Monday, July 8, 2019

Spider-man: Far From Home, Stranger Things 3, Murders on Boats with Ellen Jacobson, and Ninja News!

Spider-man: Far From Home

Picking up after Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker needs a break and takes a school trip to Europe. Of course, Spider-man is needed!
This film was a ton of fun. Marvel just keeps getting better and better. It was a great idea to get Spider-man out of New York for a bit.
Tom Holland is excellent as Spider-man/Peter Parker, bringing just the right elements to the roles. His friends and classmates also made for a great cast.
The special effects are spectacular. However, it’s the human element that makes this film so engaging.
And remember this name – Night Monkey!
As always, stay through the credits. The first bonus scene is very critical and really sets up an interesting third Spider-man film. And at the end of the credits is the second bonus scene.
Highly recommended!

Stranger Things – Season Three

The third and possibly last season of Stranger Things dropped on the Fourth of July and I may or may not have watched half of it that day!
The kids are now teens and enjoying their summer. Everyone but Will has a girlfriend/boyfriend, so there are a lot of raging hormones. The familiar faces all return – the kids, the young adults, and the adults – plus there are a few new faces in the crowd.
The first episode establishes where the characters are in life, taking its time to introduce the weirdness. Oh, but it does come! There are also a lot of different subplots running along, but as the episodes progress, they all start to come together.
NetFlix had a lot of faith in season three and put a lot of money into the production. The special effects are really great and on a much bigger scale.
The Duffer brothers have a great grasp on all things 80’s. It feels like you are watching something from Steven Spielberg or Joe Dante.
Eight episodes is the perfect length. And all those subplots come together for one explosive and surprising ending. And certainly stick around for the post credit scene. It will make you wonder if this really is the final season. (They are now talking two more although maybe not with all the same characters.)
Highly Recommended!

Murders on Boats!

Please welcome Ellen Jacobson!

I love reading mysteries and I live on a sailboat, so it only seems natural that I would seek out movies and TV shows that feature murder on boats.

Death on the Nile (1978)
This classic adaptation of Agatha Christie’s book stars Peter Ustinov as the Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. When a wealthy heiress is found dead on a paddle steamer, Poirot puts his little gray cells to work identifying the killer.

Murder Mystery (2019)
This comedy stars Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler as a married couple who get caught up in a murder investigation on a billionaire’s mega-yacht. If you’re looking for a light-hearted whodunit, this might be just the ticket.

High Seas (2019)
This Netflix Spanish language series features two sisters who travel on a luxury cruise ship from Spain to Brazil. When someone ends up dead, they try to discover who the murderer is. The 1940s vintage period decor and setting add to the appeal.

Dead Men Tell (1941)
Charlie Chan investigates the death of a woman who planned to seek out treasure on an old sailing ship. A pirate ghost with peg leg, missing pieces of a treasure map, and a talking parrot add to the fun.

The Mystery Cruise (2013)
When two best friends set off on a three day murder mystery game on a luxury cruise ship, they end up putting their investigative skills to work after they discover a real murderer is on board.

Poisoned by the Pier is available in ebook, paperback and large print on all retailers. If you’re new to the series, you might want to start with Murder at the Marina. The ebook is currently on sale for only 99c/99p on all retailers. Find out more on my website.

Get Ellen’s books here - Poisoned by the Pier and Murder at the Marina

Ninja News

We are looking for one more admin to join the IWSG team! If you are interested, please email us. Must be active member of either the blog hop or Facebook. Email - admin @

Don’t forget the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest is open and taking submissions!
Genre is middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy and the theme is voyagers.
See the site for full details.

A Not So Heartless World by Pat Hatt
This is book nine in the series!

After facing time travel, time fractions, the time axis, the Time Junction, alternate realities, Olympus, the Freton, aging, and even being turned into cartoons, Jack, Jeremiah, Emily, Trudy, Orlin, and the rest of their family have finally made it safely home. But as a battle as old as time itself comes to a head, they soon find that home is the least safe place they have ever been.

