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.

Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem Review

With a name like Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem, you are sending a very clear mission statement to the world.
You best sack up and deliver on all 3, or you’re gonna have big problems, man.
I wanna see some variety in crazy critters, talk of the movin’ pictures, and some chaos and/or pandemonium!
Does this collection of creepy creatures and calamitous carnage come through?
Let’s find out, gang!

As is always the case in these reviews, this here is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

The first thing I have to point out, or confirm rather, is something KJA specifically told me in our interview in Part 1 of Ep 100 (find it Here or where ever you get your podcasts), and that is that this collection has a healthy mix of all types of monsters, there’s really no chasing of trends or attempts to cash in on any current horror fads that I can detect.
There’s Dragons, and Zombies, and Ghosts, OH MY!
But also Vampires, Werewolves, Demons, Aliens, weird beings that exist outside of our known laws of physics and logic, and more.
So on one of the three points I mentioned in the intro, the editorial team of assemblers on this compilation were indeed successful.

But what about the stories themselves, you may wonder?
All that hard work to offer a good selection doesn’t mean jack if the stories are boring as hell.
Well, thankfully, they aren’t.
Now, I will fully admit, there are a few stories in here that, as soon as I finished them, made me plop the book down a bit unsure if I liked them or not.
But, far more often than not, a few minutes of kicking them around in my ol head part brought me around to likin’ on them.

To get specific, Hyde Park by Shannon Fox, a modern day Jack The Ripper tale with a dark twist.
This one felt like it was all wrapped up a little too quickly, but upon reflection I did find it impressive how economic Fox was.
While snappy, there’s absolutely no wasted space.
Whoever Writes Monsters by Sam Knight, the story of a writer who lost his spouse and muse.
The jarringly quick tonal shift in this one had my head spinning a bit as it goes batshit crazy bloodlust 0 to 60 in no time flat, but after chewing it over I found it to be pretty ballsy and I quickly started to admire how bombastically crazy it ended up going.
And finally there was Motivating A Monster by Irene Radford, a story of a thespian dragon that has let himself go.
The issue I had with this one again ended up being a major part of the reason I dug it, the absurdity of a dragon that has made a career, and fortune, doing Kaiju flicks while living in a cave near the studio with an internet connection is so goofy, but fun to think about.

There are plenty of stories in here that I loved immediately (more on them in a bit), but one really stood out with its wonderfully Twilight Zonian flair for karma and I have to point it out.
Vinegar Symdrome by Ben Monroe features one of those stereotypical overappreciators of the art, history, and craft of *turns nose up haughtily* Cinema.
One night after closing up his arthouse theatre, he gets a call from a contact he’s made in town while pursuing his quest to snap up rare or vintage film memorabilia.
While reading a collection of stories like this, you should know what comes next, and the road there is satisfying as fuck, man.
After screwing the contact over for a long lost, and thought destroyed, piece of movie history, our main character gets what he has coming in a beautifully twisted and throughly just way.

Other highlights include Steve Rasnic Tem‘s Z Is for Zombie, which is the story of an old time Zombie performer from way back that feels oddly like a Night Of The Living Dead tribute to me, in the best possible way.
Linda Maye Adams‘s Alien Pizza about a gluten-free LA pizza joint that nobody expects to last long, given the *ahem* strange clientele that has brought down every other restaurant to call that building home.
David Gerrold‘s flash fiction ghost story Michael Thinks The House Is Haunted that packs a quick and funny punch to break some of the tension the book was building.
Julie Frost‘s When The Shift Hits The Fan, an incredibly fun story of an actress werewolf that has a cost cutting director ask too much of her on set.
The button at the end of this one is particularly good!
And the last one I want to make sure I mention, though I really dug so many more, is David Boop‘s supernatural western Progress Grows Out Of Motion.
When a grizzled and recently retired bounty hunter makes his way to the most haunted town in the Arizona territory, shit goes as sideways as you’d expect.
Just the concept of a supernatural western does it for me (why in the hell aren’t there more!?), but this is a thrilling ride on top of it.

Each of the stories I mentioned do an impressive job of filling one of the titular criteria, often times ticking off more than one.
There is straight horror, humor, heartbreak, Sci-Fi of many sorts, mystery, and more.
The curation of this collection is top notch for damn sure.
And now knowing and understanding the backstory of how this book came together makes it all even better.

I’ve only mentioned nine of the tales here, meaning you have fourteen more to discover yourself.
If you dig the short story format, this is one you shouldn’t miss, 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 for her continued editorial assistance.

Episode 100: Brian Quinn Presents TNB’s 2 Part 100th Ep Spectacular: Who Wants To Die Today?!

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In this massive 2 part episode, we are celebrating not one BUT TWO gigantic milestones in this mega sized, extra long, earth shattering episode as our flagship show hits one hundred episodes (not counting point fives) and we hit two hundred free episodes total between The Nerd Blitz, The Nerd Blitz Book Club, and The Nerd Blitz Commentaries!

This near 8 hour long multi-chambered episode, designed for easy listening in chunks, starts off as a typical main show episode in which Doom tries jamming three things into one Pimp Spot, then we talk the return of Scooby-Doo And Guess Who and how, despite being glad to have it back, WB bungled it yet again, and good ol Fitty watches the latest iteration of a beloved franchise from his kidhood…to interesting result…

Also, we welcome back 2 guests to the show, 1st off we welcome back the (music) man, the myth, the Legend himself, J Sarge for 3 brand new installments of our long running Dungeons And Dragons game, and our 2nd guest is bestselling Dune, Star Wars, X-Files, & Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. Author Kevin J. Anderson who drops by for a chat about 2 recently released projects as well as the plethora of others he has on the horizon, which leads us to taking a look at conspiracy theories, Star Wars, and more!

