Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Goddess Fish Presents: The Sceptre of Morgulan by Matthew D. Ryan

The Sceptre of Morgulan
by Matthew D. Ryan


GENRE:  Fantasy



Coragan of Esperia has another job to do. Can he and his companions capture the Sceptre of Morgulan and prevent an apocalypse? Or will Korina outmaneuver them again and escape with the prize? So much hinges on the efforts of so few—if they fail in their quest, if the evil witch Korina the Black succeeds, she may gain an unrivaled power over the forces of darkness; a power she will not hesitate to use.



It appears my mistress needs me again, which is good, in a way ... my hunger has returned and I am due for another feeding. I relax as I am pulled up the last short channel of the jar; I concentrate on the sensations and feelings that barrage my mind as my essence twists and turns, undulating in response to the summoning magic.
Coalescing from mist form to human, I become aware of another presence in this chamber. Something strong and powerful, reeking of magic and other rancid odors. Glancing in the creature’s direction is enough to identify it: an arcagrich, a demon I am familiar with, although I have not seen one in a thousand years. I turn away from the demon and glance back towards Korina. She stands several feet from me in a summoning circle; she looks ... pale, almost frightened. I’m glad she still respects me, but really? I do not intend to break my word ... at least, not yet.
The crack of a multi-lashed whip splits the air and my vision explodes. Staggering, I drop to one knee as the shock and pain hit me. I gasp: there was more than just metal behind that whip! I lift a hand to my face; it is a mangled ruin. Three long furrows streak across my cheek and another one mars the pale flesh of my neck.
I turn to look at my assailant, angry, yet cautious.
“Lucian! Slay that demon,” Korina says.
Now, I understand. Her pet has escaped. And she wants to use me to clean up her mess. I might have refused, if the creature had not attacked me. But it is an arcagrich. Can I take an arcagrich?
Why, yes. I believe I can.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Matthew D. Ryan is a published author living in upstate New York on the shores of Lake Champlain. His work has been featured on-line at Aphelion.com and YesteryearFiction.com. He has been deeply involved in the fantasy genre for most of his life as a reader, writer, and game designer. He is the operator of the web-site matthewdryan.com which features his blog, “A Toast to Dragons,” a blog dedicated to fantasy literature, and, to a lesser extent, sci-fi. Mr. Ryan says he receives his inspiration from his many years as an avid role-player and fantasy book reader. He has spent many long hours devising adventures and story-lines as well as gaming systems for role-playing games, playing a motley assortment of characters in RPG worlds, as well as digesting the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and others. As a result, he has great depth of experience in the fantasy genre and feels it was a natural shift for him to move into fantasy writing.

Mr. Ryan is the author of the exciting dark fantasy novel, Drasmyr, The Children of Lubrochius, and The Sceptre of Morgulan, as well as a growing number of short stories. His first novel, Drasmyr, won the book of the month award on Long and Short Reviews: Young Adult for the month of September 2012. The story features a traditional Dracula type vampire in a Middle-Earth type setting. It is a dark fantasy geared toward teens and adults that has consistently earned reviews in the four and five star range. Drasmyr serves as the prequel to his series: From the Ashes of Ruin. In addition to Drasmyr, The Children of Lubrochius, and The Sceptre of Morgulan, Mr. Ryan has published several short stories on-line, including: “Haladryn and the Minotaur”(published at the now defunct Pegasus On-line), “The River’s Eye”(published at YesteryearFiction.com) , “Escape”(published at Aphelion.com), and the three-story collection Of Dragons, Love, and Poison.. He has also spoken on the topic of “World-Building” utilizing his considerable experience as an author and game-designer. When not engrossed in his fantasy worlds, Mr. Ryan can be found volunteering at the local food shelf or playing with his cat, “Confucius,” who is as wise and wily as his name suggests.

Author’s Smashwords Page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/matthewdryan
Author’s Blog: http://www.atoasttodragons.com
Author’s Home Page: http://www.matthewdryan.com
Author’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MatthewDRyanAuthor
Author’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/matthewdryan
Author’s Goodreads Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/579148.Matthew_D_Ryan
Author’s Twitter Handle: @MatthewDRyan1

for specific details on Mr. Ryan’s previous novels from this series, following the corresponding links:
Drasmyr: http://wp.me/P3Lbq0-gE
The Children of Lubrochius: http://wp.me/P3Lbq0-gM

Buy Link:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/574196



Matthew will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review: War God by Graham Hancock

Graham Hancock's War God is a novel about Cortes, the Spanish conquistador, taking over Central America in the 16th century.  Although fiction, the author tells most of the story through the eyes of the Mexicas, Aztecs, Mayans, and Tlascans in the 1520s.  

