Frankenstein: Anatomy Of Terror Review

For the 4th and final of my Halloween & horror themed reviews, I’m going to be taking a look at a book I stumbled across when I was 10 years old.
And in the 19 years since I acquired it, I’ve almost read it a few times but something always stopped me from taking the plunge.
Now, after all these years, the time has come to crack it open.
Can it live up to that immense amount of pressure and hype?
Let’s find out together, gang!

As is customary around here, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Okay, first off, let’s talk about the book that I THOUGHT I was going to be reading.
As you can see on the cover above, under the title, it has the tagline “A Tale Of Terror For The 21th Century”.
For YEARS that tagline made me think this was Mary Shelley’s Classic rewritten to be hipper and cooler, a retelling for the happenin’ audiences of the new millennium.
Gang, never have I been so wrong, and never have I been so damn glad to be wrong!
What this book ACTUALLY turned out to be is far far better than that idea could ever hope to be.

When 3 high school kids, Nina, Joe, & an eccentric lad known as Captain Bob, run afoul of some wacky hacking abilities, a bunch of old movies converted to 3-D DVDs, and a freak lightning bolt, the most well known monsters in cinematic history are transported to the real world 21st century to unleash true fear.
Now, having already captured Dracula and The Wolfman, these 3 start to realize next monster on their list of foes may just be the beast brought to life by one Dr. Frankenstein.

DOESN’T THAT SOUND FUCKIN’ AMAZING!?
And let me tell you, IT IS!
If I had read this when I was a kid, I would have shit enough bricks to build an entire city block worth of houses.
The combining of monsters with movies in this specific way is genius.
The twist of bringing the movie monsters into the “real world” adds a new layer of fear and horror that a movie alone could never really inspire.

For a kid’s book, and the 3rd in the series no less (more on that in a minute), the characters are incredibly well fleshed out.
And even more astounding would be the fact that Larry Mike Garmon decided to introduce at least 3 new characters in this book and, somehow, nobody feels pushed to the side and ignored, new or old.
He’s obviously building on storylines from the 1st 2 books, but he does it in a way that doesn’t make you feel like an idiot or lost for having missed the earlier installments.

I mentioned that this is the 3rd book in the series.
Now, it should be pretty obvious that, based on what I thought this was going to be, I had absolutely no idea.
Upon reflection, I should have known, I should have looked at the spine or read the back cover blurb, but damn it I had my preconceived notions locked in place and that was that.
Yeah, I think it’s well established that I’m a jackass, cause that’s a real bummer.

I really wish I could get, or had gotten, the rest of the books in this series, but now they’re either out of print or so damn expensive that it seems unlikely to happen.
It’s sad because this story is just that damn good, gang.
So if you can find a copy of this or any of the books in this series, pounce on it!
This isn’t good for a kid’s book, it’s a good story all around.

Let us know what you think of this horrific review in the comments below or share this post on the hell scape known as Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her bonechilling continued editorial assistance.

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Murder In Cormyr Review

If you’ve read many of these reviews or listened to the pod, you know that I dig detective/private investigator stories.
The less straight forward and more off beat the better.
Be it Monk, Psych, Dan Shamble, or Mystery Inc, there is just something about the nontraditional mystery solver that I love.

You’ve also heard my interest in Dungeons And Dragons grow since this show launched nearly 4 and a half years ago, as evidenced by Ep 100 of the main show (listen to that here).
So what happens when you combine D&D and a murder mystery?
Let’s find out!

As always, let it be known far amd wide that this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

In the tradition of most detective novels I’ve stumbled across, this story is told from a first person perspective of somebody who just so happened to witness it all as the helper of the incredibly savvy detective.
This story begins with our former slop boy and quarter halfling narrator, Jasper, recounting the story of how he came to be in the service of a retired war wizard, Benelaius.
Having broken into Benelaius’s cabin on a drunken dare, Jasper agreed to be his servant, at half his current pay, for a year to keep his soon to be employer from reporting his crime to the local law force, the Purple Dragons.
Yes, gang, this book isn’t afraid to go full nerd!

Nearly a year passes, with Benelaius teaching Jasper ways to broaden his future beyond petty burglary.
In the year that has gone by, a ghost has started appearing in the Vast Swamp near town and the citizens are starting to get worried.
They get even more alarmed when bodies start dropping just before the merchant’s guild is scheduled to hold their annual meeting in the normally quiet town of Ghars.