Pick it up on Amazon

After sixty-seven years, Mad Magazine is shutting down.
From Rolling Stone:
The comedy mag will be pulled from newsstands after the release of issue nine in August and from then on will be sold exclusively via subscriptions and comic book store (Mad reset its numbering in 2018 after moving offices). Starting with issue 11 in October, “new” issues of Mad will only feature new cover art, while the rest of the magazine will comprise articles pulled from previous issues.

Upcoming DVD releases:

July 16 – Shazam!

July 23 – Alita: Battle Angel

And in case you missed it, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance series debuts on August 30 on NetFlix. The series is a prequel to the movie released in 1982.

Fingers crossed they stay pure to Jim Henson’s style and vision!

With a vacation coming up soon, I’m going to take the rest of July off. I’ll also be writing! So enjoy your summer and after this week, I’ll see you on August 7 for the next IWWSG post day.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Sci-fi Fantasy Movies, July Movie Preview, and More!

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 for the July 3 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

July 3 question: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

Most of my characters are nothing like me. Aden from Dragon of the Stars is pretty much my polar opposite. Only Byron from my Cassa series got any of my traits – I’m also a perfectionist and like my privacy. When I was younger, I had his temper, but I outgrew that. Like most rock stars, I mellowed with age…

And on a side note, I have been writing! Around a thousand words a night for the past week. But I’m in the groove and should have a finished story by August.

Science Fiction - Fantasy Movies

I'm so excited to have a spot on IWSG day at the grand poobah's place!

Alex is a top notch movie reviewer and sci fi writer, among other fantastic things... So as I celebrate the release of WINDY HOLLOW, fantasy adventure, I thought a short post about my favorite sci-fantasy movies would be apropos. Sci-fantasy incorporates sci fi settings or tech with some mystical or magical components. In Beast World, the fantasy creatures are no strangers to modern-day technology!

Here are some of my favorites of yon and of late... I didn't want to take up too much space, and I bet you could name a bunch more in the comments!

Star Wars (1977 sci-fantasy at its finest!)
Time Bandits (1981)
The Secret of Nimh (1982)
Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
The Matrix (1999)
I, Robot (2004)
WALL*E (2008)
Inception (2010)
Wreck It Ralph (2012)
Ready Player One (2018)

I always thought my Beast World stories would be awesome for an animated film series. They have everything I look for in a fantasy adventure movie: hijinks, young romance, difficult journeys, friendship, action, suspense, justice, unpredictability, highs, lows, soul-searching, unsung heroes, and lots of laughs. (Side note: I wrote this article back in January for my expected release back then... after some agony, I finally published it myself, then discovered a movie will be coming out next year: ONWARD by Pixar that is basically set in my Beast World. It’s been a devastating blow, but I’m working on getting noticed and taking it back!)

Anyway, thanks again for having me, Alex. I enjoyed the stroll down my sci-fantasy movie past and future. And for helping me get the word out about WINDY HOLLOW!

Did you think of a sci-fantasy movie you love? Ever wish your book could be turned into a movie?

Beast World MG Fantasy Series, book #3
by Tara Tyler
Available NOW!

This summer, Gabe and his friends fly over the Great Sea for the wedding of the century: a dragon prince and a beautiful harpy. But Gabe can't relax on this vacation. Besides competing in rigorous wedding events, he overhears the nearby human village WINDY HOLLOW is in danger from an evil human scientist and a vengeful were-ogre experimenting on beasts. Gabe and his friends risk crossing the mountains to help, despite several warnings. 

Maybe he's going too far this time, but he's in too deep to quit. It's do or die, hopefully not die!

twitter: @taratylertalks
Instagram: taratylertalks
newsletter: tara tyler news

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

IWSG Anthology Contest

Don’t forget the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest is open and taking submissions!
Genre is middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy and the theme is voyagers.
See the site for full details.

For those who are confused by the genre:
Middle grade – suitable for 9 – 14 year-old children.
Historical – it must have historical aspects and be set in a time before 2000 or earlier. It just needs to be set in the past.
Adventure/fantasy – the subgenre can be either adventure OR fantasy. The fantasy genre is acceptable as there are many ancient cultures and times that believed in supernatural occurrences.

