Monday, November 13, 2017

Remakes Blogfest, Murder on the Orient Express Review, Justice League, and New Releases

Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express

Based on the novel by Agatha Cristie, Inspector Hercule Poirot must solve a murder on a luxury train.
The cast is outstanding. Kenneth Branagh stars and directs, handling both roles with ease. Also on board are Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, and many more. Everyone looks like they enjoyed slipping into their roles.
The cinematography is amazing. The train zipping through the snowy mountains – wow. Plus it boasted some quirky camera angles. The use of camera in a confined location such as a train are really interesting.
The story was a clever twist of clues and unique characters, plus there was some quirky fun humor and lines.
This film would’ve been a great entry for the blogfest today, but sadly I’ve not seen the original nor read the book, so I can’t make a comparison. It did keep me guessing until the end and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Recommended.

Justice League

Comes out this week! And for once, I’m not waiting until Friday – I will be seeing it Thursday evening. Until then, enjoy the latest trailer.  *11-16 - And it was awesome! Loved the movie.



New Releases

Shades of Love boxed set
Featuring The Blind Spot by J.L. Campbell
Find it on Amazon


Available November 14:
Wrong Side of the Rift by Libby Heily 
Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes


Plus today at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, our IWSG Show Your Writer Insecurity Contest winner, Ken Rahmoeller, talks about how to deal with writer insecurity.

Remakes Blogfest!

Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.

Remakes – most of them suck. Now and then, one comes along that is as good as, if not better, than the original. And after all of the bad ones we’ve endured, we want to know about some good ones.

Today, November 13, 2017, blog about your favorite remake: movie (or television show into movie and vice versa), song, or book – or all three! Post a YouTube video and links where we can find these treasures. Tell us why THIS remake doesn’t suck!

Sign up and visit others on the list below!

Two things came to mind immediately when I created this blogfest.


First, the song.

I am a huge Dream Theater fan. When I heard their cover of Elton John’s Love Lies Bleeding, I was amazed. Now, Elton John did an amazing job – he wrote the song. But Dream Theater’s version is just as good.
They captured the same vibe while making it a little more rocking. John Petrucci is just incredible with the guitar. And James LaBrie captured the vocals perfectly.

Here is the live version, which captures it all best:



I also have a move remake that blows the original out of the water.

The Thing From Another World is a 1951 cheesy science fiction/horror film. It’s still highly rated and regarded as a classic.

And then, in 1982, John Carpenter dared to create his version of a science fiction classic.

The result – John Carpenter’s The Thing, a chilling blend of science fiction and horror starring Kurt Russell. A group stationed in the Artic are infiltrated by the Thing, an alien creature who can imitate other lifeforms perfectly. The special effects were created by Rob Bottin and long before CGI was used in many movies. Despite the years, the effects still hold up. (As witnessed in the ‘sequel’ in 2011 – the CGI effects didn’t even look as good.)

Here’s a clip from the film. It highlights the tension, the effects, and the score which was done by Carpenter himself:



Join us and please visit others on the list:




Anyone else see Murder on the Orient Express? (Either version!) Ready for Justice League? What remakes do you recommend?

And I almost missed it - November 9 marked eight years of blogging for me!

I’ll be leaving the end of the week for Thanks giving with family, so I won’t be online beyond responding to comments and Twitter. To my American friends, have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. See you Monday, November 27.

* I'll post a review of Justice League when I return - but it was awesome! Loved it - great action, funny, and characters were perfect. Ignore the critics. I think Marvel paid them all off...

Monday, November 6, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok Review, Stranger Things 2 Review, Justice League, SciFi Month, IWSG, and Remakes Blogfest

Movie Review – Thor: Ragnarok

Hela, Goddess of Death and Thor’s sister, returns to Asgard to reclaim the throne and Thor must return in time to stop her.
The story rocks from beginning to end. It’s just a ton of fun.
And this is without a doubt the funniest Marvel movie yet! Yes, probably even funnier than the first Guardians. Every character has his lines and while the moment was hilarious, it was never silly. Korg (voiced by the director himself) was the funniest, especially the way he delivered his lines.
All the actors were great – Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Blanchett, Thompson, Urban… Elba gets to be a big hero and Goldblum does what he does best – be Jeff Goldblum. Some of the situations are actually really deep, but the light touch and humor keep this from being anything but a dark film.
The special effects are amazing. Some shots looked like straight out of a Frank Frazetta painting.
Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song rocks the first and last fights – and fits the action and movie perfectly.
Look for a couple big name actors in cameo roles. Also try to catch the 3D showing. And do stay for the double ending – don’t leave until the credits  are completely done.
Overall, it’s an incredibly fun time at the movies. Highly recommended!

