Intrigue and Multiverse Adventure | Alternate: A Jimmy Ray Journey Review

I was provided a free review copy of Alternate: A Jimmy Ray Journey by the author.

There may be spoilers ahead!

Jimmy Ray, a seemingly ordinary man with an ordinary life, finds himself on an extraordinary adventure in Alternate: A Jimmy Ray Journey by Christopher James Buxton (narrated by Mark Delgado).

The story about an average man who is recruited to become a member of an organization that travels to other realities seemed typical. Jimmy Ray has always been average, but he learns that his DNA allows him to reality hop. Not only that, but his DNA is even more special.

The plot seemed like the typical average person is really the Chosen One trope. In fact, on the surface the story seemed to be quite average. But, it was the stuff below the surface that made Alternate interesting. For instance, why is Jimmy Ray’s DNA so different? Is he an alien? Is he from another reality? Also, the boss of Alternate seems to be up to something. Everyone from Alternate co-workers to Jimmy say Martin is up to something. The story’s narrator even mentions his odd behavior. But right when you think Martin is going to reveal his true nature, his odd behavior is explained away… at least until the next time.

Buxton does an excellent job of providing red herrings and leaving you questioning everything. You even begin questioning if the apparent bad guys are even bad guys; at one point they seem to be trying to help Jimmy and Cia.

I did, however, notice some problems with the audiobook recording. There were times when the narration repeated a couple words as if there had been a second take that wasn’t edited out. But, Delgado’s expert narration made the small mistakes virtually unnoticeable. Delgado was great at voice acting; each character had their own voice and Delgado stuck with it.

Finally, Buxton’s descriptions of action and location made each scene feel alive.

It may take you a moment to warm-up to it, but Alternate: A Jimmy Ray Journey is an excellent story for fans of intrigue and multiverse adventure. 

Alternate: A Jimmy Ray Journey is available at Amazon as a Kindle book, Audible audiobook, and paperback. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!


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Flintstones Evolution and Hexagon Issue 3 | Rapid Reviews

Evolution of THE FLINTSTONES Over 60 Years (1960-2020) Explained by Dave Lee Down Under (YouTube)

Once again, Dave Lee delivers an excellent Cartoon Evolution video. The voice over was well done; I could understand each word he said.

I enjoyed the transitions/pacing. It was not 40 minutes of him talking nonstop; he took short breaks for clips—it broke up the video well. The editing was great. It felt fluid and professional. There were no awkward jerks or cuts.

However, I felt like I didn’t learn as much in this episode as others. It seemed like there wasn’t as much behind the scenes or origin information.

But, I loved how the video was at times synced to what Lee was saying. For example, while Lee spoke about how much the live-action Flintstones movie made, a clip of Fred Flintstone fantasizing about making lots of money played.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


HEXAGON #3 by Michael Moreci (Author) and Jheremy Raapack (Illustrator) (Impact Theory Comics)

The various covers for HEXAGON #3 was the first thing to make me go “oooh…” It just continued from there.

The artwork continues to impress me as does the pacing and writing. The artists, writers, and editors know exactly when to pull a panel out or zoom in on a character. I really enjoy the lighting style; it makes it look like everyone is being lit by a stage spotlight. The lighting adds to the 80s feel and to the feel of music being an important part of the story.

I didn’t feel as rushed with this issue. It felt like I got to take a break from the action and mystery of the previous issues and catch my breath but that does not mean the story was slow or boring. The first issue was the origin—setting up everything; the second introduced the mystery and conflict (i.e. the story “started”); and the third felt like a catch up/rest period.

My main concern with this issue was Don’s friends didn’t go with him (so far). I hope we get to see more of them, especially seeing their reactions when they find out the truth about Don’s background. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Do you have any books, games, or movies to recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Until the next wormhole..thanks for reading!


Do you like sci-fi and fantasy? Hungry for adventure?

From July 1-31, many of my books will be on sale during the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale. The participating books will be anywhere from 25% to 100% off. While there, check out some of the other participating authors.

Amphibia and More | Rapid Reviews

Amphibia (Disney Channel, Disney+)

I wasn’t interested with the show about a girl who is transported to another world; there seems to be a lot of those “in another realm” series out there lately. 

I finally gave it a change thanks to a video by Vailskibum97 (and the fact there wasn’t much else on). I ended up watching the whole first season in about three days. 

I was a bit worried while watching the first episode. The animation seemed too “loose” and the characters’ reactions seemed too goofy or over-the-top. But, I continued to keep an open mind and soon found the animation to not be so wild. It was still pretty out there, but not as bad.

