Monthly Archives: May 2013

Announcement: Blurb Blitz Blog Tour for Drasmyr

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a promotional blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” starting on 6/17/13 and running through 7/19/13. More details will be made available as it shapes up. It is a strictly promotional tour, meaning that every visit will be limited to excerpts from my book and a book blurb. The blog tour schedule is currently under construction. As of this writing, we’ve filled fifteen slots of the twenty available. During the tour, I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur.

Finally, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a Reaper metal miniature, specifically, a Dark Heaven Legends version of Dracula. It is excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

Old Movie Review: Sinister (2012)

“Sinister” is a horror movie starring Ethan Hawke and former Senator Fred Thompson (Senator Thompson has only a small role but I felt obliged to mention because he did run for President). It was a movie I was curious about seeing when it was in theatres, but never got around to for a variety of reasons. Basically, I think I was just too chicken: the trailer of this movie looked pretty intense.

 

Anyway, Ethan Hawke plays a semi-successful true-crime writer, Ellison Oswalt, who has the self-inflicted misfortune of deliberately purchasing and moving into a home where an entire family, save one missing child, was slaughtered by being hung from a tree. Ellison, intent on recording that family’s tragic story, moves into the house with his own family and sets to work. First, he finds a collection of old film up in his attic. When he views the film, he discovers that this is not just one murder of a family, but a whole series of murders spread across the country going from city to city, and going back nearly fifty years. It is both perplexing and invigorating. Now, he may just have the makings of the book of a lifetime, one that will earn him and his family riches beyond his wildest dreams. But soon things start to go wrong. Lights go on and off inexplicably. The more he learns, the more chilling the details become, and the more he finds himself drawn into a “sinister” web of supernatural horror.

 

Strengths: this movie had all the makings of a really good classic horror film. Suspense literally dripped off the screen (okay, maybe not literally). Part of it was the creepy background. Another part of it was the fact that you the viewer weren’t completely cognizant of what was happening until it happened. They fed you the storyline, piece by piece, letting the suspense build as the pieces fit together. It was one-part horror; one part mystery. And that would have made for a great film. But … they blew it. Weaknesses: really, the only weakness in the film was the ending, and it was a lackluster one indeed. They turned a good suspenseful horror/mystery (spoiler alert) into just another blood bath … although they did not show the killings they just plastered a lot of walls with blood. My friend and I were talking about it, and we found at least three other viable endings for the film that would have been much better, if they had just cut it off there and left it. Or, they could have been really daring, and made a horror movie with a happy ending. Because if Ellison had come out on top, it would still have made an excellent film and he would have deserved it.

 

Overall, I’ll give this film three stars out of five (it would have been four stars if not for the ending).

Announcement: Upcoming Blurb Blitz Blog Tour

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a promotional blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” starting on 6/17/13 and running through 7/19/13. More details will be made available as it shapes up. It is a strictly promotional tour, meaning that every visit will be limited to excerpts from my book and a book blurb. The blog tour schedule is currently under construction. As of this writing, we’ve filled fifteen slots of the twenty available. During the tour, I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur.

Finally, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a Reaper metal miniature, specifically, a Dark Heaven Legends version of Dracula. It is excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

Old Movie Review: The Awakening (2011)

“The Awakening” is a paranormal horror/thriller starring Rebecca Hall as the skeptical hoax-buster Florence Cathcart. The setting is 1921 England, shortly after World War I. Florence has led a troubled life: she has blocked out much of her childhood, and (if I recall correctly) has lost her husband in the war.

 

The movie begins with her exposing the hoax of a spiritualist group. Shortly, thereafter a man by the name of Robert Mallory comes to her home to hire her to look into several ghost sightings at a boys’ boarding school. She reluctantly agrees and heads to the school. She begins her investigation with the various and sundry trappings of a disciplined scientist. She soon discovers, however, that the things that go bump in the night may just have more credence than she first believed.

 

The plot of the story is pretty straightforward at first: it’s basically a paranormal investigation being performed by a skeptic based on debunking the phenomena. The paranormal effects are carefully and precisely done, which is a pleasure. They did not go overboard. There were no bubbling cauldrons of blood or eviscerated phantasms … well, there was some gunshot wounds, but that was about it. I found that refreshing because the movie relied on plot and structure to build suspense. And that’s what it was: more suspenseful than horror. And I liked that.

 

Strengths: the carefully chosen special effects were masterful. As were the oddly disturbing use of seemingly ordinary objects: a doll with a rabbit’s head, a dollhouse filled with little homemade figures. Taken together, they gave the film a subtle, yet satisfying ambience. Weaknesses: I wouldn’t call this a weakness, but there was little blood and gore. Some people looking for strict horror might be unsatisfied. But actually, upon reflection, I would regard that as a strength. The biggest weakness, I thought, was the unneeded double twist at the end. I say double, because there were two twists and neither one was needed. I would have been perfectly happy if the story had stuck to the original storyline of the paranormal investigation vindicating the existence of ghosts. But they had to (spoiler alert) tie back the whole building and ghost to the main character, and then have the psycho nanny (or whoever she was) try to kill the main character. A well-crafted paranormal investigation would have suited me much better and could have been a better movie.

