Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Second Huntsman Movie Better than the First (Despite Critic Hate)

Rating: 3.5/5 stars, maybe even 4 if I’m feeling generous and not currently letting negative bias affect my judgment. (I’m going with amazon like ratings because that’s what I’m used to.)

Summary: It’s all about expectations. Given the absolutely horrific ratings Rotten Tomato gave Huntsman: Winter’s War, I didn’t expect it to be a masterpiece.

Random Comments:

- For an all-star cast, the acting’s just all right. Then again, consider that the roles don’t exactly demand an Oscar worthy performance.

- Story (4/5) – This was one complaint I read from critics I don’t agree with. It’s a fairy tale, it’s not meant to make a whole heap of sense. There’s a general plot with simplistic devices. The “twists and turns” can be seen from 9-miles out, but they’re still satisfying, that’s what counts.

- Character Development – Classic case of too much power corrupting. People have done worse things in the name of power in the real world, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the look at the good guys and bad guys isn’t always crystal clear.

- Humor – Some timely things and a few decent lines, but the whole he-dwarf, she-dwarf thing fell on its face.

- Plot (3/5) – Several key pieces of the plot are rather convenient (timely rescues, falling into traps that end up adding to the party, etc) that make one think more of a video game than a movie. It might be slightly lazy writing-wise, but it’s functional.

- Casting (4/5 stars) – Charilze Theron and Emily Blunt both do crazy queen pretty well. Jessica Chastain does the action scenes very well. She pulls off the medieval look well. Chris Hemsworth is, of course, the reason half the people are seeing the movie anyway. On the plus side, not much but brief references to Snow White.

- Key question: Was I entertained? Yes. Would I buy the bluray to play on loop or see in the theaters 14 times? No. But I was still entertained for the 2 hrs I paid $6.00 for a movie ticket. Good enough.

Conclusion: I can see why 51% of the audience liked it and 49% didn’t. Keep your expectations realistic and you’ll probably find yourself entertained.

Interview with Olivia Wildenstein

1) If your book was a movie, who would play your characters?

You mean when my book is a movie. ;)

Of course.

Aster & Ivy would be played by beautiful Chaley Rose from Nashville. Brook would be played by the hottie in Chasing Life, Richard Brancatisino. Chase would be played by the Vampire Diaries’ Malachai Parker and Josh by Zach Roerig from the same show. Dominic would be George Clooney (duh!) and I had Cate Blanchett in mind for Josephine.

I’ve thought this through just a tiny bit. 

Of course. Have you heard of ? You should try it. I think you'd enjoy it.

2) If your book was a song, which one would it be?

I love this question as I always write to music. I build a new playlist for each one of my books on Spotify. Right now, as I write the sequel to the Masterpiecers, I’ve started a playlist called MASTERFUL.

But back to The Masterpiecers. If I were to choose just one song to epitomize my story, it would be We Remain from Christina Aguilera.

3) Places that inspired you?

The museums I was dragged to as a kid—and which I’m now dragging my own kids too—and my home. I grew up in the art world, surrounded by breathtaking masterpieces. So I just had to write about art.

4) Who’s your favorite character in the book?

Hands down, Aster. She means so well and is so selfless.

5) Literary boyfriend? (perhaps a character from the book ?)

I create a new one for myself each time I write a book. Thus, I write many books. Kidding aside, the character who’s made my heart beat the most—but not in a romantic way—is Duke from my first novel, Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti.

6) Teaser for book 2?

The second and final episode in the Masterful series is coming this fall. It will be titled The Masterminds. Instead of Aster & Ivy narrating the story, there will be two spanking new narrators…drumroll…Brook & Josh. You’ll get to see their sides of the same story, like in the TV show The Affair; you’ll get that stop-your- breath plot twist you were waiting for in book 1; and last but not least, you’ll get your no-more- loose-ends ending!

Now, I must go back to writing it…

Enjoy The Masterpiecers, and tell me, either in an email or in a review, what you thought about my novel. I read all my reviews. Excellent or terrible, they are indispensable nuggets of truths that make me a better author.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.


