Wednesday, October 30, 2013

4th Doctor Book Review - Jonathan Morris's Festival of Death

Festival of Death by Jonathan Morris
Published by: BBC Books
Publication Date: September 4th, 2000
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
Rating: ★
To Buy

The Doctor has arrived at the G-Lock, a space station that is the result of a massive pile up two hundred years ago. The G-Lock has become a place of pilgrimage for those wishing to experience The Beautiful Death. The attraction doesn't just simulate what death and the veil beyond is like, but it quite literally kills you and then a short time later brings you back, that's if you're wanting to come back. Though the most recent death has gone horribly wrong turning almost all 218 participates into zombies controlled by some unknown force.

The Doctor and Romana arrive in the aftermath to find that everyone knows them and are heralding The Doctor as their saviour. Problem is, The Doctor's never been here before. Which means only one answer remains, in his future, the G-Lock's past, he comes here and saves everyone. Romana warns The Doctor that crossing their own time streams is very dangerous and they have to be careful not to change anything. If they are fated to die, well, they must face this fact, they can not mess about with time, something a time lord should know. Yet each journey into their past proves that they are inextricably linked to the G-Lock, and it's more then a little frustrating trying to find a time when they were unknown. If they are careful, then the G-Lock will be saved, but their own fates, well, that's another thing.

I'm sure every one of you has had a book that you just can't be bothered to pick up. You know that you just need to bite the bullet and power through, but somehow, you just can't. The longer you avoid the book, the easier it is to accept that you will never finish it. If you are like me, and reading is an integral part of you life, this one book then throws everything in your life out of whack. My moods and emotions are usually keyed into what I'm reading at the moment, if I like the book, life seems easier, if I don't... well, I'm a bit of a grump. This inability to finish yet unwillingness to pick up anything else is the worst situation a reader can face. It doesn't happen to me often. The worst case I suffered was back in August of 2008, the book was Breaking Dawn. While I'm not going to comment on this book by Stephenie Meyer here, that would require far more time and energy then I'm willing to spend on this book review, I will say that it took me an entire month to get through that book. Think of all the other books I could have been reading? While I never allowed Festival of Death that hold on my time, I will say that I begrudge it everything else I could have been reading and will forever hold it against it. Though, in the final analysis, this was the least of this books sins.

My issues with this book started on page one. I am never one to skip the intro, even if it might contain spoilers. I have attempted in recent years to read the intro after the books conclusion, but, well, the majority of these new Doctor Who intros are, how shall I put it, just reveling in the fact that their book was chosen. The first three books had something to offer, a little bit about their love of The Doctor and in particular, why they loved THIS Doctor... not so with Jonathan Morris. Jonathan Morris's intro seems more along the lines of us mere mortals should be privileged to read this glorious book he has written. While until this book he was a humble Eraser fan running the fan club (seriously, dude you really think this is an accomplishment?) then this glorious piece of writing was birthed by him, and, while he won't take all the credit for bringing the wibbly wobbly timey wimey to the Whoverse... oh, who am I kidding, he will take all the credit. He will view the complex time lines and the ability to loop back on your own life as his own amazing creation, forgetting, oh, almost a centuries worth of work that came before him. That Red Dwarf episode, "Future Echoes," the one from 1988, more then a decade before this book, well, forget that, this book totally didn't just rip it off, because, well, Jonathan Morris CREATED timey wimey! In fact, if we take his introduction to heart, using his own timey wimey, he must have created Doctor Who himself and every other time travelling show, literature, what have you, ever. Quantum Leap, totally his. Gaw, this author is so full of himself.

