Monday, October 19, 2020

Ayreon-Transitus Review; Movie Reviews – Tenet, The Addams Family, Vampires vs. the Bronx; and Princelings Revolution

Movie Reviews


From director Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight) comes another mind-twist of a movie that deals with the concept of inversion. A man known as the Protagonist is given one word, Tenet, and sent off to save the world. This was the first major film released since March and I finally got to see it in the theater.

Nolan likes to take your brain and put it in a blender. Like Inception, this is very high-concept science fiction. You really have to pay attention from the beginning to the end. Everything you see ties together in one place or another – it’s very intricate and layered.

It was certainly more humorous than I’d been led to believe. And of course the action scenes were incredible. They have to be seen on the big screen, especially the scene with the airplane crashing into the building. (Which was done in one take!)

The entire cast is great. John David Washington (Denzel Washington’s son) plays the Protagonist and just excels in the role. Robert Pattison is the one who helps him and after seeing him in this role, I can definitely see him as Batman. Kenneth Branagh exudes deadly, cold villainy and Elizabeth Debicki as his trapped wife brings a strong human element to the story. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla) rounds out the cast.

The only knock on the film has to do with the background sound/music sometimes overwhelming the dialogue, and in a film where you really have to hear every word, that makes it a challenge. Not sure if that was a production issue or a theater issue.

Definitely one of Nolan’s best, although I’m sure not everyone will love it. I did and can’t wait to see it again. (And I just might since not much else is coming out right now.)

Highly recommended!

The Addams Family

From the IMDB:
The eccentrically macabre family moves to a bland suburb where Wednesday Addams' friendship with the daughter of a hostile and conformist local reality show host exacerbates conflict between the families.
Featuring the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloƫ Grace Moretz, and Finn Wolfhard.
We watched this with low expectations since there have been so many incarnations of the Addams Family. However, we were pleasantly surprised.
It keeps the feel of the family, their relationships, their home life, etc. while putting a fresh spin on the tale.
There are a lot of funny moments. Keep your eye on their pet lion.
The animation is simple but stylish and the plot keeps moving at a good pace.

Vampires vs. the Bronx

A group of kids who want to battle the company purchasing all the local businesses but what they end up battling are vampires.
This debuted this month on NetFlix and it’s very similar to Attack the Block. Not as good or funny but it tries. This mostly stems from unoriginality and some borrowed scenes from other films, such as Lost Boys.
However, what does make the film enjoyable are the three lead boys. They play well off each other and elevate the quality of the story.
Worth a watch if you’re bored.

Ayreon – Transitus Review

Another double concept album from the brilliance that is Arjen (Ayreon) Lucassen.

The story –
This album departs from the science fiction theme and returns to a Human Equation story. It’s the 1890’s and Daniel, son of a wealthy white man, falls in love with Abby, one of their black servants. The album opens with a fire killing Daniel and Abby believing she is responsible. Daniel finds himself in Transitus and asks the Angel of Death to let him plead his case and clear Abby’s name. The angel takes him to when he first met Abby and then back to the present and everything that happens after his death.

The musicians –

Tommy Karevik, an Ayreon regular, sings the role of Daniel. Cammie Gilbert is Abby and she brings a lot of passion and soul to the role. Tom Baker (Doctor Who!) is the storyteller and does an outstanding job. Ayreon regular Marcela Bouio sings several parts and Michal Mills has fun as the statue. (But what do I know? I’m just a dumb piece of rock!) And for the American fans, they get Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) in the role of the father. Joost VanDen Broek is in his standard place at the keyboards and Joe Satriani even plays on one song. New additions to the vast array of musicians include someone playing a Hurdy Gurdy and the choir Hellscore.

The music –

This is probably Ayreon’s most accessible albums. It’s still prog rock but not as complex as usual. It’s more of a rock opera than anything else.
Disc two has a couple flat spots but otherwise it moves at a fast pace. It definitely sounds like Ayreon.
I got the full boxed set with two extra discs, a DVD, and the full graphic novel. (Which really helps when trying to follow the story.)
If you’re a fan, then it’s a must get!

Visit Arjen Lucassen’s site for more Ayreon information and details.

The Princelings of the East – The Movie

I finished my ten-books series last week/month, with the launch of Princelings Revolution. Of course, now I’m thinking about the movie rights.

The Princelings of the East - the movie
What would it look like?

Imagine if Lord of the Rings met the Aviator and spiced it up with Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. I think that just about does it.

