Round 2 With Author J.W. Garrett

Winston – It’s been almost a year since I last talked to author, J.W. Garrett, and I’m excited and honored to say she’s back and not just for part II of our interview but with a brand-new book as well. I’d say she took just the right amount of time craft a follow up to the mind-bending Remeon’s Destiny (RD). She didn’t rush it in a few months, and it didn’t take years, only one, and I’ve had the opportunity to fully test drive Remeon’s Quest (RD) and found it just as exhilarating, if not more, as the first book in the Realms of Chaos series. Let’s jump right in. 

How long did it actually take you to write Remeon’s Destiny (RD) and Remeon’s Quest (RQ)? Which book was the toughest to write and why?

Garrett – Remeon’s Destiny took almost two years to write. That time included a lot of starting and stopping and tucking my thoughts away until I felt like creatively I could give to the story. And sometimes the day just sucks the creativity out of you and you have to try again tomorrow.  So almost throwing in the towel on this one probably made it the more difficult to write of the two.

Remeon’s Quest came about much quicker, finished the first draft in about four months. I had a strong sense of the story and the characters at that point. Problem was finding the time to get it all out.

Winston – Two year…yikes! But I get it; you can’t rush art, or at least you shouldn’t. RQ’s publishing date was only one day off from being on the one-year anniversary of RD’s publishing date. Was that by design? How many books should we expect in the Realms of Chaos series, and should we expect them all a year apart, which I think is perfect, by the way?

Garrett – Four books will make up the Realms of Chaos series. Considering the lead time for writing, editing, beta readers, proofreading, cover design and manuscript set up by my publisher, advanced review copies, etc. most likely the books will be a year apart.

Winston – Yay on the year apart; I can handle that. Now, this is kind of unique to me. This second book you’ve written in the series is actually a prequel which in my mind makes both books stand alone, and they can be read in any order. Which order do you suggest and why?

Garrett – Yes! Remeon’s Quest is a prequel, and for those who haven’t read Remeon’s Destiny I suggest digging into Remeon’s Quest first, mainly because of the earlier timeline of Remeon’s Quest. However, the books are written so that either one may be read first for these two installments.

Winston – Ooh, a choice…I love it. Tell me about the writers’ life through J.W. Garrett’s eyes. How many words a day do you write? Is that a hardline number or are you flexible? Do you edit on the fly or do you get that all-important draft out of the way and then concentrate on the revision process? Or is a combination of the two? Has writer’s block ever been a problem for you? If so, how do you deal with it?

Garrett – The answer to most of these questions depends on the day.

I’d love to say I write 3000+ words day, but that rarely happens. I do set a goal for each day that I’m writing, knowing in advance how long I will have to write. And, unless I have an emergency of some kind, I’ll hold myself accountable. Generally, I reread what I’ve written the previous day as it helps me with the flow of the story. I’d like to get out of the habit of editing on the fly… (So many experts say it’s bad since you use different parts of your brain for the creative process versus the editing piece.) Unfortunately, I have an ongoing battle with this. I see it as a trade-off, and when I’m immersed in a scene, often it feels right to tweak a word or two then, as opposed to during a rewrite. Again, I’m a proponent of doing what works for the individual and their process.

So far, writer’s block hasn’t been a problem. If something is holding me up, usually I need to take a step back and work it out in my head. In most cases, I find that the characters create their own path through, and I just get out of the way and hang on for the ride.

Winston – I agree with doing what works for the individual. Alistair MacLeod edits on the fly, and I’ve heard his work characterized as flawless. Anyhow, describe your writing space? Is it just one space or do you move about, and how important is the adoption of a writing space to you?

Garrett – I do have a writing space, my office, and it recently had a makeover thanks to my amazing husband. The room is cozy with a fireplace, rug, and bookshelves with my favorite books and reference books that I use while writing, and of course my computer. After getting used to two screens I’m not sure I could go back to one. Sometimes I draw out a few things to solidify them in my head but, otherwise, no pen and paper—too concerned with losing precious words and time…

For me, returning to a consistent space puts me in the proper frame of mind to write. I’ve tried moving around to other areas and the productivity isn’t there. The familiar is another cue to put my brain in the right mode.

