Review: Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

I grew up believing that John F. Kennedy was an upstanding and respectable man, a positive role model for America’s youth. He was assassinated before I was born, but I was the unseen listener to the conversations of the adults in my life, which often made no sense to me at the time. Between the opinions of my mother and my grandparents, and the way in which J.F.K. has always been portrayed in the media, I always thought that the Kennedys were part of the good guys. But after reading Collateral Damage, by Mark Shaw, my view of American history has changed. The evidence laid out by Shaw in this book, laid out through diligent research, paints a picture of a different story.

Not that John F. Kennedy didn’t do good in the office of President of the United States of America. Shaw makes no such claim, but he does tell a very different tale about J.F.K. the man and the rest of the Kennedy family. John F. Kennedy isn’t the main villain in this story, but one of the victims, an inadvertent casualty of one man’s drive for power. His investigative reporting skills have long been hard at work t bring this true life tale into the public eye. It’s a tale of connections and conspiracies, a true life drama of power and greed and the story of those who inadvertently got in the way.

Shaw presents compelling evidence to connect the assassination of John F. Kennedy, with the death of actress Marilyn Monroe and that of journalist and media icon Dorothy Kilgallen in an attempt to give them all the justice they were denied at the time of their deaths and ever after. His research is well-documented and much of the evidence is available for visual examination on his site for those who want to decide for themselves. The connections which Shaw reveals have always been there had anyone cared to seek out the facts, but no one did until Mark Shaw delved into the facts, presenting them a book at a time with each volume presenting more pieces of a puzzle, filling in the whole story gradually, in stages.

The edges of the puzzle were presented in The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, giving us the mysterious facts surrounding Dorothy Kilgallen’s life and death and some of the inside pieces connecting it with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In Denial of Justice, Shaw presents more of the facts tying Kilgallen and J.F.K. together, filling in more inner areas of the puzzle, but Collateral Damage presents new evidence delving into the death of Marilyn Monroe, filling in the gaps to complete the picture.

Collateral Damage is a well researched investigation into events which occurred in an era of mob rule and power politics, where corruption ran deep, deeper than I had ever realized. Shaw reveals a tale of intrigue, deceit and murder as he delves into three of the greatest mysteries in history. I give it five quills.

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Review in Practice – Slushpile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected

Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected

Introducing a new blog series

For those of you that don’t know, I am currently embarked on a journey to earn my masters degree in publishing at Western State Colorado University. Some of you may know this because I mentioned it when I posted the submission guidelines for the Mirror, Mirror anthology that we are putting together for our class thesis project. I was really excited about sharing this paid writing opportunity with all of you and I hope many of you will craft out a story that fits the guidelines and submit it. I was recently reminded that the submission deadline is just two weeks away, so get those stories in.

With work and school and trying to write, I’ve been struggling just to get my Monday blog post out. I’ve been blogging here on Writing to be Read since 2010 and it is important to me and hopefully to my readers, so I can justify feeling a need not to drop the ball here even though I’m extremely busy. My solution, which I thought was rather smart, was to create a new blog series, “Review in Practice”, where you can join me through book reviews that reflect lessons taken from books I read as I work to improve my craft and learn the publishing industry. In this way, the books I need to read in order to learn and improve will do double duty as I share them with you here. These reviews will offer my opinion of the book, and also tell you about my experience with it and share what I have learned. I do hope you will join me.

My Review

Reading Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected, by New York Times Bestselling author, Kevin J. Anderson helped to prepare me for the onslaught that is already flooding the submissions box, because it offered me a better idea of what lay ahead. But, this book was written for authors, to give them an idea of what editors are looking for and improve the chances that your submission will read and accepted. It is a brief book, which doesn’t take long to read and the lessons contained within could prove invaluable. As I have begun working my own way through this year’s slush pile, I’ve already learned that the experiences contained within Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected is spot on.

