Monday, December 23, 2013

December Park

Ronald Malfi is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers. He is very good at writing entertaining stories with really great characters. Naturally when I got the chance to get a review copy of his next novel, I knew I'd have to take it. I'd be crazy not too, because Malfi is just that good.

Unlike most of his books that I've read, December Park is not a horror novel. This is definitely more of a crime novel or a mystery, and also a coming of age story. It's set in a small Maryland town in the 90s where teenagers have begun to disappear. The police have no leads, and the papers are blaming the disappearances on a serial killer they've dubbed the Piper, so a group of high school boys decide to amke like the Hardy Boys and try to solve the case themselves.

I just couldn't help but care about the boys. I also just couldn't figure out who the Piper was going to turn out to be, which is fairly rare for me in these types of books. Trust me, you'll want to read this book when it comes out.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Innocent Blood

I was lucky enough to get a review copy of Innocent Blood, by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, and I must say that I really enjoyed it, though not as much as I enjoy Rollins' Sigma Series.

The premise for this series is that the Vatican has a secret sect of vampiric priests known as the Sanguinists. They are tasked with, among other things, killing or converting the evil rogue vampires.

The plot revolves around a human archeologist, a human soldier, and one of the Sanguinists. In the previous volume, this trio recovered the Blood Gospel, which was written by Jesus in His own blood. In this volume, they are attempting to use the Gospel to prevent the apocalypse, which is being caused by an immortal Judas Iscariot.

The story has plenty of action and mysteries. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but some may be turned off by the Catholic worldview of the story.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jim Henson: The Biography

I grew up watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. The Muppet Movie would certainly be one of my top 10 favorite movies. The Rainbow Connection, is probably my favorite song. With all this, it's no surprise that Jim Henson is one of my favorite people of all time. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to get a copy of Jim Henson: The Biography, and I'm glad I did. This was a great book. I can tell that Brian Jay Jones did a lot of interviews and research in putting this together, and it really pays off. I learned a lot I never knew about Henson, and got a good feel for him as a man.

It is obvious that that Jones is a Henson fan. He spends a lot of time talking about how much of a creative genius Henson was. He also tends to be very forgiving of Henson's flaws. If it was anyone else, it might be annoying, but with the way it's presented--and with this subject--I don't mind.

This is a great book. If you're a fan of Henson or his creations, this is a must read.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Doctor Who in Space and Time

I might as well start off by saying that I've been a fan of Doctor Who for about 30 years. It's been my favorite TV show for much of that time, so while you might think Doctor Who in Time and Space: Essays on Themes, Characters, History and Fandom, 1963-2012 (Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy) would be a good match for me, you'd be wrong. Sure, a collection of essays about my favorite TV show sounds interesting, but the book isn't.

Don't get me wrong, Doctor Who in Time and Space isn't a bad book, though it does have it's flaws. The main problem I had is that the style of the essays is a bit too dry. The book seems more suited for a more academic class of Whovian. Don't get me wrong; the essays are interesting, but they're not really for the casual fan.

Plus, as I said, there are flaws. Firstly, the book spends far more time on the new series than on the classic version, despite there being more than three times as much classic Doctor Who as new Who.

Another problem is that the book is already dated. This isn't surprising since there is no possible way the book could include essays on the most recent season. However, the final essay "Chasing Amy," which is a study of companion Amy Pond, seems a bit odd as it only includes information from her first season.

If you're a Whovian who would like to read a collection of academic essays on the show, then pick this up, but if you're just a casual fan, you might as well pass on it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers, so when I was given the opportunity to get a review copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane,I jumped at the chance. This book is awesome. In fact, I think it might be my new favorite Gaiman novel.

This is a story that manages to be both creepy and magical. It's about a young boy who discovers that one his parents' lodgers has committed suicide in the family car. This leads to a strange series of events involving the decidedly peculiar Hempstock family, a strange otherworldly being that tries to give people what they want, and some really nasty varmints.

I don't want to go into any specific details, because I want to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. This book was very disturbing, especially some of the scenes between the young protagonist and his father. The villain was scary. The Hempstocks were wonderful.

This is a book that you shouldn't miss.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


While it sounds like an interesting book, I found Richard James Bentley's  Greenbeard to be disappointing. I blame this on the book's description, which makes it sound weirder and funnier than it actually is.  Don't get me wrong, it's not bad; it's just not as good as I was expecting.

The titular Greenbeard, aka Sylvestere de Greybagges, is a lawyer turned pirate captain who used to have a normal bear until he was enslaved by an alien being who gave him a green beard so he could serve it better. Being a pirate, he naturally managed to escape and vowed revenge. Most of the book deals with him turning his pirate ship into a space ship, and only the final few pages deal with his actual battle against alien forces.

