Centralia: Epicenter Review

Centralia, chances are you’ve heard of that city, town, or tiny little speck on a map somewhere.
It’s almost like the slightly less famous little brother of the name Springfield, there’s at least 12 of the bastards spread across this country.
But…what if there’s more to it than just a random and overused name?
What if, like, some new shit has come to light, man?

Those are the questions raised here, that maybe these towns are connected by some darkness…some underlying evil…

Though I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible, just to cover myself, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Probably the creepiest of the stories for me was the first, Grandma’s Eyes by Heath Amodio.
A young girl, Jenna, stricken blind in a freak car accident develops a condition that forces her to avoid her grandma or suffer painful headaches.
Cut ahead a few years and the girl and her Mom get a call from Granny, she’s nearing death.
So, as most folks would, Jenna and her Mom make the trip to see Grandma and say their goodbyes.

A Certain Kind Of Forest Sound by Adam Cesare, when you boil it all down, is a disturbing tale of the call of the wild.
A hiker spends a summer day doing what hikers do, when a sound grabs her attention and draws her into gory mayhem.

The overwhelming majority of short stories and novels make it feel like a story is being told at you, not to you.
They have a stiff delivery that almost feels cold, but not these two!
Both of these stories, but especially the first, have some of the most naturalistic dialogue I’ve ever read, and it is beyond refreshing.

Let’s get this out of the way right now so it doesn’t distract or taint (hahaha, I said taint!) what’s to come.
Yes, I listen to the Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave podcast.
Yes, I’ve seen Impractical Jokers, some of the show and the movie.
So this is your, apparently, prerequisite “Oh my god, it’s Colonel Q!
Let’s all dog pile on the rabbit!”
Good, that’s taken care of.

Now let’s all be honest here, if you look at the many reviews I’ve written or if you’ve heard me talk over the years, you know I am a sucker for an off-kilter detective story.
If you need proof of that then scroll up to the search bar and type in “Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.” or “MONK” and it’ll be laid bare for the world to see.
The title alone tells you this is going to be an untraditional detective: G.B. Bolt And The Case Of The Grabbed Ghost by Brian Quinn.
A fuckin’ robo man spends his many years investigating supernatural occurrences!
Yeah, I’m in!

But as easy a sell as that is for me, I do have two issues here.
The first is an issue that A Certain Kind Of Forest Sound also has.
Both, while delivering information that is important to building the worlds of their respective stories, have a certain distracted circuitousness in them that is…slightly frustrating.
It’s sort of like the narration of both has an almost folksy charm in them when talking about history and then they need a smack in the back of the head to get back on course.
Not an issue major enough to impact enjoying either story, but something that definitely stuck out for me.
Now my other issue is something that plagues the final story as well.

The Grasp Of Wraiths by Cullen Bunn and G.B. Bolt And The Case Of The Grabbed Ghost both feature the most criminal of offenses, the worst of all possible atrocities!
Both end with a glimmer of hope that these characters could possibly appear again some day, but we don’t know when!
*dramatic music plays*
But, some how, even worse, both hint at numerous possible prequels that just do not exist!
*even more dramatic music plays*
It’s an act of unforgivable pure evil from both of them.

In The Grasp Of Wraiths, a mysterious figure is called by an unlikely ally to investigate a series of gruesome murders that may or may not have deep roots that tie it to a Civil War era massacre.
That’s right, gang, we have another Supernatural detective on our hands, and I am happier than a pig in shit.
This one has a damn spooky and well drawn word picture of a dude who spends a good amount of his time dealing with the world between worlds and the critters what inhabit it.

This collection includes two other stories, Sundown by Michael Patrick Hicks and The Valley Of The Yunwi Tsunsdi by Brian Keene, that I haven’t even touched on, but I have to leave something for you to discover on your own.

Before reading this, I’ve not read anything from any of these six writers.
But that’s something I’m willing to change now.
All know how to do the words good like and such, and build a great sense of dread that’s fitting for the season.

