Sunday, October 27, 2019

Movie Review: The Joker

The Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, is the back-story behind Batman's most infamous adversary before his transformation.  In the movie, Arthur Fleck is a mild-manner working clown who lives with his ailing mother in a run-down apartment.  He sees a state-funded social worker/psychologist and takes seven different kinds of medications.  Co-workers, street kids, and drunken businessmen bully him because he is different.  His most famous mental condition is an uncontrollable laugh that doesn't fit the situation he is in.  He is severely depressed, but has one hope, and that's to become a comedian.
Arthur lives part of the time in a delusional world as he daydreams about acceptance from a TV host and his attractive neighbor.  The help he receives isn't much, but it keeps him productive and nonviolent.  And then the city drops all of its funding for mental health-no more meds and no more therapy sessions.  He also gets fired.  Without ruining the movie, this is when the breaking point occurs, and the rest is comic book history.
My Review: I couldn't help but pity Arthur.  He's an incredibly pathetic character.  But the characters in the movie see him as a receptor to vent out their own insecurities and aggression.  
The first three men Arthur kills were in self-defense (kind of). They were rich and worked for Thomas Wayne.  Their deaths give him a taste of power in an otherwise powerless situation.  As a result, the deaths of the rich men trigger a political movement.  
The city goes into full-blown chaos as the 'Have-Nots' pit themselves against the 'Haves', especially Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father who is also running for mayor. People clad in clown costumes call for revolution.  In the midst of the violence, Bruce Wayne witnesses his parents die.
This movie is brilliant in every way-acting, writing, directing, and more.  I am predicting lots of academy awards (unless the academy is on another social justice kick of who gets to win per their politics).  I not only love the Batman tie-in (huge fan of the Christian Bale's Batman Begins series), but also love the bigger, more uncomfortable messages-lack of funding for the mentally ill, violent vigilantism, revenge, bullying, class warfare, and poverty.  There is plenty of controversy for all.  This is a movie that, like The Dark Knight, should be studied and used within English literature classes.  5 Star No Brainer!
Love to hear your thoughts and views.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

VBT Presents: Annabel Horton and The Black Witch of Pau by Olivia Hardy Ray

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Release Date: Oct. 1, 2019
Publisher: Chattercreek

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Annabel’s husband, who has been missing for years, is finally discovered among the bowels of White Chapel England during the horror of Jack the Ripper. His discovery brings Annabel and her family to the turn of nineteenth-century England hoping to rescue Michele from the Black Witch’s cage. What they discover is that the Black Witch has been forced into an insidious pact with the devil and the devil, with malicious intent, is luring them all into a web of death. Can they escape his grasp?

About the Author

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Olivia Hardy Ray is the pen name for Vera Jane Cook. The Author has published Three fantasy novels as Olivia Hardy Ray and five women’s fiction titles as Vera Jane Cook. The Author is writing a sequel to Pharaoh’s Star called Fox Hollow Road. The author’s women fiction title, Kismet, is due out this winter.

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

VBT Presents: The Winner's Circle by PJ Colando

Book 3 of Faith, Family, Frenzy! series
Commercial Women’s Fiction
Date Published: February 1, 2019
Publisher: Acorn

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Life in rural small town can dull the senses. A trio of gal pals—mired in middle age, Middle America, and other people’s problems—long to escape.

When Bonnie wins the Boffo Lotto, her circle of friends urge her to lawyer up, invest, and sequester herself.

But secrets are inconceivable in small towns, so Bonnie and Carl invite close friends to witness their Vegas wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii with endless vagabond beyond. The sky’s the limit!

The allure of travel is fun for a while—hilarious, in fact. But when the husbands are jailed, wanderlust is no longer a romp and things get complicated when you’re halfway ‘round the world, untethered from all you know and love.

Life has its consequences… and there’s no place like home.

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About the Author

PJ Colando was born and raised in the Midwest, yet aspired for adventure elsewhere, following her parents’ model. She lives in southern California with her family, hobbies, and pets.
PJ writes comedy and satire with a literary bent. She is the author of three previous novels, with short stories, personal essays, and articles published in journals, magazines, and anthologies. Follow her on her blog on her website:

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

VBT Presents: Asylum Road by James L. Weaver


Crime Thriller
Publisher: Lakewater Press
Published Date: October 1, 2019
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A vengeful drug lord. A vicious biker gang. A beautiful victim of a trafficking ring.