The book begins with Montezuma tripping out on mushrooms, praying to the god Hummingbird, and sacrificing thousands of people on his pyramid.  He is preparing for the return of Quetzalcoatl and wants to be ready.  Two of the main characters, Malinal and Tozi, escape to influence history.  
Cortes sails out of Cuba with a few hundred men under bad circumstances.  He brings a priest along who rapes and murders children.  Other generals and captains help him first take over Ponchantan by using cannons and guns which the Mayans believe are supernatural powers.  They defeat tens of thousands of people with advanced weaponry.  Disappointed the city doesn't have much gold, they loot nearby towns and come up with almost nothing.  They find their way to Tenochtitlan and take over instantly.  Montezuma believes Cortes is Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent god, and doesn't even put up a fight.  
My Review:  I bought this book because I like Graham Hancock's work on aliens and Ancient Aliens.  I thought the story would have more of a supernatural twist.  Tozi, one of the supporting characters, could turn invisible, but that was the extent of magic.  The book fits in better with historical fiction.
The story was an amazing epic.  Hancock researched every angle possible, and put it into a highly entertaining story while teaching the reader about Central American history.  
I really loved the character of Malinal, a young woman forced into being a sex slave.  Tozi the teenage witch was also interesting as she escaped from the sacrifice of Montezuma.  Cortes was portrayed as a thoughtful leader who sought new lands and gold.
I really enjoyed the book, but I do have one criticism.  Hancock can get very wordy per my reading tastes, especially in battle scenes.  Otherwise, this was a terrific read for anyone who loves history.
4.5/5 Stars

Monday, October 5, 2015

TV Show Review: Homeland

Showtime's Homeland Season 5 starts off with a bang.  Carrie Mathison quits the CIA, lives in Germany with her daughter, and works for a billionaire philanthropist.  She has a new boyfriend too.  Her life appears to be at peace until her boss wants to take a trip to the border of Lebanon to supposedly deliver food and supplies to the refugees escaping brutal regimes and ISIS.  Carrie tries to reason with him about the dangers of the Middle East and his lack of proper security.  He needs more of an army than a private staff of ex-CIA.

Through past connections, Carrie finds out that Hezbollah is running things in that specific area and through connections she gets permission to go to the refugee camps with her boss.  But getting from point A to point B is one hell of a ride.  Carrie is kidnapped, roughed-up, and threatened.  In the end she gets the permission needed to make the trip.
Peter Quinn has been stationed in Syria and Iraq for the last two years and tells a panel of American politicians how messed up it is.  He, like so many ex-military on the news, tells them they have two choices to get rid of these U.S. haters-1) put tens of thousands of troops on the ground and fight to win or 2) turn the desert into a parking lot.  Harsh words and not exactly what politicos want to hear, but that's Quinn.  He's as direct as DirectTV!  He will stay in Syria and train the Syrians to fight.  And he's not too optimistic about this plan.

Another side story involves a computer hacker in Germany who likes to hack into radical Islamic websites and make fun of the religion.  One night he hacks into a site at the same time the C.I.A. is perusing around illegally.  Through some savvy computer maneuvering, he manages to download 1300+ of the CIA's files, all of them about the backdoor deal made with Germany about spying on people without warrants.  Sal flies to Germany for damage control.  A writer at Carrie's work gets a hold of one of the many files and publishes it.  All political hell is about to break loose.
My Review: The writing, the acting, the directing, the special effects, the suspense...One of the greatest shows on TV still has not jumped the shark.  This season looks even more exciting than the previous others if possible.  
I was on the edge of my recliner the whole hour and saddened once the show was over.  Last season had a Benghazi feel and now this season has a Snowden/Syrian refugee feel.  
One of the many things I love about this show is the reality of our ongoing problem with the Middle East, a subject that most of Hollywood shuns away from.  The writers never fail to produce fearless, unapologetic, topical episodes that tie in the news with the story line.  5/5 Stars!  Can't wait until next Sunday!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Review: 1984 by George Orwell-Prophecy or Blueprint for Inner Circle?

As a conspiracy queen I have heard of and used phrases such as Big Brother and thought police knowing that they came from the famous book 1984.  The book was written in 1949 and takes place in the future or 1984 which of course is now our past.  As Orwell says, "he who controls the past controls the future and he who controls the present controls the past."
Winston, an outer party member and employee, works for the Outer Party government in the fictitious region called Oceania.  Winston lives in former London.  His apartment comes complete with a state-run camera and microphone that monitors every move he makes.  Banners of Big Brother, a man with a moustache and glasses, are hung all over the city.  Oceania is always at war with one of the two regions in the world-Eastasia or Eurasia.