Grand sweeping vistas, princelings George and Fred travelling from castle to castle, battling misunderstandings, pirates, intrigue and self-interest. Fred eventually gets promoted to king, with all the trouble that brings, while George continues the mad inventor trope, developing from basic biplanes to super-sleek flying boats, all running on strawberry juice fuel.

Who would be in it?
I’ve always imagined Fred as Ewan MacGregor, even if he (like me) has got a lot older in the last ten years. Viggo Mortensen would still cut a dash as the noble Prince Lupin of Buckmore. Ann Hathaway as Lady Nimrod, Keira Knightly as Princess Kira. I’m not sure who would play George, but maybe Ewan could double up, as they are twins, after all.

Ready to sign them up?
If you want the movie rights, get in touch, otherwise buy the books (ebook, paperback or audio).

Buy Princelings Revolution at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords
Find Jemima Pett - Blog, Website, Twitter, and Facebook

Anyone else venture out to see Tenet? Heard the latest from Ayreon? (So many great musicians!) Seen The Addams Family or Vampires vs. the Bronx? Want to see a Princelings movie?
I will be back on November 4 for the next installment of the IWSG!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Enola Holmes Review, October Movie Preview, 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.

The awesome co-hosts today are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!

Need IWSG co-hosts for November! At least four, five is even better. (We have none at the moment.)
And two more for December and hosts for January. (Which is when we’ll announce the winners of the IWSG Anthology Contest.)
Leave a comment or email me if you can host any of those months.

October 7 question - When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

Good question! I picture a working writer as someone who makes a good portion of their income from their writing. (It could mean a writer who is still working a job, but that doesn’t sound as fun.) As for me, unless I’m writing after retiring (which isn’t too far away), being an author will remain a side project.

Now, guitarist in a prog band – I can picture that!

Enola Holmes Review

From the IMDB:
When Enola Holmes-Sherlock's teen sister-discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord.
Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, and Louis Partridge
Based on a young adult book series.
This debuted on NetFlix last month and certainly rates as one of their best productions. If you enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr., you will enjoy this film. Definitely a lighter version, though – more family friendly. It’s a blend of Young Sherlock Holmes and the Guy Richie films.
It’s quirky, fun, and Enola breaks the fourth barrier several times. Brown is perfect in the role as Enola and very resourceful. Cavil’s reserved Sherlock is more true to the books, so don’t expect Robert Downey Jr. craziness.
The production values are excellent and you really feel like you are in Victorian England. This is top notch cinema from NetFlix.
Highly recommended.

New Releases!

Psycho Hose Beast From Outer Space by CD Gallant-King

Gale Harbour hasn’t seen any excitement since the military abandoned the base there thirty years ago, unless you count the Tuesday night 2-for-1 video rentals at Jerry's Video Shack. So when a dead body turns up floating in the town water supply, all evidence seems to point to a boring accident.

Find it on Amazon, Amazon CA, and Amazon UK

Frozen Crimes by Chrys Fey

Beth and Donovan are expecting their first child. Life couldn't get any better...until a stalker makes his presence known. This person sends disturbing messages and unsettling items, but it isn't long before his menacing goes too far.

Find it at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play

October Movie Releases

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for October. (And our theaters are open now – I can finally go see a movie again!) As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

9 –

Honest Thief
Wanting to lead an honest life, a notorious bank robber turns himself in, only to be double-crossed by two ruthless FBI agents.
Director: Mark Williams
Stars: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan
Neeson says ‘Give me back my son!’ while being attacked by wolves on a train…

16 –

When an outbreak hits, Aidan barricades himself inside his apartment and starts rationing food. His complex is overrun by infected Screamers, and with the world falling apart into chaos, he is left completely alone fighting for his life.
Director: Johnny Martin
Stars: Donald Sutherland, Tyler Posey, Robert Ri'chard, John Posey
Isn’t this plot the year we’ve just lived through?

23 –

Two New Orleans paramedics' lives are ripped apart after they encounter a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects.
Directors: Justin Benson | Aaron Moorhead
Stars: Jamie Dornan, Anthony Mackie, Katie Aselton, Ally Ioannides
I like a movie that scoops out my brain with a melon ball and plays with it.

What does a working writer look like to you? Seen Enola Holmes yet? Ready to hit the theater again? And who can co-host in the coming months?
 I’ll be back October 19 with a guest, movie reviews, and a review of Ayeron’s latest double concept album, Transitus. (Hint- it’s awesome!)

Monday, September 14, 2020

Mayan Adventure – Movies Filmed in Belize and Latin Flavors Blogfest! Plus Bill and Ted Face the Music, Project Power, and More

Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure!

