Monthly Archives: June 2016

Audio Review: Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos: A 3rd Doctor novelisation

While some of my peers were reading the Sweet Valley High or R.L. Stine’s novels, I spent my teenage years reading Stephen King and Target adaptations of classic Doctor Who stories. One of the most prolific authors of the Who range was former script-editor Terrance Dicks. If you take a step back and look at the sheer volume of novels published by Dicks during this era, it’s staggering — to the point that I had an image of poor Terrance chained to a desk, fed only bread and water and forced to hammer out adaptation after adaptation on his typewriter.

Visiting some of Dicks’ output again thanks to BBC Audio has only underlined again just what Dicks was able to do for an entire generation of Doctor Who fans — keep the series alive and fresh in our imaginations when we couldn’t see all the stories we wanted to again, much less collect them to sit our shelves. The fact that these novels are still readable and enjoyable today is a testament to just how good Dicks was.

“The Claws of Axos” comes from an era when Dicks wasn’t given as much time to adapt serials as he had in the bookends of his Doctor Who adapting career. “Claws” is pretty much a straight-forward adaptation of the original script with some nifty descriptions and one or two embellishments thrown in for good measure (for example, at the end when the serial ends with the Doctor’s chagrin at being “a galactic yo-yo,” Dicks allows the action to continue onward with everyone saying their farewells and the Doctor rushing out to ensure the UNIT guys don’t jostle the TARDIS). Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Mid-Year Favorites

toptentuesday2

This week’s edition of Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) asks what are my favorite books from the first half of 2016.

  1.  Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman — Lippman’s latest novel grabbed me from the first sentence and didn’t let go until the final page was turned.  A stand-alone novel that is so good it left me completely satisfied and eager to read her next novel.
  2. Better Get to Livin’ by Sally Kilpatrick — Another winner from my old friend, this one may be my favorite book she’s published so far.   If you’re looking for a great summer read, this one gets my highest endorsement.
  3. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay — Thanks to the Amazon Vine, I got an ARC of Tremblay’s follow-up to A Head Full of Ghosts and was blown away by it. Put this one on your TBR pile for later this summer!
  4. Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer — Sawyer’s first new novel in three years and it was worth the wait.

And that’s about it for favorite novels that were published this year. But I have a feeling the new Stephen King book that I’m reading now could crack this list.

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Review: Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

Fool Me OnceIn the literary world, Harlan Coben’s novels are the equivalent of a summer popcorn thriller — fun in the moment but not necessarily having much replay value or holding up well to much (if any) deep scrutiny.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that mind you. There’s always room for that fun, don’t think too much about it, bubble-gum for the mind type of novel that serves as an escape for a few pages.

Veteran special-ops pilot Maya Stern suffers from PTSD from her time in combat. She’s also haunted by a decision that she made during that time that went viral thanks to the power of social media. She returns home to try and begin a normal life with her husband, but that plan hits a few stumbling blocks when her husband is killed in an apparent mugging attempt.

But in the midst of Maya’s grief, her new nanny-cam makes a shocking discovery — her husband comes home to visit their toddler and is caught on tape. Could he still be alive and why would he fake his own death? Answers aren’t easy to come by from his rich, insular family nor will they come easily from the people in Maya’s life she”s come to rely on and trust.

The set-up Fool Me Once is a solid one even if the pay-off isn’t necessarily the best. The more Maya digs into the conspiracy (and starts to appear crazier to her friends and family), the more Coben asks the reader to take a huge leap of faith in suspending our disbelief. By the end of the novel, the leaps become so eye-rolling that the novel loses any crediblity or momentum it had in the early goings. It’s the type of story that the more you just turn off your brain and go with it, the more fun you’re likely to have.

It’s a good escapist thrill ride, but not necessarily anything more.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though.  You can find get other reviews over at GoodReads.
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