Monday, January 25, 2021

Reviews – Wanda Vision, Westworld, Raised by Wolves, and Lovecraft Country; Dream Theater – Distant Memories Live in London Review; IWSG and More

Television Series Reviews

Wanda Vision

Blends the style of classic sitcoms with the MCU in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision -two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives-begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.
You may have watched the first episode and really wondered if that was what this series was about. But, keep watching!
Structured like sitcoms in different eras, the episodes have moments of dread that make it creepy, especially in the middle of a wacky sitcom.
There are so many things going on. Marvel fans really need to pay attention to catch everything.
Three episodes in, I am super curious to see where this goes!


Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, explore a world in which every human appetite can be indulged without consequence.
I wasn’t sure I’d like this show, but I dug the direction it went.
It’s an HBO series, so lots of nudity, violence, and language. (Like they do.)
The best part, besides the faux Western backdrop, is the main actors – in particular, Hopkins and Harris. And Harris is spectacular. Such a bastard!
My only complaint is it can get too talky sometimes.

Raised by Wolves

Androids are tasked with raising human children on a mysterious planet.
This is one bat-crap crazy show!
I thought I’d be turned off by the atheist versus religious narrative, but I find it intriguing.
It’s very violent and contains language. (HBO, no surprise.) It’s also very dark and extremely strange.
It’s certainly holding my interest.

Lovecraft Country

A young African-American travels across the U.S. in the 1950s in search of his missing father.
Interesting setting, especially with the paranormal elements thrown in.
HBO series, so no surprise - gore, nudity, and language.
It’s an intriguing show with a really likeable cast.
Not a lot of actual Lovecraft elements in it, at least not in the first few shows. But maybe more appear later.

Dream Theater – Distant Memories Live in London

This is two and a half hours of Dream Theater bliss!
It’s a CD-DVD combo pack, so you get the live concert two ways.
There is nothing better than watching masters of their instruments perform, especially John Petrucci, one of the greatest guitarists in the world.
Included in the performance is the album Scenes From a Memory done in its entirety. Something I never thought I’d see!
For any fan of prog rock, this is a must!

IWSG and More

Last week’s #IWSGPit Twitter pitch event was a huge success!
Thousands upon thousands of Tweets and quite a few with likes from agents and publishers.
Thanks to all the writers who pitched their manuscripts and to the IWSG Admins for monitoring the feed all day long.
If you participated, let us know what you thought of the events. And if you land a publisher or agent, definitely let us know!
We’ll be back next January with the next #IWSGPit.

The Write Life Top 100!
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is once again on The Write Life’s 100 Best Websites for Writers.
This is now five years in a row for this honor.
Thanks to all of you for making the IWSG what it is.

Out now:
Witches’ Knickers by Angela Wooldridge
Martha is tidying the hedgerows while she tries to ignore what a mess her life is in. Molly and her sisters are uncovering a family secret.
Kelly is beginning to suspect that this spy training lark isn’t the fun adventure she’d hoped it would be.
Patsy is about to confront an old mistake.
Join them and many other characters in these fourteen contemporary short stories by Angela Wooldridge.

Find it on Amazon UK and Amazon US

In Honor of Jo Wake

On February 3, share a recipe that brings them warm memories of friendship and love in honor of blogger Josephine “Jo” Wake at Jo on Food, Life, and a Scent of Chocolate. who passed away December 16, 2020.

Have you seen any of those four shows and what did you think? Heard the new Dream Theater? Participated in #IWSGPit? Joining us for Jo’s tribute next week? It’s also IWSG week, so don’t forget!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Disaster Series, Best Movies of 2020, Best Albums of 2020, and Love and Monsters Review

Disaster Series with Chrys Fey

Alex Asked: What’s the disaster in A Fighting Chance? TELL US!

Chrys Fey’s Answer: Yup. This is the first book in the Disaster Crimes series that doesn’t reveal the disaster in the title. Or in the blurb. Or the tagline. The tagline even says “a surprise from Mother Nature.” It says that because it is a surprise. The disaster is not the main event in this story as it is with Books 1-5 (Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, Tsunami Crimes, Flaming Crimes, Frozen Crimes). In those books, the disaster is something that takes place during a large chunk of the story, and we experience the aftermath. This is not the case with A Fighting Chance. The disaster literally is a surprise. It’s not even totally shown on the cover, although you could probably guess what it is.

