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Category Archives: Reviews

Here you will find either book or movie reviews.

The Fall: Book 1 – Conversion by Author S.T Campitelli

As one looks around in in the entertainment world for moves, comic books, TV shows, and even much of the literary world there is something unique. You find that many of the stories involving a post-apocalyptic world focus either on North America or Europe. There have been newer tails that bring us to places like Africa and even India. However, there is not much, that I found, that deal with “The Land Down Under” or better known as Australia. This is at least till I was given the opportunity to read the book The Fall: Book 1 – Conversion by Author S.T Campitelli.

The book opens up in a future that Is not too far away from the present day. It starts innocuously with a man driving out to check his property. He comes across a strip of land that has gotten a great tear in it as a meteor landed and plowed a crater into the ground. Unfortunately for this man, and humanity there is some type of cosmic hitchhiker that will bring Australia, and the Earth, to its modern day end. Its effects will not immediately be known but this older man will shadow what is to come. A wild animal bit will not heal as a man give himself shots of antibiotics as he travels home. It is only when a friend stops at his home do we get a sense of what happened, and Humanity is in for just as much as a shock as that friend. A friend who will find out that opening a door can be a big mistake as the other side could have something infected who sees you as “lunch”.

The Fall: Book 1 – Conversion will take a jump in time and lead us to a walled city. A place where survivors from a massive infected outbreak now live by somewhat strict rules, but they are safe. They will take patrols out into neighboring areas searching for the needs to help their community survive. As we learn more and more about those inhabitants we find not just great friends, but family dynamics, and of course greed. The inhabitants will be a mixture of military to civilians with each member having their job to do.

Author S.T. Campitelli does a very good job in not just introducing his characters but giving us great storylines for them. You find yourself starting to sympathize with their situation as well as either hoping for their success, or downfall in some cases. Along with the character development there is futuristic technology utilized in this book that easily could be real today, if not in a few years. This makes the book even that much more enjoyable as you find yourself envisioning the items being used. In all truth some of the items in a home could be things you ask your voice assisted device to do for you within the next few years.

The story will move at a very good pace and you will notice that the chapters are named around the primary character in each.  It is why you will find many are named for the leading character, father, and husband John Bradley. He is an educated man who goes out into the wasteland around to find those things the walled city needs. He is also one who cares for many and gets involved in a major operation that is going to be overtaken within the book.

There are also chapters such as Dustin Callahan, The Headhunter and Alpha Kronenburg that are just hints of the protagonists within the pages of the book. These will be names that readers will come to find have their own agenda’s and those in the city are at times just in their way.

The Fall: Book 1 – Conversion will introduce the reader to what remains of the civilization that was at one time Australia. It will give readers insight into a part of the world that is often left out of the decision during apocolyptial events. It will also give the reader a chance to ponder what would they do to survive such an event. Would they find themselves banned together in the city, trying to survive on their own, or just well that’s a question you must answer yourself. Of course that will all come if you allow your imagination to take you within the events of the book.

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Posted by on June 18, 2018 in Reviews

 

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The Last Movie Star (2017) staring Burt Reynolds

How many actors are you fans of that when you hear they are in an upcoming movie do you stop and make note of that title? Are you able to name them using one hand, maybe two hands at the most? I know I struggle to think of my own personal list, but one who comes to mind is Burt Reynolds.

I bring up Mr. Reynolds for the reason that I have seen his name appearing in several movies as of late. I had not realized that he was still keeping busy and doing a lot of acting as he enters the later years of his life. It was then recently while walking the aisles of my local Family Video store that I saw the title, The Last Movie Star.

I didn’t think twice I grabbed the movie and proceeded to rent and of course view this movie. It costars another older actor, Chevy Chase, and the Modern Family star Ariel Winter. The movie will take the viewer into an old actor who seems to have lost much of his past fame. He will get invited to a Movie Festival in Nashville and that will cause some changes in his life.