Winston – Fair enough. In RD, you did a masterful job of combining the contemporary with science fiction. This new installment goes more into the fantasy realm while remaining true to the original genres. What’s your take on the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy and how do you apply that to the Realms of Chaos series?

Garrett – I did struggle initially with classifying Remeon’s Destiny as sci-fi or fantasy because it is definitely a combination of both genres. Science fiction can tell us so much about our perceived future and humanity’s possibilities, extrapolating from different points in time and utilizing the natural laws of science and reality that we currently occupy. And fantasy on the other hand, allows us to dream of what could be if only x y or z happened, without strict regard to “real world” constraints and theoretical limitations.

Growing up reading J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, and Jean Auel, alongside Ray Bradbury, HG Wells and CS Lewis (among others) made it seem perfectly natural to mix the two genres.

Winston – That’s a heavy answer and those are some heavy hitters. Ebook or Print and why?

Garrett – I have quite a few paperbacks and hardcover books; many of these are old favorites that I reread. Some are non-fiction that I’ve highlighted and refer to frequently. I still buy physical books, but considering the number of books I read, plus limited space and the need for portability, e-books make up a large part of my personal library.

Winston – I’ve had the opportunity to read both books and listen to a rousing rendition of RD on audible as well. How was that process, when can we expect RQ on audible, and will you use the same voice actor?

Garrett – The process was interesting—very detailed and a different type of work moving from a manuscript to editing an audible version of a book. I found a whole new appreciation for commas as well as the intricacies of pronunciation that I didn’t have before because of how a voice actor reads the text. I don’t have a timeline currently for the audible version or if the same voice actor will be used.

Winston – Well, I’m looking forward to it and will keep an eye…well an ear out for it. When I read your books, I can actually see the characters on the big screen. Humor me. Pick out some of your main characters—at least four or five—and come up with current actors and actresses who would be perfect to play those roles and tell us why.

Garrett – Ah… fun!

Jack – Theo James has just the right amount of intensity needed for Jack, plus he’s got a vulnerable side to him, just like Jack.

Whisterly – Brice Dallas Howard – Her ability to depict strong women characters with determination and drive, who enjoy riding in the front seat, would make her a perfect choice for Whisterly.


Thomas – Josh Hutcherson would be a great pick for Thomas. He could realistically portray the conflict within, as well as personify the innate integrity Thomas possesses.

Arista – Emma Watson would bring the role of Arista to life with her unique charisma and a magical background from her Harry Potter roles.

Winston – Ooh, I love those characters…I may have to reread the novels. Now, last question; With two years of being a published author under your belt what advice would you give aspiring writers out there? I’ll just say good advice because I know it will be and give you the last word and mention that I’ve provided the links to these literary gems below. Good luck and Godspeed, mi amiga. 

Garrett – Just do it! Start somewhere. So many resources are available to help you along the way. If anything, too much information is an issue and sifting it down to what you need, when you need it. Above all, don’t wait for the “perfect” time… there will always be an excuse… work, commitments, etc. But the great thing is, you don’t have to follow everyone else’s model of success—make your own, and in your own time and space create your masterpiece. Even 15 or 30 minutes a day can set you on your way, and in the end, it will have been just right for your individual journey.

Remeon’s Destiny Link

Remeon’s Quest Link


Author Talk with J.E. Reed


Recently, I had the chance to interview BHC author of Running with the Wolves, J.E. Reed. Here’s what she had to say. 

How long have you actually considered yourself a writer in a professional sense and was there a defining moment or a gradual process that gave you that distinction?


I don’t think I considered myself a writer until I sent my final draft of Running with the Wolves to my publisher. There’s just something about not being able to work on your manuscript anymore that settles the feeling in. Even though I’m published, I’m still waiting on that “ah ha, I did it feeling.” I don’t think it’s set in because in my mind I’m still on the adventure with Kiuno in books two and three.


