Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Movie Reviews, New Book Releases, and December Movie Preview

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 December 6 posting of the IWSG are C. Lee McKenzie, JQ Rose, Jennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray!

Today’s question: Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book review, do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author?

Probably a little of both. I won’t leave a review that is less than three stars because I know how much it hurts to get those super-bad reviews. (That and if I’m not enjoying it, I won’t finish the book, and I won’t review what I haven’t completely read.) I never critique the author though, only the story itself.

Rattlesnake and the Old West

The old west is chock full of stories about courageous and foolhardy people who followed the lure of gold to California and forever changed the history of our nation. Two documentaries capture the fascination, the intrigue, and the haunting truth about what are now remnants those people left behind—old mines and ghosts of former towns.

Trailers for these documentaries: Ghosts of the West and America the Story of Us: Gold Rush

In Rattlesnake I hope I’ve captured the same old west atmosphere as these movies did. My challenge was to do that in two different centuries—the 1850s and the late 1900s

For a moment, the sun balanced on the tip of the tallest peak, then slipped behind the mountains, turning them black against the sky. They were out of options all except for going back to Old Cemetery Road and dealing with the property. From somewhere far out in the desert came the loneliest sound Jonah had ever heard. That high-pitched yowl caught him at the center of his stomach. Suddenly, he felt eyes on him from every direction, and the shadows grew teeth.

Rattlesnake releases this month! Find it here: Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, book trailer on YouTube
Connect with C. Lee McKenzie on her site

Movie Reviews

Godzilla Minus One

Japan’s love letter to the original Godzilla film, now almost seventy years old.
Remakes usually fall short because they use the excuse of ‘upgrading the special effects’ and yet do nothing with the plot. With this film, they actually upgraded everything. And in turn, created a film that is similar to the original and yet unique on its own.
It opens in the final days of WWII with a Kamikaze pilot who has chickened out and lands at a base on a remote island. Godzilla appears and the carnage and drama unfolds from there.
Godzilla is in rare form here. He looks as good as the last three American Godzilla films. And he is badass. This Godzilla only wants to kill and destroy. You will be glued to every scene involving him, especially when he unleashes that mighty breath weapon.
This movie is similar to the original, and yet there are so many new elements, so much upgrade…it’s its own creation. And yet, it still gives tribute to its origins, even a nod to the Raymond Burr scenes that weren’t even in the original movie.
Its only downside is a few slow scenes and some melodrama. But I think the latter fits with the times. As usual, more Godzilla, less people, please. But the human story is very moving.
Highly recommended to fans of Godzilla and monster movies!

Journey to Bethlehem

First, a big thanks to Rosey - I won tickets to see this film from her site.
Had no idea what to expect (outside of The Greatest Story Ever Told, of course) and the fact it’s a musical caught me off guard. But it was really enjoyable! Unlike some Christian films, this boasted quality production, great effects, great acting, great singing, and a unique, funny, but mostly accurate take on the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of the King of Kings.
Biggest name actor is Antonio Banderas as King Herod. And boy, does he chew up the scenery!
Highly recommended. And it’s only ninety minutes long!!

New Releases!

Conduction by Tara Tyler

Sci Fi Detective Thriller or Techno Thriller
Book 4 in Pop Travel series
In 2085, cutting edge technology is the most valuable currency, and the black tech market offers high pay-offs for diamond-level code.
Find it on Amazon

Your Life with Jesus: How to Spark Memories and Write Your Spiritual Memoir
by JQ Rose
Your life with Jesus guides you in penning your sacred story and invites you to journey into a deeper faith experience.
Find Your Life with Jesus at Amazon and other retailers

Doom and Bloom
by Elizabeth Spann Craig
There's some shady business at the garden club event.
A Myrtle Clover Mystery, #23
Find Doom and Bloom’s purchase links here.

December Movie Preview

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

15 –

Director: Paul King
Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant
The story will focus specifically on a young Willy Wonka and how he met the Oompa-Loompas on one of his earliest adventures.
Oompa loompa doompety don’t!