Nineteen-year- old Ivy Redd’s talent with a needle and thread has earned her a spot on a coveted reality TV art competition set in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The prize: a significant amount of money and instant acceptance into the Masterpiecers, the school that ensures new artists fame and fortune. Her talent has also thrust her and her twin sister, Aster, into the spotlight.

Not that Aster needed help with becoming a media favorite. She managed that on her own by running over a wanted Mafioso. She told the police it was self-defense, because she couldn’t tell them the truth—the truth would make her sister look bad. Locked in an Indiana jail to await her trial, Aster watches Ivy on the small TV hanging in the dayroom. It’s the highlight of her day, until she finds out what her sister truly thinks of her. Then, observing her sister becomes a punishment far crueler than imprisonment.


Olivia Wildenstein grew up in New York City, the daughter of a French father with a great sense of humor, and a Swedish mother whom she speaks to at least three times a day. She chose Brown University to complete her undergraduate studies and earned a bachelor’s in comparative literature. After designing jewelry for a few years, Wildenstein traded in her tools for a laptop computer and a very comfortable chair. This line of work made more sense, considering her college degree.

When she’s not writing, she’s psychoanalyzing everyone she meets (Yes. Everyone), eavesdropping on conversations to gather material for her next book, baking up a storm (that she actually eats), going to the gym (because she eats), and attempting not to be late at her children’s school (like she is 4 out of 5 mornings, on good weeks). Wildenstein lives with her husband and three children in Geneva, Switzerland, where she’s an active member of the writing community.

Book links

Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti

The Masterpiecers

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Meet Fantasy Author Chris Morgan - Interview

Meet a Fantasy author from Australia ;-)

Hi, Chris, please take a moment to introduce yourself. What kind of things do you write?

Hi. I’m Chris, the author of the Portallas Fantasy/Adventure series of YA books. I’m from the UK originally, but have lived in various countries and have most recently made a home for myself here in Melbourne, Australia. The first book in the Portallas series is Forestium: The mirror never lies, and it’s my first foray into the world of serious fiction writing. I’ve written things like travel journals previously but have never tried on a full-blown work of fiction until now. So far, I’ve really enjoyed it and am well into book 2 in the Portallas series.

Congrats on the series.

What's the most exciting thing that's happened to you in the writing world? How about the real world?

In the writing world, the most exciting thing for me has been to see my first book published. In the real world, it’s a bit harder to answer, since I’ve led a fairly interesting life full of exciting things. I’ve traveled extensively and lived in multiple countries. During my travels, I’ve had several near death experiences, for example. I’ve experienced some of the most wonderful things the world has to offer, ranging from the Great Pyramids of Egypt to Fish River Canyon in Namibia, from the glaciers of New Zealand to the splendid isolation of Easter Island, from the castles and ruins of Western Europe to the majesty of Uluru in the middle of Australia.

What got you into writing?

Despite not enjoying writing at school, I’ve developed a love for the written word over the years. Whilst backpacking around the world with my wife, I would spent an hour or two every night writing up a travel journal of the days events. I found that I had developed quite a following of people that were really enjoying the writing. It was until quite recently, some 10 years after our travels had finished, that I thought I’d turn my hand to writing a piece of fiction.

Ha. I didn't like school writing either. I think part of my fiction writing sprang from a rebellion against the idea of dissecting every little bit of a story.

Do you believe in writer's block? What do you do if you encounter it?

Yes. In fact, I’ve had it several times already and I’m in the middle of another one at the moment. I find that inspiration will hit me very suddenly and I’ll just grab the laptop and start writing again.

Better keep the laptop handy then.

What's your current favorite book?

I don’t really have a current favourite. I’ve spent so much time in recent weeks and months publishing and promoting Forestium: The mirror never lies, that I’ve not really had much opportunity to sit and read something just for fun.

Sad but true. I've done little pleasure reading of late either, so I can relate to that.

Do the movies you watch go along with the things you read or are they completely different?

Actually, I don’t think they do. The movies I tend to watch are either comedy or block-buster action flicks. For books, I enjoy a good fantasy.

Do you have any links you'd like to share with us in case we'd like to get to know you better?

Series website:


Chris's blog:

Goodreads author pg:

Goodreads series pg:

Thanks for sharing a little about yourself, Chris.