Book Review 136 // Broken by Rachel Caine

Look at this, book three of the Alien's short stories from Bug Hunt. If you haven't read the first two please follow these handy links (Story One, Story Two). So far the tales have been great and really helped to fill out a greater section of the galaxy. So with this, I felt energized to be heading into this tale, titled: Broken.

Straight away I was excited by the opening paragraph. Seems we have ourselves an origin story for the AI character Bishop (made famous in Aliens). At construction, he was deemed flawed and strange more prone to emotional responses. But the Company being the company, didn't want to waste him so attached Bishop to a Colonial Marine unit led by Lt. Lew "Lucky" Larsen. This then becomes the focal point of the story and we join them on a mission is to free a group of colonists taken hostage by a pirate group simply known as F Company. This group has pissed off the company enough to warrant their utter destruction and the marines are tasked with trapping the pirates in the base before using toxic gas to poison the site and remove the problem of F Company. Colonists are to be saved if possible, but are completely expendable if that is easier (good old company).

Of course, guns start blazing, and casualties are taken on both sides. With Bishop being a non-combat unit,  he is tasked with checking the wounded and deeming who stays and who goes. Ultimately forced to chose who will live and die, a task a normal AI would struggle with but due to Bishop's flaw, he is calmly able to make the discussions. After completing the task Bishop discovers the plan to gas the base and is unable to follow the orders to leave the hostages to die. Instead, Bishop grabs some gas masks and attempts to locate the last hostages, before the gas is activated.

A lot goes down in a surprisingly short space of time, we discover another droid working for the F Company, we also get another gunfight which doesn't end well for anyone (especially Bishop who ends up paralyzed), but more worryingly we see Bishop override his programming and kill two F Company pirates on purpose by deactivating their gas masks. Bishop's last act is to aid the hostages of the world by remotely piloting a dropship before he shuts down his main power in the hopes of getting rescued himself.

Seems like years have past but when Bishop reactivates, finding himself once more in a Colonial Marine Medbay. But he is fully repaired and tended by Private Hudson and Sergeant Apone, who tell him that they recovered him to replace their destroyed droid. As it was easier to grab him than head all the way home. The book finishes with Hudson teaching Bishop the infamous knife game (excellent finish).

Another solid read, not as interesting as the first two stories. But it does fill out Bishop's back story explaining why he became so attached to Newt and Ripley. I also found it a nice touch to have Hudson teaching the knife game, this actually made me smile.

As always, thanks for checking in and I hope you enjoyed my review?

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Beer Review 147 // Tropical Vacation by Bicycle Craft Brewery

Hey, welcome to today's beer review. It's been a busy week, so I was ready for a brew. Today I am drinking Tropical Vacation by Bicycle Craft Brewing. They are a great family own local brewery located on the outskirts of Ottawa, and they just enjoy producing beer for people to drink. Simple right!

Here are some official details:

Hit the beach with this hazy IPA. Brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops, big grapefruit, mango, and pineapple flavors. Massively dry-hopped to take you on a tropical vacation one sip at a time.

ABV: 6.2%
Style: NEIPA (New England India Pale Ale)

Let's start off with the pour, look at it! It is a bold, hazy orange pour and looks stunning with the tidy white cap of foam on top. Leaning in to get a hit of the aroma, I get that classic tropical fruit notes, like pineapple, mango, a little bit of grapefruit and I think some floral grassy notes. It is a beautiful smelling brew.

The first sip is impressive, big citrus hit straight away. This is a mouthwatering juicy beer, which makes you want more. Think canned pineapples, mango, stone fruits and you will be on the right path. The taste definitely lingers and builds into a tanginess on the back of the tongue.

It was a solid brew and one I will try again. I am happy to say with patios and spaces opening up again, Bicycle Craft will be a go-to brewery this summer. What breweries are you excited about this summer? Let me know in the comments below.