22 –

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Director: James Wan
Stars: Jason Momoa, Ben Affleck, Patrick Wilson
Aquaman balances his duties as king and as a member of the Justice League, all while planning a wedding. Black Manta is on the hunt for Atlantean tech to help rebuild his armor. Orm plots to escape his Atlantean prison.'
Aquaman’s real quest – recover Amber Heard’s career.

How do you write book reviews? Seen either movie? Ready to read Rattlesnake or the other new releases? Any movies interest you this month?
I have a special interview with Doreen McGettigan - please check it out!
I will be taking a break for most of December, so I’m wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Elephant's Child said...

Happy ISWG Day. I am slack about reviews, and they are entirely subjective, based on what appeals to me (and more rarely) on what didn't.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for including "Doom and Bloom" here!

I'm very much like you with book reviews. I won't review books I don't like. Even my good reviews are given with a pen name account on Goodreads.

Liza said...

I am sensing a trend with the IWSG posts I've been reading this morning. Few people leave reviews for books they don't like. It's interesting to ponder in regard to how effective reviews really are. I am in agreement though. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all...

Wishing you joyful holidays, Alex.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm like you. I don't review or read books I don't enjoy. Congrats to everyone on their new releases!

Lynn La Vita said...

I'm stuck when it comes to writing a review and I'm not sure why. Conflicted? Maybe that's it. Maybe, I like the over all story and don't like an element in the book, such as a character or pacing or too many commas.

One way to relieve the conflict is to simply focus on the positive aspects of the book. If so, is that an honest review? And the review is so one sided. The author is unable to respond, explain, or edit the book. I guess that's why I'm conflicted.

I'm looking forward to reading others comments and learning.

Happy Holidays

Ray Rousell said...

I'm a fan of all the superhero films, but for some reason I'm not keen on Aquaman. I used to like the comics I had when I was a kid, but Jason Mamoa, no thanks! I'll give this one a miss, I'll watch Wonka instead!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I feel the same way about reviews as you do. I couldn't sleep at night if I knew I'd upset another writer. It's hard enough to deal with all the ups and downs of our profession. Happy IWSG Wednesday, Alex.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I'm not critical in general, so I wouldn't leave nasty reviews, if I ever got around to reviewing. If I didn't like a book, I wouldn't write a review.

Thanks for the telling us about movies and new books.


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas, Alex! And all the best in the New Year!

Loni Townsend said...

Happy December!

I didn't know there was another Godzilla movie out. My son is going to love that!

Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks so much for mentioning my newly released book, Your Life with Jesus!

In a way, it's too bad we don't review the books we don't like. If a book receives a bad review and explains to the author why, the author may be able to fix it to be a better read, especially if the same problem is mentioned in several reviews. That said, I don't review books that I can't finish reading!

Toi Thomas said...

Thank you for continuing to host this wonderful hop. Sorry if I didn't make my rounds last month. I like the topic of book reviews this month.
I've only read a few Western stories and this one sounds good.
Godzilla Minus One sounds good. I may try to catch it.
I hadn't heard of Journey to Bethlehem but am interested.
Thanks for the book recs.
I kind of feel obligated to watch the Aquaman movie because I've seen the other DCU films but I could skip it an be ok.

Jennifer Lane said...

Congratulations to C. Lee McKenzie on her new publication!

Have you seen IHOP's Wonka menu? It makes me want to eat there despite not having eaten there for years!

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Alex.

Jemi Fraser said...

Whee - so many great books from great authors!
I only review books I enjoy for the same reason

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Elizabeth, you're welcome!

Loni, he needs to go see it.

JQ, you're welcome!

Jennifer, no, I haven't seen it!

Interesting to hear everyone's take on reviews today.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Jan Morrison said...

