All posts by Amy Caudill

About Amy Caudill

I am a a writer and dreamer of different worlds, who dabbles in paranormal and science fiction, a fan girl at heart who loves books and movies in equal measure. Join me as I explore and sample some of the best in media available as well as some original writing.

Movie Review: Ralph Breaks the Internet

The hubby and I actually went out to see a movie last week, instead of waiting till it came to us via Netflix or Redbox, and were charmed with the film we chose.  For those who grew up during the era games like Pac-Man were the latest craze, visiting Litwak’s arcade is like a trip down memory lane.

While technological changes from old-fashioned video games to the burgeoning Internet plays a role in the movie, this sequel to Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, focuses less on that and more in the character development of its principles, nice “Bad Guy” Ralph, and his bestie Princess Vanellope, a race car driver from the overly sweet “Candy Crush.”

When an accident damages Vanellope’s vintage console, Ralph and Vanellope undertake a trip through a new addition to the arcade, a network connection, in order to locate a replacement steering wheel from E-bay. What they find in this new world will alternately amaze and horrify Ralph, while Vanellope soon finds herself longing to stay.

While Ralph is perfectly happy with the way things are and doesn’t want to change anything about his life or his friendship with Vanellope, she is struggling with the monotony of her unchanging environment in the arcade.  Ralph wants to make Vanellope happy, and goes to great lengths to help her fulfill her dreams, and then nearly destroys them, along with the entire Internet, when his own insecurities and possessive behavior come into play.

This version of Vanellope is still adorable; but is experiencing angst that comes from the struggle to come into her own.  She is bored with the current track options of her own game, and quickly becomes enamored when introduced to “Slaughter Race,” a game for more “mature” audiences, and especially its own leading lady, a female racer named Shank.  She regards Ralph as her best friend, but is learning that it’s okay to grow and try things on her own.

They will have to learn to be honest with each other, and accept that it’s okay to want different things, in order to save their friendship and stop the virus destroying the Internet.

One of the highlights for me was the scene where Vanellope accidentally finds her way into the dressing room of the “other” Disney princesses, who then assist in saving the day, or rather the “hero” in distress, Ralph!

This is movie is rated PG, though the climax with the attacking “Ralph” virus may be scary for some younger viewers, and is in theaters now.

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Have Yourself a Christmas from the Heart

low section of woman

This holiday season holds the meaning we give it, so make it a good one! Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

There’s no denying this time of year can be hectic-between family plans, social obligations, baking, shopping, and necessary seasonal activities like shoveling the driveway-it can be hard to prioritize, much less breathe!  With so much hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to find a moment to contemplate what the season really means, or what we would like to share with our loved ones.

I don’t have a magic formula to tell you how to organize everything so that you have time left over for mundane things like sleep, but perhaps, we can manage to rearrange the busyness into something more meaningful this year.

Give of Yourself to Others.

Not everyone has the means, or the desire, to spend on elaborate gifts for family and friends, or donate large amounts to worthy charities at this time of year.  That does mean we cannot give gifts from our hearts, or assist those in need.  Enlist your family to help make homemade treats for friends and neighbors, pull out your knitting needles, or make a batch of homemade soaps to share.  Gifting someone with something special made by hand can be more meaningful than the fanciest of presents you could purchase.

There are plenty of organizations that need volunteers to help stock food pantries, collect warm clothing and toys for needy children, or spend time caring for abandoned pets.  If you aren’t sure where you (and your family) could volunteer, check with your local church, or go online to places like the Salvation Army website or the Kids in Need Foundation to find out what’s most needed that you can shop for or collect in donations.

portrait of girl wearing christmas hat

The time you can spend with your family is more important than any present they may recieve.  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Create Holiday Traditions.

Long after the presents have all been opened and their excitement has faded away, your children will remember the special moments you’ve shared with them over this season.  Let the kids help decorate the tree, or give them one of their own and help them make paperchains and other homemade decorations.  Take the time to read them the classic “Twas Night Before Christmas,” or watch a classic Christmas movie together. Let them help you make a special platter of cookies and milk for Santa, and don’t forget the carrots for the reindeer.

I remember one year when I was a young child my parents arranged for a neighbor to stand by our back door and shake jingle bells while we were in the dining room on Christmas Eve.  My brother, sister and I were told that the tinkling came from Santa’s sleigh as he flew by.  Of course, when we were led back into the living room afterwards, we found that we had been visited by “Santa” while we were distracted.  I don’t remember any of the gifts we received that year, or if my younger brother and sister even remember the event, but the magic in that moment of possibilities, stayed with me long after I knew the “truth” about Santa Claus.