The movie does open on a sad note as you find Vic Edwards (Reynolds) at a veterinarian hospital with is ailing dog. The vet is giving Vic bad news about his aging dog and it comes down to Vic having to put his old friend down. He is left with the dog’s collar when he leaves the hospital and takes his drive home.

The movie will later show Vic out shopping at a grocery store taking time to admire an attractive young woman walking buy. He will decide on a frozen dinner for his evening meal and we watch as the aging actor goes through his normal routine. It is when he finally see him having a lunch with a fellow older actor, played by Chevy Chase, which he finally talks about the invitation to a movie Festival. Chase’s character tells him he should go and later on we see Vic packing his bags for the Festival.

The movie will follow Vic as he gets to the Festival and finds out his “assistant” for the weekend is Lily McDougal, Ariel Winter. The young woman is not what one would call typical or even assistant material. She picks Vic up in her “beater” of a car, drives while using her cell phone, and has shorts that are short. She is just the start of what Vic will find awaits him at this Festival he had determined was a top of a line affair. Instead he’s put in a lower level Hotel, taken to a bar for the Festival, and worse finds out he is in coach when it came to his plane travel.

I wanted to include that last part about how Vic sees himself as a top talent and still should see A-lister perks. I mentioned that as I wanted to show that the movie shows how hard it is for Vic to truly understand he has gotten old. It takes Vic to realize who he really is, and where he came from when he talks Lily into a side trip to his home town. It is here that the viewer will begin to relate more with Vic, and better yet what it’s like to get old.

The Last Movie Star could have been written around Burt Reynolds himself as much of it resembles his own life. In truth there have been articles written from interviews with the writer of the movie that it was written with Reynolds in mind. As the movie progresses we are introduced to this old man, grumpy, and headstrong man that still has his site on his glory days. There are even parts of the movie where old Vic is interlaced with young Vic in movie scenes. Old Vic is doing his best to pass on wisdom to his younger self about the dangers of getting old.

What the Last Movie Star does is quite brilliant in the way it was written and performed by its cast. It takes the viewer into this old man’s life and we see how he starts to realize he has gotten older. We get a sense of how he wants to reconnect with his past, and at same time teaching this young woman about life.

The thing the movie shows the viewer the most is a different way to accept what will happen to us all. We are all getting older every day and the movie will show the viewer the good and bad of growing old. It may help the viewer rethink their own ideals on getting old. However, most of all it is a heartwarming tale of a man who will reconnect with his life, and accept where it has brought him thru his life choices.

I should add that The Last Movie Star was written and directed by Adam Rifkin.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Who: A Novel of the Near Future by author Karen A. Wyle.

If one was to take some time and do an internet search for uploading your mind to a computer you’ll be surprised by the multitude of results. There are tech industry stories going back several years that talk about just that fact. There was even an article in which now departed Stephen Hawking stated it would be something that could happen. He did have the “brains” to know at this time we do not have the technology.

You have to wonder had we had the technology would Hawking have taken the chance to have his brain transferred to a computer to continue living. The possibilities of what could happen to a consciousness moved into a digital realm is somewhat endless, but someone has taken that potential and put it into a great read. The book is titled, “Who: A Novel of the Near Future“, by author Karen A. Wyle.

Author Wyle has already written some very thought provoking books in her Twin-Bred novels. She certainly continues that trend in this book. She goes deep into a subject that is currently starting to gain headlines and has implications of all types. The thing is, this book will give the reader a sense of what some of those potential problems could be.

The book will introduce the reader to a couple who are young and naturally in love. They are both musicians that have done some work for the company LiveAfter. LiveAfter is a firm that will take a person’s mind and digitize it so a person can continue to interact with those they care for. As both Thea and Max have done some contract work for the company they are offered a deal to make use of the digitization if something should ever happen.

As the reader continues the story they will find out the worse does happen and Thea dies. Max makes the choice to have Thea’s mind digitized and this is where the story really starts to take off. Max will find that he has his Thea back as she can still play her music and seems to be her normal self. However, as legislation is passed allowing those who have been digitized to do more, like voting Thea seems to change.  Her mindset changes and her personality seems different and Max has to wonder is this really his Thea?