Winston's job at the Ministry of Truth involves changing newspapers, reels, books, or anything that contradicts what the Party aka government with the goal of leaving no evidence behind when the government lies.  He doesn't understand how people can so easily forget who they are at war with-one day it's Eastasia, but then the next day it's Eurasia.  When Oceania switches enemies, Winston and his co-workers work overtime covering up all speeches and news about the previous war which is erased from all forms of history.  Winston starts to question why the government wants to change the past.  He also doesn't like being watched.  Against the government's rules, he gets a journal and begins to document his feelings and events with his back to the camera.  Most Oceania residents would fear that the Though Police would drag them off in the middle of the night, beat them into confession, and then encourage them to kill themselves.

Winston soon finds a woman at his work, Julia, who feels the same.  They have a secret affair.  It has to be in secret because Big Brother/the government does not approve of romance and love.  They have a secret room where they meet to have sex and talk in private.  The room is above a shop in the seedy part of town where the Proles live.  Proles are the masses or the proletariat (Marx)/worker bees of the world.  Big Brother issues a hate speech each week about an underground organization called the Brotherhood run by Goldstein.  They don't know if it exists, but make a move to find out.  On a whim, Winston hints with another co-worker, this one is a big shot who works in the Inner Party, about wanting to revolt with the Brotherhood.  O'Brien invites him into the world of conspiracy.
English Socialism

As the story moves on, O'Brien is not the rebel that Winston thought.  He and Julia get arrested, tortured, behaviorally modified, and then brought back into society.  They never get back together and Winston ends up a lonely alcoholic.  In the end, Big Brother wins and society is helpless.
My Review:
This book is a classic for a reason.  The writing was preachy and speechy at times, but the story remains a dangerous warning of a modern day totalitarian state.  Censorship and alteration of the past are a must for control.  Machiavelli wrote about it long before Orwell.  But Orwell goes even further.  
Cameras and microphones listening and watching every second of your life is not just in this novel, it is very possible, and some (Edward Snowden for example) even say it's practiced on a regular basis.  Think about it-our phone, the Internet, emails, intersection cameras, GPS in our cars, credit card purchases, medical information, all of it can be found by a layman let alone a powerful government.  We don't have the "Thought Police" but we do have the "Politically Correct" media who are willing to insult if not destroy us for our "offensive" phrases.  To me, political correctness is the first form of censorship.  As far as altering the past, Hollywood is really trying its best.  For example, Noah and Exodus of the Bible were revised for reasons I can only imagine.  
Orwell uses the phrase "doublethink" as one of Oceania's key practices.  Doublethink is when you accept two contradicting view points as truths.  Religious freedom is brimming with doublethink.  Sharia Law's no rights for women and freedom of religion/women's equality seem to contradict each other in principle.  Political correctness and freedom of speech immediately come to mind as well.  I could ramble on all day about doublethink. 
One of my favorite parts of the story was the constant war-sometimes with Eurasia and sometimes with Eastasia and then the propaganda that followed how each region had always been the enemy.  Reminds me of our fickle alliance of many Middle Eastern countries in recent years.  Iran comes to mind-once an ally and then an enemy.  Hussein doesn't seem that bad compared to ISIS.
Orwell believes that socialism will bring upon this kind of control.  Ingsoc stands for English Socialism.  He even uses Marxist phrases such as "Proles" or proletariats.  The government's elite is called the Inner Party.  I wondered if he was also referring to the Inner Circle of New World Order conspiracy.    
Last but not least, is Orwell's phrase Newsspeak.  This idea was one of the  most fascinating ideas in the whole book.  Orwell clearly believes that if you get rid of the bulk of the English language, then you can get rid of a lot of thoughts and ideas.  Newspeak gets us to an oversimplified means of communication, blurring meaning and ideas, turning talk into a generic means of filling our basic needs.  
The hierarchy of Orwell's world reminded me most of New World Order conspiracy theory where only a handful of people, the elite, really know the truth and engage the rest of us in doublethink and Newspeak.  I, for one, wonder how much we are lied to via political press conferences and the media.  Every country seems to have discovered the many uses of propaganda.  Was Orwell a writer or a prophet?
This is a 5 star no-brainer.  Please leave your thoughts and views.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Goddess Fish Presents: Dos Angeles by Michael O'Hara

by Michael O'Hara
Leave a comment and enter! to win GC below





Dos Angeles, the first in a franchise of mysteries featuring Paco Moran, puts the multicultural thirty-something ex-LAPD homicide detective turned reluctant private eye on the trail of a beautiful young Latina on the run with ten million dollars in cash. Half Anglo and half Mexican, Moran is a transitional character equally at home working in Beverly Hills or blue collar Boyle Heights, the tough East Los Angeles neighborhood where he was raised by a single mom. In his debut case Paco quickly learns he will be the fall guy if he doesn't track down the young immigrant who allegedly stole a small fortune from a sleazy Hollywood producer secretly laundering money for a notorious drug cartel. Paco's frantic search takes him on a roller-coaster ride through a shadowy place he calls Dos Angeles a city within the city and a virtual country unto itself.