Movies Filmed in Belize

Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure takes place in Belize. When Alex asked me to come up with a movie-related post, I thought it would be interesting to see if any movies had been filmed there. I knew from my own visit that it had a lot of cool places that would be perfect for filming beach and jungle scenes. Sure enough, I found six. Here they are:

1. Curse of Xtabai (2012). This 80-minute thriller is the first dramatic movie filmed entirely in Belize. When a sealed Mayan cave is blown open, the evil Xtabai is freed. She infects the inhabitants of a nearby village with a deadly virus and wreaks havoc on the world. Maybe she’s the one who caused the corona virus pandemic! 

2. Alien Origin (2012) This action-packed movie features scenes of Belize’s cave system. The premise is that the origins of life on earth are revealed in these deep, dark caves.

3. The Dogs of War (1980) A mercenary on a job in Africa is tortured and deported. He comes back to lead a coup. This one features many well-known Belize landmarks. 

4. Mosquito Coast (1986): Starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren. An inventor moves his family to the jungles of Central America to make a utopia. I wonder how that worked out! It features San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and Belize City. I’d like to see this one because these are all places I saw or stayed at on my trip to Belize.

5. Mega Piranha (2010): Action movie shot entirely in Belize about killer piranhas that threaten to destroy everything in their path. I’m sure glad I didn’t meet any of those when I went SCUBA diving there! 

6. The Cay (1974): Staring James Earl Jones. This one is about people wrecked on a tropical island following a WWII torpedo attack.

Have you seen or heard of any of these movies? Are there any you’d like to see?

Thanks for having me as a guest, Alex!

Latin Flavors Blogfest

Prompt: What is your favorite Latin-flavor recipe?

I have to go with my standby favorite – chicken fajita quesadilla!
Bell peppers, onions, chili powder, Mexican cheese blend, and chicken cooked and finished off in a tortilla sandwich. Easy and tasty!

An Ancient Mayan civilization!
That’s what Bubba and Squirt find when they travel through the mysterious vortex for another wild adventure. There they meet archeologists who are unearthing priceless artifacts.
But someone is stealing them. And an encounter with the Tat
e Duende awakens magic within Bubba. Throw in the mysterious Alux and a new discovery and things get sticky.
Will Bubba and Squirt solve the mystery, or will they be stuck forever in the jungles of Belize?
Find it at Amazon, iTunes Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Goodreads, Books A Million, Amazon UK, and Amazon CA

About the Author: Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano. When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world. Ellis has previously published, Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China; Don’t Feed the Elephant; Ten Zany Birds; That Mama is a Grouch; and That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN. Ellis lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Find Sherry at her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon

Movie Reviews

Bill and Ted Face the Music

From the IMDB:
Once told they'd save the universe during a time-traveling adventure, 2 would-be rockers from San Dimas, California find themselves as middle-aged dads still trying to crank out a hit song and fulfill their destiny.
The last Bill and Ted was in 1991 – their Bogus Journey. It ended with them returning after studying with the masters for two years with kids – Ted Jr. and Bill Jr.
Only, they weren’t boys! Nope, this movie kicks off approximately twenty years later with their teen daughters, who act just like them, trying to help their fathers create that perfect song that will save the world. (Special props to Brigette Lundy-Paine who plays Billie, Ted’s daughter – she is more Ted than Keanu Reeves.)
Where it works, it really works. We’ve missed Bill and Ted! But the film is a bit uneven. There is a lot happening and several groups of people time jumping through the phone booth and more. Plus one thing that is noticeably absent is the music soundtrack. There is no Extreme’s Play With Me or Winger’s Battle Stations. And William Sadler does show up as Death, but not until towards the end of the film.
This was supposed to be a big release this past summer. Now you can either rent it for twenty bucks or buy it for twenty-five. If you’re a fan, you might as well just buy it.
Despite the issues, we will be watching it again.

Project Power

From the IMDB:
When a pill that gives its users unpredictable superpowers for five minutes hits the streets of New Orleans, a teenage dealer and a local cop must team with an ex-soldier to take down the group responsible for its creation.
Starring Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Dominique Fishback.
Had I gone to the theater, I would’ve been very disappointed. It’s not bad, but it’s not anything groundbreaking or new. A lot of average.
Probably the best part is the relationship between Foxx and Fishback. She was one sharp cookie. And Foxx is always entertaining.
Gordon-Levitt was a little bit lost in the film. Odd to hear him with a Louisiana accent, that’s for sure.
If you’re bored, there are worse ways to kill time.