And here is the real snag in the book. Ego aside, the book is just a pastiche of all these other shows and books, that couldn't possibly be as original as Festival of Death because the author says so. I can't tell if it's his naivete as a new writer, or his immense ego that let's him just rip off other writers without a care in the world. These are not nods, these are blatant rip offs. The "reference" to Douglas Adams, ie, the depressed computer ERIC, well, let's just call him MARVIN and move on. I mean, seriously dude, this isn't cool. If you watch Doctor Who, you've read Adams at some point, and well, readers aren't going to let this slide. Adams was a genius, YOU ARE A HACK. The reason I mentioned Red Dwarf above, well, it's because one scene was almost lifted fully from that previously mentioned episode. A good author is able to incorporate other ideas and references into a solid narrative that is original while yet being referential... Jonathan Morris, the author I shall never read again, doesn't do this. The book isn't a cohesive whole, just a bunch of jokes and scenes lifted from other sources and precariously strung together. Here's all the "references" I was able to ferret out, and I'm sure it's by no means exhaustive: The Shining, Alien, Titanic, Lord of the Rings (in particular Gollum), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (and yes, I did check release dates so that I am not wrong), and in the end, Being John Malkovich, in the weirdest "nod" yet. Seriously, couldn't the author try anything original? All he did was point out how bad his book was by "referencing" books/movies/whatever that I enjoyed far far more.

In the few rare instances that he tries to show some originality, it comes across as bad jokes or goes against the cannon of the show. The alien races that he encounters, I'm not talking about those little lizard people who are obviously out of the canon of Adams, but the Arboretans... could you think of a lamer name? I'm sorry, but plant based life that is kind of Fern Gully meets Doctor Who and you named them Arboretans? Do they live in the Arboretum near my house? Could you try to think of a non cringe worthy name? Like you're deja vu jokes that made me groan. Preja vu? The stupid running joke about The Doctor not having passed his test to fly the TARDIS. Or the fact that you actually killed The Doctor for thirty minutes and therefore destroyed some of the cannon, because, if he died, he would have regenerated, and well... HE DIDN'T! That is one of the glaring problems of this book. Because we know The Doctor saves the G-Lock, but in doing so he supposedly dies... well, we know he can't die, neither can Romana, because, well, that's not what happens to them, so there is no peril, no impetus to keep reading because we know what happens. I can say I finished the book, but I will never read this author again, I would rather have my brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped 'round a large gold brick.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tuesday Tomorrow

After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: October 29th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 208 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Dead Ever After marked the end of the Sookie Stackhouse novels—a series that garnered millions of fans and spawned the hit HBO television show True Blood. It also stoked a hunger that will never die…a hunger to know what happened next.

With characters arranged alphabetically—from the Ancient Pythoness to Bethany Zanelli—bestselling author Charlaine Harris takes fans into the future of their favorite residents of Bon Temps and environs. You’ll learn how Michele and Jason’s marriage fared, what happened to Sookie’s cousin Hunter, and whether Tara and JB’s twins grew up to be solid citizens.

This coda provides the answers to your lingering questions—including details of Sookie’s own happily-ever-after…

The book will feature extensive interior art by acclaimed Sookie artist Lisa Desimini, including a Sookieverse Alphabet, color endpapers, and several full-page black and white interior illustrations."

I hate when series I'm addicted to end. I mean, I love a satisfying ending, but there's always questions lingering. Thankfully Charlaine Harris has anticipated this and given us this lovely book. Here's hoping it's not the dull read of her companion Sookie book...

Horde by Ann Aguirre
Published by: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: October 29th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The epic conclusion to the USA Today bestselling trilogy.
The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they're not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn't run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade's love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn't been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity."

So excited for the conclusion to this series. I was lucky enough to see Ann speak on the Fierce Reads tour last fall when the second book in the series was released.

Friday, October 25, 2013

3rd Doctor Book Review - Mark Gatiss's Last of the Gaderene

Last of the Gaderene by Mark Gatiss
Published by: BBC Books
Publication Date: January 4th, 2000
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

