Monday, October 18, 2021

Series and Movie Reviews, Movie Trailers and News, and New Books

Series/Movie Reviews and News

Squid Game

From the IMDB: Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children's games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits with deadly high stakes. A survival game that has a whopping 45.6 billion-won prize at stake.
A South Korean series set in current time, Squid Game tells a very dystopian story.
The first season took many twists and turns I was not expecting, some of them actually pleasant.
It is very dark and extremely violent. Some of the games are tough to watch.
But what makes it engaging are the characters, especially the lead, Lee Jung-jae. They bring humanity to the cold-hearted games.
If you can handle the violence, I highly recommend it.

What We Do in the Shadows

From the IMDB: A look into the daily (or rather, nightly) lives of three vampires, who've lived together for over 100 years, on Staten Island.
Season three just dropped and it’s just as funny as ever.
Nadja, Laszlo, Nandor, and Colin, along with Guillermo, now promoted from servant to guardian, continue to bungle their way through situations with often hilarious results. Nandor and Nadja are now head of the Vampiric Counsel – of course taking turns and undoing each other’s work.
This might be the dumbest collection of vampires ever to hit the screen. It makes for a very silly and light-hearted show.
This series is based on the original movie and still written by creator Jemaine Clement. (He’s also an actor – look for him in the upcoming Avatar films.)
If you’ve never watched this mockumentary series, it’s a must – highly recommended!

News of the World

From the IMDB: A Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.
It’s a very simple and sometimes slow-paced story. The glue is the relationship between Hanks and Zengel. Two lost souls who need each other.
There are some intense action scenes, but it’s the bond between the two that carries the film.

DC Fandome debuted a teaser trailer and a teaser feature of Black Adam starring Dwayne Johnson, coming out next year:

And a teaser/trailer of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom:

Denis Villeneuve's Dune comes out in theaters October 22 – but it will release one day earlier on HBO Max!
Like all Warner Bros. releases this year, it will appear in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously. This might hurt its theatrical release even as it pleases those who still don’t want to gather in a crowded theater.
I plan on seeing it in the theater and will probably watch it one or two more times on HBO Max.

New Books!

The Life and Times Of Color by HR Sinclair

This book is for people who love color, history, trivia, and superstitions. I’ve collected bits of information on color ideas around the world, added a color thesaurus, and color descriptors as well as places and things that are predominantly one color that a writer could drop into a scene if they’re looking for a pop of color. But this is not just for writers, it’s for everyone who’s fascinated with color.
Read more about the book here
Universal purchase links here

Write Well, featuring Rosemary Johnson

A handbook for Christian writers from the Association of Christian Writers.
Find it at their site

Long-time blogger friend, Katherine’s Corner, is hosting Autumn on a Tray this November 6. 
Visit her site for details.

Seen either series or the movie? Looking forward to the DC movies next year? Seeing Dune in the theater? Picking up either book?
Don’t forget – October 26 is RiffTrax: Live – Amityville Horror 4, live in theaters!
See you November 3 for the IWSG post.

Almost forgot - Books Forward is featuring the IWSG today and an interview with me about the group!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, October Movie Releases, Romulan Ale, Friends to the End, and New Books

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 October 6 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, J Lenni Dorner, Cathrina Constantine, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard!

Today’s question: In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

I’ve two guests today, so I’ll keep it brief. I won’t write something I’d be afraid to show my pastor.

Romulan Ale and Beverages in Science Fiction

If you enjoy science fiction movies and books, you might have noticed a tendency for writers to give a unique twist to beverages and food. Romulan ale, the famed blue alcoholic beverage from the Star Trek universe was first introduced in the original Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn.

"Romulan ale? Why Bones, you know this is illegal."
"I only use it for medicinal purposes."

– James T. Kirk and Leonard McCoy, 2285 (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

In the prime/first reality of the Star Trek universe, Romulan ale was illegal because of a trade embargo. Later in that universe, the embargo is lifted at the Romulan-Federation Alliance during the Dominion war, and the drink is brought out as part of the celebration. It turns out most officers sampled it before it was ever legalized (wink, wink).

In the new, alternate reality of Star Trek Beyond, Romulan ale isn’t illegal and is enjoyed by Montgomery Scott at James T. Kirk’s birthday party.

Romulan ale is a perfect example of creating authentic world-building from the embargo to the illegal sampling to the use of it in the alternative universe.

In The Rayatana Series, “awak” is like a mixture of coffee and tea with similar properties. I created awak as a YA-friendly homage to all the other science fiction beverages out there in the books and movies I love.

