Sunday, February 5, 2023

Movie Review: Plane!



Plane is a 2023 action thriller movie starring Gerard Butler, Tony Goldwyn, Mike Colter, and Paul Ben-Victor. The story starts innocuously enough with commercial Trailblazer Airlines Flight 119 flying from Singapore to Honolulu via Tokyo. Of course, the weather is bad and of course the greedy bosses at the airlines insist the pilot (Butler) fly above the storm to make their destination in time. The plane suffers damage during the storm over the South China Sea, but pilot Brodie Torrance (Butler) ably assisted by his co-pilot Samuel Dele (Yoson An) makes an incredible landing on a seemingly uninhabited island with the loss of only two lives; an air hostess and the RCMP officer who is escorting fugitive Louis Gaspare (Colter) back to face justice. Of course, this is no ordinary island. It is home to a villainous gang that kidnaps foreigners, holds them to ransom to make their origin countries pay, and if not, they are executed. Could it get any worse? Yes! Prepare to perch on the edge of your seat and shovel that popcorn down in handfuls. This is not your usual air crash disaster movie.

I love disaster movies, especially airplane disasters, and I am a big Gerard Butler fan. After all, he has saved the American president thrice from terrorists (Olympus/London/Angel Has Fallen), has steered a nuclear submarine safely through heavily mined Russian waters (Hunter Killer) and saved the world from ecological disaster (Geostorm). When the end of the world comes, I want him on my team. Butler plays Torrance as not quite the anti-hero, but an ordinary man doing everything noble because, as the captain, he is responsible for the lives in his care. He is fighting for the survival of everyone on the plane, including himself. He does this without being schmaltzy or corny. Tony Goldwyn is excellent, as always, as Scarsdale, a former Special Forces officer who swoops in to run point at the airline’s headquarters. Louis Gaspare and Torrance team up to push the rescue mission while waiting for possible help to arrive. It’s a good team and you’ll be rooting for Gaspare to either escape or be vindicated. Surprise factor on that point!

This is an exceptionally good action movie with no soppiness and no long staring into the distance moments. The actual crash and dramatic events come thick and fast and although some elements are a bit far-fetched (the co-pilot manages to revive the electronics), well… who is going to point this it as not being credible. Not me. I’m no pilot. This is a happy ending with everyone, characters and viewers, being scared witless. The one sobering element is that much of the background story is true. Rebels and separatists do kidnap people for ransom; many are executed, and the Philippine government is probably too scared to send in troops without massive international backup. Pretty young women like a few of the characters on the plane would most likely be sold off to the highest bidder, never to be seen again. The suspense is incredible and isn’t that what an action thriller movie aims to achieve? Watch it. You won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget the popcorn. You’re going to need it.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Guest Post: The Impact on Children Through Author Visits to Schools/Libraries by Raven Howell




“In her butterfly net of beguiling rhythm and rhyme, Raven Howell captures the sweet, fleeting moments of childhood. Both you and the little gnome on your lap will love it!”

—Irene O’Garden, poet, author, Off-Broadway playwright

Discover the magic in simple moments when a child peers in the mirror to unintentionally come upon his smile, where kittens nap in boots, fairy hugs feel good, mice delight in reading books, and January snowflakes taste yummy. Twenty whimsical poems warm the heart and inspire cheer; a collection enticing both the young and seasoned reader to explore the enchantment of the wonderful world of poetry.


The Impact on Children Through Author Visits to Schools/Libraries

 “Good morning, everyone! It’s wonderful to be here - thanks for inviting me. My name is Raven Howell and I write children’s stories and poetry....” and off we go. I’ve always enjoyed visiting students and children in classrooms, bookstores, and libraries to share my love of books, and reading and writing.

Involved in the children’s literary community for several decades now, I don’t recall my very first visit to meet with students, but I do know that I’ve never had a visit I didn’t enjoy. I could be presenting in a big school assembly or teaching poetry with four students in attendance in a small enrichment workshop, and still, I always gain new insight, am inspired by the kids themselves, and go home smiling.