Before I got a copy of this, like with most books I get, I did a ton of research and only found a couple of reviews from around the time of release.
After I finished reading it the other day I searched them out again just to compare.
The only conclusion I can come to is one of the following: either Chet Williamson wronged this reviewer in the worst possible way and the reviewer got his revenge in review form, your ol pal Doom might be simple in the head and is easy to please, or this reviewer read a totally different book cause I had a shit ton of fun with this one.

Williamson infused this with an incredibly pulpy vibe, while still juggling the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy aspects of it all.
Which is fascinating considering my research (which could just be internet horseshit) says that when he wrote this he had less D&D experience than I currently do.
Had I not read that, I would have thought he was a seasoned veteran when it comes to slinging polyhedrals.
He paints as good a picture of the world and its monsters as the DMs on most actual play podcasts I’ve heard.

The mystery of the murderer is interwoven with the ghost and political upheaval storythreads damn well.
All have enough satisfying twists and shocks to keep you more than interested until the end.
The Monk-like “here’s what happened” scene even has a twist that is explained the following day to add an unexpected bit of business to make this story have a freshness all it’s own.

Bottom line: If you always wanted to read a tale of a slightly more sedentary Gandalf or Dumbledore playing gumshoe with Frodo or Harry doing their legwork, look no further.
The biggest thing I can piss and moan about is that the ending seems to suggest more adventures with Beneliaus & Jasper that sadly never happen.
This book was perfectly made for me, and I’m glad I found it.
Hopefully you’ll feel the same and pick it up yourself.

Let us know what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Star Trek: The Rings Of Time Review

Space, The Final Frontier.
These words have long been used as almost a rallying cry for Trek-dom for years.
But what happened as humanity took those initial monumental steps in to the place where no man had gone before?
What happened when the first impulse engine took its maiden voyage into that wild black yonder?

This book from Greg Cox intends to tell that tale, which has been a story of interest since Star Trek debuted back in the 60s.
But does finally learning the story behind that off-handed mention live up to the wonder that imaginations have conjured in all the ensuing years?
Is learning what that moment in history entailed satisfying enough?
Let’s strap in and find out, gang!

As always, this is your requisite ***SPOILER ALERT***
Act accordingly.

On June 28th 2020, Colonel Shaun Geoffrey Christopher, son of USAF Captain John Christopher, made his historic trip to Saturn in the U.S.S. Lewis & Clark.
In 2270, the U.S.S. Enterprise answered a distress call from a mining moon orbiting the ringed planet Klondike VI.
Both ships witness the hexagonal storm on the respective planets they’ve arrived at in turmoil.
While trying to understand that, both ships encounter a strange alien probe.
Through a series of exploratory events in both places in time, the Captains of both ships come in contact with the probe and in a flash of bright white light swap bodies and kick off our plot.

Season 1, Episode 19, production number 6149-21: Tomorrow Is Yesterday.
One of the most iconic and memorable episodes of Star Trek The Original Series.
In that episode, Kirk and crew accidentally end up in the 1960s and beam Captain John Christopher aboard, he learns too much about 23rd century technology and they fear they can’t send him back to his time because his experiences aboard Enterprise may cause him to, intentionally or not, change the future.
The only problem is that his son is a crucial part of the space program.
This is that long speculated story!

I’ve known Greg Cox’s name since I was around 14 years old, I had just made the big jump into comic books, after a childhood of loving comic book based cartoons.
Having recently discovered the wonderful world of media tie-in novels, Marvel had a new line of books through Pocket Books and I found and read Fantastic Four: War Zone.
From that book forward, Greg Cox was a sign of quality and easy reading, particularly when dealing with sci-fi.
This book does nothing to disabuse me of that notion.
His prose is crisp, economic, and some how encourages an unencumbered need to devour page after page.

If I were to have a complaint about this book, it would be the same I’ve had in many of these reviews.
And thinking about it, it’s actually probably what any good storyteller should be doing, he leaves you wanting more…and that is one hell of a feat in a novel that weighs in at 370 pages!
His focus, understandably, is mainly on the 2020 crew that we don’t really know.
Is it bad?
Not at all!
But I wanted to spend more time with the crew we know and love.
I wanted to see more interactions between Christopher, in Kirk’s body, with the iconic crew members.

