Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy 2017!



Happy New Year!

I would like to take this time to wish you all a safe and enjoyable New Year, and especially to take a moment to thank all of my wonderful readers for making 2016 such a treat. I am thankful for your support in helping me to do what I love to do: share stories of adventure and hope with all of you!

In 2017, I hope to keep doing just that, but in a slightly different direction. My goal is to get a brand-new book out the door in a totally new genre: New Adult. For now, it's under wraps as I get underway with writing the rest of the book. I hope you'll stick with me in this new venture, and rest assured, there is more romance in my future as well! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Movie Review: Assassin's Creed



**SPOILER ALERT**

Happy Holidays, everyone! Last night, the boys took me out to see a movie at Movie Tavern (and if you haven't been to a Movie Tavern, you totally need to try it). Rogue One was already sold out for the two shows that evening, so we decided on Assassin's Creed.

I've never played the video game, but I've watched some cut scenes, and they're totally cool. I didn't know much of anything about the mythos of the video game, and I'm sort of glad about that, because I went into the film cold. That meant I didn't have any preconceived notions about what the film should be, and could look for a complete story.

Remember "Movies for Guys Who Like Movies?" You'd probably see this one in that lineup. The visuals in this film were really cool, and what I would expect of something based on a video game about assassins, i.e. lots of action, violence, etc. There were spots here and there where the motion capture was clearly CG, rather than a real body, and unnecessarily so, giving the film enough of a surreal look to grab my attention and draw me out of the plot. My ten-year-old had some trouble following the plot here and there, but a quick explanation was enough for him to keep up. And speaking of plot, that brings me to my real negative about the film.

Here There Be Spoilers

Sadly, the plot is rather shoestring, just enough to hang the movie on, and no more. Michael Fassbender plays Cal, a man who has grown up on the wrong side of the tracks and lands in Abstergo Industries, a company who seems to be hoarding criminals for the purposes of putting them in a machine that will somehow lead them to the film's MacGuffin, a device called the Apple of Eden. This Apple supposedly holds the key to ending free will, and the Assassins have sworn to defend it from the nefarious Knights Templar, who want it in order to bend the world to their will. The scientists at Abstergo learn that Cal is a direct descendant of the Assassin last known to have the Apple, and here is where I thought the plot fell apart.

The lead scientist, Dr. Sophia Rikkin, is the daughter of the company's bigshot. She claims to be doing research that will end mankind's propensity for violence, and she thinks the Apple is the key. This anti-violence woman is the first to greet Cal upon his traumatic arrival at Abstergo. She then proceeds to put him into the machine, an uncomfortable and frankly scary device, with zero explanation, and subject him to scary, violent images. I'm not sure how this is supposed to hang together, logically. I certainly doubted it could rid Cal of violence, and I don't know how the writers thought Sophia would think so. Plot logic is important, as is a logical motivation for your characters.

Cal's genetic memories of his ancestor, brought on by this machine, are super cool, though. I really wish they had just done a whole story in the past about Aguilar, instead of hopscotching back and forth between past and present. I know the video game spans different times, but I think they could have done much better at conveying that on film.

Everything comes to a head when the Templars learn where the Apple has hidden all these years, and it's up to the Assassins to stop them from using it. The criminals from Abstergo turn out to be other descendants of Assassins, and that left me wondering why Abstergo kept them around. You'd think they'd have these Assassin descendants killed, since they were of no use to Abstergo, not being actual leads to the Apple. Nope. Let's just hang onto those liabilities, and house and feed them and spend money on them until they turn on us. That makes sense, doesn't it?

There's so much backstory going on in this movie that the characterization suffers. We don't know much about Cal or Sophia, and nothing at all about Cal's fellow inmates of Abstergo. Frankly, in his few lines, Baptiste nearly stole the show in terms of characterization. I would have liked a little more about each of these would-be Assassins, so I could care more about them if they were in danger. Good characters make even a bad film memorable.

