The McCallister Series – Review

Full disclosure time! I signed up to review the four books in the McCallister Series through Silver Dagger Book Tours. They provided me with Kindle copies of each of the books in exchange for my honest review on my blog, on Goodreads, and on Amazon.

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The McCallister Series is a 4-book mystery series by Canadian author, L.V. Gaudet.  She also writes under the pen name Vivian Munnoch. She has 7 books published as L.V. Gaudet and 2 as Vivian Munnoch.

The McCallister Series focuses on a serial killer in a small, semi-rural city. She writes in a way that allows you to see inside the killer’s head without revealing his identity until the end of book 1.

 

McAllister 1 - Where the Bodies Are_372x600Where the Bodies Are – The McAllister Series Book 1

This book begins with a body in an alley but the girl isn’t dead. Jane Doe is kept in a medical coma in the hospital while police work to find her identity – and stop the steadily rising body count.

L.V. Gaudet writes several scenes from an unknown POV – the killer’s. Referred to only as “he” or “the man”, we get to see inside his head without discovering his identity – we get to watch his mental deterioration and see what is driving him.

The pressure really starts to build when Jane Doe goes missing from the hospital and the police find a massive burial site with bodies dating back generations.

 

McAllister 2 - The McAllister Farm_377x600The McAllister Farm – The McAllister Series Book 2

Book 2 takes place almost a full generation before book 1 – but to avoid spoilers I strongly suggest reading book 1 first.

The McAllisters live on a small farm on the edge of a small but growing town. They keep to themselves. William McAllister, the father, goes out of town often on business trips.

This book takes us into the mind of the man who one day creates a serial killer when he’s still an impressionable boy and examines the circumstances around his childhood and early adulthood. This book answers a lot of the backstory questions from book 1.

McAllister 3 - Hunting Michael Underwood_373x600Hunting Michael Underwood – The McAllister Series Book 3

Michael Underwood was introduced in book 1. He is a police officer, and he was working undercover as an orderly at the hospital where Jane Doe was being cared for. It was his job to keep an eye on her in case the killer returned.

Now, both Jane Doe and Michael Underwood are missing and it’s up to Jim McNelly, the detective working the serial killer case in book 1, and Lawrence Hawkworth, a newspaper reporter, to track down both missing people. Both men are convinced there’s more going on, things they aren’t seeing. They have one man in custody, but there are too many questions unanswered yet.

McAllister 4 - Killing David McAllister_391x600Killing David McAllister – The McAllister Series Book 4

In the series finale, L.V. Gaudet wraps up multiple loose ends over multiple story arcs. What becomes of David and Jason McAllister? What about the rest of their family? What is Jane Doe’s fate (I don’t want to post spoilers here so I won’t refer to her by name)? Will justice be served and in what form, or will the killer escape to disappear and become someone new?

The clock is ticking and always there is the fear of another body.

 

 

REVIEW

I have individual reviews of each book posted to Goodreads. I’ve given each book 4 out of 5 stars.

My main reason for the 4 star rating was the simple, often repetitive language of the books. The pacing, story, and mystery were all great, but I found often a word was used twice in a sentence (and not words like ‘the’ or ‘a’), or twice in consecutive sentences.

I found the author’s habit of writing each chapter from a different 3 person POV made it hard to connect to the characters. The chapters were short – you never got to spend enough time with any character to build rapport, and a few times, you were with a POV character only once through the book. I felt I didn’t know anything about the police office, Jim McNelly, or his assistant, the undercover officer, Michael Underwood, or the nurse caring for Jane Doe.

Book 2 was better for character building because it focused less on twisting the reader through a mystery and more on the development of the characters.

Book 3 returned to the POV shifting, but now that I knew more backstory and now that I was further in the series I was able to pick up a little more about the characters.

The series is written in the present tense, which made things interesting. I’m not used to that. It wasn’t bad – she writes it consistently and avoids the major pitfalls of that style choice. I just found that because I’m not used to third person present tense it was difficult to slip into.

Overall I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a dark mystery. There are some gruesome descriptions of dead bodies throughout so I wouldn’t categorize this as a cozy mystery.

 

Thank you to Silver Dagger Book Tours for arranging this review tour and providing the pictures and needed files.

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Prolific Works

I received a troubling email this morning from an app/site called Prolific Works.

