Monthly Archives: July 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer Reading

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks about books with summery covers. However, my mind started whirring and got me thinking about books I’ve read during the summer — books I was assigned to read during the summer and books I read for the first time during the summer or because my dad was in the military, we’d move around so I might “miss” some of the standard classics because they were read before or after I left a school district. I would, sometimes, read them on my own during the summer for my own enjoyment/edification. So, I’m going to include a few of each:

Assigned/Required Reading for School:

  1. The Power Game by Hendrick Smith
  2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Summer Reading For Books I “Missed”:

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  3. 1984 by George Orwell

Summer Reading “Because I Wanted To”

  1. Gerald’s Game by Stephen King
  2. Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q-Squared by Peter David
  3. Playing for the Ashes by Elizabeth George
  4. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

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#20BooksofSummer Audiobook Review: Doctor Who and the Face of Evil by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Face of Evil: 4th Doctor Novelisation

Featuring one of the best covers in the Target range, The Face of Evil is a solid adaptation of a classic serial from an era when Doctor Who could seemingly do no wrong.

Originally titled “The Day God Went Mad” (at least according to fan legend), The Face of Evil is a tight, taut, confident four-part story from Tom Baker’s third season in the role of the Doctor. Fresh off his adventures on Gallifrey, the Doctor arrives on a jungle planet that he’s visited before and had a huge impact upon. However, the Doctor has no memory of his previous adventure there nor the damage he’s inflicted on the societies there.

Terrance Dicks fills in the gap of the Doctor’s previous adventure with a deft, concise backstory that places the original visit during a slight gap in the fourth Doctor’s first story, Robot. It’s hard not to wish that Dicks had a bit more time adapting this one and an expanded page count because a chapter detailing the Doctor’s first visit might have been welcome.

Instead, we get an adaptation of the solid script, complete with a bit of character work for some of the supporting cast. In many ways, this is Doctor Who‘s take on the original Star Trek trope of a mad computer holding a society hostage. However, there’s no Captain Kirk around to “Gracie Allen” logic said computer into submission. Instead, the Doctor has to find a way to undo an error he made in a post-regenerative haze.

In a season full of classic serials, The Face of Evil is another outstanding outing. The audiobook is full of the usual highlights from the Target audio range from sound effects to dramatic music. Louise Jameson turns in a solid performance for this one, though I will still argue her interpretation of Tom Baker’s Doctor doesn’t always necessarily ring true.

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#20BooksofSummer: The Club by Ellery Lloyd

The Club

Can we all agree to retire in media res? Or maybe just put it (and the unreliable narrator, for that matter) on the back burner for a couple of years?

Ellery Lloyd’s The Club establishes early that something nefarious has happened on the opening weekend of the exclusive Island Club — the latest in a long line of clubs where the rich and famous play in the lap of luxury. However, exactly who is murdered and why only slowly becomes apparent as the novel fills in a lot of gaps and introduces a lot of characters who have a very good motive to murder Ned Groom, owner and head of the Club, and a lot of other people staying on the island.

An interesting set-up for a locked-room mystery is pretty much squandered by the time we get around to the big reveals of who did what and their motive. The cast of this one is fairly large and each chapter rotates to the viewpoint of various characters with motives to do away with Ned, though it feels like a lot of the middle part of this book is treading water until Ned finally meets his final end (or does he?!? the book will tease).

As intriguing as the early set-up is, the central mystery itself is never quite as interesting as it should be. Part of that is Ned is portrayed as an all-around terrible person who really had it coming from a lot of the people on the island. While the book does try to create sympathy for everyone who comes into Ned’s sphere of influence, Ned himself keeps coming across as a complete jerk and you can see why people might stoop to murdering him. I suppose we don’t have to necessarily love the victim, but if everyone else can get time in the novel to be sympathetic, then so could Ned.

The Club isn’t necessarily one you’ll want to join for long. Try it at your own risk.

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#20BooksofSummer Review: Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Weather Girl

Like tie-in novels from my favorite pop-culture franchises, rom-coms are a great way to distract/entertain myself while working out or completing daily life stuff.

But every once in a while, one of those stories breaks out from the pack and surprises you in the most unexpected of ways. That’s exactly what Rachel Lynn Solomon’s Weather Girl did.

Ari Abrams has achieved her professional dream, working for the woman who inspired her to study meteorology at the station she grew up watching. But this dream isn’t exactly everything Ari hoped it would be since her would-be mentor and her ex-husband, Torrence and Seth Hale, spend more time feuding than they do running the station or mentoring the news staff. After a spectacular blow-out at the office holiday party, Ari and sports anchor Russell Barranger hatch a plot to Parent Trap the Hales back together, in the hopes of allowing the station to become more professional and for them to get the professional encouragement and guidance they crave.

It isn’t long before Ari and Russ begin to see each other as more than just colleagues helping their bosses get together. There’s already an undercurrent of romantic tension, one that slowly builds over the course of the novel.

What makes Weather Girl such a refreshing entry in the rom-com field is that both Ari and Russ have obstacles separately and collectively along the way to “happily ever after.” Ari and her mother are clinically depressed and Ari worries that her depression makes her “too much” for anyone who might find out the truth about her. Russell has a “dad bod” and a 12-year-old daughter who is into musical theater. Oh, and he hasn’t…ahem…dated in five years either.

As each obstacle arises in Ari and Russ’s journey together, the characters actually come together in a mature fashion and discuss the obstacles facing them. And while the truth isn’t necessarily a magic cure nor does telling it instantly fix everything, it’s nice to see characters interacting in a mature, believable fashion to overcome obstacles and not allow them to become bigger than they could or should be.

Even late in the game with a huge obstacle arises, it’s dealt with realistically based on what we’ve learned about the characters to this point.

A sweet, funny, authentic-feeling rom-com is nothing to sneeze at. And this may be why this one has lingered with me a bit after I finished listening to it.

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