I do review books on Goodreads but I only review books I like - really, I only read books I like! There's so many great books out there and I read really fast so I can tell pretty quickly if it isn't my cup of tea. I always give new authors and unknown ones five stars. I don't understand bad reviews and personally I find a lot of those people who write them are just trying to sound erudite. Instead they sound peevish and pompous. Maybe I'll start reviewing reviews! nah. too much to do.
Merry Christmas and hope you have a nice lazy holiday with lots of good books to read and flicks to watch.

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, another Godzilla! I sill haven't seen any (!) but I've been reading Pacific Rim inspired stories and Scalzi's The Kaiju Preservation Society, and now I have a lot to watch!

diedre Knight said...

Merry Christmas to you, as well, Captain!
I am absolutely reading Rattlesnake, Ghosts of the West definitely has my attention. Journey to Bethlehem sounds perfect for the holidays. Loved the Aquaman pun ;-)
Enjoy the holiday! I'm off to check out your interview with Doreen McGettigan.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Lee has written an absorbing, riveting novel and this comes from someone who usually does not read teen novels --- which goes to show you that a good story will draw you in no matter the genre.

I am looking forward to seeing Godzilla Minus One since I've heard so many good things about it -- which leads us back to the importance of reviews, right?

Happiest of Cbristmases, Alex!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Congrats to all those with new books out this month! Way to go!
thanks for your reviews, Alex, I appreciate them. Like you, I rarely like to leave negative reviews, although sometimes I have. Receiving them has gotten easier, too, since I discovered my sales went up afterward.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Congrats to Lee!! And all the new releases!!

My 5 yo grandson will be thrilled to watch the new Godzilla movie.

Alex, Have a Blessed Christmas!

PT Dilloway said...

Minus One sounds pretty interesting. I agree they always need more Godzilla and less humans. The same applies for other kaiju movies and Transformers movies.

I'm not sure that Aquaman 2 will do much for Heard since it sounds like she's barely in it.

I've never really liked the Wonka movies much so probably would just skip that one unless it's on Amazon Prime or something.

Lidy said...

Sometimes you can't mess with the original. The 90s American Godzilla film is testament to that. At least the latest ones made up for it. Looking forward to Minus One. The original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite movies. Have yet to see the 2000s version starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. So not sure I'll watch this new version either.

I'm most looking forward to the Aquaman sequel. Especially after the Marvel sequel was a bit meh. But what I definitely can't wait for is the Yu Yu Hakusho live adaptation coming to Netflix next week Thursday. And the Avatar: The Last Air Bender series coming next year in February. And this time, they better get the name pronunciation right. Do earthbending justice. Would also love to see if they'll even show the cabbage seller who always gets his stall destroyed by Aang and the gang.

Arlee Bird said...

Attacking an author in a review seems nothing less than vindictive to me. Reviews are supposed to be about a work and not its creator usually though I think it might be appropriate when there's an attempt to be heavily propagandistic or drive a bad message. As for reading a bad book, I usually tend to be obsessive about finishing a book I've started and rarely give up before finishing.

I love the original Godzilla that had Raymond Burr injected into it. Saw it as a kid and still loved it as an adult. Lately TCM has only been showing the original Japanese release. I've been hoping they'd show the Raymond Burr release because my wife has really started to like to watch Perry Mason on ME TV.


Joanne said...

Good final Dec post. I wish success for all new released books. As for reviews, I like to think I am fair in praise on the writing, plot, characters. I will lay blame on myself as a reader if the book is just not in my wheelhouse.
As always your snark movie comments make me laugh out loud.
All the best for you and yours as the year closes and good cheer for 2024. Happy Writing!

Mary Aalgaard said...

I write book reviews on Goodreads. It helps me keep track of the books I read. Also, I like reviewing. I'm always reviewing the book, not the author, although, the lines can blur.
Happy Holidays!

Patricia JL said...

If I don't finish a book, I don't leave a review either. It doesn't feel fair.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats to all the authors.

I am all for Aquaman!

Leigh Caron said...

The only thing worse than getting a bad review from a reader is getting a bad for review from Kirkus. (I'll never pay for that ever again) Parts of the review were painful just when I was celebrating my release. Always, thanks for the info on the movies. I'll be sure to see Journey to Bethlehem.