Stranger Things – Season Two Review

Or how to do a review without giving away spoilers!
As hinted at the end of season one, they were not finished with the Upside Down.
Will struggles with visions. Nancy struggles with Barb’s disappearance. And Hopper struggles to hide and contain a powerful young lady…
Season two stays true to the first season. It’s lost a little now that there is no surprise, but the story line is just as great.
It’s also great to see the cast again. They are like family. Plus there are a couple new characters you will really enjoy.
The second season fleshes out the characters even more. They are real people, just like us. (Less the threat of the Upside Down of course!) But at a time when every writer is going for super damaged, edgy, and unlikeable characters, this cast is refreshing. You can root for them. They pull together and help each other. It’s very reminiscent of the time period the show is set in, the 80’s.
The only spoiler I will give (and stop reading if you don’t want to know) but the ending is definitely for the fans.
If you haven’t already binge-watched this on NetFlix…what is wrong with you? Watch it now! Highly recommended.

Movie and Science Fiction News

A DC heroine takes the crown! According to JoBlo:

WONDER WOMAN has officially become the biggest superhero origin movie ever, edging out the likes of IRON MAN and SPIDER-MAN. As of this writing, WONDER WOMAN has made exactly $821,749,588 at the global box office, narrowly beating SPIDER-MAN’s $821,708,551.



That leads right into these cool promo posters that were also featured on JoBlo:



Can you tell I’m a bit stoked for Justice League?


I also found out through Books Bones Buffy that November is Science Fiction Month.
It’s hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow and There’s Always Room for One More.
You can sign up there or just follow the Twitter account - @SciFiMonth

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Today we have special guest at the IWSG site - B. O'Malley from Screenplay Readers. Check out his article The Top Newbie Mistakes Made By Writers Adapting their Book into a Screenplay

The IWSG Anthology Contest closed last week – and wow, we have about as many entries as last year! We appreciate everyone who submitted. The admins are choosing the best ones this week and then those will go off to our official judges. We’ll announce the winners on January 3, 2018.

Thanks again to my co-hosts, the IWSG admins, and all of you who participated last Wednesday in the monthly blog posting. Those are some of the most thoughtful and honest posts I read all month.

Remakes Blogfest!

Coming next week! Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.
Remakes – most of them suck. Now and then, one comes along that is as good as, if not better, than the original. And after all of the bad ones we’ve endured, we want to know about some good ones.
On November 13, 2017, blog about your favorite remake: movie (or television show into movie and vice versa), song, or book – or all three! Post a YouTube video and links where we can find these treasures. Tell us why THIS remake doesn’t suck!
Join us! Sign up HERE.


Who else saw Thor: Ragnarok? Binge-watched all of Stranger Things already? Stoked for Justice League? Celebrating SciFi Month? Did you enter the IWSG Anthology Contest? And who is ready for some good remakes next week?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Insecure Writer’s Support Group. November Movie Preview, Remakes Blogfest, and New Releases

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

My awesome co-hosts today are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!

November 1 – last day to enter the IWSG Anthology Contest!

November 1 question - Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

I participated in NaNo 2010 right after my first book’s release. (And I totally missed it – October 19 marked seven years since the release of CassaStar!) I composed a crash outline based on a short story I’d written over thirty years ago. Total miracle, it was published – CassaFire came out February 2012.

While I’ve not participated in NaNo since, I jumped into June’s BuMo in 2012 to write the third book in my series. And while I just missed the 50,000 word count by 5000 words, I still finished it a few weeks later. CassaStorm was published September 2013.

Both books were better than my first and I still consider CassaStorm to be the best thing I’ve ever written.

So, if you’re considering jumping into NaNo or you are participating this month – go for it and good luck! What you write can become a published book.

