Showing posts from August, 2023

‘Dungeons & Dragons’: A Fun Fantasy

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) is entertaining and zany. I’ve never played the game by the way (please don’t kill me), so I have no idea how closely the movie follows the game. The story, as with many fantasies, revolves around a quest. A likable thief and his band of misfits set out to recover a magical relic that can bring his dead wife back to life. He also hopes to win back the love of his daughter. Predictably, he and his mates must escape some dicey situations and overcome evil along the way.    Michelle Rodriguez was hilarious in the role of potato-loving, ass-kicking warrior Holga Kilgore. I also have a soft spot for Sophia Lillis, who did a great job as Doric, a tiefling druid who can shape-shift into various animals (my favorite being the fearsome owlbear). The special effects were good, the scenery lovely, the writing fun and light. One complaint is that the movie felt kind of long (and at 2 hours, 14 minutes, it might well be). The opening sequence,

Yay, It’s Time for a Cover Reveal!

I hope you like the cover for Offerings for the Dead as much as I do. The novella will be available Sept. 1. It’s exclusive to my newsletter subscribers, who will be able to download it on that date and read for free. Some of you may be familiar with Pearl Tham, the main character in Offerings for the Dead . Those of you who’ve read my Geomancer’s Apprentice books know that Pearl makes her first appearance in The Forgotten Guardian , the second installment in the series. I suppose Offerings can be viewed as a prequel. I like to think of it as a bonus adventure. You can sign up for my author newsletter in advance of the novella’s release.  On Sept. 1, you’ll receive my newsletter telling you how to download the novella.

The Gates of Hell Are Open. And the Ghosts Are Hungry

The Chinese Hungry Ghost Month begins today, Aug. 16. It’s the first day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. From today until Sept. 14, Chinese people of the Taoist or Buddhist faiths believe the gates of hell are open and hungry ghosts wander the earth in search of food and entertainment. (If you’ve read The Four Perils (book #4 of my Geomancer’s Apprentice urban fantasy series), you would also know yin energy is dominant now, which is attractive to ghosts.) During Ghost Month, Chinese communities all over the world burn hell money and ghost goods—such as paper-mache cars, cell phones, houses and jewelry—to ensure their ancestors are well taken care of in the afterlife. The Hungry Ghost Festival falls on the 15 th day of the month (Aug. 30). Some people will serve large feasts on offering tables for the dead on this day. Others may light lanterns in the shape of lotus flowers and release them in rivers. As they float away, the lanterns help guide the dead back to

Book Review: 'Shadow Winged' by Jilleen Dolbeare

5 stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ What a treat it is to pick up an urban fantasy series featuring Alaskan folklore. The protagonist Piper Tikaani is not only Inupiaq—one of Alaska’s indigenous peoples—but also a kick-ass bush pilot and a shape-shifter. The book goes straight into the action with Piper flying a client to a remote cabin. Author Jilleen Dolbeare writes about bush flying with obvious authority. And the action never lets up while Piper discovers the mystery behind her existence. This is a fun adventure, and Dolbeare’s writing brought Alaska and its glorious wilderness alive for me. The best part, of course, was learning about Inupiaq folklore. I recommend this book!

Nicholas Cage Is a Hoot in 'Renfield'

I saw the movie Renfield  (2023) last night. The movie’s premise is pretty good, and solid urban fantasy. Count Dracula and his minion Renfield have moved to New Orleans. While Dracula is recovering from his last fight with the Catholic Church and Abraham Van Helsing, Renfield is going to a weekly support group to help him with his unhealthy relationship with the count. At the same time, he continues to supply Dracula with humans. He’s trying to do better by picking only bad dudes. Mayhem ensues, including over-the-top comic gore, when Renfield kills a drug lord’s assassin. Nicholas Hoult was good as Renfield, and Awkwafina was great as the potty-mouthed beat cop who’s trying to take down the drug lord. Nicholas Cage was hilarious as Dracula. The man may be picking some odd roles in his later years, but I have to say he puts his heart and soul into whichever role it is. Kudos. It’s a funny movie, made even funnier by the immortal Nicholas Cage.  One quibble: Anyone with a passing