Of course there’s never any guarantees of acceptance, but there are ways to increase the odds. Kevin J. Anderson relates his own experiences from the last two anthologies the graduate publishing program at Western put together. (Yes, he is really my professor. How cool is that?) If you are thinking of submitting a story to Mirror, Mirror or any other anthology, Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected is a must read. I give it five quills.

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Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Behind Closed Doors” Book Blog Tour

Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour

We’re wrapping up the WordCrafter Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour over at Zigler’s News with a guest post by poet and author Robbie Cheadle and a review by Victoria Zigler. Please join us to learn a bit more about the author and her book.

http://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2021/08/behind-closed-doors-collection-of.html

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Day 2 – WordCrafter “Behind Closed Doors” Book Blog Tour

Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour

Day 2 of the WordCrafter Behind Closed Doors Book Blog Tour brings us another wonderful guest post by author and poet Robbie Cheadle and a review by DL Mullen. After you enjoy the guest post below, please pop on over to DL Mullen’s Undawnted blog site to check out her review:

http://www.undawnted.com/2021/08/wordcrafter-blog-tour-robbie-cheadles.html

Behind Closed Doors, a collection of unusual poems blog tour – Day 2

Do you want it enough? is a freestyle poem I wrote while contemplating why it is that some people and/or poets are prolific and manage to get a number of books, short stories and/or poems published while others don’t. It is not a question of talent generally, as many writers and poets who don’t publish their work are incredibly talented.

So what holds some writers and poets back?

This poem captured my ultimate view that it depends on the determination, resilience, and drive of the person in question. Publishing a book or any other work is a massive effort and requires numerous re-writes and edits. Once that process is complete, there is still the typesetting and final proofing phase to undergo before you can hit the publish button.

I also believe that there must be an acceptance that a piece of work will never be completely perfect. I have realised that I must accept a 96% perfection level in order to get a book finalised for printing and publishing. No matter how hard I try or how many times I read my work and get other people to read it and edit it for me, I always find a few typos and punctuations after the book has gone live. That is that nature of writing and is almost impossible to avoid. The fact that I detect typos and errors in traditionally published books gives me some comfort in this respect.

These ideas of mine resulted in the following poem.

Do you want it enough?

You tell me you want

Your time in the sun

To dance in the light

That reflects off your fame

Do you really want it?

Do you want it enough?

To give up the good things

Like relaxation and rest

Sleeping late in your bed

Toasty and warm

Are you sufficiently mesmerised

By the task to hand

To trade pleasure for work?

And sit in your office,

Juggling ideas and possibilities,

While your friends watch movies,

Eat out, drink, and socialise

Spending their weekends

Having a jolly good time

Can you be disciplined and sit

At a computer for hours

Tapping out words

While creating worlds

Actions and events

That form themselves into stories?

Will you watch

The world passing by

Through the glass of your window?

While you pursue the fantasy

You hope to achieve, 

Knowing there are no guarantees

Few things in this life

Come without paying a price

And the tag accompanying fame

And its bedfellow fortune

Is always high

Taxing time and good health

With no assured return

Are you ready to exchange

Your freedom and pleasure

For the discipline required

To chase that elusive light?

If you prefer to listen to me reading this poem, you can find it on my Youtube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEXJnzzMYZo

What are your thoughts on perfection in publishing and the road to publication? Let me know in the comments.

Book blurb

Behind Closed Doors

What goes on behind closed doors: in the boardroom, after death, in the home, during lockdown, and in nature? This collection of poems, ranging from rhyming verse to twisted nursery rhymes, captures the emotions and thoughts people hide behind the masks they present to the world.

                                                                                          What thoughts are hidden

                                                                                          Behind her immobile face

                                                                                             Quite expressionless

                                                                                           Eyes cold and indifferent

                                                                                          Scrutinising me – hawk like

This book includes some of Robbie Cheadle’s spectacular fondant art and cakes.