If you love the adventures of the 1701 crew, episodes or movies, then this just may be the book for you.
It is a call back/forward jizz fest we nerds adore, and it never comes off feeling hokey like he’s just trying to make references for the sake of making them.
Continuity wasn’t the biggest deal in the 60s, but logically if you were in a 5 year mission, such as Kirk is leading, if you didn’t always reference or ponder what experiences you’ve had it would feel cheap and unimportant.
And that is how most of these references are fit in, reflections on the encounters they’ve had over the course of their extended stay in space.

Unsurprisingly, this had everything and more that I want out of a Star Trek novel.
The characterization is spot on, it has a solid Sci-Fi hook, there’s an unexpected conflict that I didn’t even touch on, and it has that sense of wonder and hope that stories of space travel should have.
Gang, if you always wondered what happened on that historic trip to Saturn, wonder no more.
I doubt there could be a better telling of it than this!

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Day By Day Armageddon Beyond Exile Review

Ya know, sometimes it’s truly fucked up the way that life can imitate art, and this novel/series is a perfect example of that disturbing little notion, given our current global situation.
But let’s not get into all that, we’ll instead stick to…*swallows hard*…fiction?

As this is a sequel, the near inevitable comparisons to the original (which you can read my Review of right HERE!) book are bound to happen.
So how does it compare?
Let’s find out!

As per the usual round these parts, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Picking up after the battle that closed out book one, we learn more about the carnage and aftermath.
Things soon ramp up again as a militarized group appears, wanting to take Hotel 23.
This forces our main character to out himself as a Naval officer, and unexpectedly take command of this remnant of the US Military.
After a few missions to fortify the missle silo, and collecting quite a few new survivors, our main character heads out in a helicopter to scope out Shreveport, Louisiana.
The helicopter crashes and sets us up for the body of this journey in to the wastes of the now zombie infested US.

I forgot most of this book in the ten years since I first read it, and I’m really glad I did because it made the suspense of it hit as well as it should all over again.
That wondering if the narrator has the skills and grit to survive through the ever growing onslaught of zombies that have been mutated & irradiated thanks to a drastic attempt to save the world in book one.
And the introduction of a new advanced military-esque group and their tech adds a new player to the universe, bringing with it a strange glimmer of hope in an incredibly dread filled world.

One of my only complaints from the first book does get addressed…sort of…?
After receiving a drop of gear from the new Remote Six group, and in an effort to cut weigh in his trek back to Hotel 23, our main character finds a house and leaves one of his guns in the fridge with a note and the old military graffiti Kilroy Was Here.
Once a man tracking the narrator catches up, our main is known as Kil from that point on.
We even have a higher ranking military leader mention/threaten that he found the narrator’s name on a list of people who didn’t show up on base when the shit hit the fan.
I’d still prefer to have an actual name, but I guess that works well enough.

One of the great things about zombie fiction is knowing what the cause of the infection is.
Sadly, more often than not, we normally don’t really get one, but we do here!
I won’t flat out spoil it here, but I will say that I wonder how much the origins of The Walking Dead played into the reveal.
If you know what that means then, you are pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.

Bottom line: These books are as easy to read as blinking.
The pages fly by quick and before you know it it’s all over, leaving you intensely curious to find out what happens next.
I have the same feeling I did when I first read both of these back to back a decade ago, I’m hungrily on the hunt for the next installment.
My hope is that I can find the next two books soon, because I don’t really want to leave this world hanging for another ten years.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Five Decades Of The X-Men Review

A collection of short stories following the most marvelous merry mutants mankind mustered are meticulously mashed together into one mega mob of miscellanea!
Thank you thesaurus.com for the help in keeping that amazing alliteration going in true sensational Stan style.

Anywho, the question I pose to you and yours is this: does this collection of short stories give a good taste of the X-Men, their universe, and their various storylines through the five decades of their existence up to the point this book was published?
Let’s cut the chitter chatter and find out, gang!

This is your obligatory ***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m not sure why, but diving into this I was weirdly uncertain if I would like it.
But there was one lone name that gave me the courage to do so: Sholly Fisch!
Long time listeners of the main show should recognize that name as the genius behind the damn superb Scooby-Doo Team-Up comic, so seeing he was involved gave me a tremendous amount of hope.
But I was not prepared for what else lie ahead of me.

