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Reviews: Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline & To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Every Fifteen Minutes

Have you ever had one of those weeks when a couple of the books you’re reading seem to be related even if they’re from two different sections of the bookstore or library?

In the case of Every Fifteen Minutes and To All the Boys I’ve Loved, it’s not a thematic similarity the books share, but instead my growing frustration with the main characters of each novel. Reading/listening to both books, I kept having to resist the urge to want to reach into the novel and tell the protagonist to wake up and smell the coffee already!

With Every Fifteen Minutes this urge comes about a third of the way into the novel, after Lisa Scottoline has spent a hundred or so pages setting up the story and situation of Dr. Eric Parrish. Separated from his wife, Parrish is the head of an elite psychiatric department who also has his own private practice. Parish is introduced to a young man whose grandmother is dying and who has other issues due to his lack of any parental figures. Parrish takes the boy on as a patient and quickly becomes concerned about his mental health and the boy’s apparent obsession with a young girl he tutors as part of his job.

The hook of Every Fifteen Minutes is that every couple of chapters, a first-person, self-admitted sociopath shows up to remind us that he or she is working to destroy Parrish’s life. And just as you reach the middle third of the novel, the unnamed sociopath begins to pull the rug out from Parrish, slowly manipulating him into making decisions that can and would ruin his personal and professional lives. It’s as this point I began to get increasingly frustrated with Parrish, if only because he makes a series of well-intentioned decisions that aren’t necessarily the most practical. For example, when the young boy goes missing after his grandmother passes away, Eric throws caution to the wind to try and find the boy, fearing he’s suicidal. Eric goes so far as to track down the girl who is the focus of his patients obsession, stalking her at her job and then following her home to try and catch a glimpse of his patient. This doesn’t end well when bad things happen to the girl and Eric suddenly becomes the prime suspect in the case. Continue reading

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Review: Doctor Who: The Dalek Masterplan, Part 1 (Mission to the Unknown) and Part 2 (The Mutation of Time) by John Peel

Daleks: Mission to the Unknown (Dr. Who: The Daleks' Master Plan, Part 1)

Clocking it at 13 episodes, “The Dalek Masterplan” is one of the longest stories from the classic series and one that, for a long time, I had next to no exposure to. I’d read the synopsis of it in my well-worn and much-loved copy of The Doctor Who Program Guide but beyond that I had little or no awareness of how the story unfolded episode to episode until the early 90’s when Target finally worked out a contract with Terry Nation to adapt several of the Dalek stories from the 60’s.

And given the long running time for the story, Target wisely decided to split the story into two halves, thus insuring that the story was done justice and that fans could purchase two books instead of one to complete their collection. The author chosen for this undertaking with John Peel, who had earlier had success adapting “The Chase” for the printed page. At the time, I recall thinking Peel was an ideal choice for the role and eagerly reading both installments.

Now close to twenty years later, I have visited Peel’s two part adaptation of the saga again and found that it doesn’t quite stand up to the test of time or my memory. Part of this could be that the BBC released narrated soundtracks of the episodes years ago, thus allowing me to get as close as possible to experiencing the lost story as we’re ever likely to get (assuming they don’t turn up tomorrow and I have to buy the story on DVD). There is also the DVD release of the three orphaned episodes from this story that exist in the archives which serve only to whet the appetite for more (it’s probably for the best that the seventh installment which serves as the series first Christmas special isn’t one of them. I think the three episodes we have do a nice job of giving us a taste without necessarily overstaying their welcome). Continue reading

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Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please

My 2014 reading year was book-ended with offerings from the stars of Parks and Recreation. One of those books I loved and the other I was a bit disappointed in.

I hate to admit it but I didn’t much care for Nick Offerman’s book, despite loving his character of Ron Swanson on the show. But I was pleasantly surprised at Amy Poehler’s autobiography Yes Please.

Part of this could be that I chose to listen to the audio version of the book. Poehler narrates her book and has a number of guest stars stop by the audio booth to lend a hand. This helps the book take on a conversational style and made me feel more like I was sitting across from Poehler as she related each of these stories. (It also helps that the final chapter is read in front of an audience and comes across feeling less like an essay and more like a testing out of new stand-up comedy material).

Having Poehler relate her life’s story helped me to understand why she bragged about some things and why she was reluctant to talk about others. But over the course of the several hours I spent listening to this, what I came away with was a feeling like Poehler and I were now old friends who might hang out and grab waffles sometime at J.J.’s Diner (wait, that’s Leslie Knope…but you get the idea).

An entertaining, fun listen on audio book. And one that doesn’t overstay its welcome and left me wanting just another few minutes with it.

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Doctor Who Target Audiobook Reviews: “The Leisure Hive” and three quarters of “The Trial of a Time Lord.”

Doctor Who and the Leisure Hive (Target Doctor Who Library)Doctor Who and the Leisure Hive by David Fisher

Revisiting some of the original Doctor Who Target novels in audio form has been an interesting experiment, especially going back to those that I have strong memories of or recall enjoying a great deal the first time around.

One that elicits good memories and feelings of enjoyment is David Fisher’s adaptation of his script for “The Leisure Hive.” My recollections of the novel were that it did a nice job of world-building and character development, all while keeping the basic story from the television screen in tact, even if it wasn’t necessarily a beat for beat adaptation.

In fact, I’d say that Fisher spends the bulk of his time adapting what is (on-screen anyway) the first installment of the story that the rest of his novel ends up feeling a bit too rushed to get to the finish line. I’d love to know what Fisher might have done without the publisher imposed page-count on the Target novels of this era.

Alas, it appears that Fisher isn’t going to re-work his initial novelization or expand it any for the audio release, which I think is a bit of a shame.

All of that said, this one holds up remarkably well. Again, a lot of it comes down to Fisher’s world-building and filling it details that are merely hinted at in the television version. Fisher also brings a bit of a Douglas Adams sensibility to certain passages of the novel, which works fairly well, for the most part.

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