What holiday traditions do your family share?  I would love to hear from you!

Remember the Meaning of the Season.

While it can be very difficult at times to not let ourselves be caught up in the chaos that surrounds this time of year, I hope you find some time to breathe, and to enjoy the true meaning of this season. Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, or whatever traditions you celebrate, all have deeper meanings than the gifts, the shopping, the traffic, and the music that started as early as the day after Halloween on some radio stations.  This is the season of light, of hope, of love, of joy, and sharing of ourselves with others.  I hope you are able to leave the rest behind, and take some time for your loved ones, and yourself, to spend together and truly celebrate.

From my family to all of yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Amy

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Wicked Deeds

Wicked Deeds by Heather Graham
Wicked Deeds (Krewe of Hunters, #23) by

Heather Graham (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review
A romantic getaway for a just-married couple, an historic Baltimore restaurant, and a murder makes for a typical beginning for this 23rd installment of the author’s Krewe of Hunters series. The series focuses on a team of FBI agents, all whom possess to some degree abilities to see, hear, and interact with the dead, and use these special “gifts” to unravel murders that local police and other agencies cannot solve.

What sets this novel apart from the rest of the series is the strange dreams, followed by waking encounters, with the ghost of a most famous historic personage, Edgar Alan Poe himself. Poe is a regular visitor to the Black Bird restaurant, which is dedicated to his life and work, and is the home of The Blackbird Society, a Poe fan group. When the restaurant becomes the scene of the murder of another, modern famous author, Poe volunteers to assist agent Griffin and historian and future-agent Vickie with the case.

As the members of The Blackbird Society insist on “helping”, Griffin and Vickie cope with multiple séances, more murders and disappearances, and a trip to a house that could have come straight out of a Poe short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” As they unravel the clues to the modern murders, Vickie finds strange links between the modern cases and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Poe’s own death, which the ghostly author cannot consciously recall.

I thought this novel was by far one of the most engaging books by author Heather Graham I have read in some time. The premise of the story, while in lines with the successful series, contained more originality and twists and turns than some of the prior books in the series. Her protagonists are always likeable, but it is rare that the multiple secondary characters and antagonists, such as socialite and would-be seer Liz Harcourt, are portrayed with such depth of development. The characterization of Poe himself was equal parts comic-relief and intrigue that makes the reader ponder the various theories concerning his mysterious demise.

The only issue I had with Wicked Deeds is in the final chapter, which seemed overly drawn out and forced in length. While it was nice to see the characters have some closure, this particular scene seemed a little superfluous, especially after the level of excitement that preceded it. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book, and give it five stars, with recommendations for any reader who enjoys paranormal/urban fantasy/murder mystery/romantic stories.

Pre-Christmas Sale

blur celebration christmas cookies
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hello busy readers and pre-Black Friday shoppers!

Have you ever wished you could step outside of reality for a little while, take a breath and simply will yourself somewhere  that is more peaceful, or more exciting, somewhere where you can be anything you can imagine, or experience an adventure you’d never dare to dream in real life?

The main character in my book Virtual: can you be sure what’s real?, Amanda, has the chance to do exactly that, through a marvelous trip into Virtual Reality.  Join Amanda and her teammates and opponents, especially the sexy Rex Cade, as they experience excitement, adventure, betrayal, and untold dangers as they uncover a plot to take control of this new world.

 

I’ll be running a promotion for seven days starting this Wednesday, November 21st, on my book Virtual: Can you be sure what’s real?

This e-book makes a great stocking stuffer, or a quick read when you get a chance to relax!  Just follow the links here:

Check out these wonderful reviews on my work:

From Graciela Sholander: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RNVO43UWX78KU/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B076DJNHT6

From Robert Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RPYU1Z3D57U4I/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B076DJNHT6

Have a great holiday, and make sure to take some time for yourself!

First Contact, an Original Flash Fiction

It’s been awhile since I posted much original fiction, save for the poetry contest last month, so I thought I’d share this little story that’s been taking up space on my desktop.  This is just a strange idea I had- what if humanity’s first encounter with extra-terrestrials didn’t go quite like we expected? Enjoy!