The initial story, covering the ’60s, “Baptism Of Fire, Baptism Of Ice” by John J. Ordover and Susan Wright, is a tale of Charles Xavier’s first class of X-Men, through the eyes of Bobby Drake, A.K.A. Ice Man.
As they are training for their first mission we see Bobby’s frustrations with being the new kid on the block and not getting many challenges or much time to shine in the Danger Room when they get a new team/class mate in the form of one Jean Grey, the first girl on the team.
It’s a simple yet effective story of the earliest days of this groundbreaking institute and its founding members as they struggle with their burgeoning powers and raging hormones.

Story two, set during the ’70s, “Firm Commitments” by the good sir Sholly Fisch, sees a guy named Jay make a gigantic scientific break through at think tank Genetech that leads him into a twisted underworld of mutant hate that he can’t get down with.
He takes the bull by the horns and actively works against this nutso group in the only way a relative nobody can.
Sholly has a voice that’s so incredibly easy to read, on the level of some of my other favorite writers and this story alone makes me want to hunt down any and all other prose work he has.
He seems the most comfortable with the X-Men and their world, and the outsider perspective of them feels real, well thought out, and solid.

The third tale, taking place in the ’80s, “Up The Kill Backwards” by Tom Deja, might just be my second favorite story here.
And it’s definitely one of the least complicated stories in this volume.
A new class of X-Men are thrown together and tasked to take over while the big guns are off on their own disparate personal sojourns.
Their new trainer, Sean Cassidy A.K.A. Banshee, is trying to whip them into shape and make the brother of a legend get out of his familial shadow and step into the role of leader.
To try and force some like mindedness on them, Cassidy sets up a training exercise with a secret government organization and things go badder than batshit as things go sideways!

The fourth story, getting us planted firmly in the ’90s, “The Cause” by Glenn Greenberg, delves into the darkest areas of the X-Men world.
We see news reports of hate crimes against mutants spiking as Reverend William Striker, the poster boy and leader of one of the most well known anti-mutant hate groups is set to be released from prison.
Greenberg takes us inside this group and shows us, through one of fictions greatest allegorical set-ups, the inner workings of the group and the stupid bullshit that the morons that inhabit it believe in.
This one is not at all my favorite, but it’s definitely the most weighty and sadly still relevant to the times we live in, further illustrating the versatility of these characters and their little corner of the Marvel universe.

The fifth and final story, set in the early ’00s, “Gifts” by Madeleine Robins, covers relatively similar ground as the first story in that it’s dealing with teenage romance and flourishing powers, but still manages to eek out a fun story of its own.
The highlight of this story is definitely the badass climax in a cemetary with Psylock trying to talk down a teen who’s telekinetic abilities have caused catastrophic damage to a New York airport and highway due to factors beyond her control.

From the near goosebump inducing intro by the legendary Stan Lee (that feels like a loving and warm hug from the universe) to the two hundred and sixty-first page of the final story this book was the one thing I crave in these superhero novels, it was sheer fun.
All five stories have the big splashy set piece superheroics you expect from comic books, but with the added benefit of your mind’s eye being the artist.
The world of the X-Men, and all of the ups and downs of real life that that entails, is captured in the most loving detail by these six authors.
And whomever came up with the concept to do five stories set in five different decades is goddamn brilliant!
The big touchstone moments in the illustrious history of the X-Men are hinted at, if not flat out mentioned.

The only real problem I can point to would be an issue I’ve found in a lot of these late ’90s/early 2000’s novels of this ilk, they are riddled with typos.
Missing words and letters that are particularly troublesome and occasionally pull you out of the story as you try to figure out just what the hell the author meant.
It needed another thorough pass by a good copy editor to clean up some unfortunate sloppiness.

The bottomline, gang, this is a perfect collection for old fans wanting fresh stories from these different eras or new fans trying to find a way into the notoriously daunting X continuity.
No character feels out of step with my experience with them, even the characters I have limited exposure to.
Prices online can be disrespectfully overpriced, but if you just so happen to stumble across a decent priced copy, I’d highly encourage you to pick it up and give it a chance.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

And finally: If my count is dead on, this is my 40th book review in just over two and a half years.
So to all of you that dig these and keep checking them out, thanks.
Reading has always been one of my main joys and it has been incredibly fun sharing it with you, gang.