Day By Day Armageddon Review

Ten or so years ago, when my zombie love was hitting its first of many peaks, I stumbled across an interesting looking zombie diary.
Once I got it home, I figured out it was the sequel and quickly made sure to get the first installment because the concept alone sounded so cool.

But still, I was worried.
Over the years, I have watched damn near every zombie movie I could get my hands on, I would read any zombie books I stumbled across.
And 70% of the time I would be disappointed by dogshit effects or cheesy ass dialogue and attempts at suspense.
Zombie fiction is hard as hell to get right, and even the masters sometimes stumble.
But when it’s good, it’s so damn good.

So where did this fall on that oh so hard to hit target?
Lets find out!

As always, this is your offical ***SPOILER WARNING***

After a drunken night out partying, a Naval Officer makes a New Years Resolution to start keeping a journal.
January 2nd an outbreak in China is mentioned offhandedly.
January 10th, all hell is starting to break loose.
By the time the book ends, on May 19th, this unnamed military man and his fellow survivors have been through the ringer and the biggest shit storm is about to fully unload on them.

The 1 issue I have is that the main character never gets a name, but given the format it does make sense.
Who writes a diary in 3rd person?
Even so, it would have been nice to have an inside cover inscription or page where the narrator wrote his name and age.
That’s helpful information to have if he or his descendants look back on this years in the future.

Now, having said that, the rest is so damn good that it’s easy to forget that one minor quibble.
As the world descends further and further into chaos, the world is painted just as bleak and frightening as you’d expect.
There are a few moments of hope sprinkled throughout, so it’s not all depressing, but it really does capture what I imagine a zombie apocalypse would be like.
The hunt for food, supplies, and any fellow survivors that you could trust to help you make it until somebody figures out a way to fix the now broken world are all fully fleshed out.
J.L. Bourne’s actual military experience and knowledge adds credibility, believability, and depth to moments of technical rigging, flight, and weapon handling.

By the end, our protagonist has gathered a pretty good sized group of survivors together including his neighbor John and his dog, a family of 3 they tracked through frightened radio transmissions, and a woman whose car was surrounded.
The main character travels through Texas collecting this new tribe of the living at sometimes great costs.
There are some really fresh ideas in these journeys, particularly when they hole up in an air traffic control tower.

The 1st time that I read this book, I burned through it in a single day.
This time, I read it in 4.
Weighing in at 200 pages, this story zips by at a pace that’s hard to believe.
From the jump, it’s pretty damn enthralling, but by the time you hit the final page you’re left disappointed that it doesn’t keep going for another 200 pages.
Long story short, it nails the bullseye of the aforementioned target.
It’s just as good and creepy now as it was 10 years ago.
A good story is a good story, gang.

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 & @Gigoamk30 for their continued editorial assistance.

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Hair Raising Review

I’m writing this with a sizable amount of sadness.
You may think I’m kidding, but I’m dead serious…no pun intended, but hopefully noted and appreciated nonetheless.
My sadness is prompted by this being the final Dan Shamble novel/story I have to review, for now, and it has been one hell of a journey so far.
This was also the first Shamble that I read way back in December 2016, this is what hooked me into the series.

So knowing in context, and knowing where it goes, the question that I’ve got to answer kind of needs to be “how does this stand up to the second go round, the test of time, and the rest of the series?”
Let’s try and find the answer to all that.

As always, gang, this is your standard issue ***SPOILER ALERT***

Dan, Robin, Sheyenne, McGoo, and all of the things that go bump in the night are back for more scary and extra hairy action.
An organ harvesting operation is killing vampires and other homeless monsters, a vindictive ex-wife is desperately trying to screw the zombified father of her son out of child support and visitation, a crematorium claiming to burn the remains of the recently departed…the only problem is that the recently departed are still physically around to prove they’re running a scam, an all out war is brewing between the full moon werewolves and the full timers, and a voodoo tattoo shop, a zombie mobster and his bad luck stricken harpy girlfriend are all among the cases we have the pleasure of watching unfold in this visit to the Unnatural Quarter.
With a case load that heavy, it’s a damn good thing zombies don’t need much sleep!