Plus, you gotta love all the pop culture references and jokes, like the blue shell during the race in the “Bizarre Bazaar” episode.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Codex of Tyler Grayson: Creatures Among Us by Richard Gibbard (book)

A story about people who are writing a book (or codex) about monsters, demons, and such was intriguing. It seemed like a nice twist on the monster hunter trope where the hunter already has all the information or is just a noob. In The Codex of Tyler Grayson we see the manual being made. 

But, what I really enjoyed is how well the author showed the readers the characters’ personalities without telling us. I was able to get an idea of who the characters were many times before even meeting them. The way the characters were described or how others reacted to them told much about the character before they even opened their mouth. I knew much about Tyler and his friends chapters before they even arrived.

Finally, I was able to learn about the world and the story’s rules pretty quickly. Within the first few chapters, I knew about the Scribes and the Codex. I knew that there was magic, and it was hidden from the rest of the world.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Are there any books, movies, or games you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments section. And don’t forget to like, follow, and share.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!


Do you like sci-fi and fantasy? Hungry for adventure?

From July 1-31, many of my books will be on sale during the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale. The participating books will be anywhere from 25% to 100% off. While there, check out some of the other participating authors.

What Makes a Good TMNT Movie

In a couple of videos by The Old Turtle Den, they talked about the new Ninja Turtle reboot movie. They asked what we’d like to see from it. Do we want an origin story or a story involving experienced Ninja Turtles? The question got me thinking about why I like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the first place.

When I was younger and watched the original TMNT, I wanted them to have superpowers or dive into the mystic/paranormal. But as time went on and I saw other action-adventure fantasy shows, I did not want the Turtles to have mystic abilities. I liked the fact that they battled big threats with swords and staffs.

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They were ninjas; it didn’t make sense for them to have advanced weapons. It gave the show a feeling of “with teamwork you could do anything.” You didn’t need to rely on superpowers or awesome machines to reach your goals.

I do think the Turtles should be stronger, faster, and more durable than normal humans–they are mutants–but not to the extent seen in the Michael Bay films where they were bulletproof and could throw around shipping containers. The Turtles should more dependent on their ninja skills/intelligence with the mutant side being more of an explanation as to why they can survive fights (or why turtles can move that fast).

Personally, I like that Splinter was human then become a rat. First, it helps explain the rules of the mutagen (i.e. you mix with the last animal you were in contact with–man mixed with rats or turtles mixed with man). Second, Hamoto Yoshi was in exile…for different reasons depending on the version. He is than further exiled by becoming a rat. It just added depth to the character–not only is he an outsider coming from Japan, but now he’s an animal most people think of as disgusting. It reinforces the theme of being different, not being able to be part of humanity. Splinter and the Turtles have to remain hidden not because they’re ninjas, but because they’re strange beings.

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Finally, I enjoy how the Turtles’ weapons reflect their personalities. 

Leonardo is the leader (in most versions). When we think of swords/katanas, we think of discipline and elegance or agility.

The sword is usually the first older (or low-tech) weapon people think of–it is the leader. 

Raphael has the sai. He has to get in close in order to attack (or he can throw a sai). Raphael is the brawler Turtle with a temper. He prefers to attack at very close range.

Donatello is smart and inventive. He would rather spend his time creating. It makes sense that he would attack from a distance, even further than the other Turtles. Raph’s sai can be thrown, but what good is it then; this is an intimidation technique. Donnie’s staff can be used from a distance and remain effective. Donnie is a thinker, not a fighter. I also find it ironic that the group’s inventor would have “a stick” as his weapon. This goes further into Donnie’s personality as an inventor who’s inventions sometimes don’t work out as planned; he’s smart but at times can still be silly or inexperienced. 

Michelangelo is the party dude, and the nunchaku seemed to be seen by as flashy or showy (yet still deadly). They seem to be the weapon people make the most jokes about, such as someone hitting themselves with the nunchaku. Also, people seem to think of the nunchaku as the simplest weapon or easiest to learn when in fact they are more complex. The audience, as well as the other Turtles, see Mikey as the youngest or least complex of the characters; he’s the pizza-loving, surfer dude, but maybe there’s more to him. There have been times when he’s proven to be knowledgeable with it comes to paranormal events, or when it comes time to think outside of the box.

While I prefer a non-origin story for the reboot, I hope the creators keep to the heart of the Ninja Turtles…a little serious but also not so much. They are ninjas and ninjas are assassins, but they’re also teenagers and mutant turtles. You just got to love the juxtaposition of silent, skillful ninjas and not so quiet teens.

What are your thoughts on the TMNT reboot? Who’s your favorite character, hero or otherwise? Let me know in the comments section.