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The rest of the email was simply inviting me to click the link to upgrade my account. So, what’s so troubling?

I’d never heard of Prolific Works before today and I’ve never given them permission to distribute my books, let alone give my books away.

I went to their website intending to search their database to see if my books were indeed available there or if this was some new site trying to get me to sign up. It’s a little of both. First, though, I couldn’t search via their website, I had to download the app.

I downloaded the app and registered (I will be leaving a review before I delete my account and the app later today). I searched my name and bingo! 1 result listed under fantasy.

The good news is that the only book they have listed is a short story that I offer for free on Smashwords and their associate sites. Which gave me pause. Perhaps this is a Smashwords affiliated distributor? Turns out they are not.

I emailed Prolific Works next and this was their reply:

Hi Casia,

Sorry for the confusion regarding this message! Our company used to be called Instafreebie, and it looks like you ran a giveaway on our site in 2017. Our system automatically generates these emails, so it didn’t realize that you haven’t been active since that time. You do have one book and one giveaway on the site, and the book is called “Roses of Airon.” If you don’t plan on using our services in the future, I’m happy to deactivate your account for you! Again, I’m sorry for the miscommunication, and you won’t be receiving an email like this from us again. Let me know if there’s anything else I can clarify for you.

Aha! So, in 2017 I ran a freebie on my free short story, a prequel to a series I recently finished. If Instafreebie sent me an email about the change in name, I didn’t get it, because I didn’t get any results from the giveaway I ran with them at the time. But in the last 2 years, apparently, the story has been downloaded 200+ times. Sadly those downloads have NOT translated into sales for me. There was no “end” date on the giveaway, which is how it was still live on their site.

I have replied to their email, asking them to deactivate my account.

In the grand scheme of things I’ve lost nothing in this ordeal. The readers who downloaded my short story for free were never going to purchase my books, no matter where they downloaded it from. I’ve written about Free Culture before, and how it is killing the arts, and this is further proof.

I’m glad this turned out to be harmless. I’ve received some predatory emails in the past from sites that want to publish my work for free for their profit. If you have free stories and want to put them on another platform, you can look at Prolific Works. I’m in no position to review, rate, or recommend them, but they’re out there.

Altered Carbon Review

Just finished watching season 1 of Altered Carbon (currently the only season) at the recommendation of my father. Altered Carbon is a science-fiction mystery with a touch of noir.

I wasn’t sold on the actor for the main character until more than halfway through the show. I think that’s because I really like Kovach’s birth sleeve (okay, a little back story. Everyone has a “stack” a bio-disc that contains their personality and memory. They refer to bodies as sleeves. You can “spin up” a stack in any sleeve, or in VR. The main character, Kovach, spends most of the show in the sleeve of Riker because, well, lots of reasons). The acting was good, and maybe me not liking him is a plus because the character is supposed to be a bit of a hard-ass and the sleeve belonged to a angsty cop.

The supporting cast was amazing. The cop, Christine Ortega, and her entire family of Mexican-Catholics were priceless. Just perfect. I mean, she’s a kick-ass, no-nonsense, woman with strong convictions, a loving family, and a heaped helping of smarts. She’s stubborn and compassionate. She fights with her mother but there’s still a lot of familial love to go around. And, they regularly speak Spanish.

Ortega’s current partner and mentor is an older Jewish man who is implied to have a casual, familiar relationship with Ortega’s widow mother, much to Ortega’s dismay. There’s an AI hotel named Poe (the hotel is called The Raven, go figure) and he stole the whole damn show as far as I’m concerned. Equal parts graciousness and sass, he provides deadpan humour and some much needed emotional support. Elliot, Ava, and their daughter Lizzie have a heartbreaking story arc and play a huge role, not only in the mystery, but in Kovach’s character development.

The rich people are assholes, or whiny snivelling brats, but they never feel flat. They have motives, they have opinions about themselves, they actually come across as complex. And the twist regarding the “bad guy” was well-played, subtle, and full of emotional impact. I felt some of the bad guy’s motivation wasn’t fully explored though.

