Monday, May 9, 2022

Reviews: The Northman and Doctor Strange, A to Z Challenge Favorites, and New Releases

This Wednesday, I’m visiting Shannon Lawrence!

Movie Reviews

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to the multiverse, including alternate versions of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff.
This is how the movie is being billed. This is not the movie at all!
Without giving anything away, it’s another solid if a bit underwhelming entry into the Marvel Universe.
I was a bit disappointed with the main villain. (No spoilers.) And for whatever reason, I just wasn’t as fully invested as I was in other Marvel films.
Sam Raimi directorial style lends itself well to this horror-tinged Marvel entry. He throws in a lot of Evil Dead references.
There are a ton of surprise guests that relate back to the Disney+ television shows. And even more than that. (And one Sam Raimi regular that will make you smile.)
There were not enough multiverses. They flash through dozens on the first venture, but there are only two they dwell in.
Overall I liked it, and everyone did a great job in their roles, but I didn’t love it.
Recommended for fans and for fun.

The Northman

An action-filled epic that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father's murder.
This is the original Hamlet, based on a Norse story. (Shakespeare wrote his Hamlet after reading this story.) Alexander Skarsgård is Hamlet, Nicole Kidman his mother, Claes Bang his murderous uncle, Ethan Hawke his father, and Anya Taylor-Joy is Olga, his love.
If you know the works of director Eggers, you know this is going to be a bit strange. Go into it thinking art house meets action film.
Skarsgård is perfect as Hamlet. A hulking Viking figure. On a noble quest that goes horribly awry.
It really had the feel of an epic Viking tale. From the haunting soundtrack, the strange musical interludes, and the incredible cinematography. And a special mention to some of the camera shots which I have no idea how the director got them.
This is a film for anyone who is in the mood for something different, something other than the standard Hollywood fare.
If the above review hasn’t scared you away, then I highly recommend it.

A to Z Challenge

Those of you who participated in the A to Z Challenge, did you have fun? I participated the first year and for many years afterwards as an admin, but I know it would overwhelm me now. Life changes.

There were some fun themes though. In case you missed them, here are some I enjoyed. (Being the geek that I am.)

Diedre Knight’s posts focused on design, namely unique designs of buildings around the world. Every day was fascinating. Most of the places I’d never heard of but would love to visit someday.

J.S. Pailly did a series on Our Place in Space. In his words - I’ll be taking you on a partly imaginative and highly optimistic tour of humanity’s future in outer space. And it was a fun and educational adventure.

P.T. Dilloway posted his collection of action figures, which is impressive considering he covered every letter! Since I’m a DC guy, some of the Marvel character he posted were new to me.

Carrie-Anne paid homage to famous people from Ukraine, really giving in depth history into their lives. Amazing the talent that came from that area.

And Challenge founder Arlee Bird posted about his remaining vinyl collection. Want a trip back to the 60’s and 70’s? Check it out and thank him for starting the A to Z Challenge.

New Releases and More

Particular Passages 2: East Wing
Featuring The Killing Tree by Shannon Lawrence

15 Stories 15 Authors
Down another forgotten hallway lie more unexplored rooms.
Each room contains another world waiting to be discovered.
Some are wonderful and beautiful, others are dark and terrible.
You won't know which until you step inside.
So take a deep breath, and open the door...

Find it on Amazon

The Omen of Crows Nest by Cathrina Constantine

No blood. No body. No murder.
That's what the police found after Penelope spun her bizarre tale. In a hysterical state, she said her father was butchered and eaten by a mob of birds ~ in her bedroom.
They claim she's crazy.
That she suffers from delusions.
Penelope is dead set on proving them wrong.
After being institutionalized for eight months, Penelope is out and more determined than ever to find answers to her so-called hallucinations. With her father's untimely disappearance, she's convinced her family is hiding something sinister.

Find it on Amazon

And finally, the IWSG was asked to do a podcast and Diane Wolfe represented us. Check it out!
Voice America

Have you seen either movie and what did you think? What were some of your favorite themes during the A to Z Challenge? Picking up new books?

Be sure to visit Shannon Lawrence on Wednesday!

My final tour stop will be Friday, May 27 at Armed With a Book. Outside of that, I’ll see you June 1 for the next IWSG!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, May Movie Preview, Series Influencer, Star One Answers, and Ninja News

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 for the May 4 posting of the IWSG are Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!