Don’t forget to like, share, and follow.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!

#Hamilton and More | Rapid Reviews

Hamilton (Disney+)

Can you call it a musical when 99 percent is singing? Or is it borderline opera? There’s a funny thought after seeing Jefferson and Hamilton engage in a rap battle: opera.

It was a bit harder to keep an open mind regarding a musical about Alexander Hamilton’s life. The hype was real; it was off the charts. Everyone talked about the play and how wonderful it was. I felt like nothing short of the players coming on stage and telling the world how to cure cancer was going to be “wow” enough. But, as the play progressed, I found myself enjoying it more and more. By the end, I was invested.

The singing was wonderful. I loved how they used the company players/background players as “special effects,” such as acting like a hurricane or rewinding time.

It was a little hard to get the jokes at first. The singing–especially the rap songs–went too fast and all I could hear was “blah, blah, blah-blah…*laughter*.” I felt like, “What did I just miss?” It made the experience less enjoyable to feel left out. Other times, I could understand them, but they would move on to the next lines so quickly I didn’t have time to process the joke.

Speaking of enunciation, the players, for the most part, enunciated the lyrics well. I could tell they had experience projecting for a theater crowd. However, there were times when it seemed like they muttered or sang fast.

The lighting was also well done and everyone hit their marks and cues, as far as I know. You know the old theater saying, “If you make a mistake, act like you didn’t…the audience will never know.” The whole performance seemed fluid.

Finally, I enjoyed how the singers fluctuated their voices so you could tell when they were sad, scared, or happy. Their acting ability came through their singing, which can be hard to do sometimes. (I also enjoyed the few times they broke the fourth wall by addressing the audience or acknowledging that a sad scene had just occurred.) 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Breaking Free by Caleb Monroe (book)

The story about a man and his griffin was immediately captivating. The way Monroe described the storm made me feel like I was there with Jacob. The way Monroe described Jacob’s mental issues made me feel Jacob’s pain; I felt as if I were in his shoes. I felt each bout of anxiety.

The book did have typos and missing words here and there but not enough that I couldn’t figure out the story. Also, I felt like I couldn’t get a completely clear picture of what Jacob looked like. I could piece together an image from his actions, like brushing his hair back, but it felt fuzzy.

I really enjoyed that the book seemed to be meant for teens, or older teens, yet the main character was in his 20s. The book had the style and language of a book targeted for a mid to late teen audience. Normally, a teen story will focus on teenage characters. The book could be classified as new adult, but it seemed to miss the more mature language, violence, and themes new adult fiction might contain–except for Jacob having a mental illness. This twist in the classification of genre made the story even more intriguing, though confusing at first when I tried to figure out Jacob’s age. It took me a few chapters to realize he was an adult.

Finally, it didn’t seem like there were large sections of boring material, or large areas of endless exposition. Any exposition seemed to flow right in line with the story. Near the end, I did start to feel tired and wanted to finish, but that is more because I was almost done reading and I wanted to finish than anything to do with the story.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Do you have any movies, books, or games to recommend? Let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to like, follow, and share.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!


Do you like sci-fi and fantasy? Hungry for adventure?

From July 1-31, many of my books will be on sale during the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale. The participating books will be anywhere from 25% to 100% off. While there, check out some of the other participating authors.

Feeling Lonely | Minecraft Dungeons Review

Blitzwinger
UnlimitedMagic

A recurring gag during a recent Minecraft Dungeons livestream by Blitzwinger was the “Feeling Lonely? Teleport to a Friend” dialogue box. The box would appear every time Blizwinger and UnlimitedMagic separated, even briefly. The joke gave me an idea for a parody on the song “Mr. Lonely” by Bobby Vinton.

Lonely, feeling lonely?
My party is on their own.
Feeling lonely?
Press F1 to teleport.
Wish I had someone to message on Discord.

(I know it’s bad, but it’s still funny…or cringey.)

What I’ve seen of Minecraft Dungeons, it looks pretty good. I don’t think it is groundbreaking; I’ve seen other dungeon crawlers. But, I do like the simplicity of it. It doesn’t seem like a game that takes hours to master. I think most people will be able to catch on quickly, even if they’ve never played a dungeon crawler or Minecraft.

I also enjoyed how the game continued in the tradition of allowing you to craft your own lore. Just like the OG Minecraft, you are given just enough to make your own theories and stories about Minecraft. That is what I like about Minecraft; there is no official lore–my story is just as valid as anyone else’s. Not only do you craft in the game, but you craft the lore.

