Saturday, March 24, 2012

John Carter...a spectacular disaster...

I am not a typically fussy viewer when it comes to science fiction, but I have to say "John Carter" blew it in nearly every way possible. This was especially disappointing because I've been a Taylor Kitsch fan since first encountering him on "Friday Night Lights." Many great actors have survived similar box office crashes, so here's hoping he comes out on top...and a good place to do that would be in his next big-budget flick "Battleship."

Lynn Collins (The Princess of Mars) was beautiful and did a fine job with what she had, but no matter how well you act it's just hard to get past dumb lines and even dumber settings. It was truly amazing how the makeup people presented her as a bronze goddess when she is in reality so pale...but the look was a good one. That's one positive note, I guess.

Back to "John Carter" the flick and all the other points that just plain didn't work. First, let's talk about plot. I, like many middle-age sci-fi readers grew up on "John Carter of Mars." I haven't had one of those slim paperbacks in my hands in over 30 years, however I'd be the first to admit they were fun romps that didn't take themselves too seriously--HOWEVER, there are limits to how many holes you can leave in a plot and still claim it resembles a story. This big screen "John Carter" adaptation has more story and logic holes than a soccer net. Suffice it to say that not even Edgar Rice Burroughs on a bad day would have let this clunker leave his typewriter. I don't want to give away too much, but how about watching John literally slaughtering huge multi-limbed martians by the hundreds, if not the thousands, but a few scenes before and few scenes after he's having a tough time handling just a few of the same breed of creatures. Then there's the little logic issue about how he can snap thick steel chains and rip rocks in half, even though lower gravity can't explain those superhuman feats. While we're discussing it, I also tend to wonder why his flesh seems mostly immune to dizzying impacts with everything from steel to stone to...well, you get the picture. Yes, I know you fall slower in low gravity (which you couldn't tell from John's Hulk-like, high velocity landings) but he not only fell down, he was thrown, swung and hurled in every possible direction all throughout the film...but never with more than a few scratches and dust marring his pale skin.

I've never been a fan of Victorian anachronistic technology, so it's no surprise that I had faint appreciation for the gauze and frame flutter-bug aircraft that often filled the "John Carter" screen, but my absolute central peeve had to do with John Carter's nonsensical reaction to the low gravity environment on Mars. Of course, we all know that was how the author explained the Earthling's super strength (he grew up in high Earth gravity and therefore had dense powerful muscle when in Mars' comparitively low gravity) but none of that provides any clue as to why all the leaping in the movie shows John mostly flying face-forward as though his forehead were weighted with lead. When he first arrives on the red planet (which isn't all that red), he keeps falling forward and can barely seem to crawl without his bangs dragging in the sand. It seems to me that he should have been fighting to stay on the ground, but instead in those opening scenes he looked as though he was struggling to get up out of the sand. Then, every time he leapt, the director may as well have left the cables visible in the scene because the flying movements projected the presense of wires to the point it was painful to watch. It almost felt like a 1930s adventure scene shot on the cheap outside of an early Hollywood studio. Not a single leap seemed believable in any human movement, laws of physics sort of way.

Probably one of the biggest crimes with this picture, however, was how the movie dragged and dragged and dragged. It's no wonder the budget tanked any chance of profitability. It truly felt as though the screen-writer and director couldn't figure out how to end this debacle, so they just kept filming, maybe hoping the equipment would break down and make the decision for them.

I know I haven't given a lot of specifics about the story and characters here, but it's mostly because none of that matters with the many flaws constantly grinding at any reasonable viewer's sense of acceptance. I just wish Disney had called me before they began production, because for a few hundred bucks I would happily have reviewed their plans and scrapped this catastrophe before it ever went into production.

I regret to say that "John Carter" barely registers one star on my five star scale :-(

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Zachary Pill, Of Monsters and Magic" is absolutely FREE book for any e-reader format...

This first book in the Zachary Pill fantasy series is over 200 pages of action-packed fun. From conception to completion, the first three books in the Zachary Pill were easily the most challenging yet most rewarding and fun novels that I've ever written. They also took me five years to complete. I could take a few minutes to describe the book to you, but why don't we let the some of the reviewers of the first Zachary Pill trilogy do it for me :-)

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read in a while, August 7, 2011

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This review is from: Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End, Trilogy (The Zachary Pill Dragon Magic series - books 1, 2 & 3, 765 pages) (Kindle Edition)
Five Stars
Many thanks to Tim Greaton for writing such a brilliant book.

