Monthly Archives: June 2015

Audiobook Review: Doctor Who and the Deadly Assassin by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Deadly Assassin: A 4th Doctor novelisation

It’s rare to find a Doctor Who novel that will allow us inside the mind of the Doctor. More often than not, we’ll see into the mind of his companions and those around him.

That makes a story like “The Deadly Assassin” difficult to adapt for the printed page since it’s the only story in the classic canon that doesn’t feature a companion for the Doctor. It’s also a story whose third episode features a lot of action pieces and very little in the way of dialogue.

Because of this, Terrance Dicks’ attempt to adapt the classic Robert Holmes four-parter falls a bit short. I can’t help but wonder if Dicks had produced this story at the beginning or the end of his association with the Target range if he might have expanded some things a bit or made some different storytelling choices. As it is, this comes from the middle period when Dicks rarely had time to do more than adapt the shooting script for the printed page. He didn’t have time to add the flourishes that made novels like “The Day of the Daleks” so memorable.

With two mysterious adversaries for the Doctor to battle (one works for the other), Dicks decides to give away the identity of one earlier in the novel than the televised story does. I can’t help but wonder if it might have been better to let readers in on who is working for the Master rather than the Master himself. It’s disappointing that one of the more pivotal and controversial stories in the classic series run only gets a novelization that’s par for the course. Dicks tries his best, but this is a story that works better visually (at least the sections inside the Matrix do) than they do on the printed page.

Thankfully, the audio version features a reading by Geoffrey Beavers, the only actor who played the Master in the classic series who is still with us. Beavers reading is, as always, a delight and he brings a lot to the read, especially when called upon to read lines for the Master. You can just hear Beavers voice dripping with contempt as he channels the Master in this one. I can’t help but wonder why this line hasn’t seen fit to let Beavers read a story or two that doesn’t feature the Master. I think he’d be great. Why not let him read “Day of the Daleks” — one of the truly great entries from the Target line that hasn’t yet been adapted for audio.

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Filed under #20booksofsummer, audiobook, audiobook review, Doctor who

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read This Year

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Time again for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

As we turn the calendar into July, I can’t help but wonder just where did the first half of 2015 go?!?  It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the New Year and now here we are with the year half gone.

This week’s subject is the top ten books we’ve read in 2015.  Here’s my list.

Books I Re-Read:
mockingbird1.  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
— I re-read it in anticipation of the sequel coming out later this year.  And this book is just as wonderful as it was the first couple of times I read it.
2.  My Antonia by Willa Cather — Another re-read, but still a great book.
3.  Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovich — I had more fun re-visiting this one on audio than I thought I would.  Great story, great adaptation, great audio reading.

New Books:
4.  Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence — I’ve seen so many people talking about Lawrence that I finally gave him a try. I am looking forward to more.
5.  Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiney — A great collection of short stories.
6.  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins –– I have a feeling this one may be on a lot of top ten lists.  It’s worthy of the buzz.
7.  The Happy Hour Choir by Sally Kilpatrick — I admit I’m a bit biased because the author is a friend. But the book would be great even if I didn’t know Sally from back in the day.
8.  Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli — Another book I think will be on a lot of top ten lists. And with good reason.
9.  A House Divided by Robert Whitlow — Technically this one isn’t on shelves yet, but I got an ARC.  Whitlow is one of my favorite writers and this one was fantastic.
10.  The Sculptor by Scott McCloud — A graphic novel that will break your heart, make you think and truly touch you.

Honorable Mentions: Finder Keepers by Stephen King, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest and Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson.

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Dragon’s Loyalty Award

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I’ve been nominated for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award by The Hidden Staircase.   So what does this mean?

Well, here you go:

The rules for Dragon’s Loyalty Award are:

1   Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2   Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and a link back.
3  You must share seven things other bloggers may not know about you.
4   Nominate up to fifteen bloggers for Dragon’s Loyalty Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
5   Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog.

So, seven random things about me that bloggers might not know.  I guess this means my love of reading is out.

1.  I read fairly quickly thanks to reading lab classes in middle school.   I’m not sure you’d necessarily call it speed reading (which I believe is an entirely different technique).
2.  The first movie I saw in theaters was The Shaggy D.A. for my third birthday.  I don’t recall much about it from that showing, but I’ve seen it since and it’s fun.
3.  My first superhero love was Batman.  He was replaced by Spider-Man when I tuned into the Electric Company.  
4.  When I was younger, I watched the movie The Private Eyes approximately 11 billion times on HBO.   The movie still tickles me to this day (I’ve got it on DVD) and my family and I still reference the wookalar from it.
5.  I’ve visited both DisneyLand and DisneyWorld.  It’s been a long time since I went to DisneyLand.
6.  I love old radio comedy.  My favorites are The Great Gildersleeve and Jack Benny.
7.  I have every episode of Star Trek ever made on DVD.   But wait, the obsession doesn’t end there.  I’ve got box sets of the original and re-mastered original series on DVD and the Blu-Rays.  I’ve also got the DVDs and Blu-Rays of Next Generation.  In fact, my desire to have a DVD player and later a Blu-Ray player basically stems from wanting to collect Star Trek to watch on them.

And now to nominate a few fellow bloggers to play along!

1.  A Well Read Woman
2.  Cleopatra Loves Books
3.  746 Books
4.  That’s What She Read
5.  Art and Soul
6.  The Literary Counsellor
7.  A World of Books

And anyone else who wants to join in, please feel free to do so!

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Musing Mondays: Waterproof Books

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Time to kick-off the week with Musing Mondays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

This week’s random question asks: Last week, I came across someone’s idea to create waterproof books {see it here}. What do you think about this? Good idea, or bad?