Granted, there is a little more lore in Dungeons, you are told the Arch-Illager was exiled, but you aren’t told why, as far as I know at this point. You aren’t told where the Orb of Obedience came from (I think). you can still fit it into the universe of Minecraft; it doesn’t necessarily have to be some parallel world. Maybe the events of Dungeons takes place before Minecraft proper or maybe after.

It is kind of odd coming from the world of Minecraft where you can do just about anything you want to a more restrictive world like Dungeons. You can’t mine or craft; and as far as I know, you can’t create your own avatar–you can only chose the ones unlocked.

I do, however, like the ability to choose your difficulty level on every level. You can adjust the level according to your needs; you don’t need to constantly return to a menu screen. The limited number of respawns adds to the stress of the game. Knowing that you have a limited number of tries can push you and make the game more challenging.

Minecraft Dungeons is a nice prototype showing that Minecraft can be more than just a sandbox survival game. It can fit into other genres. The developers did an excellent job of bringing some freshness to Minecraft while staying true to what made it unique to begin with–somewhat; it is still weird that you don’t mine or craft in the Dungeons game. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!

Playing with the WordPress Ratings Block

So, WordPress added a star rating block to their editor. 

Time to test it out.

Disney’s Sorcerer’s Arena 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Scoob!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Minecraft Dungeons

MKIceAndFire

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My hype for the 1990’s TMNT cast reunion/30 year celebration

Rating: 5 out of 5.

NASA discovering a parallel world

IGN

Rating: 7 out of 7.

Finding out that NASA really hadn’t discovered a parallel world

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Skitter Comics is no longer locked/banned by Twitter

Rating: 4 out of 5.

COVID-19

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

You going to Smashwords and purchasing one (or more) of my books during the Authors Give Back Sale (ends May 31)

Rating: 10 out of 10.

That was fun; it’ll make doing reviews easier. It’d be nice if it could allow the reader to rank things, such as the post itself–but I guess that’s what likes and comments are for.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!

Rapid Reviews: Google Stadia and More

Google Stadia Pro 

Not long ago, Google announced that newcomers to their video game streaming service, Stadia, could receive two months of Pro membership for free. I tried it out and it was an adventure.

It took me hours to sign up because it was a little confusing on what I needed to do and what equipment I’d need. One article sounded like I needed the $130 Founder’s package while another said Stadia was free. Another article would say that Stadia worked on everything, yet another would say it didn’t work on iOS systems. I went to the sign-up page; it said I needed to download he app; I downloaded the app and it asked for my activation code. “I never got an activation code,” I said.

I ended up nearly quitting many times before I finally found the FAQ page and learned that I could use Stadia if I had a computer with Chrome. OK, I have Chrome and the right version, but it is on my Surface. Could a Surface handle Stadia? Also, I didn’t want to deal with using W, S. D, A keys to play. There were many articles stating Stadia was compatible with many game controllers. I finally found the list of controllers it worked with.

Thankfully, I finally got my account set up. I was also able to connect my controller. Seemed like I was ready. Now, I just needed to see how Stadia would react with my Surface.

It worked well. 

I don’t have the best Internet or the best computer, yet I found Stadia to work well. It didn’t lag; I could get into the games with ease; and the graphics looked as good as any console. The images were sharp and bright. I pressed the left stick and the character moved immediately. I seriously thought about using Stadia for all my gaming needs. According to Google, there is no need to get a new console nor do you need to wait for downloads or updates.

I then had some problems purchasing games. Unless I was on an Android device, I couldn’t use Google gift cards. I also couldn’t use Paypal unless I was on Android. All I could use was a credit card; not a big issue but very limiting. On PlayStation I can add to my wallet through Paypal (or credit card) or I can use gift cards. Also, Google has said that with Stadia you can play anywhere. That’s true, as long as you have an Android. Right now, you can’t use the iOS app to play games…or buy them. Google has stated that they are working on this shortcoming.

If Google ever does work it out so that I can buy games via Paypal on my computer or use gift cards (on something other than Android only) or make it so I can purchase games through the Apple app, I just might not need an Xbox or PlayStation. Instead of spending money on a $399 or more console–that you have to update every five-ish years–I’d put money towards the $130 Stadia package where I can get a controller and plugin so that I can play on my TV. Hopefully, on my TV…I’ve heard from some that not all TVs work; yet another issue for Google to work out.


Disney Sorcerer’s Arena by Glu Games Inc

I ended up liking the mobile game right away, and it wasn’t solely because they had Ian and Barley from Onward as unlockable characters. The art style was refreshing. It kind of made the characters look…mystical, like they were part of some artwork that you’d see in a magic school. 

