What’s Up 2020: Week 35

One more week of a whole lot stagnant activity to recap since its very one-sided. Something I do need to apologize for not having prepared more variety in advance. At least maybe you all for some good movies to look forward to in independent/genre cinema.

READING

Currently reading: Fangirl

Super early in Fangirl. I needed a break from reading for blog tours and other commitments and read something from my own TBR pile. I’m fairly early in the book but so far its a pretty fun read. Looking forward to getting into this one more.

PLAYING

Luna

Currently playing: Luna

While I have been wanting to do a little bit of gaming, its still be rather stand still other than playing some mobile games, mostly puzzles or Find Out. Gaming will definitely be the priority once the watching section below calms down. I have a few games after Luna that I have lined up and we’re having some talk about restructuring Game Warp to get it up and running again more regularly.

WATCHING

  • Clueless (1995 rewatch, Review)
  • The Kissing Booth 2 (2020)
  • Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty (2020)
  • Alone (2020, Review)
  • The Block Island Sound (2020, Review)
  • Jumbo (2020)
  • Suspense (2020 short)
  • Dead Birds (2018 short)
  • Crazy Samurai Musashi (2020, Review)
  • The Mortuary Collection (2020)
  • Bloodshot (2020)
  • Wildland (2020)
  • The Paper Tigers (2020, Review)

Between podcast recording and getting some expiring rental as well as just some fillers in between to change the pace a little, its been mostly focused on Fantasia Film Festival coverage. I’m a little behind on reviews but its all going to wrap up within the few days following the end of Festival on September 2nd.

With that said, I watched some solid movies in Fantasia this week. I couldn’t decide whether I like The Paper Tigers or The Mortuary Collection more although I’ve only written the review for the former so thats why I used it for the poster. The Paper Tigers takes on a nice look action comedy take on Kung Fu and friendship whereas The Mortuary Collection is pretty everything I love about horror movies with a lot of style and a great collection of horror anthology stories spanning through different decades with the main story as the backdrop that all works really well together. Full review is coming up for The Mortuary Collection so I won’t talk too much about it now.

BINGING

Rap Star
  • Rap Star (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Go Ahead, The Irresistible, Go Newbies, BLK946, Great Escape: Season 2, Gagman, Street Dance of China 3, The Coming One: SuperBand, Little Forest

Listen Up or Rap Star, whichever the title is for this rap competition show was a treat and a half. It was one show that I caught at premiere time on Sunday at midnight every single week! I discovered some great Chinese up and rising rappers and discovered a ton of new songs. Its a little sad to see it end but then, the guy who won it was who I expected would win. Happy to hear them announce that Season 2 is already accepting applications now so thats going to happen and something to look forward to. I’m expecting some of the people from this season will probably show up again to give it a second shot.

In reality, Little Forest is already done as well but I just haven’t had time to finish the last 2 episodes so that’s something to work on. Great Escape: Season 2 and Gagman are all heading into their final episode in the coming weeks as well. Both of them that I’m loving a lot also. I’ve fallen a bit behind on Street Dance and The Coming One though. I pretty much exchanged it for The Irresistible which is really growing on me and Go Newbies which are celebrities learning how to drive and its wild. Still only one drama right now and that’s Go Ahead which is an awesome series. I gotta say that Huace really knows how to make Chinese dramas. They always are so awesome.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been watching/playing/binging/reading?

Blog Tour: Crackle and Fire by Russ Colchamiro (Review/Giveaway)

Check out the upcoming release from Russ Colchamiro! Crackle and Fire is the first installment of a brand new genre-blurring series!

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery (Book One)
By: Russ Colchamiro

Expected Publication Date: September 1st, 2020
Genre: Sci-Fi Mystery/ Fantasy

Angela Hardwicke isn’t just any private eye.

She’s a PI from Eternity, the cosmic realm responsible for the design, creation, and maintenance of the Universe.

When accountant Gil Haberseau hires her to find an intern with stolen corporate files, Hardwicke soon finds herself embroiled in a deadly case of lies, intrigue, and murder, clashing with vengeful gangsters, MinderNot rallies, and a madman who’s come a long way to get what he wants.

In Russ Colchamiro’s thrilling Sci-Fi mystery Crackle and Fire, Angela Hardwicke learns once and for all that when it comes to being an intergalactic private eye, there’s no telling what threats she may face on-realm and off… including the demons that lurk deep within her soul.