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Comic Review 142 // Batman/Aliens DC vs Dark Horse


Seems like an age ago when we did some xenomorph fun, so I thought it might be time to dive back in. Sat on my shelf with way too much dust is the collected volume of Batman vs Aliens. The first story is the feature of today's post and is originally called Batman/Aliens. Yep, great start already. Here are the details

Title: Batman/Aliens
The hook: After leaving Gotham City for the Amazon forest, Batman faces his newest challenge among the Mayan ruins as he encounters an intergalactic infestation of bloodthirsty Aliens, in a graphic-novel science fiction adventure.
Written by: Ron Marz
Artwork by: Bernie Wrightson

Well, who doesn't love a crossover? I actually enjoyed the Judge Dredd versions, so I have high hopes. I am definitely intrigued by how they will go about this, does seem weird to throw Batman into the jungle but let us see what happens.

The story is actually rather simple. A Wayne Tech geologist has gone missing in the jungle and as part of the rescue, Bruce Wayne has travelled south to give aid. This then allows Batman to sneak off and parachute into the jungle. Here the fun starts as he discovers a group of mercenaries searching a strange (instantly recognizable) spacecraft that is nicely parked by a ruined Mayan Temple.

We then enter the classic Alien horror story arc, the characters are picked off one by one, they all have dark secrets they are hiding, and you end up rooting for the xenomorphs to win! Unfortunately, Batman's plot armour is too thick and he of course survives. Overall a suspenseful story that takes a while before we even see a Xenomorph. But when they appear, they are being sneaky bastards, leading the writing to feel more in kin with the original film, as you start to fear the shadows behind the epic characters.
The best part and stand-out highlight for me has to be the final monster. The Xeno/croc hybrid. I mean move over Killer Croc as this thing will kick ass! I hope you enjoyed my review and thanks for checking in. As always check out these links to help support the blog and me, it means a lot.

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Miniature Monday // Warlord Games - Strontium Dog: Blubberlips


Hey everyone, time for an update! I've only gone and painted up another model. What on earth is happening? I've managed to get back into painting and painted more so far this year than I have in the last three years. Today I dip my toe back into the works of Warlord Games and 2000 AD and showcase Blubberlips from the Strontium Dog franchise.

Had a lot of fun painting this model, I started off with a black prime, followed by a zenith highlight to help show me shadows etc. Then using contrast paints I built up the colours until I had something tabletop ready.



Looking at the model I realized I had played too safe on the jumpsuit and instead went back in and built it up to a bold striking orange. I'm pretty happy with the final result and feel when I am ready I will go back and highlight the crap out of him. But for about an hour of painting, I am really pleased with the result. Here is a quick 360 video I posted on Tik-Tok of the final model. I hope you have enjoyed it and will possibly click one of the links after the video to support the blog. As always thanks for checking in.


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Audio Review 38 // Asurmen: The Darker Road by Gav Thorpe


Hitting you with more Aeldari audiobooks this week. Sticking with Gav Thorpe, we delve into his Phoenix Lord with a short tale following Asurmen. Let's get the details before we dive in.

Author: Gav Thorpe
Performed by: Gareth Armstrong, John Banks, Steve Conlin, Toby Longworth, Penelope Rawlins, and Genevieve Swallow.
Running time: 71 minutes
Details: It is said the Phoenix Lords arrive on the eve of great moments... Guided by fate, Asurmen the Hand of Asuryan comes to the Craftworld of Ulthwé. At the behest of the head of the seer council, he joins the warriors of Ulthwé and the young seer Eldrad on a quest to the Crone Worlds in search of the oracle Hiron-athela. It is believed that this being, holds an artifact that could safeguard Ulthwé's future, but to obtain it, the Eldar must travel a dark road...

Review

This is a follow-up tale from the Phoenix Lord novel Asurmen. With this novel, we join Asurmen as he travels to the Craftworld Ulthwe. Here he joins forces with the Black Guardians led by Eldard Ulthran and together they travel to a Crone World. Their goal is to claim an artifact that once belonged to the Exodites. The Oracle was created by the Exodites and was then locked away behind some mysterious traps.

Of course, the main characters are Asurmen and a Dire Avenger Exarch who between the pair take charge and lead the Aeldari to their goal. Now like all good novels there is a twist that I will not ruin. But for a 1 hour listen this was great, it had the classic high production values of Black Library and a strong cast of actors killing it. The music was interesting at times but mostly lent to the atmosphere of the tale. I really hope we get more of these in the future. I need more than Asurmen and Jain Zar.