Shining her light through the opening she saw what appeared to be a fully equipped home office. It had a desk with a computer, a printer, a multi-line phone system and custom-built shelving holding an array of accordion files and cardboard storage boxes. On entering she found an illuminated light switch she quickly turned on.

With the room now brightly lit by a series of overhead spots, the first thing she noticed was one of the storage boxes had fallen off a shelf and it was lying face down on the carpeted floor. Alongside it was a banded stack of dollar bills. Turning over the box Maria was shocked to see it was filled with more wrapped bundles of cash. But the bills weren’t ones—they were all hundred dollar Benjamins.

Almost tripping in her haste to see what was in the other boxes, she took another down, placed it on the floor and quickly removed its fitted lid. It, too, was filled with packets of hundred dollar bills. Like a pirate sifting through a chest of precious Spanish doubloons, she quickly determined there was close to a hundred thousand dollars in just that one box.

It had to be a sign, she told herself. She had suffered and endured so much over the last two months. There had been days when she didn’t know if she even had the inner strength to carry on. Now—with this amazing stroke of good fortune—she finally had some hope again.

But first she would have to get all of the money out of the house.

And once she did… where in the world would she go?


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Emmy nominee Michael O’Hara-- who has written and produced some of the highest-rated television movies and miniseries in recent memory – is adding author to his resume with the August, 2015 the publication of his first novel,  Dos Angeles.

The book, featuring a bilingual and bicultural private eye named Paco Moran, centers around Moran’s desperate search for a beautiful young Latina immigrant who stole ten million dollars from the mob. In a pre-publication review American Book Award winner Peter Quinn said: Paco Moran’s debut in Michael O'Hara's Dos Angeles is fast-paced, finely crafted, and full of surprises. It's noir fiction for the 21st century, a helluva ride from the first page to last. Here's hoping O'Hara brings Paco back very soon. I can't wait!

A former award-winning journalist and NBC Vice President of Media Relations, O’Hara made an auspicious debut as a writer/producer with “Those She Left Behind,” a critically acclaimed family drama that continues to be the highest-rated TV movie (25.1/38 share) on any network in over twenty years. It starred Gary Cole and Colleen Dewhurst (who won an Emmy Award for her performance). That success was followed by the widely praised NBC movie “She Said No” which won an American Women in Radio & Television Award for Best Television Dramatic Special.

O’Hara next wrote and executive produced “Switched at Birth,” the blockbuster NBC miniseries that earned an Emmy nomination as Best Dramatic Special and remains the highest rated (22 rating/33 share) miniseries on network television since its initial telecast over two decades ago. He was also the writer and executive producer of “Murder in the Heartland,” a celebrated ABC miniseries which garnered a Casting Society of America Award and two Emmy nominations. Right after that he created and executive produced the first of 22 “Moment of Truth” movies for NBC, establishing one of the most successful film franchises in TV history.

O’Hara also wrote “She Woke Up Pregnant,” the pilot for ABC’s ‘Crimes of Passion’ franchise. It scored an impressive 13.4 rating and 21 share, making it the highest-rated ABC movie of the year. He went on to write “One Hot Summer Night,” another ‘Crimes of Passion’ thriller that was ABC’s highest-rated Thursday night movie of the season. Other producing credits include two CBS projects: “Twilight Zone – Rod Serling’s Lost Classics” and “A Child’s Wish,” which was filmed in the Oval Office and featured a cameo appearance by then President Bill Clinton. In addition he wrote and executive produced NBC’s “In His Life: The John Lennon Story” and “1st to Die,” a two-part NBC miniseries based on the best-selling novel by James Patterson.

Overall O’Hara has produced four miniseries and 33 Movies of the Week. Besides his Emmy nomination, other honors include: a Christopher Award (“A Child’s Wish”); a Prism Award (“The Accident”); a Humanitas Award nomination (“Heart of a Child”); a National Easter Seal Society Award (“To Walk Again”); an International Health & Medical Film Award (“Heart of a Child”); and the Media Award from The National Council on Problem Gambling (“Playing to Win.”)