There is a strong theme of classist exploitation and sexual violence/exploitation in this show. Elliot’s daughter is beaten to the point of sleeve death and her stack is stuck in a trauma loop. Later, Elliot must pose as a rich elite general and is confronted by the sickening sexual perversions the rich indulge in and you can see his rage and pain and his need to safe all these young women from these rich assholes. That scene is worth watching the whole show for. His face, his expressions, his reactions, they’re all so damn visceral, so real, it’s a punch in the gut.

The cast as diverse, the story fast-paced, the mystery twisted and dark. There was a fair dose of politics and religious debate but it never felt tedious or preachy. No one was really right or wrong about stacks and their use/misuse.

I can’t wait to see what they do with season 2.

Love, Death + Robots – A Review

Anyone here remember Animatrix? It was a collection of animated shorts but different artists/artistic teams that all took place in the universe of The Matrix. It was good, as good or better than the series itself.

Love Death + Robots is similar in that it is a series of animated shorts, in differing styles. Unlike Animatrix, there is NO common thread between them, no shared universe, no linking character or setting. It’s just random.

So, I guess it’s more like the old Heavy Metal Magazine, with the random comics.

The shorts range from 5-20 minutes in length. Some are done in 3D CG that is so good you have trouble telling they aren’t real people. Some are done in rotoscope. Some are done in edgy comic book/graffiti styles. Some are straight up 2D Sunday morning cartoons (but not family friendly).

The stories are gritty, but fun, for the most part. They all have something dark to them, something about survival, sacrifice, greed, stupidity … There’s a lot of violence, and a lot of nudity. And yet, it all stays classy somehow.

They’re stuck in my head. I mean, 97% of the shorts I watch end up stuck in my head for DAYS. I mull them over, admiring the concise storytelling, the expertly executed twists, the bland apathy of the robots touring a post-apocalyptic city, the deeper meaning behind the desert hallucinations, the subtle criticisms of colonialism or war, the strength of spirit, the depth of loyalty … And I admire the art, the clever writing, the uniqueness and audacity of the whole thing.

It just steps out and goes “fuck it, we’re doing this” and it’s so refreshing.

I’ve probably got 4 or maybe 6 episodes left, that I can’t watch until Friday night because I have to wait for my husband (we’re watching together and I’m not a ‘watch ahead cheater’). But I’ve been so blown away by the first dozen or so episodes that I can’t wait to review it.

No, I can’t wait to say “Go watch it!”

If I had to review every episode individually there’s one or two that might get 4 stars and so far only one that I would give 3 stars to. The rest get 5 out of 5. 11 out of 10. They’re good. They’re great. They’re “watch 17 episodes in one night and then watch them again tomorrow” good.

Seriously. It’s on Netflix. Go watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

Popular Q&A Platform Harmful to Writers

Have you heard of Quora? Because Quora may be helping readers steal your books.

You sign up and you can ask questions and get multiple answers from other users on a variety of topics, both personal and technical in nature. Looking for a recipe? Kitchen hack? Relationship advise? Go ahead and ask. The idea is similar to Wikipedia in that users can add their own answers, creating discussion and a wide base of knowledge. You can up or down vote answers to help keep the most useful information more visible.

Sounds good, right?

I don’t remember when or why I joined up. I think I saw a question that I wanted to answer and I was in. I get regular emails from them “Can you answer this question?” I delete them without reading them if I’m not in the mood. No one forces you to answer anything.

Lately, I noticed a scary trend in the questions I was getting (since I have literature as one of my interests on Quora). People were asking where to download free e-books (in general) or free pdf copies of specific titles.

Some titles were classics and difficult to find in electronic format so people directed them to Project Gutenberg and other similar digitization projects.

For the general request, I directed people to the free section of Amazon, or to Smashwords (which is much easier for indie authors to use when it comes to free content and actually has pdfs).

Some titles were newer and not being offered for free. And that’s when I noticed people posting links to pirate sites.

I tried to combat it by answering “Stop stealing from authors. Go to Amazon and buy the book” or something to that effect. “Your library has a digital lending catalogue, go borrow the book if you legit can’t afford it” was added in there, but politer wording.

Obviously, as an author, this upset me, A LOT. Equally as obvious was the fact that I could not fight this, one question at a time. I changed my tactics to include two new things: I contacted the author or publisher of titles I saw people requesting; I contacted Quora support.

