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Friday, December 14, 2018

My Thoughts On...


The Book of Life
It begins with a discovery of witches.

What happens when a constitution established centuries ago – one designed to protect its subjects – is in fact responsible for doing the opposite?
What happens if the bedrock upon which such a constitution was built isn’t one of unity in the face of adversity, but segregation and prejudice?
And what happens when a covenant promoted as a nurturing agent actually contributes to a decline, both in proclivity and power?

Find out as Diana and Matthew face these hurdles and more in the face of relentless adversity.
It began with absence and desire.
It began with blood and fear.
One thing’s for sure, the Book of Life isn’t what everyone thinks it is, for it is catalyst of endings; a medium through which new beginnings might be forged; and a harbinger of change. And only by applying what witches discovered long, long ago, can a new age be ushered in.

An outstanding conclusion to a stunning story. You won’t be disappointed.



Penny Dreadful - Seasons 1 - 3

If you only ever get to see one supernatural period drama, then Penny Dreadful is an absolute must. A sterling cast – where the interaction among the characters creates explosive chemistry – the superbly atmospheric mood; an excellent backstory; skillfully introduced plot lines. You know you’re in for a seductive treat from the word go.
The production and period values are outstanding, as is the cast. What I particularly loved was the way creator John Logan manages to steer the arc away from a purely “horror by the Thames” toward the internal demons that haunt and drive each member of the cast. Outstanding!
A legendary masterpiece.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

This Week, I Have Been Enjoying...


The MechMen of Canis-9
This time our adventure finds your favorite starheads; Master Sergeant Seamus O’Hara; Gunnery Sergeant Fernando Cortez; and Gunnery Sergeant Claudia Akira, on a secret mission to a forbidden planet: Canis 9 – closed to all forms of exploration and colonization.
Why? Nobody will say.
The reason for their mission? Classified.
SOPs? They’ll find out en route.
Security is tight. Despite this, treachery abounds and the mission is doomed from the moment they set out. Stranded on an alien world and cut off from civilization, what do our heroes do?
What they do best: Semper fi!
With subtle tributes to Vietnam vets and Starship Troopers threaded throughout the narrative, this is a thoroughly entertaining, action packed romp that pits our friends against a hostile environment, megalomaniacs hell-bent on world domination, and mysteries to confound the senses. One thing’s for sure. Not everyone will come back!
Great fun. Enjoy it before you ship out on your next mission.



The Predator
I’ve been a fan of the Predator ever since it first hit the big screen back in 1987. And though there have been some ups and downs in its journey, the franchise had managed to retain its popularity with a bit of inventive tweaking here, and quite frankly, a spot of genius there. (AvP – an absolute gem)
This latest outing lies somewhere in between. Straight into the action; a clever twist to the ongoing story line; a slightly deeper understanding of what’s going on in the Yautja society . . . spoilt by a predictable plot, a needless reliance on comedy, and tedious bloodletting.
While it’s entertaining – to a degree, it lacks the suspense of the original. The buildup and the inevitable “BAM you’re dead!” After the initial slaughter in the lab, you overlook the fact that there’s supposed to be a remorseless killer on the loose, and end up being sidelined by the good guys v government bad guys scenario. A shame, the potential simmers just beneath the surface just waiting to be unleashed.
Hopefully the powers-that-be will do just that in the inevitable sequel.

Friday, November 23, 2018

This Week's Review of...


Shadow of Night
There’s nothing quite like it when an extraordinary story takes you by surprise. And this second book in the All Souls trilogy does just that.
In a world where witches, daemons and vampires struggle to maintain a fragile balance, Diana and Matthew must travel further than they ever realized in an effort to unravel the secrets of a manuscript they hope contains the answers to their prayers.

But what happens when what they’ve striven for must be relinquished?

Yes, Diana discovers who and what she is and must adjust to the weighty responsibilities that revelation brings, for she is a bridge between worlds; between light and dark; between life and death itself, and the future rests on her finding something that has eluded her thus far . . . balance.
A most enjoyable sequel to an already excellent story.



Alias Grace

Based on the award-winning novel by Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace tells the story of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), a young, poor Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada who - along with stable hand James McDermott (Kerr Logan) - is accused and convicted of the infamous 1843 double murder of her employer Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross), and his housekeeper/lover, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin).
Following the trial, McDermott was hanged and Marks was sentenced to life imprisonment. End of story . . . or so you think.
Because of her exemplary behavior, Grace is allowed out every day to serve in the house of the prison governor. Her case comes to the attention of a committee of gentlemen and ladies from the Methodist church, who – led by the minister – hopes to have her pardoned and released. The thing is, Grace is adamant she cannot remember what happened on the day of the murders, and exhibits symptoms of hysteria. On the basis of this, the minister hires Dr. Simon Jordan, a psychiatrist, to interview her, hoping he will find her to be a hysteric, and not a criminal.
Much of what you see takes place in flashback, and portrays the harshness of the times, for you see life through the eyes of an abused young girl who quickly grows to become a woman beset by demons. Those caused by the era in which she lives, in which females are nothing but chattel; those created by an upper class who despise and look down on those who serve them. And of course, the very real horror of how simple it is to be caught up in events that can impact your life forever.
Alias Grace is both compelling and at times disquieting. It’s colorfully portrayed, yet captures a solemnity that reminds you the lower class lived at the whim of their “betters.” But most of all, you witness the personal demons of a young woman who is elusive with the truth, while portraying an innocence that is disarming.
I shan’t say more, other than it is one of the best period dramas I’ve seen . . . (And my wife loved it too!) Therefore – Highly recommended.

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.
*********************************

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.