Interview: Aly Malchaka

At Wizard World Comic Con Nashville 2017, Day 1, Scott Asher had an opportunity to speak briefly with Aly Malchaka (of Aly & AJ (Disney) stardom as well as a reoccurring lead role on iZombie (2015) as Liv’s BFF Peyton Charles) about trasitioning from child star to adult star and faith in Hollywood.

As I introduced myself to Aly I was surprised by the graciousness she showed as she welcomed me to the interview and even shook my hand – something most celebrities don’t do. My first experience with Aly was in the film Cow Belles (2006) – a Disney TV movie that my then young daughters made me watch over and over. My daughters love Aly & AJ (even now as High Schooler and College student!) One of the things they liked (and my wife and I did too since we are always looking for wholesome entertainment and good role models) is that both actresses were Christians.

Scott: My daughters would love to be here right now!

Aly: Awww.

Scott: One of the things my daughters told me that was great about you as a role model was that you and your sister are Christians. Is that true?

Aly: Yeah.

Scott: So, what’s that like being a Christian in Hollywood?

Aly: I think it’s a rarity, but we’ve always been very outspoken about our faith. It’s just one of those things that, you know, it doesn’t necessarily affect anybody because if you’re just cool with it and you’re fine… no one’s really ever bothered me about it. Everyone can have their own beliefs and we can all be cool with that.

Scott: Have you ever had to turn down roles because of your faith?

Aly: Uh, sometimes. Rarely. It’s never really been anything negative for us. If anything it’s been a positive.

Scott: Thank you. You guys were childhood stars and yet, you’re not doing drugs and stuff…

Aly: [laughed] No.

Scott: How did you successfully transition from child star to adult star when it seems like so many people didn’t make that change well?

Aly: I think probably because AJ and I have always been very close and we rely on each other. It’s helped, you know, in not getting us off that path. Obviously, we are not perfect – we’re humans – but we always try to hold each other with a certain amount of accountability. I think, yeah, having each other was a really important part of us staying focused on our craft and not getting involved in all those other things.

Scott: Thank you so much! I appreciate your time.

Interview: Lou Ferrigno

At Wizard World Comic Con Nashville 2017, Day 1, David Mason had an opportunity to ask Lou Ferrigno a few questions specifically about Pumping Iron, the 1977 documentary featuring Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his time as the Hulk (TV and TV movies).

David: Thinking back to your time working on the Incredible Hulk – how was that experience for you as far as going from Pumping Iron?

Lou: The Hulk was fourteen hours a day of makeup. An hour and a half to take it off.

David: I read that Arnold was up for that but he wasn’t tall enough or big enough?

Lou: No, I was better for the part. I was a lot bigger.

David: I saw that the two of you at the reunion [Pumping Iron: the 25th Anniversary c. 2006]. Do you and Arnold keep in touch at all?

Lou: I see Arnold all the time.

David: I am a big fan of the [Hulk] show. I heard you were going to make a fourth?

Lou: Yeah, but then Bill [Bixby] passed away [in 1993]. The name of the show was going to be “The Revenge of the Hulk” but Bill passed on.

David: Thank you very much!

Live Blog: Day 2, 2017 #WizardWorld Comic Con


Welcome to BookGateway.com’s Wizard World Comic Con Nashville 2017 live blog! Join me (Scott Asher @ashertopia) David Mason (resident comics-know-it-all), and David Warren (photo and videographer) as we blog everything that happens on during Day 2 of Comic Con Nashville 2017! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BookGateway and #WizardWorld! Video will also be posted next day on our YouTube channel. On tap today: Whedonverse cosplay, Saturday morning cartoons, Batman the Animated Series, Star Wars cosplay, Harry Potter, Firefly cast reunion, and more!