Okay…so I stalled long enough. I’ll spill.
The disaster is…a tornado. To be specific, a EF3 tornado in Florida.

*A FIGHTING CHANCE is Book 6 in the Disaster Crimes series, but it’s a spin-off featuring a new couple, so it can be read as a standalone.*
Thorn has loved Amanda from afar, giving her whatever she needs as a survivor of abuse—space, protection, and stability. He yearns to give her more, though, to share his feelings, kiss her, love her, but he's worried the truth will frighten her away.v And Amanda is afraid. She’s scared of her attraction for Thorn. Most of all, she’s terrified of her ex-boyfriend, who is lurking nearby where no one can find him. When she grows closer to Thorn, Damon retaliates, jeopardizing their happy ending.
Up against an abusive ex and Mother Nature, do Thorn and Amanda have a fighting chance?

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


Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes

Author’s Note: I wrote The Disaster Curse to answer a few lingering questions readers may have after reading A Fighting Chance, and to tie the whole series together with a neat, shiny, perfect little bow. Plus, there was one disaster that I hadn’t written about yet. *wink*

The Disaster Crimes Series:
*The Crime Before the Storm (prequel)
Hurricane Crimes (novella, #1)
Seismic Crimes (#2)
Lightning Crimes (free short, #2.5)
Tsunami Crimes (#3)
Flaming Crimes (#4)
Frozen Crimes (#5)
A Fighting Chance (spin-off, #6)
The Disaster Curse (short story, #7)
*Free exclusive story to newsletter subscribers.

***LAUNCHING A WEBSITE*** is a website dedicated to domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. Inspired by the Disaster Crimes series.


Prizes: Hurricane Crimes (Disaster Crimes 1) and Seismic Crimes (Disaster Crimes 2) eBooks (mobi or epub), Hurricane Crimes Playing Cards, Girl Boss Sign, and a Volcanic Blast Scented Candle
Enter here

Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press.
Author Links: Newsletter, Website, Facebook Group, Blog, BookBub, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon

Movie Review

Love and Monsters
From the IMDB - In a monster-infested world, Joel learns his girlfriend is just 85 miles away. To make the dangerous journey, Joel discovers his inner hero to be with the girl of his dreams.
Staring Dylan O’Brien, Michael Rooker, Jessica Henwick, Dan Ewing, and Ariana Greenblatt
Released in October of last year, we actually caught it this weekend as a rental.
Overall, it was really enjoyable. The lead was a bit of a wuss (although fortunately not a complete idiot) but I really liked the dog, Boy. Michael Rooker was excellent, as always, as the surface wanderer who knows how to survive.
The creature effects are quite good and there is a big variety of critters from small to very, very large.
The pacing is good and there are some great action scenes along with a few very human ones.
This one surprised me and was definitely worth the rental!

Best of 2020

While that might seem an oxymoron, there were some great albums and good movies released last year. We’ll start with the movies. I went with a top five instead of ten since there were so few out in the theaters last year and a lot of dumping in the streaming services.

5 – Bill and Ted Face the Music
Not as good as the other films but good to see the band together again.

4 – Enola Holmes

Came out of nowhere and I was thoroughly entertained by its humor and charm.

3 – 1917
Tough, gritty, nail-biting film from start to finish. (Almost forgot this one came out January 2020)

2 – Wonder Woman 84
Again, not at good as first but a fun superhero movie.

1 – Tenet
One of the few films I saw in a theater and I’m so glad I did – it blew me away.

Unlike movies, music seemed to boom last year. Here is a top ten of prog rock/metal/hard rock of 2020.

10 – Ayreon – Transitus
As a concept album, it loses points for the confusing narrative, but the music is still amazing.

9 – Kvelertak - Splid
Little concerned as it was a new lead singer, however this is their best since their debut.

8 – Allen/Olzon – Worlds Apart
Russell Allen is the man and pairing him up with former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon makes for a great listen.

7 – Armored Saint – Punching the Sky
These guys have been around since the eighties but the album isn’t retro or old school, it just kicks ass.

6 – Novena – Eleventh Hour
The side project from Haken’s lead singer is a killer prog album and I look forward to more.

