The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-16-15

Sunday Post

fearless by elliott jamesIn the end, I liked both Stormbringer and Fearless better than I did Scalzi’s End of all Things. I think this is the first time that I haven’t given an A or A+ review for one of Scalzi’s books. I still enjoyed the heck out of it, but it didn’t knock my socks off the way that Lock In did last year. On the other hand, I didn’t have grand expectations for either the first book in the Wyrd series, Liesmith (I originally judged this one by its ‘meh’ cover and I was so wrong), and both books in that series turned out to be really awesome. And I had fairly low expectations for Charming, the first book in the Pax Arcana series, but that turned out to be quite good and getting better. So if you like Urban Fantasy with a twist, be sure to give one or both of those a try.

Current Giveaways:

$25 Gift Card + ebook copy of Liesmith by Alis Franklin
$15 Amazon Gift Card from Elliot James and Fearless

stormbringer by alis franklinBlog Recap:

A- Review: Stormbringer by Alis Franklin + Giveaway
B+ Review: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
A- Review: Fearless by Elliott James + Giveaway
B+ Review: The End of All Things by John Scalzi
B Review: Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse by A.L. Kennedy
Stacking the Shelves (148)

 

 

 

clear-off-your-shelf-August-202x300Coming Next Week:

Daring by Elliott James (review)
Tales by Charles Todd (blog tour review)
Three Moments of an Explosion by China Mieville (review)
Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop
A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd (blog tour review)

Review: Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse by A.L. Kennedy

Format read: ebook provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: science fiction
Series: Doctor Who
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books
Date Released: July 14, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

“I shall make you the jewel at the heart of the universe.”

Something distinctly odd is going on in Arbroath. It could be to do with golfers being dragged down into the bunkers at the Fetch Brothers’ Golf Spa Hotel, never to be seen again. It might be related to the strange twin grandchildren of the equally strange Mrs Fetch–owner of the hotel and fascinated with octopuses. It could be the fact that people in the surrounding area suddenly know what others are thinking, without anyone saying a word.

My Review:

Tomorrow, Saturday August 15, has been declared Doctor Who Comics Day by Titan Comics, who, of course, publish Doctor Who Comics.

While I didn’t have a Doctor Who graphic novel in my TBR pile, it did seem like a golden opportunity to review a Doctor Who book. I’d been staring at the eARC of Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse, for a few days, so this gave me an excuse to get it.

Tom Baker as The DoctorWhy was I staring at it? Because this is a Fourth Doctor story. As the saying goes, you never forget your first Doctor, and Tom Baker was mine. Yes, I got a bit of the weepies when he appeared as The Curator at the end of The Day of the Doctor.

But the Doctor in The Drosten’s Curse was definitely the Doctor as I remember him from the series. Often surprisingly brave, and generally making it up as he went along. If the Fourth Doctor could be described as “madcap”, there was an awful lot of mad as well as curly hair under that “cap”, which was actually a rather floppy hat.

That particularly Doctor often seemed rather floppy, like an animated Raggedy Andy doll, right up until the point where he saved the day and skipped away to a new adventure.

The adventure in The Drosten’s Curse feels like one that could have happened during the run of the series, too. The Doctor lands the TARDIS somewhere he wasn’t planning on (as usual) and discovers that underneath the soil of an unsuspecting small town is a very large intergalactic predator who has changed the local landscape to suit his/her/its nefarious purposes.

What made this one fun is that the alien has been listening to humans for so long, that its purposes have strayed off course. It’s supposed to be a big bad monster who responds primarily to hatethink, but has been preserving the life of a lovely little old lady and making her happy by supplying her with fictitious grandchildren.

Of course, it is also living underneath a sand bunker on the local golf course, and eating anyone who wanders – or is lured – into the bunker.