Are we actually alone? Photo by fabiogis50 on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

First Contact, by Amy Caudill

When the visitors came they did not appear in front of the U.N. or another world center.  The sleek, ovoid craft, which NASA sensors determined was made of materials originating from outside our solar system, was first recorded as visible on June 21st, 2023, in the forests of Maine. The craft sat down in a clearing at 9:23pm EST.

It would only become obvious much later that this was in fact their intended destination, and not a navigational error as officials would initially speculate.

Quickly the governments of the world began jockeying with personages from various media outlets for position to witness this most historic occasion.  Numerous military units took up position, ready to control crowds or wipe out invaders, as needed, if signaled from a command center positioned a safe distance away.

When the ship opened along a hidden seam and lowered a ramp to permit egress, the representatives of world governments, military components, research scientists, and members of the press, were naturally shocked at the appearance of the extra-terrestrial visitors, but in a manner that was completely unexpected.

The other-worldly visitors who descended from the vessel did not resemble any fanciful or movie variation of alien life forms. In fact, the group appeared as nothing more or less than creatures of earthly origins, but those popularly dismissed as figments of myth and legend.

One member of the alien delegation, of unknown gender, was over seven feet tall and covered with brown fur; another appeared to be female, stood at most two feet high, and had pointed ears and transparent wings that fluttered as she walked down the ramp.  The third member of the alien party, apparently male, was nearly as short as the second, squat, and possessed a long, red beard that nearly touched the ground.

“We have traveled from a distant system to treat with the leaders of this planet,” the fairy-like being said, in a recognizable form of Standard English.  “We wish an exchange of knowledge and perhaps raw materials.”

A U.N. official replied, “We welcome you in peace.  We would be glad to introduce you to our governments, and discuss terms of exchange with you that could benefit us all.”

“We thank you for your words but are uncertain why you are approaching us.  We assumed these forms to honor the most advanced species native to this planet,” the furry alien delegate claimed.

“We expected to meet with the caretakers of this world.  We have long observed your planet and are aware of the damage your race has caused, more so than any other indigenous population,” the bearded delegate added.  “We were uncertain as to your function, but inferred you to be an encroaching species.  May we ask where the beings are who are responsible for the welfare and security of this planet?”

As the representatives of government struggled to voice an answer to the aliens’ query, the billions watching live via satellite feeds were already assigning blame, none of which they claimed for themselves.

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Prince of Fools

Prince of Fools by Mark  Lawrence
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  Amy Caudill‘s review

Prince Jalan Kendeth is a pampered, self-centered rogue, a scoundrel, a womanizer.  He’s hardly hero material, which he will tell you himself, except that when trying to escape one battle he accidentally led a charge into another one, a feat that made his people call him hero and his enemies call him devil.

When Jal tries to escape an enchantment the mysterious “Silent Sister” has placed over an opera house full of patrons, he literally runs into a fierce Norse warrior named Snorri Snagason.  Both men are impacted by the failed curse, which causes them harm either if they part ways or make direct contact with each other.  Effectively bound together until they find a way to reverse the curse, Jal joins Snorri on a mission to rescue his kidnapped family.  The fact that he’s wanted by the local crime lord has nothing to do with it.

Jal and Snorri begin a quest that leads through wilderness, barbarian towns, mountains filled with undead soldiers, and ruins of “ancient”civilizations as they draw ever closer to a fortress planted on the edge of a glacier, the “Bitter Ice.”  What they find there, and what they are willing to sacrifice, may determine the fate of the world.

This story is told mostly through the point of view of Jal, who paints a picture of a dark, unforgiving world, where the value of a man can be measured by the sharpness of his steel or the gold in his pocket.  The narration is occasionally broken up by the storytelling efforts of Snorri, whose flashbacks reveal hints into the larger plot.

This latest installment into the author’s Broken Empire universe started off a little slow, but picked up momentum about a third of the way in.  The suspense kept me practically on the edge of my seat towards the end of the story, and I was still guessing all the way up to the final chapter.

Though this book is the first of a trilogy, and is part of a larger universe, it still had enough resolution to be read as stand alone, which is a plus to me.  For all of these reasons, I award this book 4.5 stars, and recommend it to anyone interested in the fantasy genre, as well as fans of paranormal and dystopian stories.

 

 

Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe While Trick-or-Treating

One of my favorite things about Halloween is seeing all the children, dressed as their favorite characters from make-believe, excitedly collecting treats as they travel door-to-door.  With a few simple rules and precautions, we can ensure that this holiday tradition is a safe and fun time for our kids.