Nearly two years ago, former mafia leg-breaker Jake Caldwell had ruthless drug king Shane Langston staring down the wrong end of a pistol. Instead of pulling the trigger, Jake let the law handle it. Now Langston’s escaped from prison and is hell bent on killing the men who put him there—including their families.

As the body count rises, Jake and his best friend Sheriff “Bear” Parley follow the bloody clues and realize it’s not just Shane they need to stop. Jake will do whatever he can to protect the people he loves.

The fourth instalment of the award-winning Jake Caldwell series will have you biting your nails and praying you never have to make the trip to Asylum Road.

About the Author

James L Weaver is the Kansas City author of the Jake Caldwell series, featuring:

·        Poor Boy Road (Jake Caldwell Book #1) – IAN Thriller of the Year finalist,

·        Ares Road (Jake Caldwell Book #2) – New Apple Official Selection for Thrillers and IAN Thriller of the Year finalist

·        Blackbird Road (Jake Caldwell Book #3) – Solo Medalist Winner for the New Apple Book Awards Suspense/Thriller category.

James makes his home in Olathe, Kansas with his wife and two children. His previous publishing credits include a six-part story called “The Nuts” and his 5-star rated debut novel Jack & Diane, which is available on and has been optioned for film.

You can follow him on Twitter @jlweaverbooks or visit his website at

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Saturday, October 12, 2019

VBT Presents: The Cure for Stupidity by Eric M. Bailey

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Date Published: 6/12/19
Publisher: Peacock Proud Press

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Every day you’re driven nuts by the people around you making common sense errors and irrational decisions. Imagine what life would look like if you didn’t have to waste time and energy dealing with stubborn, clueless, argumentative, defensive, or apathetic coworkers! Thank goodness Eric Bailey translates decades of brain science research into every-day language, helping you break through common communication barriers that will improve every relationship in your life. Whether you work in the executive suite or on the front-line, this book will teach you how to cure the stupidity all around you.

About the Author

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Eric M. Bailey is the President of Bailey Strategic Innovation Group, one of the fastest-growing communication consulting firms in the United States. Eric has a diverse set of experiences that includes helping an NFL player pet a rhinoceros, doing barrel rolls in an F-16, and chatting with LL Cool J on the campus of Harvard University.

Eric's unique style blends fact and emotion and finds ways to appeal to analytical thinkers, emotional feelers, and everyone in between. Eric has been featured on Huffington Post, Forbes, the Like a Real Boss Podcast and has helped leaders and teams across North America see common problems from new and different perspectives. Eric works with Google Inc., the US Air Force, Los Angeles County, Phoenix PD and many more.

Eric holds a Master's Degree in Leadership and Organizational Development from Saint Louis University and is a lifetime learner of human and organizational behavior. When not working or researching, you can find Eric and his wife, Jamie racing on their road bikes, being cheered on by their three children.

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Sunday, October 6, 2019

Alien Con Dallas

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending Alien Con.  I bought a one-day pass for myself and my two daughters.  With tax and the service charge, each ticket cost approximately 75.00.  The event took place at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in downtown Dallas.  
My day began at eight in the morning and ended at five.  Every minute was filled with something to do.  The day began with an Alien Con photographer photographing my daughters for the event's social media.  Both girls stood out from the crowd in the morning, wearing tinfoil hats, Roswell shirts, and alien socks.  As the day wore on, other festive guests out-did them in alien-inspired fashion.
One guest looked just like Giorgio Tsoukalos.  He won the costume contest at the end of the day.  Other guests wore tinfoil hats, alien eye headbands, and other martian ensembles.  The friendly crowd was light and humorous, yet filled with intelligence and wonder.  We were all there to learn even more about alien conspiracy.
Our first panel of experts took the main stage and told us all about some of the current events taking place within the alien community.  The guests included Alejandro Rojas (an alien reporter), Caroline Corey (an abducted woman), a lady from Mufon, and Nick Pope.  The once-mocked subject is now taken seriously on mainstream news programs.  
Nick Pope (Ancient Aliens and other alien shows) even brought up his guest appearances on Tucker Carlson, a mainstream Fox News commentator.  During his last TV news guest spot, Nick reported on navy pilots who witnessed and videoed UAPs or Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (the new acronym for UFOs).  For those who don't know Nick Pope's background, he used to work for the U.K. Defense Department before becoming a famous alien expert. I'm guessing the new name change of UAP is an effort to give extraterrestrial spacecraft sightings more credibility.
The next lecture featured science fiction used in movies.  Dr. Jonathan Young (Ancient Aliens) led the discussion and used the movie The Arrival as an example of soft-disclosure.  I stood in line and asked him in the microphone if he believed that Hollywood was doing the government's bidding in breaking it to us gently that we were never alone in the universe or even earth.  He tapped dance around the question by claiming he had no direct knowledge, yet I wondered if he was being sincere.  I still loved the lecture.  He was as intellectual in person as he is on the show.
My daughters and I had a quick lunch and then got in line for the Ancient Alien panel about 5 minutes before it started.  Unfortunately, there were too many people in line and we had to sit that one out.  We hung out in the marketplace and bought some over-priced souvenirs.  My daughters were interviewed for an upcoming documentary.  They were soooooo nice by mentioning me, their favorite writer, and love for aliens.  
We got back in line.  This time early, and saw the panel from Ghost Hunters.  I love the show and was lucky enough to be on Ghost Hunter podcast on two different occasions.  The new season will have a new cast of paranormal experts.  They were bright, funny, and interesting. 