On the surface, it sounds like a good idea.  But then part of me wonders if the waterproofing would add to the overall weight or size of the book.  For most books, this would be OK, but there are some epic tomes by Tom Clancy, Stephen King or over in the fantasy genre that might become too large to handle if you added more dimension to the book.

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Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, Week 6: Chapters 46 – 54

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I got a bit off track with the read-along for Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.   I’m not attempting to catch up a bit and picking up where I left off.

These questions for week six come from Grace over at Books Without Any Pictures and cover chapters 46 – 54.

One of the questions from last week dealt with initial impressions of Waldemar Selig’s steading. Now that we’ve finally met him, what are your thoughts about him? Do you think he suspects that Phedre knows anything, and will he continue to play a role in the story?

I feel like Selig was a bit of a legendary figure in the last section, up to and including his introduction.   Here we get to see the man behind the myth and maybe understand why his reputation has been built up as it has.  The notion that he’s the one ruler who can unite the various people against the Scaldi is an interesting one — and one that Phedre tries to nip in the bud, though she loses the opportunity.  I can’t help but feel that while Selig is a larger than life, unifying figure, he’s not quite prepared to play the political game on the same level that Phedre has learned.  He seems to either be too trusting of her or he’s underestimated her abilities.  Either way, I can see this coming back to bite him.

What did you think of the visit to Lodur? Do you think it will impact how Phedre thinks of herself?

For too long, I feel like Phedre has underestimated if and how she can play the political game.  She’s sat back a bit and allowed things to happen to her.  The visit to Lodur may have given her a new perspective on her training and what her role can be.  I find it interesting that while she thinks of escaping before the meeting, it’s only after the meeting with Lodur that she formulates a plan and begins to set it in motion.

Phedre and Joscelin have both gone through some harrowing experiences in the past few chapters. How do you think it will change them going forward?

I have a feeling that we’re going to see Joscelin struggle a bit more with the changes that he’s been forced to undertake in this section.  He’s had to betray his oaths (at least as he sees it), though it could be argued that he had some very good reasons to do so.   I expect guilt and remorse to come into play at some point and that he will take his betrayal of who he believed himself to be a lot harder than Phedre might. I feel like the experiences of being a slave and then escaping may harden Phedre a bit and cause her to up her game a bit when and if she crosses paths with Melisandre again. (And I have a feeling a showdown is coming before we reach the end of the book!)

If you were in Phedre or Joscelin’s place, would you have acted the same way in crafting your mastermind escape plan? What are your thoughts on how it worked out?

I think Phedre is learning to plot her moves several steps in advance, but she’s still not thinking through all the implications of her plans.   It’s a good idea to make the move to escape based on the circumstances presented to her, but I don’t think she thought through the weather conditions or that she and Joscelin wouldn’t exactly have the right gear to survive the brutal conditions.   I think that they are both fortunate that there was pursuit of them and that they were able to defeat the pursuers and take their supplies.  If not, I don’t think the escape attempt might have gone as well.

We’re finally getting to observe a budding romance between Phedre and Joscelin. How do you see this playing out? What do you think of it?

So, Joscelin didn’t think that Phedre could enjoy physical intimacy without pain being involved.  I found that revelation very interesting.   I also wonder how much regret he will have at breaking his vows when and if they get back to the world they were so brutally thrust out of.   I had a feeling these two had an eye for each other but as the old adage from Star Trek goes, “Sometimes having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting.  It is not logical, but it is most often true.”

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All Good Things: A Star Trek Podcast, Episode 44: William T. Riker: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

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The only thing that confuses Commander Riker is why it took us so long to do an episode focused on him.

“Mr Worf, fire.”

It’s been twenty-five years since those words were first spoken and the music swelled to a conclusion, ending the third season of Next Generation.   

In celebration of that pivotal moment in Trek history, Barry and I turn the character spotlight onto Commander William T. Riker, also known as Number One, from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  What makes Riker tick and just what makes him such a memorable part of the Trek universe?  Also, we may delve into the pattern that begins to emerge for Riker-centered stories with the poor guy having to question his sanity a lot.

We also discuss the passing of the late, great James Horner and his contribution to the musical landscape of Trek (and other movies).

As always, you can tune in below or follow the link to download HERE.  You can also subscribe in iTunes or via your favorite podcast feeder so you’ll never miss an episode!

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/n53ec-56fb0d

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Review: Those Girls by Lauren Saft

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Those Girls

Heading into junior year, Alex, Mollie and Veronica are the queen bees of their school — and they know it. They’ve all been friends since elementary school, but things are about to start changing for each of them.

Lauren Saft’s Those Girls feels like its channeling the spirit of Mean Girls without any of the heart that made the movie work. The stories are told in alternating points of view from each of our three protagonists and I’ve got to admit that somewhere around a third of the way through the novel, I found myself losing track of certain plot threads, like which girl pined for the boy next door and which one was hooking up with him.

There’s a lot of very bad behavior by all these characters, making each of them completely unsympathetic as the story progresses. Saft tries to get us to understand what motivates each of these girls with the alternating first-person narration, but I slowly found myself getting irritated by the girls and their actions instead of understanding them or sympathizing. Each girl (and the other characters who they come into contact with) come across as shallow, vain and down-right mean. It makes it hard to spend close to 300 pages with them.

Which brings up the question of why I kept reading when I wasn’t really enjoying the novel. I kept hoping that Saft might be setting up Alex, Mollie and Veronica for some kind of a fall in the final chapters or maybe we’d finally see their actions catch up with them. Alas, this doesn’t happen — nor do any of the three appear to really learn anything from their actions. This includes random sex, seducing each other’s boyfriends and two of them slipping the third a roofie that nearly costs a male teacher his job.

Maybe I’m just not the target audience for this novel. Whatever it is, I have to give this one just a single star.

In the interest of a full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book.

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