In this adventure, the Doctor, currently between companions, enlists the help of a local young woman, Bryony, and an inept intergalactic bounty hunter named Putta. Bryony is as helpful as any companion has ever been, and has no trouble believing in not just one, but two aliens with space ships. She has always hoped that someone will rescue her from the humdrum of her life and take her away to see the universe in a classy ship and she hopes that this is her chance!

She gets way more than she bargained for. But Bryony’s life will never be dull again – if she survives both the incipient destruction of the earth and the Doctor’s desperate attempts to use her mind as a mental meeting place for himself, the alien, the TARDIS and that mother of all nightmares.

Escape Rating B: I think this story only makes sense if you are used to the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey pseudo-logic that so often comes into play in Doctor Who.

The Doctor in this incarnation often gave off the appearance of a big, bumbling fool. Sometimes because he didn’t know what he was going to do until after he’d done it, and sometimes as a way of getting people and beings to underestimate him so he could get the better of them later. “Care for a jelly baby?”

At the same time, he does not suffer fools gladly, or any longer than he has to in order to give them their right proper comeuppance. The interesting thing in this story, and also many stories during this era, is that the evil in the end is not the monster – it’s the humans who try to take advantage of the monster.

There are a few plot bits that owe a lot to speculative fiction that has happened in the years since Tom Baker’s Doctor regenerated into Peter Davison’s Doctor.

The way to end the Drosten’s Curse was not superior firepower (it seldom was in Doctor Who) or even superior brainpower, which often did happen. In the Drosten’s Curse, the most powerful force in the universe turns out to be love, in ways that reminded this reader a bit of the end of Harry Potter.

Also, a significant part of the action in this story includes the TARDIS herself as a thinking being, even if she is not shown as an actual person the way that she was in the Eleventh Doctor episode The Doctor’s Wife. That the TARDIS has her own personality, her own mental space, and her own ability to feel emotion is a big part of what brings The Drosten’s Curse to its successful conclusion. I don’t think we saw the TARDIS act this much on her own before the revived series.

The timey-wimey bit comes at the end of this story, and it was quite touching, kind of in the same way that the end of Reaper Man in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld was touching.

All in all, The Drosten’s Curse is a lovely Fourth Doctor story that shows just how much substance lurked inside that frequently clownish buffoon.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

August 15 is Doctor Who Day

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-9-15

Sunday Post

Today is officially National Book Lovers Day!

I’m not sure a single day is sufficient. If you believe in the “so many books, so little time” school of thought then one day barely scratches the surface (or makes a dent in the towering TBR pile). But it is lovely that there is an official day to promote the love of books and reading and to support those of us who are perpetually lost in a good book. Even when we are sometimes lost in a bad book.

The summer doldrums also seem to be over. We have giveaways again, and winner announcements. There are also a couple of giveaways coming up this week, so stay tuned.

eReaderGiveaway_Horz_BPCurrent Giveaways:

Two Kindle Fires, one Kindle Paperwhite, one Kindle Touchscreen plus dozens of author prizes in the Summertime eReader Giveaway
All 6 titles in the Harlequin End of Summer Tour, a limited edition Harlequin notebook plus a $50 Visa gift card in the End of Summer Tour

Winner Announcements:

The winner of Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann is Brandi D.

back to you by lauren daneBlog Recap:

Summertime eReader Giveaway
Guest Post by Lauren Dane – Hurley Family Summer Itinerary + Giveaway
B+ Review: Back to You by Lauren Dane
B+ Review: Charming by Elliott James
B Review: Whiskey and Wry by Rhys Ford
B+ Review: One Good Dragon Deserves Another by Rachel Aaron
Stacking the Shelves (147)

 

 

end of all things by john scalziComing Next Week:

Stormbringer by Alis Franklin (blog tour review)
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day (review)
Fearless by Elliott James (blog tour review)
The End of All Things by John Scalzi (review)
Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse by A.L. Kennedy (review)

Review: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

trigger warning by neil gaimanFormat read: eARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss and published hardcover provided by the publisher
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: fantasy, horror
Length: 310 pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Date Released: February 3, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.

Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In “Adventure Story”–a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane–Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience “A Calendar of Tales” are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year–stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale “The Case of Death and Honey”. And “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.

My Review:

Fair warning, if you have an eARC of this book, it probably does not include the last story, Black Dog. I’m lucky I had a published print copy too. (This warning probably does not apply to purchased ebooks.)

Speaking of warnings, there’s that title: Trigger Warning. As the author says in his introduction, the phrase “trigger warning” has taken on a specific meaning in social media. If a piece has been labeled with a trigger warning, the context of the warning usually follows. If a story or article concerns a subject that some people might be upset to read, that is listed under the trigger warnings. While many of those warnings involve either death or sex (sometimes both) there are also trigger warnings for assault, abuse as well as every kind of kink imaginable.

The concept of trigger warnings derives from a specific issue for sufferers of PTSD. Things that remind a person of their original trauma can literally trigger a re-experience of that trauma. (For more details, see the NIMH page on PTSD)

There has been some talk in social media regarding whether the author should have titled his collection with a term that has so much specific meaning for people. (To see an thoughtful example, take a look at Kameron Hurley’s post on SciFi Now) The author’s contentions are laid out in his introduction, which, unlike introductions in many books that are easily skippable, provides interesting context for both the individual stories and the collection as a whole.

There’s a question asked: Do adults need to be warned about the possible “triggers” in fiction? Or is part of being an adult the responsibility of choosing such things for one’s own self?

Trigger Warning is a collection of mostly short stories, with a few poems sprinkled in for spice. Or in context, possibly for body. Or bodies.

This is a collection of various kinds of speculative fiction. Some are fantasy, some are extensions of fairy tales. Many are horror of the Twilight Zone type, where the story seems to be heading in one direction, and then takes a sudden twist at the end into the macabre or at least the strange and lethal.

As a collection, it suffers from the issue common to almost all collections, every reader’s milage varies wildly. There are some stories I really liked, a couple did not work for me at all, and some just were just OK.

There were five stories that stood out for me: Black Dog, Nothing O’Clock, The Case of Death and Honey, The Thing About Cassandra and A Calendar of Tales, which is cheating in a way because Calendar itself is a short collection of extremely brief stories.

American Gods by Neil GaimanOnly Black Dog is original to this collection. In other circumstances, it would be slight, and slightly eerie, story, But the protagonist of this particular tale is Shadow Moon, whom we first met in American Gods. Because we know who and what Shadow is, the story has multiple layers, and like American Gods, makes you rethink the entire story at the end.

The Case of Death and Honey is a Sherlock Holmes story. It was previously published in A Study in Sherlock, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger, and reviewed here. This is a story that I wish were true. It would explain much.

Nothing O’Clock is a Doctor Who story. Even though Matt Smith was not my favorite Doctor (they say you never forget your first Doctor, and mine was Tom Baker) this is still very much Who. The solution to the very creepy dilemma is something only the Doctor could do. And as is so often the case, while the baddies think they are playing him, he has been playing them all along.

The Thing About Cassandra is a story with a twist. I knew something bad was going to happen, but at the end of the story, all of the shoes are on other feet than the reader expected.

A Calendar of Tales is itself a mini-collection, with one story themed for each month. Some border on SF, but the ones I really enjoyed had a touch of romance to them.

Escape Rating B+: The stories I enjoyed, I liked a lot. It helped that three of them were linked to things that I was not just familiar with, but am a definite fan of. The ones that left me cold, like Orange, left me completely and utterly cold.

