Category Archives: review

Review: The Doctors Are In by Graeme Burke and Robert Smith?

The Doctors Are In: The Essential and Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who's Greatest Time Lord

Reading The Doctors Are In reminded me a lot of those heady days when I first got on-line and discovered there were fellow Doctor Who fans out there who loved to debate the show as much as I did. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me since I’ve had debates with at least one half of this writing duo about various aspects of my favorite television show long before I picked up this book.

But reading this in-depth look at each era of the good Doctor (wisely divided up into two eras for the fourth Doctor because, let’s face it, there are two eras to Tom Baker’s run on the show), I couldn’t help but feel like certain only flames were being fanned and I kept looking around for the reply button so I could begin to debate Robert Smith? and Graeme Burke on various points they have about each era of the show. (This is especially true when they pick their five stories that represent each era of the show. Because really — “Planet of the Spiders”?!? You must be messing with me!)

Reading Smith? and Burke’s debates about various eras of the show and the actors who played the Doctor is entertaining and informative. And while this book isn’t exactly breaking new ground, it has a leg up in that you can feel the passion and fandom these two have for the series.

This may be a selling point for some and it may be a detraction for others. If you’re looking for a by the numbers look at the Doctors, you may want to look elsewhere. If you’re looking for spirited debate among two long time fans who don’t agree on everything, this is worth picking up and spending time with. It may even make you want to debate the two and it may even make you want to visit the stories they refer to in their top five of the era. And while I can find some points of contention I have with some of their arguments (I’ve finally found that one fan who doesn’t love “Genesis of the Daleks.” He’s wrong, of course.), these come more from my feelings on the show than on Smith? and Burke laying out their points.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Bittersweet Creek by Sally Kilpatrick

Bittersweet Creek

Bad blood has existed for years between the Satterfields and McElroys. But when Romy is assigned to tutor high school football player Julian, sparks begin to fly and the two fall madly in love. Planning to elope the night of their high school graduation, Julian stood Romy up, never offering a reason why he didn’t meet her and head off to Nashville to follow their dreams together.

A decade later, Romy is coming home to take care of her father and with a new boyfriend in tow. The new boyfriend comes from a well-to-do family and has every intention of making an honest woman of Romy. But there’s one small catch.

Actually, there are several catches before Romy and her new boyfriend can live happily ever after. There’s the question of just who and where she wants to live out happily ever after.

Set in the same small town as The Happy Hour Choir, Sally Kilpatrick’s sophomore novel Bittersweet Creek not only lives up to the high expectations I had for it, but it eclipses them. Kilpatrick sets up a romance that has obstacles to it — and they’re obstacles that are authentic and earned. There are moments in this novel when we’re just as uncertain who Romy will choose as Romy is and there are moments when I couldn’t quite figure out what was going to come next — because Kilpatrick had created a believable scenario where one of many choices could happen. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Pusher, Teso Dos Bechos, Hell Money

xfiles pusher

Mulder: Modell psyched the guy out, he put the whammy on him!
Scully: Please explain to me the scientific nature of the Whammy.


Vince Gilligan’s second episode of The X-Files is not only a superb monster-of-the-week story, but it can also be looked at as a rough draft for Breaking Bad.   There are elements of Walter White in Robert Patrick Modell — cancer, a “little” man who wants to be something more.   And both characters give us a quotable through line.  In Walter’s case it’s “I’m the one who knocks” and with Modell it’s “Cerulean blue.”

OK, so maybe I’m reading a bit too much into things and being overly analytical.  But I can’t help it because “Pusher” is one of my favorite “stand alone” episodes of the show.

Part of what makes the story work so well is the connection we see between Mulder and Modell. If Modell were just your average monster of the week, I’m not sure he’d be so memorable. The fact that he gets under Mulder’s skin so and takes such a personal interest in Mulder is what makes the episode work.  Modell is an ordinary guy who dreams of being something more — in this case, he wants to be a ninja warrior.   He wants respect, he wants power and he’s willing to put his own life on the line to do it.   Continue reading

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Reviews:One Step Away by Eric Wilson & The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

One Step Away

Bret and Sara Vreeland don’t have it all — in fact, there are times when they wonder how they’re going to make it through the month. But they have each other and they have their faith.

But what if something were to happen that changed all of that?