Robbie Cheadle author bio

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Social Media Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle

Website

https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

TSL Books Author Page

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle

Twitter

Purchase links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09BBR94NC

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behind-Closed-Doors-Robbie-Cheadle/dp/B099C8R3T4

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If you missed the Day 1 post yesterday, you can still catch it here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/08/23/welcome-to-the-wordcrafter-behind-closed-doors-book-blog-tour/

Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


“Watching Glass Shatter”: Some secrets are better left buried

Watching Glass Shatter

In Watching Glass Shatter, by James J. Cudney, secrets threaten to destroy a family and a legacy with the solidest of foundations. Olivia is a staunch matriarch who controls with an iron fist, or so some have said. When her husband Ben dies in a car crash, she is forced to take a close look at herself as she struggles to deal with the huge secret that he kept from her in what she thought was an open and honest marraige. Once it is dropped in her lap, she must decide how to handle this new knowledge that has the potential to rip apart the life of one of her five sons and change their familial relationships forever.

Olivia decides to spend some time with each of them before making her final decision, but the closer she gets to her sons the more secrets she learns that her family is harboring from one another, each with the potential to destroy family bonds and crumble all they have worked for. This family drama would be worthy of a television soap-opera series, such as Dynasty or Dallas.

The Glass family is well off, having built up a successful law firm which was to be the family business. Although the story is well-written, it seemed to me that things seemed to resolve a little too easily to be fully believable to me. It is a very different world in which I live, but maybe money does bring with it the solutions to many of life’s difficulties more easily. I give Watching Glass Shatter four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Day 3 of the WordCrafter “In the Silence of Words” Book Blog Tour: My Review

In the Silence of Words Book Blog Tour

Thanks for joining us on Day 3 of the WordCrafter In the Silence of Words Book Blog Tour and my review of this thought provoking play. You can catch my interview with the creative mind of author Cendrine Marrouat for Day 1 here, on Writing to be Read, and Day 2 brought a guest post from the author on Robbie’s Inspiration about writing a play as a poet. Days 4 & 5 will also be guest posts, one on Roberta Writes, and then Zigler’s News will be finishing off the tour for us.

My Review

In the Silence of Words is a play which says much in what is left unsaid. The three dots… of more to come are left hanging time and again with unfinished thoughts that the reader is left to fill in on their own. But I think that is the point, because there is so much meaning in that which is left unspoken.

Through unspoken words, this play tackles several real life issues in a relatable manner that will touch readers, (or viewers), hearts – loss, self-sacrifice, searching for the self – these are life issues most of us have dealt with at one time or another in our own lives, giving rise to many opportunities for those “A-ha!” moments, when we can truly relate with Marrouat’s characters.

This play is well-crafted, with a thought provoking plot and relatable characters which move the story forward. I give In the Silence of Words five quills.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Silence-Words-Three-Act-Play-ebook/dp/B07BYT76VG

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Jeff’s Game Reviews – Resident Evil Village

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Reviewed on Xbox Series X – Also available on Xbox One, Xbox Series S, PS4, PS5, and PC

The Resident Evil game series has been around now for twenty-five years. Most people associate it with shambling zombies, but in fact, developer Capcom more or less nixed the walking dead way back in 2005 with the release of Resident Evil 4. Ever since then, each new main-entry game has had some pretty interesting baddies to offer. That’s still the case with Resident Evil Village, which is a good thing, because without them, there might not be much there, there.

This newest RE game is actually Resident Evil 8, but you’d be forgiven for missing that fact based on the awkward way Capcom jammed roman numerals into the promotional artwork. After the genuinely frightening events of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, new series protagonist Ethan Winters is forced back into the fray when his wife and daughter are kidnapped right from under his nose. Traveling to a decrepit Romanian village (which, by the way, has a MASSIVE gothic castle sitting on its northern side), Ethan must battle everything from werewolves to amorphic super-monsters in order to save his family.

