Movie Review: The Grand Seduction

Detail from IMDB:


The Grand Seduction (2013)

113 min  -  Comedy  -  30 May 2014 (Canada)

Ratings: 7.5/10 from 419 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 11 user | 36 critic | 20 from

The small harbor of Tickle Cove is in dire need of a doctor so that the town can land a contract to secure a factory which will save the town from financial ruin. Village resident Murray … See full summary »


Don McKellar


Michael Dowse, Ken Scott


Taylor Kitsch, Brendan Gleeson, Liane Balaban | See full cast and crew »

Initial thoughts:

I make an effort to see every movie made here in Newfoundland while it’s in theaters (that means I’ve seen some bad ones like “Stoner FM”). Usually there are worthwhile and I had heard good things about this one, so with some time in a different city (Corner Brook to be precise) myself and my Mom went to see this (first time I had seen a movie with her in 20+ years).

Main Points:

I probably would have seen this movie even if it wasn’t set in Newfoundland as I quite like Brendan Gleeson and of course the best actor from Newfoundland, Gordon Pinsent. While this is a remake of a French film they certainly do a good job to show the way of life in Newfoundland for some small communities and our friendly nature.

The scenery is beautiful (it’s Newfoundland after all!) and the acting is good all around. It’s a nice little story (with some crazy/silly/unrealistic parts) and is very funny. I found myself laughing out loud lots of times and constantly try to figure out where it was filmed (this probably won’t happen for a lot of people who watch it who aren’t from Newfoundland).

It’s been said that any Canadian film has a certain look to it, it looks just a little bit amateurish but such is not the case here. With Kitsch and Gleeson on-board this movie has the same production values as any Hollywood movie (which is nice to see).

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this movie. It has some flaws of course, the ending is a little bit predictable and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend seeing it with your parents (or a small child due to a couple of mild sex scenes), I give it a strong 8/10 and a hearty recommendation to anyone else seeing it. If you’re from Newfoundland you’ll probably enjoy this movie the most but I’m sure anyone else will like it to. See it if you can before it’s gone, you won’t regret it.


Book Review: Light/Dark Short Stories

As I’m starting my vacation I have time and hopefully there will be at least 2 more posts in the next week or so Smile For now my thoughts on a collection of short stories put together by a local publisher, Engen Books.


Details from Amazon:


Book Description

Publication Date: April 21, 2012

Eight short stories from Engen Books’ top talent in storytelling. Featuring the stories Revving Engen, Reptilia, Theogony, Gristle while you Work, You have the Touch, Scarlett, Remers, and Omega; this collection is guaranteed to excite and entertain!

Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Engen Books (April 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1926903064
  • ISBN-13: 978-1926903064
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

Initial Thoughts:

As any reader of this blog knows I am quite a fan of short stories. I like how they are episodic and often complete by themselves. I like the little feeling of accomplishment when you finish reading one and perhaps more relevant to this post I like the collections that Engen has done so far (see their website for the other two). So while I was at a convention last year (yeah I’m that slow) I picked one up as an even trade for my book.

Main Points:

The quality of these stories are good and I like the simple cover design with the contrasting black and white colors. As with their other collections I find though that there is a lack of proper editing. It’s not terrible but it gets annoying when I know that on every second or third page their will be a mistake. Simple stuff like writing “and” when it should be “end”, things that an editor should have picked up. I said it before and I’ll say it again, grammatical mistakes take the reader out of the story and this is what I found to be the case here.

Because I got the time (and I roll like that) I will make comments on each story (briefly Winking smile) however.

The Theogony,by Matt LeDrew. I enjoyed this story though I did find the whole tablet power/idea confusing at first. I suppose before I go on I should say…


Okay so at the end of this story we are never sure if the patient ever met this woman or if he ever even left the facility, I like this sense of uncertainty and I enjoyed how it is complete in itself. LeDrew is very good at describing scenes and he does a good job with characters.

Gristle While you work by Jay Paulin, very good! Open-mouthed smile A nice twist for this average woman who helps out her brother turns out to be a monster that eats people whole. My only complaint is the end, why did she eat her brother? He is one of her only family members left (her parent’s died) and it just didn’t make sense to me. This story could have used some more meat on the bones (and yes that’s pun intended Winking smile)

Scarlett by Andrea Edwards, excellent story! One of my my very favourites of the collection. I loved how this is a more adult Buffy-type story and it left plenty of room for a sequel. I also like the fact that she’s not afraid to kill characters and show the emotional effects of a horrible event, it’s more realistic to human nature and I look forward to reading more from Andrea in the future.

Reptilia by Matt Ledrew, really good one Smile. Very visceral, lots of excitement and just the right amount of gore for my tastes. What I didn’t like was the ending and how the virus spread. One of the characters even tries to figure it out (how it jumped to a driver who had no contact with the infected blood) and is killed before he can reach any answer. Then the team who shows up and knows that it was all a test (for a government weapon) ends up being killed as well! It was certainly a surprise but for me not a welcome one and I just didn’t feel it made any sense.