That’s interesting. There’s more work to be done. This, Running with the Wolves, is your debut novel, and it’s a doozy. What was your inspiration behind the Chronopoint Chronicles?


I’m an online gamer and thus I wanted to write a book that revolved around a created world. However, I didn’t want to do what’s all ready been done in the sense that the world is virtual. I wanted the stakes to be high and the experiences to be very real, thus the Chronopoint Chronicles was born. Interestingly enough, many of my characters were taken from my perception of people I knew in the gaming world.


That makes sense. Write what you know. What is it that drew you to the fantasy sci-fi genre? Do you see yourself writing in another genre in the future?


I adore fantasy. It lets readers escape to a whole new world with a different set of rules and possibilities. I see myself diving into romance (clean) a bit, but even those ideas are centred around fantasy elements with lots of action and adventure.


I can see that in your work, even the romance part, the passion. What motivates you to write, and what has been a stumbling block that you have overcome or are overcoming?


I write for the characters. I love exploring personalities and pushing their limits. The world building and obstacles come as needed. Because of this, I often don’t outline, which can make the process of writing a little longer as I figure out what the characters will face and obstacles they will overcome.


Yeah, those characters tend to have a mind of their own, seriously. What are your views on the different avenues of publishing i.e. self-publishing, indie-publishing, hybrid publishing, traditional publishing etc.?


I think people should publish the way they feel comfortable. I don’t have any negative things to say about any of the avenues as long as they are done correctly. For example, if you’re going to self-publish then take the time to hire a good editor. If you want to traditionally publish then research a good agent to represent you. Each method has many pros and cons and I did my research on each before choosing. I anticipate trying other routes in the future just to satisfy my curiosity on the process.


That’s good information and sound advice, I’d say. What are some of your favorite novels and authors and why?


The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. I fell in love with Eragon and followed the release of each book as they came out. The characters are what did it for me. I always say if a book can move me, then it’s worth five stars and this series definitely did. (Now if only they would properly redo the movie)


As a child and teenager, I remember loving the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and anything under the Dragon Lance series. (there’s a lot.)


Haha on the movie. Some of these film adaptations are cringe-worthy at best. And you can’t miss with HP. Nowadays it doesn’t matter how you’re published, and even with a great publisher like BHC, to some degree, you are also acting as your own PR and marketing team. How are you finding that process? Were you prepared for it when you began your journey as an author? What would you tell other authors who find this side of things intimidating and/or undignified?


Was I prepared? No. I thought I was, but I was actually prepared for a self-published book marketing strategy. Many of the avenues I had planned to pursue require the complete ownership of rights and having control over main platforms. Since my publisher holds most of that, I’ve been forced to create a new strategy. Yes, I’ve found this challenging, but if things like this were easy then everyone would do it. I like a challenge and set aside time every week to look at new avenues I can take in promoting my series. I’d tell other writers to do your research and stalk your fellow authors. I promise they won’t mind. Chances are, they’ve found things that you can tap into and help your progress. Research, research, research.


SMART!!! I see you all over social media and at the different brick and mortar book stores, including big Barnes & Noble selling Running with the Wolves and meeting your fans. How has that process been?


Odd. It still hasn’t sunk in that my book is published, but as I said before, I think it’s due to my brain still creating the adventure. As far as meeting people, the experience has been exciting and made me nervous at the same time. This isn’t my first business so I’m familiar with interacting with the public, but a book is a lot more personal than anything I’ve ever done.


Not your first business, eh! Interesting. Tell us all about Kiuno, including what percentage of her is actually your alter-ego.


I’d venture to say a large part of Kiuno is my alter ego and perhaps parts of my current self. I’ve had readers tell me they can see me reacting to situations the way she did. I like to write by experience and a lot of things I’ve experienced went into this book. Kiuno is a twenty-three-year-old married woman. She works in a library and enjoys painting landscapes. (Take note that I can’t paint) In Running with the Wolves Kiuno often comments on the beauty of the created world. Her biggest fears are abandonment and loneliness or being forced to live a life she doesn’t want. (Mine as well) She enjoys almost any outdoor activity such as camping and hiking and has even experimented with survival techniques out of curiosity. (thank goodness too.) Kiuno is not her real name. It is a surrogate name she uses for online gaming to keep her real identity hidden.