Centralia: Epicenter is available on Halloween, you can pre-order it now on Amazon!

Let us know what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.
And you never know, I may yet have another Halloween themed review up my sleeve.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

And for more great Nerd Blitz content (including Horror like this), head over to Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod or TSDJAProductions.bandcamp.com

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #118

The leaves are falling, the weather is growing colder, that all means spooky season is in full effect.
Grab your candy, throw on a costume, and prepare for the tricky treat that is the one hundred and eighteenth installment of The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week!

As the most horrific time of year is upon us, time to talk about horror movies!
A mad man bursts through your front door covered in blood, bone, and gore.
He puts a gleaming sharp scythe under your chin, as you stand petrified in to silence and trapped like a rat in a cage, he whispers in a raspy voice this week’s question: What Do You Think Is The Greatest Horror Movie Sequel Of All-Time?

Leave your creepy answer down in the comments below or tweet it to us over on the spooky Tweety times @NerdBlitzPod or by using the incredibly well thought out and scary hashtag #TNBQotW.

Special thanks goes out to the good and ghastly sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified logo for this here unsettling weekly segment known as The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week.

And for more great Nerd Blitz content, head over to Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod or TSDJAProductions.bandcamp.com

Goosebumps: Egg Monsters From Mars Review

My first encounter with a Goosebumps book, while not particularly what I would consider horror, went surprisingly well (read all about it HERE).
That left me more than ready to dive in and read another almost immediately.
So was this one able to go in a more horrific direction?
Was the good experience I had in the previous book indicative of the entire series and will it hold steady or was it a fluke that took a nose dive in the very next installment?
The time has come to find out, gang!

As I’m sure you know by now, this is your ever present ***SPOILER ALERT***, so everybody act accordingly.

When his bratty sister, Brandy, requests an egg hunt for her birthday party, aspiring scientist Dana Johnson finds one that is beyond belief.
Giving off heat, covered in pulsing veins, he takes it to his room to study it more closely.
When it hatches, he takes it to a local research lab and the shit hits every fan you can possibly imagine!

First off, R.L. Stine must have had or wanted a bratty little sister, because this is the second book in a row where one is a key character.
Second and most important and possibly interesting or inspiring, this book came out one month after Bad Hare Day.
That was completely insane to me so I looked ahead and found that all of the four I have came out in four consecutive months.
While this books aren’t the most challenging, his level of output is incredibly impressive and respectable beyond my ability to articulate.
Bravo, sir!

I’ve been trying my damnedest to find something about this book that I didn’t like and I’m coming up empty.
This one had the horror vibe I felt the last one was lacking, which is a huge plus.
It’s pretty damn disturbing what happens when he heads to the lab.
It didn’t feel like it was lacking any depth like Bad Hare Day did either, in fact I loved the economical way he told this story and how it really dives in and deals with Dana’s reaction to the horrific and traumatic situation he finds himself in.
With the way he conveys that fear and panic of being captured, I can see why kids would find this scary.
Nothing at all here felt like it was missing or went unexplored like the previous story.

It really does make me a little bit sad that I missed the boat on these books when I was a wee lad.
I think it would have been a great way to embrace another aspect of horror at such a young age.
And with that fact alone I can totally understand why this series still persists to this day.
These first two experiences I’ve had with this series have gotten progressively better with each installment and that makes me excited to read the next two books next October.
But return to this franchise I most definitely will!

Let us know what you think of this special Halloween review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for this year’s final themed review in the next week or so.

Special thanks, as always, to @ACFerrell1976 for her continuing editorial assistance.

And for more great Nerd Blitz content, head over to Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod or TSDJAProductions.bandcamp.com

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #116

Spooky season is all up in our buisness, son!
Reports are saying the creepies & or crawlies are coming out of the woodwork in record numbers as monster sightings have hit all time highs.
Jack-o-lanterns have been seen trying to take over the world with vines and what not.
We could all try and do something about it or we can hunker down and answer some nerdy ass questions.
I know what my choice is gonna be!