Omega by Ellen Curtis, excellent story. I really enjoyed all the medical details and the conspiracy theory. The fact that the main characters secretly plan to take down the institution and break their friend out was a fitting ending.

Remers by Sarah Thompson, an ok story. I always liked the Six-Million Dollar Man/Robocop idea (though the latter movies turn to complete garbage) and the cyborgs in this story are described well and it’s an exciting story, for the most part. The problem with this (and it’s something I’ve discovered with other short-stories) is that it goes on too long. That and I didn’t like how everything just works out for Chase, he lives, gets these super enhancements, is instantly the best member of the team and even gets his girlfriend back at the end. This may make me sound a little depressing but it was just too tidy, I guess I’m not a big fan of fairy tale type ending.

Reviving Engen by Matt LeDrew. This was an odd story, there is something strange going on with the main character, he’s attacked, saved and by the end will still have no idea. While the atmosphere, imagery and characters are well done I just never got into the story, this is one of the weaker ones of the collection.

You have the Touch by Larry Gent. An excellent story, a lot of fun, a great character, lots of pop culture and geeky references, some clever use of images and some good humour surprises. My favourite of the collection. Hot smile

Final Thoughts:

I will certainly purchase Light/Dark 2 (or whatever it’s called) but I do hope they get a better editor and wider selection of authors (having Matt write 3 stories when it’s HIS company does seem like he’s tooting his own horn at least a little bit). I would give this an 8 out of 10 but the editing mistakes and other concerns make me put it down to a 6 Thumbs up. I do recommend this with some trepidation and would probably tell a reader to skip the Engen and Remers stories completely.

Until next time I am as always…


Book Review: The Imagination Journals by Darren Hann

Details from Amazon:

Book Description

Publication Date: August 4, 2012

Within The Imagination Journals You will Find Five Stories , The Assignment , Holy Troll , What Makes It Modern Technology , Plan 9.5 From Outer Space ,and Bunker-6 .Each Story will Stretch your Imagination to new limits,and beyond.

Product Details

Initial thoughts:

Darren is a friend of mine and I’ve known him for years. I enjoyed his first novel "Time Stone: Saving the Rock" and while I was at a convention last year we did a swap and I got this collection of short stories from him. I quite enjoy short stories and while I’m a terribly slow reader, I did finally finish this book today.Open-mouthed smile

Main Points:

If Darren reads this…well we might have some things to discuss. I hope he’ll realize I’m being constructive and not mean spirited. Writers have to develop a thick skin after all. With that said I quite enjoyed the first 3 stories. (I had read "Holy Troll" in another collection of short stories). What starts to really become noticeable in "What Makes it Modern Technology?" is the lacking of proper editing and formatting. It becomes obvious here that the book is self-published and that like most authors (in my experience) Darren is great with ideas but terrible with editing. Editing is a chore and its a strange thing that we can easily find the mistakes in other people’s work but no so much in our own. Darren also has the unfortunate habit of establishing characters, getting the reader into the story and then abruptly ending it. I think they key with a short story is to get the reader involved and make a story just the right length. When you look towards the next story thinking "how can this be over so fast?" Or "is this done yet?", in either case you have a problem. I don’t claim to be an expert on writing short stories but I’ve read plenty and I know what I like. All of this brings me to the largest problem with this collection, "Plan 9.5 from Outer Space" I guess maybe now is the time for…


So Darren wrote and directed a fan film of the same name. The movie is both a homage and an improvement of the horrible train wreck that is "Plan 9 from Outer Space." I enjoyed the movie and this story is an adaptation of it. The problem is that it’s not a good adaption. Turning any kind of movie into a book (when it wasn’t based on one to start with) is a risky thing to do and Darren shouldn’t have tried. Editing and grammatical mistakes really takes the reader out of the story. Simple stuff her like instead of "u.f.o." there is "u.f.", simple words like "every" are misspelled and the story jumps all over the place and even has a character die and comeback (for no apparent reason) all in two pages. I found it a chore to get through this story and is mostly the reason I was so long reading the collection of stories.

The final story "Bunker-6" also has lots of grammatical strangeness going on and ends entirely too quickly. It has all the elements of a good story, fun characters, cool technology, humour, action and a recurring villain but once more technical issues drag it down. This story shows the most promise I may end up getting another short story collection from Darren just to see what happens next in the story.