The book will take the reader into the realm of what could happen when someone’s mind is digitized. Is there a chance the company doing that work could change or manipulate the mind, or some may say soul. I do realize it is a stretch to go with the soul, but if someone’s mind is change I say it’s part of their soul. The mind is the thing that drives reason and feelings, we can say it’s our heart but really it’s the mind that makes that final call.

The book will not just focus on the interactions of Max and Thea but you get to read how others are impacted. The extended family, their friends and others involved in their lives. We get questions come to mind on what this technology could potentially do if this technology eventually came to reality. The book really will get readers using their minds as they consider all the options put forward within the pages of the book.

Author Karen A Wyle is an author who will cause the reader to really think. She does a great job in character development as well as explaining many of the potential challenges this type of technology may bring. I will warn readers that at times this book may seem to get mired in topics around law and great explanations on possibilities, and technology. I realize some of us in fast speed world may find some of this boring, but the book is well worth a read. You can surely scan some of the pages but you’ll miss out on a very well developed story.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Strangeways by Robert J Brunner

I have to admit that when I received the request to do an honest review of the book Strangeways by Robert J Brunner, I looked the book up. I found out first that Brunner was a police 911 dispatcher. This was intriguing as it could add some realism to the book. As I further checked into the book I found it dealt with a prison, an FBI agent, death and an ancient god. Alright I would say I was hooked at this point, but that would not be truthful as I after I started reading the book I did get hooked.

Strangeways opens with a prologue that in itself is a bit of an enigma. The book introduces to a period in the early 1900s in which we find a man, Charles Hobart, in a small town staying in a boarding house. The Hobart is first seen as another potential traveling salesman of the period, a Bible salesman. It isn’t till an evening dinner with the residents of the boarding house things finally come out. The reason is in the town, well he wants to buy himself some property.  The property will be used not for a home, but for a prison.

The reader now “time jumps” to more of a current period in time. We find a prison guard out for rounds of a darken prison just at lights out. The guard will stop to talk to an inmate and take another one out of his cell and down to the showers, the inmate stinks. The guard will soon become first in some mysterious deaths that will begin to plague the prison. As the klaxon rang members of a response team come rushing into the shower area where the guard is screaming. Officer Peter Coyle’s incident report will be found not long after the death has transpired and will help setup what is to come.

It’s not long after that we find special agent Tom Griffin of the FBI on his way to the prison as he will be sticking his nose into what is happening at Strangeways Prison.  He was called by an old colleague who is now the prison’s warden. Griffin will not even make it inside the prison before a strange event will meet him.  He gets out of his car to see a large wolf eyeing him down like could be dinner. Things move on from this point and Griffin will keep his open mind. He may be expecting many different possibilities that may have been the cause of the prison guard’s death. The problem is, Griffin will not want to believe what is actually going on. He is a logical man, what is happening around him, regardless of the signs is something he is not prepared for.

Strangeways will take the reader in to the world of the prison, named the same as the book. As you read you will find that the prison is on Native American land. The area has been known for strange phenomenon and in truth may be the reasoning for the name of the prison. However, what transpires within the walls of the prison is far more than any would expect. The big change in this book is that it is not related to Native Americans but instead a Norse God.  This God has become popular within the pages of comic books, and super hero movies. His name is Odin, The All Father, and many will be shocked by the portrayal of the character. I for one was at first, but I then did some research on Odin and will just point out he is the God of not just of wisdom and poetry, but that of WAR and DEATH.