As always thanks for stopping by and reading. Use any of these links to help support the blog and thank you.

Book Review 135 // The Unremembered Empire by Dan Abnett

It's been a few weeks since Vulkan's Lives, and with the help of some Alien short stories, my mind was refreshed enough to hop back into the 30k verse of Horus Heresy. Now I am lucky to head back into series with a Dan Abnett book, I was expecting a good story that hopefully progressed the story and I was not disappointed. Here are the book's details:

Author: Dan Abnett
Page Count: 416
Commercial Fluff:
Believing Terra has already fallen to the Warmaster, Primarch Roboute Guilliman founds the Imperium Secundus.

The unthinkable has happened – Terra has fallen to the traitor forces of Warmaster Horus! Nothing else could explain the sudden disappearance of the Astronomican’s guiding light at the heart of the Imperium, or so Roboute Guilliman would believe. Ever the pragmatist, he has drawn all his forces to Ultramar and begun construction of the new empire known as Imperium Secundus. Even with many of his Primarch brothers at his side, he still faces war from without and intrigue from within – with the best of intentions, was the full truth to be known it would likely damn them all as traitors for all eternity.

Review

So let's get the timeline sorted first. Calth has burned, Lorgar has created the Ruinstorm, and with the help of his brother Angron, their combine might lays siege to the 500 worlds of Ultramar. Vulkan has died and come back before disappearing once more, and Sanguinius and his chapter have survived a trap sprung by Horus. Then finally Johnson and Curze have played a game of cat and mouse in an attempt to kill each other. Sounds like a lot right?

With the Ruinstorm in full effect and the knowledge that most of his loyal brothers lay dead on Istavaan, Guilliman is forced to assume the worst. With the light of the Astronomicon hidden, Guilliman fears Terra has fallen and he attempts to hold his 500 worlds together. As time passes Guilliman starts making some questionable decisions. Firstly allows psykers within his legion once more (a crime Magnus was punished for), he uses Xeno tech to create a fake Astronomicon (heresy) and creates his own Empire called Imperium Secundus. All sounds a bit traitorous in my opinion.

With his beacon lit, soon Space Marines of various legion start to arrive, mostly the survivors of Istavaan. But then a pack of Space Wolves arrives at the request of Leman Russ and the Malcador and they question Guilliman and his motives (which is a great part of the book). During this section, we see an attempted assassination attempt on Guilliman and the return of a Crisom Fisted Imperial Fist (eeek).

The story only truly ramps up with the arrival of the Dark Angels. Here we get The Lion arriving and also questioning Guilliman's motives, Curze makes planetfall and solo kicks everyone arse, Vulkan for some reason falls from the sky and becomes Jerky, before showcasing his regeneration to everyone by waking up and chasing Curze across the city, and then final Sanguinius arrives in the last two chapters to say hi!

Overall a lot happens in 416 pages and we didn't even touch the story of the Iron Warrior Warsmith, the Cabal, John, and Eldrad. Wow, great book I am back in Horus mode!

As always thanks for checking in on me. Let me know in the comments what you want me to read next. Until then thank you for reading and use some of these links to help support the blog.

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Beer Review 146 // Echo DIPA by Fine Balance Brewing


Look at me, following up last week's brew with another DIPA from the same brewery. This time we adventure into Echo. This DIPA was made in a similar way to last week's brew but this time it uses Mosaic. Here are the details:

Details

Name: Echo
Brewery: Fine Balance
Style: DIPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery Notes: Echo DIPA was brewed with a healthy percentage of Oat Malt, White Wheat Malt, and Flaked Wheat & Oats to achieve a full-body, as well as an underlying creamy profile. Echo was dry-hopped, with a healthy dosage of Mosaic hops and finished with even more Mosaic Cryo hops.

Echo presents everything you would expect and desire from Mosaic hops. Expect notes of mango, citrus, pine, tropical fruits, as well as stone fruit characteristics.