New Releases

Full Dark: An Anthology
Publisher: Obsidian Books

What happens in the dark will come to light.

Full Dark is a benefit anthology. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Gary Sinise Foundation, an organization that does many wonderful things for our country's active military, its veterans, and the countless first responders who sacrifice so much to keep us safe.

Find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Mistakes of the Past by Patricia Josephine

Luc seeks atonement for the actions that banished him from his home.

Find it on: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords


Spirits in the Water anthology
From Untethered Realms

A haunted journey on a riverboat, water sprites borne of pennies; preternatural creatures, ancient serpents and The Lady of the Lake lurk in dark waters. Raging storms and magical rainbow fountains. Water is spectacularly beautiful but also treacherous.

Find it on Amazon iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords

November Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for November! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

3 –

Thor: Ragnarok
Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.
Director: Taika Waititi
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo
I heard it’s so laugh out loud funny, your sides will be Thor afterwards… (Oh! Bad pun. Movie is going to rock though.)

10 –

Murder on the Orient Express
A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man's race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Kenneth Branagh
Spoiler alert – halfway through, Branagh dies and his moustache 
is forced to take over the investigation.

17 –

Justice League
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher
I am a huge DC and Justice League fan. I have waited my whole life for this film…






Remakes Blogfest!

Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.

Remakes – most of them suck. Now and then, one comes along that is as good as, if not better, than the original. And after all of the bad ones we’ve endured, we want to know about some good ones.

On November 13, 2017, blog about your favorite remake: movie (or television show into movie and vice versa), song, or book – or all three! Post a YouTube video and links where we can find these treasures. Tell us why THIS remake doesn’t suck!

Sign up below. Post on November 13 and visit others on the list. Time to unearth those good remakes!




What has been the results of your NaNo projects? Picking up some new books? Any of the November movies interest you? And who’s up for some good remakes?

Review of Stranger Things – season two coming next Monday! Yes, I’ve already watched all of it…

And I won Heather Holden’s Halloween giveaway! Here’s Mini-Alex posing with the cool ACEO of Nicholas. Thanks, Heather! 


Monday, October 23, 2017

Unique Horror Films, Unique Halloween Decorations, Toi Thomas’ Birthday Bash, Scary Good Reads, and Ninja News

Recommended Unique Horror Films

To get you into the Halloween mood, here are some horror films I recommend. Rather than go with mainstream ones you’ve probably already seen, I decided to pick some smaller, less known films.

Near Dark 1987
Starring Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, and Jenette Goldstein. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this film is a unique addition to the vampire legend, and even more so that they never say the word vampire. Pasdar is bitten by Wright and then abducted by the rest of the vampire gang. Paxton really goes all out as a bad-ass vampire and it’s a great balance of action and quiet moments.

Ginger Snaps 2000
Directed by John Fawcett and staring Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins. This one tackles the werewolf lore and again, in a unique manner. Isabelle and Perkins are sisters with a goth streak who dabble in fake gory photos. Things go awry when Isabelle is bitten by a wolf. A mixture of horror and coming of age with some decent effects. The sequels were all sub-par though.

Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn 1987
Starring Bruce Campbell and directed by Sam Raimi, this is one of those rare sequels that outshines the original. Now a cult classic, this film showcases Raimi’s unique filming style and is still his best film. Campbell and his girlfriend happen upon a cabin where the Book of the Dead’s contents has been unleashed. Over the top and gory, this film is funnier than it is scary and filled with one-line zingers you won’t soon forget.

The Devil’s Backbone 2001
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro with English subtitles, this is one of the director’s early masterpieces. Set at an orphanage/school during the Spanish Civil War, this film is as much a drama as a horror film. There is a ghost haunting the place, but it’s the horrors of the live people that are much more frightening. Filled with symbolism and poignancy, this stylish film is filled with atmosphere.

Let the Right One In 2008
Directed by Tomas Alfredson, this Swedish film is both powerful and creepy on so many levels. Many have seen Let Me In, the American version, but this film still shines with its unnerving atmosphere and undertones. A young boy befriends a neighbor girl who is a vampire and the movie follows their growing friendship even as the violent deaths escalate. While it doesn’t push all the limits found in the book, this quiet film carries a heavy impact.