“Crackle and Fire elegantly combines PI noir with science fiction and fantasy.” — John L. French, author of The Magic of Simon Tombs

“Angela Hardwicke is one of the most memorable characters in detective fiction.” — Sawney Hatton, author of Everyone is a Moon

BONUS STORY INCLUDED! The AI-themed Angela Hardwicke murder mystery, “The Case of Jarlo’s Buried Treasure”

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REVIEW

Crackle and Fire is the first book in an upcoming series featuring a female private investigator called Angela Hardwicke. Set in a sci-fi galactic universe, the world itself is very intriguing to discover. The first book gives a good vibe of both the character of Angela Hardwicke as well as her network of friends and helpers that assist her in solving her cases. At the same time, this mystery and first case that she takes gives a foundation to the status of the world that it takes place in. There’s a lot of focus on style, the noir-esque crime and the underworld, the connection of this galactic settting and its connection to Earth.

The mystery itself also is executed rather well. There are layers to the story as it unfolds where this case feels a little like a case in a case as Angela Hardwicke starts connecting the dots. In a case that can easily step on some sensitive toes, there is a whole world that unveils in the process. There’s enough intrigue to want to know more and figure out those many questions and mysteries set out in the beginning and enough answers to unlock a few more elements. Adding in the science fiction elements to expand the location a little more and the technology also gives it a lot of character.

Overall, as a first book, Crackle and First is a good debut for the series. Its sets up a good foundation. There is enough set up for Angela Hardwicke’s character, giving her enough backstory to understand her more while seeing her true abilities. At the same time, she is a flawed character with a little mysterious vibe behind her that lingers in the background. There were some vibes of the Ava Lee series by Ian Hamilton that I’m a big fan of with how the mystery is constructed as well as the general concept of the female character design (although they do have their differences and has its own respective setting and expertise). To be comparable to that series is a compliment on my part. It’ll be interesting to see where this story takes Angela Hardwicke in the future books of the series. We already get a little idea as this book ended with a little bonus story.

Score: 4/5

Pre-Order Link

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Russ Colchamiro

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Camelot 13, and Brave New Girls.

He is now working on the first novel in a new series featuring his hardboiled private eye Angela Hardwicke, and the first of three collaborative novella projects.

Website
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Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

(International) digital copy of Crackle and Fire & a $5 Amazon
Enter HERE

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

August 24th
Horror Tree (Guest Post) https://www.horrortree.com
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

August 25th
Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com
Rajiv’s Reviews (Review) https://www.rajivsreviews.com/
Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

August 26th
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Meli’s Book Reviews (Review) https://melisbokreviews.wordpress.com/

August 27th
Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/
I’m into Books (Spotlight) https://imintobooks.com
PoptheButterfly Reads (Spotlight) https://popthebutterfly.wordpress.com

August 28th
Mind of Luxe (Review) http://mindofluxe.wordpress.com
Tranquil Dreams (Review)
Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Blog Tour Organized by:

R&R Book Tours

Conscience (Short Story) by Jonathan Pongratz

Conscience
by: Jonathan Pongratz

Rory Bennels lives in a world ruled by a business entity known as the Corporation. For years he’s executed cerebral uploads for the recently deceased, but when the famed anarchist Epher Lore ends up in his lab, a series of events occur that shakes Rory’s world to the core. – Goodreads

*Received in exchange for honest review*

Running a swift 37 pages, Conscience is a science fiction novel set in a futuristic dystopian world. As with short stories, its a fairly quick-paced as the story sees Rory experiencing an error with his cerebral upload that would usually go smoothly. The story gives a little slice of this world and who the Corporation is. As the plot dives deeper between the interaction of these two characters, Rory starts seeing another side to the world that he thinks that he knows and having to test which truth that he would believe to lead up to the end.

For a short story, the characters actually get rather padded out especially since the anarchist Epher Lore is one that takes on this different approach of being transferred into a robot by accident and as they call it, becomes immortal for most part which makes it a bad situation for Rory and the consequences from the Corporation that he is afraid to face. The dialogue between Epher Lore and Rory also have a lot of weight in the whole scenario as the characters somehow build their understanding of each other. Epher Lore is more than the anarchist that he has been caught for while Rory also develops throughout the story from the starting point until the ending. For a short story, its a bit of surprise how well the characters are written.

Conscience is really just a snippet of this futuristic dystopia and the world that it could be with the Corporation and these characters and some robots/AI put in the mix. It outlines a general state of the world on hand and yet leaves so much room to build this world. Some of the individual science fiction elements might not be completely unseen or unique but its how Jonathan Pongratz delivers and puts together these elements that gives it a distinctive turn of events. With how this story ends, it leaves an intriguing space to revisit this world if ever he decides to write another story and one that I’d definitely be interested to read more of this world if it happens.

Score: 5/5

Other Jonathan Pongratz stories: Reaper

What’s Up 2020: Week 34

Week 34 recap is here! Its been a crazy week and we still have one more week or so of Fantasia left! Let’s check it out!

