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New Year and Movie Review of “Lovely Bones”

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

I hope you have had a good and rest filled holiday season.  I myself did, and it gave me some time for looking at what I want out of life, professionally.  I tried working a telecommuting job, and thought I did a good job of it.  Unfortunately, the job didn’t really fit the idea of common sense ratings, so it didn’t last long.  It did reinforce the idea that I want to work from home, because I really enjoy doing that.  Call me anti-social, but I seem to perform better when not constantly around other people.   That wasn’t quite enough, however.  So, I decided to begin working as a freelancer, specializing in writing, voice acting, editor/proofreader, and database entry.  Each one I feel I am well qualified for, although the first three are my preferred choices.  As time goes on, I’m sure there will be some changes, but those three will always be right at the top.  We’ll see how things work out.

So, if you are in need of a writer, voice actor, or editor/profreader, please message me.  I promise, I will impress.

Last night, I was able to do something I haven’t been able to in a while, watch movies with my wife.  One of the movies was one on my “To Watch” list, “The Lovely Bones”.   The movie, based on the book by Alice Sebold, follows a teenager named Susie Salmon who is murdered early in the story by a neighbor.  She provides narration on her family as they get the news of her death, attempt to deal with it, and try to figure out who the murderer is.  As the story weaves, we also see how Susie deals with her death and works her way to acceptance so she can move on.

The story is a very compelling one, and I thought Mark Wahlberg did a convincing turn as a distraught willing to do whatever it takes to find the killer and bring him to justice.  Stanley Tucci also puts in a good performance as the murderous neighbor, whose identity we know from the beginning.  As good of a drama as I found it, the ending seemed to leave something feel unfinished somehow.  It folds the story up in a neat fashion, but there appeared to be missing something.  I do recommend watching it, especially if you like light thrillers and dramas.

Now it’s time for me to run off and get some more work done.  Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis


Graphic Novel Review — Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Last week was a busy one, so I opted to take the week off from the blog.  Apologies for that.

This week I started training for a new part-time job that allows me to work from home, which fits into my desire to be Mr. Mom with our little man.  The flexibility of the schedule also works for writing and audiobook work as well, so I’m happy for that.

It’s no secret that I’m a big Batman fan.  In the past couple of weeks, a continuation of the Frank Miller classic, The Dark Knight Returns, was released.  It takes place well after Bruce Wayne faked his death in a fight against Superman.  Superman has disappeared from the world, and Wonder Woman is busy leading the Amazons of Themyscira and raising her children.  Her eldest daughter, Lara, goes to visit the frozen form of her father in his Fortress of Solitude, when she receives a distress message from the bottled up city of Kandor.  She takes the city to an expert in resizing people and things — Dr. Ray Palmer, AKA The Atom — to figure out a way to rescue the miniaturized citizens and return them to their correct height.  When Dr. Palmer succeeds, he is horrified to find that those he resized are members of a Kryptonian cult whose aim is to subjugate the Earth with themselves as the gods and goddesses.  Standing in the way are Batman and other members of the Justice League, who are pulled back into the fray.  Sadly, Lara, is convinced by the cult leader to join them in their conquest of the planet.  Can Earth’s heroes stop a large group of crazed Kryptonians, or is this humanity’s final hour?

When it comes to the Frank Miller penned Batman comics, they tend to be hit or miss.  I have enjoyed his later Batman stories with an elderly Bruce Wayne still doing his best to be a hero.  They tend to be much darker and more violent, but it fits the story format.  The Kryptonian cult make excellent villains and the way they pull Superman and Wonder Woman’s daughter to their side works well.  You get a feeling of helplessness in the beginning of the story as you see what the cult members do to take out the heroes, and that is a major part of what makes this a very compelling tale.  I had a hard time putting it down, but a person needs to sleep sometime, right?  🙂

I definitely recommend this graphic novel to any and all DC Comics and Batman fans.  It is well worth the read.

Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Animated Series Review — Castlevania Season 1

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

It has been an interesting week here at the Casa.  Plans for the near future are firming up regarding home repairs and the job front.  Pending a background check, I should be starting a new telecommuting job next week, which pairs up well with me being Mr. Mom.  Fingers crossed about that.

I am still actively looking for new audiobook recording projects, so if you have any suggestions of authors to work with, please share them.  Also, writing is becoming more regular, with some more stories to submit this weekend.  No takers as of yet, but not giving up after getting some accepted before.  I believe in myself as a storyteller, although some days less so than others.  I hear from other writer friends of mine that it is a common feeling.  But, enough about me.  Let’s get to the main course.

