Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Review

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In a brand new Jumanji adventure, four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji – you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves – or they’ll be stuck in the game forever, to be played by others without break.


Why did I come to this movie/read this book again?

Let’s start with the fact that I love all of the adult actors featured in this film. It looked hilarious and completely ridiculous. I’m not a big video game girl, but I’ve played a few, and know enough about them to appreciate most of the little jokes in the trailer. I was so excited to see this movie!

5 out of 5


I have to say that I loved all of the characters. Jack Black stole the show with is performance, but the others were all great. I’ll never say no to a good Dwayne Johnson movie, and I adore Karen Gillan. Kevin Hart is somewhat new to me, but he cracked me up. They all did a great job being teenagers trapped in different bodies with strange abilities. I totally relate to having cake be a weakness, and I’m seriously thinking about taking up dance fighting.

5 out of 5

Did I care what happened?

Yes! Totally. Even though most of it was predictable—even that very last moment when Karen Gillan saves the day—I cared.

5 out of 5

Plot Holes

The great thing about a movie based on a video game, is that the plot only has to hold the silliness together. Why do the bad guys run around on motorcycles? Who knows. Doesn’t matter. They just do. Why is the clue in the bottom of a snake basket? Because that’s where the programmers put it. Every time I started to think “Wait, that’s dumb” I reminded myself that it’s dumb on purpose, and then I was laughing at something else and forgot.

4 out of 5

How many times did I yawn?

No yawning. Much laughing.

5 out of 5

Cool Factor

I was impressed. Again, it’s a living video game. The effects are great, if not cheesy.

4 out of 5

The End

This movie almost has two endings. The first when the beat Jumanji. (Spoilers. Don’t complain, we all know it will happen) But then again after they get back to the real world. I liked both.

5 out of 5

Overall Enjoyment

You guys, I loved this movie. I went in expecting a silly, romp with lots of humor and maybe some cool effects. And guess what, that’s exactly what I got. No pretense of being the greatest film ever made. No artsy style to interrupt the humor. I laughed and laughed. I’ve actually seen it twice and it will be one of my go-to movies for a long time.

I expected to enjoy Dwayne Johnson’s performance the most, but seriously, Jack Black…well, just go see it. Go see it with the expectation that it’s a video game movie that might be funny.

5 out of 5


Score=38 out of 40

That’s a Black Belt!

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A twisted bet and a lot of gold

Sally forced the smile to stay on her face as the throngs of people walked by. The thick, dusty air hung around her like a curse, and no matter how much she kept her expression excited, everyone ignored her.

It was bad enough that she hadn’t had a decent customer in a week, but even the Uriths weren’t giving her the time of day. And they were all desperate to get to their most holy ceremony over the mountains.

Word about what happened to Wild Bill must have gotten around.

That hadn’t been her fault. He was the idiot that thought a rope would hold if he jumped two hundred feet. It had held, but she’d lost the bottom half of him.

“What are we going to do?” Sally’s first mate, Texas, asked. They were all out of money, and people’s stomachs were starting to grumble.

Sally stood, rising to her not terribly impressive height. “I’ll find us a fare if it’s the last thing I—”

“Miss Sally?”

Sally stopped in her tracks. The crowd parted, and before her stood a tall, thin man covered in black robes that hung to the ground. His voice reverberated through her, much like the engines on her air ship when they were humming at just the right speed. But they didn’t make the hairs on her arms stand up.

The man closed the distance between them. The crowd went around him like water racing down a hill.

“Yes?” She held her ground.

Texas shifted away.

“You are Miss Sally?”


The man—even his face was obscured by the hood—glanced up and behind her. “This is your ship?”

“Yes.” Sally’s mind did a quick run through of people she owed money too. Had one of them come to collect?

The stranger continued to look at the ship. At least that’s what Sally thought he was looking at. It was hard to tell without access to his eyes. Enough time passed, that Sally cleared her throat.

“Did you need a lift?”

The darkened face turned down to her. “Yes.”

Sally’s heart jumped, but she kept her voice even. “Standard fare is—”

The man cut her off, holding out a leather purse with drawstrings. “This should suffice. Can we leave right away?” Without waiting for her answer, he moved past her and Texas and up the gang plank, which despite his height, hardly sagged.