READING

Currently reading: Crackle and Fire

I’ve been working on reading Crackle and Fire lately. Its a first book of a new series called Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery. Its pretty fun so far. Its set in this galactic futuristic world. It feels a little like Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series except with a science fiction world. I’m pretty happy with it so far as a debut. Still have a little bit to go before finishing up. Review is going up soon since its part of a blog tour.

PLAYING

Luna

Currently playing: Luna

I haven’t had time to do any gaming this past week. When I do, I’ll be picking up with Luna right afterwards. I don’t see myself getting back into gaming any time in the coming week but its one that I’m looking forward to finish soon.

WATCHING

The Oak Room
  • Sheep Without A Shepherd (2019, Review)
  • The Undertaker’s Home (2020 World Premiere, Review)
  • Abracitos (2020 Short)
  • The Land Before Time (1988 rewatch, Review)
  • Hunted (2020 World Premiere, Review)
  • You Cannot Kill David Arquette (2020, Review)
  • The Oak Room (2020 World Premiere)
  • Yummy (2019)
  • Downs of the Dead (2019 Short)

Nothing like film festival season to make it feel like my life is consumed with movies. Good thing is that its mostly pretty decent films this past week. I actually had a hard time choosing which movie to highlight between Sheep Without a Shepherd and The Oak Room. I was hoping to get the review for The Oak Room done before this post comes out but still stuck in some final editing so the review is coming out later today. Although, to be fair, You Cannot Kill David Arquette is also an awesome documentary also. With that said, my love for Black Fawn Films in general has me picking The Oak Room which was outstanding in a subtle way and very impressive. Still, three solid viewings. I have to mention that as a short film, Abracitos is really good also. It really got under my skin. Reviews for short films are grouped together in one post on the last day of coverage, which will be early September some time. As for now, enjoy some more Fantasia Festival coverage going up every day!

BINGING

  • Super Nova Games 3 (2020)

Currently binging: Great Escape: Season 2, Little Forest, Go Ahead, The Irresistible, Rap Star, The Coming One: SuperBand, Street Dance of China 3, Gagman

Some of the TV is starting to hit is ending bits now with final rounds for some and some variety shows wrapping up as well. Probably a week or two before it reaches its finale. The only TV drama that I’m watching is Go Ahead which has one to two new episodes a day depending on the day of the week. Its a fun show and I look forward to those episodes every day.

I finally finished up Super Nova Games 3 which was a journey and a half. It came to three 10 hour day events or something. Its nice to see some of the new celebrities that I liked getting some success. Its pretty entertaining as background noise. I have this new desire to learn archery though. Odd, right? Its not the first time that I’ve thought about it and definitely one of the more engaging to watch. Although they did add e-sports as one of the categories and highlight two of these Chinese mobile games and also 3v3 Basketball. Pretty fun overall even if it was a little time-consuming.

That’s it for Week 34 recap!
A lot of movies as expected with film festival coverage going on!
One more week to go and things should get back to relative normalcy…I think!

What have you been watching/playing/reading/binging?

Book Release Blitz: Being Alert! by Charlie Laidlaw [Excerpt/Giveaway]

Happy publication day to author Charlie Laidlaw!

Today marks the release of searing satire, Being Alert, and I have a sneak peek for you as well as a chance to win a digital copy of the book!

Being Alert!

Being Alert!

Publication Date: August 21st, 2020
Genre: Satire

The book, which begins in January 2020, follows in a long tradition of British satire, as the British prime minister, Winston Spragg, first learns about a new virus that seems to be centred in a city in China that nobody has heard of.

The book populates Downing Street and Whitehall with an inept prime minister presiding over a dysfunctional government as it deals with an existential threat that rapidly becomes a national crisis.

It remains true to the timeline of Covid-19 and the government’s response to it, including its failure to lock down sooner, secure adequate supplies of protective equipment or protect the care sector.

Like satires before it, the book uses humour to paint an uncomfortable picture of a government in crisis, and seemingly as concerned about justifying itself as working to suppress the virus.

As the book progresses, with a mounting death toll, I hope the book strikes a changing balance as both a month-by-month narrative about the virus and a comedy to mirror unfolding events.

As the country emerges into a new normal, the country will inevitably want to know why, per head of population, we have suffered worse than any other European country. Being Alert! provides the perfect outlet, not just to ask very real questions of government but to use humour as a satirical and healing tool.

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EXCERPT

Comings and Goings

In late February, according to a Sunday Times report, at a private event, the Prime Minister’s chief advisor outlined the government’s strategy at the time and which was summarised by someone present as ‘herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.’

In early March, the Prime Minister told the nation that, while the virus was likely to become a more significant problem, ‘this country is very, very well prepared. However, the final sentence of his message didn’t appear on his official Twitter page: “I wish to stress that, at the moment, it is very important that people consider that they should, as far as possible, go about business as usual.’