Nexus: The Rayatana Book 2 by Tyrean Martinson

Young Adult - Science Fiction/Adventure/Sweet Romance
Amaya is supposed to bring peace to the galaxy. Which is tough when she’s being held for crimes against the Neutral Zone. Her imprisonment is on her own ship with her own crew. But close quarters create tension.
Honestly, her role as Rayatana is a mess.
She may never get to use her powers for anything good. Not if her teacher continues to keep secrets, and not if her powers keep harming others. Putting her mother in a coma should put her in prison, but she has a mission. She wants to bring peace to her people. She needs to become the Rayatana.

Book Links: Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, Amazon CA, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo, Goodreads, and BookBub

Friends to the End

What better way to enter October than with a ghost story?

The fictional town in Friends to the End is loosely based on stories I’d heard as a teenager. Tucked between the homes of what would otherwise be a peaceful rural road is the second most haunted cemetery in Illinois. I passed this road everyday as the bus took me to school. I’d heard the stories of apparitions floating above graves or walking down the road. And I drew inspiration from them to weave together a chilling adventure I hope will entertain children and adults alike.

Friends to the End by CL Colver (website - blog)

Middle-grade, Ghosts, Action-Adventure
Zach doesn’t believe in ghosts…but he should.
Twelve-year-old Zach is convinced he'll never be happy without his best friend Jeremy by his side. But both of their lives changed with a bang five months ago, and as far as Zach's concerned, it's his fault Jeremy will never see his twelfth birthday.
When Zach moves with his family to a Chicago suburb, he quickly becomes friends with a group of thrill-seeking kids trying to find a disappearing haunted house. But Zach's not worried. He doesn't believe in ghosts, so he follows them into a wild, dangerous encounter that becomes a battle to decide what's real and what's not.

Buy links: Universal Buy Link, Amzon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Goodreads

New Books

Criminal Intent by Patsy Collins

Criminals, victims and those wrongly suspected all have a story to tell. This book contains 24 of them.
Find it on Amazon

Snowflakes and Shivers by Jemima Pett

Available October 7
Fantastic beasts leave their footprints in the snow; Christmas tree fairies reflect on their lives; snowflakes discover their destiny; raccoons save Father Christmas, and some randy space cadets have the Christmas of their dreams.
Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Scribed, and Smashwords

October Movie Preview

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

1 –

Venom: Let There be Carnage
Tom Hardy returns to the big screen as the lethal protector Venom, one of MARVEL's greatest and most complex characters.
Director: Andy Serkis
Stars: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Stephen Graham, Michelle Williams
Because there were so many pesky, unanswered questions from the first one…

8 –

No Time to Die
James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Stars: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux
2:30 on a Tuesday might be a good time to die…

22 –

Feature adaptation of Frank Herbert's science fiction novel, about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac
No Lynch Weirdness? No overacting by Sting? I’m in!

26 –

RiffTrax Live – Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes
Visit RiffTrax for theater listings and tickets.
What’s scarier than an Amityville sequel? One that was made for television…

Where do you draw the line in writing? Would you try Romulan ale? An ghostly legends where you grew up? And what movie catches your fancy this month?

Be back on October 18 with movie reviews and more!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Small Forgotten Moments, Movie and Show Reviews, and New Releases!

If you loved these films, you might like Small Forgotten Moments

It’s my husband’s bugbear that I rarely watch new films. Of course, I do, but not as many as him, so when Alex suggested I share the films which tie in with my latest novel, Small Forgotten Moments, I realised I’d be taking you on a small detour into the dark and murky past…

The Others
Intense and claustrophobic, this is a film where nothing is what it seems. Despite the peaceful, almost docile ambience, the viewer is left unsettled and, personally speaking, more than a little creeped out.

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
A wonderful observation on the effect and importance of memories. Although Small Forgotten Moments had to follow a linear path, I love books and films which don’t, and this is an excellent example.


While Eternal Sunshine looks at giving up memories, Memento deals with those which are never made and the struggles Guy Pierce’s character endures – battling through the fog to discover the truth.

Vincent and the Doctor (Doctor Who, series 5, episode 10)
I’ve included this because it’s such a beautiful portrayal of the artistic mind – fragile yet resilient. And because I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who. I doubt there’s anything more poignant than Amy running back into the museum when she thinks they saved Vincent expecting to see brand ‘new’ work. And nothing more stunning for an artist/author/musician to hear what their work means to people so far into a future they’ll never know. Bill Nighy gives an excellent speech where he expresses how important van Gogh is to the world. I cried when I first saw it; I’ve shed a tear each time since.