Big news today! We are welcoming a new IWSG Admin to the team - Sandra Cox!
She will take on the Publications/Conferences page.
Please stop by her site and thank her for donating her time to this awesome group!

May 4 question - It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

Writer highs include the first draft done, cruising through edits and hearing from readers who enjoyed my books. Lows are when I a out of story ideas or slogging through the first draft.

CassaDark tour continues! Today I am visiting Damyanti Biswas and Christine Rains
On May 11, I’m visiting Shannon Lawrence

A Series Influencer by Sandra Cox

I’ll watch nearly any series, any genre, if the characters pull me in. Three of my favorites that have strong characters are: Black List, Reacher and Longmire. All different but all with protagonists that stick around a long time after the television is flicked off. Since I write Westerns, Longmire particularly stuck with me. The two main characters, Walt Longmire performed by Robert Taylor and ‘Vic’ Moretti performed by Katie Sackhoff, played well off each other. Their amazing chemistry strengthened the acting of the other in this modern-day police thriller set in the wilds of Wyoming.

Those two personas influenced two of my main characters in the Mateo series. One of the primary differences between Mateo and Walt: Mateo is a shifter. Somehow, I don’t see Walt Longmire shifting, do you? 😊


Behind the amicable façade is a man who’s tough and determined. He’s Mateo’s Blood Brother.
They were friends, close as brothers. Then they weren’t.
Mateo and Jesse are cautiously working their way back to friendship when Jesse discovers the unthinkable. Delilah, the sultry shifter who’d had affairs with both men, is still alive. The tumble she took over a mountain ridge—a fall that nearly killed Mateo—should have finished her.
Now, there’s no choice but for the two men to work together to take down a she-devil straight from hell. As the stakes escalate and the hunt becomes more intense, another wolf appears on the scene. Always where Jesse’s at. Always when he’s in trouble. Jesse is divided between ending Delilah, a new love interest, discovering the identity of a certain brown wolf and staying alive.

Available at Amazon

A funky little giveaway:
Commenters names will go into the proverbial hat and one name will be drawn to win an I Heart Books stretch bracelet.

And happy to say I was the winner on another site and soon my wife will be enjoying the bracelet. Thanks, Sandra!

Ninja News

New release:

Revenge of the Space-Surfing Butt Monkeys (Gale Harbour Book Two) by C.D. Gallant-King

Newfoundland, Canada, 1993.
It's been a year since a handful of kids defeated the Psycho Hose Beast in the sleepy town of Gale Harbour, Newfoundland. Our heroes have entered into the era of rollerblades, Super Nintendo and oversized plaid shirts… unless you’re a goth, then it’s the era of Maybelline eyeliner, boots with too many buckles, and infected safety-pin piercings.
Thirteen-year-old Niall O'Neil is navigating a blossoming relationship with his crush, Harper Jeddore. Unfortunately, the power that allowed them to defeat the monster from the deep is still within them, and they are no closer to understanding or controlling it. When just touching your girlfriend can kill innocent bystanders, it complicates the already precarious practice of teenage dating.
But lurking in the backdrop of teenage romance, a sinister power is growing in Gale Harbour, and dangerous people are turning up in the small town with possibly deadly intentions.
Will the kids defeat this new threat? What did the US Air Force leave in the abandoned Hansen Air Force base? What is a space-surfing butt monkey? And most importantly—will anyone get to touch a boob?

Horror / Science fiction / Comedy
Print ISBN 9798542434674 $13.99 USD
eBook ASIN B09RKG6772 $3.99 USD
Find it on Amazon, Amazon CA, and Amazon UK

C.D. Gallant-King is a comic fantasy and horror writer currently based in Ottawa, Ontario, though he was born and raised in Newfoundland, in a town eerily similar to Gale Harbour. He has self-published four novels, including HELL COMES TO HOGTOWN, which was a semi-finalist in Mark Lawrence’s 2018 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. His short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies by Mystery & Horror LLC and Dancing Lemur Press, as well as in The Weird and Whatnot magazine.
Find CD here - website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and Goodreads

Star One Lyric Answers

Knowing no fear, feeling no pain
No grief, no compassion, no guilt and no shame

The Terminator, song title – Fate of Man.

