Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories

annodracula1899Over the years of reviewing various novels and comics for Retrenders, I’ve enjoyed reading the many tales of Kim Newman’s vampire creation Anno Dracula and world of characters around him.  “Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories” is a collection of short stories to get fans primed for the upcoming novel Anno Dracula 1899: Daikaiju.  Not only that, Titan Comics will kick-off a brand new Anno Dracula series by author Kim Newman and art by Paul McCaffrey launching in March 2017.

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage

xandercage“You know how I came up with the idea of the Triple-X program?  Skateboards and swimming pools.”  (Augustus Gibbons)

I remember watching the first Triple-X in theaters and I had to say, I enjoyed watching the Vin Diesel popcorn flick.  Bypassing Ice Cube’s xXx sequel, like Brett Ratner’s X-Men 3, Vin Diesel reprises his role as super punk-rock agent Xander Cage.  I now find myself reading xXx:  Return of Xander Cage – The Official Movie Novelization and just maybe watching this Fast and the Furious wannabe at the multiplexes.

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Magazine Preview: The Walking Dead – Companion to the Comic Series

walkingmagazine0101The Walking Dead has been a pop-culture phenom in both TV and comics format.  This official The Walking Dead magazine provides a guide to the comics series which great for fans and beginners to this zombie universe.

The companion comics guide features interviews with creators Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard.  There are also articles discussing fan-favorite characters, defining comic book moments in the series, exploration of the Walking Dead universe and interviews with the creative team.

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Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series

batmanclassictvseriesI remember watching the 1960s Batman TV show with my grandfather in our living room.  We would have a blast watching these reruns.  Now to celebrate this iconic TV program, Titan Books has released Batman – A Celebration of the Classic TV Series.

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Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years

startrek50I remember watching this “old” Star Trek TV series as a kid.  “Trek” didn’t really resonate with me until Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager TV series.  Over time I went back to watch this original Star Trek series and films with the original cast.  This year mark the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek TV series and this poster size hardbound title Star Trek 50 Artists 50 Years celebrates the iconic sci-fi TV program.

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The Marvel Vault – A Visual History

marvelvaultupdatedI remember as a kid in the 1980s, you were either a Marvel Comics or DC Comics fan, there was no in-between.  I didn’t get serious into collecting comics until the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Marvel had an amazing staple of talents like Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefield, Marc Silverstri, Whilce Portacio and Jae Lee, just to name a few.  Every week I had a stack of Marvel comic books and a issue was like .75 cents!  If you know you have a Marvel fan this Holiday season, then The Marvel Vault – A Visual History will make a great gift item.

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Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur’s Cookbook by Janice Poon

hanniballcoverI’ve stated many times before when I watch K-Dramas, I get Korean cuisine cravings.  Watching a cute petite actress eat Jjangmyun (black bean sauce noodles), Mandu (meat dumplings), Bulgogi (BBQ beef) or Dukbokki (spicy rice cakes) just makes me hungry to munch on something.  Now back to the topic at hand, the NBC psycho-drama Hannibal.  Question, have you seen the past 3 seasons of Hannibal?  If not, go stream it somewhere!  Besides the incredible acting and visual images, it was also about the deadly appetizing food on the show.

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The Art and Making of The Flash

flashtvshowWith season 3 of The Flash under way on the CW Network, fans will enjoy the companion guide, The Art and Making of The Flash by Abbie Bernstein.  Critics and fans alike may nick pick here and there, but for me it’s an enjoyable escapism.  I’m a huge fan of the CW DC superhero universe and make it an appointment television to watch.  One of my favorite shows is of course The Flash and The Art and Making of The Flash takes fans behind-the-scenes.

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The Art of Titanfall 2

artoftitanfall201Video game enthusiasts and critics enjoyed playing Titanfall 1, now comes Titanfall 2.  Strap-in and get ready to pilot another Titan.  Titanfall 2 features new locales for battles, new weapons and new robotic mechs.  The Art of Titanfall 2 goes behind-the-scenes of the making and creation of the Titans.

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Cinema Alchemist, A Memoir – Roger Christian

cinemaalcoverImagine yourself in 1970s Hollywood and you’re on set meeting a nobody director at the time George Lucas, who is wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and sneakers.  He talks to you about this secret script named Star Wars.  What would do?  This was before so-called “Hollywood blockbusters”, before movie franchises, before green screens, and before SFX studios like ILM.  Roger Christian accepted the gig and of course, the rest is history.  Cinema Alchemist, Designing Star Wars & Alien is a memoir by Oscar-winning Roger Christian.

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The Art of Atari by Tim Lapetino

therealataricoverIf you were that kid that grew up with the Atari 2600, you will definitely remember the distinctive box art packaging.  As a kid seeing the Atari video game box art made me go to my mom and say to her, “I want you to buy me those games!”  This October 2016, Dynamite and author Tim Lapetino take Atari fans on journey of video game artwork with The Art of Atari.