I will say as my very own trigger warning for this collection that it is probably not a good book to read just before bedtime. I had some interesting and downright scary dreams last night that I am grateful not to remember. Which says that either I am terribly susceptible, or that the stories did their job. Possibly both.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Doctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann

doctor who engines of war by george mannFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: Paperback, ebook, hardcover, audiobook
Genre: science fiction
Series: Doctor Who New Series Adventures Specials #4
Length: 322 pages
Publisher: BBC Books (U.K.); Broadway Books (U.S.)
Date Released: July 31, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

“The death of billions is as nothing to us Doctor, if it helps defeat the Daleks.”

The Great Time War has raged for centuries, ravaging the universe. Scores of human colony planets are now overrun by Dalek occupation forces. A weary, angry Doctor leads a flotilla of Battle TARDISes against the Dalek stronghold but in the midst of the carnage, the Doctor’s TARDIS crashes to a planet below: Moldox.

As the Doctor is trapped in an apocalyptic landscape, Dalek patrols roam amongst the wreckage, rounding up the remaining civilians. But why haven’t the Daleks simply killed the humans?

Searching for answers the Doctor meets ‘Cinder’, a young Dalek hunter. Their struggles to discover the Dalek plan take them from the ruins of Moldox to the halls of Gallifrey, and set in motion a chain of events that will change everything. And everyone.

An epic novel of the Great Time War featuring the War Doctor as played by John Hurt.

My Review:

day of the doctorAfter watching the new Doctor’s first episode, I simply couldn’t resist reading this War Doctor adventure. Of course, now I want to go back and watch The Night of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor, just to put everything into its proper context.

And besides, those stories were just plain fun, and so is this one.

Engines of War takes place late in the War Doctor’s time period, probably not long before (possibly JUST before) the events in The Day of the Doctor.

Those “engines of war” have been in development for centuries, and the Doctor has reached the point where this regeneration looks pretty darn worn out, but still with that spark of humor that we saw in Day of the Doctor.

Engines of War seems to be the point where the Doctor cries “a plague on both your houses” at both the Daleks and his own people, the Time Lords. Because the events in this story show him that the war has made the two opposing forces in equally degenerative and destructive forces. The war has made the Time Lords into a race that has used the weapons and methods of the Daleks in their attempt to defeat them.

Pogo was right, “we have met the enemy and he is us”.

As with so many Doctor Who stories, we see the action through the Doctor’s Companion. Cinder is human, but from a far future where humanity has colonized the stars. Her planet was once a great civilization, but the war has reduced the population to slaves, victims and guerrilla warriors just barely keeping one step ahead of their oppressors.

The Daleks are using the place for experimental research on yet more ways they can create Daleks, including Daleks with time-erasure weapons. Their victims not only cease to exist, they cease to have ever existed.

The new Dalek master plan is to use the power of time reversal on the Time Lords. Until the Doctor crash lands on the battle-heap that was Moldox, and falls in with one plucky warrior just about at the end of her line.

But it isn’t the Dalek’s destruction of her planet that moves the Doctor beyond his ability to make excuses for his people’s behavior, it is the way that the Time Lords abuse Cinder herself that bring him to the brink of despair and disaster.

Escape Rating A-: In the episode The End of Time, the Time Lords attempt to come back, and the Doctor stops them at the cost of his regeneration. In Engines of War, we get a pretty good idea of why the Doctor is willing to keep them out at all costs. It’s said that if you use the methods of your enemy to defeat them, you are already lost. The Time Lord Council had gone way too far down that road for the Doctor to want them back.

five doctorsIf you are a fan of both the classic and the new adventures of the Doctor, this story is a special treat. It not only bridges a bit of the gap between The Night of the Doctor minisode and The Day of the Doctor, but it also gives us a glimpse into the rot in the Time Lords that leads the Doctor to even think of using “The Moment”. And as an added treat, the story takes us back to the Death Zone, the scene of The Five Doctors. We see more of Gallifrey than we ever have before, and it’s plenty ugly.

But it makes a terrific adventure.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Stacking the Shelves (89)

Stacking the Shelves

In addition to feeding my addiction at both NetGalley and Edelweiss, there were a couple of special purchases I’d like to mention.