Kiuno is smart and caring and these qualities lead her to making friends easy. She likes to help people and is quick to blame herself when something goes wrong rather than logically looking at the situation. Her emotions control a lot of her actions which gets her in trouble from time to time.


That’s great insight on your Kiuno and you. I’ll have to come back to this before I read the next book in your series. What can we expect from you next, and when will the next Chronopoint Chronicles book drop?


Currently, I’m editing book two and it is expected to go to my editor at the end of September. I hope to have it in my publisher’s hands by November, but we’ll see if the characters give me any hiccups. The third book will be underway soon and I have ideas for an eight-part series to follow. It will not be connected to The Chronopoint Chronicles.


Wow! Sounds pretty intense. Tell us something different and unique about J.E. Reed that you haven’t said in any other interview.


I’ve studied practical Martial Arts (on and off) for a few years. This helped me write the battle scenes in Running with the Wolves. I wanted most of them to be realistic and employed my husband to help me act out some of the moves. I even had my editor comment that Kiuno might be too advanced in the book, but if you were in a society where there was nothing else to do but gather food and work out, progression would be a lot faster. (What else are you going to do when you’re bored?)


Let me add that I am by no means an expert in Martial Arts. There is still a lot to learn and by this point Kiuno is far more advanced than myself. I’d probably die in a sword fight. (I’ve been cut three times when friends and I got a little too daring.)


Yikes! You sound pretty fierce to me. Well, where has the time gone. Thank you, J.E. for sharing. I’m sure our readers got to know more about you and your work. I know I did. We look forward to the next book in The Chronopoint Chronicles and beyond.


If you haven’t read Running with the Wolves, you really need to check it out. Kiuno is a character that rocks. She is sure, decisive, and definitely badass. To check out the book and find out more about J.E. Reed, click on the links below.







Author Talk with J.W. Garrett

Recently, I had the chance to interview BHC author of Remeon’s Destiny, J.W. Garrett. Here’s what she had to say.


How long have you actually considered yourself a writer in a professional sense and was there a defining moment or a gradual process that gave you that distinction?

Although I believed her back in elementary school when my teacher confirmed that I was indeed a writer, it wasn’t until much later that it was confirmed professionally. I had some work published in college, but my 1st piece of published fiction was a short story in 2016. I would say though, that I consider it a gradual process as we as writers grow into the words we write.

Ooh, we grow into the words we write. I love it, and teachers can have such an impact. This, Remeon’s Destiny, is your debut novel, and quite a unique one I might add. What was your inspiration behind the first book in the Realms of Chaos series?

I grew up in the mountains of Virginia, so I guess it’s not surprising that I chose that backdrop for my novel.  My inspiration for the main character Thomas was my father. But through his development throughout the novel, Thomas definitely becomes his own unique character.

Yeah, I can see that. Soon or later, characters tend to find their own way. What is it that drew you to the fantasy sci-fi genre? Do you see yourself writing in another genre in the future?

I read fantasy and science fiction as a kid and was drawn to its unique characters, settings, and plot – so much less predictable than other genres. I love speculative fiction so I’ve also dabbled in horror as well. I enjoy historical romances, so I could see myself writing a romance or two with a dash of time travel mixed in.

Yesss! Can’t miss with time travel. What motivates you to write, and what has been a stumbling block that you have overcome or are overcoming?

The developing story and the characters all compel me to write. I’ve not found motivation to be a problem. The stumbling block has been trying to turn it off at times. Finding a structure to conform writing within, as well as my characters, has been an ongoing challenge.

So, it’s all about holding J.W. back a bit, not a bad problem to have, I’d say. What are your views on the different avenues of publishing i.e. self-publishing, indie-publishing, hybrid publishing, traditional publishing etc.?