See the source image

The story goes to some pretty gonzo places after that, but no point spoiling it for you. The great news is that in true Resident Evil fashion, all the main boss characters steal the show in a big way. The lynchpin is a frightening matriarchal figure by the name of Mother Miranda, but she’s just the tip of the iceberg. Psychotic machine maker Heisenberg, the freakish and pitiful Moreau, Donna Beneviento and her murderous living doll.

The new fan favorite, Lady Dimitrescu, is a ten-foot tall vampire lady dressed as elegantly as any starlet from the golden age of cinema. The internet has already modded and discussed her to the nth degree, and that’s the best sort of praise a game character can receive. She lumbers through the castle, screaming your name, your only recourse to evade her at all costs. Some gamers have commented on a certain strange sex appeal when it comes to the Lady. Her burning cigarette, elegant nature, and bountiful… you know… stature. I just wanted to get the hell away from her whenever she appeared. Enough time to gawk? I don’t think so. To each their own, I suppose. Phew.

See the source image

The gameplay of Resident Evil Village is more or less identical to what Capcom created from scratch for RE 7. First person perspective, lots of shooting and evasion, slowly picking your way through this or that lush location, finding rare items, solving puzzles. Actually, Village borrows a few things from the past, most notably from RE 4. Fans of that game may be happy to learn this newest entry is much more action heavy. This series has been around so long, it’s got a multitude of different flavors, and Capcom certainly knows when and how to tug at our nostalgic heart strings.

Ultimately, Village’s story is short and just a tad confusing, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun. An average gamer should expect the campaign to last eight to ten hours, which is anemic compared to most other AAA video games release these days. A multiplayer portion has been included, but it’s not all that enjoyable. Nope, for better or worse, Village is the star of the show.

Played on one of the new game consoles released late last year (Xbox Series X, Series S, or PS5), the game is a wonder to behold. Almost photorealistic at times, pretty snazzy. It still looks good on older platforms, so don’t sweat it if you can’t run out and buy the latest and greatest. Where would you run to anyway? Online retailers have been in and out of stock since November.

Regardless, this game is surprising, beautiful, and very often thrilling. It’s clear horror is still alive in 2021, and Capcom once again proves they are king of the hill. Resident Evil Village is focused on giving players a pulse-pounding experience unlike any other. That it misses the mark every now and then is no big sin.

Jeff’s Game Reviews gives Resident Evil Village an EIGHT out of TEN


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!

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Treasuring Poetry: Meet author and poet M J Mallon

My Treasuring Poetry guest today is talented author and poet M J Mallon. I am delighted to host Marje here and hope you enjoy her thoughts on poetry and her favourite poem.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

This was such a difficult decision, I have at least three favourites! I narrowed it down to the robin. The robin and the dragonfly are my spirit animals and trees are also a huge inspiration. I’ve written about all of these and more in Mr. Sagittarius.

A beautiful picture of a robin by M J Mallon

Bench,

A bird,

Red-breasted,

So, tame you rest,

Beside me robin,

Two friends on a park bench,

One human, one of nature,

I appreciate your kind time,

Until you away… exploring far,

Hinting at possibilities you go. 

I wonder what you notice in your world.

And why you choose that ground to explore,

When you could have stayed here with me,

In mindful meditation.

Maybe you’ll visit me,

Christmas day, perhaps?

To bring good cheer,

Until then,

Peace to, You.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

I’d been studying mindfulness at the sixth form college where I work. Mindfulness is the act of observing and using the full array of our senses meditatively to become more at one with ourselves. I’ve discovered that this is a fantastic practice to adhere to. It benefits an author’s creativity by making you more aware of the nuances of your surroundings.  I’m fortunate in that I work near the botanical gardens in Cambridge, so I often visit and walk and observe the wonder of nature taking photographs of the trees, flowers, animal and insect visitors. Over time, I collected these photographs and wrote poems about them. These, along with various seasonal and short pieces of fiction feature in Mr. Sagittarius. It is a joyful celebration of siblings, magic, loves, nature, the seasons and the circle of our lives.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I love writing poetry about life in all its vibrant colours. I am often inspired by photography, (I am a keen amateur photographer – my grandfather and uncle were professional photographers,) or I use images I discover as prompts, often via Colleen Chesebro’s poetry challenge: https://wordcraftpoetry.com/

Specifically, I enjoy writing poems about nature, trees, flowers, love and Halloween! Halloween poems also feature in Mr. Sagittarius. Halloween is an autumnal activity, (and often a childhood one,) so it links well with the seasonal/circle of life, aspect of my poetry writing.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I enjoy reading short form poetry. It is so expressive and brilliant. I love how short verses of poetry convey so much detail in so few words. I enjoy haiku, and tanka, as well as poems that form a pattern on the page. I also enjoy longer forms as you will see from my choice of favourite poem.

What is your favourite poem?

I have always loved Ode To Autumn by John Keats. I can almost taste the words. They are magnificent—that first line: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness —draws you in and makes you long to read more.

Ode To Autumn by John Keats


  1. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
            Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
        Conspiring with him how to load and bless
            With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
        To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
            And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
              To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
            With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
      Until they think warm days will never cease,
              For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

    2.
      Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
          Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
      Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
          Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
      Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
          Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
              Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
      And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
          Steady thy laden head across a brook;
          Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
              Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

    3.
      Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
          Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
      While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
          And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
      Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
          Among the river sallows, borne aloft
              Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
      And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
          Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
          The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
              And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
https://allpoetry.com/Ode-To-Autumn

Mr Sagittarius by M J Mallon

About Mr Sagittarius

Twin brothers Harold and William love the magic of the natural world.

When Harold dies he leaves a simple memorial request.

Will his brother William and his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the garden work its magic to ensure that they do.

A magical story expressed via an original compilation of poetry and prose with photographic images.

#Poetry #Prose #Photography #NaturalWorld #Trees #Magic #Spirit #Animals #CircleofLife #Humour #Halloween #Cats #Buddha

My review of Mr Sagittarius

Mr Sagittarius is a beautiful collection of poems and short stories, set in the lovely gardens of Cambridge and linked by the visits and experiences of a family of twin brothers and their younger sister.

The story starts with William visiting the weeping willow tree in the garden, a place that was special to his twin brother, Harold, who has recently passed away. William sees Harold’s spirit in a dragonfly that he chats to and finds solace in their one-sided communication.

This is a few lines from a poem about the dragonfly:
“Ancient, sweet fellow
Sacred magic bestower,
Change tumbling on fragile wings.”

When William returns home, he has an altercation with his sister, Annette. During their spat Annette reveals that she has always felt left out and overlooked by her twin brothers. This revelation leads to William and Annette becoming closer and visiting the garden together. Not long after, William passes on and Annette is left alone. She visits the garden and communicates with the spirits of both her brothers over the course of the rest of her long life.

The visits of the siblings to the garden are captured in lovely verse. This is an example I really enjoyed:
“I dream in colour
But now everything is dark
Where has the light gone?
Oh, cruel leafy canopy,
No green meadow, just blue thoughts.”

My favourite of the short stories was The Old Man of Snow and The Snow Snake. This is a story about making good choices in life and rejecting greed. I enjoyed the tale and the descriptive writing.

Mr Sagittarius is a gorgeous book full of delightfully depictive poems and short stories and decorated with striking photographs. This is a book that lovers of poetry, mystery, and wonder will love.

Purchase Mr Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose

Amazon US

M J Mallon Amazon Author Page

About M J Mallon

I am a diverse author who blogs at: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, poetry, photography, and alternative therapies. My favourite genres to write are: Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories and I love writing various forms of poetry and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka and flash fiction.

I am proud to be included in the best selling horror anthology Nightmareland which received best seller status with best-selling author Dan Alatorre at the helm.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to read and I have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Jeff’s Game Reviews – PS5 vs. Xbox Series X – Which Should You Buy?

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PS5 vs. Xbox Series X

2020 will likely go down as one of the most challenging years in modern history, not in the least for commerce, business, and technology. Small mom and pop stores and large corporations alike felt the crunch, and one industry in particular suffered unexpected misfires even the incoming Biden administration felt compelled to investigate.

I’m speaking, of course, of the video game business, specifically digital entertainment powerhouses Microsoft and Sony and their brand-new home consoles, the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Both companies came to the market in November 2020, and both probably regret they did. Don’t get me wrong, having used each system extensively, I can attest to the quality of both. Neither has been without launch jitters and bugs, but Microsoft and Sony have, in their own time, gone a long way toward patching and improving problems as they’ve come up.

The real trouble with the Xbox Series X (and its kid brother, the Series S) and the PS5 is that they were both released without a steady supply of fresh product in the pipeline. A lot of excitement built up in the gaming community over the course of 2020, and by the time the launch window finally arrived in November, you would’ve needed to be exceptionally lucky or downright Google-gifted to snag a preorder. Add to that a huge issue with reseller bots buying consoles at unprecedented rates and creating a kind of gaming black market on eBay, and you’ve got a recipe for mass frustration.

But let’s back up a bit. Assuming you can in fact get your hands on a system, which should you choose? The truth is subtler than you might expect. Though graced with different architecture, the PS5 and Series X run third-party titles in a virtually identical manner. Games look great, sharp, clear, detailed. You’ll need a decent 4K television to see this stuff in full next-gen glory, but assuming you don’t mind upgrading, I can guarantee an excellent experience either way. That being said, services, content, and a few hardware points do enough to properly differentiate Series X from PS5. In the end, it all comes down to individual preference, so let’s look at each in turn.

Xbox Series X

Microsoft released two consoles last autumn, but the Series S is meant to be a less powerful and cheaper option designed for gamers who don’t care too much about 4K or enhanced performance or owning the biggest and baddest on the block. It’s a full $200 USD cheaper than Series X, and therefore makes for an appealing option. The Series X is the real star here, however, so let’s zoom in on it.

Consider this article for a full rundown of the Series X’s technical specifications. Needless to say, there’s a lot of power under the hood. The Xbox brand has one major trump card called Gamepass. For a monthly fee, players can gain access to a huge library of old classics and modern stunners. In fact, if you were so inclined, you might not even need to buy games at full retail value again. The Series X is also bolstered by its impressive zeal for backward compatibility. Almost every single title available on the previous generation’s Xbox One, including older Xbox 360 and original Xbox games, is playable here. Most if not all older titles benefit from lighting-fast load times and post-processed HDR (High Dynamic Range color and lighting). In addition, the system has quick resume functionality, which allows players to jump back into their games precisely where they left off, even if the system has been in sleep mode for weeks or even months.

It all goes for $500 USD, the same price as PS5. Happens to be the smaller of the two systems, too, which is admittedly a non sequitur. PS5 is massive, just massive, but Series X is fairly large as well. It is currently a bit easier to find at online retailers,. PlayStation sales are through the roof, but if you want a system right now, you could do worse than Series X.

See my video review of the Xbox Series X

PlayStation 5

Ask any diehard Sony fan why they keep coming back to PS and you’re likely to hear one answer above all others: the exclusives. See this article for a full list of tech specs for PS5.

Truthfully, Sony has the better history producing first-party games. The list from the last few years alone is impressive, the PS4 having been the exclusive home of some truly great titles like Spider-Man, Final Fantasy VII Remake, God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, Grant Turismo Sport, and many others. Fewer old PlayStation games are backwards compatible, but the ones that are sure pack a punch.

Another great feature is the PS5’s controller, dubbed the Duel Sense. It has impressive haptic feedback sensitivity, including articulate rumbles at multiple contact points and adaptive triggers that adjust tension on the fly. It feels great in your hands, but time will tell how many new games take full advantage. Sony is keenly aware of Microsoft’s desperation to pull into pole position with its myriad services and freebies, so expect the PS landscape to include sudden unannounced benefits as the months and years mount up.

The PlayStation 5 is arguably the buggiest of the two consoles even half a year after release, so take that into account when making your purchase. I fully expect Sony to hunt these known issues down and patch them appropriately, but Microsoft has had a bit more pep in their step on this point.

Check out my video review of the PS5

Conclusion

Not everyone is interested in new gaming consoles right now, and that stands to reason. Those who are have driven the gaming marketplace to dizzying new heights. The PS5 is the fastest selling game system in US history, which is pretty amazing considering the fact it’s almost impossible to find. Big box retailers don’t carry them at physical locations, which means the internet remains your only method of procurement. I can guarantee you’ll have an excellent time playing on either of these two behemoths, but look, if you don’t mind waiting, then go ahead and wait. You won’t have to tear your hair out running the online circuit from Amazon to Best Buy to Target to Walmart … see what I mean? Both companies have produced great pieces of hardware, and that’s the honest truth. Excellent exclusives or tempting membership benefits and services, you decide.

I’ll be back with another Jeff’s Game Reviews here on Writing to be Read. Until then, keep your trigger fingers at the ready, folks. Never know when you’ll have to do a little console hunting. Take care.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!

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Day 2 of the WordCrafter “A Ghost and His Gold” Book Blog Tour: Meet Peiter Van Zyl

A Ghost and His Gold Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #2 of the WordCrafter A Ghost and His Gold Book Blog Tour. Yesterday Roberta Eaton Cheadle shared the origins of the story for this historical paranormal novel and I added my review of the book right here on Writing to be Read. Today we get a look at one of Cheadle’s characters, Boer, Pieter Van Zyl. Please join us as we snatch a glimpse into the author’s thoughts as she developed a character who represent one side of the Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa.

A Ghost and His Gold Give Away

Each stop on this five-day book blog tour will offer the opportunity to win a $10 Amazon gift voucher. (*Winners must be able to retrieve Amazon US gift vouchers.) Author Roberta  Eaton Cheadle will also give away 2 paperback copies of A Ghost and His Gold. All you have to do to enter is drop by each tour stop and leave a comment!

Guest Post by Roberta Eaton Cheadle: Pieter van Zyl characterisation 

Pieter van Zyl is a Boer living on his farm in Irene near Pretoria in the South African Republic when war between the British Empire and the two Boer republics breaks out. Although the historical sections of the book are narrated from the points of view of a British soldier stationed in Mafeking during the siege, Robert, and Pieter’s eldest daughter, Estelle, as well as Pieter, he is central to the backstory and background of the other ghosts as well as the main themes of the book which are human greed, the horror of war, the desire for control and power and, most importantly, the erosion and corruption of the human spirit and individual’s morals, and ethics, under conditions of continuous war, destruction, and death.  

Pieter’s late grandmother was English, and he is familiar with the ways of the British and more understanding of their characteristics and motivations that most of his peers.  

Pieter is highly intelligent and well read and, although he is ready to play his role in fighting for the independence of his country, he is pessimistic about the eventual outcome of this war in the face of his peers excited optimism for a quick victory. Pieter is an introverted loner who keeps his thoughts to himself having learned his opinions and views on many topics are not popular with his peers. Pieter is a peacemaker and does not like conflict in his life. This is apparent in his relationships with his wife, Marta, and oldest daughter, Estelle. Pieter is incapable of dealing with the conflict between the pair and taking positive action to control his wife’s resentment towards her unusual oldest child. 

The suffering and trauma that Pieter experiences during the war, in particular the loss of his farm and the confinement of his family in a concentration camp, wear down his abilities to tolerate and cope with his circumstances and his will to live is destroyed long before he dies.  

Photograph credit: http://www.theheritageportal.co.za/review/war-reporter-anglo-boer-war-through-eyes-burghers

Relevant extracts from A Ghost and His Gold 

Extract 1 

He believed he would be safer among family and friends, having quickly learned that being obligated to fight for your country did not necessarily translate into an eagerness to do so. The reluctance of some of the Burghers to take up arms surprised him, and he chuckled at some of the conversations he’d overheard.  

“I don’t want to go to war now,” said François Naude, “it’s spring and I need to be here to oversee the planting.”  

Pieter, who was waiting to collect his grocery order from the proprietor of the Irene General Store, hid a smile at this amusing comment.  

What does he think our government should do? Ask the British if they mind waiting for a more convenient time before we commence hostilities. 

Extract 2 

Grabbing his loaded Mauser rifle from its hooks on the wall near the door, he hesitates for a moment to admire its smooth and shiny wooden length. The feel of the gun in his hands gives him confidence; he is an excellent marksman.  

This gun brought me a lot of respect.  

His ability with a gun had been his saving grace when, as a young man, his peers had been mystified by his interest in books and writing and had liked to share their derogatory thoughts in that regard. 

Extract 3 

Willem was in high spirits. “This war will soon be over, Pieter. It’ll be the same as the last one. We’ll defend our borders against the invaders, and it will be over in three months. We’ll be home by harvest time.”  

Willem shared the sense of excitement and euphoria that many of his fellow countrymen were experiencing, but Pieter did not.  

War brings bloodshed, grief and tears. This time the British will probably send 36 many more soldiers. I think this war is going to be a much harder win.  

He had not shared his own thoughts with Willem. There was no point and he had learned many years ago to keep his unpopular opinions to himself. 

Extract 4 

Pieter stops talking and gazes into space. Memories assail his mind in a kaleidoscope of sounds, smells and visions.  

“At about midday, we saw a large cloud of dust coming our way. Having no idea how many horsemen there were, ten other Burghers, Willem and I quickly set up an ambush. As they drew closer, we could make out a mass of at least seven thousand horses and men. It was a hopeless situation and we prepared to withdraw, but the Khakis saw us and started shelling our position. My horse took fright at an exploding shell and bolted. I fell and broke two ribs, but luckily my horse is well trained, and he came back to me. Oom Willem hoisted me back onto my horse, and we were able to escape.”  

Marta’s pale face and the tension around her mouth and eyes suddenly register with Pieter.  

Is she upset because of my injury or because the Burghers ran away?  

“It was cowardly of you men to flee, you should have stayed and fought,” said Marta, her lip curled with contempt.  

How does she think I could have carried on fighting with broken ribs? She’s being ridiculous; if we’d carried on fighting, we would’ve all been killed. A handful of men couldn’t hold back such a significant force.  

Smiling wryly, he took a sip of water. “Maybe you are right, Marta, but I was in too much pain to influence that decision.” 

The Blurb 

After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.  

Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?   

After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened. 

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle 

I am a South African writer specialising in historical, paranormal and horror novels and short stories. I am an avid reader in these genres and my writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.  

I was educated at the University of South Africa where I achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. I was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.  

I have worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and have written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. I have won several awards over my twenty year career in the category of Transactional Support Services. 

I have been published a number of anthologies and have two published YA books, While the Bombs Fell and Through the Nethergate. I have recently published my first adult novel called A Ghost and His Gold which is partly set in South Africa during the Second Anglo Boer War. 

Other books by Roberta Eaton Cheadle 

Through the Nethergate 

Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own. 

In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise. 

With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself. 

Follow Roberta Eaton Cheadle at: 

Website 

https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog 

https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Goodreads 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19631306.Roberta_Eaton_Cheadle

Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Amazon

Purchase Links:

TSL Publications (paperback) 

Lulu.com (ebook and paperback) 

Amazon  

https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Gold-Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/dp/1913294943