By and large, Derek Goings was both universally loathed and feared. It was assumed that he either had access to supernatural forces or was, in fact, one of the Undead. Even the Archbishop of Westminster would cross himself when the two met, which was rarely – at the archbishop’s request. Partly, he was loathed because of his role as the PM’s chief advisor, with almost permanent access to the Prime Minister’s ear. Partly, it was also because the PM usually did what his advisor told him to do, and that this was somehow undemocratic. Partly, too, it was because he smelled of sulphur. Nobody could therefore understand how he was married, shared a marital bed and had fathered a child. However, the sceptics pointed out, only his marriage was a matter of record. Whether he slept with his wife, and who the father of his child was, were grey areas best not explored.

Derek, his critics often complained, although never to his face or to his few friends, had somehow appeared from nowhere. One minute, nobody had ever heard of him; the next minute, his name, and the smell of the underworld, was everywhere. Derek’s great achievement, agreed on by friends and foes, was to have leaped successfully onto the political stage without ever having done anything useful. Okay, he had once helped a relative run a nightclub in the north of England, and never mind that it had been voted the second-worst in Europe. (The worst subsequently burned down, accidentally or on purpose, handing the crown to Derek’s relative). Okay, he had also tried to start an airline in either Prague or Moscow (nobody was entirely sure which) but that hadn’t got off the ground, either literally or metaphorically.

Having therefore done nothing of note, he then appeared as if in a puff of black and menacing smoke on the Westminster stage, immediately making enemies of virtually everyone. However, having enemies only seemed to increase his powers because, say what you might about him, he did get things done. In a Whitehall dominated by men in grey suits, and all either from Oxbridge or interbred, the proper way to get things done had always been the old-fashioned way. After all, the British way was the traditional way; decisions were made over Pimm’s at Wimbledon; gin and tonics at Twickenham, and whatever was available at Henley. Decisions were rarely made in Whitehall, where they were supposed to be made. Derek, of course, thought otherwise, facing up to the grey suits in either jeans or tracksuit, with a mission to bring the British Civil Service at least into the 20th century. Perhaps, even for him, the 21st century was too big a task, at least for now. This wrecking-ball of a man, with his glittering career in night-time entertainment and air travel, therefore brought him into endless conflict with the mandarins who were supposed to be running the country.

Derek’s meteoric rise through the government’s advisory ranks was extraordinary; so too the growth of his reputation as someone who could end a political career with the merest nod of his head. He was, it was agreed, either Machiavellian or Svengalian – generally the former, because few civil servants or politicians had ever read a 19th century novel, and therefore didn’t quite know who Svengali was.

Kevin Kock was, of course, all too aware of the PM’s advisor, having been in numerous meetings with him and having seen how even the most confident minister could be brought to his or, sometimes, her knees with a cursory glance. It was therefore with alarm bordering on panic that he received the news from his Permanent Secretary that Derek Goings was on his way round for a ‘bit of a chin-wag.’

“But I’m busy,” he’d squeaked to Sir Roger.

“No, you’re not. I manage your diary, Minister.”

The Health Secretary could have said that he had a completely separate diary in which he, as Health Secretary, kept his Top Secret meetings; or that he was ill; or could have chosen from any one of the many excuses that he’d used over the years, mostly to cover up his blood and germ phobias. Now, of course, thanks to his Permanent Secretary, his alien life-form phobia because, in his mind, Covid-19 was now sentient and possibly intelligent – like a jellyfish, but with a more deadly sting. He then spent some minutes spraying his office with air freshener and disinfectant, and covering his desk with large piles of files. He even undid the top button of his shirt to demonstrate his dedication to the British people except, of course, Derek Goings.

His arrival was signalled, not by a deferential knock on his office door or a bleep from his internal phone, but by the smell of decay. The Health Secretary closed his eyes for just a moment and took several deep breaths only to find, when he opened his eyes again, that the PM’s advisor was already standing on the other side of his desk.

“Derek, good gracious! How nice to see you!” The Health Secretary automatically stuck out a hand, before realising that Derek Goings still had both hands in the pockets of his jeans. Only the Prime Minister was still shaking everyone’s hand, particularly on hospital visits.

The PM’s advisor sat in the chair opposite and sniffed the air. “Very wise,” he remarked. “As Health Secretary, it’s good to see that you’re setting an example.”

“Am I?”

“You can’t be too careful, Minister, because you never know who might be harbouring infection. Sterilising your office is possibly or probably a good thing.” The advisor’s eyes, hidden behind dark glasses, were black discs. His soft voice carried with it both menace and good hygienic advice.

“Am I to assume that you’re here for a reason?” the Health Secretary asked, hoping to sound business-like and brusque, having rehearsed this opening line as he sprayed the room. “Because I am, as I’m sure you are, rather busy.”