There are more opportunities than ever before out there, but also, it’s extremely competitive. Start with researching the basic models: self-publishing, traditional and hybrid. Determine what works for your individual scenario and then pursue it with a passion. With changes in the publishing landscape happening so fast writers must continually re-evaluate and adapt to make sure they are still on target with their own personal goals. More and more I think we’ll see the lines blur between self-published authors, traditional and hybrid.  All are fighting to keep market share as this business continues to shift and evolve to meet today’s market needs for the reader.

Monster answer! What are some of your favorite novels and authors and why?

First, The Hobbit, since it was the novel that opened my world to fantasy. Tolkien is, of course, a master. The Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin introduced me to her talents when I was a teenager, and I haven’t looked back since. Her insights into humanity are profound and never-ending. Jean Auel and her Earth’s Children Series, beginning with the Clan of the Cave Bear has been a lifelong love of mine. The Outlander series is another one of my favorites. Diana Gabaldon gives her characters such emotional depth there’s no way you won’t come back for more.

Love the Outlander series. Nowadays it doesn’t matter how you’re published, and even with a great publisher like BHC, to some degree, you are also acting as your own PR and marketing team. How are you finding that process? Were you prepared for it when you began your journey as an author? What would you tell other authors who find this side of things intimidating and/or undignified?

I’m still navigating these waters. I’m not sure you can be prepared without going through it. I find I’m learning new things every day, which is great. What I wasn’t prepared for was the seemingly endless traffic of internet noise attempting to vie for my marketing dollar. That is difficult to sift through, and before you know it you can waste hours and hours of time with no redeeming benefit or value for that time spent.

True story! One of the things I really like about Remeon’s Destiny is the Juxtaposition of settings, from a rural Virginia town to an off-planet world, light years away, and the inclusion of the historic 1947 was genius. Tell us how all of that came about.

The story has been brewing in my head for decades. I just kept putting off writing it down, searching for the “perfect” time. And as I mentioned above, rural Virginia has a solid place in my personal history. I spent many carefree summer days on my grandparents’ farm soaking up the family stories and learning some of the inner-workings of farming life. History intrigues me, especially its circular nature. So I enjoy mixing the past with the future and melding those influences.

I’m big on characters in story, and you have quite a few powerful ones. From Thomas to Arista to Whisterly (awesome names) to Simon, you go hard with character. What did you draw on to draft such powerful souls, and which one most reflects your own personality and in what ways?

Initially, I typically start with traits of individuals I know. But as the story and characters develop they morph into their own unique personas. I love how that happens! If I had to pick one character, probably Arista most reflects my own personality. Her determination and drive are traits I see in myself, but also her short-sightedness and lack of focus I can identify with as well.

I must say you did a masterful job of making this novel stand alone in a big way, no nagging cliff-hangers. But when I heard this was a series I was elated. What can we expect next from J.W. Garrett overall, and when will the next Realms of Chaos book drop?

You can expect more books!! I don’t have a date as yet though, beyond 2019.

Tell us something different and unique about J.W. that you haven’t said in any other interview.

Let’s see…. I share my love of writing with my father. I didn’t learn that fact until I was in college. It’s always amazed me since, that when we spoke of poetry and other writings we had in the works that we had a special bond and I didn’t realize it. He was creative in many other areas, music specifically. His attempt to share that talent of his with me didn’t go so well. And after him trying multiple instruments in my hands he settled on the ukulele, which I dutifully and painstakingly learned to play. And when I had the first opportunity, subsequently quit playing. However, he reached his goal. I did play music with him on many occasions. Now, thinking back, I cherish those memories.

Beautiful!!! Thank you so much, J.W. for sharing. It’s been fun, revealing, and stimulating. We look forward to your next efforts.

Since this interview, I’ve heard from J.W., and I’m pleased to write that the second book in her Realms of Chaos series is set to publish, June 2019. So, that gives you plenty of time to grab the first book, Remeon’s Destiny and experience the magic. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I’ve included the links below to assist in that process. Ciao!






Book Tour




An Interview with S.D. Mayes

Marquette’s Review of Moana: My First Guest Blog Post!