I haven’t heard back from any of the authors I contacted. I hope my message did not get lost in cyberspace and that they have someone who can help with the problem on their end. I’m one little indie author with no industry pull, but a few “cease and desist” letters or “copyright infringement” suits against Quora from the big 5 publishers would quickly change things.

Because Quora isn’t interested in changing. I FINALLY got a response to my inquiry with them:

Hello Casia,

The questions referenced in your complaint do not violate any Quora policy. For more info, see: https://qr.ae/TUG6CH.

However, there may be specific answers to those questions that do violate our policy on spam, or some other Quora policy. We suggest that you report specific content you come across that you believe may violate our policies.

You can report questions, answers, comments, and messages by clicking on the ‘more’ menu located beneath the content (e.g., the “…” option), selecting “Report”, and then choosing the appropriate reporting option. Our moderation team will then review the reported content and take action based on our policies and guidelines.

We appreciate your understanding.

Sincerely,

Roger
User Operations
Quora

That’s right. You heard it straight from Quora folks. To be fair, they’re right, there’s nothing illegal with asking “Where can I get TITLE by AUTHOR for free?”. The illegal part is the answers. It’s the fact that people are going “Yeah, I cracked that DRM and have it on my blog, here, download it free”. I saw this. I clicked the links. It worked. (I promptly deleted the file because I will not read stolen copies).

Quora is not interested in protecting authors. That means we have to protect ourselves.

Please share this post with every author you know and in every writing group that you belong to. If you’re with a traditional publisher, warn them about Quora. Joining is free and if they have a social media rep or someone who monitors for copyright infringement online (ie Pirate sites) they should add Quora to the list of sites they are monitoring.

If you do find someone posting illegal links to illegal copies of your book, contact Quora and tell them to take it down or you will take legal action against them. They are legally responsible for the content of their site, even user-generated content.

The world already looks down on our work and undervalues books and authors. This is just one more platform people are using to avoid paying us at all costs.

October Blog Hop – Scary Must-Read

Only a few more days until Halloween. For some people, October is THE month for scary things. For others, scary things, especially scary books, is a year-round passion. We have some authors and book bloggers weighing in on their scariest recommendations, so if you like a scary book, why not try these?

Leslie Conzatti

Leslie Conzatti

Oh boy! There have definitely been a few that I’ve read that definitely creeped me out! For starters, there is Beasts of Babylon by E. A. Copen (a woman who can’t die wants to hunt down the werewolf and the cannibalistic skin-walker who killed her and her two children); Blood Hound by James Osiris Baldwin (a mystic hitman is tapped by the Russian mafia to investigate a string of gruesome occult-related deaths); Floor 21 by Jason Luthor (all of humanity is reduced to living in the upper floors of a tall Tower, since the ground and the lower floors of the skyscraper have been taken over by a sentient, hallucination-inducing, deadly goo called The Creep); Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden is also suitably shiver-inducing (the prophesied apocalypse is facilitated by an alien invasion–one of the effects of which turns ordinary humans into decaying, deathless zombies…). If you are a classic horror/Gothic literature aficionado, I would definitely recommend either Merely This And Nothing More: Edgar Allan Poe Goes Punk or Hideous Progeny: Classic Horror Goes Punk by the friendly, SUPER-talented Writerpunk Press Group! For “spooky” on a lighter note, may I suggest more humorous options like the Grave Reports by R. R. Virdi, or the Portal Prophecies series by C. A. King.

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Brandy Potter www.brandypotterbooks.com

Let’s start with the master, Stephen King’s IT. Taking away that one scene (and if you have read the book you KNOW what scene) the book is terrifying. It plays on every child’s nightmares and drags them through to adulthood. Next, the original haunted house story, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I have not read it yet, but what a great day to read it on yes? Next we will go to my favorite spooky author of classical literature, and hometown hero, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado. I have always loved this story. Finally a more contemporary novel that I love, The Supernaturals by David Goleman.

 

I have read so many deliciously scary books and I would like to recommend Wendigo Whispers by Alex McGilvery for those who love a thriller with a touch of paranormal.

I always want to mention a project I’ve enjoyed heading-up over the last year, and that’s the Twilight Madhouse short story collections. As the acquisitions editor I’ve read over 300 scary short stories for the 4 volumes of Twilight Madhouse and the 1 volume of Hell’s Talisman. We’ve released over 40 stories in these 5 volumes (none written by me) by over 40 authors.