While you absolutely do not need to read these novels or stories in order, it does make it a far more enjoyable experience.
You get all the info you need, but if you have actually read what Dan is referencing then the tiny throw away mentions to continuity that seem like incidental jokes are exactly what nerd wet dreams are made of.
I think I’ve mentioned a few times in these reviews that Kevin J. Anderson is definitely one of us minutiae loving nerd types, and that alone proves it.

Another nerdery attribute that is a strength of KJA’s is the seemingly endless and effortless ability to not only juggle, but service, weave, and solve multiple storylines in logical and satisfying ways.
I mentioned a shit ton of the plot lines above in my summary, right?
Yeah, well, there are at least two or three more that I didn’t even mention, and not a one feels rushed or forgotten at any point.
The dude spins more story plates than a season of Game Of Thrones, and, if the outcry is any indication, to a far more satisfying conclusion as well.

This, if only for sentimentally sake, may be my favorite book in this series.
And the Scooby-Doo shout out has nothing to do with it.
Book 1 was a great introduction to the world, Book 2 expanded and made it bigger, Book 3 settles in and plays with what has been established in the best ways.
While this is only the third book, Anderson clearly understands this world and every aspect of the biases, histories, and lore of it.

I’ve long described this series as The Rockford Files meets The Munsters or The Addams Family, and that still rings true.
But I feel I have to add that it’s seasoned with a dash of Monk at the end to bring it all home and make it sing.
The attention to detail makes it perfect for us comic book fans, but again I need to stress that those references absolutely do not make this a difficult entry point for new readers.
It was mine, and I’m damn glad it was.
So if you’ve been waiting to check out this series but you haven’t been sure where to dive in at, take it from my first hand experience that this is as good a spot as any.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go try not to be all depressed and whatnot while I patiently await some of that sweet sweet Shamble news dropping like manna from above.

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

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

Iron Man: And Call My Killer…MODOK! Review

I’m just gonna put this right at the top: if you are picking this up expecting the cocky Robert Downey jr. version of Tony Stark from the MCU, you will be disappointed.
With that out of the way, one of the things that’s most interesting to examine in this, and most of these older novels, are the changes that have happened since these novels dropped and become fundamental pieces of the characters.
So let’s dive in deep and see what some of them are, gang.

As per usual, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

With only 189 pages, it’s not a convoluted story, and that’s a good thing.
After an attempted kidnapping at a college speaking gig and a robbery that stole the Iron Man blue prints from Stark International headquarters, Tony decides to sell an unarmed, stripped down version of the red and gold armor to the highest bidder.
The behemoth man monster MODOK, running low on funds and credibility for his ner-do-well organization AIM, concocted the nefarious plots against Stark and his alter-ego to get the suit and carry out more villainous operations to take over the world.

One of the biggest changes that have come down the pike that may stun folks would have to be the marriage of Happy & Pepper.
That’s right, gang, 40 years ago they were happily hitched!
That’s something I knew and forgot, and when I read it I damn near unloaded a entire house worth of bricks in my undies.
Even in the comics, as far back as I have been reading the funny books, Tony & Pepper had been circling each other.
The other big difference MCU fans will immediately notice is that Tony is still in the super closet as he’s told the world Iron Man is just a bodyguard of his.
So kickin’ back into that mindset is fun and (as I touched on in my Incredible Hulk: Stalker From The Stars Review) that’s really key to this particular series of Marvel novels.

Are they in depth & revelatory character studies that get to the heart of the human condition?
Fuuuuck no, man!
Are they fun, full of thrilling comic booky adventure, excitement, characters, & hints at continuity?
100%, hell yes.
And you don’t need to have read 500 issues to understand either, Tony’s origin is given a refresher here for 2 probable reasons.
1. To make sure you understand where this specific version of the character is coming from.
2. To hook in people who may have never read a comic and make it easy to dive in and get a good feel for this world.
And it works perfectly.