Review

First, up the pour, it is a bold yellow, opaque to look at, and no floaties. It is capped with a pillowy, white head, that clings to glass all the way to the end. Big upfront mango hit in the aroma straight away, smells great. On the first sip, you get that mango and tropical fruit punch flavour, which doesn't let go! The mango stays with you all the way to the last drop, but as you progress you start getting a citrus pith finish in the bitterness. I have to say this drank way too easy for a double and I found it surprisingly sweet towards the end of the glass.

All together another great beer from them, I can't wait to be able to travel again and hopefully visit the Brewery in Kingston soon. As always thanks for checking in and I hope you enjoyed my beer review?

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Comic Review 141 // Durham Red: Empty Suns by Dan Abnett


Just like that, I am on the final 162 pages of Durham Red! It's been a blast and I know there are some e-books for me to enjoy, but I am going to miss Red. Here are the details of the final comic of Durham Red:

Title: Durham Red - Empty Suns
Page Count: 162
Write up: Awakening after 1200 years in suspended animation Durham Red found herself worshipped by the mutants as Saint Scarlet. Persecuted by the human iconoclasts, the mutants entreated her to lead them in a galaxy-spanning holy war against mankind, but Red refused the responsibility.

Collects:

- The Empty Suns Book I (Prog #1362-#1368)
- The Empty Suns Book II (Prog #1382-#1386)
- Necrocultura (Meg #4.12)
- Semblance (Meg #4.13)
- The Spirit and the Gaki (Meg #4.14)
- Children of the Night 1 episode (Meg #4.15)
- Genegun SD (Meg #4.16)
- Red Menace (Meg #4.17)
- In the Flesh (Meg #4.18)

Review

The final chapter has come. Set further into the future the galaxy has now gone to pieces. After being tricked by the super mutant Offspring, Red watched as he used his powers to make the human race sterile. Now, only a few pockets of humanity survive, and where they no longer live, mutants now reign. Sadly now these planets seem to be falling into disrepair or entered weird feudal law systems. Watching the galaxy fall to 
pieces Matteus Godolkin and a group of the last humans seek out Durham Red in hopes of rescuing the human race.

Of course shit doesn't go to plan. They discover a crazy, feral Durham Red, who with Godolkin has had a son! After restoring her sanity they start tracking down the Offspring's chosen and killing them forcing the Offspring to hunt them down. Then Durham using a Time distortion faces off against the Offspring killing it, but not before the Humans completely die out. Now the galaxy belongs to the mutant!

A great final entry for Durham, it finished off everything very satisfactory, though it felt a little rushed. The artwork was stunning and I enjoyed the story for the space opera it was. Well worth reading if you can find it.

After this, we get seven one-shot stories of Durham Red throughout time. Some are great, some good and some miss the mark for me. But they all add in their unique ways and I hope there will be Durham Red from 2000 AD soon. A great spin-off series.

But what is next? I feel it is time to ease back into Judge Dredd or possibly Anderson. Who knows?

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Miniature Monday // Unboxing Strontium Dog - SD Agents by Warlord Games

Hey, welcome to some more Warlord Games Strontium Dog content. This time it is a simple Youtube unboxing of the SD Agent Set. More of my content can be found at Adventures with Peps, I would love it if you stopped by to say hi.


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Strontium Dog: Repo Men

The Game: The Good, the Bad and the Mutie - Worth it for the miniatures alone.


Audio Review 37 // Hand of Darkness by Gav Thorpe


I'm rather happy to announce that I got my hands on some Aeldari short stories by the one and only Gav Thorpe. I've read rather a few of his stories, and I know he can spin a good one, so let us dive on in.

Title: Hand of Darkness
Author: Gav Thorpe
Actors: Gareth Armstrong, Cliff Chapman, Steve Conlin, Emma Gregory, Matt Hunt, Jonathan Keeble, Toby Longworth, Penelope Rawlins, Melvyn Rawlinson.
Run time: 61 minutes

THE STORY:

Fell is the Hand of Darkness, a relic of great evil. Seeking to rob the powers of Chaos of this relic and bend fate to the favor of order, Yvraine of the Ynnari and the mysterious yet deadly Visarch lead a host of Aeldari on a quest to steal it. To reach it, however, they must first beseech the aid of the Black Library. Only then will Yvraine and her warriors have even the slightest chance to slip through the Garden of Nurgle and from there to the Plague Planet and the Whispering Tower of Mortarion, where the Hand of Darkness surely resides.