Hell’s Talisman is definitely 18+ but the others are more 14+ (depending on the teen) with stories ranging from black magic to boogey men to twists of fate, labyrinths, and demons. Volume 4 of Twilight Madhouse came out at the beginning of the month and I was beyond impressed with the quality of the stories we received.

If you’re looking for twisty, shivery, short stories I highly recommend these books.

October Blog Hop – A Day Out With a Fictional Character

Wouldn’t it be lovely to spend the day with Mole and Water Rat out on the river? Or perhaps you’d rather visit the Harkers in London? We all have our favourite or most memorable characters and it’s fun to imagine spending real time with them, either in the world of their books, or here in ours.

Jo Linsdell Percy Jackson

Jo Linsdell www.JoLinsdell.com

I’m a bit obsessed with Percy Jackson at the moment and so would have to pick him. He could take me to Camp Half-Blood and show me around. I’d love to see all the different training grounds. It would be awesome to try some of them.

I pretty sure there would never be a dull moment. Percy has a habit of attracting trouble, but he’s also very protective and loyal to his friends so I’d be OK. Adventure is guaranteed. We might even get to go on a quest 🙂

Outlander Season 2 2016

Kim Jacque www.writersideoflife.com

I would love to spend a day with Claire Fraser from Outlander. I first read this book about eighteen years ago and have read the whole series many times since. Obviously, it would be in Scotland in the 18th century not the 20th century. Claire is so capable in any situation, from riding horses to scolding Highlanders and using herbs to treat medical ailments to cavorting in high society.

Leslie Conzatti

Leslie Conzatti www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com

Okay, so one character in particular I would love to meet and hang out with would probably be Emma from Amy Hopkins’ Talented series! I would stop by her London tea shop for a chat, and we’d just hang out, and maybe we’d find a bookstore (magic or not!) to visit and we’d just bum around London and life would be grand!

Brandy Potter

Brandy Potter www.brandypotterbooks.com

Sooooo many characters to pick. I actually thought about Hannibal Lecter. I decided against that though because if he didn’t like me back it might not end well. Ultimately though, I went with Aphrael/Danae/Flute from David Eddings The Elenium and The Tamuli series. She gets to meet everyone. I do mean everyone from all races and since she is a goddess, she knows all the gods and goddesses too. Meeting all of my favorite characters from those books would be so amazing and that would be the perfect day for me! But I would have to be careful. She does have a way of making people love her and stealing their souls (in a way).

 

casauthor

There were some good answers here, and Danae from The Elenium series would be fun to visit for sure. But I think if I had to pick one for myself (aside from the Winchesters because they’re on TV first and foremost) it would be the Baginses. I would love to spend an afternoon in Bag End with Bilbo and Frodo, perhaps on a day when Gandalf dropped by and the smell of pipe tobacco filled the air. A warm afternoon spent in the garden, watching birds and shadows, eating and drinking and talking. And perhaps a hooded figure will appear at the door in the long dusk shadows and bow and say “at your service” and we will have a little dinner party of our own and hear all the news from the Lonely Mountain.

Good food, a warm hearth, and the best of friends. What could be better?

October Blog Hop – Favourite Book Turned Movie

The dreaded moment. Some big Hollywood studio has announced that they’re turning yet another book into a movie or TV show. Every reader who ever loved the book waits, anxious and fearful. Will they butcher it? Will it live up to the book? Will it *gasp* be better than the book?

Today’s stop in the October Blog Hop asks what book-turned-movie people actually enjoyed.

Leslie Conzatti

Leslie Conzatti www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com

I would have to say, off the top of my head, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. That was one of those that completely blew my mind with the way it was formatted and written–such beautiful imagery! The unorthodox style, the way the author interrupted himself with “A thought”–I had never seen a book do that with such sincerity. Death as the narrator, too, gave the opportunity for a unique perspective on the most mundane things… I love it when authors do that! And then the movie absolutely 100% did it justice, which is sometimes hard for a movie to do! But there’s other books-turned-movies that I also enjoyed. In fact, I wrote A Blog Post About It. And then there was The One Where The Book Was Still Better. (Yes, I kind of get a little persnickety about film adaptations!)

kim jacque

Kim Jacque www.writersideoflife.com

Ahh, so many to choose from – I love movies made from books! They are some of the most in-depth thoughtful films. My best movie made from a book would have to be The Princess Bride. It is also that most rare of beasts; a movie that is, in fact, better than the book it was based on. I also like Blade Runner, which is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick and Memoirs of A Geisha by Arthur Golden. Both of these are wonderful books and were faithfully made into great movies. It doesn’t matter if you read or watch these first. Both are utterly enjoyable.

