#AmericanHorrorStory–Test of Strength

The Details

  • Jimmy gets the twins back.
  • The twins keep Elsa’s secret. Bette wants the royal treatment. Dot wants money for separation surgery.
  • Richard blackmails Dell into killing a freak.
  • When Dell fails to kill Eve, Jimmy talks to him about leaving the show before he gets murdered. Ethel wants justice the only way they can get it, by taking it into their own hands.
  • Jimmy tells Dell he knows that Dell is his father. They get roaring drunk, and it seems unlikely that Dell will be leaving.
  • Penny’s father turns her into a freak, so she can be with Paul.
  • Dell kills Ma Petite.

The Big Q

Is justice ever transcendent?

The Impact

Ethel has a poignant conversation with Jimmy about how the police will not help Eve after Dell assaults her. She says that hope is meaningless, and that the only way to get justice is to take control. Richard can’t get Maggie to kill a freak, so he takes control of Dell to do it. Dot and Bette take control of Elsa after she wronged them. Penny’s father takes control of Penny one last time before she flees to Paul. And in the end, to save his own skin, Dell kills Ma Petite, the shows most hopeful, optimistic character. Maybe Ethel was right, that justice only exists within a community, but never transcends beyond it.

Gothic Revival Blog Tour & Giveaway

CarsonBuckingham_GothicRevival_front_cover_forpublicityWelcome to Carson Buckingham whose book, Gothic Revival, is on spotlight today. Here’s the synopsis:

Alex and Leo Renfield are a husband and wife contractor team who’ve recently moved to the village of Woodhaven, Connecticut to escape the chaos of life in New York. Pretty close to broke, they meet Theodora Hamilton, a somewhat unsavory and odd individual, who offers them an astronomical amount of money to repaint the first floor of her family home.

But along with the huge paycheck comes a set of unsettling rules that must be followed explicitly if they are to accept the offer; one of which is they must reside on the property having no direct contact with the outside world until the job is complete.

Is Theodora Hamilton just an eccentric woman with a peculiar way of doing things, or is there a more sinister agenda that Alex and Leo are unaware of? What exactly does she have in store for this down-on-their-luck couple who have no choice but to accept the offer and the strange requirements that come along with it?

Chapter One

“Happy Anniversary, honey!” Alex cried, throwing her arms around her husband, Leo, as he emerged from his Silverado.

“Happy Anniversary yourself,” he replied, kissing the top of her head. He held her with one arm because the other was behind his back.

“What’s back there?”

Leo looked defeated. “It’s not much, and I’m sorry it’s not. You deserve so much more than this,” he said, revealing the huge bouquet of spring flowers.

“They’re just beautiful! Where did you get them?”

“They were stolen with love, let’s put it that way.”

“You didn’t.”

“Oh, yes I did.”

“The park in Southfield?”

“That flowerbed needed some thinning, anyhow.”

Alex laughed out loud, picturing this giant of a man sneaking around the park, picking flowers. “These flowers mean more to me than anything you could buy from a store, Leo. Thank you.”

“Let’s go inside before the neighbors call the cops. I hear you get three-to-five for flower stealing,” Leo said.

“Okay. I have something for you, too.”

“Well, yeah, I was counting on that.”

“I mean a present.”

“So do I.”

“One track mind.”

“I like that track,” he said, slapping her butt.

Once he was seated in the living room and the flowers were in water and on the table, she handed him his present. “Hope you like it.”

“Sweetie, we don’t have the money for you to be buying me anything.”

“I know. I made it while you were out looking for jobs.”

His smile could light up the world. “You did? You really made something?”

“Yes, but I guess you could say it’s sort of a self-serving gift,” Alex said.

“It’s almost too pretty to open.” Leo fingered the delicate pale blue rice paper wrapping. “Almost.” He tore off the paper and metallic silver bow. “Oh, this is great! You made us a sign.”

“Yep. I used the router and it was easy. Before I met you, I hand-carved everything.”