What I gain from author visits is important to note because inspiration runs both ways. As you give, you get. That may not be apparent in the moment, and on several author visits, a child may seem completely bored, looking out the window, or maybe is disagreeable on some level. Yet, inevitably, the teacher will contact me afterwards and say something like, “Caleb always has a hard time focusing, but after you left, he wrote a poem about baseball and even drew a picture to go along with it! We have a hard time getting him to write anything, so thank you!”

Poetry tends to strike a chord or ring a bell inside one’s heart. Because of poetic rhythm, rhyming, wording, and expression, it can communicate a message like no other art form. And for children, who are full of questions (“Mom, why is the sky blue?”), poetry can address questions and make the questioner see things a different way. It’s an incredibly powerful medium for anyone of any age. Teaching even the youngest students how to read, listen to, be inspired by, and then attempt to write their own poetry or story may lead to anything from self-expression, processing emotions, to improving literacy and even epiphany.

Children want to explore. Children want to explore what’s beautiful in their world, and a good story or poem is the perfect pathway. This aesthetic is the inspiration behind my new picture poetry book, The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. If you’re a children’s author and have any doubts or self-consciousness about a school visit, please know the kids would love to hear “your story”, you’ll both be linking together in some form of enlightenment AND, you’ll have fun doing it!

Here With You

 Hop the rocks

Across the stream

Where tall trees whisper

Forest dream.

 

Skip the path

Where our hearts sing,

Let bright sun shine

On Robin’s wing.

 

Glad to be

Out here with you

Where grass is green

And sky is blue.

From The 20 Little Poems from 20 Little Gnomes written by Raven Howell © 2022 Handersen Publishing. Available on Amazon.

 


Raven Howell is an award-winning author and poet of several children's picture books. Her poems appear in children's magazines such as Cricket, Highlights for Children, HighFive, Ladybug, Jack and Jill, and Fun for Kids. She enjoys presenting children’s writing workshops, visiting libraries and schools, and serves as Creative and Publishing Advisor for RedClover Reader. Raven writes a column for Story Monsters Ink magazine, The Book Bug.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Book Spotlight: Whispering Through Water by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler


This coming-of-age story follows Gwyn Madison, the summer after her high school graduation, as she grapples with her fast-approaching future. She’ll have to face more than she bargained for with her Aunt Delia, the family matriarch, who holds the purse strings and the final word.  In the meantime, Gwyn stumbles upon a tightly held family secret. Could a mysterious letter provide Gwyn the leverage she desires? Will it only bring more family division? Or, maybe, the past was never meant to stay buried after all. Whispering Through Water navigates family dynamics, young love, and female autonomy with a little 1990s nostalgia. Purchase a copy of Whispering Through Water on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

 


About the Author: Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler was raised in West Point, a small town in the Tidewater region of Virginia. From the moment she submitted her first short story to a young author’s contest in second grade, Rebecca knew she wanted to be a writer. Her love of writing led her to earn a BA in English and an MEd in English education. She spent several years as a high school teacher, during which she also developed a passion for mental health advocacy. Rebecca completed an MA in professional counseling and now works in the school-based mental health field and as a college adjunct psychology instructor. Rebecca also teaches yoga for the young and the young at heart, and she likes to infuse yoga and breathwork in her counseling practice wherever she can. She believes the most valuable use of her time is teaching youth how to love and care for each other and the world around them. Her stories share her focus on positive relationships and a love of nature. Rebecca now lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, two children, and two spoiled Siamese cats. Whispering Through Water is her first YA novel and second book. Her picture book When Daddy Shows Me the Sky was released November 2021. You can follow Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccawwheeler_author and www.rebeccawwheeler.com. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

The Top 10 things you may not know about Sean Keefer, author of The Code


It should have been an otherwise uneventful Sunday morning for Charleston attorney Noah Parks. Perhaps a trip to the beach or a run with his new Australian Shepherd, Austin. But with a cryptic voicemail, everything changes. A client has vanished, leaving nothing behind as a clue to where he may be. Neither his family, friends, nor neighbors are able to provide help.” Turning to his friend Emmett Gabriel, Charleston’s newest police detective, Parks can only watch as what started with a simple voicemail takes on a sinister life of its own. Parks soon finds himself entangled in an affair that spans centuries, going back to the time of Charleston’s birth. With a focus on learning his client’s fate, Parks will soon find himself facing a mystery that will not only be a test of his wits but leaves him challenged in ways he never imagined. Facing down twists, turns, betrayals, and traditions of honor, will he break The Code? 