5 – John Petrucci – Terminal Velocity
Not only showing that he’s the greatest guitarist in rock or metal but the songs are catchy and captivating.

4 – Katatonia – City Burials
It doesn’t stray from their signature sound and I have no problem with that – this album is amazing.

3 – Haken – Virus
Named before the pandemic hit, Haken continues to put out one prog masterpiece after the next.

2 – Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Totally took me by surprise, this disc is one great song after the next and it’s criminal these guys aren’t more well-known.

1 – Countless Skies – Glow
Take one part Insomnium, one part Devon Townsend, and one part While Heaven Wept, mix it all together and you have a mellow-death-prog-doom masterpiece.

Have you ever experienced a tornado? Seen Love and Monsters? What movies did you enjoy last year? What were some of your favorite albums?
Thanks to everyone who volunteered to co-host the IWSG – we are set until June.
Don’t forget the IWSG Twitter pitch event, #IWSGPit, takes place on January 20.
Next Monday is a holiday here, so I will be offline. I’ll catch all of you on January 25!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Dark Matter: Artificial, WW84 Review, Jo Wake’s Tribute Blogfest, and New Releases

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

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

Want to know more about the IWSG? Operation Awesome recommends it and has a post up about it this week. Check it out!

January 6 question - Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books?

Characters I don’t care about. That’s a deal-breaker. Oh, and way too much exposition. I don’t want pages and pages of description.

IWSG Anthology winners!!!
Dark Matter: Artificial

An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Discover dark matter’s secrets…

What is an AI’s true role? Will bumbling siblings find their way home from deep space? Dark matter is judging us—are we worthy of existence? Would you step through a portal into another reality? Can the discoverer of dark matter uncover its secrets?

Ten authors explore dark matter, unraveling its secrets and revealing its mysterious nature. Featuring the talents of Stephanie Espinoza Villamor, C.D. Gallant-King, Tara Tyler, Mark Alpert, Olga Godim, Steph Wolmarans, Charles Kowalski, Kim Mannix, Elizabeth Mueller, and Deniz Bevan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a journey across time and space. Prepare for ignition!

Release date: May 4, 2021
Print ISBN 9781939844828 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844835 $4.99
Science Fiction: Collections & Anthologies (FIC028040) / Space Exploration (FIC028130) / Genetic Engineering (FIC028110)
Movie Review – Wonder Woman 1984

We watched this Christmas Day on HBO Max and will see it again this Friday in the theater.
Not as good as the first one, but expectations were super high as the first was a near-perfect origins story.
I liked the chemistry between Gadot and Pine. Felt genuine. Kristen Wiig was also really good as Barbara/Cheetah.
The action scenes were great, especially the desert car chase.
On the downside, it was a bit too long – some scenes could’ve been cut. It also needed a little more Wonder Woman, although I get they were focusing on Diana’s development. Also, Cheetah’s real origin story is much more interesting.
It may sound like I am really knocking it, but if the first movie wasn’t out there, I wouldn’t be so picky. It’s still really enjoyable and entertaining film. I look forward to seeing it again and any other sequels they would like to give us.

New Releases

Rain by Lisa Buie-Collard

The past is not an easy force to be reckoned with.

Find it on Amazon

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir by JQ Rose

Follow this couple’s inspiring story, filled with the joy and triumphs and the obstacles and failures experienced as they travel along the turbulent path of turning dreams of being entrepreneurs in the flower business into reality.
Find it on Amazon

Beware the Jade Christmas: A Christmas Ghost Story by Roland Yeomans

Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Welcome to New Orleans, Christmas Eve, 1946.

Find it on Amazon

Park Avenue Blondes by Ruth Harris

For fans of Nora Ephron—Women’s Fiction Meets Cozy Mystery in the Big Apple.

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

In Honor of Jo Wake

A very dear friend passes away on December 16 – Jo Wake at Jo on Food, Life, and a Scent of Chocolate. She was part of the Dragon Fellowship, known as Grandma Dragon to us, and we have decided to do something in her honor.

On February 6, share a recipe that brings them warm memories of friendship and love in honor of blogger Josephine “Jo” Wake who passed away December 16, 2020.

Ready for Dark Matter: Artificial? Picking up some new books? Participating in Jo’s tribute blogfest? Seen WW84 yet? And can you help co-host the IWSG in the next few months?