He has plenty of adventures along the way. He manages to rescue a "Frank Banjamin" from Barbary pirates who had enslaved him, and as you might guess, Mr. Benjamin seems to be Ben Franklin with his name changed for no apparent reason since other historical figures appear with their real names. He also meets Solomon Kane, whose name is changed Solomon Pole, even including a parody of "Solomon Kane's Homecoming," despite the fact that Robert E. Howard wouldn't have written it for more than a century after this book's time period. The book does involve time travel, though, so I suppose that might explain this particular anachronism, though I personally found it annoying.

I also found the Lovecraftian name dropping annoying. The alien who kidnapped Greenbeard is apparently one of the Great Old Ones, and Cthulhu is mentioned--as is Mrs. Cthulhu and their daughter Lulu Cthulhu--but these seem to be Great Old Ones and Cthulhu in name only. They lack any of the cosmic terror of Lovecraft, and are just kind of lame.

Obviously the Mrs. Cthulhu and Lulu Cthulhu are intended to be humorous, but it just kind of falls flat. In fact much of the book seems to be intended to be witty, with references to philosophy, and many bad puns. At times it almost felt like I's wandered into a Xanth novel.

This just really isn't for me. It's not weird enough for weird fiction. It's no where near funny enough for humorous fiction. The plot is a bit too slow for action fiction. Even the science fiction aspects are kind of lame.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


It's been nearly a year since I reviewed Jeff Burk's Shatnerquake, and since he has a sequel out, it's time to review it. Shatnerquest isn't really a sequel in the sense that it continues the story of the previous book, and William Shatner isn't the main character in this as he was in Shatnerquake. This is a very odd sort of sequel that could almost not be a sequel if it wasn't for some passing references to the previous book in one of the scenes that Shatner appears in.

This book starts out at a Magic: The Gathering tournament at a media convention in Pennsylvania. Just as one of our heroes is about to lay some card-based smack down on a really obnoxious Klingon, the world ends. Giant flaming boulders rain down from the sky, and our three heroes and their cat are seemingly the only survivors. The heroes head home, only to discover that their hometown is being destroyed by Godzilla, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and various other giant monsters. With nothing better to do, they head across country to save William Shatner.

Along the way, the have some weird adventures. Their obnoxious Klingon enemy returns as the head of a Klingon white supremacist biker gang. They meet a cult of cannibalistic James Kirk worshipers. There are zombie Borg, a gas station-attendant Dalek, and a steampunk town. Also, as anyone who has seen the book's cover can guess, Shatner has grown to gigantic size and become Shatzilla.

This was a really fun and funny bizarro romp. I liked it even more than the first one. I just hope that Jeff Burk realizes that no one takes duologies seriously, so he must now write a third Shatner book to make it a trilogy.

Monday, April 08, 2013


As a general rule, I've had just about enough of zombie fiction. There have been so many zombie novels published since the beginning of the current zombie craze that the overall quality has gone downhill. Luckily, Ex-Patriots, by Peter Clines, is an exception. This was actually a really entertaining book.

It's a sequel to his previous zombie novel, Ex-Heroes.The gist of that story is that shortly before the zombie apocalypse began, super heroes started to show up. Unfortunately, they weren't enough to stop the zombie hordes, so after the world ended, the heroes protected the surviving members of humanity in the remains of a Hollywood film studio. They are menaced by a street gang that seems to be able to control the zombies, or exes as they're referred to in the book.

Ex-Patriots takes place several months after the previous novel. The heroes are discovered by a nearby military base that was working on a secret super soldier project. Unfortunately, the zombie controlling villain from the previous novel turns out to still be around, along with a new foe.

This book has the required gore of any successful zombie novel.It also has a good bit of humor, and some generally likable (and hateable characters). This book--and the first one--are well worth the time of any zombie or superhero fan. Also, apparently there will be a third book, which I eagerly await.

Thursday, March 07, 2013


OK, once again I have been slacking on the reviews here. I have read several bizarro novels that I could have been reviewing--and getting points for--but I just haven't gotten around to it. I have also received review copies of books, which I really should be reviewing, and I'm going to try to review them, at the very least.

I got a review copy of Joe Hill's NOS4A2.This was a really cool novel. It's about a girl (and later woman) who discovers that she has the ability to ride through a bridge that no longer exists to find things that have been lost, but who loses a bit of herself as the price for making this journey. It's also the story of a man who is over a century old, who takes children to a magical place called Christmas Land, where they'll stay young  and happy forever, but at the cost of their humanity. Naturally, these two eventually meet, and become enemies.

I don't want to spoil the story for you, so I won't go into any more detail, but I will say that this is a great book.  Anybody who likes horror should get this.