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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Is the Pope Legit? Not According to Malachy

Google "Pope" and "Anti-Christ" for fun.  Thousands of articles come up in regards to Pope Francis.  Many believe he is the anti-Christ, or at least the False Prophet mentioned in Revelation.  His negative remarks about capitalism and strange interest in global warming seem to trump talking about the Christian beheadings in the Middle East.  He has made many comments that strongly align with New World Order.  He also seems to be a fan of merging religions in the name of peace.  Last year he opened the Vatican door to Muslim prayers.  Was the Left Behind series really a modern day prophecy?
Pope Francis has been under scrutiny since elected Pope in March of 2013.  The circumstances were extraordinary. His predecessor, Pope Benedict, resigned from this post, making Benedict the first pope to resign in 600 years.  Many conspiracies state Pope Benedict could not take the deception of the Vatican Bank or mounting pedophilia scandals, but who knows the real reason. There was a tell-all butler in some of these stories, but he has disappeared from the headlines.

Before Pope Francis was even the Pope, many were suspicious because of an ancient prophecy.  Malachy, a 12th century Irish bishop who was later declared St. Malachy, predicted Peter the Roman would be the last pope before The End of the World.  Pope Francis's father was Peter of Pietro and was from Italy before the family moved to Argentina.  
For the last 900 years Malachy batted a thousand in terms of pope predictions.  He had a vision on his way to Rome that enabled him to name every pope, 112 total, who would rule until Pope #113 also known as the last pope before The End.

It's only natural for Doomsday preachers to place a microscope on Pope Francis.  This pope adds plenty of ammunition to conspiracy theory.  Some of the liberal/out-of-the-Catholic-box examples the new pope has done and said are as follows:
1) The Pope stated that Catholics are too "obsessed" with abortion and gay marriage.
2) The Pope sympathizes with Communism and Socialism.
3) The Pope appears to condone a one-world religion-Chrislam. (Conference at Vatican last November as an example when he opened the door for Muslim prayers and Jewish leaders)
4) The pope recently stated that animals go to heaven despite backing that up with scripture.
5) The Pope stated that evolution theory does not conflict with Bible.
6) The Pope has a political agenda involving global warming.
That's quite a list for a pope who has been in power for less than two years.  
???????  Leave a comment!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Movie Review: Black Mass

Johnny Depp's new movie Black Mass is about the real-life gangster James Whitey Bulger of Boston's Southie neighborhood.  Once again, Depp transforms himself into one of the most notorious psychopaths of modern day.  The film picks up from the time Bulger was a small-time hood in the 1970's who quickly rises to Boston's top kingpin by the mid-80's through the help of a neighborhood friend/FBI agent John Connelly.  
The real Whitey
The FBI agent approaches John's brother, Massachusetts State Senator, to feel him out about recruiting Whitey as an FBI informant.  According to the movie, the brother is not interested in Whitey's hood business.  Connelly eventually goes straight to Whitey and convinces him to "inform" on the Italian mob who currently run most of Boston's illegal activities.  With the FBI's protection, Whitey takes out his competition, becoming Boston's modern day Al Capone.  The shit hits the fan.  Spoiler Alert: Everyone turns, Whitey runs and gets caught 15 years later, and, with exception to Whitey, Connelly gets the longest prison sentence (40 years) without even committing a drug deal or murder.
My Review: I was particularly interested in seeing this movie.  My daughter Isabella and I volunteered for Chicago's Literary Fest a few years ago.  Isabella got assigned to the writers' conference room as an usher.  She got to meet the authors of Black Mass and learn about Whitey all afternoon.  We both loved the movie.
Isabella didn't even realize it was Johnny Depp until the end.  He was ugly, creepy, depressing, and chilling.  I wouldn't be surprised if he gets nominated for an Oscar.
The other actors were just as talented.  Joel Edgarton (Tom in Great Gatsby) was especially amazing as John Connelly, the FBI agent who gets caught up in the excitement of the gangster life.
As good as the movie was, I still had questions.  Did John Connelly ever get money from Whitey?  There were a few scenes in which his wife asked about his expensive clothes and he made mention of their expensive house, but the rest is unclear.  Also, outside of Whitey telling the FBI where the Italian mob's headquarters were, I was not sure what other information Whitey ever gave the FBI for their protection against arrests.  Seemed like Whitey received much, much more than he ever gave from the informant relationship.  I also wondered how deep Whitey was in with the IRA.  In the movie there was a brief scene in which Whitey bought them some weapons and maybe a boat.  
I wished this movie was longer with more details.  Overall, it was worth the 9-10 bucks to go see on the big screen if you like mobster movies, but it didn't come close to Goodfellas or Casino.  4/5 Stars