Author Robert J. Brunner puts together a book that will leave many readers struggling to put it down after they start reading the book. His characters are well developed from those of the prisoners within the prison to those on the side of Law and Order. There are characters you will find yourself miss reading and others that will be evident by their actions. The scenes within the book are well painted through his word play and are properly descriptive without going to intense during the violence. I found the book to be well worth my time to read and provide this review.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Obsidian Tears by Doug Lamoreux & Daniel D. Lamoreux

Yellowstone National Park is United States staple that attracts thousands, if not more, visitors each and every year. People enjoy not just the beauty of the Old Faithful Geyser but also the natural beauty that abounds the park itself. The one thing that many visitors, and maybe even some staff, do not know is the large history behind the land the park is located on.  The history includes that of the Native American’s and obsidian made artifacts have been found in the park. Why do I bring this up? I mention the obsidian as it is part of the title of the book, Obsidian Tears. The book is written by brothers Daniel and Doug Lamoreux and that deep black, glassy rock will play its part in this book.

Obsidian Tears will introduce the reader to Chief Forest Ranger Glenn Merrill who many readers may have met in the first book in this series, Apparition Lake. As in that book the reader will find Ranger Merril dealing with some alarming events around Yellowstone. The problem is these events are not just the threat from environmentalists, or campers’ causing mayhem, but something is brewing under the ground. There are earth tremors that bring signs that maybe the long dormant volcano under their feet is becoming active. There of course are the unexplained deaths that claim not just animals, but that of tourists and a ranger.

I wish to add that the book opening is quite interesting as well as it sets up some great foreshadowing of what may come. The Lamoreux brothers do a great job taking the reader back to a different time as we find the young Arapaho medicine man, Nakos, on a vision quest. The events that take place during this question and what will follow a few hundred years later will become clearer as you follow the story.

The thing is all the mystery around the park will eventually become tied to a mysterious box that is found within the park. I will not go into much detail on how, or where it is found, but just say they did have to look under something to find it. The item in that box will get things moving very fast within the pages of the book. These events will lead Ranger Merrill to search out his Shoshone friend, Johnny Two Ravens.  Along with Johnny, Merrill will also end up realizing he will need the help of a young professor of Seismology, one Dr. Betty Chmielewski or Lew for short.

The book is well written as the brothers certainly know how to work together and develop their characters. Along with the characters it does appear they have done a lot of research on Yellowstone and the history around the National Park. The book does have some violent acts, but for the most part we read more about the aftermath then get to read about the full details. I for one love this type of storytelling when it comes to violence as it engages the brain even more. The best thing about the additional engagement of the brain is it brings you more and more into the story you are reading.

Obsidian Tears is a very well written book and truly fits as book 2 in the Apparition Lake series. The reader gets to catch up on what has happened in the life of those characters they may have enjoyed from the first book. You also get a sense of what is going on within a park of Yellowstone’s size from the daily patrols that take place to dealing with some of the visitors. This is what makes not just the drama of the main story so special but you get a sense of the happenings at the park, which draws you in even more. A truly enjoyable read and I’m sure like many others, I hope for more.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2018 in Reviews

 

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The Witch of Delray by Karen Dybis

I’ll admit when I first saw the title, The Witch of Delay, I conjured up in my mind a story about your typical witch. The kind of witch story that I evoked in my mind involved potions, curses, and even hexes. The interesting thing is, The Witch of Delray, will take the reader into the story of Rose Veres who some saw as a witch.

I realize that opening paragraph may grip the attention of people as you ask yourself, where is Delray? Is she really a witch?

The answer to the first question is that Delray is an old part of Detroit, Michigan. The Delray area in the early 20th century saw many Hungarian immigrants call the area home. This background is shared with in the pages of the book by author, Karen Dybis. She does a great job explaining how things where in Detroit during the period of the book, mentioning everything from the Great Depression, to corruption, crime, and race riot in the 1940s.

As for Rose Veres, you must realize the period of the story. This was a period when many old fears followed immigrants from their native lands. It is where neighborhood stories could lead others to fear a woman’s piercing glare as an evil hex. It of course did not help Rose that she had a husband die, mysteriously and even some of her borders also die.  You see, Rose and her husband Gabor, took in borders and after his death she continued to take them in. It was just Rose and her children in the house along with their borders, and it wasn’t till one of them died.