 

Overall, I’ll give the movie four out of five stars. It would have been four and a half out of five if they had just resolved the original story line without the double twist. But they didn’t.

Old Movie Review: Flight (2012)

The movie “Flight” stars Denzel Washington as Whip Whitaker the crack airline pilot with something of a debauched lifestyle. The premise is simple: a routine flight takes a turn for the worse and Whip Whitaker is forced to crash land a plane in an open field; it isn’t a simple crash landing, in fact, it seems more like a landing only he and he alone could have made. Because of his efforts, 96 of 102 souls on board are saved. But there’s a catch; he’s a drunk, and at the time of the crash he was intoxicated.

 

At first, Whitaker is regarded as a hero; he landed a plane that no other man could possibly have losing only six people (one of which was Katerina, his flight attendant lover). But soon, things start to go awry. His blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was over .2. An investigation ensues. He has a hot shot attorney who gets his blood test results thrown out, but there is other evidence: two empty vodka bottles on a flight for which no drinks were served. Things look bleak. Throughout the film, Whitaker’s alcoholism is powerfully evident.

 

He begins to develop a relationship with Nicole, a young woman who has had her share of bumps on the road of life: she’s a drug addict and alcoholic herself, but she is bent on recovering her life. Their relationship struggles to take off; Nicole wants Whitaker to join her at AA meetings; she believes they can fix their lives. Unfortunately, the chemical addiction that has Whitaker in its grip is too strong and eventually their relationship falls apart.

 

Then, there is the inquiry for the plane crash. Whitaker could lose everything if he messes it up. He has a chance, if he keeps to the script his lawyer gives him and he sobers up, but that seems beyond his capabilities. Ultimately, (spoiler alert) he confesses his drunkenness in the middle of the hearing and takes full responsibility for it, primarily because the only other option would be to blame it on Katerina, his now deceased lover. Although he winds up in prison at the end of the movie, he is comfortable with that arrangement. It will be several years before he gets out, but he looks to the future with hope, emerging from the disaster a changed man.

Overall, I thought the movie was good. It is, however, an R rated movie with a gratuitous shot of full frontal nudity in the beginning, but the story holds together well. I half-feared they were going to wind up glorifying drug-use and abuse with the resolution of the story, but they didn’t. It ended well.

 

Overall, I’ll give this movie three and a half or four stars out of five.

BBT Drasmyr Banner

Announcement: Upcoming Blurb Blitz Blog Tour

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a promotional blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” starting on 6/17/13 and running through 7/19/13. More details will be made available as it shapes up. It is a strictly promotional tour, meaning that every visit will be limited to excerpts from my book and a book blurb. The blog tour schedule is currently under construction. As of this writing, we’ve filled fourteen slots of the twenty available. During the tour, I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur.

Finally, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a Reaper metal miniature, specifically, a Dark Heaven Legends version of Dracula. It is excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

Old Movie Review: Skyfall (2012)

The latest installment in the James Bond 007 series, entitled “Skyfall,” starring Daniel Craig, continues the tradition of the incorrigible secret agent we’ve all come to love. I normally react reasonably well to Bond films. There’s usually plenty of action and adventure to keep me interested. The occasional explosion, an over-active specimen of wildlife, and various clever feats involving physical dexterity or intellectual acumen. And, of course, there are oodles and oodles of gorgeous women. That certainly doesn’t hurt.

 

The movie begins with a bang … James Bond is inadvertently shot by a fellow agent when a mission they are on turns sour. The bad guy escapes with a list of all the secret agents involved with NATO who are currently embedded in terrorist organizations throughout the world. And, of course, to add character conflict it was the mysterious “M” who gave the go ahead for the nearly fatal shot. Although Bond survives his injuries, he takes a little bit of time off (I think on the order of several months, but I’m not sure), before he returns to London to save his country from the sinister mind bent on its ruin.

 

What follows is an intriguing spy-chase that takes Bond from London to Shanghai and elsewhere. There’s a lot of computer hacking going on … well, it is a modern Bond. I always find it amusing how Hollywood represents computer conflicts. Code is generally not photogenic; so, we are usually given some kind of visual metaphor as an enticing substitute. I guess I can’t complain; it works well enough. Anyway, that’s getting a little sidetracked. Back to the review.

 

The movie is typical Bond: beautiful women, a few (only a few this time) special gadgets to aid the secret agent, and lots of gunfire and chases. Great stuff. Oh, and there’s also a few Komodo Dragons to boot. And, of course, someone has to be eaten by one said dragon.

 

Overall, the acting was good; the plot was good; the special effects were good; but it just didn’t grab me for some reason. Maybe I’m outgrowing Bond movies or something. The shootout at the end seemed mundane and unsurprising even though (spoiler alert) they ultimately killed off a major character. I don’t know what it was … maybe the setting. The moor just seemed too grey and dismal. I didn’t like it. But that seems to be an odd reason to dislike a movie. Actually ‘dislike’ is too strong a term. It was okay, but I’ve seen better Bond movies.