Before diving in deep, this title was well acted and absorbed me into the story. This is what I've come to expect from Black Library titles. Set in the aftermath of the galaxy ripping apart, we join the Ynnari on a quest to recover an old artifact. The story is broken into three parts.

Part 1

We are informed what the Hand of Darkness actually is; basically, a world-destroying device that should never see the light of day. We then also listen in as Primarch Guilliman, speaks with Eldard of Ulthwe and Yvraine of the Ynnari, about the object. He sets the Aeldari the task of hunting out the relic, which seems to be hidden away on the Plague Planet.

Review
Good opening - slightly annoys me that old Guilliman is bossing everyone around these days.

Part 2

With a trip to the Black Library in search of a way to get to the plague planet. The Aeldari host discovers the ancient Library besieged by Ahriman and his forces. The Ynnari fight their way in and are greeted by the White Seers. The object they need unfortunately lies behind a sealed door that leads to a zone ruled by the Chaos God Slaanesh. As a small force explores this region the rest of the forces join the battle against Ahriman.

Review

Deserved a full book for this section. It is such an amazing story that could have been so much more! Stepping into the Black Library alone was amazing!

Part 3

Now the real action. Happens pretty quickly son hang on! Yvraine having escaped Slaanesh with her prize, leads the Ynnari against Ahriman. Rapidly crushing their attack and routing the invaders. Using the foul Sorcerer's escape route the Ynnari main characters and some Harliquinns infiltrate the Garden of Nurgle, using it as a shortcut to the Plague planet. From here it is a quick jump to the Hand and the completion of the mission.

Review

Completely rushed and deserved a better ending. Left a little disappointed. Would love for Thorpe to do a rewrite and make a proper novel out of this story as it deserves it.

Overall a solid story but definitely could be better! As always thanks for stopping by and reading. Use any of these links to help support the blog and thank you.

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Book Review 134 // Reaper by Dan Abnett


Got to be honest everyone, struggling to read long stories at the moment. Not sure if it is the weather or I am in a slump. But luckily for me, I had the Bug Hunt novel filled with eighteen short stories.

This is the second story in the line-up and is by everyone's favorite author and comic book writer: Dan Abnett. Love me some Sinister Dexter and Gaunt's Ghosts, so I have high hope for this one.

We join a group of Colonial Marines from the USS Montoro as they are sent to investigate LV-KR 115. It seems like this planet was once a giant farm, with colossal machines processing the world. But now it seems like a dust bowl. The force of Marines separates into two fighting forces, the first is led by Captain Broome and the second by Lieutenant Teller. The story then follows Teller's group and we discover that his group is heading the main target as the Marine Corps is testing Teller's leadership skills.

Soon Teller and his team are inside and discover the machine in complete disrepair. Following some investigation, they found the outer doors had been sealed shut, they also keep finding pieces of metal like belt buckles just laying around. The mystery deepens once Teller's team reaches the control room. Here they discover the viewing windows have been scratched opaqued by something, and that the machine lost control about three weeks ago. As the team digs further they discover the machine had hit a buried object, damaging it. Turns out it was some weird locust lifeform that once freed discovered a world full of life, and when on a reproduction/eating surge until all life was devoured.

At this stage, Teller attempts to abort the mission, but it is too late the outer doors are opening and a buzzing noise heads their way.

Overall a great story had a small team of easy-to-follow characters. With Teller being the important one to remember. It had some nerve-wracking moments, and a surprise by the lack of xenomorph. It did show off that there are other threats out there in the galaxy and that for once Humans aren't the apex predators.

Highly recommend.

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Book Review 136 // Broken by Rachel Caine

Look at this, book three of the Alien's short stories from Bug Hunt. If you haven't read the first two please follow these handy lin...