“No, you’re not, Health Secretary. I looked at your diary.”

“Sir Roger had no right….”

“I have every right, Minister.”

Before Kevin could think of a suitably outraged reply, there was a soft knock on the door and Sir Roger himself appeared, carrying a notebook. Without asking, he took the other available seat next to Derek and neatly crossed his legs.

“I am here, Minister, to determine whether this country is prepared.” The PM’s advisor’s voice was barely a whisper. “After all, we are now beginning to see the first Covid-19 fatalities on British soil.”

“I did know that, Derek.”

“We will certainly see more fatalities, Minister, which brings me neatly to the reason why I am here. I merely wish to determine if you have made adequate preparations. Particularly the provision of personal protective equipment.”

This was a question that the Health Secretary, even panic-stricken, had foreseen. “Of course, Derek. We have, for example, a reserve of over one billion items of PPE. One billion, Derek.” The Health Secretary smiled brightly at his nemesis on the other side of the desk,

using the advisor’s first name twice in the space of a few seconds, a useful trick that he’d learned on some management course he’d attended. Sir Roger picked imaginary spots of dust from his immaculate trousers and looked out the window.

“Yet, I am led to believe, Minister, that this figure includes things like cleaning products, waste bags, detergents and paper towels,” said the advisor, still in his stage whisper.

“Does it?” replied Kevin. “I mean, yes it does. At least, possibly it does. But a billion is still rather a lot of stuff, I’m sure you would agree.”

“Not necessarily,” said the advisor. “For example, your inventory lists 547 million protective gloves.”

“So?”

“So, a more accurate figure would be 273.5 million pairs of gloves, or am I missing something?”

“Pairs of gloves?”

“Your inventory lists each glove separately.”

The Health Secretary looked wildly at his Permanent Secretary, who merely shrugged. “I did send you the inventory last year, Minister. Which you approved,” he added with a smile.

“Well, you know what they say, Derek.”

“No, I don’t know what they say, Minister.”

“That there are only three kinds of people in the world. Those who can count, and those who can’t.” The Health Secretary gave a small laugh, which wasn’t echoed from across the table.

“I hardly think that this is a time for levity, Minister.” The smell of sulphur had risen several notches, and a green vapour seemed to be filling the room. “I also just hope the media don’t get hold of the story. I dread to think what Panorama would make of it.”

“I’m sure they won’t, Derek.”

“However, if things deteriorate, PPE will get eaten up pretty quickly,” said the advisor, whose eyes had never left Kevin’s face, or maybe they had because, behind dark glasses, he could be looking anywhere.

“We are, of course, setting up new procurement channels to ensure against any and every contingency, aren’t we, Sir Roger?”

His Permanent Secretary shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Of course, Minister,” and then actually wrote something in his notebook.

“Very well, then I will assume that you have the needs of the health service and its gallant staff fully covered. But what about the care sector?”

“What about the care sector?” asked the Health Secretary.

The advisor was quiet for a moment. “Well, you are the person responsible for it.”

“What!” Kevin almost pushed himself upright.

“You are, as I assume you must realise, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.”

“What!”

Sir Roger cleared his throat. “I did send you a memo, Minister.”

Purchase Links

Amazon
Amazon UK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

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GIVEAWAY

Win a digital copy of Being Alert in format of choice! Giveaway will be open from today until August 24th.

Enter Giveaway HERE

Book Blitz Organized By:

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And Then We Vanish: Collected Stories by D.H. Schleicher

And Then We Vanish: Collected Stories
By: D.H. Schleicher

and then we vanish

Eleven twisting tales curated from nearly a decade of work, And Then We Vanish features five new stories and six previously published stories from acclaimed independent author D. H. Schleicher.

In these stories we encounter characters who are victims of their own poor decisions…These characters might be longing to disappear or left behind by those who already have, and their stories challenge us to connect with them while they navigate the waves of mystery, violence, and the absurd that filter into their everyday lives. – Goodreads

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

And Then We Vanish is a collection of stories which is exactly as its title implies, about people who vanish in one way or another. The stories all have their own backdrop and range in different sort of characters. Its quite the box of chocolates to open and discover. Each of the characters in this story are more than they seem and as their characters reveal, most of them are rather displeasing personalities.

One of the elements that stand out in all the stories of And Then We Vanish are its characters. Each of them in their own backgrounds and their own settings and backdrop. In some cases, these characters take a rather extreme path and the story will leave it with some room to contemplate on the overall situation of the story. Knowing when to end a story shows how clever this author is. Doing it with short stories and having a certain pacing to make it all mostly work together that these characters reveal enough to be relevant and criticize their course of action but still think further about it. The best part is that these characters are all living in the everyday lives of the society whether its a parent, child or colleague, etc.

