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Friday, November 9, 2018

My Thoughts On. . .


Containment
In this follow-up to “Convergence”, we catch up with Solstice Winters – elf extraordinaire and intrepid reporter for “The Spiritualist” – after she finds herself stranded in Russia following her escape from the clutches of the OSA (Ordo Sanguinem Aeternam).
The thing is, she can’t simply pack her meager belongings and go home. Not with so many dangerous numina running loose in the streets. And now the cat’s out of the bag about her origins, well . . . she has to set an example that not everyone or everything from the Echo are all that bad.
Thus begins an adventure that ends up dragging her deeper and deeper into a murky magical mire. Thankfully, she’s not alone, and manages to keep her head above water with the help of some amazing friends, a talking cat, and a character straight out of history.
As before, great fun – engaging dialogue – adult humor – and lots of action make this an appealing story that I’m sure most readers will relate to. I know I’m looking forward to the next installment.
Winter’s Coming. . . ?



Deadpool 2
Witty one-liners. Below the belt gems. Narratively sharp. Cruelly sadistic and irreverent. Superbly choreographed fight scenes. Telegraphed clangers that you know are coming but love when they eventually hit you full in the face. I cried . . . and absolutely loved the character of Domino, whose super power of "good luck" just so happens to outshine everyone else’s.
And in among the nonstop action and humor, a superbly crafted emotional tearjerker of a moment.
Best of all, Deadpool isn’t afraid to laugh at itself. A must-see extravaganza of fun.

And the additional scenes at the end? Pure genius.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

This Week's Review of. . .


A Discovery of Witches
It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.

What those words mean remains a mystery as you journey ever deeper through a cleverly constructed world of intrigue and wonder. One where vampires prowl the shadows through the centuries, daemons influence the outcome of history, and witches hide away in plain sight.

Always with us – always separate, the creatures hold to an uneasy, millennia old covenant that teeters on the brink of collapse. And the discovery of a long lost text by a young witch who has shunned her heritage threatens to trigger a war the likes of which will change mankind forever. . .

I have to say, having seen only several episodes of the TV series, I purchased the books. A wise choice, for the depth of background history and foundation added by the creator’s original ideas are spellbinding. It’s superbly written too, and details the struggle of two people falling in love against centuries of tradition prohibiting any form of dalliance with “the enemy.”

In a nutshell – THIS is a quality work you’ll quickly become immersed in. Outstanding!



The Alienist


The Alienist is an American period drama television series based on the novel of the same name by Caleb Carr. The series stars Daniel Brühl (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler), Luke Evans (John Moore), and Dakota Fanning (Sara Howard), as an ad hoc team assembled in mid-1890s New York City to investigate a serial killer who is murdering street children. The series incorporates fact with fiction by including characters that are historical figures, such as Theodore Roosevelt, who held the post of police commissioner from 1895 to 1897.
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When a series of gruesome murders of boy prostitutes grips New York City, newly appointed police commissioner Roosevelt calls upon Dr. Laszlo Kreizler – a criminal psychologist and John Moore a newspaper illustrator – to conduct the investigation in secret. Joining them is Sara Howard, the first woman to work for the police department as secretary to the commissioner, as well as the Jewish twin brothers, detective sergeants Marcus and Lucius Isaacson.
Needless to say, the team meets stiff opposition from the majority of officers within the NYPD, primarily from Captain Connor and the recently retired Chief Byrnes, both of whom are more committed to protecting the reputations of New York's high society than they are to finding the architects behind the crimes.
Overall, I found the Alienist to be a rather entertaining, breathtakingly gruesome murder–mystery possessing a brooding intensity and a complex narrative. The contrast between the exaggerated gentility with which the denizens of 1890s America address one another and the casual savagery of their everyday existence worked wonders. The actors certainly do their jobs too: Daniel Brühl portrays a haunted, painfully introverted and aloof man with an irritating arrogance that demeans the brilliance of his insights. Luke Evans is equally annoying, displaying the foibles of his character superbly, while retaining a loyalty to his friends that put the rest to shame. But it’s Dakota Fanning who shines in my opinion. She’s patient, sharp, strong and brave, while displaying a vulnerability that helps you appreciate the uphill struggle women must have faced to get themselves recognized in a man’s world. The cheapness of life is revealed in all its glory, along with the corruption that ate away at the soul of a burgeoning city.
Excellent stuff, spoilt only by the last 15 minutes or so. I won’t ruin it for you by revealing why here, but I felt a fabulous series and surefire winner fell at the very last hurdle because of its lackluster ending. “Anticlimax” doesn’t describe the injustice.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Something for the weekends . . . 
Until Christmas?


Do you need a holiday shopping hand this year?

I've teamed up with over forty-five award winning/bestselling authors to bring you the ultimate holiday gift selection for any book lover. The best part: it's an online store.