Normally, I don’t get a lot of free enough time to catch a new season, let alone a new series right when it debuts.  When I saw that Netflix came out with Castlevania, however, I felt it was something I really needed to check out right away.  Just a little history, this was the first horror themed game I remember playing as a kid, and I spent a good amount of time back in the early days of Nintendo playing it.  Keep in mind, this was back before you could save your progress and you were given only so many continues once your lives were depleted.  I will admit, I was never able to defeat the monster Dracula became after you beat the humanoid version of him.  My love for the game series has continued to this day with some of the later versions, so watching the series was a no-brainer.

The series starts with a woman demanding to meet Dracula, but not to destroy him.  She is a firm believer in science, and sees him as a kindred spirit to her in their heavily superstitious and religious world.  She asks for him to teach her and share the wonders of his mind and the natural world.  He agrees, and they eventually marry.  She helps him find the humanity inside and convinces him to go see the world as a man instead of as the vampire.  When he returns to his home, he finds it destroyed and his wife taken by the townspeople, at the behest of the local Catholic bishop.  Even moving at the speed of a vampire, he is unable to save her from being burned at the stake for witchcraft.  Distraught, Dracula warns the townspeople that they have one year to make peace with themselves and God.  On the anniversary of his wife’s death, he unleashes the full power of his monster hoards on the town.

Trevor Belmont is the tarnished hero of the series.  His family has been excommunicated by the Church for working with devilish devices in their fight against Dracula and his hoards over the centuries.  He is now a drunkard willing to work for food and drink.  When he sees a pair of priests acting as enforcers threatening harassing and threatening an old man, he steps in to intervene.  After much violence, the priests are chased off, and Trevor finds out that the old man is a member of an order called The Speakers, monks who follow prophecies more than the commands of the Catholic church.  Even though their mission is to help the citizens in their fight against Dracula, the church claims they are the reason for the attacks, that the only way to stop the monsters is to kill all of the Speakers.  Trevor, as a way to help the order, agrees to help them find a missing member in exchange for leaving town for their own safety.

I don’t want to go too much further into the series without giving away spoilers, but lets just say that Trevor finds the hero inside and allies he never thought of.  It is a bloody show, which is to be expected considering the source material.  I liked that they fully embraced the Vlad Tepes (a/k/a Vlad the Impaler, Vlad III) link to Dracula, mostly because it shows just how vicious in torture that he can be.  At the same time, you feel sympathetic to him as he is acting out in revenge for the wife the townspeople murdered.  Some additional historic details they included was how much of a villain the Catholic church was back in that era.  If you dared to go against the church edicts, which history says was more about control and power back then, you faced excommunication, death, or both.

As for the animation, I thought it really well done, akin to many of the other anime geared toward adult audiences and very well crafted.  Story wise, it was a nice build up for an origin story, which was basically what the four episodes are.  I wished the season was longer than that, but it was announced the same day the series was released that a second season was greenlit by Netflix.  I definitely look forward to the next season, where I hope they get into more of the meat of the story.  If you have Netflix and are an anime fan, I recommend this series, although not for your kids if they are under twelve or thirteen.  It might just give them nightmares.

Until next time, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review — “Clade” by James Bradley

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a relatively busy two weeks, chock full of appointments and some other changes. While I can’t go into the latter at this time, I promise to provide more info in the weeks to come, once some of them gel a little further. Aside from that, my wife and I celebrated our second anniversary and our youngest son’s first birthday. The weather is finally changing to something more conducive to creation for me, so be on the lookout for some more news on that front. Now, without further ado, this week’s review of “Clade”, by James Bradley.

The story starts in an unspecified time, but seems to be around present time since the effects of climate change are just being studied. It follows the life of a family during the course of their lifetime, sometimes as seen through the eyes of those outside of the family. The picture painted shows not just how the family adapts to major world-changing events,but humanity as a whole. Whether it is hurricanes and flooding in Great Britain, a worldwide pandemic, increased scrutiny and distrust of foreigners and immigrants, and… sorry, can’t give away spoilers.

This story, as I read it, reminded me a lot of “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke. It gave a long-term view of how humanity changes, given major events, and the possibilities of what to expect. It isn’t a science fiction story chock full of action, like most tend to be, but there are some instances where it does occur and it fits in very organically. The flow seemed a little slow at times, but none that feels even the least bit out-of-place. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and it is very much a change of pace compared to most that I’ve read. It is definitely a good read if you like powerful science fiction that makes you think.

Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review — ‘Handling the Undead”

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Well, it has been a busy week here at the Casa. I finally finished the audiobook that was delayed by so many life events and am just waiting for it to be approved. I will let you know as soon as it becomes available. I also have begun submitting short stories for open anthologies and magazines with hopes that they will accepted. I’ve also started recording auditions for other audiobooks with the hope that, between the writing and the recording, it can become a good source of income on top of what we already have coming in. Stay tuned to the blog for updates as they come.

Last week also saw the return of one of my stories in an anthology with the release of “Horrific Beginnings” by The Horror Society. My contribution to the book is “Blood Bank”, a story about what happens when a banker attempts to foreclose on a house that is home to a vampire brothel. He learns just how bad of an idea that turns out to be. You can purchase the book online by searching for it on, or by clicking here.

This week, we take a look at a zombie tale, but not one that follows the mainstream version of the reanimated — “Handling the Undead” by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It is in Sweden and a strange energy pulse has swept through the country, and the dead are rising from their graves. Unlike the typical zombie stories, they are not out for flesh or brains as sustenance. In fact, they are only wandering around aimlessly, but this still does not sit well with the living at all. No one knows what to make of it other than it is localized to their country and only to those who have died within a couple of months of the day of awakening. As if that isn’t enough to cause chaos, people start being able to read each other’s minds when they are within the proximity of the reawakened. The question remains, how does one handle the undead?

I thought this was a good alternative take on the zombie genre we have been inundated with over the past few years. To have the reanimated be in such small numbers and not try to make a snack out of the living is very refreshing. That being said, the story itself is one that does feel like it dragged at times. To me, it might have done with a little more action somehow, perhaps more from the living than the dead. The way the story ended was a fitting way and one that left the story open enough for a sequel, one which I would gladly read. This story is definitely a recommend from me, 3.5 out of 5.

Until next, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Back on schedule, Big News, and “The Great Divide” Review

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Summer is starting to wind down, so it is time to get back on schedule for this blog. As important as this is to me, the extra time with my sons is much more so. Now, on to the current events and the book review.

The big news coming out of last week for me is that I have another story out in the wild. The short story collection, “Horrific Beginnings”, is available through Amazon and contains the first printed stories from myself and other members of The Horror Society. This particular book contains my short, “Blood Bank”, originally published in “Fresh Blood: Vampire Writers Support Group Anthology No.1” The story is about what happens when a bank decides to foreclose on a brothel run by vampires. Check out “Horrific Beginnings” and leave a review if you get a chance. I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as we enjoyed writing them.

This week, I wanted to do a review of a comic book that I hadn’t heard of before, but is one that definitely caught my attention from the moment I began reading it. The series is called “The Great Divide: Separation Is Survival Is Separation”, and it is an apocalyptic story, but not one we’ve really seen done before. It looks at what happens to the world when you can literally kill someone with a touch of your finger. As is the case in many of the zombie stories and other end of the world plagues, what happens comes out of nowhere and changes the world in an instant. The slightest touch of one person to the next causes violent death by explosive bleeding, at least that’s the best way to term it. As if losing the ability to touch others isn’t enough of a trauma, you also pick up the mind of the person you’ve killed in this manner and they stay with you. It is enough to drive people mad, and in most cases of this story, it does just that. This, as you can imagine, spawns cults and depraved gangs thirsty for blood and violence (a la the Mad Max movies).

The book is a collection of the first six issues of the series. As I said earlier, it is one that captures your attention from the get go and doesn’t release you, not even when you come to the end of the book. It makes you want to read more and see what happens in this world, whether there is a cure for what’s happened or not. However, it is not one I recommend for younger children as there is a considerable amount of blood spurting from eyes and other orifices, as well as a decent amount of nudity involved. Aside from that little warning, this is definitely a book worth checking out. I, myself, cannot wait to pick up more volumes and the comic book series as well.

Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Still here!

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Apologies for not getting a post out last week. My sons were here for their two week summer visit with me, and I decided to give them the attention and skip a week on here. There will not be a review this week as I'm just finishing up my time with them, but I will be back next Thursday with a review of "Handling the Undead" by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Hopefully, I will also be able to share some good news on the story front.

Until next week…

D.J. Pitsiladis

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