This book is really FANTASTIC and it's written with such a unique writing style. There is no series, that I have read, that I can compare it to. It's both funny and dark at the same time, and I really enjoyed all of the characters, especially Madame Koochie and her "rockets."
Zachary Pill grew up in Boston, but when bats attack and his father suddenly disappears, he is thrown into a whirlwind of danger and magic. From the bats that attack him in Boston, to his forced imprisonment with Madame Koochie and his trips with friends through the nostrils that are just as slimy and gross as they sound, this book is amazing. And to see a wizard boy transform into a dragon was one of my favorite scenes.

I loved this and I'm sure many others will as well. I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Read Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End. You will definitely not be sorry.

Tim Greaton Sparks Fantasy and Adventure with Verve and Panache, August 19, 2011

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This review is from: Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End, Trilogy (The Zachary Pill Dragon Magic series - books 1, 2 & 3, 765 pages) (Kindle Edition)
Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End (The Zachary Pill Series): It's seldom you see fantasy written with such verve and panache. Greaton delights his readers with a montage, a veritable cornucopia of magical, mystical, supernatural elements incorporated within one novel. The book is loaded with action and fantasy yet Greaton doesn't fail to deliver on the story. Zachary Pill is a typical kid with his share of bruises and bumps from schoolyard altercations. Because of a major problem with bats, a problem so great that the early extermination might have saved his father. The fate of his father is a key question after his disappearance with the bats. Zachary moves in with a Madame Koochie ,an orange haired, brightly dressed caretaker that does nothing and lives in filth. Here he makes a refuge. As the story moves on, the possibilities for his dad are learned and history of the family is attached to a unsuspected background that moves in space and time in a place called Pandemones
The mystery of his father's fate is connected to a Krage, a family rival of sorts. Magic is primary to the family powers and is exercised by magic wands and other implements like magic rings, key to the dad's powers. Time after time creatures like Medusa with snake encrusted hair add depth and background to the story, a kind of secretary. Notable and key is the event with a dragon figure that serves to transform him in a kind of metamorphosis.

If you are looking for a fun read that contains bats, werewolves, wizards, trolls, dragons, creepy flying things that resemble snakes all set in a magical fantasy, this is the book. Zachary Pill reads well as it goes from one fantastical event to the next.

I loved the Boston setting and a myriad of bats in this setting. Sections of Boston remind me of New Orleans especially around Halloween.

Fantastic action packed adventure, October 28, 2011

This review is from: Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End, Trilogy (The Zachary Pill Dragon Magic series - books 1, 2 & 3, 765 pages) (Kindle Edition)
WOW, I don't know where to begin. This book was amazing. Harry Potter meets How to Train Your Dragon. Loved the story and the world that is created within it, so many levels and creatures and Tim's imagination is just out of this world...

Zachary Pill is a normal kid, or so everybody thinks. He gets bullied at school and one day has had enough. Zachary saw another kid being picked on and decided to stand up for him and himself. This is the day everything changes. Zachary started to fight back, literally and ended up with a broken arm and bruising all over. His father was called to school and demanded that Zachary not be taken to the hospital. The School was dumbfounded, why would a father not allow his child to go to the hospital? Well, there is a family secret that has been hidden from Zachary; he is a Wizard, well half Wizard. Zachary was taken to a special hospital, where wizards and creatures and beasts go, he was patched up and his arm put in plaster. Everything would be normal again, or will it? Nope, when they arrive home, his father is vague and wouldn't answer his questions. Eating spaghetti for dinner, Zachary looks at his father's plate and sees worms instead of pasta. Surely Zachary was just imagining things because of his injury. Everything went into chaos, bats swarmed the apartment and everything went dark. Zachary could only use his one arm to find his father. There was a brilliant blue light and his father disappeared. Poof, gone!

Zachary is now on a journey to find his father, calls in his Uncle who palms Zachary off onto an old woman that lives in a pigsty, Madame Kloochie. His Uncle too disappears in search for his father. Zachary befriends the kid from across the road, Bret. Together they try to work through his father's belongings and a way to find his father. Zachary is the last Pill on Earth and is being attacked by all sorts of monsters. He must survive and find his father and Uncle.

This book is quite long, but the story is just amazing and I couldn't put it down. Tim really knows how to draw you into the book and I know there will be a lot of Harry Potter fans that will love it. There are just so many amazing things happening that you will have to read it and find out for yourself (the nostrils, they're travelling tunnels for example, hilarious and gross). ~ Katie Turner (The Kindle Book Review)

Prepare for a sleepless night., October 4, 2011

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This review is from: Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End, Trilogy (The Zachary Pill Dragon Magic series - books 1, 2 & 3, 765 pages) (Kindle Edition)
This book is fantastic! The story never stands still. I was doubtful at first, thinking, "Oh, boy, another Harry Potter read-a-like," but I was rapidly sucked in by the colorful characters and constant action. I shouldn't have taken it with me on a cruise, because if I hadn't, I'd have gotten a lot more sleep.