Ninja News

Urgent! My friend Roland Yeomans is homeless due to Hurricane Laura. He lost almost everything and if he doesn’t find a place to stay by the end of the month, he will be homeless and lose his cat, Midnight.
You can help him by donating to his PayPal account - rxena77 @

Author Jacqui Murray read and loved CassaStar. She featured it so please be sure to visit her!

Katherine’s Corner is hosting a Tell Me a Story series through September.
Every Tuesday is a new author and excerpt.
On September 8, she featured me and Dragon of the Stars!
Please visit her site for my Tell Me a Story feature.

New releases:

Zero Usage by Pat Hatt

Day by day. Meter by meter. That was my life for years. But then I came across a meter that read zero usage. If only I hadn't read that meter. If only smart meters had gotten in sooner. If only my fair-weather vehicle hadn't broken down. If only could be my life story. Instead, I have this story to tell.
Find it on Amazon

Tales from the Toxic World by Sean McLachlan

A scavenger with a wondrous artifact from the Old Times sets out to avenge his past …
Find it on Amazon

And finally – Wonder Woman 1984 has been pushed back to December! (I should get to see it in the theater by then.) Apparently the numbers for Tenet, expected to be sixty million but with theaters at one third the capacity, was only twenty million.
And yes, for those who asked if I would dare go out to a theater – I would! Goodness, I am in more danger at work than I would be at a theater. And life must go on. Mask, distance, and I am on it.

Have you seen any of those films filmed in Belize? What’s your Latin flavor? Seen Bill and Ted or Project Power? Visited either of those amazing features – what an honor for me!
Be back in two weeks with some music reviews and more!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Upcoming Movie Releases, New Book Releases, 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.

The awesome co-hosts today are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

September 2 question - If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

I’d want to go with someone who writes what I enjoy and who aspire to write like, so it would be either Timothy Zahn or Terry Brooks. Zahn’s Star Wars books are excellent and Sword of Shannara is the book that formed my love of fantasy.

Author Jacqui Murray read and loved CassaStar the feature is up now!. Please be sure to visit her!

Katherine’s Corner is hosting a Tell Me a Story series through September.

Every Tuesday is a new author and excerpt.

On September 8, she will be featuring me and Dragon of the Stars. And it's live now!

Please visit her site for my Tell Me a Story feature.

Don’t forget today, September 2, is the last day to enter the IWSG Anthology Contest!

Guidelines and rules:
Word count: 4500-6000
Genre: Science Fiction
Theme: Dark Matter
Submissions accepted: May 6 - September 2, 2020
How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no footers or headers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group. (MUST be a member to enter.)
Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.
Our judges: Dan Koboldt, Lynda R. Young, Colleen Oefelein, Damien Larkin, Ion Newcombe, Julie Gwinn, and David Powers King

The next #IWSGPit Twitter pitch event is January 20!
Will you be ready?

When’s the last time we had a blog hop outside of the IWSG? We need one!
Sherry Ellis is hosting the Latin Flavors blog hop September 14-18 in celebration of the release of her next book, Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure.
Join us!

New Releases

Love and Other Lies by MJ Fifield

For years, Lavinia Kelly has gone through the motions, content to let life pass her by…

Find it on Amazon

Wielder’s Storm trilogy by Lynda R. Young

The Wielder's Storm Trilogy is an action-packed epic fantasy that will sweep you across the high seas on a thrilling adventure full of exciting twists.
This complete box set contains Wielder’s Prize, Wielder’s Curse and Wielder’s Fire.

I’ve read the first book and it’s awesome!

Find it on Amazon

I Am a Quarantine Survivor by PJ Colando

All proceeds will be donated to a food bank that helps people survive despite the COVID-culture that surrounds us…

Find it on Amazon

Upcoming Movie Releases

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

September 3 -

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki
Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.
Yes, this comes out tomorrow. No, I will not be able to see it because our theaters are still closed!!! I hate my state.

September 25 –

Ava is a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organization, traveling the globe specializing in high profile hits. When a job goes dangerously wrong she is forced to fight for her own survival.
Director: Tate Taylor
Stars: Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Common
If more theaters are open, this one might have a chance.

October 2 –

Wonder Woman 1984
Fast forward to the 1980s as Wonder Woman's next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.
Director: Patty Jenkins
Stars: Gal Gadot, Connie Nielsen, Pedro Pascal, Chris Pine
Our theaters damn well better be open for this one! Or it’s road trip time.

What author would be your beta partner? Entering the IWSG Anthology Contest last minute? Joining the Latin Flavors Blog Hop? Picking up some new books? What movies will you miss in the theater over the next month?
Monday is Labor Day, so I will be offline. I will be back on September 14 with movie reviews (including Bill and Ted Face the Music) and more!