Final Thoughts:

Darren really needs an editor, for his first book he did and the result was much better. I can only recommend this book if you skip "Plan 9.5" entirely and have a high tolerance for errors with the others. Darren is a creative guy that does lots of great stuff (including Sci-Fi on the Rock, which is an excellent convention I whole-heartily recommend Hot smile), sadly this is not one of them. I can only give this 5/10 and hope that Darren’s next work is a return to the "Time Stone". Next for me will likely be a movie review, followed by a book review of another collection of short stories by local authors (Light/Dark by Engen) which hopefully won’t take me months to read 😉 until next time I am as always…


Guest Post: Royal Flush blog stop by Scott Barttlett

Hello, Cro’s Nest readers! I’m Scott, another Newfoundland author. I’m writing this guest post as part of the blog tour for my humour novel Royal Flush, which strikes me as a good opportunity to discuss my experiences thus far as an indie author. Hopefully this will be useful to anyone who’s considering becoming one.


I chose to self-publish Royal Flush, you see, and I’ve been promoting it for a few months, so I feel like I’m in a good position to tell you that self-publishing is a lot of work.


My printer is Lightning Source, and so I was responsible for virtually everything except the actual printing—including writing, editing, cover art, formatting the book, turning it into a PDF, and promoting it.


Royal Flush is about a man known only as the King, who rules a land known only as the Kingdom. It asks the question: can a man who throws his dates in a dungeon succeed romantically?


Five years ago or so, I wrote the first draft in the 18 days leading up to a competition deadline. This was the Fresh Fish Award, a local prize. (I didn’t win that one.)


I then spent several years revising and editing, ultimately going through ten drafts. I wasn’t alone in this, though. I’m lucky enough that many people have taken an interest in my writing, and I would estimate that over 100 people read Royal Flush during its various stages of pre-publication. This includes friends, family, coworkers, and users of, all who provided valuable feedback. You might say I crowdsourced a significant amount of the editing.


I approached a local artist I went to high school with, Susan Jarvis, with a concept for the book cover, and she made me something very close to what you see today. I was immediately very happy with the cover, and I requested only minor changes.


Formatting the book was a headache. I spent hours researching how to do it. Hyphenation was especially troublesome. I’m glad I invested the time, though, because I think the finished print book looks pretty professional. (Formatting for eReaders, of course, wasn’t as big a deal, since it looks different on every device anyway.)


To promote the novel, I’ve turned to Twitter, Facebook, my blog, and local venues such as Chapters, Coles, Afterwords, Books R Us Plus, The Never Ending Story, the Farmers’ Market, Sci-Fi on the Rock, and the Regatta. I’ve been interviewed in local newspapers and on the radio. And then there’s this blog tour, after which I plan to record the first part of my book as an audiobook and give that away for free, to try and pique interest in the rest of it.


I have an 8-page marketing plan, which never seems to shrink no matter how many to-do items I delete from it. This is because I’m constantly adding new things—both new ideas and things I’ve realized I need to do. If you’re like me, you’ll underestimate just how much work self-publishing is before you go into it. A lot of it is unglamorous logistics. But based on my personal experience, I consider all of it well worth it.


One advantage associated with being self-published (and with being published electronically) is that your book is always ‘in print’. There doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge push immediately after the book is released, and then little to no activity afterward. Since my book is available for as long as Lightning Source, the ebook sellers, and I are all solvent, I can promote at my leisure—mind you, I don’t feel very leisurely. I am having lots of fun, though, and I consider that extremely important!


Scott Bartlett has been writing fiction since he was fifteen. His recently released novel, Royal Flush, is a recipient of the H. R. (Bill) Percy Prize. Click here to buy the ebook ($3.99) or to order the print book ($12.99).


Charles O’Keef…

Charles O’Keefe has been promising for a while now that his first book, THE NEWFOUNDLAND VAMPIRE will be out in April. Well, not to steal his thunder – but here it is! Available now on Amazon in print, later in other formats/venues. It just came out today, and we haven’t even got it up on our web site yet, but we’re working on it. Meanwhile, take a look….


Charles O’Keefe

Like every other geek alive, Newfoundland native Joseph O’Reily secretly wants to be a superhero. At thirteen he fantasized about being a vampire, and ten years later he’s still fantasizing – but mostly about a beautiful redheaded woman who has eyes only for him. The one thing different about Joseph’s adult fantasy is that, amazingly, it comes true one night when he goes to a local university pub. Cassandra Snow, literally the woman of his dreams, invites him to her place for an evening of personal pleasure. Of course he’s not going to say no. But when strange things start happening afterward, Joseph quickly learns that not all dreams should come true.

Cassandra has plans for him – forever. And those plans don’t include daytime activities. An animal lover and recent vegetarian, Joseph wrestles with all the weird changes he’s experiencing after his encounter with Cassandra. Eternal youth and amazing power come at a price that is perhaps higher than he can afford. The constant hunger for blood and the secrets Cassandra harbors test his resolve and his mental and physical limits. And then there’s the fact that a two-hundred-year-old vampire is after his head – literally.

Joseph’s night vision improves dramatically, giving him a glimpse of the darker side of the world and the terrible evil of vampires who walk among humans. As he tries to balance his regular life with the new reality of his vampire existence, he is determined to hold onto his personal convictions and what he values most – his humanity.