Wing Commander Alec Whistler fell in love with the town of Culverton, as well as a young lady, when he was stationed there during the war flying spitfires out of the aerodrome. He might have lost the love of his life in an air raid, but thankfully he survived the war and went on to make Culverton his home. Though as the village fete approaches it is a sad day in Culverton because the Ministry of Defense has closed the aerodrome and sold it to a mysterious company, Legion International, "getting us where we want to go." When Legion International breaks the quite of this quaint town with their loud lorries and there black-shirted employees who are a little overzealous in meting out punishment on those that stand in their way, Whistler calls up an old friend with connections to get to the bottom of what is going on.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is glad to help an old friend. Luckily The Doctor is still hanging around, though his imposed exile on 20th century earth, which included a forced regeneration, has blessedly been lifted, the Brigadier asks for him and Jo Grant to check out the situation in Culverton. The instant they arrive they know something is wrong. The head of operations at Legion International, Bliss, is an odd and secretive woman. Plus, when The Doctor sneaks into the air hangers he sees somethings that don't add up with the company's proposed purpose. Why a vertical wind tunnel? Then the very man they came to meet, Wing Commander Alec Whistler, disappears, and his young neighbor, Noah, who was doing some investigating with Whistler shows up in such a state of shock his life is feared for. Whistler isn't the only one who has disappeared... though some have returned. Different. Smiling. Strange. The Doctor calls in the Brigadier to come to Culverton. He needs his governmental clout, and if that doesn't work, he needs his weapons.

It is no surprise to me that when they chose the lineup of books to mark the 50th anniversary this year that among them was a Mark Gatiss book. Besides being one of the writers for the new series he is a fanboy extraordinaire through and through. Even if you haven't read the book's introduction, where he rhapsodizes about his new Zygon and his three different Jon Pertwee action figures, you just need to watch any one of his Doctor Who Confidentials to realize how much he knows about Doctor Who and how much he loves it. He fits into that rare category that David Tennant and Russell T. Davies occupied on Confidential, where he can just talk for hours on the subject but yet make it interesting. It didn't surprise me in the least when two of the three of these men left Doctor Who that Confidential wasn't able to endure. They were that show. In fact, Mark Gatiss can easily be credited with helping Doctor Who survive during its extended hiatus, during which time he wrote many Doctor Who books, Last of the Gaderene being one of them.

Though all these foreknowledge just made me leery that the book might not live up to the hype that I had created in my own mind. I mean, sure, Gatiss is a successful writer outside the sphere of Doctor Who, quite awhile before I even knew who he was I had picked up his first Lucifer Box book, The Vesuvius Club, based on a blurb on the cover by Stephen Fry, and I wasn't disappointed. In fact his fun camp series fits very well within the same genre as Doctor Who. But the fact has to be pointed out that while a gifted writer, he does have a tendency to stick to a proscribed series of tropes. Gatiss has a predilection for a period atmosphere, usually Victorian or WWII, and a desire to bring in the military... of course, the more I think about this, The 3rd Doctor being The Doctor of his formative years, perhaps these themes are actually a result of Doctor Who! The Doctor being stranded on earth in the 20th Century and having to work with UNIT... yes... this might explain a lot. But it also means that when asked to write a book for said Doctor, well, he didn't disappoint.

If you've picked up this book, you are obviously a Doctor Who fan. I can't really see anyone picking this book up on a whim, though I bet it would still work, but don't take my word for it. There is a chance though that you might not be too familiar with this Doctor. What Gatiss has done is given us a little glimpse, a vignette, of The Third to ease us into the story. While Last of the Gaderene takes place while The Doctor is still working with UNIT, he is no longer technically stranded on earth anymore. In a little side jaunt celebrating his freedom we get some classic Jon Pertwee moments as he races through a jungle in his puffy shirt and tight slacks, white hair haloing his head. A karate chop here and there, celebrating the "action Doctor" that he is with his cape flying behind him. In just this short little chapter you see not only his mannerisms and sartorial choices, but with his willingness to sacrifice himself for someone he barely knows, you see that compassion that is a hallmark of The Doctor. You can also feel the glee that Gatiss had in writing this camp Doctor in all his glory. A true passion for your subject can really go a long way to make the reader love the story as well.

