SciFi Book Review: This Monstrous Thing

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

In an alternative fantasy world where some men are made from clockwork parts and carriages are steam powered, Alasdair Finch, a young mechanic, does the unthinkable after his brother dies: he uses clockwork pieces to bring Oliver back from the dead.

But the resurrection does not go as planned, and Oliver returns more monster than man. Even worse, the novel Frankenstein is published and the townsfolk are determined to find the real-life doctor and his monster. With few places to turn for help, the dangers may ultimately bring the brothers together—or ruin them forever.

Alasdair is a brilliant scientist who dreams of going to college and studying under the man who inspired the work bringing Oliver back to life. Oliver’s memories were wiped when he came back. And he definitely isn’t the same.

This Monstrous Thing is an inspired steampunk version of the Frankenstein story. It’s a wonderful blend of gothic horror, steampunk and YA. The story unfolds in an engaging and suspenseful way. I thoroughly enjoyed this dark and surprising tale.

Box Review: Nerd Block – September 2015

Nerd Block

Nerd Block Classic “contains licensed merchandise, hand-picked by our team of uber-nerds representing all genres from movies, television, video games, internet, and more!” The price is $19.99 plus shipping per month.

Nerd Block

The theme of this box was Hyperspace.

Nerd Block

By Your Command Tshirt (Retail $10?) – This is an exclusive shirt via It’s a fun design. And I’m happy they included the original BSG Cylon, as I’m a big fan – but not of the reboot. Something for all fans!

Nerd Block

Supernatural Funko Mystery Mini (Retail $8.31) – It’s no mystery that I love Funko figurines.

USS Enterprise Springz (Retail $3-5?) – This is another exclusive. This Original series Star Trek ship has a permanent sticker on the bottom to mount to your car dash. I don’t like putting something permanent on my dash, but I LOVE this ship. So I’ll either just cut out a smaller part of the sticker or keep it on my Star Trek bookshelf with the other memorabilia.

Nerd Block

Jurassic Galaxy Print (Retail n/a) – This is a really fun print for Chris Pratt fans – with a Jurassic Park/Guardians of the Galaxy mashup! My only complaint is that it’s on cheap matt, cardboard and not in a protective sleeve. The Comic Con box does a great job with it’s prints. I wish Nerd Block would do better or not include them at all.

Nerd Block

And the best item in the box…
BB-8 Plush from Star Wars: The Force Awakens! (Retail $9.96) – This super cute droid is the one I’ve been looking for. It’s plush so the spherical design doesn’t want to stay upright, despite the beads at the bottom weighing it down. But I don’t care. I just propped it up against something else. Love it.

Summary: Nerd Block had another great box for me this month. I was very happy. Despite several exclusive items, it’s easy to see that the value is very comparable to what was spent. And exclusive items are great. I’m most excited about the shirt and BB-8 plush – this made the whole box worthwhile.

Nerd Block

And October will be a Halloween theme… shocker!

Fantasy Book Review: Once Upon a Time: Red’s Untold Tale

Once Upon a Time: Red’s Untold Tale by Wendy Toliver

Red is 16 and lives with Granny in a cottage in the village, where boarding up the house and hiding during Wolfstime is a means of survival. Red help’s Granny with Granny’s baked good business, catering as well as door-to-door sales.

Red has a constant internal battle between her wild side and her strict, overprotective upbringing, and the issue of “control” as she discovers she has a hot temper when the “mean girls” push her too far. (“When we learn to control it, we needn’t fear it,” Rumpelstiltskin says in the series.) She has flashbacks to her 13th year when she received her cloak and the nickname “Red.”

Plagued by nightmares she doesn’t understand and a temper she can’t control, Red struggles to save Granny’s troubled business and to nurture her budding romance with Peter, even as the betrayal of her classmates awakens the wolf within.

As a fan of Once Upon a Time, I jumped at the chance to read this original tie-in novel. Red is a fantastic character, and this focuses on her early years before she knows the truth of the wolves in the forest.

Red’s Untold Tale is a story of Red and her grandmother struggling financially and Red dealing with bullies. Red also has a secret crush on her best (and only friend) Peter. This quick, fast-paced tale is engaging and suspenseful. My only complaint is that the one of the subplots is left completely unresolved – having to do with . I’m not sure if there will be another installment, but the title sounds like a standalone. Regardless, the finale doesn’t disappoint with climactic suspense and a sweet resolution. I hope this is just the first of other Once Upon a Time tie-in novels.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Aftermath

Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down. Devastating blows against the Empire, and major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance—now a fledgling New Republic—presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world—war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is—or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit—to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies—her technical-genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector—who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

Following the events in The Return of the Jedi, the remaining leaders of the Empire conduct a secret meeting on Akiva. While the Rebel Alliance try to hunt them down. There are a few familiar characters such as Wedge and Ackbar. But for the most part, the main characters of this story are new. And there are quite a few.

Aftermath is written in present tense, which takes some getting used to, but I quickly forgot about it after awhile – the same with the Hunger Games trilogy. The numerous new characters were difficult to keep up with at first, making reading a bit slow. But about halfway through, the pacing picked up and the characters became easier to follow as several join forces.

There has been quite a lot of blacklash for this Star Wars installment. It’s certainly not a bad Star Wars novel. If you’re looking for a main character novel with Luke, Leia, and Han, pick up one of the children’s novels released this month that will center on those characters leading up to the movie release this winter. This story introduces new characters who become a team, a bit unorthodox and colorful. I enjoyed their adventure and the concentration on one planet’s battle between the Empire and Alliance. I look forward to reading the rest of the Journey to the Force Awakens releases as well.