5.0 out of 5 stars Modern High Fantasy-at it's best!, October 31, 2011

Linell Jeppsen (The mountains of Northeast Washington State) - See all my reviews

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This review is from: Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End, Trilogy (The Zachary Pill Dragon Magic series - books 1, 2 & 3, 765 pages) (Kindle Edition)
Trolls, Orks, Goblins, wizards...Dragons! This marvelous modern-day fantasy has it all.
Zachary Pill seems like a regular boy until he breaks his arm in a bullying incident (Zachary is the victim). Suddenly his world is turned upside down. His injury has triggered a series of magical events that will effect his world and many other mysterious realms, because he is the son of one of the most powerful wizards in the universe! This magical tale will hold you, and wisk you away to the land of...anything's possible! Move over, Harry Potter...Zachary Pill's in town!

5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun and characters you care about!, February 25, 2012

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This review is from: Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End, Trilogy (The Zachary Pill Dragon Magic series - books 1, 2 & 3, 765 pages) (Kindle Edition)
I'm going to address the elephant in the room right out of the gate: Yes, _Zachary Pill, The Dragon At Station End_ owes a debt to the Harry Potter series. Downtrodden boy discovers his magical identity and goes on amazing adventures with a male and female friend. Sounds familiar, hmm?

In this case at least, the characters and worlds that Tim Greaton introduces us to and develops throughout this book are so offbeat and engrossing that some plot parallels to "that other young wizard" can be easily overlooked.

Zachary himself is a multi-layered character with a lot of heart. I dare say that many readers will immediately be able to relate to him. Aside from his naturally green hair, there is nothing really outstanding about him at the start of the story. As the plot proceeds, he discovers more and more about who is really is. I am not just talking about his magical persona, but also the personal qualities he has within himself that emerge as he is placed in challenging situations. For me, that is the hallmark of a terrific piece of fiction: a protagonist you can connect with and watch grow and change throughout the plot.

There are many other characters introduced in the story. Greaton makes no secret of the fact that this is intended to be a series, and many characters that we meet are not developed. The assumption is that their part will come in future installments. Zachary's sickly best friend Bret and the outrageous and mysterious Madame Kloochie are two characters that stand out here. There is a great deal of foreshadowing of events that are to come in future installments, and Greaton's characters are developed in such a way that makes them intriguing enough that the reader develops a genuine interest in what is going to happen to them beyond this book.

For the most part, Greaton's fantasy elements in _Zachary Pill, The Dragon At Station End_ are simply whimsical figments of his imagination that he has worked into the tale. And that is a large part of the charm. A flying pig, a "porkasis", is just that, a wacky invention worked into the story for the sake of humor and fun. There are many such inclusions on Greaton's part, as well as familiar fantasy entities such as trolls, ghosts, and werewolves. The mix of the familiar with the unexpected really drew me in while reading _Zachary Pill, The Dragon At Station End_.

This book is geared toward the 9-12 year old crowd, but older children and adults who admire escapist fantasy will also find it appealing. If you enjoyed Harry Potter, or are merely a fan of light fantasy, you will likely enjoy _Zachary Pill, The Dragon At Station End_. I'd encourage you not to compare Zachary to Harry, but just enjoy his story on his own merits. I am very much looking forward to Tim Greaton's next installment in this engrossing series.

5.0 out of 5 stars The next great Magic series is already HERE!, November 30, 2011

K_Karie (Pacific Northwest) - See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End, Trilogy (The Zachary Pill Dragon Magic series - books 1, 2 & 3, 765 pages) (Kindle Edition)
This book has one thrill after another. You barely start to recover from one adventure before there is another! I've never read a Harry Potter book, so unlike other reviewers, I can't compare. In terms of magic and mystery, this book strikes just the right balance. It leaves you craving more. I've literally just finished (like five minutes ago) and my head is reeling with questions and possibilities of where this story might go next. I can't WAIT for the sequel!

One thing I really love about this story is how realistic Zachary is. He speaks as I would expect my son would in a similar situation. He reacts to his parents and other adults with sarcasm, annoyance, begrudging obedience, etc. He thinks with the wild imagination of a teen exposed to the unimaginable.

Well, those are some of the things readers are saying. Did I mention the first book in the series is FREE! Thanks so much for taking the time.

'Hope you like your free book. Just click on the first cover above and you can get a copy for any e-reader! :-)