Marq has been my inspiration for 14 years now and whether it’s a main character in my IA book series or my excuse to spend half a grand on a Fender guitar, she’s the Sparks that keeps me stoked. So believe me when I say there’s no one I’m more excited about being my first guest blogger then my old soul of a daughter, Marquette. Plus I need another movie to show my kids when my gym is being used for some program other than gym. Oh. I’m a physical education teacher by day.

Without further delay,

I give you Marquette Winston, unedited (well maybe a little).  🙂


Moana is continuing to give a good name to animated films. From the intriguing plot to the astounding soundtrack, Moana brought tears to my eyes at least three different times throughout the movie.


Moana takes place around 3,000 years ago on the island of Polynesia. The main character is 16-year-old Moana who is the daughter of the chief of their tribe. She has to face the typical obstacles, like finding out who she is, choosing between right and wrong, and listening to her brain or her heart.


The soundtrack helped put this movie over the top. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is the writer and star of the Broadway musical Hamilton, is responsible for Moana’s soundtrack. The music was island themed and kept the viewers tuned in. I, being a huge fan of Hamilton, loved the way the music was similar to the musical. This is my opinion, but Moana is one of the best singers a Disney “princess” movie is yet to see.


This movie is fun and hilarious, but also pulls at the heartstrings. Moana teaches morals and shows a different side of Disney.

I give Moana 9 out of 10 fist bumps.


Movie Review of Arrival … Pay Attention!

This is one of those movies that you have to pay close attention to ‘cause there are no pretty colors, chase scenes, or exploding buildings, just story. And make no mistake … it is deep! We jump right into it with the aliens already in position to do whatever it is they’re planning to do. And that’s the gist of it, the question, the premise of the movie, why are they here, and figuring it out through language.
This one is cerebral and just about everything on the screen matters so don’t go to the bathroom. Get your refreshments ahead of time. Try not to fall asleep. Don’t even blink because you could miss something important. You may be tempted to get a few winks in because the movie is slow, but don’t. You will miss something. You’ll find that the Aliens are a small part of the story, something to distract you from what’s really going on, the filmmaker’s slam dunk. Think sixth sense, only bigger … and smaller. You should figure some of it out, but not all of it until it gets there.

The performances are all solid. Amy Adams (Batman v Superman) is haunted as the pic-for-arrival-reviewtalented linguistics professor. Jeremy Renner (Avengers) is plenty arrogant as the scientist who plays opposite Adams and Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [YAY!]) rounds out the cast and the diversity quota as a no nonsense, all-about-business Colonel. He’s fast becoming one of my all-time favorite actors.

This is one of those films that if you can sit through it twice, you’ll want to watch again to see what you missed or if you got things right. Arrival was refreshing in a sea of action/adventure films but could’ve been a little faster. Great on the concept, meh on the story. Think Sixth Sense, but you still won’t get it. It may seem like nothings happening, but there’s a lot going on in the background so pay attention.

I give this movie 8/10 fist bumps!


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I’ll try and give nothing away in this review because I think that’s the beauty of seeing Rogue One: not knowing what to expect. Let’s start with how the film looked. Just when you think special effects can’t get any better, they do. The sets were breathtaking and awe-inspiring and maybe too many to keep track of, but it didn’t detract from the film. The story, which of course is king, was well thought out and not too complicated. The film paid homage in subtle ways to the legendary films that came before it. It was definitely Star Wars, but different … a little darker in all the right places. Even the music was, for the first time, different, but when it was called for, those themes we’ve come to know and love showed themselves, again in subtle ways.

Complete with all the action, adventure, and nick-of-time scenes, Rogue definitely measures up in that respect. Being a Star Wars fan, I had high hopes for something unique, courageous, and spectacular. I think I got it for the most part. With all that Rogue is attempting, it’s difficult to develop a new cast of characters into the Skywalkers and Solos we’ve grown familiar with in just over two hours. But the performances were substantial just the same.