Take your pick
Tomorrow’s the day, and kids big and small are rare’n to go out!  Photo by DaDaAce on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Before you go:

Do your research.

Many communities will establish a certain time frame for kids to trick-or-treat in, so both residents and law enforcement will be aware of when they may be on the streets, and to protect residents from “tricksters” who may try to take advantage of the night.  It’s a good idea to check your local news source or community webpage to see if there are restrictions in your area.  In my community, for example,children are only permitted to be out on Halloween from 6 to 8pm.

It’s also a good idea to plan the route your kids will take, especially if you are not going with them, and make sure they know to stick in areas you know and consider safe.

Alternatively, a number of local shopping centers and even churches offer “trick-or-treating” events, where kids can walk around a well-lit area, sometimes indoors, and collect candy from participating vendors or parishioners.

Costume adjustments.

You’ve purchased your little ones that costume that they just had to have.  Unfortunately, it’s a dark color that will make it hard for them to be seen by any cars on the street while they’re out.  That’s okay, because you can make a last minute addition of reflective tape, found at any craft or hardware store, to their costumes. Or consider a battery-powered light pack, or a flashlight or other light-up accessory such as a lightsaber to make them more visible when they have to cross the street.

Instead of a mask that can make it hard to see, especially in a relatively dark area, consider using makeup on your kids’ faces.  There are all sorts of specialty kits available for Halloween, or you can make use of normal cosmetics you have around the house.

When you’re ready to head out:

Make sure that your little ones are either with you, an adult or older teen you can trust, or at least with a group of friends.  There really is safety in numbers when they are walking in or near dark, with loads of strangers out.

Encourage your kids to follow the courtesy rule-only visit houses where there is someone  waiting out front or an outdoor light lit.  Not everyone chooses or is able to hand out candy on Halloween, so remind your kids to be respectful.  Also, it never hurts to encourage them to say thank you for the treats they receive.

It’s time to go home:

Unless your route out goes by grandma’s or your sister’s house, make sure that your kids don’t eat any treats until you get home and can check it.  Consider counseling your kids to not eat their entire haul in one sitting, or take charge and ration it out to them.  After all, the last thing anyone wants is for them to end their Halloween with a massive tummy ache!

Above all, have a safe and fun Halloween!

 

Important ‘Harry Potter’ Character Will Be Getting an Origin In ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’’

Despite the recent controversies surrounding the cast of this upcoming movie, many of us are looking forward to the latest addition to the Harry Potter franchise, which is due out in theaters on November 16th. My children grew up on this series, in books and movies, and their excitement for J.K. Rowling’s world helped foster their love of reading. My thanks to Brian Avolicino from Apocaflix! Movies for this post on this upcoming sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

APOCAFLIX! MOVIES

There has been a lot of speculation about what will be going on in the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We have already gotten a couple of trailers, including most recently the final trailer, which gives us an idea of what to expect from the movie. As well as the trailers, the title of the new movie Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, clearly seems to push the fact that this movie saga will be about the Dumbledore and Grindelwald story briefly told to us in the Harry Potter novels as well as movies.

In the first Fantastic Beasts movie we met Magizoologist Newt Scamander, (Eddie Redmayne) as he embarks on an adventure from Europe to the United States with his suitcase of Fantastic Beasts on a journey that ends up garnering the attention of the MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of…

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4th Halloween Poem Contest – 3rd Group Of Submitted Poems —

Thanks to Aurora Jean Alexander for including my poem to the third group of submissions to her annual Halloween poetry contest. Be sure to check out all the wonderful entries on her web site.

Writer's Treasure Chest

Picture courtesy of: http://preventioncdnndg.org/


Please respect each authors’ and poets’ copyright. The rights remain with the writers. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from each of the poems author’s is strictly prohibited and violates copyright laws in the country you are reading this work in as well as in the country you are trying to re-publish this work in. – Aurora Jean Alexander

PUMPKIN AND YEW PIE – BY STEVIE TURNER

A rustling of the yew in October’s breeze,
While over her grave it sheds a few leaves.
They rot in the soil with what’s left of her corpse,
Rain drenches the ground where once she had walked.
Burned at the stake in seventeen-o-two,
Jane looks down from the top of the yew.
She wasn’t a witch, and it wasn’t a trick,
She’d learned from her mother how to heal the sick.
Potions, plants…

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