Leo flipped the sign over and laughed when he saw that Alex had burned a small “AR” into the lower right corner at the back of it. “Aha! Now you’re learning,” he exclaimed.

Leo made it a practice to put his initials somewhere on all the woodwork he did. They were unobtrusive and you’d have to be looking for them to see them, but they were always there somewhere. Alex thought it was a nice idea. Why should artists have a corner on signing their work?

“You’re such a natural with wood, Alex. You’re going to be a huge help once we get some work to do. ‘October’s End Remodeling, Inc. Leo & Alex Renfield,’” Leo read from the two-lined sign.

“Speaking of work, how did the estimate go?”

Leo sighed. “Oh, you know. It’s a little old lady who thinks she wants her whole bathroom remodeled, and I spend forty-five minutes with her before she tells me that her son-in-law does ‘this sort of thing’ as a sideline, but just can’t seem to find the time to do her job.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound bad, if she needs to get it done. Could be work for us.”

Leo shook his head. “Maybe, but unlikely. I’ve seen this kind of thing a million times before. I spend my time going out to talk to her, I spend my time writing up an estimate, and she takes the estimate to her son-in-law, or whoever, and he looks at it and says, ‘I’ll do it for five hundred less,’ and that’s that as far as October’s End goes. All she wanted was an estimate she can take somewhere else. Forget the fact that we use the best materials and have skills honed over most of my life and part of yours. And forget the fact that if sonny boy screws up the job, she has absolutely no recourse. All she’ll see is that the job is going to cost her five hundred or three hundred to whatever amount less, and she’ll go with that.”

“Crap. It sounded so good, too,” Alex sighed, punching the sofa cushion.

“Don’t worry, sweetie. Something’s bound to break soon. I’ve gone on a dozen estimates over the past couple of weeks. One of ’em’s going to hit, I just know it. But for now, why don’t you go put on that pretty purple silk dress I gave you for your birthday? We’re going out to celebrate tonight.”

“Oh, honey, that’s a nice thought, but how can we? Dinners out are a bit extravagant right now, don’t you think? I can whip something up here… really,” Alex said.

“No way. I found a really chea… inexpensive place to get terrific Chinese food. All the area contractors go there. I heard about it from a fella at Home Depot.”

“Then let’s give it a try. However it is, tonight it will be fabulous.”

“That’s my girl.” Leo was so pleased that he forgot all about how odd it was that there was only one person in the entire Home Depot store.

Gothic Revival can be found online at major retailers including:


US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Italy | Spain | Japan | Mexico | India | Brazil

Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Amazon Print | iTunes


CarsonBuckingham_PhotoCarson Buckingham knew from childhood that she wanted to be a writer, and began, at age six, by writing books of her own, hand-drawing covers, and selling them to any family member who would pay (usually a gum ball) for what she referred to as “classic literature.” When she ran out of relatives, she came to the conclusion that there was no real money to be made in self-publishing, so she studied writing and read voraciously for the next eighteen years, while simultaneously collecting enough rejection slips to re-paper her living room… twice.

When her landlord chucked her out for, in his words, “making the apartment into one hell of a downer,” she redoubled her efforts and collected four times the rejection slips in half the time, single-handedly causing the first paper shortage in U.S. history.

But she persevered, improved greatly over the years, and here we are.

Carson Buckingham has been a professional proofreader, editor, newspaper reporter, copywriter, technical writer, comedy writer, humorist, and fiction author. Besides writing, she loves to read and work in her vegetable garden. She lives in the United States in the state of Arizona.

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Win 1 of 5 digital copies of Gothic Revival by Carson Buckingham!



Carol and Daryl go to save Beth.