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Arrow: Oliver Queen’s Dossier

arrowcoverJust in time for Arrow Season 5 on the CW Network.  This companion book is Oliver Queen’s Dossier, it is Oliver’s notes and clippings on his battle to fight crime in Starling City.

img_1667Oliver gathers up newspaper clippings, government documents, images, blueprints and maps while writing down his notes and opinions on post-its.  The dossier profiles allies, friends and enemies.  The book also provides information on weapons and vehicles used on the show.

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The Art of Deus Ex Universe

deusexartbookHave you played Deus Ex:  Mankind Divided?  Go play it!  Have you read Deus Ex: Black Light?  Go read it!  After doing all this now you can enjoy this by Titan Books – The Art of Deus Ex Universe.

deusart001Video game journalist Paul Davies takes us to EIDOS Montreal and interviews the players – the design and art teams behind the Deus Ex universe.  The artist and designers talk about the incredible world building and designing the right characters.  They also talk about building the atmosphere and emotion to get players into this world.  The art book contains over 300 images, art pieces, concept designs, character profiles, CGI art and sketches from Human Revolution and Mankind Divided video games.

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Deus Ex: Black Light by James Swallow

deusexblacklightcoverBased on the video game series Deus Ex, this new official “canon” novel Deus Ex: Black Light bridges the gap between the end of the video game Deus Ex:  Human Revolution and prequel to the new video game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.  Author James Swallow who has already penned various Deus Ex original novels starts Black Light like the first Bourne Identity, as Jason Bourne, I mean ex-cop and ex-security Adam Jensen is found at sea and has no memory of his last mission.

Our cyber “augmented” hero Adam Jensen must piece together his past and retrace his steps to find what is going on and all roads lead him back home to Detroit and his former employer Sarif Industries.

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Suicide Squad – The Official Movie Novelization

suicidesquadnovelI will stay out of the critics/fans Suicide Squad movie squabble mess.  Yes, the movie had some misses, like the under-character development of various characters and the overly long 3rd act, but overall I enjoyed director David Ayer’s Suicide Squad as a just a fun summer popcorn action flick.  With the hoopla surrounding the Suicide Squad movie, I was intrigued with the Suicide Squad novelization by long-time DC comic book author Marv Wolfman.

The U.S. government appoints Amanda Waller to establish Task Force X part of the A.R.G.U.S. program to use super criminals locked-up in prison for special government missions.  Dr. June Moone aka Enchantress finds a way to raise his trap brother Incubus back into the world of the living.  Together they have a plan to destroy and rule the world.  Waller taps Colonel Rick Flag to be the liaison for this “Suicide Squad” team and assembles Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, El Diablo and Slipknot to stop the Enchantress and her brother Incubus.

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ALIENS – The Set Photography

aliensartbookOne of the huge blockbuster movies that made a strong impression on me growing in the 1980s was James Cameron’s ALIENS.  It was scary with kick-ass action, had a memorable cast of actors and just a great science fiction storyline.  With a collection of artwork, on-set location pictures and behind-the-scenes photographs, author Simon Ward takes us ALIENS fans on a journey with ALIENS – The Set Photography by Titan Books.

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Tarzan on Film by Scott Tracy Griffin

tarzanHere’s a good Trivia-pursuit question, what is the longest running film franchise?  The James Bond series or the Godzilla monster movies?  Nope.  It’s Tarzan!  Tarzan on Film by Tarzan fanatic author Scott Tracy Griffin explores the over 90-plus years of Tarzan films, from the Hollywood silent film era, the animated versions, the made-for-TV films and network television runs.

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The High Ground by Melinda Snodgrass

thehighgroundWhen you have Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin giving praise about this book, it got my attention.  The High Ground – The Imperials Saga is the first book in an epic science-fiction trilogy by author Melinda Snodgrass.  The heart of the story, a handsome lower-class boy Thracius Belmanor aka Tracy working his way up the class-system falls in love with Princess Mercedes Adalina Saturnina Inez de Arango.  It’s mix of BBC drama and a Kdrama love triangle set in outer space worlds.

By year 2100s the Earth is mostly uninhabitable and humans have conquered other worlds in galaxies far away.  In Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek when Warp engine technology was discovered it was about the search of new worlds and exploration, but here in this universe, when Fold technology is discovered, humans created a backward class-system hierarchy to control the galaxy and subjugated all the aliens they have conquered like the Haijin, Isanjo and Cara’ot races into “servants”.  The Imperial Family, the father and king Fernan Marcus Serverino Beltran de Arango has a dilemma on his hands.  His 5 wives only gave him daughters and no sons to inherit the throne.  He wants his eldest daughter Mercedes to inherit the kingdom.  The Princess has other plans like attending the military school – The High Ground.  She will be the first woman admitted to school on a large city-port space station.   On the other side, is Tracy whose father is tailor to the “rich” and while Tracy wants none of the class system BS, he is “forced” to go to the High Ground military school.

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Escapology by Ren Warom

escapologyThe post-apocalyptic future Earth is unkind to the masses.  It’s little like Kevin Costner’s ill-fated Waterworld and Mad Max: Fury Road, well kind of.  The world is more of a mix between anime Garganita on the Verdurous Planet without the mechas and Brian Wood’s comic The Massive as an environmental disaster destroys most of the Earth.  Land dwelling places to live are scarce the exception of mega-cities or large ship-cities that rule the seas.  And the internet is run by one gatekeeper, this is the first novel by author Ren Warom – Escapology.