I also liked that I could control the characters. I’ve played the Disney Heroes Battle Mode game. I like the game, but you don’t get to play as the characters. The game is 99 percent auto-play. What’s the point of having Goofy, Darkwing Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Baymax, and Stitch on a team if you can’t play as them?

What I like about Disney Heroes Battle Mode over Sorcerer’s Arena is that Sorcerer’s Arena really plays the in-app purchases game. Every five seconds is an ad. They’ve also really *cough* rigged *cough* the game in a way that you want to pay for diamonds so you can unlock characters. They also have a season pass program. Finally, unlocking characters is a little harder in Sorcerer’s Arena. When I was playing Battle Mode, I’d unlock a couple characters a week without having to spend money and/or very few diamonds (which I didn’t have to pay money for); in Sorcerer’s Arena, I feel like it takes me weeks to just unlock a one star character.

But, a Disney crossover game where you actually get to play as the characters is hard to pass up. Also, the many limited events, such as the current (as of this writing) Toy Story event, makes it feel like there is always something to do. The events also allow you to get character tokens for some of the more difficult to obtain characters.

What are some of your favorite mobile games? Let me know in the comments section.

Until next wormhole…thanks for reading! (and wash your hands–even when the lockdown is lifted)


Good news! The Smashwords Authors Give Back Sale has been extended to May 31! 

You have another chance to buy The Beast of Camp TimberWolf, Gift of the Minion, and now Who Pranked JR for 60% off!

Rapid Reviews: Tower of God and More

PlayStation Play at Home Initiative 

From April 15-May 5 everyone with a PlayStation can download and keep Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey for free. 

It was pretty nice to return to the Uncharted series. I’d bought the collection when it first came out (or soon after), but ended up trading it in because I needed the money for another game. I am also terrible at shooter games and got frustrated within the first few chapters. Fortunately, I started playing Fortnite and got “better” at shooter games. Now, I can actually make it through multiple gun battles before dying. (Usually, I only die because I threw the grenade at my feet or because I missed a platforming jump.)

As for Journey, I haven’t had much time to play it; but from what what I’ve seen, it does live up to the hype. The game is pretty amazing. It is hard not to just sit and enjoy the scenery. It did take me awhile to figure out what was going on–controller and story plot-wise. There isn’t much in the way of a tutorial. Also, a clone of my character appeared out of nowhere and started moving around. I’m guessing it is some kind of online feature showing me other players, but it was still very confusing. But, I still enjoy the serenity of the game. I feel like I could find the soundtrack and mediate to it or have it play in the background. I also wouldn’t mind having a few screenshots for desktop images. Finally, I enjoyed the fluidity of the controls. It made it feel like my character was gliding at times.


Tower of God by SIU 

Unfortunately, I can’t watch The Tower of God on Crunchyroll because of a lack of subscription, but I can read the comic on Webtoons, so I can’t say much about the cartoon. As for the comic, it’s the classic story of a boy trying to find the girl; but in this case, it might not be because of romantic love but friendship love.

To tell the truth, if I’d heard about the series during a time where I had other comics or shows to watch/read, I wouldn’t have given Tower of God a second look. The plot seems pretty standard: boy loses girl; boy must face tough challenges to find her. Even the climbing the tower seems normal for an anime. It seems like there is always a tower or some kind of series of levels the protagonist must pass. The art style was also a little weird; however, from the glimpses I’ve seen of the more recent chapters, it looks like it has improved while not completely revamping itself. 

The strange thing about the series is by a logical-review standpoint the series is not that special. Like I said, a young man going through challenges to find the woman he likes, the protagonist possessing some strange gift, and the fact that he has to hide he is different makes the series seem more tropeish than original (though it is extremely difficult nowadays not to be cliche–when you look at anything too hard you’ll see how familiar it is). I’ve read and seen countless series that followed this formula. Yet, there’s something interesting that I can’t put my finger on. Even the fact that while others are climbing the Tower for money, power, or the thrill of the hunt, the protagonist is doing it out of love is a common story line.

Right now, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. 

How about you? Have you heard of Tower of God? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments section.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading (and stay safe out there).


Good news! The Smashwords Authors Give Back Sale has been extended to May 31! 

You have another chance to buy The Beast of Camp TimberWolf, Gift of the Minion, and now Who Pranked JR for 60% off!

Recommended #46

The following are my opinion and do not reflect the opinion of any organization or person.

Who would have thought I’d be doing a second Recommended post dealing with stuff to do while under the COVID-19 lockdown? I didn’t. Well, it was more like hoped I won’t have to–I’d hoped that it would have been over by then.

MKIceAndFire
Ghost Paper
TheOdd1sOut
MKIceAndFire

Do you have any recommendations? Tell me in the comments.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading.