“Red vs. Blue” (Seasons 6 thru 13)

"Red vs. Blue" (Seasons 6 thru 13) — Kimia Wood The internet is a dark, mysterious place…full of dangerous things like web series. If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself…watching Red vs. Blue.

And if you have a little brother, you might find yourself compelled by those big brown eyes to watch it, despite your better judgement. #askhowIknow

In all honesty, though, is RvB really that bad? Well…it has some content “not for mothers-in-law“, but it also has a lot of powerful, heart-moving themes.

You gotta decide if you’re up to getting there.

Premise

This might sound weird, but RvB is a Halo-based Machinima where two teams of soldiers camp on opposite sides of a valley in color-coordinated teams (yes…Red and Blue). It streams free on YouTube (in five-minute episodes organized into seasons), but is also available in DVD format.

I gather that early on, it was basically an excuse for cheap skits and foul-mouthed jokes while these pathetic losers tried unsuccessfully to kill each other.

But I wasn’t brought in until Season 6…when they actually start telling a cohesive story. Continue reading

“Incredibles 2”

 The Incredibles was practically perfect. Gorgeous animation blended with a deft plot; escalating tension melded with heart-warming family dynamics; an adorable yet realistically high-stakes romance between a husband and wife strode alongside the every-man struggle of a middle-aged father to find his place in life again; and weaving through it all was a truly diabolical yet savory villain.

Well, perfect is understandably hard to top…even for a writer and director of Brad Bird’s impressive story skills.

So……did the sequel pull it off?

That’s a question each viewer must answer for themselves—but here is my take. Continue reading

Authors I Read for the First Time in 2018

This past year, my mother gave the entire family a reading challenge of fifty books – that we hadn’t read before! This gave me the opportunity to read several new authors, which I will share with you for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday post!

Independent Authors

Since I read fifty books this past year – and kept track of them all! – I’m able to split this list into “indie” authors and more “traditional” or classic authors.

So, for authors I read for the first time in 2018, and who publish their books independently:

1—E.B. DawsonAuthors I Read for the First Time in 2018 — Kimia Wood
(Nomad of the Emirates)

A good writer with a fresh, interesting perspective on things.

She also has a third-culture heritage. Check her out!

Author’s site

2—Sarah Holman
(Kate’s Innocence)

Her mystery was actually a mystery!! but oh, she needed a competent editor!

Author’s site

3—Morgan Elizabeth Huneke
(Twisted Dreams)Authors I Read for the First Time in 2018 — Kimia Wood

She took a story I’m not that crazy about (Sleeping Beauty) and a setting I wasn’t sure about (cross-genre dream-worlds) and wrote a tale that sucked me in.

Probably because of the feisty younger brother.

Author’s site

4—Allison Tebo
(The Reluctant Godfather)

A competent author with a bright future before her…though if it were me writing the story, I wouldn’t have let romance solve the world’s problems.

That’s me. Grumpykinz.

Author’s site

5—Amanda Tero
(Coffee Cake Days)

Her short story really nailed what it’s like to grow up in a large, homeschooling, Christian family.

Author’s site

Other Indie Authors from this year:

Julie C. Gilbert (The Collins Case)— I’m glad I read her story, as I’ve referred to it several times in my own work…as something not to do. I feel bad, but really…gotta be honest, or how will we grow?

Ruth O’Neil (Come Eat At My Table)— A really slow-simmering story joined up with an uninspired writing style to…sneak up on my emotions when I wasn’t looking!

Traditional/Classic Authors:

Authors I Read for the First Time in 2018 — Kimia Wood1—Robert Ludlum
(The Bourne Identity; The Janson Directive)

His suspense is AMAZINGLY SUSPENSEFUL; his mysteries are deep and twisty; and his plot “onions” have layers upon layers of juicy, edge-of-your-seat intrigue.

But you gotta have a strong constitution and conscience.

(Read my full reviews for content cautions.)

Author’s Goodreads page

2–Roger Zelazny
(The Chronicles of Amber)

Authors I Read for the First Time in 2018 — Kimia WoodThis is a fantasy series with world-ending stakes, told through the eyes of the very relatable Corwin — who doesn’t trust his eight brothers farther than he can throw them, but will drop everything to hear to latest gossip about what they’re up to.

It’s super fun. My brother has yet to yield and read it.

(Also: Zelazny could have used a competent editor. But that’s the way it goes.)

Author’s Goodreads page

3—Larry Correia
(Monster Hunter International; Monster Hunter Vendetta; and Monster Hunter Alpha)

Fulfills the genre. So if you’re into splatting monsters with jacked-up firearms…full steam ahead!Authors I Read for the First Time in 2018 — Kimia Wood

My brother (who gave up on the reading challenge when he got a job in March) has read through to Book 6 and is eagerly awaiting the next one.

Another fun fact: Mr. Correia self-published MHI, but then signed with a publisher — Baen Books. Proof of what can happen to you if you know your audience, get them to trust you, and write a gripping, solid, entertaining story!

(Read my full review for content cautions.)

Author’s site

4—Sabine Baring-Gould
(The Book of Were-Wolves)

This book was profound, interesting, and somewhat disturbing. If you want to know about the actual history of were-wolves and their legends, this is a good, readable book.

Author’s Wikipedia page

5—Tom Clancy
(The Hunt for Red October)

Red October was good, honest fun. It’s dubbed the father of the “techno-thriller” genre, and I can see why. While it wasn’t as pulse-pounding as Ludlum’s stuff, it did manage to make the science of submarines sound exciting (or at least interesting).

Author’s Goodreads page

Other “classic” authors I read this year:Authors I Read for the First Time in 2018 — Kimia Wood

Blake Snider (Save the Cat)— A must-read in writers’ circles…for good reason. I’ve gotten a little bored with the glut of writing gurus on the internet—so if you’re only going to buy one writing book, Save the Cat is a good, all-bases-covered source-text.

Ian Fleming (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)— This is the first James Bond story I’d ever read…and frankly, Robert Ludlum is better. Sure, Ludlum has sex – and more violence – but I don’t come away from his stories feeling so empty.

John Grisham (The Racketeer; The Testament)— I know John Grisham is a really big name (at least in the circles I’ve touched) but my first impression was…bleh. Mom convinced me to try another of his books, and it was…okay…? I guess I didn’t loathe the main character of The Testament—so that’s a plus.

Authors I Read for the First Time in 2018 — Kimia WoodSir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe)— This is a classic, a treatment of Robin Hood and King Richard, a treatise on racism and classism in 12th century Britain, and well worth reading. Even if you’re not into historicals, it might teach you something!

Virginia Myers (Vessels of Honor)— As a Christian, this book was an amazing example of showing grace and love to people we don’t see eye-to-eye with!

Mike Mikalatos (Good News for a Change)— This book is about talking to others about Jesus, but it would be useful for so many other situations because it’s about actually listening to people while conversing with them and is AWESOME.

What Will I Read in 2019?

I had a lot of fun with this reading challenge, and met a lot of new “author” friends!

Let’s see what cool new books I read in 2019.


Authors I Read for the First Time in 2018 — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by baking, knitting, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier, plus occasional updates on her latest reading and writing exploits.

The “Blackwell” Bundle

In an attempt to recapture the gaming experience of Gemini Rue, I hunted through its developer’s catalogue. The Blackwell series caught my eye, and I took advantage of a sale to snag the bundle (because who buys anything at full price?!).

TL;DR for the series? It’s not as amazing as most of the other puzzle games I’ve played, but it was definitely worth some #SiblingTime.

The premise: Rosangela Blackwell’s life turns upside-down when she discovers she’s a medium and inherits a spirit guide from her aunt. Her guide – the saucy ghost Joey – teaches her of her mission in life: helping spirits come to terms with their death and “move on”.


Not my usual genre at all…but half of “paranormal detective” is detective, right? Continue reading

Best Video Games for Kids

I grew up on video games from my earliest childhood. Many of these I watched my dad play — in fact, we have a photo of my brother, not yet old enough to walk, sitting on Dad’s lap watching Warcraft III.

But I myself played my share of video games. You may scoff, but some of my fondest memories, the most enduring stories, breathtaking characters, and immersive experiences have come from games.

If you have kids, you want them to be encouraged, educated, and edified by the media they consume. This includes watching the books they read and the friends they play with.

Dare you let video games play a role in their development? If so, let me share with you the best and brightest games from my youth…the ones that taught me most, or touched me the deepest.

DISCLAIMER: CHECK YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM AND THE GAME’S SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS BEFORE BUYING ANY GAMES. After all, I’m not exactly a spring chicken…

Teaching Games

Admit it. We parents are duplicitous, and want to sneak little nuggets of knowledge into the things our kids think are just fun.

Sure, there are lots of games like this, some more recent or successful than others. But from my own vast childhood experience, these are my top picks:

Alphabet Express

Best Games for Kids — Kimia Wood

Image credit: mobygames.com

Do you know your alphabet? This game has a colorful scene for each letter, filled with colorful characters and hidden “H”, “L”, “Q”, or the like.

This “game” is simple, but entertaining. Clean and cheery, it’s also perfect for little kids.

The Blaster Games

Blatant educational content has a name. In my childhood, it was Science Blaster Jr., Math Blaster Jr., Reading Blaster, and Math Blaster (Ages 6-9).

There are many more in the series, as I learned from the walkthroughs on YouTube. (A walkthrough for a kids’ educational game? That’s like taking a Dr. Seuss book, designed to get kids to read, and making it into a movie! Ya dig?)

Best Games for Kids — Kimia Wood

Image credit: EliSoftware.org

Meet Spot, G.C., and Blasternaut – my first self images. Spot is also my first game crush; he’s the cute little blue robot. I even have a notebook featuring a pictogram story about them.

These bright characters introduced basic science facts, easy math, and reading puzzles to us youngsters on their spaceship full of mini-games. Not so arduously academic as my exposure to Reader Rabbit, and not so story-driven as the Humongous games, the Blaster games hit a sweet spot of fun and function.

Be careful playing the Big Kid game, though: Math Blaster Ages 6-9. It features Gellator – the Brain-Drainer…an evil yellow ooze-being who kidnaps Spot and terrified my five-year-old self. To the point that I would never play the actual story-line, only test mode.

Ah, kid fears. Continue reading

“The Saint” by Leslie Charteris, Starring Roger Moore

"The Saint" Starring Roger Moore — Kimia Wood Intrepid adventurer. Con-man and detective. Infamous man of mystery. The dashing, dangerous, and irrepressible Simon Templar is played by Roger Moore in this black-and-white television series of suspense and excitement. (Seasons 5 and 6 were shot in color.)

A little lacking in the luster, you say? Paltry in comparison to its peers? Nevertheless, these puzzle-packed episodes of action and glamor have plenty to offer the thrill-seeker.

I Say, A Tad “On the Nose”, What?

Perhaps Simon Templar’s adventures are a little of the pulp-fiction variety. As my mom said, the plots he unravels aren’t so bafflingly complex as Mission: Impossible.

And it’s true he breaks the forth wall every episode as he introduces the audience to his locale, perhaps philosophizing on his surroundings. In the intro segment, someone always says his name, and a little halo appears above his head…to indicate his moniker “The Saint”. By the third and fourth seasons, Simon is tired of this repeated performance, and glances wryly above his head as it appears. Why, if you looked hard enough, you might be able to see the characters roll their eyes as they work each episode’s title into the dialogue at the conclusion.

"The Saint" by Leslie Charteris Starring Roger Moore — Kimia Wood

Image credit: uk.movies.yahoo.com

Is it campy that the villains always recognize this man, and darkly threaten his life to one another as the episode progresses? Is it tiresome that gorgeous, wealthy girls are always throwing themselves at him? And that his name and face are only as well-known as the episode needs them to be?

But this is not about deep, meaningful plots and intricate mysteries. This is about cool fight sequences and smashed crockery…kissing beautiful women and chasing around in 1950s cars…and, of course, Roger Moore’s hair.

If you didn’t want James Bond Lite, go listen to NPR or something. We’re busy here.

Dashing Good Show, Old Boy

Prepare yourself.

If every police chief in the world warns you to behave yourself…if you can afford the ritziest restaurant on the Riviera and are personal friends with half the elite hotel-owners around the world…if beautiful and troubled girls seem to cross your path at every turn…

Well, then, why not pursue your curiosity about whatever strange events happen to unfold around you?

Revel in intricate heists. Suffer succulent double-crosses. Defeat cold-blooded black-mailers. Catch murderers and terrorists.

Watch, transfixed, as Simon counters knives, garrots, and grapples with his bare hands, using only his +13 Dodge ability. Then, watch him counter axes, spears, bottles, and other improvised weapons with chairs, tables, books, and other smash-able fixtures and furniture! (Interspersed, of course, with gun-battles.)

Watch as his perfect hair gets tousled in the heat of combat. Then see him emerge victorious. (Usually.)

The show would probably earn a PG-13 from the smoking alone, never mind all the consumption of alcoholic beverages. This is a show to shock your 1950s sensibilities!

But the twists are predictably thrilling. The Girl is usually innocent…but sometimes (gasp) she isn’t!

For those of us who like our soda Caffeine-free Diet – who want an adventure show that’s sweet and also calorie-free – check out this blast-from-the-past, this relic for the ages!

Try out The Saint!


Title card is from Wikipedia.

Check it out on Amazon (Seasons 1&2 here).

Kimia Wood lives with her family somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by baking, knitting, hobby-farming, writing, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Join the mailing list for a free copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier, plus periodic updates on her latest writing and reading adventures!

Why Are Bad Book Reviews So Important?

Why Are Bad Book Reviews So Important?

Some people on the internet refuse to write or publish “negative” book reviews. They claim the writing world is a community, that every book took a lot of effort and tears from its author, and to “support” each other, we shouldn’t air our concerns or disappointments with another’s work.

The problem with that is that this community is about more than patting each other on the back, or smiling politely at something we think is sub-par. And we’re more than just writers – the readers who consume our work have a right to receive the best possible product we as writers can supply!

How do “bad book reviews” serve that purpose? Let’s break it down by who is benefitted by critical reviews: the reader, and the author. Continue reading

“God’s Not Dead 2”

 It’s a rare sequel that can match, let alone surpass, its predecessor. As controversial as God’s Not Dead was – an unabashedly Christian movie with steps and missteps – I think the sequel is an improvement.

The story: when popular public school teacher Grace gets a question in her history class about Jesus, she well-meaningly answers it in the historical context, quoting from the historical texts that establish Jesus’s actions and teachings.

Shortly after, she finds herself being sued by the ACLU for “preaching” to her students and trying to spread her Christian faith, with a non-believing young lawyer to advise her. Continue reading

“Christmas Carol” Sings the Eternal Song

This is a re-blog from last year, but the points it makes are still true this year! And if you still haven’t read Dickens’ classic work, now’s a great time. Better yet, if you haven’t read the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2 or Matthew chapters 1-2, it’s available for FREE here – and here…and here or here (for Mac). What’s your excuse?

And if you go see the new movie The Man Who Invented Christmas, let me know what you think! WORLD Magazine gave it a recommendation!

Three Things to Think On This “Holiday Season”

51ycpilxgcl If you’re like me, you’re pretty familiar with the mythos of A Christmas Carol, but have never actually read the original. This year, I remedied that.

Charles Dickens’ original story of rich, cantankerous, “Bah-Humbug” Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas, and the joy of celebration is available on Project Gutenberg and on Amazon as free ebooks (or as an audiobook!), so there’s no barrier to enjoying this classic tale.

As I read Dickens’ version of the story, three things jumped out at me.

Scrooge is still a sympathetic character.

Yes, he snarls at carolers, deals rigidly with his clerk, and Bah-Humbugs the charity collector, but his actions are so over-the-top he is not really villainous. His evil, uncharitable nature is more a caricature of real-life tyrants than otherwise. Further, in the visions of the Ghost of Christmas Past, we glimpse the back-story that led Ebenezer to this point, offering a counter-point to his self-insulated misery.

Everyone (bar grumpy Scrooge) is full of “holiday spirit.”

From the cheery Christmas fruits on the shelf, to the grocers working Christmas morning, to the customers bubbling with good humor toward each other, everyone shows Ebenezer the general aura of “good cheer” that supposedly characterizes the season.

How about us, in the modern world? Did you banter with the people waiting with you in line? Were you cheerful toward your waitress, when you were eating out to celebrate and she was working her feet off on a holiday? Did you show Christmasy compassion and kindness toward your check-out clerks, your annoying uncles, that out-of-control kid in the mall?

Sharing “good will” certainly includes bestowing donations on the “work-houses” of our day (a la Christmas Carol) but it involves so much more than that. I admit it’s difficult, in the midst of extra hours, presents, coordinating vacation plans, and all the rest of the bustle, to remember an upbeat attitude, but it seems to me sort of the whole point. The new-made Scrooge does {SPOILER} give generously with his money, but he also starts giving smiles, greetings, well-wishes, and time – he frivoles at his nephew’s party, leaves his office to enjoy the Christmas-day streets, and invests not just money but time and himself in a relationship with his clerk’s family.

Did anyone else have trouble remembering to be generous with ourselves this year?

Everyone goes to church.

There’s no indication Scrooge’s Christmas day was on a Sunday, but when the church bells ring, everyone sallies out to their ecclesiastical duties (cheerfully, of course).

In 2016, Christmas Day was also Sunday, which is highly fitting. On Christmas, we remember when God the Son came in human flesh as a defenseless baby; on Easter (and, technically, every “first day of the week”) we remember that His purpose in coming was to die on the cross, a sacrifice for our sins, and to rise again, defeating Death forever.

How many people struggled with whether or not to go to church that morning? How many churches cancelled services so people could “be with their families,” forgetting that worship of God was the whole point of Christ-mass?

Yet, in the London which Charles Dickens portrays, everyone gladly follows the bells to the church – Ebenezer Scrooge included.

Forget “Christmas Movies” – Do Your Christmas Reading!

If your only experience of this classic is an abridged children’s version, or one of the movie versions, or vague cultural references, it’s worth it to pick up this Christmas classic and consider the allegories, lessons, and themes it celebrates for yourself.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

God bless us, every one.

Get More Than You Pay For With Free Books

Get More Than You Pay For With Free Books

Over the past year or so, I’ve been downloading and reading free ebooks from a number of sources – partly because I have a weakness for free, partly because I want to find greats reads for you that you don’t have to shell out a penny for!

But sometimes “you get what you pay for”. Sometimes a book is free because we wouldn’t slog through it for any other reason.

Is that the rule? Are the reading-gems the exception? I’ve dug back through my review archives to figure out which books are worth reading (and worth paying for, even if I didn’t have to).

Note: All deals are listed as of this writing. Authors naturally have the prerogative to change how they charge for their works. By that same token, some books that I loved but couldn’t list because they didn’t qualify might become free again later 😉! Continue reading