Review of Leo Flynn’s Revised “Mara’s Awakening”

mara

Promotional art for Leo Flynn’s “Mara’s Awakening

Last year, indie author Leo Flynn asked me to review his SciFi story Mara’s Awakening, part 1 in the 3 part saga. I did review it and as much as I wanted to be nice about it, I didn’t think much of the story. It was too short and there was almost no story or character development.

Then last April, Leo contacted me again. Apparently, a number of people provided him with similar comments, so much so in fact, that he reworked the tale completely. He asked me to review the updated version.

I love it.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was. Mara, Ishali, Mallory, feel more like real people. Leo takes much more time to flesh out his protagonist and her circumstances. Prison feels a lot more substantial, and the reader experiences Mara’s anguish and frustration at being unjustly incarcerated for life.

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Film Review of “No Time to Die” (2021)

no timeIf you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.

Just finished watching (as I write this) the most recent James Bond/007 film No Time to Die. It pulled quite a bit of time, 2 hours and 45 minutes, out of my life, but in this case it was well worth it.

Just to get this out of the way, during the theatrical release, I recall Lashana Lynch who played Nomi/007 said some rather unpleasant things. I can’t really remember what they were and it doesn’t make any difference at this point. Just for future note, it’s generally important when you’re promoting a film as did Brie Larson and Captain Marvel (2019) as well as Simu Liu and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, to put on your best attitude in front of the public and press.

The film begins with a young Madeleine Swann (Coline Defaud) and her (drunken) mother Mathilde Bourbin in a lone cabin in a snow covered countryside. They are suddenly beset upon by a masked assassin Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) who is intent on killing Madeleine’s Father. Apparently the Dad was an assassin for Spectre and on their leader Blofeld’s (Christoph Waltz) orders, murdered Safin’s entire family. Finding the Dad not home, he kills the mother but saves Madeleine from dying.

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Book Review of Wilbur Smith’s “The Seventh Scroll”

7th scroll

Cover art for the mass paperback edition of the novel “The Seventh Scroll”

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Wilbur Smith’s 1995 novel The Seventh Scroll isn’t the sort of book I’d read today, although action, adventure, and archeological mysteries are something I’d have considered back in the day.

But on Facebook, I read that it’s author died last November. Smith was highly regarded as a writer on the FB writers page where I saw the announcement. I figured I should read something of his for the sake of his passing.

He was one of those highly regarded and well-reviewed authors you hear about. Just to give you a few examples:

“The plot twists and turns with constant surprises. This old-fashioned adventure novel keeps the reader enthralled all the way to its very exciting conclusion.”
– The Washington Post Book World

“Life-threatening dangers loom around every turn, leaving the reader breathless….An incredibly exciting and satisfying read.”
– Chattanooga News-Free Press

“An entertaining yarn.”
– Fort Worth Star-Telegram

I looked through his books and decided on “The Seventh Scroll” because it is the very type of story I’d have consumed when “Scroll” was first published. It’s actually part of a series, some of which is set in ancient Egypt. I prefer a more modern adventure.

I’d characterize this tome into three parts:

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“Ice” by James Pyles is Now Available

ice
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Admittedly, I’ve tried to sell this story in various forms for quite some time without any luck. I even asked a friend for help, thinking maybe he could suggest the proper venue. However, it didn’t take.

So I thought of self-publishing it. Here it is: Ice by James Pyles. No anthologies, no indie publishers, this one is all mine.

Good thing, too. When I went over my submitted story, I found horrible errors I never saw before. I took weeks just reading and re-reading “Ice” until I finally got it to the point where I thought it was ready (I’ll write a separate blog post about my first experience with Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP) by the by).

Here’s the synopsis I wrote for Amazon:

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My Novella “Time’s Abyss” Has Four 5-Star Ratings at Goodreads

time's abyss

Promotional image of the cover for “Time’s Abyss.”

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My premiere science fiction novella Time’s Abyss now has four 5-star ratings on Goodreads. You can also find it in digital or hardcopy form at Amazon and any of your favorite online booksellers.

So far the Goodreads and Amazon ratings are excellent. Don’t miss out on this terrific SciFi, time travel, alternate universe adventure.