Felicity Jones was resilient and non-wavering as Jyn Erso, and Diego Luna as mv5bote0mji2ndczml5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtgwmdgymg-_v1_uy317_cr20214317_al_Cassian Andor was both conflicted and committed. The two create a questionable chemistry on the screen that I found acceptable considering the tasks before them.

mv5bmtqzmdi3ntg2ov5bml5banbnxkftztcwntgwmzg5mg-_v1_uy317_cr130214317_al_Forest Whitaker continues to amaze as the unpredictable and formidable Saw Gerrera, and comic relief in this dark exhibition goes to Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe. And … I must say it was a multicultural extravaganza.

I kept wanting this movie to be better than The Force Awakens, and toward the end, I was sure it wasn’t. But the last 30-45 minutes of Rogue One was like Usain Bolt in the last 20 meters of a hundred meter race; about the best I’ve seen. Two words: Darth Vader.

I give Rogue One 8.5/10 fist bumps.


My Review of the Movie Dr. Strange … Not So Strange

But … more of the same. If you’re a Marvel fan and like the recent influx of superhero movies then this is your film. For me it was at best mildly entertaining, complete with all the pretty colors, special effects, and trademark chase scenes. In all fairness, Batman Begins of the Dark Knight trilogy is my measuring stick for origin stories, and this first installment of Dr. Strange didn’t quite measure up.

Let’s start with the performances. After watching a riveting performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness and reading the rave reviews on the various sites by fans and critics alike, I was stoked.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch poses as he arrives for the world premiere of "Anna Karenina" at the Odeon Leicester Square in London

But instead of the talented Cumberbatch giving us something unique or memorable we get a bad imitation of Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark. That’s right, almost witty, almost funny, and almost brash. As near as I can figure his gift is his photographic memory.

I had, what I considered, both the advantage and disadvantage of knowing absolutely nothing about this character or the story, (sorry comic book world) so I had no preconceived notions, only the desire for a great story with well-developed characters (can one exist without the other?).

I never saw from this rendition of the story a clear motivation as to why this reckless, egotistical Dr. Strange becomes the leader of the sorcerer’s portion of the Avenger’s world just for the sake of being a good person. It doesn’t match up with the character we’re introduced to at the beginning. And … I get the smarts with the photographic memory, but how’d he become such a skilled fighter so fast?

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo just seemed to be there, not a good or bad performance but no depth, chiwetel-ejiofor-1_240x340_9workmanlike to fill the diversity quota, and I appreciate that, filmmakers.

I did like Tilda Swinton’s performance as The Ancient One. It was believable and captivating throughout even when we find out her motives are mv5bmtm4nzmzmtkwnv5bml5banbnxkftztcwmzu4mdg1mw-_v1_uy317_cr190214317_al_not as altruistic as we were first led to believe. Her strength at first and later vulnerability ground the film and gives it an emotional and human quality.

I really liked the red cloak or was it a cape? I gotta get me one of those.

Another meh point in the film was the villains. Dull, lifeless, and contrived, they didn’t add that hurdle element needed to make the protagonist’s journey worthwhile and satisfying. But wait! They did take manipulating buildings on the set to a new level. Instead of just destruction we have buildings actually bending, transforming, and morphing into … something else? If you like that sort of thing, you’ll love this, reminiscent of the film Inception.

At the end, I didn’t care about the good guys, so I didn’t find myself rooting for them. I didn’t fear the bad guys, so there was no worked up tension inside me when they appeared on the screen, only a “not these guys again.” And the mega-villain at the end was almost comical and childish when he discovered the hero’s resolution, which I also thought, was at best, cheesy.  I did like the music. It awakened my spirit at times but didn’t match the spectacle on the screen.

That’s all I have.

I give this movie 7/10 fist bumps.


My Review of The Book Thief

There is no shortage of great reviews for the “The Book Thief.” Just the same, I’ll pile on and add one more to the mix. “The Book Thief” is a book for readers who like a great story wrapped in great writing. What I mean by that is, if you don’t like literary devices like metaphor, simile, personification and the like, don’t read this novel.