The wonderful folks at StoryBundle are running a special bundle this week of Science Fiction and Fantasy written during NaNoWriMo. This looks like a terrific punch of new SF/F authors, and I can’t wait to see how the stories turn out.

Humble Bundle (much better known for their indie gaming bundles) have a special Doctor Who comics bundle this week. If you love the Doctor, or are curious about the comics, this is a great way to read a pretty full starting collection.

For Review:
The Agincourt Bride (Catherine de Valois #1) by Joanna Hickson
Allegiance (Penton Legacy #4) by Susannah Sandlin
Black Ice (Midgard #2) by Susan Krinard
Dark Refuge (Spirit Wild #4) by Kate Douglas
The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma by Brian Herbert
Lock In by John Scalzi
The Tudor Bride (Catherine de Valois #2) by Joanna Hickson
Witchlight (Magic Born #2) by Sonya Clark
Wouldn’t It Be Deadly (Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins #1) by D.E. Ireland

Purchased:
Doctor Who Comics Bundle from Humble Bundle
Sci-Fi/Fantasy NaNo Bundle from StoryBundle
Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome by John Scalzi

Borrowed from the Library:
Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 11-24-13

Sunday Post

It’s very timey-wimey that the 50th anniversaries of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Doctor Who share a weekend. They did in 1963, too. In 1963, JFK was killed on Friday, November 22, and Doctor Who premiered on Saturday, November 23. In 1963, there was considerably more attention paid to the assassination of a U.S. President.

In 2013, I’m not so sure.

200px-John_F._Kennedy,_White_House_color_photo_portraitIn 1963, I was 6 years old. Unlike many of my peers, I was not in school that day. I was home with tonsillitis. (I got my tonsils out just before Christmas that year). My memory of that entire weekend is of being home, sick, and that there was nothing else on television except the repeating coverage of the assassination and the funeral. I was bored and I had no one to play with. Not my finest moment, but six-year-olds are fairly selfish.

This time around it’s amazing how easy it is to ignore the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination if you only want to see the coverage of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. Which I haven’t seen yet, we have tickets to see it tomorrow night in a theater, but some of the reviews worry me.

Time marches on in its timey-wimey way.

Current Giveaways:

Bittersweet Magic by Nina Croft — $25 Amazon Gift Card
Seductive Powers by Rebecca Royce — $50 Amazon Gift Card
Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway
Gratitude Giveaways Hop – $10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

Winner Announcement:

The winner of The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane is Jo J.

seductive powers by rebecca royceBlog Recap:

A- Review: Tangled Web by Crista McHugh
B Review: Forgiving Lies by Molly McAdams
D/B- Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen (f/k/a Michelle Maddox)
B+ Review: Bittersweet Magic by Nina Croft + Giveaway
B+ Review: Highland Protector by Catherine Bybee + Giveaway
A- Review: Seductive Powers by Rebecca Royce + Giveaway

 

Matzoh and Mistletoe by Jodie GriffinComing Next Week:

Buying In by Laura Hemphill (review + giveaway)
In Love With a Wicked Man by Liz Carlyle (review + giveaway)
Matzoh and Mistletoe by Jodi Griffin (review)
Poisoned Web by Crista McHugh (review + giveaway)

Stacking the Shelves (54)

Stacking the Shelves

StoryBundle logoIf you’ve never heard of StoryBundle, and you love Classic Doctor Who, you have 10 days to get in on a treat. StoryBundle is HumbleBundle for indie books. Their current bundle o’books is the six Doctor Who titles I purchased this week. The deal is that you pay what you think the books are worth, and you get to download the books, DRM free. Looking at previous bundles, I’m sorry I missed The Fantastic Women’s Fiction Bundle and The Indie Fantasy Bundle. I won’t miss the next one, I signed up for the newsletter.