Box Review: Comic Con Box #5 – September 2015


ComicCon Box is “a premium monthly box service that brings everything Comic Con to the doorsteps of fans.” The price is $29.99 plus shipping.


This is the one geeky box that ships earlier than stated. And they have great, prompt customer service via email! The theme of this box was “Back to Old School.”

ComicCon Box

Shell and Back Print (Retail n/a – exclusive) – This print from Rob Prior is excellent. As a Turtles fan, I’ll be holding onto this.

Batman Adventures #12 Variant Comic (Retail $? – I don’t see it listed online anywhere) – The reason this wasn’t #1? It’s the first appearance of Harley Quinn. Very cool.


Wonder Woman Print (Retail n/a) – Wow, this artwork is incredible. This is by far my favorite item in this month’s box.

Heroes of Newerth Game Download with Avatar – Not a gamer, so not for me.

Street Fighter Pixel Bricks (Retail $12.99) – I’m not a Street Fighter fan, but I love building things with legos and bricks, so I haven’t decided if I’m keeping this to pass along to my nephew or not.


Pac-Man Mini Plush (Retail $9-10) – I appreciate Pac Man for being Old School, but don’t really care to own a plushy. Looks like Lois Lane may get another dog toy.

Scribblenauts Unmasked Series 3 Blind Box Mini Figure (Retail $6.44 on Amazon) – I received Superman which is very appropriate.


Funko Pop! Harley Quinn (Retail $9.99) – This is the cute, Roller Derby version. I’m always excited to add to my Pop! collection, if it’s DC or Marvel. And I don’t have this one yet.


Welcome to the Jungle Tee (Retail $10?) – This is a fun Guns N’ Roses mashup with 80s action stars. But the style isn’t something I’d ever wear.

Summary: Despite not caring for the shirt or the smaller items, I surprisingly liked the prints (which has never happened yet) and the Funko Pop!. So this was still a great box for me.

The #6/October Box Theme is…


Box Review: Power Up Box – August 2015

PowerUp Box

Power Up Box is a monthly subscription service that provides epic geeks and gamers with a “Christmas morning, gift opening experience.” We pride ourselves in providing the best gear and gadgets to assure immense satisfaction every month, every time.”

Power Up Box has two subscription box options: Deluxe (4-6 items) for $19.95 plus s/h per month or Premium (6-9 items) for $29.95 plus s/h per month.

This box was sent to for review.

PowerUp Box

I received August’s box for review. The theme seemed to be Animation.

PowerUp Box

Transformers Tshirt (Retail $10?) – Since this was a review box, all they had left was XXL, so it’s quite big. Subscribers will get the size they request. Even though this is huge, I love it. It’s a very soft vintage look and feel. Plus, I love Transformers. It’s a bummer that they didn’t have my size, but it’ll be a nice sleep shirt!

PowerUp Box

TMNT Mystery Mini (Retail $6.99) – I’m a Turtles fan and love Funko mystery boxes. These are almost always a win for me.

The Simpsons Shot Glass (Retail $3.75) – I hate the Simpsons, but this is just a filler item. And it does fit the theme.

Tweety Iron-On Patch (Retail $3.99) – I quit collecting patches in middle school, but I have niece who will love this.

Transformers Plastic Head Candy Container (Retail $1?) – My nephew loves Transformers (of course). This will be a nice treat for him.

PowerUp Box

Futurama Bender Funko POP! (Retail $11.80 on Amazon currently) – Usually, I love Funko items, especially POPs! But I’m not a fan of Futurama, so this may be the only Funko POP that I don’t keep around.

Sonic Stress Ball (Retail $8.99) – The kids in my life love Sonic, tho don’t really have any stress in their lives yet. Still, this will be a cute toy for one of them.

Summary: The value is certainly worth the cost of this fun subscription box. Even though the theme wasn’t geared toward me, I’ll still keep a couple things and give the rest to the young ones in my life. I’m impressed with the value, for being one of the cheaper geeky boxes out there!

September’s theme is PIXELS, so that will be another fun box for youngsters and the young at heart!

SciFi Book Review: The Fate of Ten

The Fate of Ten by “Pittacus Lore”

This is the day we’ve been training for. The day we’ve all feared. We’ve spent years fighting the Mogadorians in secret, never letting the world know the truth about our war. But now all of that has changed.

Their ships have invaded Earth. If we can’t find a way to stop them now, humans could suffer the same fate as our people: annihilation.

I wish I could be with John on the front lines of the battle in New York City, but I am hoping—praying—that the key to our survival lies within the Sanctuary. This is where the Elders always meant for us to go when we came of age. This was their plan for us. There is a power that has been hidden here beneath the earth for generations. A power that could save the world or destroy it. And now we have awoken it.

They killed Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
Number Three in Kenya.
And Number Eight in Florida.
I am Number Six—but our numbers don’t matter anymore.
Because now we are not the only ones with Legacies.

As Four (John Smith) deals with the Mog invasion of NYC, Six is at the Sanctuary, having just unleashed power across the world – giving random humans super-powered abilities. This installment is once again told from Four and Six’s point of view, switching back and forth throughout the novel. It’s not hard to figure out who’s talking, once we figure out who else is with them and what they’re doing.

The Fate of Ten is the sixth and next to last novel in the Lorien Legacies series. Just as fast-paced and thrilling as ever, this latest installment doesn’t disappoint or feel like filler until the final book. Giving humans Legacies (powers) is a fun twist and added a unique new character. With plenty of surprises along the way, the excitement builds to a big finale with a big cliffhanger. This coming year will seem like forever for fellow fans until the final book release.

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