The Details

  • Carol takes Daryl to stay at a domestic violence shelter she stayed at before.
  • Carol tries to tell Daryl about the girls, but he insists on a fresh start.
  • Noah robs Carol and Daryl. Daryl stops Carol from shooting him.
  • They survive a van dropping off the bridge.
  • Carol and Daryl talk about how they’ve changed since their separation. Carol says their identities have been burned away. Daryl says, “We ain’t ashes.”
  • They catch up with Noah. Daryl wants to leave him pinned under a bookshelf, but Carol insists they save him.
  • Carol gets taken by the evil hospital people, so Daryl has to return to the camp with Noah.

The Big Q

If “we ain’t ashes,” as Daryl says, then what are we?

The Impact

We’re the smoke. There are three smoke-watching scenes in this episode (the prison, the shelter, and Terminus), one legal pad fire, and one cigarette. If the fire represents the changes we endure and ashes represent our pasts, then we are the smoke rising above. As we find our true identities, who we are is easier to see from any distance. We’re also more pervasive. You know how if someone has been at a bonfire you can tell from the smell of their clothes? Our mark can stick to the people around us like that. We see that in this episode between Daryl and Carol. They are entrenched in each others’ lives simply by who they are. Eventually we all disappear into each other.

What did you see this week?


The Details

  • Paul is sleeping with Elsa and Penny, but he loves Penny.
  • Suspicions grow about where the twins are.
  • Dandy woos Bette (until she sees how crazy he is). Dot is skeptical from the start.
  • Paul accuses Elsa of being involved in the twins’ disappearance. She tries to prove her trustworthiness by throwing knives at him on a spinning wheel. Whoops! She stabs him.
  • Esmeralda takes Ma Petite to kill her but then chickens out. She wants to run away with Jimmy instead. Stanley shows up and wants to kill Jimmy.
  • Jimmy goes to get the twins before he and Esmeralda can leave.
  • Ethel makes it clear that she will kill Elsa if she had anything to do with the twins’ disappearance. Elsa says, “I just want to be loved.”

The Big Q

Is your purpose in life to find your part on the world’s stage?

The Impact

Paul stands up to get the knives thrown at him on the spinning wheel (we knew someone was going up on it from minute one of the episode). Even though it may kill him, it was definitely his role to fulfill by exacerbating Elsa’s trust issues. Dandy realizes that his role will never be anything more than death dealer. Esmeralda accepts her role as lover, not murderer, in her plan to run away with Jimmy. Penny rejects her father’s expectations in favor of her love for Paul, accepting that role. Ethel’s role beneath Elsa is shifting with the disappearance of the twins. Elsa’s is the most tragic story–a woman who has been cast as a savior of outcasts rejecting it for fame, a role for which she is poorly suited.

#TheWalkingDead–Self Help


We follow Abraham’s group heading for Washington D.C.

The Details

  • The group encounters several setbacks, to which Abraham’s answer is to always push forward.
  • Maggie says that there’s more to why Eugene won’t cut his hair, comparing him to Samson, and bringing up the story of the lion carcass.
  • Eugene reveals that he is not a scientist. Boom!
  • Abraham beats Eugene, maybe to death(?).
  • We get Abraham’s back story, that his family left him in fear and were killed. Just as he was about to commit suicide is when he met Eugene.

The Big Q

Does everyone deserve to survive?

The Impact

Eugene is clearly very cunning, but he uses that cunning to deceive. Deception is a key factor in the Samson story. At first, Samson withholds what he did to the lion, then he toys with people using a riddle. In the end, his wife deceives him into revealing the truth–his own deceptions get him in the end. Sometimes Eugene uses deception to save people, like with the fire hose, which was awesome. Abraham, whose family would rather be dead than with him, is a survivor, because he concentrated his physical gifts to help Eugene get to D.C. Presumably, his family would rather he be away from them or dead, meaning they don’t think he should survive, even though genetically he is well suited for it. At this point, everyone surviving is better for the human race, but necessity is not the same as deserve. In a show, the audience evaluates all the characters, chooses their allies, and decides whose deaths are worth morning. The audience determines deserves, but as we all know, in reality, no one gets what they deserve.

What do you think?