Book News!

My publisher is running a Fourth of July special - buy a book and get a free book.

Full details on their site.

Poisoned by the Pier by Ellen Jacobson

Life without chocolate and junk food—completely miserable. Finding someone poisoned by a cake—even worse.
Can Mollie nab the murderer before someone else is poisoned?
Spoiler Alert: You’ll never look at rutabagas the same way again after you finish reading this book!

Find Poisoned at the Pier on Amazon and Goodreads
Find Ellen at her website and blog

July Movie Preview

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

2 –

Spiderman: Far From Home
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.
Director: Jon Watts
Stars: Zendaya, Angourie Rice, Tom Holland, Jon Favreau
Saw this on opening night - awesome! Don't miss it. And stay for the double ending. Totally worth it. Review next week!

12 –

A detective recruits his Uber driver into an unexpected night of adventure.
Director: Michael Dowse
Stars: Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Betty Gilpin, Kumail Nanjiani
Drax takes an Uber…

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a Category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators. Director: Alexandre Aja
Stars: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Ross Anderson, Anson Boon
Alligators attacking during a hurricane. I dread the Asylum/SyFy rip-off coming – Sharknado vs. Hurrigator.

19 –

The Lion King
After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: John Kani, Seth Rogen, Donald Glover, Keegan-Michael Key
At this point, Disney doesn’t need an original thought ever again…

26 –

Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood
A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Sydney Sweeney
Tarantino puts 70’s Hollywood in a blender.

Do your characters have your personality traits? What are your favorite science fiction - fantasy films? Picking up Windy Hollow,  Poisoned at the Pier, or another book? (Ellen will be here on Monday!) Submitting to the IWSG Anthology Contest? And what July movies catch your eye?

Monday, June 24, 2019

Reviews - Toy Story 4, NOS4A2, Prodigy, and Baroness’s Gold and Grey Album – Plus New Releases

Jamie at Just the Cheese is interviewing Chewbacca (played by me) on Wednesday – check it out for some slightly raunchy laughs!

Plus – we have a guest at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site today who got a three book deal all because of #IWSGPit! So check it out.

Movie Reviews

Toy Story 4 

There was no short before the film, which was fine. (The one about the woman eating her dumpling son was just weird.)
This film had the feel good sensibilities of the first movie and it felt similar in tone. It picks up not too long after Andy gave the toys to Bonnie.
It was great seeing all the characters again. Newcomer Forky added a lot of humor. Bonnie made him at school out of a spork from the trash and he keeps climbing back into trash cans while Woody does what he can to convince Forky he’s Bonnie’s new favorite toy, not trash.
The animation is of course spectacular.
On the surface it seems like a kid’s movie, but the many adult themes that weave their way through the story will resonate with adults. Woody was purposeless and didn’t know where he fit in anymore – that’s a heavy concept for kids.
It was a fitting way to end it, if it really is the end this time.
Not my favorite Toy Story but better than three and I enjoyed it.


From the IMDB - Charlie Manx, a seductive immortal who feeds off the souls of children, has his whole world threatened when a young woman (Vic McQueen) in New England discovers she has a dangerous gift.
For those who think famous people’s kids get all the breaks – well, they do. I’ve never read any of the books by Joe Hill (a.k.a. – Joe KING) so I can’t speak to the man’s writing prowess. But after watching the first couple episodes, the story is very entertaining.
It’s like X-Men combined with horror. Some people have unique special powers. Some can go anywhere through a magical bridge and find lost things (like Vic McQueen), some can see the future through Scrabble tiles, and some (like Charlie Manx) can stay perpetually young by siphoning life from children.
It’s an interesting twist on the vampire legend. Stephen King called it ‘Scary as hell,’ but it’s not really scary – just very intriguing. (Yeah, don’t you wish your dad was famous and gave you a blurb like that?) Although it is starting to drag just a little bit...
The show is on AMC – recommended.