 

Brandy Potter www.brandypotterbooks.com

I am about to fool EVERYBODY. Why do I say that? I know that anyone who has read my entries for the blog hop the past few years is thinking “She’s gonna say Lord of the rings.” Nope. Not gonna. Can’t make me! I LOVE the adaptations of Lord of the Rings. However a lot of my favorite scenes from the book are missing. Therefore, not my favorite. And do NOT get me started on The Hobbit…. It’s 1 book people if you can make 3 books into three movies, you should be able to make 1 book into 1 movie like seriously Peter. Ok Ok I digress.

 

So what is my favorite book to movie adaptation……..

So since we said movie, I omitted the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice as technically that is a mini-series. So my favorite book to movie adaptation is 1995’s Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson. Admittedly there are some characters missing but they weren’t needed. The cast is amazing! And Alan RIckman as Colonel Brandon… sigh.

Second favorite would be 2011 Jane Eyre with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. NOT my favorite adaptation of Jane Eyre. They omit too much of her childhood. They sort of have to I get it so that’s why it’s still excellent in my eyes. If you want to know my favorite adaptation, message me and maybe I will talk about it in a vlog post 😉
ElineLovelyAudiobooks

Eline LovelyAudiobooks.info

I’ll cheat here just a little bit. I love the American Gods series! This has been one of my absolute favourite books since I first read it. And I’d say it shaped my idea of what an Urban Fantasy is, which is now one of my favourite genres. Part of me would have liked to see the series closer to the books, but regardless of that it has the feeling of the book to it. I’m very much looking forward to the next seasons.

 

Jo Linsdell www.JoLinsdell.com

I’m obsessed with Percy Jackson at the moment so part of me wants to say those (and yes I think they should have made more films. I personally loved the first two), but there are so many other great film adaptations that deserve a mentions too.

Harry Potter definitely deserves to be on this list, as does the Narnia series. There have been lots of good adaptations of Janes Austen’s books too.

 

Tania Richardson – The Bookworm Mummy  tania_richardson.com

My favourite book turned movie is also one of my favourite movies ever, and that is The Princess Bride, of course! It also happens to be one of those rare adaptations that turns out to be better than the book it’s based upon! This may be due to Goldman buying back the movie rights after The Princess Bride spent 12 years in production hell, and writing the screenplay himself… He had the chance to tell the story exactly how he wanted it, and maybe even improve on the original. Another movie I want to mention is 2004’s The Phantom of the Opera… A movie based on a musical, based on a book and a massive guilty pleasure of mine!

 

casauthor

I’m an odd duck apparently in that I greatly enjoyed Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth. I recently reread The Hobbit with my kids (their first time) and I was amazed that I’d forgotten how slow it was. I think Jackson did a good job of picking up the pace of the stories without losing the richness of the world.

I know the movies don’t follow the books exactly, but I’m not too much of a literalist when it comes to adaptations. I figure if the director and scriptwriter can capture the feeling of the book, the personalities of the characters, and the overarching plot, then it’s a win.

The Hateful Eight – Review

I want to start this off by saying I have seen a lot of Quentin Tarentino’s movies. I was probably too young to see Pulp Fiction the first time I saw Pulp Fiction. I saw Django in theatres, twice. I loved the whole cast of Kill Bill. So, when the previews came out for Hateful Eight I was excited.

I like Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russel, and Tim Roth and recognized Jennifer Jason Leigh from the Twin Peaks mini-series (the second one, not the original). I liked her in that (where she also worked with Tim Roth).

Now, to the movie itself.

It’s slow. Very slow. By the time I shut it off nothing really had happened. The movie relies on repetitive jokes and Jennifer’s character is punched and hit for laughs because she’s a murderer.

The setting is Wyoming in the winter, within the first few years after the American Civil War. There are several characters hailing from both sides of the war and the political conflict is supposed to add tension, especially with Samuel L Jackson playing a black cavalry officer.