 

Overall, I’ll give this movie three and a half out of five stars.

Book Review: The Unsuspecting Mage: The Morcyth Saga Book One

“The Unsuspecting Mage” is book one of the seven book series, The Morcyth Saga, by Brian S. Pratt. It tells the story of James, a high school student from our very own Earth who, when he answers an unusual ad in the paper, finds himself thrust into a strange and dangerous unknown world with little to help him except a short book on magic (which he quickly loses—of course).

 

The story is pretty straightforward. James needs to return home, but he has no idea how to get there. He’s given some clues on what he’s wanted for in this world by a strange little impish creature that keeps showing up to “help” him. Other than that, he’s on his own. Eventually, he finds himself on a quest for information regarding the good god Morcyth whose religion was wiped out several centuries ago. This leads him from city to city across the land with a young boy named Miko to accompany him. He makes a few enemies (and a few friends) along the way. The book reaches its climax in a besieged city called the City of the Light. I won’t spoil the ending.

 

Overall, I found this book to be … unexceptional. That is what describes it best. It wasn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination; I was able to read it without too much difficulty over the course of a week or so. However, the writing wasn’t good enough to persuade me to get the next book in the series.

 

Strengths: there are a couple: most notably the positive moral character of the main character James. He comes across as a decent enough guy who makes morally decent decisions. That can be a plus or a minus depending upon the reader. Sometimes, he seemed almost too much of a goodie-two-shoes (or is it goodie-too-shoes?), in an unrealistic way—he always had sage advice and a willingness to go out of his way to help people to whom he owed nothing.

 

Weaknesses: there were a few. Most notable, the work (at least the version I got) was riddled with typos. And some of them were quite serious—entire missing words and whatnot. It got kind of annoying after a while. Also, and this may even be more significant, there was very little tension. Most of the people he encounters in his travels are normal everyday-types who aren’t out to hurt anybody, or deceive anybody; there are one or two exceptions, but they are mostly on the periphery. It doesn’t make for an exciting story. There was a lot of useless dialogue consisting of “Hi. How are you?” “Oh, I’m fine. And you?” and similar type stuff.

 

On a side note, the book is written in present tense. That can work, sometimes, if it’s done correctly. In this case, I think it averages out to be a neutral, adding nothing special to the work, nor taking too much away.

 

Overall, I’ll give this work two and half, or maybe three stars, out of five, if I’m feeling generous.

 

This review was originally posted on Smashwords on 3/31/13.

BBT Drasmyr Banner

Announcement: Upcoming Blurb Blitz Blog Tour

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a promotional blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” starting on 6/17/13 and running through 7/19/13. More details will be made available as it shapes up. It is a strictly promotional tour, meaning that every visit will be limited to excerpts from my book and a book blurb. The blog tour schedule is currently under construction. As of this writing, we’ve filled thirteen slots of the twenty available. During the tour, I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur.

Finally, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a Reaper metal miniature, specifically, a Dark Heaven Legends version of Dracula. It is excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

Movie Review: Iron Man 3

I saw Iron Man 3 last week. It continues (or perhaps completes) the saga of Tony Stark, billionaire industrialist, and super-hero crime-fighter, a.k.a Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.). And, of course, no super-hero is complete without a super-villain to oppose him. In this installment of the series, the villain in question is the Mandarin, a slippery and insidious terrorist of unknown origin who has the entire country on alert. He is widely-known for hacking national broadcasts and issuing threats and ultimatums to the country and the President of the United States. However, no one can seem to find him. He is an enigma, a ghost, lurking about every corner waiting to strike.

 

Then, one of Tony’s friends is injured in what is believed to be a strike by the Mandarin. Tony Stark, in a brash fit of anger challenges the Mandarin in the press, and even gives out his home address. The Mandarin promptly rises to the challenge and blows up Tony’s house, nearly killing him in the process. But that is just the beginning. Now the gloves are off and it is Iron Man versus the Mandarin. But first, Tony must find his foe. He tracks him across the country searching for the elusive villain’s lair. Slowly, he begins to unravel the clever web of deceptions the Mandarin has built to protect his identity. It all culminates in an enormous climactic battle between the two men … and a lot of iron man suits. Pepper Potts is placed in danger, as is the President. Will Tony emerge triumphant? Or will Iron Man finally go down in flames. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

 

Strengths: well, it was a solid action movie. The special effects were excellent, the explosions were numerous (perhaps, too numerous at times), and the story-line was clear and relatively easy to follow. I liked the twist it had. The villain was portrayed as truly formidable, yet his origin was explained in a plausible way (insofar as super-hero movies can be plausible). Weaknesses: as noted above, there may have been a few too many explosions. Although the movie was decent, I wouldn’t call it great. I opted not to join friends for a second viewing, and the only reason I might purchase it in the future is to complete my collection. I’m not quite sure what it was, but the movie was lacking something. Perhaps, I have just outgrown the super-hero type movie (I am forty-one, after all). Explosions and fist fights are only so entertaining for so long.

 

Ultimately, I’ll give this movie three and a half stars out of five.