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall, UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, and canine writing partner, Artoo. She is the author of four short story collections, and two novels.

Links: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo

Movie & Show Reviews

The Suicide Squad

Definitely the best film I’ve seen all year!
James Gunn brought his A game as director and brings out the best in every character.
It’s funny on so many levels. Plus sleek and stylish. So many great characters and moments.
A superior follow up to Suicide Squad, this was well worth the movie theater tickets and the HBO Max viewings. (Many!)
My wife would like to mention that you really have to pay attention to Weasel.
Highly recommended!

F9: The Fast Saga

Another entertaining entry in the saga.
Not the best, but it brought back a lot of favorites and a few you thought were long gone.
Charlize Theron returns as Cipher and just as evil as ever.
Still missing Paul Walker, but as always, a special nod to him.

Black Widow

A side adventure with Natasha and a final farewell to the character.
David Harbour is hilarious although it is Florence Pugh as Natasha’s ‘sister’ that steals the show.
Not the best Marvel film, but a lot of fun.

RiffTrax: Hobgoblins

MST3K did this film years ago, so I’d seen it riffed before. However, probably 90% of the jokes were new, which was a lot of fun. After almost two years of nothing, it was a delight to see the guys again. They brought their A game (plenty of time to practice!) and it was hilarious.
Enjoy the screen shots.

Monsters of Man

A very low -budget film, it’s actually quite impressive. The robot-killers are Terminator-like and the special effects really good.
It’s a bit long, but the cast and crew really put forth an effort.
The last third is a bit tedious as the Millennials do what they do best – scream and don’t follow instructions. If this were A Quiet Place, they would all be dead!


Starring Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) the movie starts out slow and depressing. This guy’s life really sucks! And then, something happens, and his past life comes out with a vengeance.
From that point, it is bat-crap crazy. Super violent fights. Super-spy type clever set-ups and twists. Odenkirk owns the role and plays it with gusto. Awesome ending!
Highly recommended

What If…?

An animated series exploring the ‘what ifs’ of the Marvel Universe. What if Peggy Carter became Captain America instead? What if T’Challa became Star Lord? The stories grew progressively better as the show went along.
While interesting and sporting many original voices (although not all) my interest waned.
Watch if you are curious.

Brand New Cherry Flavor

Naked Lunch meets Blue Velvet. Bat-crap crazy but not in a great way. Very disturbing, gross, and weird. Well shot and well acted though – high production values. This is a show for a very niche audience looking for something completely different and unsettling.
I can’t recommend it.

New Releases!

BETRAYED : A Renaissance Vampire Romance - Vipunin (Book One)
by Silver Tree/Denise Covey
Vampires have killed Vipunin’s family, now they’re coming for him!
Duke Vipunin de Castellina is his murdered father’s rightful heir.
To claim his inheritance, he rides from Florence to Castellina in Tuscany, where not all welcome him.
Vampires lie in wait in the forest. Vipunin and his army of de’ Medici knights battle for survival.
He calls on every one of his talents – his speed, his sword, his dagger, but is powerless against the vampire queen.
Is everything he gained - his beloved, his inheritance – lost? Lost to a betrayer? Or will revenge be bittersweet?
But to enact revenge he must become the very creature he despises.
Duke Vipunin de Castellina must embrace a wholly new life.
The life of a vampire.
And so the saga of Duke Vipunin de Castellina begins!
Betrayed, first in Denise Covey's series of Renaissance Paranormal Romance, follows the adventures of Duke Vipunin de Castellina. Come with her on a glittering trip through Florence, to Castellina in Tuscany where the action begins and never lets up.

Links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, and Amazon AU

NIGHT SEASONS: An Occult Thriller of World War Two by Roland Yeomans

Existence has seasons.
The cruel winds of WWII destroyed with the Storm Season. A frigid dawn threatens with the Season of Treachery and its cold war of uneasy allies turned enemies.
Four former O.S.S. agents, one a Seraph Provocateur, are trying to survive the Night Season prior to that dawn.
It is an uncertain struggle:
Across dark waters aboard the ghost ship, SS Ourang Medan, spawned by WWII,
Fighting the gnomes of Zurich desperate to keep the spoils gained from that war,
Striving to keep “their tickets from being punched” aboard an occult train to Vienna filled with vengeful fellow passengers: gypsy witches, vampiric S.S. officers, and greedy human spies.
With pit stops in the past and in an eerie future yet to be.
It is a dark season, but it has its lights:
Friendship, Humor, Courage
But the greatest of these Lights is: Love
In the end, it is not if you survive the journey, but only if you traveled it well.