So, click the link and scroll away. Not only can you do some holiday shopping, you might even find a few books to enjoy yourself.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

My Thoughts on. . .



Tales From Alternate Earths 2
“Imagine a world where...”

How often a really good adventure has started with those words. Well, in “Tales From Alternate Earths 2” we have a selection of stories that do just that, bring us the “what if” history – reality – folklore and myth had turned out that little bit differently. In doing so, we are presented with a medley of philosophical and moral dilemmas that make you realize, “Wow, I never thought about that!”
Some are clever, witty and amusing; others, poignantly insightful. A few, downright disturbing and provocative . . . and all the more so when you appreciate that all it would have taken for those alternate realities to exist is a little pinch of circumstance here or a twist of fate there.

Overall, an entertaining collection of alternative realities you need to experience.




Ozark
The latest series of Netflix's gritty Missouri-based crime drama – Ozark – is back with a darker and much stronger attitude permeating the script. Needless to say, events soon force the money-laundering Byrde family to the brink of collapse, as they struggle to not only cope, but also survive in a criminal underworld filled with drug cartels, deranged hillbillies, crooked government agents, and narcissistic politicians.

Picking up where last season left off, Marty and Wendy Byrde continue to try and hold their heads above the water while navigating as safe a course as possible with a remorseless drug cartel on their backs. The thing is, they don’t just expect Marty to launder money for them, he’s now got to build them a casino too. Because of this, season two sees Marty working much closer with the Snells – gun-toting rednecks who own the land on which the casino will be built. They epitomize all that can go wrong, for they demand allegiance, respect and “making bank” above all else. Oh, and they murdered one of the cartel’s leading generals at the end of last season . . . so don’t expect things to go any smoother this time around.

A recipe for disaster?  It sure is, especially with the addition of a formidable threat in the form of the cartel's top lawyer, Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer) who watches their every move. The Byrdes’ children, Jonah (Skylar Gartner) and his sister Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) develop their own arcs. A sensitive little boy, Jonah goes on to reveals a talent for following in his father’s footsteps in a rather ingenious way – you’ll see. His sister, however, becomes something of an aggravating pain in the ass, whose behavior starts putting the entire family in danger.
Marty reacts in his usual stoic way, bottling everything away while juggling million-and-one pieces of an every increasingly unstable jigsaw. Of course, he starts to crack. Step in Wendy, who manages to take charge of an increasingly erratic situation. Drawing on her experiences as a political campaigner back in Chicago, she skillfully manipulates local kingpin Charles Wilkes into exercising his influence on the Missouri movers and shakers.

It’s true to say that successful shows can often stumble with the difficult second season. But not here. Ozark has remained spellbinding thanks to some fresh new faces on the lake, and Wilkes is one of them. Nevertheless, its Janet McTeer’s vicious portrayal of Helen Pierce who stands out in my book. Sweeping in and out of everyone’s lives, her clinically cold and callous application of simple cartel logic helps her cut through all the crap the Byrde’s have managed to surround themselves in, to lay down the law and steer them toward the only course open to them if they want to stay alive.
And as you’ll see, she is ruthless. Not everyone survives this second season!

An outstanding, captivating and vivid story that keeps you glued from start to finish. And even better, the acting is so good, it makes you feel as if all the melodrama and bloodshed is eerily plausible.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

This week's Review Of. . .


Successor’s Promise
Five years have passed since the death of Valhan and the worlds have found it difficult to adapt to the absence of the enigmatic magical overlord. While some have fallen to ruin – their magic depleted – others have managed to form some semblance of peace and prosperity.
But always, the specter of war lingers, with some sorcerers looking to capitalize on the vacuum Valhan’s absence has left. So much so, that Rielle and Tyen’s efforts are threatened in ways they couldn’t have imagined.
I rather enjoyed this third installment of the Millennium’s Rule series, particularly the dilemma faced by Rielle and Tyen as they struggle to do what’s right in the face of overwhelming odds pressuring them to go against their better judgment. And keeping secrets! Here we see the consequence of holding things in – even if it is with the best of intentions. Accusations and counter accusations fly and the bitter repercussions are hard for them both to deal with.
My only criticism was the fact that the two main characters tended to procrastinate. A lot! Repeatedly questioning their every decision and then second, and sometimes third and fourth-guessing the outcome of their choices. In the end, I felt like reaching into the pages and throttling the pair of them. “Just do it already!”
Regardless, it’s an entertaining and enthralling story and I do love the magic system incorporated into this particular universe. You could imagine “that’s how real magic would work!”