Photo of Elizabeth Peters AKA Barbara MertzIn much sadder news, Dr. Barbara Mertz, better known to the mystery and romantic suspense worlds as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, passed away on August 8. As Elizabeth Peters, she was the creator of the indomitable Amelia Peabody Emerson, Victorian archaeologist and wielder of sharp parasols and even sharper wit. (I’ve always wondered if Amelia wasn’t one of the progenitors of Gail Carriger’s Alexia Tarabotti) Although I have read all of Peters’ Amelia Peabody series and her Vicky Bliss series (they connect, eventually) I never did read her Jacqueline Kirby series. I am now.

Stacking the Shelves Reading Reality August 10 2012

For Review:
Born Wild (Black Knights Inc. #5) by Julie Ann Walker
Forged in Dreams and Magick (Highland Legends #1) by Kat Bastion
Losing Control by Nina Croft
The Love of My (Other) Life by Traci L. Slatton
Naked Once More (Jacqueline Kirby #4) by Elizabeth Peters
What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton

Purchased:
The Best of TARDIS Eruditorum by Philip Sandifer
Dalek I Loved You by Nick Griffiths
Dining With The Doctor by Chris-Rachael Oseland
Hellfire (Theirs Not to Reason Why #3) by Jean Johnson
The Spy Wore Blue (Lord and Lady Spy #1.5) by Shana Galen
TARDIS Eruditorum Vol. 2: Patrick Troughton by Philip Sandifer
A Taylor-Made Life by Kary Rader
VWORP by Earl Green
Who & Me by Barry Letts

Borrowed from the Library:
Elisha Barber (Dark Apostle #1) by E.C. Ambrose
Enthralled by Lora Leigh, Alyssa Day, Meljean Brook and Lucy Monroe
Finding Camlann by Sean Pidgeon
How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire (Love at Stake #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks
The Seventh Sinner (Jacqueline Kirby #1) by Elizabeth Peters

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 6-30-13

Sunday Post

In honor of this Sunday’s Post falling on the last day of the month, we bring you an oldie, but a very, very goodie…

Another Month Ends: 

     All Targets Met
     All Systems Working
     All Customers Satisfied
     All Staff Eager and Enthusiastic
     All Pigs Fed and Ready to Fly

I’m still at the American Library Association Conference in Chicago, so we’ll move right into this week’s recap and preview of coming events.

Winner Announcement:

Doctor Who Who-ology by Mark CavanThe winner of the $10 Amazon Gift Card in the SFR Brigade 2nd Midsummer Blog Hop is Misty Rios. For the complete list of Grand Prize Winners check out the SFR Brigade.

Current Giveaway:

Winner’s Choice of Doctor Who: Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole (First Doctor) or Festival of Death by Jonathan Morris (Fourth Doctor) or Who-ology. BBC Books is shipping this one internationally.

Assassin's Gambit by Amy RabyBlog Recap:

B Review: The Tower by Jean Johnson
B Review: The Seduction of Esther by Jennifer Wilck + Tourwide Giveaway
B Review: Shadow People by James Swain
B- Review: Doctor Who: Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole + Giveaway
A- Review: Assassin’s Gambit by Amy Raby
Bewitching Book Tours Sizzling Summer Giveaway
Calling All Real-Life Heroines! Harlequin’s More Than Words Awards 2014

Garden of Stones by Mark BarnesComing Up This Week:

Along the Watchtower by David Litwack (blog tour review and giveaway)
The Garden of Stones by Mark Barnes (review)
A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare (review)
The Dragon Healer by Bianca D’Arc (review)

 

Review: Doctor Who: Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole + Giveaway

Doctor Who: Ten Little Aliens by Stephen ColeFormat read: paperback provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: Science fiction
Series: Past Doctor Adventures #54, Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special Edition Books #1
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: BBC Books
Date Released: January 3, 2013 (reprint; originally published June 1, 2002)
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Deep in the heart of a hollowed-out moon the First Doctor finds a chilling secret: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the moment of their death. They are the empire’s most wanted terrorists, and their discovery could end a war devastating the galaxy. But is the same force that killed them still lurking in the dark? And what are its plans for the people of Earth?