Some of these stories shine because of the setting. The specific one that comes to mind, especially as a Canadian and having vacationed there a few times in my life, is the incredibly creative take on Niagara Falls (which personally is the story that I liked the most) called When Night Falls on Niagara. There’s some other stories like: A Ballerina in Battery Park, Upon the Unfortunate News of My Death, The Pumpkin Thief , Somebody You Used to Know and Anthrax and Cherry Blossoms are some of the my other favorites from this collected stories.

D.H. Schleicher crafts each of these stories in a vivid writing style. The characters all come to life and it all has some kind of lingering effect for the characters that leaves room for reflection. The clever combination of the everyday characters and their settings gives them each a nice twist. You can tell from the titles above that there is always a twist of effects. Much like other anthologies and collected stories, some stories do land better than others and have the clever angle that makes it memorable however, they all deliver fairly well overall.

Score: 4/5

What’s Up 2020: Week 32

Week 32 is here! I have an announcement about some changes starting next week although I feel like since I’ve started working on some of the stuff, its going to be hard to not talk about it in this What’s Up! I’ll mention it a little later in this post briefly and talk more about it next week once I have a better idea of what I’ve got planned and manage to get done.

With that said, lets just jump right in!

READING

crackle and fire

Currently reading: Crackle and Fire

I’m having a writer’s block with getting book reviews out this year in general so I’m stuck on the previous book’s review. I can’t seem to edit it to something that I’m happy with so that’s why its not out yet. Because of that, I literally just downloaded this book to my e-reader and haven’t really started but its at 1% because I have it opened. Nothing much to say about it right now but I’ll share more later on.

PLAYING

gorogoa

  • Gorogoa

Currently playing: Luna

Like I said last week (and the first time it feels like things are going as planned this year), I pushed forward and got in some refreshing gaming time. I apparently needed it more than I had thought that I did. It recharged my brain and broke a bit of the writer’s block. I finished up Gorogoa (not 100% achievement) and it was a rather innovative experience and one that I had a lot of fun playing. It had some mind-boggling bits. Moving the pieces around and creating a new path and such is really cool. Its almost like a step further than similar games like Framed, but actually pieces them together to create another image at times and it always seems to have another trick up its sleeve and needs some strong sense of coordination to put together the screens. Either way, I will be working on a review to go up on Game Warp soon.

WATCHING

13 hours

  • Clapboard Jungle (2020)
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
  • On Chesil Beach (2017)
  • Detention (2019)

Let’s touch on the announcement I started with. Seeing as its in the watching section, I think most of already guessed the general idea of what it will be. I’ve been approved accredited press for Fantasia 2020 for this year’s virtual edition so I’m going to say that this week’s recap and next week’s is going to be heavily focused on things that I can’t talk about until Fantasia starts.

With that said, we’re moving forward. Can’t talk about two of them yet so automatically my choice goes to the surprisingly good 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. It was a movie that I had on my anticipated list in 2016 (if I remember correctly, or honorable mention or something) but never got around to watching it until its about to leave Netflix so I had no choice. A bit hesitant to watch it since things are bad around the world and I’m not a big fan on these type of movies. However, it was a rather surprising watch that I enjoyed quite a bit.

BINGING

great escape2

Currently binging: Great Escape 2, Little Forest, The Irresistible, Mr. Honesty, Gagman, Super Nova Games 3, The Coming One: SuperBand, Street Dance of China 3, Rap Star

The world of variety shows is mostly my life right now. Nothing new added to the list. My faves that always catch when it has the live premiere is Great Escape: Season 2 and Rap Star (or Listen Up…they seemed to have changed the name halfway). A ton of fun to watch. Great Escape: Season 2 really stepped up their game and every escape room and story is very entertaining. They just had a zombie-esque style one mixed with sci-fi elements which was rather intense. Rap Star is nearing the end as they just had their top 10 pick and heading in the next few weeks and lost a few contestants that I liked. The other show which is like a competitive game show between old and new generation celebrities called The Irresistible is also rather fun but its only 2 episodes in so still need to see how that goes.

Although two dramas just started that I’ve been waiting for so I am trying to finish up Mr. Honesty so that I can move on to hopefully better things. Its the final few episodes and feels like its a drag and feels like I see the twist they will have. I have too many unfinished series at this point so I just want to tough it out.

That’s it for this week’s What’s Up!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 31

Week 31 is something of an in between week. I wrapped up a lot of things and then ended up being in the middle of deciding other things so its been a lot of nothing as I look over this week in the different categories below. I’m also trying to clear out and organize my to-do list and actually set up a list of backlog that I haven’t done yet so that I can start working on it so doing anything here is a little bit on hold as I did some housekeeping.