As I sort of said in my Hulk review, this is what comic books and comic book based stories should be, gang.
You don’t need to always juggle 427 characters, tie-in issues, and story threads.
Sometimes, just a simple story of a hero and a villian covers all your bases and scratches the itch.
Simple and effective is what made these characters stand out, and that’s what I want to see again.
This series of novels are exactly what I want, and I can’t wait to find more of them.

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 editorial assistance.

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Death Warmed Over Review

I’m not gonna bullshit you here: I’ve been talking up this series since Episode 37 (nooch!) of The Main Show and Ep 88 is on the cusp of dropping in the next fortnight or so.
To put it bluntly, this is a Dan Shamble book, so you know damn well that I love it.
Now if that’s all you came here to find out, that’s all good, man!
Sincerely, I thank you for taking the time and visiting the site.
Take a look around and read some of our other features, reviews, and articles, I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.

But if you’re still here, if you want to know exactly why I love this book, let’s dive into it, gang.

As per usual, this right here is your requisite ***SPOILER ALERT***

Still reading?
Okay, groovy.
Now for those keeping score, this is the very first Dan Shamble novel, but this was not the first that I read.
I was curious after reading the third book first if reading them chronologically would make an impact on how the world unfurls and since it’s been a while and I’ll be rereading them all in order I’ll be better able to answer that by the time I write my review for book three.
I’ve also wondered how this origin story plays out in context too, and the answer is pretty damn well.

We meet Dan a month post mortem, he died when some sneaky prick snuck up on him and blasted his brains all over the sky…or at least the alley that he was walking through at the time.
We’re quickly introduced to his world and learn about the string of coincidences that caused all monsters and mythological creatures to come to life (a.k.a. The Big Uneasy) ten years ago, which include a particularly perfect planetary positioning, a copy of the Nerconomicon, and a virgin with a paper cut.
We meet his ghost girlfriend, Sheyenne, and find out she was killed by a poisoned drink not long before Dan himself got popped in that alley, and that they suspect their murders are connected as he was investigating hers when his went down.
His partner in Chambeaux & Deyer Investigations, Robin Deyer, is introduced to us as a lawyer that fights for her clients as if they were her family, never backing down from the struggle of Unnaturals and their still murky rights and privileges.
In short, Kevin J. Anderson sets up the entire world of the Unnatural Quarter efficiently and effectively.

I take the Stan Lee approach when I write these reviews, every review is somebody’s first.
Now I know I have talked about a fuck ton of Mr. Anderson’s work in these reviews, and certain phrases tend to pop up time and time again.
But that doesn’t make them any less true.
The dude is one of the most economical writers I know of.
In every book of his I read I never feel like I’m muddling around in an ocean of words waiting for him to dive in and drag up from the depths some deeply hidden objective like I have with other writers whose work I’ve reviewed.
You can tell he’s having fun, but he’s not wasting pages with some boring story about some random dude that our main characters once passed by and never did, or will, see again.
If he mentions a character or place, you best be damn skippy that off handed mention is gonna mean something or play into the story later.

Unlike a TV detective, Dan & co are always juggling multiple cases at any given time.
For this first go round the Chambeaux & Deyer gang’s caseload includes trying to get a divorce settlement finalized favorably for a monthly werewolf client who happens to be married to a former adversary of Dan’s, a nervous Vampire who keeps receiving threats from an anti-monster hate group and whose neighbors are disappearing, a witch whose sister was transformed into a pig due to a typo laden spell book, a family whose drunken uncle won’t stop bothering them now that he’s died and returned as a ghost, a mummy who doesn’t want to be museum property, trying to track down a giant creature that’s smashing windows all over town, all while trying to solve Dan & Sheyenne’s own murders.
All of that is jam packed into just about three hundred pages.

Look, gang, the bottomline here is that I love a good origin story and this is a damn good one.
After just a few chapters of Dan’s Noir-ish narration, you understand exactly how this world works.
I’ve said many times that this series feels like The Addams Family, The Munsters, and a great detective show like The Rockford Files or Monk were thrown into a blender, and I stand by it.
It’s odd, mysterious, fresh, interesting, quirky, fun, and enthralling every step of the way.
It’s a great pick me up, and it great if you want something that fits the Halloween season that isn’t super heavy, because while it may be a story of death and monsters, it has a solid heart under all of that necrotic flesh.