He lost his aim, each day the same
He's had enough of this boring game

Groundhog Day, song title – Today is Yesterday.

May Movie Preview

Here are the theatrical releases for May. Descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

6 –

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to the multiverse, including alternate versions of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff.
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Elizabeth Olsen, Michael Stuhlbarg
Multiverse of Madness – sure it’s Dr. Strange and not Dr. Fauci?

13 –

A young girl tries to understand how she mysteriously gained the power to set things on fire with her mind.
Director: Keith Thomas
Stars: Zac Efron, Kurtwood Smith, Gloria Reuben, Ryan Kiera Armstrong
A remake because fire has come such a long way since 1984…

27 –

Top Gun: Maverick
After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy's top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Val Kilmer
Who does Maverick fight this time? His age.

What are your writer highs and lows? Your writing influences? Get the Star One songs right? And what movies interest you this month?
Be sure to visit Damyanti Biswas and Christine Rains!

Monday, April 18, 2022

What to Watch at Home, Star One – Revel in Time Fun, and CassaDark Tour Continues

The CassaDark tour continues! Today’s stop is with Deniz Bevan.

The next stops in the tour:
April 18 - Yolanda Renee.
April 19 – Armed With a Book
April 20 – Annalisa Crawford
April 21 – C. Lee McKenzie
April 22 – Tyrean Martinson
April 25 – Sarah Foster
April 26 – Deniz Bevan

You can find CassaDark at iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Kobo, Scribed, and Goodreads
And would love it if you could vote for it on Goodreads’ Can’t Wait Sci-Fi Fantasy of 2022 and mark it Want to Read.

What to Watch

Binged-watched your favorite show already? Here are some other shows to watch.

Outer Range

From the IMDB: A rancher fighting for his land and family, who discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of Wyoming's wilderness.
Airing on Prime, it stars Josh Brolin. It’s a science fiction, supernatural, western drama that almost defies description.
Everything seems off, but in the best and most intriguing way possible. It creates a compelling and engaging show that makes you wonder what just happened even as you crave the next episode.

Resident Alien

Starring Alan Tudyk, Sara Tomko, and Corey Reynolds, this one is in its second season.
This is a drama-comedy-science fiction mash up with Tudyk as the alien in a human body, trying to blend while scheming plans. Tudyk is deadpan hilarious of course, but so is Reynolds, who plays the town sheriff.
If you haven’t caught this one yet, watch the first season and then dive into the second, which will wrap up soon.
Highly recommended!

Moon Knight

From the IMDB: Steven Grant discovers he's been granted the powers of an Egyptian moon god. But he soon finds out that these newfound powers can be both a blessing and a curse to his troubled life.
Oscar Isaac (Po in the latest Star Wars films) is Marc/Steven, both the Moon Knight, powers granted to them as avatars by Khonshu. He does a great job in the dual roles. (Possibly more?)
Ethan Hawke is good as the ‘villain’ and more complex than your average villain.
It’s quirky and fun. The Egyptian mythology adds an interesting element to it. But this is not your normal Marvel superhero series.
Recommended and don’t forget your brain.

Raised by Wolves

From the IMDB: Androids are tasked with raising human children on a mysterious planet.
Produced by Ridley Scott and in its second season. After his latest “Alien” type films, that should warn you it’s going to be weird and unsettling.
This show is bat-crap crazy and not always in a good way. But don’t let it put you off that it often makes no sense whatsoever.
Recommended if you are up for the weird.

Tokyo Vice

From the IMDB: A Western journalist working for a publication in Tokyo takes on one of the city's most powerful crime bosses.
Staring Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe, the Michael Mann style is understated. The gritty and realistic characters are very compelling and you root for them.
Something cool about the Japan setting and the crime element adds great noir.

Star One: Revel in Time

The latest from Star One (and Ayrean Lucasson) features songs about time travel/loop movies. It’s fun to guess the movie from the lyrics. Last week I teased you with this song:

Oh newly arrived back in old 55
You're not even alive yet
But what have you done... mother and son
You're fading away, yeah

And when the lightning strikes
You have to be precise
Exactly ten-o-four
And not a second before

If you guessed Back to the Future, you are correct! (The song is called Back From the Past.)

