Star Wars: Most Wanted Review

If you’ve listened to the five or so most recent episodes of the main show, you have heard Fitz talk about reading this a few times.
You listened as my interest grew while he spoke about his downs and ups with it.
So the question is where do I stand?
Do I agree with ol Fitty or am I my own man?
Gather round and let’s find out, gang.

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

Just to start, this book is curious.
Obviously, if I’m reviewing it, I liked it well enough (more on this later, trust me!) to tell you about it.
But for the first two sevenths of it, shit was looking really damn gloomy on the “ooo, this is gonna rock!” front.
That first hundred pages or so is just bland and uninteresting, it’s just a hell of a slog that feels completely uninspired.
Right around page 100, that all changes and this quickly becomes one of the most enthralling, engaging, and entertaining Star Wars books I’ve read in my decade of reading them.

Set just before the opening segment of Solo, we meet Han and Qi’ra as two kids with hopes of getting to be the leader of the White Worms pack.
With a near contempt for each other, Lady Proxima sends them, unwittingly to each other, on separate sides of the same mission, a high dollar auction for a new piece of cutting edge tech.
When the deal goes sideways, Han & Qi’ra are forced to work together and trust each other with their deepest secrets to survive.

Coming hot on the heels of possibly the most controversial movie of the franchise (The Last Jedi) and battling against poor promotion and a very public firing and replacement of the original directors, Solo was an unfairly maligned movie that had the true heart and soul of George Lucas’s Original three movies infused in its DNA.
It’s definitely the most fun of the new movies, desperately in need of a sequel or follow up of some kind (#MakeSolo2Happen!).
To say I want more of this era, these characters, and their world is a MASSIVE understatement.

In this book, we get to travel to at least four different distinct areas/districts of Corellia: the sewers, the posh upper crusty area, an industrial nightmare, and a grave yard for star ships.
Once Rae Carson hits her stride, she doesn’t fuckin’ stop, man.
What’s truly astounding is that this novel dropped before the movie, because it feels like Carson studied this movie for months to get that feeling of fun, adventure, and wonder locked down.
She captured it all, particularly in the scene where Han breaks atmo for the first time and gets his very first taste of space and flying.
His sheer glee at finding the thing that he desperately wants most in life is awe inspiring and wonderful.
I’ve never read a damn thing Rae has written before, but I’ll be watching more closely for her name from now on.

One thing I liked and have to mention is an observation Qi’ra makes about Han.
While watching his interactions with other folks of all stripes, different species, robots, filthy rich, or dirt poor, she notices that Han treats them all with the same level of dignity.
While this sounds like it may come off heavy handed, obtrusive, and forced, I can assure you it most definitely is not.
It’s handled incredibly well and doesn’t at all feel like you’re being beaten over the head with “a message”, it’s almost off-handedly mentioned.
It’s a good message to subtly send in this day and age of constant division, especially given the target audience of this novel.

The bottomline is this, gang, it has a more than rocky start, but if you stick with it it is wonderfully satisfying.
Carson has an uncanny grasp on this world, and these characters in particular.
I know she’s gone on to bigger assignments in the Star Wars galaxy, but I’d definitely love to see her return to Han’s roots and show us what she can do with this set of toys now that we’ve all seen the movie.
If you can, hunt this book down and give it a shot.
Like Jason Fry and E.K. Johnston before her, Rae Carson proves that the Young Adult arm of that galaxy far far away is producing some of the best stories it has to offer.
And yes, it’s incredibly eerie how much Fitz and I have ended up agreeing about this one…SEND HELP!!!

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.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #95

95 question of the weeks on the wall, 95 question of the weeks!
Take one down, answer it around, and wait for next week’s question of the week or try to engage my friends and followers in the 95th cause this is fun and I wanna help The Nerd Blitz guys reach a bigger audience…what?
*breathes heavily*
Let’s get to it, gang!