From Rotten Tomatoes - A secret branch of the military calls upon psychologist James Fonda to take the case of a dangerous patient, nine-year-old Ellie.
This is an effective film on a very tiny budget, taking place in one building. It’s a science fiction thriller/drama that’s all psychological, so don’t expect a lot of action. It’s a cat-and-mouse battle of wits between Ellie and James.
What really sells the movie is the actress playing Ellie, Savannah Liles. She is chilling as the gifted, super-genius, and very dangerous child. She’s also cold and heartless, making it even more difficult to get through to her. And scary to try!
It doesn’t break new ground, but it’s definitely worth a watch.

Baroness - Gold and Grey

I picked up their first album, Red, in 2007. While I enjoyed it, the album reminded me of Mastodon. I kind of forgot about them until Purple was released in 2015 and I fell in love with their unique brand of rock, sludge, and prog rock.
Cut to Gold and Grey which furthers their sound and cements them in my eyes (or ears) as one of the most vibrant and interesting bands making music today.
Every song has its own feel and style, and yet they all fit together to create a cohesive – dare I say – masterpiece. Practically every song is an earworm in the best way possible.
So catchy and inventive, it’s my second favorite album of the year. (Right behind Devon Townsend’s Empath.) I recommend it for people who enjoy music that challenges them.

New Releases

Windy Hollow
Beast World MG Fantasy Series, book #3
By Tara Tyler

In BROKEN BRANCH FALLS, Gabe and his friends go on a quest to save their school, blowing up all the rules, and discover their origins.
Then they go to CRADLE ROCK and meet some real live humans, scaring them into attack mode. The Beasts realize they have to spread the truth ASAP.
Now, school's out, and Gabe is ready for a break from all the drama...
Gabe and his friends fly over the Great Sea for the wedding of the century: a dragon prince and a beautiful harpy. But Gabe can't relax on this vacation. Besides competing in rigorous wedding events, he overhears the nearby human village WINDY HOLLOW is in danger from an evil human scientist and a vengeful were-ogre experimenting on beasts. Gabe and his friends risk crossing the mountains to help, despite several warnings.
Maybe he's going too far this time, but he's in too deep to quit. It's do or die, hopefully not die!

Find it on Amazon

The Demon Kiss
Rite World: Blackthorn Hunters Academy, Book 1
By Juliana Haygert
A young woman with a secret heritage. A man who made a deal with the devil. And an academy where the students are just as dangerous as the demons...
Find it on Amazon

City of Wished 4: The Eternal Night
By Rachel Morgan
Cinderella retold: Fae, vampires, shifters, and a Godmother who’ll grant you any wish—if you pay the price.
Find it on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble

Don’t forget the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest is open and taking submissions!

Genre is middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy and the theme is voyagers.

See the site for full details.

Anyone else see Toy Story 4? Watching NOS4A2? Seen Prodigy? Want to take a chance on Baroness’ great new album? Picking up some new books? And are you entering the IWSG Anthology Contest – just two more months to send your submission!
See you next Wednesday for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post.
And don’t forget to visit Just the Cheese !

Monday, June 10, 2019

RiffTrax: Live – Star Raiders Review! Ronel Talks Music, Smallfoot and Wandering Earth Reviews, and Ninja News

RiffTrax: Live – Star Raiders!

June 6 was the latest RiffTrax: Live event, showcasing Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine, starring Caper Van Dien of Starship Troopers fame. (Which they also riffed a couple years ago – Casper doesn’t have a good track record with movies.)

The show started with an educational short about lying. Kids discussing lying with a teacher. Kids obsessing over a man laying cement. Kids throwing rocks and breaking a window. I’d be lying if any of it made sense, but the guys had fun with it.

Then came the feature film and the opening credits showed Casper scanning the horizon with binoculars, to which the guys said he was searching the cast for another name actor. (None were to be found.)

At another point, someone commented that the effects weren’t too bad for 1992 but he was corrected – the film came out eighteen months ago! That’s right – the craptastic film came out in 2017.

The acting was bad. The plot was thin and in most spots made no sense. The dialogue was beyond cheesy. And the special effects ranged from ‘okay’ to worse than an Asylum film.

