, though. I watched it because I want to watch the whole series. Luckily it’s short, only an hour and a half. I hope the next (and last) entry in the series is better. I have some hope because it features Demian Bechir, whom I like. In the meantime, I give this film 2 shaky Stars.

Wednesday Briefs: July 27, 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 #33 (7.1) by Julie Lynn Hayes

I found I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman I’d seen at the rest stop. Her image haunted me, superimposed with memories of she-who-won’t-be named… okay, by she I do mean Caroline St. Clair—well known actress and major nutty bitch. An intense feeling of déjà vu had washed over me when I’d seen her, a sensation that would not quit.

So I did what any sensible person would do. You mean forget about it, you ask? Have you met me? Of course that wasn’t my first impulse. Instead I decided to call the person most likely to know if certain crazy actresses were still locked up or not. Troy McGarrett, of course. Handsome Hollywood heartthrob and good friend to aforementioned crazy actress.

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 67 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 67     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 1, 2016

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

And now on the scene we have Askin Nakk le Vaar – Stern Ritter “D” for Death Dealing. He can calculate the lethal dose of any substance for any person and adjust it accordingly, as he explains to Oh-etsu Nimaiya, but perhaps he has underestimated the Soul Reaper. Some of the Stern Ritter are dismayed to learn that Yhwach has gone above… without them. Does this mean they are unnecessary and rather expendable?  It appears that one of Yhwach’s powers is the Consecration – “collecting the lives and powers of unnecessary Quincies and distributing them to those who need it”. Hmmm, seems as though Yhwach is not exactly a humane ruler, is he? Can someone explain why these fools are following him?

Meanwhile, back at the Seireitei, Shunsui speculates about whether the broken structures will return to the way they were once the enemy is defeated. Ukitake says if not, they will rebuild them. Shunsui then tells Ukitake not to push himself, but he is just going to go to Room 46… whatever that means.

In the Reiokyu,  Zero Squad member Ichibe Hyosube is up at bat. He tells Yhwach that he shall contain him within certain parameters. The Quincy predicts the Soul Reaper will die three steps short of his goal.  Hyosube tells Yhwach not to say his name so lightly and proceeds to slap him with Thousand Ri Heavenly Hand.

The Visoreds, including Yoruichi’s sister, arrive to find only Uruhara, Yoruichi having left with Ichigo and the others. Yushiro is dismayed as she has brought items she thought might be of assistance to her sister. Nothing to be done about it now. Yelling at Kiskue might feel good but gets them nowhere. Hyosube has a power he calls paint it black and involves a sword with no name. Yhwach seems dismayed… until he announces he has just opened his eyes. What does that even mean? And what is this power The Almighty? Will Ichigo and the others arrive in time, or is all doomed?

It’s hard to tell where the balance of power lies at this moment. While it seems as though the Quincies hold all the good cards, and the Zero Squad is putting up a valiant fight, yet we know that somehow Ichigo will save the day – he’s the hero, it’s what he does. The only question is how. And again, I repeat, what part will Uryu play in this? Right now it appears as though he has totally gone over to the Quincies. However I believe that appearances are quite deceptive. Uryu is often hard to read and somewhat of a stubborn cuss, but I think that in the end, he will not betray his friends.

Also, what is Shunsui up to?

Just gotta wait and see! Next volume coming up!