With that long rambling Halloweeny opening in mind, I think you can guess the theme we’re going for this week as we ask: What Is Your All Time Favorite Horror Short Story Or Novel?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it to us over on the Tweety times @NerdBlitzPod or by using the incredibly well thought out hashtag #TNBQotW.

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified logo for this here weekly segment known as The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week.

And for more great Nerd Blitz content, head over to Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod or TSDJAProductions.bandcamp.com

Goosebumps: Bad Hare Day Review

The global phenomenon known as Goosebumps is a monster of a machine that has been rolling for almost 30 years and includes hundreds of Books in multiple series, TV shows, Movies, Video Games, Comics, and amazing amounts of merch.
It truly is a juggernaut!
But for some reason, as a kid, the books never really grabbed me.

So now, as I reach almost 30 myself, I’m taking a plunge into the series for the first time.
Will it stand up to the grizzled and cynical eyes of a grumpy old Doom or will it reignite some hidden youthfulness?
Let’s creep on in and find out.

As always, this your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Now let me very clear about a couple of things upfront.
1. Yes, I understand this is a series of children’s “horror” novels, that wouldn’t and shouldn’t give it a pass for sucking.
Thankfully though, it doesn’t.
I judged this the same way I would any other novel or short story.
2. While this is the first Goosebumps book I have ever read, this is not my first experience with the franchise.
When I was little, love it or hate it, EVERYBODY watched the Goosebumps TV Series that aired on Fox kids in the mid-to-late 90s.
I remember absolutely loving it!
So I’m not quite sure why I never checked out the books.
3. Just so you know where I’m coming from with this review, for Halloween this year, I thought it might be fun to read some short horror books to celebrate the season and get in the mood.
With all of that out of the way, let’s dive in to the belly of this beast.

A magic obsessed kid named Tim spends his days trying to work out the kinks of his burgeoning act on anybody that will sit still long enough for him to attempt a trick.
During a trip to the local magic store, he’s given tickets to see his idol Amaz-O perform for the first, and possibly only, time ever!
So he sneaks out of the house one night with his bratty karate chopping sister, Ginny, in tow for a show that will change his life forever.

The first thing I would say is that this story specifically feels a bit mislabeled as horror.
To me, it feels like more like a thriller that has a dash of morality tale thrown in for good measure.
The tension doesn’t have that typical type of tension I associate with horror, it’s more of a “damn, this kid was wronged and got in too deep. I hope he doesn’t get in too much trouble” type of tension.
That is by no means a complaint, it’s just something that stuck out.

Now, something that I would consider a bit of a mild complaint (and actually something we just talked about in regard to Ash Vs Evil Dead) would be that it leaves you wanting more.
The “Just the facts, ma’am” style and break neck pace Stine seems to employ here does just that.
While it may be a limitation of the format/target audience (short attention spans), I want to see this dude unchained and able to tell a story with depth and some breathing room cause he’s definitely got the skill to weave a compelling and interesting story.
I get the feeling this may end up being the big “problem” I’ll have with any of these that I read, I just want more.
I want the chance to get to know this world where magic can transfigure you into other critters better.

As for the morality angle I mentioned earlier, it’s a pretty good Monkey’s Paw situation of “be careful what you wish for”.
Tim, due to his sister’s brattiness, keeps threatening to turn her into a rabbit.
When it eventually does happen, it comes back to bite him in the ass in a big way.
While that does change, the point lands hard.

Overall, this is pretty damn fun and well written, kid’s book or not.
Though it feels like a short story that could easily be turned into a full length novel, it’s pretty satisfying as is.
The characters each have a distinct voice of their own, which can sometimes be an issue with books aimed at younger audiences.
I’m definitely interested in reading more!

Let us know what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview, and keep an eye out for my other Halloween themed reviews in the coming weeks.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

And for more great Nerd Blitz content, head over to Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod or TSDJAProductions.bandcamp.com