Melissa said...

Congrats to everyone with new releases!

cleemckenzie said...

Your book review strategy seems solid. And thanks for giving Rattlesnake some help with the launch. Greatly appreciated.

Olga Godim said...

"Journey to Bethlehem" sounds interesting. I like musicals and I like Banderas. I want to watch it. Thanks for the write-up.

J E Oneil said...

Godzilla isn't usually the movie I'd go to when looking for deep characters.

PJ Colando said...

God forbid that anyone - never me - review an author rather than his/her work! I've been told I write great reviews - and I cherish that compliment. It validates my reading and writing skills.

Jen said...

I'm the same way with reviews. If I don't finish a book, I won't review it. And I never critique the author themselves. Just the story.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Alex!

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah. If not liked I keep it to myself too.

Always good when they actually improve on a remake and not just a cash grab.

Fundy Blue said...

Hi, Alex! I hope that you enjoy your break in December ~ It's well deserved! Thanks for all you do. Christmas blessings to you and Happy New Year, my friend!

Meka James said...

I never reviewed much before I started writing and now I have stopped completely. I am interested to see how this Wonka movie portrays the character.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Jan, review reviews - brilliant!

Roland, it does.

Lee, the purist in me can't watch that version now.

Karen, that sucks!

Lee, you're welcome!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Diane Burton said...

I like your attitude towards reviews. Same as mine.

Diane Burton (Blogger is giving me problems)

Liz A. said...

It doesn't look like a good month for movies. I've never really been a Godzilla fan. Have a good break.

Truedessa said...

I saw some previews for Aquaman on TV and I am def going to see it. I really enjoyed the first one and have seen it multiple times.

Enjoy your break and have a Merry Christmas! I may not be back in 2024 but, I wanted to thank you for all you support over the years and through the tears.

Brightest Blessings....

Samantha Bryant said...

I review almost everything I read, but I also don't review work that I can't honestly give at least 3 stars--and chances are if I disliked it that much, I didn't finish it either. @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act said...

I don’t leave bad reviews either. It’s too easy to see myself on the other side. said...

Ha! Thank you for the warning to "doopety don't!" I might've felt enticed otherwise.
A very blessed Christmas and New Year to you!

Steven Arellano Rose Jr. said...

I try to stick to critiquing the book and not the author, as well. It's often too easy to get the authors' personal life mixed up with the story which wouldn't be right because we dont really know what's going on in their head.

I wouldn't mind checking out the Godzilla movie since it has its updated elements beyond special effects like you said. I'm normally skeptical about remakes especially many of today's (which seem like the majority of films). But this might be the exception.

You have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too!

J Lenni Dorner said...

It does take a LOT for me to leave below 3 stars. The exception was a reference book (no longer available) that was full of plagiarism. Worse, the author missed the points made in the parts that were stolen from other reference books. Yikes.

Rattlesnake sounds interesting.

I haven't seen the movies. But I do live near a town called Bethlehem (PA). There's a star on top of a mountain that can be seen from most of the town.

What book did you most enjoy this year?
May joy, peace, and goodwill be with you this season and always.

J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Speculative Fiction & Reference Author and Co-host of the April Blogging #AtoZchallenge

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I"ll probably see Aquaman when it's for rent on streaming. The movie theaters near me have become very sketchy and it doesn't feel safe to go to them.

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Truedessa, you better be back!!

Samantha, exactly how I feel.

Steven, and it's only partially a remake - so many new elements that make it its own film.

J, that's cool about the star. Not sure what book I enjoyed most.

Susan, sorry! Ours are very safe here.

mail4rosey said...

The excerpt from "Rattlesnake is so good!"

Great points on not critiquing the author or a story you haven't finished (stories can make a turn-around if you keep reading!).

Godzilla is 70??? Maybe I should introduce the movie to my teen and his friends. ;)

Glad you enjoyed the movie. I don't usually love most musicals, but they're nice every once in awhile. And of course, there's Antonio Banderas. :)

H. R. Sinclair said...

Congrats to Lee and Elizabeth.