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SoHo Sins by Richard Vine

sohosinscoverMessed-up marriages, adultery, temptation, jealously and power all come to play in this pulp novel SoHo Sins.  With a long career in the modern art scene, author Richard Vine pens his first novel using New York City art world as the backdrop.

In SoHo Sins the art scene golden couple is Philip and Amanda Oliver.  Philip a techy millionaire is in a broken marriage with his current wife Amanda Wingate, the art collector heiress.  The art world is rocked when Amanda is found murdered in her home.  Art dealer and friend of the couple Jackson Wyeth and his P.I. buddy Hogan are on the job to investigate Amanda’s grisly death.

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The Art & Making of Independence Day: Resurgence

independencedayartbookI remember sitting at the Cornet Theater, an iconic large single-screen theater in San Francisco, before all the crazy IMAX 3D stuff and mega-mall multiplexes watching the summer blockbuster Independence Day.  Twenty years have past with a new sequel ID4 Resurgence.  The nasty aliens are back to drain Earth’s natural resources.  Okay, I admit Resurgence may not measure up to the classic summer hit ID4, but if you want some popcorn action with no thinking – then you might want to see ID4 Resurgence.  Along with the movie, Titan Books has released The Art & Making of Independence Day Resurgence.

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The Age of Treachery by Gavin Scott

ageoftreacherycoverI recently watched Guy Ritchie’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)” on rental.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.  And by coincidence my next book review takes place around this post-WWII/Cold War era, it’s “The Age of Treachery” by author Gavin Scott.

World War II has just ended and like many soldiers returning home to England, Duncan Forrester is trying to adjust into normal civilian life.  The ex-Special Operations Executive agent, Duncan is back at Oxford College as a archaeology researcher. A fellow colleague David Lyall is murdered on campus and everything points to Duncan’s best friend Gordon Clark.  Duncan Forrester begins his own investigation.

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Dark Horse Comics Coloring Books

dhavatarbooksI’m hooked on coloring.  Recently when I was at Michaels arts and craft store, I bought some TMNT coloring books and crayons.  Dark Horse Comics just announced two adult coloring book releases:  Avatar – The Last Airbender and Serenity.  The coloring books will feature 45-pages of original artwork on thick paperstock.  The 10″x10″ coloring books will cost $14.99USD each.

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Warcraft: Durotan

durotanBefore we start this review, let us take a moment to explain that I’m not a Warcraft fanatic or even a Starcraft hardcore gamer.  In college, I was more of a Command & Conquer fan and played a lot of it, especially during final weeks from what I remember.  With the release of the live-action Warcraft film this weekend, this paperback novel Warcraft: Durotan is the prequel storyline for the Warcraft movie.

This tale begins with the young Durotan learning how to be a leader of the Frostwolves orc clan from his dad Garad and mother Geyah.  For generations, the Frostwolves have been living in Frostfire Ridge near the Greatfather Mountain, which provide food and shelter.  A mysterious warlock Gul’dan appears and tells of a new evil coming to destroy their lands.  Gul’dan asks Garad to join their united orc clans – the Horde.  He promises a land to the South where there is much food, fresh water and better lands.  Chieftain Garad dismisses Gul’dan as evil, but over the years the area of Frostfire Ridge becomes increasingly harder to hunt for food with harsher summers and winters.

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New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey

titanbooksnewpompeiiOne of our favorite sci-fi genre’s is about time traveling.  In pop culture entertainment, we have a fetish for the “past”, like what if we could travel to the 1950s era or Roman times and so on, and then have the ability to change the future?  I remember having a dandy of a time reading Timeline (1999) by Michael Crichton.  A footnote, please do not watch the lame movie adaptation of Timeline (2003), but do read the book instead.  In the vein of Timeline and Jurassic Park, Daniel Godfrey’s New Pompeii is this and more.

The protagonist Dr. Nick Houghton has been stuck in limbo as a part-time college intern and researcher, due to his dad’s outspoken negative comments against one the world’s biggest energy company Novus Particles.  NovusPart has created technology to grab matter from the past and bring it into the future.  For instance, the company saved the ancient Roman town of Pompeii which was destroyed by volcanic eruption.  NovusPart was able to build a replica town called New Pompeii and saved many of the townspeople.  With this incredible technology, history buff and researcher Dr. Nick Houghton is offered a job to see New Pompeii.  He’s excited to see what real Roman’s are like and to learn how they interact at pubs, bath houses and in the homes. But as he steps into New Pompeii, he notices some discrepancies in the town and among the people.  He wonders what happened to his predecessor Dr. Samson?  And why are many buildings empty, when many of the poor townspeople have nothing?  Nick begins to wonder if there is deeper conspiracy by NovusPart.  It’s up to Nick, Roman leader Barbatus and his daughter Calpurnia to stop NovusPart from changing history and the timeline.

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