(CLICK ON TITLE TO VIEW LIVE BLOG)

Live Blog: Day 1, 2017 #WizardWorld Comic Con


Welcome to BookGateway.com’s Wizard World Comic Con Nashville 2017 live blog! Join me (Scott Asher @ashertopia), and David Mason (resident comics-know-it-all) as we blog everything that happens on during Day 1 of Comic Con Nashville 2017! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BookGateway and #WizardWorld! Video will also be posted next day on our YouTube channel. On tap today: Opening thoughts, CinemaSins, DC Cosplay, voice actors, writing fantasy, and more!

(CLICK ON TITLE TO VIEW LIVE BLOG)

Patterns of Evidence: Exodus

Did the Exodus from the Bible actually happen? Many say there is no evidence, but what if the time frame that they were looking for evidence was wrong? That’s what this documentary wants us to consider.

Patterns of Evidence: Exodus
by Timothy P. Mahoney
Thinking Man Films
August 2015

A well made and intriguing documentary – if you dig archaeology – the film provides what it sees as evidence of the Exodus happening earlier than most current archeologists believe. By changing the expected date, according to the film, the Exodus fits the evidence almost perfectly. I’ve watched this film several times and find the “evidence” compelling. The problem is that there is almost no documentation outside of this film to fact check.

I’ve looked for more information on what I think is a fascinating find that deserves more information: the pyramid tomb of someone who may be Joseph. But outside of links to and about this film it is hard to find more information on that. What I would like to see, and what I think is very important, are follow-up about the evidence itself. This is the problem with most documentaries: are you telling me a story or are you presenting facts. I’m not sure.

The only works cited I can find on the documentaries website are a bunch of books by David Rohl. Dr. Rohl, according to Wikipedia, is an Egyptologist who has been putting forth theories like the early dating of the Exodus since the 1980s. (He has also put forth his theory of where the Garden of Eden would have been – next film, maybe?) What is interesting about Dr. Rohl is that he is not a Christian so what he says isn’t easily dismissed as biased. But minority opinion is still a fair label. Whether he is right or not may not be knowable at this time.

In the end we have a documentary that makes a strong, if somewhat unsubstantiated, case for an early dating of the Exodus that kept my attention twice so far and has intrigued me so much that I may end up reading Dr. Rohl on the topic. I recommend it.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This movie was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Megaskull by Platts

Nobrow is so hit or miss. I get that they want to allow people to be creative with no editing or censoring, but the fact is that most artists and writers need editors who can help them develop their ideas, to cut out bad ideas and cultivate good ones. But at Nobrow, the artists get to do whatever they want and most of the time it’s pretty mediocre. This time it was terrible.

Megaskull
by Kyle Platts
Nobrow
December 2012

Kyle Platts is the writer and artist in this book that is a series of supposed-to-be jokes. The art style is very late night cartoon network-ish: bright, exaggerated and violent. The stories or “jokes” are pretty terrible. None of them are funny. Not a single one. Most don’t even make sense. They are often based on absurdity, but don’t hold up well actually fleshing them out.

Consider two dads standing in their driveway watching a kid ride their bike for the first time. One says, “Good job son! You’re making me proud.” The other says, “What if he just kept biking for like ever, like Forrest Gump?” The first just looks at the second like the dork he is. No one thinks, I should make a two page comic about this one second, lame joke. But Platts did. And this whole book is like that.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible

This isn’t just a study Bible for kids!

NIV Kid’s Visual Study Bible
Zondervan
June 2017

The only thing that sets this Bible apart from other study Bibles for adults is that the cover says this is for kids. This has study notes, pictures, maps, explanations and descriptions just like what you would find in your adult or teen study Bible. Everything is easy to understand and at a reading level that older children can comprehend. (My 10 year old was able to read the notes with no issues.)

Normally, I don’t like seeing a ton of new versions of the same study Bibles, but in this case I think this is one that stands apart for how comprehensive it is with the notes and visual aspects. I already had a couple of study Bibles for my two young sons, but this one will preplace those as the go to version.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher and Handlebar as a review copy.