Tell us what you think or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories Science Fiction Vol. 2 Review

The fourth and final (at least for now) volume of Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories short story series was released back in February.
This outing was another visit to the much beloved genre of Science Fiction which, for those among you who haven’t been keeping up with the main show, is a genre I have taken a deep dive into since I read the first volume.
With these new experiences in that area, I was wondering how this collection would hit me.
Strap on your space suit and let’s space find out…in space!

I have to say, as per the usual with this series, I think the short intros he writes to each story may be my favorite part.
It really seems to give each story a bit more depth to hear where it came from, who or what inspired it, or how long he kicked it around before he dropped the final product on his editors.
Even with the stories that aren’t my favorites, it is at least interesting to have the back story.

As for the stories themselves, this go round I found myself engaging more with the shorter among them.
Not that the longer ones are bad, but I think it may be a bit of brain training and expectation with this anthological format.
The shorter stories here tend to have a bit more of a reveal or “Ah-ha” feel than the longer ones do which, to use TV as a comparison, I feel like most anthologies shows do better than episodic series.
And I like that.
I like the quick and clever economic nature of it all.

I think every subgenre of Sci-Fi gets its day in the sun in this volume, and a few have fun and interesting spins that almost make you forget you are reading a Science Fiction story, which I think is something that some of my favorites do best.
If you need some Military Sci-Fi stat, you are covered with a few novellas.
But there are also stories of time travel, genetic manipulation, alien contact, and a transformational hooker…you know, that tired old trope!

I always try to give you some of my favorite stories when I talk about short story collections, so in no particular order, the top 3 stories that I would say you can’t miss are:
Technomagic, a story of a stranded alien that becomes a world famous magician.
Prevenge, a time travel tale that is reminiscent of Minority Report, with a bit more investigation.
A Delicate Balance, a dark story about seed colonies and a severe miscalculation that leads to forced population control.
All are wonderfully distinct and showcase the variety of this writer and this genre.

So to wrap up I have to say that after reading and reviewing all 4 volumes of this series, I feel like a jackass.
For a decade or so, if folks would mention Kevin J. Anderson I’d always say “The Star Wars Guy!?” or “Awww, The Last Days Of Krypton!” and now that almost feels reductive.
Don’t get me wrong, Shamble aside, Last Days is still hands down my favorite KJA book, but the dude has way more shades and layers than just Krypton, Star Wars, & X-Files.
The goal of this series was probably to collect a bunch of stories he had the rights to and get them back in print, but they have been damn eye opening as well.
I’ll call that a happy accident and wait patiently for him to get enough material together for a fifth installment, and whatever else he’s ready to produce.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 and @gigiamk30 for their editorial assistance.

A Million Ways To Die In The West Review

I’m not sure how many people are aware of this little nugget of truth or not, but back in the day, right around say…1882ish in a dusty town located eerily near a place that was somewhat reminiscent of Arizona, it was really fuckin’ rough, man.
And when I say rough, I don’t mean “awww balls, the wifi is down again, how ever am I gonna see porn stars hump in 4K ultra high definition now!?”, no, I mean everything seemed as though it was out to kill you.
To boil it all down, there were, in fact, A Million Ways To Die In The West!…ya see what I did there?
I’m feeling awfully clever now.
So let’s take a look at this filthy bastard of a book and see if there’s any gold in them thar hills!

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

Seth MacFarlane, creator or co-creator of Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show, and The Orville made a big splash in the realm of feature films with 2012’s TED.
It quickly became one of the highest grossing R-rated comedies, and the inevitable question was hurled at Seth.
“What are you going to do next?”
His reply was this movie, and for reasons that I still don’t quite understand, it didn’t really light the world on fire.
Part of me thinks folks still aren’t ready to embrace westerns again and part of me thinks folks are still uncomfortable with such raw filthy jokes coming out of actual human mouths.