Disenchantment
Disenchantment is the latest animated fantasy sitcom created by Matt Groening. This time for adults. As we know, he previously created The Simpsons and Futurama for 20th Century Fox Television, and this is his first production for Netflix.
We travel to the medieval fantasy setting of Dreamland, where a rebellious nineteen year-old alcoholic princess – Bean – struggles to find direction in her life. Her father doesn’t help, of course, as he tries to force her to conform to a “royal” way of life she can’t stand, and to a series of arranged marriages with artfully presented and clearly unsuitable princes. She’s joined by two companions: the dimwitted Elfo – who has renounced his place in a sickeningly happy homeland of always-singing elves to seek out feelings of melancholy and despair, along with Bean’s personal demon Luci – who encourages her to acts of wickedness for which she seems to have a natural inclination.
First impressions? I loved it! Elfo’s homeland in particular made me smile, as the elves there are so annoyingly happy all the time. They even sing a jolly song when they’re attempting to hang Elfo for daring to get up close and personal with the elf princess, Kissy. Luci is laid–back cool with a series of sharp one-liners that ring so profoundly true, you wish he was your own best friend. And Bean herself? She’s the typical girl next door trapped in the body of a princess. Her personality often reminded me of the character Vala Mal Doran – played by Claudia Black in Stargate SG1 – which can’t be bad, as anything with someone remotely Vala-ish in it is delightful in my humble opinion (sigh) . . . though I digress.
Our troublesome trio set out on a series of mischievous – often disastrous – adventures, helping us appreciate the zany folk of Dreamland and all the fantastical creatures they meet in a more “adult” setting.
Great visual and verbal humor is guaranteed – and it gets funnier the longer it goes on. For a new series finding its feet, a welcome addition to the Groening stable.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

My Thoughts On. . .


Moon Mourning
Undergoing drastic life changes – or should that be ‘dead’ changes – don’t fill Samantha Moon with dread anywhere near as much as the thought of being an unfit mother. Regardless of the changes happening to her, she’s determined to stay a real mom to her kids, even if it does feel like she’s being burnt at the stake every time she takes Tammy to pre-school.
At least she has the support of her husband, right? Someone who is the cheese to her chalk. The up to her down.
However, as her ‘symptoms’ develop, Samantha sees the doubt beginning to enter Danny’s eyes. Yes, despite her best efforts the bond they had is being eroded and the ‘normalcy’ she’s working so hard to maintain seems to be slipping away. For one thing, it’s a marathon effort just to stay awake in the day when the sun comes up; to take the kids to school; to get to the office; to operate as one of the most effective officers on the team. And when her partner is badly wounded because she’s too slow to react, Samantha knows she has to do something to prepare for the inevitable



Forbidden Planet
Shakespeare's The Tempest is transformed in this 1956 “Granddaddy of them all” landmark science-fiction film with – for its time – groundbreaking special effects.
A military starship crew is sent to investigate the silence of a once thriving colony on Altair-4, a faraway planet. When they arrive, they are stunned to discover two survivors: Dr. Morbius (played by Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis), who are protected by a futuristic robot – Robby.
Morbius has gained knowledge way beyond human ken, and wants his would-be rescuers gone from the planet. However, Altaira is rather taken with Commander Adama, the leader of the expedition, and after talking with the naïve girl, the commander becomes suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the rest of the colony. Thus, the monster of the ID is unleashed, and the crew discover to their cost the true power the human mind can wield if it’s boosted by arcane alien technology.
I’m sure many of you have seen this film over the years. It was released in 1956 after all, and contained a number of innovated aspects that were later adopted into the bread and butter bulwark of its genre: It was the first science fiction film to depict humans traveling in a faster-than-light starship of their own creation; it was also the first to be set entirely on another planet in interstellar space; and finally, Robby was one of the first film robots depicted as having his own distinct personality and sense of humor. What’s more, his character was integral to the plot’s development.
Watching Forbidden Planet yet again reminded me how positively epic it is, especially as it concentrates on the terribly frightening specter of how rebellious the human mind can be, even among the most principled of individuals.
After 60 years – it’s still a wonderfully weird adventure.
Ahh classics. You’ve gotta love them!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hot off the Pressed Lips!
Lovers in Hell


Have you embraced the latest release from the Heroes in Hell Universe?
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Only fools fall in love, and hell is filled with fools. Our damned lovers include: Christopher Marlowe and Will Shakespeare, Napoleon and Wellington, Orpheus and Eurydice, Hatshepsut and Senenmut, Abelard and Heloise, Helen and Penelope, Saint Teresa and Satan's Reaper, Madge Kendall and the Elephant Man, and more . . . all of whom pay a hellish price for indulging their affections.


Shakespeare said "To be wise and love exceeds man's might," and in Lovers in Hell, the damned in hell exceed all bounds as they search for their true loves, punish the perfidious, and avoid getting caught up in Satan's snares. In ten stories of misery and madness, hell's most loveless seek to slake the thirst that can never be quenched, and find true love amid the lies of ages.


Featuring The Devil's Trull: Satan's Reaper discovers all's unfair in love & war. . .

AND an excerpt from Hell Gate, Grim's next full-length adventure

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Go on,  indulge yourself. You know you want to