The Captain’s Daughter by Delamere

London, 1879 When a series of circumstances beyond her control leaves Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater putting on the most popular show in the city. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. That is, as long as the shadows from her past don’t catch up with her.

The Captain’s Daughter
by Jennifer Delamere
Baker Publishing Group
June 2017

After a hand injury forces Nate Moran from his army regiment in India, he returns home to London, a place that holds bitter memories. He agrees to fill in temporarily as a stagehand while his brother recuperates from a broken leg, but Nate is counting down the days until he can rejoin his regiment. His future is decided—until he meets a beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate yearns to leave behind.

My thoughts:

I decided to step out of my regular book genre again.  Sometimes I just need something completely different than what I normally read.

This is the first book in “London Beginnings Series.”  

I’m a fan of historical fiction. Jennifer Delamere is a new author for me. The historical setting of the story is 1879 London- and the historical characters of Gilbert and Sullivan that feature with their musicals made the story’s setting delightful.

The story is based off of three girls who become orphans after the death of their parents and end up in George Müller’s orphanage. Then focuses on Rosalyn the eldest eventually finds work as a housemaid. You find yourself skipping 6 years in the future and Rosalyn is accused of stealing and the unwanted advances of her employer’s new husband. She flees to be with her other sister to Bristol.

This was an easy read. I found the character interesting and likable.  Not a lot of depth with the character but, there is a lot of action to keep the book interesting. The book wasn’t predictable and it did leave you wanting more depth with the characters.

I’m not going to give away the story so you will have to read it for yourself. Overall, this was a fun read that I had a hard time putting down.


ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

This book was provided by the publisher via Litfuse Publicity as a review copy.

Threads of Suspensions by Henderson

Dee Henderson Pens Another Compelling Cold Case Mystery.

Threads of Suspensions
An Evie Blackwell Cold Case
by Dee Henderson
Baker Publishing Group
May 2017

Evie Blackwell’s reputation as a top investigator for the Illinois State Police has landed her an appointment to the governor’s new Missing Persons Task Force. This elite investigative team is launched with plenty of public fanfare. The governor has made this initiative a high priority, so they will have to produce results–and quickly.

Evie and her new partner, David Marshal, are assigned to a pair of unrelated cases in suburban Chicago, and while both involve persons now missing for several years, the cases couldn’t be more different. While Evie opens old wounds in a close-knit neighborhood to find a missing college student, David searches for a private investigator working for a high-powered client.

With a deep conviction that “justice for all” truly matters, Evie and David are unrelenting in their search for the truth. But Evie must also find answers to the questions that lie just beneath the surface in her personal life.

My Thoughts:

Somehow I must have missed reading Traces of Guilt another Evie Blackwell Cold Case Book. I have been a long time fan of Dee Henderson’s books and have read all of her books except for the last one. Dee Henderson was one of the first authors I read when I became a believer many – many years ago. I was hooked to find an author that was a believer writing quality Christian mystery books.

I love the details she puts into the Missing Persons Task Force. The process she describes that an investigator has to go through to pull up a case that has been unsolved for many years. It made it interesting seeing how Evie and her new partner David have completely different styles as investigators.

The story kept building up the suspense as the team starts uncovering the mystery of the missing people. It was a page turner for me.

Dee Henderson always has a flair for the characters, plot, and the surrounding of the story. It was interesting going through the many theories and leads that will keep you not wanting to put the book down. There are a few surprises. I love David and Evie each have a deep faith in God.  

I’m not going to give away any spoilers but, I have to say that I didn’t find this story predictable and was surprised how it came together.
  


ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Before I Fall Review

Before I Fall, based on the 2010 book by Lauren Oliver, centers on a young lady that relives the same day over and over – the day of her apparent death.