The Top 10 things you may not know about Sean Keefer

Being a writer is about a lot more than just writing. Much goes into the process, but not all ends up on the page, though many different factors influence the final product. I wanted to talk about the top 10 things that not everyone knows about me, many of which have a decided impact on my writing. Other? Not so much, but I thought I would share, nevertheless.

1 - Though I ended up practicing law as a profession, that was not my initial plan. In high school, I was very involved in student media. When I started college, my first major was computer science, but, well, because of math, that just didn’t work out. I bounced around for a bit and ended up studying journalism with a concentration in photojournalism. While I ended up in law school, even today, I spend a great deal of time behind the camera.

2 - I have found I have a great love of writing and intend to keep writing Noah Parks books (and maybe delving into some other non-Noah storylines), but folks who have known me for a while, were surprised when my first book was released. They thought it would be an album. While I had dabbled in writing on and off in a sporadic fashion, I had been a musician since high school. So, while everyone had been waiting on an album, a book appeared. Then another. But not to worry, while The Code was delayed a bit as a result, during the delay, I recorded my first two EPs of original music.

3 - Much like writing, there are a few things that I never planned to do. Cooking is one of these things. I’ve been lucky to have made several friends in the restaurant business, among them some incredible chefs. The more I learned, the more I realized I was fascinated by the art and science of cooking. As a result, I love to spend time in the kitchen. Through my writing, I try to convey some of that love with details about meals or various kinds of food, and, well, drink. Who knows, maybe there will be a Noah Parks cookbook in the future. 

4 - Growing up on the coast of South Carolina, water sports are just a way of life. While I love the water, I’ve never gotten into boating. Not that I don’t enjoy every opportunity I get to be on a boat, I’ve just never owned my own boat. That is partly because as much as I realized how much I loved being on the water, my true love was being under the water scuba diving. 

5 - Never being one to rest with just one, multiple dogs have been a reality for the majority of my adult life. Presently, there are four dogs (Australian Shepherds) in the picture ranging from the age of, at the time of this writing, four months to 14 years. Oh, and there is also a horse that is, after all, just a pasture puppy. 

6 - Not being content to write fiction, I decided to try my hand at non-fiction. The result was a book published by the South Carolina Bar Association titled Mediation in the Family Courts of South Carolina. This, of course, begs the question: How many readers have all three of the Noah Parks books and the mediation book?  

7 - While this point is related to cooking, I decided to delve into hot sauce making based on a conversation I had with a friend a little over two years ago. From planting pepper plants to fermenting to even putting the finished product in woozy bottles (yes, that’s what those little bottles are called), it’s been a fun diversion, and the final product has been rather enjoyable. To date, there are 9 versions.

8 - Years ago, Apple had a slogan for their app store when the first iPhone came out. “Yeah, there’s an app for that.” One day, I went to the app store to get an app I needed. Much to my surprise, I found out when Apple said there was an app for that; well, that was a somewhat fluid term - meaning there was no app for what I needed. So, I designed and marketed my own app.

9 - Somewhere in my DNA, there is a gene; I’ve come to call it the collector’s gene. I’m pretty sure it is not far from a hoarding gene if that is a thing, but I curate several collections. Most notable, besides guitars, would be signed baseballs. 

10 - I just love the X Files.


 

Sean Keefer is the award-winning author of three legal thrillers, The Trust, The Solicitor, and The Code, all set in and around coastal South Carolina. He is also the author of Mediation in the Family Courts of South Carolina, a legal treatise on family law mediation. He lives and writes in Charleston, South Carolina. In addition to his writing, Sean is a recording and performing guitarist/singer/songwriter of Americana and Alt-Country music. Watch him sing Carolina Sunset which was inspired by his latest book, The Code. Listen here! For more information about his writing and music, visit SeanKeefer.com and ADogNamedBear.com. Follow him on Facebook @theNoahParksMysterySeries and @SeanKeeferMusic. Follow him on Instagram @NoahParksMysteries and @1ADogNamedBear1

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