Make no mistake; the story shines through bravely, but Markus Zusak is the master of these literary devices among others, and he weaves them throughout. Sometimes there’s just story and sometimes, beautiful prose it seems for beauty’s sake, and sometimes the two are combined. Zusak tells a story, three years in the making, of foster girl, Leisel Meminger. The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany 1939, that’s right, smack dab in middle of the holocaust. Through Zucac’s talented pen we get to see what this time must have looked and felt like through the expecting eyes of an innocent, brave, and resourceful girl.


If you’re a writer looking for an authentic lesson in great literature, read “The Book Thief” but not as a page-turner, read it slowly, a section at a time. Let the experience have its way with your literary sensibilities. Unless … the spirit moves you, then forge ahead and let the words rush in. I liken “The Book Thief” to the film, “Titanic.” It’s not a book about death (although death is its narrator), but a love story at its finest, a love story about a girl and her family, a girl and her father, a girl and a boy, a girl and a book.

I give this book a solid 9/10 fist bumps.   4762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f74762497fb6463d5b9c76d665f52f66f7

A Review of the Movie Hacksaw Ridge

I haven’t blogged about anything in a while, so I thought I’d get cracking with a movie review, me being a lover of all things story. I first saw the trailer of Hacksaw Ridge a few weeks ago just before viewing The Magnificent Seven (good film) and was intrigued. This one had good story written all over it, not just a pretty-colors, effects-filled, block-buster, money-grab that we’ve been bombarded with lately but substance. So this weekend I gave Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge a go, and I was not disappointed. I only had two problems with the film that were not in the very least deal-breakers. I’ll comeback to those.

It was easily the best film I saw all year and in a long time. Here’s why; first off, It’s based on a true story. I don’t know about you, but that always rings my attention bell a little louder. Second, the film looked good. The cinematography was gorgeous and some of the settings, breathtaking. Thirdly, the film sounded good. The soundtrack wasn’t distracting, and I could actually understand what the actors were saying. Too bad at some of these film you can’t have a subtitles option. Enough with the numbers. The film was really good, just sayin’.

Something that drew me in early was the performances. Andrew Garfield v1-cjs0nzgyndtqoze3mtc5oziwndg7mjgwozi1mahad me hoping this was the way Desmond T. Doss really was. I was pulling for him the whole time even when I disagreed with him. This is too funny; I leaned over to my girlfriend and whispered. This guy could play Peter Parker in Spiderman. Duh! He did, and I hated him in that one. But I digress.

hugo_weaving_1141406Anyhow, Sam Worthington (Avatar) was officer-like and pragmatic as Captain Glover (Desmond’s commanding officer) and Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) was haunted and a walking oxymoron as Tom Doss (Desmond’s dad).


The film started with a bit of backstory to establish character and then we were off. The pacing was good and even at 2:19 the film didn’t drag or feel too long (the true test). The battle scene was like nothing I’ve ever seen. It made, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, and Saving Private Ryan look like kid’s play and was clearly the reason for the R rating. The sequence was fierce, horrifying, and completely necessary and underscored Desmond’s great accomplishments serving our country as a conscientious objector, truly amazing. One scene in the battle sequence had men in Doss’ company covering him from down below Hacksaw Ridge while he helped men above to safety. I saw a lot of men crying in the theater on that one, not me of course.

Oh, yeah, those two things I mentioned earliest. Vince Vaughn (sorry Vince, just callin’ ‘em like I see ‘em) was a distraction as Sergeant Howell. He seemed to play the role he vince-vaughn-picture-3usually plays in film and as person who served in the army, to me he seemed more like a caricature of a drill sergeant then an actual drill sergeant. Luckily those scenes were far and few between, so it didn’t compromise the film. The other problem was lack of diversity. Where were the brothas … or sistas. I didn’t see one … not one person of color in the total 2:19. That’s a problem. And don’t tell me about the time period. People of color have been serving in the military since the Civil War and before. That’s my rant. It’s still a great film that I predict will win more than one Oscar.

My rating for this movie, 8.5/10 fist bumps.