“Wait a minute…” Sally trailed off as the weight of the purse pulled her hand toward the ground. She squeezed the bag, swallowed and looked inside.

And her breath caught in her throat.

Gold pieces. A lot of them. She looked up, her mouth open and ready to ask the man if these were real, but when she saw him, already leaning against the banister of her ship, she knew they were.

Sally shut her mouth, clasped the bag tight and moved up the gang plank. “Texas, cast us off. We leave. Now.”



Her first mate, and long time friend, knew not to argue.

“Where are we going?” Texas asked.

“Let’s find out.”


Less than an hour later, Sally’s ship, the Loose Cannon, was soaring above the desert toward the mountains.

The man had only given her a direction, not a destination.

Texas was worried.

Sally kept herself together. She approached the man, who had still not lowered his hood, and spoke.

“We’re going to need a destination.”

The man sat at a table that was bolted to the deck. The wind whipped around him, but the blasted robes barely moved. “I need to go to the place where Wild Bill fell.”

A fist clamped around Sally’s middle. “What?”

The man sighed and his hands came out of his sleeves.

Only they weren’t hands. Just bones. Glowing bones. They moved to the hood and lowered it, revealing a glowing skull.

Sally took an involuntary step back and covered her mouth with both hands to keep the scream in.

Death nodded. “Not bad. People usually run.”

Sally’s heart raced, and her hands shook as she lowered them. She could feel her eyes bugging out of her head, but couldn’t do anything to stop them.

“Are you…are you here for me?”

Death laughed. The air shied away. “No, Miss Sally. I’m not here on official business.”

“Then, why?” She hated the way her voice squeaked.

“Well, you see, me and the Death that takes care of the Uriths have a little, shall we say, bet going.”

Several questions surfaced. Sally blurted out the one that made it to her lips first. “There is more than one Death?”

The skull smiled at her. “Certainly. No one of us could keep up with all of these people.” He waved a skeletal hand.

“Why Wild Bill? He’s been dead for a week.”

“Oh, I know. I need something from his corpse.”

“We brought him back.”

Death held up a bony finger. “You brought his top half back. I need the bottom half of him.”

“For what?”

“I told you. For a bet.”

Sally shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

“Since you haven’t screamed, or tried to shoot me like Texas is about to do over there, I’ll tell you.” He leaned forward as if they had a secret to share. “This other Death and I have a bet on how many famous people’s toe nails we can collect in a month.”

Sally blinked.

Death grinned again. “So far I’m ahead.”

“Wild Bill wasn’t that famous.”

“Not yet, but he will be. Time is a fickle thing. Just trust me. Take me to where he fell and I’ll double the payment I gave you.”


“Maybe triple, depending on how quickly you can get us back.”

That much money and she could buy her own island.

“Well?” Death asked.

Sally turned and yelled at Texas. “Put down that gun and bring us about!”


Seriously, how many times can toenails come up on a D-20 dice???



Setting-On a Ship

Random Object-Toe Nail Clippings


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Month Two as a Full-Time Author

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Yes, this is a little late, because the hubby and I were on a cruise at the beginning of the month. Still, I thought I would report on my full-time authoring.

At the beginning of the year, I laid out my writing goals for 2018. They were, to say the least, lofty. But that’s okay, right, because if you shoot for the stars and only hit the moon, you still hit the moon. Right? Something like that anyway.

Well, as I’ve already mentioned, February got blown up. I started out with twenty writing days. That got cut to eighteen, then the fifteen then to twelve, and then to ten. The only one I had planned for was two days for a local writing conference. The other eight days got sucked away by different things.

First off, my old work called me in for three days. Pretty sure I mentioned that already. My hubby got laid off, got a new job and then we went on a cruise between jobs. (I know, I know, my life is hard.) So three days went to the cruise, and two days went to prep.

None of these things are bad things, but they did interrupt my writing schedule in a big way.

So I had a grand total of ten writing days in February. And guess what happened to my February goals? Yup, most of them are still sitting on my list, staring at me, wondering when they will get worked on.