Just to give you a taste, here’s another brief excerpt:

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Film Review: “Escape from L.A.” (1996)

© James Pyles – photo of DVD case for the movie “Escape from L.A.”

I saw John Carpenter’s 1981 film Escape From New York starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, and Adrienne Barbeau when it was first in the theaters and then a few times on disc later. It’s what I consider a “high functioning B movie.” That means it’s a lot of fun, but in spite of the quality actors in the movie, it would attain no higher level than “cult classic.” It’s a good way to waste two hours.

I’ve been aware of the 1996 sequel Escape from L.A. for years, but never had the desire to see it. However, yesterday at my local public library, I found it on disc and figured “what the heck.”

Actually, given the quality of the story of the original, and that sequels almost never live up to the original, I expected to either be bored or to hate it.

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Review: “Shadows in Zamboula” by Robert E. Howard

 

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Cover of Weird Tales magazine 1935

Shadows in Zamboula is a classic Robert E. Howard tale of Conan the Barbarian. I read it to get my head in the right space for crafting a “Sword and Sorcery” short story, and I wasn’t disappointed. Howard’s Conan is the best version of the character ever, even after eighty or so years.

The tale was first published in 1935, and I accessed it as a free eBook through The Gutenberg Project (yes, the original cover of “Weird Tales” in which the story appeared is provocative by today’s standards).

Howard’s popular barbarian is lured into trouble once again by a beautiful woman, that is after being nearly captured and consumed by cannibals. His adversaries are black Africans (as we’d understand them today), and relative to the mid-1930s, the description of them might be considered racist (in the 21st century). That aside, the story is high adventure all the way. The swordplay is at its finest, and at the end, Conan outsmarts as well as outfights both his enemies and his supposed allies.

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Movie Review of “Thor: Ragnarok”

thor-ragnarok

Promotional image for “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

I watched Thor: Ragnarok (2017) last week and loved it. It wasn’t the perfect film, but of the three “Thor” movies, it was clearly the best.

Things I Liked

I really liked the dynamic, both between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and between Thor and Banner (although, in a way, it’s the same thing). I’m glad that Thor not only was able to hold his own against the Hulk, but actually beat him, that is until the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) cheated by triggering Thor’s pain-inducing device.

They ended up being “odd couple” buddies, which brings up another point.

The two previous Thor films and just about any solo movie version of the Hulk have all been pretty blah. These are characters who have successfully carried their own comic book titles for decades. Why don’t they translate well to film?

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The New Dragon Saga: The Resistance

collar

Replica collar from the original Star Trek series episode, “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” Found at the “Star Trek Prop Authority” website.

Chapter 3: “It’s a good thing the biotrace found him.”

Landon heard a familiar voice, a man’s voice. The Master? Where was Buddy?

“Yes sir. Another few minutes and his signal would have faded forever.”

It was Carmen Ramsey, Landon’s doctor; the one who treated his wounds after one of the Games, the Roman’s sword. Yes, he remembered.

“Without the collar, he was free of our influence, and in his case, the ability to use sorcery was restored. He is too valuable a contestant to lose. Besides, if he ever freed the dragon…” The Master abruptly stopped talking.

“Wait. He’s coming to.” Carmen put her hand on his forehead.

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Eruption

geyser

Found at whygoiceland.com – no image credit available

Stop! If you haven’t done so already, read The Quest to Save Landon, When Hell Boils Over and Boiling Point first.

Asmodius, the King of the Demons of Hell and Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon, were literally battling tooth and nail in a fight to the death at the shore of a bubbling cauldron sea of sulfur and lava, both of them bleeding from a dozen wounds, though the dragon was getting the worst of it.

Hundreds of nearby demons flew or ran to them, forming a semi-circle near the combatants, setting up lawn chairs and sitting down with soda and popcorn to witness the fight.

Buddy had been thrown back by the demon and both paused, heavily breathing the fetid air of Hell.

“So, allies you call. In Hell all cheat.”

“Not so, dragon. What need of I with allies. In Hell, I’m supreme. I’ve got the home town advantage. They just like to watch.” The demon audience cheered for their champion, and Asmodius took a bow.

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