My Review:

November 23, 1963. The BBC premiered what they thought would be a children’s TV show about a mysterious time-traveling doctor and his companions. And the president of the United States had been assassinated in Dallas the day before. Not many people gave much of a damn about entertainment television that weekend, or much of that week. It turned out to be one of those times when the universe changed.

The Beeb repeated the premiere of that little TV show the following week. The irascible Doctor and his granddaughter stepped out of the TARDIS in a junkyard in London near Coal Hill School, and into science fiction and television history.

Fifty years later, BBC Books is re-releasing one of its tie-in novels in an anniversary edition for each of the eleven regenerations of the Doctor who have appeared, so far, in the history of the program. (The identity of the Twelfth Doctor will be announced shortly.)

Festival of Death by Jonathan MorrisI’ve already reviewed The Festival of Death, the Fourth Doctor story, but it seemed fitting to go back to the beginning and take a look at Ten Little Aliens, a First Doctor story. It started with him, after all.

Ten Little Aliens doesn’t seem like a typical Doctor Who story, especially to people who are used to the current incarnations of the Doctor. The story begins as a space-marine type story, more like Starship Troopers or some other space opera. The stars of this story are the space marines on a training exercise, not the Doctor and his companions, Ben and Polly.

The marines are there for a training exercise, and it’s an exercise that goes seriously wrong. Otherwise, they wouldn’t need the Doctor. But the First Doctor used his brain and very definitely not his brawn. It’s unusual to see the need to worry about the frailty of the Doctor and the need to stop for the old man to catch his breath. All the subsequent incarnations were younger and in better health than their original.

The marines don’t trust the Doctor and his companions. That’s pretty normal. The Doctor has a habit of dropping into sticky situations that get worse before they get better. But these space marines are training for an ongoing war, and this exercise was supposed to be on an uninhabited asteroid. It’s not just the Doctor that’s messed up the scenario, things are much more grisly than that.

Both the Doctor and the marines discover a tableau of ten dead aliens in stasis. But the bodies keep disappearing, and so do the marines. As the situation deteriorates, the asteroid turns out to be a spaceship on course for an interstellar incident.

Of course, they have a traitor in their midst. Just when they think things can’t get any worse, they get really, really ugly. The Doctor may be able to save them, but he may not be able to save them in time. Or from each other.

Escape Rating B-: It took me a long time to get into this one. Partly because the First Doctor is the one I’m least familiar with (except for the Eighth Doctor), and partly because the storytelling was so different from the usual.

This is a cross between a space opera/space marine training story and a kind of locked-room murder mystery. There actually do turn out to be timey-wimey bits. But the reason the murders happen has to do with the corruption of the human empire and their enemies, and more explanation would have helped. A lot.

The mystery, and the reason behind the murders, turned out to be not merely grim, but downright gory. It’s the kind of thing that got played for camp by the Second and Fourth Doctors, but was deadly serious this go around. This story was definitely not for the faint of heart, and possibly verges on horror at points.

There were also evil angel statues, but no blinking problem. This was written several years before the episode Blink, so it’s not the novel-writer’s fault that the angels in his story feel derivative. But they still do.

The Doctor does save the day, and then slips out as the celebration commences. This Doctor went for the mystery. The way that the military brotherhood included Ben, even across centuries and light-years, was kind of cool.

On the other hand, while the concept of the neural net was necessary to solve the problem, the choose-your-own-adventure method of writing it drove me a little nuts. Although not quite as nuts as the recent announcement that someone might have found a cache of lost Doctor Who episodes from the First Doctor era.

The non-fictional loss of those early episodes is even more dastardly than the fictional one in this First Doctor story.

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