READING

and then we vanish

  • And Then They Vanish: Collected Stories by D.H. Schleicher

Currently reading: *Still deciding… leaning towards Fangirl or The Girl on the Train*

With that said, I finished up the collected stories by D.H. Schleicher which was a really fun read. I’m working on the review for the book as this goes up and should be there in a few days at most so I won’t talk too much about it right now. Some really nice ideas and premise in a bunch of stories about different people vanishing.

PLAYING

gorogoa

Currently playing: Gorogoa, Find Out

To be fair, I didn’t play anything this week other than mobile game Find Out every once in a while. Its been my filler games for the last few weeks. However, the game in progress is Gorogoa and I’m working on wrapping that one up so that I can move on to the next game. I don’t like games sitting in limbo for too long. My crappy memory makes me forget where I was when I stopped.

WATCHING

Little Women

  • The Cabin in the Woods (2011 rewatch)
  • The Platform (2019)
  • Little Women (2019)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
  • Peninsula (2020 screener)
  • Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Caglistro (1979 rewatch)

A couple of rewatches paired with a random title, two rentals near expiring and then a screener this week definitely makes for some fun movie watching time. A lot of the movies were pretty good. The Platform was a good dystopian movie in the veins of something like Snowpiercer with a heavy message about social class. Sonic the Hedgehog is pretty much a children-oriented video game adaptation. Its not as good as Detective Pikachu but Jim Carey does his thing and Ben Schwartz voices a good Sonic so it a fun enough time. I’m not going to talk about rewatches or the screener (since that has embargo so review coming up very soon for that..maybe even this afternoon).

The highlight of this week is goes to Little Women for various reasons. One, I love Saoirse Ronan and her roles are great. Really should do a Sunday List for her (unless I forgot that I already did…). Second, its a good adaptation that takes a bystander look at how the story came to be and has a little bit of a story in a story deal which is pretty nice.

BINGING

sugar rush extra sweet

  • Sugar Rush Extra Sweet (Season 3, 2020)

Currently binging: Great Escape 2, Little Forest, The Irresistible, Mr. Honesty, Gagman, Super Nova Games 3, The Coming One: SuperBand, Street Dance of China 3, Rap Star

I love food competition shows. If you’ve been hanging out here, you know that I devour those series literally. Sugar Rush Extra Sweet released on July 31st and less than 24 hours and I was done. There are some changes so I will do quick little TV binge for it.

A lot of the same going on for the currently binging except for 2 new additions. The first is finally starting a new drama series called Mr. Honesty. It started off a little iffy and this series has the hated revenge plot from the supporting cast that makes very little sense so makes the supporting male lead a tad annoying. However, the two main leads are pretty fun. Could have better chemistry but it fits into their roles so I have a feeling it will improve further down the road. Fingers crosses. Other than that, Mango TV’s new game show The Irresistible has a ton of celebrities that I like and the first episode was pretty entertaining.

As an ending note to follow-up the beginning blurb, things will wind down as I clear things off my to-do list as virtual Fantasia Festival starts ina few weeks and I will be covering it. It feels good to get back to some kind of norm of previous summers. I miss it more than I had thought I would.

That’s it for this What’s Up recap!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 28

Another week has gone by! I do apologize in advance for the lack of the posts the last few days. I’ve been occupied with some other obligations and preparing to go back to the office as work from home phase ends. Real life took over writing. However, last week was pretty efficient and did have some nice progress some way or another.

READING

and then we vanish

Currently reading: And Then We Vanish

I’m still working on this book. I took a little break from reading so progress is not a whole lot of difference to last week’s. Its intriguing so far but I’m still way too early to say much more about it.

PLAYING

gorogoa

Currently playing: Gorogoa & Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions

I’m still gaming sporadically as this past weekend also saw some gaming conferences like Devolver Digital and Ubisoft Forward. I got in some Gorogoa in and moved the plot forward a little. Its such a clever game of moving the pieces and getting them to work together properly. Glass Masquerade 2 is my relaxing end of the day or morning game. Its a nice little break. I picked up the 2 DLCs right before the Steam Summer Sale ended which was pretty good since I also wrapped up the main game and will start working on the DLCs soon.

MOVIES

doctor sleep

  • Doctor Sleep (2019)
  • Matilda (1996)
  • The Net (1995)
  • 3615 Code Pere Noel (1989)
  • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

Between working on the double features, getting some rentals watched and then preparing for a blogathon entry, my movies watch list looks rather impressive, right? To be fair, I caught up with some older movies like Matilda and The Net that has been on my to-watch list forever. Christmas In July Blogathon over on Drew’s Movie Reviews is happening again this year and I chose to do a double feature piece and its fairly obvious which two titles above were my picks. 3615 Code Pere Noel was a great alternate Christmas movie though but my highlight of the week goes to Doctor Sleep that was such an awesome watch. It gets more and more awesome the more that I think about it and then the more that I think about it, the more I want to read The Shining because I feel like the movie was missing so much of its actual nature that Doctor Sleep dove into, plus, I own the Doctor Sleep novel but haven’t read it because I never read The Shining.