Whatever the reasons, I actually loved the movie and think it gets exponentially better with each subsequent viewing.
But one of the things I loved most about the entire experience of the movie was that it was announced that there would be a novelization of the movie written by the writer and director himself, MacFarlane.
Now, anybody who reads these reviews regularly knows that one of my favorite types of novels would be media tie-ins, especially movie novels.
And when after years of looking I finally found this, I was pumped to dive in…then I waited 2 years for it to call out and demand to be read.

Albert Stark is a sheep farmer (and not a good one at that) who hates the raw, untamed west with a passion.
It’s hot, everything and everyone wants to kill, cut, trample, squash, harm, or otherwise mame and dismembered you, his heartless girlfriend just left him for a douchenozzle, and he’s ready to head to civilization, San Francisco!
But a strange and breathtaking new woman, that won’t talk about her past, comes to Old Stump and gives him a reason to hang around town for a spell longer.

This novel really is a strange one, since you rarely see comedy movies get novelized.
In a way, this book reads like a narrative joke book.
Which oddly actually attracts me to it more because it’s so different than most movie novels.
Really, the worst thing I can say about this is that it follows the movie too precisely, which is a trend I am noticing more and more in recent years with novelizations.
There is very little flourish or expansion on what you see on screen, at most there are about 10 alternate lines or jokes.
Mostly, the new prose is added contextual content that you can infer from looks and the relationships featured on screen.

Honestly, the real draw here is seeing how Seth’s voice sounds in a richer and fuller story format.
We know he can handle the coldness of the script format, but there are some writers who seem to struggle in jumping between the 2.
Yeah, well, Seth ain’t one of them.
His descriptions pop (especially if you’ve seen the astoundingly beautiful movie), his pacing is brisk but not rushed, the characters feel as defined on the page as they did on screen, and it’s just plain fun.
The only problem I have with his style would be that there are no chapters in this book at all, it’s just one long piece.
Sure, it has the normal transitional breaks you expect, but if you are a goal oriented reader that loves the mini accomplishment of “I’m gonna read two chapters before bed.” you are S.O.L. and J.W.F. my friend.

Bottomline, I love this story in both formats.
I don’t know what his plans are, but I would love to see Seth write more novels, but originals in the future.
Something that allows him to not feel like he has to so closely follow a prelaid path.
I want to see him unleashed.
Or, hell, I’m sure he has an idea for an episode of The Orville that’s just a bit too big for Hulu!

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Strife’s Cost Press Release

From WordFire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

With Terran forces drawn deeper into war and intrigue, their actions could spell the doom of millions…

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of Strife’s Cost, by ACFW Speculative Fiction Award winning author, Steve Rzasa!

It has been three years since the Naplian Empire invaded Terran space in a desperate gamble to secure serjaum fuel reserves. They conquered the Baedecker Star System, but not without making a dangerous new enemy.
Humans.

Squadron leader Taggart “Tag” Wester is neck deep in battles across the Great Desert Rift when Terran Intelligence drafts him for a vital secret mission. But he’ll only succeed if he can put aside his prejudices and learn to trust the least likely allies.

Lira Lin Reen’s career as renowned thief has come to an abrupt halt.

Her only way out is to play both sides of Tag’s mission, with more than a payday in the balance.

Elden Selva has come to terms with his new existence as a Truppen cyborg. What he can’t figure is why his warriors are disappearing. Someone isn’t telling him the truth—and worse, he isn’t the only one.

About the author:

Steve Rzasa has written numerous novels, novellas, and short stories of science-fiction and fantasy since 2009. Broken Sight won the ACFW Speculative Fiction Award, and three of his other novels have been nominated for similar awards. He is a former journalist and currently the technical services librarian in Buffalo, Wyoming, where he lives with his wife and two boys. Steve’s a fan of all things science-fiction and superhero, and is also a student of history. Follow him at http://www.steverzasa.com.

Strife’s Cost:

Trade paperback $15.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-987-4

Ebook $4.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-988-1

WordFire Press is a mid-size new-model publisher founded by New York Times bestselling authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. You can find us at wordfirepress.com. Tweet us @WordFirePress. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/WordfireIncWordfirePress.