When they arrive at the general goods store/tavern/inn where they plan to whether the storm there is some question as to where the regular owner is and why she left her place in the hands of a Mexican no one has met before. The previews stated that people were going to die and characters hint that someone there may be in league with the murderer, trying to free her before she goes to trial. Add that to the potential mystery of the missing owner and you’ve got a great set-up.

But the set-up takes so long I started losing interest. And then you find out that the Confederate General lost his son and that the black Major killed him. To be fair, the son was in Wyoming to kill blacks so he probably had it coming. But Samuel L Jackson is given a horrible monologue where he taunts the old general about this death, with the purpose of provoking the old man to violence.

At least I assume that was the purpose. This was the point where I shut it off.

Not only does the monologue go into detail about torturing the man in the snow, but then goes into graphic detail about how the Major sexually assaults the man.

That was enough for me.

I was willing to wait out the slow. I was willing to put up with the rather stupid sense of humour. I really wanted to see this movie. I enjoyed Tim Roth’s character immensely, and I loved the coach driver and the Mexican. But I couldn’t watch anymore of this movie.

I was a Tarantino fan. I put movies on my to-see list, simply because he was a part of them. No more. I have zero interest in seeing anymore of his films. His writing has become cheap and uninteresting and I don’t feel like supporting films with this type of content, or the people who create it.

Past Tarantino films I would have given a 4 or 5 stars for clever writing, quick jokes, solid acting, and fast-paced, raunchy, over-the-top stories. I give The Hateful Eight 1 star.

Don’t see this film. It’s a waste of your time.

Review: Tacoma

Tacoma is a first person story based video game. I downloaded a copy on Steam when it was on sale. It’s not too long a game – 10-20 hours tops – but it was enjoyable.

Being story-based the game play was fairly linear. You made your way from module to module in a set order as the game unlocked each area for you. The set-up and setting are:

The lunar transfer station Tacoma has experienced a critical life support failure and all crew have abandoned ship. You have been hired by the station’s corporate owners to retrieve any “black box” data from the station’s various computers and then retrieve the station’s AI wetware core.

As you progress through this mission you have the opportunity to view AR ship logs recorded at various times (from 12 months prior to 12 hours prior). In these recordings the crew of Tacoma (4 women, 2 men) are shown as slightly geometric figures, each colour coded so you know who is who. It seemed weird at first but I actually enjoyed it.

The recordings aren’t on screens, they’re full-body projections that are walking around the space around you, talking to each other. You can access various personal terminals and work stations, go through drawers, and look in closets. As you go you’ll find things that don’t add up, as well as details about the crew.

What I enjoyed most about the game, and what prompted me to write this review, was the diversity. You play a female character named  Amitjyoti (Amy) Ferrier, which is a huge step. First of all, you rarely see yourself but from what you do see, you’re dressed in practical clothing, and you’re not a “white” character. While the character has no speech or hearing impairments she interacts with the computer systems using sign language.

The crew is mostly female, including an African-American woman in charge of the station, an East Indian female medical doctor, and two Caucasian women working as the mechanical engineer (she reminds me of Pam from Archer and they call her Bert, short for Roberta) and the network technician (who is Russian and a bit of a bitch by the way, but you get to love her, I swear)

The two men are an Asian botanist (I do apologize, I am not familiar with the Asian nationalities so I can’t be more specific) and a Caucasian HR director (very British).

On top of the obvious national diversity, there are three couples mentioned in the game. First, the station director and the HR director are having a fling . Second, Bert and Nat (the mechanical engineer and the network tech) are married. Third, the Botanist has a husband and an 18 year old son back on Earth. So there is that diversity as well.

The story is part human-interest, part corporate thriller. The more time you spend examining papers and terminals, the more sense everything starts to make.

The graphics were simple in texture but the environment was detailed – lots of papers and pens and lights and bits and bobs everywhere. The AI, ODIN, whom you meet in the AR recordings, is serious but seems to care about the crew of his station. The interactions between crew members were interesting and realistic without the boring grind of “hey how are you?” “fine, how are you?” over and over again.

The ending was a bit of a jump and the story was short, but otherwise this game was a lot of fun to play and visually appealing. I give this a 4 out of 5.