Unique Halloween Decorations

Looking for just the right decoration to scare all of your neighbors? Here are some fun ideas.

If you are on a budget, this almost foot tall moveable skeleton rat is only ten bucks.

After the recent release of It, the six foot tall hanging clown with red flashing eyes is perfect.

You could also go with the six foot tall hanging animated phantom.

The barking skeleton dog with glowing eyes would be fun.

So would the four feet wide inflatable spider with kaleidoscope light.

And if you have the cash and want to go big, how about a six foot tall skeleton T-Rex with glowing eyes?

Welcome to Jurassic Park…






It’s Toi Thomas’ Birthday!

Hi there, Toi here. October 21st is my birthday so, all my ebooks are on sale $0 - $1.99 from October 20th – October 24th + I’m offering my Top 5 Angel Books as a giveaway on Amazon.

Legend of the Boy, In the Window, and Other short stories - Collection of multi-genre stories. The first title story is that of a boy who must destroy the world so he can save humanity.

It’s Like the Full Moon - A romantic comedy; the first in a series. The mild-mannered Rebecca gets caught up in a most unlikely love-triangle and her BFF Lisa isn’t much help.

Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel – He’s a creature out of time. Mira’s a doctor trying to classify him. Beauty and the Beast meet Jekyll and Hyde in this paranormal romance with biblical influences. *40 Days and Nights of Eternal Curse- a nonfiction companion guide to the novel.

Eternal Curse: Battleground - A family saga that touches the past and future. Giovanni’s story brings you to tears as loss and duty blur the lines of hope for what is to come. *Battleground Survival 101- a nonfiction companion guide to the novel.

Chip and Skip Need Each Other & What Does Joe Need - Two simple, yet vibrant, stories teach young children, and those with special needs, the difference and importance of needs and wants, at home, school, and overall. Sold separately.

Plants and Animals Change Over Time & Land Changes Over Time - Two simple, yet vibrant, stories teach young children, and those with special needs, the importance and inevitability of change in living things and the world. Sold separately.

If you aren’t familiar with me yet, don’t worry; this is your chance to learn that I love Batman, Betty Boop, Star Wars, and Angels. I like all kinds of angels. Good ones, bad ones, and even creatures with wings that look like angels. I don’t think it’s just a matter of wings. There are some winged creatures I don’t like such as flying monkeys or seagulls. LOL! But seriously, I’ve grown fond of angel lore and stories about and or containing angel-like creatures. Heck, I even write about them in my Eternal Curse Series. While my books are influenced by Bible tales, a many angel stories are not. Either way, if it’s about angels, I’m probably going to like it. Here’s a list and giveaway of the Top 5 angel books I’ve read in at least the last ten years; in no particular order.

Ninja News

Just a week to go to send in your submission for the IWSG Anthology Contest!
You have until November 1…

For those who like audio books or would like to see if you’d like it, you can listen to a sample of Dragon of the Stars on SoundCloud.


New release!
Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library
Book 2: Fairday Morrow Series
By Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson
Middle grade mystery from Willow Press

Fairday Morrow had no clue that moving from Manhattan to the small town of Ashpot, Connecticut, would lead to an unsolved mystery. Her parents’ dream of renovating a crumbling Victorian, called the Begonia House, into a bed and breakfast had seemed like treachery at the time. But Fairday found out that her new house kept secrets, and once inside its twisted front gates, anything was possible. When mysterious notes start showing up warning that a librarian is in trouble and a bookworm is eating words, Fairday thinks the Begonia House has more skeletons in its closets. What happens to stories when their words get eaten?

Recommended Halloween Reads:

Since I won’t post again until November 1, I’m sharing some good Halloween reads from my publisher.
Some are spooky, some are creepy, and some just full of tension:

Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain
Matowak: Woman Who Cries – Joylene Nowell Butler
Maski: Broken but not Dead– Joylene Nowell Butler
Parallels: Felix Was Here – IWSG Anthology
Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life – IWSG Anthology

What would you recommend?


Have you seen any of those horror films? What decoration do you want in your front yard – and why? Ready to try some new books from Toi? Entered the IWSG Anthology Contest? And who is up for a scary good read?

See you November 1 for the IWSG monthly posting!