The Witch of Delray will delve deeply into the reported murder of Stephen Mak. He was one of the borders, and like so many during the depression, had trouble finding work. He would help with some chores around the Veres’ house and it was on one of these occasions he met with a horrific end. He either was pushed, or fell, off a ladder while working on a window in the home. The following police investigation would lead to the multiple events within this book.

Author Karen Dybis does her homework in writing this true crime story. She had to obviously do a lot of research digging into archives and stories from the events. Dybis looks not into the primary characters from Rose Verse, son Bill, but into those who prosecuted her. Dybis looks into the history around the events, the characters and the eventual outcome.  Readers will be introduced to Detective John Whitman, Reporter Vera Brown, Prosecutor Duncan C. McCrea and female attorney Alean Rose Brisley Clutts. The book will span over a few decades and will give readers a larger picture on the “witch” of Delray.

What I really enjoyed about this book is something one will not see on the countless of real crime TV shows out there. We get beyond the story of the murder but that of parties involved. We get a chance to see how those involved either met with fame, or failure. The thing book really does is show us everything has consequences and sometimes they have far reaching impacts.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Seven for the Slab by Doug Lamoreux

There where comic books, radio programs and television shows that would give their audience short scary stories. These would often wrap up quickly and would allow the presenter to do an anthology of sorts as they could have several stories within the same production. These of course helped give birth to the numerous anthologies that can be found out there.  We can also get a sense of this style from the 20007 Horror film “Trick ‘r Treat”.

Author Doug Lamoreux takes this idea and does two better than the before mentioned film as he places seven stories within the pages of his novella. This novella is aptly titled, “Seven for the Slab”.  I’m sure many who see the title will draw the conclusion that the slab must be in reference to a funeral home. I will say that assumption would be very correct, but do not go thinking these stories take place in one.  In the contrary a funeral home does have some of the main story thread but it’s not all the reader will get out of the pages of the novella.

Seven for the Slab starts out with the one thing so many of dislike, and that is being awoken by a ringing telephone. If you ask me that in itself is a nightmare as you never know why someone is calling you so late and if you are about to get heartbreaking news. This phone call is one that brings good news for one Herb Flay, it would mean he had his job back and that the Fengriffen Funeral Home and Crematorium needed his services. It was a call he had been waiting on for what seemed like a month and with some odd glee he went out into the thunderstorm ready to do his job.

This is the setup to the novella as Flay heads out in the night to meet his boss at a home of not one but two deceased individuals, a brother and a sister. The scene is a small neighboring town and as Flay heads out to the scene we are introduced to a group of characters from firemen, EMTS, local police and a home owner.

The rain along with what is found at the home of the deceased brother and sister are what send many of the first responders to a home owner’s garage. The place becomes the official staging area for those involved to wait out the rain and their potential next assignment if something comes up. This is a welcoming option for those who had been in the home, as the bodies, well it’s amazing what can happen after a period of time. I’m leaving the details for the story itself as for some it could be slightly disturbing, but sadly it is part of life.

I’ve provided a bit of the background on why there are so many within this garage as this is where a push from one of those individuals will get the stories moving. One must realize that when you have so many first responders together they may have stories to share with each other. In this instance it is just that, they are all challenged to share a story that will fit their current settings. It is a chance for each of them to out-do the other as they tell their stores.

I could go into each story but as this is a novella I do not want to take away a readers opportunity to really enjoy them. I just will say that with each one they get a bit more thought provoking and there is a bit of everything involved. The reader will find aliens, ghosts, zombie like creatures, and the worse of all humanity. I say this as what man can do to their fellow man can be just as gruesome as the creatures that we see in our dreams.

Seven for the Slab shows off the creative mind of author Doug Lamoreux as his characters tell their stories. They are well crafted stories that will have you wondering not just about the character writing the stories but that of the author who wrote the novella. I must say that you can tell he was a fan of those old series like Vault of Horror and Tales from the Crypt. The thing is we hear some great stories from the first responders but the back ground story is just as traumatic. I’ll close by saying that it is amazing what some will do to keep a job.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Reviews

 

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