This was inside Saber Raine’s ship. Yes, that is a submarine periscope in his spaceship!

One of the aliens didn’t speak English and the guys dubbed him Gary. “Gary, you are the voice of reason.”
Ironically, we watched Gary die four times in the film. I guess they missed that in editing.

However, it was a blast and very funny! Do not attempt to watch this film without RiffTrax. (DVD comes out later this year.)

Next up The Giant Spider Invasion on August 15!

Music and Dark Desires by Ronel

When Alex said that this post should focus on progressive rock/metal, at first I had no idea what that meant. And then I Googled it. Mm, yeah, I definitely listen to progressive rock!

For those who don’t know, progressive rock is a style of rock music popular especially in the 1970s and characterized by classical influences, the use of keyboard instruments, and lengthy compositions (according to the online dictionary).

I love using music to inspire me while I’m writing. During the planning phase of “Dark Desires”, I listened to a lot of Rush and a bit of Deep Purple (yeah, “Smoke On the Water” was on replay).

Linkin Park probably doesn’t fit in with the genre (though I think they might despite not being listed as such along with other favourite bands like Muse, Led Zeppelin and others in this post), but that is what I listened to while drafting the story. There’s just something about the music itself – forget the lyrics for a moment – that makes creativity flow.

Rush and Queen helped me to polish the story and get it ready for publication. In the TV series “Chuck”, Morimoto who created the arcade game “Missile Command” called Rush the music of the universe. I think he might be right. Chuck later figured out that there is a correlation between the music (specifically “Tom Sawyer”) and how to play the game, some mathematical pattern others couldn’t see. Maybe it’s the same with writing?

There are other great prog rock bands, of course, but these guys helped me with this specific story. (If you click on the links on each band, you’ll be led to a post on my blog about them.)

Find Dark Desires on all platforms: UBL

Award-winning author Ronel Janse van Vuuren mainly writes for teens and tweens, though she is known to write mythology-filled short stories for anthologies aimed at older readers. Her dark fantasy works, usually full of folklore, can be viewed on her website and on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
Sign up to be notified of new releases, giveaways and pre-release specials – plus get a free eBook – when you join Ronel’s newsletter.
Connect with Author Ronel Janse van Vuuren: Website, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Instagram, and Amazon author page

Movie Reviews


A Yeti named Migo goes in search of the elusive smallfoot – humans.
It’s a simple message – people hurt by others, create rules and build walls to prevent it happening again. But walling ourselves off from others isn’t the answer. And we always need to seek the truth. (And in the deluge of media crap these days, that is so true!)
The animation is good. The scenery is very realistic while the characters are cartoony, which works.
It was mildly entertaining and better than I expected.
Recommended for a rainy day rental.

The Wandering Earth

The sun is dying and thrusters are built to move Earth to a new location.
This film made 800 million world-wide. I have no idea why…
It was ambitious to take on the book. Hopefully it’s not as bad as this film.
This film is just stupid and on so many levels. So many plot holes, inexplicable character actions, etc. There is no rhyme or reason why the two main characters leave the underground sanctuary. The mystery sister’s origins aren’t revealed until over halfway into the film. (Like the director forgot to explain it and stuck something in to cover his butt.) Actual science is out the window. (Move the Earth to another galaxy? Really?)
Plus there’s a HAL computer who wants to kill everyone.
And it’s good video game animation, but it’s not realistic and looks bad on the big screen.
This film makes Michael Bay movies look intelligent.
Not recommended!

Ninja News!

IWSG Anthology Contest

Don’t forget the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest is open and taking submissions!
Genre is middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy and the theme is voyagers.
See the site for full details.

New release!
Hoosier Dad by Elizabeth Seckman

Find it on all platforms HERE

Did you catch RiffTrax’s Star Raiders? You don’t want to miss the August show! Does music inspire your writing? Seen Smallfoot or The Wandering Earth? And are you entering the IWSG Anthology Contest?

I’m not posting next Monday but I will poke in and check on people during the week.