Find it on Amazon

Think you’d enjoy Small Forgotten Moments? Did you watch any of those films or shows in the past couple months? Picking up Betrayed or Night Seasons?
And who is ready for the next RiffTrax movie on October 26 - Amityville: The Evil Escapes?

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, September 2021 Movie Preview, #IWSGPit, Defining Success, and New Book 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 for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

September 1 question - How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

Success to me was just having a book published. Holding it in my hands and watching people read and enjoy it was success.
Since that first book, there have been several others (and audio books), some hitting the top of the charts on Amazon, and providing royalty checks that did indeed pay the mortgage. Plus the reviews and readers reaching out for more. Opportunities to be in multiple anthologies. Not to mention being able to start the IWSG!
But it all comes back to that first book. That was success. All else has been bonus!

Today is the deadline for the IWSG Anthology Contest! Sweet romance – first love. Get your entries in by midnight EST tonight!

The next #IWSGPit Twitter pitch event is January 26, 2022!
See the IWSG site for details, hashtags, and more.

New Releases!

Small Forgotten Moments by Annalisa Crawford

Is Zenna a muse, a sleep-deprived apparition, or something much more sinister?
Suffering long-term amnesia, artist Jo Mckye is ready to start a fresh, new project after the success of her debut exhibition. But the fictional subject of the collection, Zenna, won’t let go so easily. Infiltrating Jo’s dreams—and increasingly, her waking hours—Zenna is fast becoming a dangerous obsession.
Jo is confident the answers lie at her childhood home, an idyllic Cornish village on the south-east coast; she just doesn’t know why. Only when she walks into the sea and almost drowns does the past start to unravel.

Universal purchase links HERE

One Year On Broadway: Finding Ourselves Between the Sand and the Sea by Kathryn McKendry

A true story of forbidden love, adventure, and letting go
How do you know when it’s time to close one chapter of your life and begin a new one? To let go of the past, open your heart, and trust in a new beginning?
At first we said, “no.” We knew it was ridiculous.
And yet something in our hearts led us back to the Island.
Having no idea where it would lead, my husband and I took a leap of faith and became co-producers of the Broadway Revival of Once On This Island, the musical that had given us so much.
Even if it failed, we would have a great story to tell.
We ended up with so much more.

Find it on Amazon

The Cure by Patricia Josephine aka Patricia Lynne

Every human in the world becomes a zombie when they die. But Erin refuses to accept the world as it is now. She’s heard about a cure locked away in a lab in Upper Michigan, and she plans on retrieving it. To do so, she needs a zombie. Not just any zombie, though.
Zee is Erin’s link to the lab. His connection to the living world is her bargaining chip. But only if she can teach him to control his mindless impulses.
Can a zombie be trained? Or will Erin be Zee’s next meal and become a zombie herself? The fate of humanity rests in her hands.

Universal purchase link HERE 
Add on Goodreads

Fractured Princess by Debra Renee Byrd

Jonnie is the last princess of the Crystal Bearers, once a powerful people. When she was a baby, the metal army destroyed what was left of them, and now it is hunting her. Her watchmen keep her just out of the metal army’s reach, but she has spent her seventeen years running and hiding. Instead of standing by while her watchmen keep risking their lives for her, she decides to learn how to fight alongside them.
On the journey to hone her skills, long hidden secrets about her people reveal a connection between the Crystal Bearers and the metal army that only fuels Jonnie's will to defeat it. But the more she learns about her own powers, the more she realizes she may be responsible for the metal army – and the destruction of her people.

Find it on Amazon

September Movie Preview

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

3 –

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi, the master of unarmed weaponry based Kung Fu, is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization.
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Stars: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Michelle Yeoh
When One Ring isn’t enough to rule them all...

17 –

Cry Macho
A one-time rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder takes a job to bring a man's young son home and away from his alcoholic mom. On their journey, the horseman finds redemption through teaching the boy what it means to be a good man.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Dwight Yoakam, Fernanda Urrejola, Brytnee Ratledge
Finally - a movie where Eastwood teaches Millennials how to be men…

What is success to you as a writer? Will you have something ready for #IWSGPit? Picking up more books? Either movie catch your eye? Don’t forget – last day to enter the IWSG Anthology Contest!
Next Monday is Labor Day and I will be offline. Come back the following Monday for a slew of movie reviews and more!