I reluctantly pulled out my Q1 goals, and saw that not many of them are going to get met either. Which puts several of my 2018 goals in jeopardy. Which does not make me happy.

I thought about leaving most of my goals “as is” and trying to play catch up, but then I realized how frustrating that would be, and decided to revamp instead.

But what is there to do about it? I can’t exactly turn back time. There’s only one way to go, and that’s forward.

So in order to salvage what is left of March, I wrote down all of the projects I’m working on and their due dates. Then I arranged them in order of priority, printed the list out and stuck it right next to my monitor. I wanted to get to marketing my Jagged Scars series this month, but considering the last book and the last novella of the series aren’t finished yet, there’s no point.

Productivity is my biggest concern this year. January went well. February faltered. March is looking…iffy. But I’m going to do my very best to recover what I can.

I hate missing goals, but it’s going to happen. I keep telling myself to breathe and keep going.


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Convenient that I got to use a cruise ship in this one.

The captain of the cruise ship looked at me and made a face comparable to a man who had just eaten an extra tart lemon. His tan skin pulled tight around his lips.When he spoke, he used that tone of voice that said I should have seen this coming.

“So you’re telling me that your kaleidoscope is gone?”

“That’s correct,” I said. I did my best to square my shoulders and look into his eyes, but my belly won the square versus round fight, and it was hard to look into a man’s eyes who was a foot shorter than you. I held up a finger. “My Christmas kaleidoscope.”

“And that makes it worse why?”

The other officers kept their eyes down as they rushed past, preparing to pull into port.

“Because it is worth a great deal of money,” I said.

Which wasn’t entirely true. If we didn’t have it on the ship, we would sink the next time we went near the reef, and it would, in turn, cost someone a whole lot of money. We’d be dead, so that’s one burden lifted off of our shoulders.

“And you want me to turn this place upside down in order to find it?” His pinched facade cracked, allowing the red-faced fury to begin. His dark mustache twitched.

I squared my shoulders again. “Yes.”

“Just how much money is it worth?” the captain asked through clenched teeth. Steam from his anger clouded his gold incisor.

“How much is the ship worth?”

I got a glare in response.

“Because it’s worth more.”

“And you were waving it around in front of the audience last night? Telling them how valuable it was? Then you left it on the stage and someone took it? Am I understanding this correctly?”

All but the “left it on the stage” part. I nodded.

The captain threw his arm wide and pointed out the bridge window. “Then you’ve simply lost a small fortune. I’m not going to strip search every single person getting off of this boat.” He found his rhythm, and the volume of his declarations got steadily louder. “Do you have any idea what kind of a PR nightmare that would cause? None of us would ever work in this industry again!”

“Better than being dead,” I said. Aloud. Whoops.

“What do you mean?”

I didn’t have time to explain the laws of the sea to this man. Not the real laws. Not the things that kept us safe from the Sirens and the Kraken and the Kelpies. Not the reasons we always carried a *cough* magician on board.

I snapped my fingers, and the world around me froze. I was going to get hell for this, but the Brotherhood (and now Sisterhood—we’d considered calling ourselves the Hood, but hadn’t voted it in yet) would understand. And hopefully forgive me.

If not, they’d just leave my sorry corpse on this ship when it sailed again and then sunk.

Movement caught my eye through the window.

“Oh no,” I said, cold running through my veins. I rushed to the window and saw a single man hopping from the ship to the pier.

I squinted. No, not a man, but a faerie, identifiable by the soft blue glow around him.

How in the hell had he gotten on board past my wards?

The faerie stopped and turned. Our eyes met. He reached into his pocket-he was wearing a crew uniform-and drew out the kaleidoscope. The little imp waved it at me, and stuck out his tongue.

I rubbed my face. I had to get that thing back before we sailed.

As if the faerie knew what I was thinking, e lifted the kaleidoscope and threw it down onto the pier.

I felt the pieces shatter, as parts of my soul fled from my body.

I went to my knees, unable to see out the window.

How had he known?


So I stretched a few of these, but it works. And it’s a bit short this week!



Setting-On a Ship

Random Object-Christmas Kaleidoscope

Theme-You are your own worst enemy

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