The good guys win, of course, and look badass doing it, but when I thought about why I didn't thoroughly love this movie, the answer was simple. In fiction, we are told that flashbacks kill pacing, and that's just what happened here, aside from lack of meaty characterization. It's really too bad. Boiled down, those of us who spent our hard-earned cash to see this movie simply sat around and watched Cal remember stuff.

Conclusion

The story is left wide open for a sequel. I'll watch followups to the film, but maybe wait for video to do so. It's a fun popcorn movie, if you're up for an afternoon of Matrix-like action. Until next time!

RATING: 3 of 5 stars

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Guest Author: Becky Lower!


Happy Holidays, and please welcome author Becky Lower, who joins us today with her newest contemporary romance, just released December 7th! LOVE'S IN THE CARDS is a sweet, engaging holiday romance set in the fictional Maine town of Lobster Cove.

1) How did you get started writing?
 
Like most authors, I've been writing since I could hold a pencil. At age 12, I decided I didn't like Little Joe getting all the ladies on Bonanza when brooding Adam was the real hottie, so I wrote a screenplay and sent it in. Fortunately, the writers, after they quit laughing at my attempt, sent me back a very encouraging rejection letter. I majored in Journalism in college, but news writing wasn't my thing. It took many more years before I found my way back to writing about brooding heroes.

2) What interests or excites you most about your genres?


I like to cleanse my writing palate between books, so I write one historical followed by one contemporary. At least that's the way it's supposed to work, but sometimes deadlines intervene. With the historicals, I love finding an obscure fact in history and weaving it into a story line, building an entire book around it. My contemporaries don't require the same amount of research, but I still like to add something to the story, a rare fact that most people don't know, like the steps you have to go through to build a patio. It excites me when I learn something new, so I hope my readers learn from my books as they enjoy them.

3) Who or what is your favorite inspiration when writing?


My three all-time favorite authors are Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn and Jude Deveraux, although there are a ton of newer authors who are making waves in the romance world. My biggest influencers in my writing are Stephen King, Blake Snyder and Margie Lawson.

4) Tell me about your latest book or work in progress.


My first Lobster Cove book is a novella called Love's In The Cards. Two sisters own a greeting card/gift store in Lobster Cove and are gearing up for the mad Christmas selling season when the book opens. Their shop is chosen from all the shops in which the company has outlets to unveil the mystery artist of the newest line of cards. Then, the romance begins. It's a cute, quick read, perfect for the busy season coming up. I'm also working on another book, also set in Lobster Cove, which incorporates the shop, the sisters, and introduces a cousin to the mix. Each time I get to the polishing stage of a book, I declare it's my favorite book ever, but this time, I mean it. I've tentatively titled it Sweet Caroline, and it's due to the publisher soon.

5) Please share with us the first paragraph of your latest work.


This is from Love's In The Cards:

Penny cringed as her sister, Abbey, sang at the top of her lungs in her off-key voice. Her voice might have been muffled behind the life-size figure she manhandled, but her intention rang out loud and clear. “Hark The Herald Angels sing, something, something, something.” The remaining lyrics were merely hummed, since Abbey had memorized only the first line.


About LOVE'S IN THE CARDS:

Penny Beedle's outlook on Christmas, as her favorite holiday, was destroyed by a messy breakup years earlier and a botched wedding last year—both on Christmas Eve. But since she and her sister now own a greeting card store, and the holidays are their crazy selling season, she has to put on a happy face.

Del Madison has loved Penny since kindergarten. Commissioned by a big greeting card company for a line of Christmas and Valentine's cards, he has to emerge from behind his alter ego and unveil himself to the public. He chooses Penny Beedle's shop for the big reveal. If he plays his cards right, he just might gain Penny as part of his life.



About Becky Lower:

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers.

To learn more about Becky or LOVE'S IN THE CARDS, check out links below. Happy Reading!

Buy LOVE'S IN THE CARDS: https://www.amazon.com/Loves-Cards-Lobster-Becky-Lower-ebook/dp/B01M4J150Z
Website: http://www.beckylowerauthor.com
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Blog: http://beckylowerauthor.blogspot.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6159227.Becky_Lower
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Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1FOy3Sd