Hi everybody.
This week we have decided to ask you about a topic near and dear to our hearts, BOOKS!
So we want to know: What Are Your All-Time Favorite Book And Author?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it over to us on the Twitter @NerdBlitzPod or by using the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified QotW logo.

Batman: Arkham Knight – The Riddler’s Gambit Review

This is squarely within the wheel house of the types of novels I have always loved the most, direct prequels/tie-ins to franchises I love, and not just franchises I love, but specific versions or installments of the franchises I dig the most.
The Arkham game series might actually be my second favorite version of Batman, the main Rocksteady games (I, sadly, never played Origins) were groundbreaking and breathtakingly perfect games, the Arkham City prequel comic was fun as hell!

So a prequel novel to the 3rd game!?
How could I pass that up?
But I’m not going to pretend every single prequel novel I’ve read has been great.
Where does this stack up?
I’m gonna slip in to Detective mode and attempt to figure that out, gang!

As always, this is your mondo mega ***SPOILER ALERT*** so act accordingly.

The Joker is dead and in the months since his cremation a quiet has settled in on this toxic town and a power vacuum has emerged.
One man decides to step up and try to fill that void in the only way he knows how, through a test of problem solving abilities and the most circuitous route that man or beast could possibly dream up.
Batman is called in when an envelope comes through the GCPD mail room allegedly from The Joker containing a flash drive which kicks off a deadly game that sees some of Gotham’s most sinister villians teaming up with a maniacal menace to take on the Bat Family.
In short, Andy McElfresh’s favorite bat villain, The Riddler, tries to fill those green and twisted dress shoes.

Alex Irvine wrote the Iron Man 2 novelization, as well as original Iron Man & Ultimates novels and a Batman novel titled Inferno, all of which I’ve read and loved.
So, going into this, I wasn’t worried at all about his ability to handle these characters and this world.
But having said that, goddamn it!
He fuckin’ nailed this one seven ways to Sunday.
The relationships are spot on, I’d say most especially Batman & Commissioner Gordon’s semi-antagonistic, yet mutually beneficial partnership.
Gordon knows that the Bat is definitely the best at what he does, but running against that is the fact that Batsy is an outlaw vigilante.
Watching Gordon struggle with saving lives, but getting the best results for the citizens of Gotham is perfect, and that’s all due to Irvine’s expert handling.

A good portion of the villains you want to see are involved, one way or another, in Riddler’s intricately plotted game, showing once again why Batman has one of the top two greatest rogues galleries in all of fiction.
From Harley Quinn, to Mr. Freeze & Killer Croc, The Mad Hatter, Deadshot, and even Ra’s Al Ghul has a small part to play.
They’re all layered in well and nobody feels like they are jammed in just to have another recognizable name.

As much as I love all of the Bat Family action, my absolute favorite part of this book is that it is interspersed with news reports and articles that help fill in and move the scope of the plot forward in a satisfying and easy to read way.
And having some of the most well known names in reporting from the Bat-verse adds just that perfect extra layer of in universe detail to make it feel like a lived in universe.
Particularly, Vicki Vale getting sucked in to Riddler’s game helps sell the danger to the citizens of Gotham.

The bottom line is this, gang, this novel does set up Arkham Knight pretty damn well.
Getting inside of Batman’s head, post Arkham City, sets up his spiraling mental state in that game in small but impactful ways that startle and unsettle The Dark Knight.
Seeing him have, process, and battle certain inherited tendencies and impulses (if you know the game, you know what that means) is interesting and puts his mastery of his own mind on full display.
All of his relationships are detailed and explained well enough for even the most casual of fans to understand and feel the weight of, his worries and fears get explored deeply enough to make you realize the burden this character carries through every decision and move he makes.

If you love this character no matter what iteration it is, you’re sure to dig this.
But if you are a mega fan of the Arkham games, but you weren’t sure about this tie-in, you definitely should dive in.
It’s a great bridge story that makes for a nice revisit to this particularly demented and grimy continuity.

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.