The day starts normally, with her friends picking her up for school on Valentine’s Day (here: Cupid Day). Normal for Sam means preparing to have sex for the first time later that night, hanging out with her shallow Mean Girl friends, making fun of and bullying other students, and going to a party where she and her friends – all underage – will drink until drunk. After bullying a young lady at the party, and after drinking quite a bit and possibly being drunk, Sam and get friends set off for home but hit something in the road, crash and Sam dies. Then she wakes up again and does it all over.

“What do you think people will say about you when you die?” Asks Sam on her first repeat. Even as an awareness of her shallow lifestyle starts to dawn on her, Sam still considers depth from the perspective of selfishness.

By her second repeat, Sam continues the narration from the opening lines. Now she wants to make positive changes and starts asking questions about her life choices. She smartly rejects her planned sexually encounter with her boyfriend recognizing that she “shouldn’t have to have sex with him to get him to say ‘I love you.'”

After she wakes for her third repeat, though, she says, “I did everything right and nothing changed.” Which sets off uncounted days of despair. So instead of being nice, she decides to be even more selfish and lets her anger out on everyone around her as she self destructs.

At one point Sam asks her mom if she thinks Sam is a good person. The mom says, “Of course I do, but what matters is what you think.” Sam replies, “But why do you think I’m a good person?” And that’s the most important question this movie may ask of us. By what criteria can
we say Sam (or anyone) is “good?” The story seems to suggest the answer is by being true to yourself (literally in a big sign on a boy’s wall) and being nice to people around you. But those are not actually good answers, because so many characters who are being true to themselves are simply not good by any criteria. Since the movie struggles to find a good definition of “good,” the ending isn’t as powerful or permanent as it could have been.

[SPOILERS]The resolution and final conclusion of the story is when Sam somehow realizes that she needs to save someone else from suicide by effectively committing suicide by jumping in front of the truck to push the other girl out of the way. There are so many issues with this resolution it’s hard to cover them all. How is her dieing somehow the best resolution? Why couldn’t she have tackled the girl or got in her way? What about telling an adult? (Isn’t that the best answer for a teenager dealing with this?) And even if this was the best way to end things, it’s done in such a selfish way that it’s unclear exactly what Sam learned, only that she got a bunch of positive memories in her final last days. She tells a boy who loves her that she loves him then runs off to her death. She tells her friends how much they mean to her but doesn’t teach them any lessons about how underage drinking, sex, distracted driving, or being mean and bullying all made their lives and the lives around them bad. She never calls her friend Lindsey on how She bullied everyone (in her final day). She leaves them pretty much how she found them. The girl didn’t commute suicide, but was Sam really save by her? I’m not so sure.[END SPOILERS]

Those are not the only reasons to be concerned about this film. Without giving too many details away (see spoilers above of you must), there are some really troubling things that happen in the film that are often portrayed positively. Things that make this story significantly more appropriate for an adult than a teenager – the intended audience. Underage drinking and sex are portrayed in a mostly glorified way and lessons learned through the film don’t really counter the negative messages throughout.

In the end, this is a film that tries to send the right message but ultimately fails for lack of a standard on what “good” actually means. As a Christian this makes sense to me, because apart from God no one can be good, so a film set with a purely atheistic worldview cannot come to a clear conclusion. We are left with a weak answer: Sam must learn to be nice in high school, but she can still participate in any sins she may want to so long as she doesn’t bully people. While I think it is “good” to be nice and not bully people that can’t be the end of the journey. True love for others warns of dangers, it doesn’t just smile and say the words. Lessons need to last, not be covered up by a single day or act, then everything goes back to normal.

2/5 stars. Tons of bad language of every stripe, with an emphasis on B*****. Strong focus on sexuality. No nudity. One repetitive view of an underage girl’s chest in a bra. Sexuality is discussed along with slurs made towards a self described lesbian. Underage drinking and drunkenness. Bullying. Drunken and distracted driving. Suicide. Immorality doesn’t often have consequences. Agonist no violence other than the car crashes, which doubt show anything.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

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