Try another:

Knowing no fear, feeling no pain
No grief, no compassion, no guilt and no shame
Built to attack, hе will be back
The fate of man liеs in his hands

Born in the ruins, a smoldering wasteland
Out of the ashes, a man will arise!
A hero at heart, a powerful soldier
Has come across time for the love of his life

This one will challenge you – it is about a time loop but definitely not a science fiction film:

He lost his aim, each day the same
He's had enough of this boring game
It's the same old song, time drags on
(There is nothing he can do about it)

Round the clock, it never stops
He can end his life, do whatever he likes
But it's all in vain, he can't explain
(There is nothing he can do about it
No, there's nothing he can do about it)

Answers in two weeks!

Until then, enjoy the title song, Revel in Time – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
And by the way, the skinny blonde guitarist is Lucasson – and he’s sixty-two years old!

Be sure to visit Deniz Bevan today.
See you May 4 for IWSG day!

Monday, April 11, 2022

CassaDark Tour, The Adam Project Review, and Star One Review

The CassaDark tour continues! Today’s stop is at Thoughts in Progress.

Here are last week’s and this week’s stops – a variety of guest post topics and one wacky interview:
April 6 – Diane Burton
April 6 – Kathy McKendry
April 7 – Cherie Colyer
April 8 – Toi Thomas
April 11 – Jemi Fraser
April 12 – Life by Chocolate – Robyn Alana Engel
April 13 – Gwen Gardner
April 14 – A to Z Challenge Blog
April 15 – Thoughts in Progress

And a special thanks to the dozens who posted about my book release. You guys rock!

For those who missed it:

“Cavanaugh returns to the world of his Cassa Series…for a fourth inventive space opera.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Find CassaDark at iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Kobo, Scribed, and Goodreads
And would love it if you could vote for it on Goodreads’ Can’t Wait Sci-Fi Fantasy of 2022 and mark it Want to Read.

The Adam Project Review

From the IMDB: After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-traveling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his 12-year-old self for a mission to save the future.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, and Zoe Saldana.
Direct to NetFlix and starring Reynolds, I didn’t have high hopes for this one. Which meant I was in for a big surprise!
Yes, it’s Reynolds being Reynolds, a role he does so well (with or without cursing). But the story was solid, the acting solid, and the special effects really good. And we really enjoyed it!
The film has heart, and the center of it is the two Adams. Neither is perfect – the elder scolds the younger for being so hard on his mom and then vice versa when it comes to their dad. There are some tender moments, probably the best one is when mom enters a bar for a glass of wine and elder Adam talks to her.
The movie is about conspiracy and elder Adam searching for his wife, played by Saldana. There are tense moments along with lots of banter between the two Adams.
Again, this one really surprised me. Recommended!

Star One – Revel in Time Album Review

From the mastermind and master musician, Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon), comes the third Star One album, focusing on time-travel movies.
Unlike previous albums, this one is a double CD. We get the full album, plus all eleven songs sung by alternate singers. This is a nice touch by Lucassen to include the alternates in the final product.
Lest you forget from my reviews of the other two albums, Star One creates songs about science fiction movies. (And sometimes shows.) So half the fun is figuring out what movie is represented by each song.
The title track is fun – Revel in Time. These lyrics should give you a clue as to the movie:

Climb aboard this strange machine
Hang on, enjoy the ride
Jump into this crazy dream
Step inside and let it fly

Napoleon Bonaparte, Beethoven
Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Abe Lincoln
Sigmund Freud, Socrates, and Billy
Snatched from time
Kidnapped from the annals of history

Yes, that is Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure!

See if you can guess this one (answer next week):

Oh newly arrived back in old 55
You're not even alive yet
But what have you done... mother and son
You're fading away, yeah

And when the lightning strikes
You have to be precise
Exactly ten-o-four
And not a second before

Overall, this is the most rocking Star One yet. A little heavier with a lot of fun.
Favorite songs - Bridge of Life, sung by Damian Wilson (movie – Frequency) and Today is Yesterday, sung by Dan Swano (movie – Groundhog Day).
If you like fun rock/prog with a nostalgic touch, this is the album for you.
Highly recommended!

Visited some of my tour stops? (And big thanks to those who’ve purchased my book!) Seen The Adam Project? Heard of Star One? Can you guess the movie? Think you could guess the other films from the lyrics?

Be sure to visit the Thoughts in Progress!
Plus we have the honor of Janice Hardy visiting the IWSG site this week.