Then, as if all that wasn’t enough, we figured the overcompensation just wasn’t quite there yet and that we needed to dig even deeper, so we decided to stand up and pull a commentary for the first 2 episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer out of our asses, which leads to a long lost discovery from the depths of one of our computers.

Mando Emmys, Hobbit Movies, thank you’s, and some slight reminiscing are all among the topics discussed in this monumental milestone that puts a true jeanyus on full display, for better or worse, so whether you’ve been here from Episode 1 or this is your first go round with us, kick back and relax, Ye Fair Knights, as we celebrate all we have accomplished in these last 4+ years, gang!

Part 1:
*Episode Start – 0:00:00
*Dungeons & Dragons Part 1 – 1:42:46
*Kevin J. Anderson Interview – 2:32:00
*Dungeons & Dragons Part 2 – 3:16:50

Nerd Blitz · Episode 100: Brian Quinn Presents the TNB 100th Ep Spectacular: Who Wants To Die Today!? – Part 1

URL: Episode 100: Brian Quinn Presents TNB’s 100th Ep Spectacular: Who Wants To Die Today?! Part 1
Direct Download: tnb100-pt1.mp3

Part 2:
*The Nerd Blitz Commentaries, Buffy The Vampire Slayer Pilot – 0:00:00
*Dungeons & Dragons Part 3 – 2:26:10
*Outro – 3:15:07

Nerd Blitz · Episode 100: Brian Quinn Presents TNB’s 100th Ep Spectacular: Who Wants To Die Today?! – Part 2

URL: Episode 100: Brian Quinn Presents TNB’s 100th Ep Spectacular: Who Wants To Die Today?! Part 2
Direct Download: tnb100-pt2.mp3

Daphne & Velma: The Dark Deception Review

The first novel was an interesting new take on one of the most well known groupings of characters ever produced.
But was it a legitimately fun and fresh new take on the world’s most famous mystery solvers or was it the start of a calamitous fluke?
I think you know where this is headed, so let’s dive in with both feet, gang!

You know the drill, consider this your obligatory and official ***SPOILER ALERT***
Also, I highly suggest you read my review of the first book in this series (Find it HERE) to understand where things are.

We rejoin Daph & Velma, now back to being the bestest friends ever, a few weeks after the events of The Vanishing Girl, they’re still pondering what Shaggy’s secret could be.
Soon, a near panic grips Crystal Cove as mysterious jewels wash up on the beach and the entire town gives in to the hysteria of a vampire, the haunted history of the original settlers, and any other shadows they can think to give their imaginations up to.

Again, Velma seems to be the most well rounded character.
Though you don’t see her parents, the story of their struggle to get back the home that was stolen from them and how they’re preparing it makes for the most relatable and interesting of the personal life aspects of the story.
I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly, but I love this universe’s version of Velma.
The only issue I have on this front is that, sadly, the other members of the gang aren’t handled with nearly as much care or written as interesting.
But I can’t blame Morgan Baden for that, she’s just playing with the cards she was dealt…or is she?
We still don’t know who Josephine Ruby is.

On that topic, I like Baden’s style.
If she isn’t Ruby, she does a damn good job of mimicking her voice and style.
In a situation like this, with shifting authors, that can be a killer for the flow between books.
Baden continues most of the story threads set up in book 1, as well as kicking off a few of her own to keep things fresh.
Daphne’s instant crush on a fellow intern at the local gossip rag provides her with a good conflict for this outing, and it’s handled believably.

The mystery is suspenseful and twists enough to keep you from solving it instantly, and the cliffhanger again leaves you wanting more now!
Which is, possibly, the best thing you can say about such an earnest tale of teenage mystery solvers.
My only complaint here would be the repeating of the “men are evil and stupid” type stuff that’s kind of annoying.
As for the the men of Mystery Inc, Fred & Shaggy play a slightly larger role this time, which is definitely a plus.
And they are set up to have bigger roles in future installments.

These novels are like being in your 50s and hanging out with your best friend since childhood who also just so happens to have been your neighbor for the entirety of both your lives and hearing him say some weird shit like “Did I ever tell you about the time the wife and I liberated a small village from a central American warlord and captained an aircraft carrier back home?”
All of the words, in theory, make perfect sense, but you’re confused as to how these people you have known LITERALLY all of your damn life are revealing this wildly different and unknown side to you for the first time ever in the most random and nonchalant way possible.
That is truly how these books feel to me.
In these last 21 years, I have spent more time in the company of Mystery Inc, be it through Movies, TV Shows, Comics, or Books, than I have almost every family member or the revolving door of people I thought were my friends.
And that’s not to say I don’t appreciate or enjoy this series, I absolutely do!
But they throw me so off kilter with the rearranging of personality traits and social hierarchical changes.
It’s weird to be so off balance when I’m with my friends, but I love hearing that they have interesting new stories and I am hungry for many more.

The bottomline is that this series, if kept on course, has the potential to be so incredibly satisfying.
I wish it was more in line with the Scooby I know and love, but I suppose some of the fun is found in learning the new dynamics.
I’ll always hold out hope for a serious series of Scooby novels, but until that happens I am more than happy to devour the books in this universe.

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.

Also, get ready, Knights Of Nerd Blitz-Dom, the 100th episode (200th ep between the 3 shows) of the main show drops this weekend!
Your ears are not prepared for this monstrous onslaught of hard core nerdery.
We hope you enjoy it, gang.

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.