Eric Wilson flips the story of Job and instead of having everything taken away to test the faith of the Vreeland, the couple is given everything that could ever dream of (at least from a worldly perspective). But just as with Job, there are trials to come with being blessed beyond measure.

Wilson tells a good story with One Step Away. It’s good to see that Bret and Sara aren’t saints, but instead people with flaws and secrets. There are some secrets from the past that will come back to haunt them (a few I figured out a chapter or two before Wilson let us in on the details). But overall, Wilson keeps the pages turning and kept my interest us for the entire novel.

I also like the fact that while this is apparently the start of a series, the action of this novel is self-contained. I can say I’d enjoy a visit to the world that Wilson has created a self-contained story that can be enjoyed on its own merits. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Piper Maru, Apocrypha


Scully: I’m just constantly amazed by you. You’re working down here in the basement, sifting through files and transmissions that any other agent would just throw away in the garbage.
Mulder: Well, that’s why I’m in the basement, Scully.
Scully: You’re in the basement because they’re afraid of you, of your relentlessness, and because they know that they could drop you in the middle of the desert and tell you the truth is out there, and you’d ask them for a shovel.

Piper Maru/Apocrypha

One of the things my re-watching The X-Files has done is remind me of just how good the early mythology episodes of the series could be.    These episodes had just a bit of extra buzz and hum to them that set them apart from the monster of the week stuff that was the show’s bread and butter from week to week.  And no where is that more evident than in the mythology episodes from season three.

We get a lot of mythology in season three — no less than seven episodes are devoted to the on-going arc.   It’s also a time when it felt like the creators had some idea of what the end game for all of this was and were slowly layering in elements that would pay off at the big eventual reveal.   It felt like the Syndicate had a plan and it was only a matter of time before Mulder uncovered the truth behind everything.

And then it all started to go horribly, horribly wrong. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Syzygy, Grotesque


Scully: I’m driving. Why do you always have to drive? Because you’re the guy? Because you’re the big, macho man?
Mulder: No. I was just never sure your little feet could reach the pedals.

Today’s look back gives us guest appearances by two actors who will later be part of Fox’s That 70’s Show.  I’ll leave you draw your own assumptions…


Or as I like to think of it — Chris Carter tries to write like Darin Morgan.  And doesn’t really quite succeed.

Coming right after “War of the Coprophages” this installment feels like Carter is trying to emulate the quippy one-liners that are (just one of) the highlights of the Darin Morgan episodes without necessarily understanding what makes those episodes funny.   Part of what makes Morgan’s episodes work is they are poking fun at the series’ conventions and tweaking them a bit.  This one, by contrast, just seems a bit more mean-spirited in how it depicts the characters — not just Mulder and Scully but everyone we meet in the small town of Comity.

I recall that when this one first aired, fans began to wonder if there was some kind of rift developing between our two leads.  It could have started in “Revelations” with Mulder’s lack of support in Scully’s belief and continued to develop to this point.  And while we can look back and see that the mean-spirited lines and tension between these two are because of the phase of the moon that is creating the havoc in this small town, it still doesn’t seem to be done for any other reason than to make jokes at the other’s expense and have Scully get jealous — again. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Revelations, War of the Coprophages


Mulder: Bambi also has a theory I’ve come to acro…
Scully: Who?
Mulder: Dr. Berenbaum. Anyway her theory is…
Scully: Her name is Bambi?
Mulder: Yeah. Both her parents were naturalists. Her theory is that UFO’s are actually nocturnal insect swarms passing through electrical air fields.
Scully: Her name is Bambi?


I recall loving “Revelations” a lot more when it first aired than I did on watching it again this time around.

Part of that may because this episode is just one more step in Scully’s journey back to embracing her faith.  And part of it could be that I have jumbled together elements of this one and “Oubilette” into a single, better episode.

A serial killer is targeting people who claim to be stigmatics.  He’s killed eleven of them, including a memorable preacher in the teaser played by R. Lee Ermey.   The twelfth is a boy who may be the real thing.  He’s shown signs of this before, causing questions to be raised about his parents.   His father ended up in an institution and Mom is taking care of him now.

I like that it’s a serial killer case that brings Mulder and Scully to the scene.   And I like that we get a bit of role reversal here with Scully believing and Mulder being skeptical. Continue reading


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