BINGING

you are my destiny

  • You Are My Destiny (2020)

Currently binging: Little Forest, Viva La Romance 4, Rap Star, Woof Meow Story, We Are Young, Great Escape 2, Yes I Do 2, Love Designer, We Are Blazing, Gagman, Let’s Sacalaca, The Coming One: SuperBand

It seems my currently binging list keeps expanding while the shows ending are just too little. I’ve actually ended up watching mostly variety shows at this point which are all currently airing so its only one episode a week which looks like a lot but in reality, its not all that bad. New to the group is Gagman (a show to find the best comedian/variety show host), Let’s Sacalaca (a show about celebrities running a surf shop) and The Coming One: SuperBand (Season 4 of The Coming One focused on creating a 5 person band).

You are My Destiny finally ended and boy, do I want to talk about this one? Being a remake of a Taiwanese series is hard stuff especially one of the series starring the talent Joe Chen and one that was super popular. I had caught up with the series last year and rewatched it earlier this year and did a TV binge HERE. This remake has its moments and then it also has its fair share of issues. Not quite as successful of a remake as 2018’s Meteor Garden and this one was only 30 episodes instead of MG’s 50 episodes.

Either way, I have a line-up of back log TV binges to do so we’ll get to this one soon. Plus, I’m brainstorming a new little project (like I need another one, right?) but stuck on a title for it so if that comes together, I’ll make an actual announcement and if its in this section, obviously, its TV-related.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

What’s Up 2020: Week 27

Another week has flown by. We passed the half of the year of 2020 point and head into July which as usual, its pretty much another heat wave.

READING

The Memories We Bury

  • The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel (Review)

As I’ve been reading on rush mode for the last little while, I finished up The Memories We Bury and took a few days off to catch up. The review for The Memories We Bury is already up for the blog tour last week. You can go check out the review. H. A. Leuschel has a really nice angle whenever she writes her thrillers especially in crafting her characters.

PLAYING

gorogoa

Currently playing: Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions, Gorogoa

I’m still working on the Glass Masquerade 2 game. However, I needed a little change in pace so started another puzzle game with a little more story line. Gorogoa has been on my to-play list since its release. I’ve played 2 chapters of the game so far and its been impressive. Its all about moving the pieces around to create doorways and other interactions to move the story forward and move the character to its next area. Its incredibly clever.

WATCHING

charlie's angels

  • The Meg (2018 rewatch, Review)
  • Charlie’s Angels (2019)
  • Maniac (1980)

I took it a little easier on the movie watching element. There’s been a bit of backlog and some rentals to review before they fade from my memory. However, in all this, I had the urge to rewatch The Meg. Its still as fun as I remember it being. The movie that I’d like to highlight is one that surprised me and that’s Charlie’s Angels. I wasn’t a big fan of the old one but this one was a lot of fun and in many ways, its very Elizabeth Banks and that works for me. Its not some masterpiece but very entertaining. I’m working on a double feature soon so I’m not going to talk too much about it here.

BINGING

Chuang 2020

  • Go Fridge 6 (Season 6, 2020)
  • Produce Camp 2020

Currently binging: Twogether, Wonderful Little Forest, Viva La Romance 4, Rap Star, We Are Blazing, Woof Meow Story, We Are Young, Great Escape 2, Yes I Do 2, You Are My Destiny, Love Designer

Produce Camp 2020 (aka Chuang 2020) had Katy Perry sharing her song, Daisies for their final performance which is pretty awesome. The final episode created the 7 girl group “Bon Bon 303”. There wasn’t a huge change in the rankings in general so it wasn’t exactly surprising. I’m a bit disappointed that more people didn’t vote for one or two of the girls in lower rankings as it would have given the group a unique flare. Right now, it feels very balanced in terms of vocals and dancers but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like it will stand out as much (especially in comparison to the former girl group from Tencent Rocket Girls 101).

With that said, two new shows on the list. The first is Season 2 of Mango TV’s Great Escape. Half the team of Season 1 is back (with a few that I wonder whether one or two will be back since they had a message about being in isolation) but the new members are pretty fun and they are using other actors/actresses as NPC in the escape room, which is pretty fun. The other show is Love Designer (which had another name before) and its drama with Dilraba Dilmurat and Johnny Huang. I’m about halfway through and its alright.

That’s it for this week’s What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?