Mary Kirkland said...

I write reviews for all the books I read. My reviews are for other readers so if they think it sounds like a good fit for them they might want to read the book too.

chickangell said...

My reviews are more aimed at readers. I usually do not review an unfinished story unless an indie author requests the review and nags me for it and I have made 3 attempts at 3 different times to read it and still couldn't get into it. With those, I generally will note I DNFed, and why it didn't grab me. I will also put who it might be a good fit for. Unless there are serious grammar or plot holes, very few books get less than 3 stars from me so it is probably safe.

Beth Camp said...

May you have a truly nurturing break through the end of the year and begin 2024 with renewed energy. Know you are appreciated by so many (me too!) for your leadership of IWSG. Write on!

Patsy said...

I leave a review for all the books I enjoy reading because I know hw much they mean to writers – but I write them with readers in mund, not as a critique.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Right? I got a one-star review for a book I hadn't even written yet.

DMS said...

So excited for C. Lee! Wishing her the best of luck with her newest release. :)

I don't rate or review books less than 3 stars- for the same reason as you. I do try to at least gives stars to most of the books I read, and I write many reviews- but some are short and others are long. It depends on my time and energy. I try to write my review for readers.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too! :)

Blue Grumpster said...

Oompa loompa doompety don’t!

I couldn't agree more, Alex. Gene Wilder just turned around in his grave. :(

As for Aqua Man 2... I couldn"t agree more either.

Happy Holidays,

Sandra Cox said...

Congrats to all the authors with new releases.
'Lo, Alex. I completely agree with you on reviews. If I can't leave a good one, I don't leave one.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

You are a good fellow writer. You think of what a review would do to a person's writing career or the book in particular. Bravo!

I'll have to check out the Bethlehem movie. The books you shared all sound wonderful. Bravo to all the new releases and their authors. Have a beautiful holiday season!

Cherie Colyer said...

I review for the reader but like you I won't leave a review that is less than three stars for the same reason and I don't review books I DNF.

Happy Holidays!

Sandra Cox said...

Okay, I want to see Aquaman! :)
Happy Holidays, Alex.

Al Penwasser said...

Oh, yeah, gonna go see Godzilla. Even if it's by myself.

Michael Abayomi said...

I'm still waiting for a chance to see Godzilla Minus One. But from everything you've said, it sounds like it is going to be worth the wait.

Sherry Ellis said...

I won't review a book if it's really bad, either. I prefer to help authors, not hurt them.

Tara's book is next up in the queue to read. Looking forward to it!

Have a Merry Christmas!

Shady Del Knight said...

Hi, Alex!

Thanks for coming to see me at Shady's Place today, good buddy. Unfortunately, some people regard writing negative reviews and comments as a fun hobby. That's why I always focus on positive reviews and ignore the negative ones, especially those that use nasty, disrespectful language. Congratulations to mutual friend Cheryl-Lee on the upcoming release of Rattlesnake!

Truth be told, I never embraced the Godzilla series, even the original with Raymond Burr. The monster simply didn't seem real enough to scare me the way other movie creatures did, especially those that were closer to human form. So, I doubt that I will investigate the latest iteration, even though you give it a positive review.

Merry Christmas and happy new year, good buddy Alex!

Blue Grumpster said...

Merry Christmas, Alex!

Tara Tyler said...

sorry it took me so long to get over here... my xmas break was sooo short (I have to go back to work Wed!) and full of unpleasant surprises including being sick the entire time... It had great moments too, but not one of my better holidays.
Hope yours was great!
Love reading your previews & reviews!
And especially thanks for giving me a shout out!

Happy New Year!
Tara Tyler Talks

Sandra Cox said...

Hope your holidays were wondrous.

Samantha Bryant said...

I hadn't heard about the follow up to Chicken Run. I'll have to check it out. Thanks as always for a great rundown of what's worth seeing out there. @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act