We left the Ghost Hunter forum early to get in line.  It was the last chance of the day for us to see the Ancient Aliens Giorgio Tsoukalos, Jason Martell, and David Childress.  They were my favorite panel, as I knew they would be.  Their moderator asked them questions about the Mayans and South American findings.  All of them agreed that Puma Punku was the smoking gun that proved their ancient alien theory.  At the end of their lecture, guests lined up for questions.  Some of the people were a little out there. Giorgio kept the question line moving.  One guest asked Giorgio if he accepted Christ as his Savior.  He refused to answer, and said something like church and state separation.  On a side note, Giorgio's souvenir stand had a Christmas ornament sale with Joseph, Mary, and a baby alien.  I am not sure what to make of that, but religion was definitely a topic brought up in all of the discussion rooms.
Overall, my only regret was not buying the "Galactic Pass" for all three days.  The pass gave you "cuts" in line as well as access to some of the panels that required additional fees.  I had a mind-blowing experience and really got my money's worth.  My daughters also enjoyed themselves and now love Ancient Aliens.  The crowd was as diverse as it gets-every age and race.  Many were from different parts of Texas and some were even from different states.  One guest who was from Seattle told us he came without a ticket and almost couldn't get in because the event was sold out.  He got lucky because someone who bought a ticket never showed up.  I went to Roswell Fest with my husband three years ago and had a blast.  This was equally entertaining and educational.  
5/5 Stars

Friday, October 4, 2019

VBT Presents: Dark Justice by Angela Smith

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Romantic Suspense / Contemporary Romance
Date Published: September 17, 2019

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She’s in love with her sister’s killer...
Lauren has loved Luke since first grade. They planned to marry—until he murdered her sister. The moment he was sentenced to prison, Lauren fled with her secret baby and made a new life. Now she’ll do anything to keep their daughter safe. But her hard won peace shatters when Luke is exonerated, and it sets her on a path of mixed emotions to discover the truth. Letting a killer into their tightly knit family is out of the question. Or is it?

She almost destroys her life by threatening his…
Prison stole his future with Lauren and twelve years of Luke’s life, so the last thing he needs from her is a knife in the back or a gun in his face. Lauren believes he killed her sister, and he has no plans to pick up where they left off. Luke can’t afford to trust her, but he wants nothing more than to convince her he’s worth fighting for.

Their daughter is in danger…
Luke is heartbroken when he learns they had a child together. Now his daughter is in danger. Lauren trusted the wrong person for far too long, but he hopes she’ll now trust him. Luke will risk everything to keep them safe. And Lauren will risk everything if she lets him into her heart.

About the Author

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Angela Smith is a Texas native who, years ago, was dubbed most likely to write a novel during her senior year in high school. She always had her nose stuck in a book, even hiding them behind her textbooks during school study time. Her dream began at a young age when her sister started reciting 'Brer Rabbit' after their mom read it to them so often. She told her mom she'd write a story one day and never gave up on that dream even though her mom was never able to see it come to fruition. By day, she works as a certified paralegal and office manager at her local District Attorney's office and spends her free time with her husband, their pets, and their many hobbies. Although life in general keeps her very busy, her passion for writing and getting the stories out of her head tends to make her restless if she isn't following what some people call her destiny.

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The Bifurcation of Dungsten Crease

    Science Fiction Date Published: March 15, 2021 Publisher: Del Sol Press In the course of a morning, Dungsten Crease resurrec...