But what made me fall for the book was it's pure Britishness. The real star of this book is the village of Culverton and it's beautiful English way of life that is shattered. The fact that the vicar and The Doctor show the most amount of concern for a tire track tearing up the edge of the village green just makes me giggle with glee, much the way I do for all of Hot Fuzz, which has a similar MO. What appeals to this yank about British television and literature is this quaint idealized way of country life. The village fetes and tombolas. The village green and the local pub. A place that is timeless whenever the story takes place. Yet it's the stories that take it one step further, the ones, like Midsomer Murders, that show us the evil that lurks beneath the surface. They break the sanctity of this idealized life. The calm that is broken with an alien invasion force in full black-shirt regalia. Yes please! I feel it in my bones that this level of campy satire with the dandy of a Third Doctor was perfectly realized with this book and is the first book in this select series which I would heartily recommend, despite the fact that oddly, yet again, we have a "legion" mind meld, telepathic thing going on, which I guess must be the theme... we'll have to see if Tom Baker stumbles onto it next...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2nd Doctor Book Review - Justin Richards's Dreams of Empire

Dreams of Empire by Justin Richards
Published by: BBC Books
Publication Date: August 3rd, 1999
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy

The Haddron Republic has just ended a mighty civil war. One of their leaders, Kesar, took it upon himself to make the Republic an Empire. His Empire. Though his dreams were destroyed by his childhood friend Trayx. They fought a mighty war and in the end Trayx was victorious. Kesar was sentenced to imprisoned exile among the stars. Kesar and his remaining loyal followers would live on Santespri with a garrison of Trayx's soliders. Though his exile isn't what truly brought Kesar low, it's the attack on him after his sentencing, he was disfigured so badly he now wears a metal mask while spending all his time playing chess with his second in command, Cruger. The hope is that chess will make the two of them see why their coupe failed as well as while away the hours.

The TARDIS materializes in a lower section of the castle on Santespri just as Trayx has come to visit Kesar and a murder has happened. At first considered persons of interest, The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria, soon are viewed as allies when The Doctor points out, not only can they not be the murderers, but that there's a ship, an unscheduled ship, heading straight for Santespri, and that they should marshal their resources and get ready for attack. But is the ship coming to rescue Kesar to lead him to the throne he once desired, or is it coming to kill him and make of him the martyr Trayx hoped Kesar would never be. A symbol to rally around and restart the civil war. Or is there more going on then any of them know?

Dreams of Empire is one of those books that struggles to get started. I just wasn't able to connect to this outer space Roman Empire redux with delusions of Napoleon's exile in Elba but peopled with robotic legionnaires. The empire didn't seem logical or even plausible, plus those Cylon wannabes (they are far more advanced then Cybermen, so I'm going with Cylon) being "Legion" well... the hive mind was a little too similar to the previous book about The Doctor I just read, seriously, whomever picked these books didn't really care about diversity of storytelling now did they? Doctor Who usually excels at combining the old with the new, but here it felt like a puzzle that didn't want to fit together right, like there was a piece missing. In his introduction, Justin Richards talks about ancient Rome in a very muddled way with a lot of what ifs. The fact that he seems muddled even in this story's inception I think makes it clear that he would have troubles pulling off this imagined empire. Plus, while I do have a basic grasp of Roman history, Richards seems to almost expect you to know the play by play of the senate and the consuls in order for you to make any sense of the politics. Also, are these people really wearing tunics but have advanced weaponry and bombs? Yeah... not feeling it.

Thankfully everything in the book changes once we get to Kesar's (Serisouly, Kesar? Is he the Quasar Caesar?) exile on Santespri (yep, another asteroid like the last book, sigh). Because then the book isn't about Empires and political backstabbing, then it's about people, people who you feel a real connection to, and lots and lots of chess games. But more importantly it's about The Doctor, and Jamie (woo hoo) and Victoria. The 1st Doctor book I read annoyed me because it could easily have been a book without The Doctor. He could have been omitted entirely and the book would have still worked. He was a background character used to tie up loose ends. Seriously, if you write a Doctor Who book it should have The Doctor front and center all the time. Dreams of Empire not only had The Doctor front and center but perfectly capture both who The Doctor is, but also really captured Patrick Troughton's Doctor perfectly. You could see him so easily in your mind's eye that at times it was a little eerie. Yet I think the true genius of this book relates to something I believe Neil Gaiman said. That while this is a second Doctor story, you could just as easily see Tom Baker or Matt Smith delivering these lines. Justin Richards has caught a hold of the elusive heart of The Doctor that I have felt missing in some of this past season of the show and made this book 100% Doctor.

In fact, The Doctor is able to carry the rest of the book despite its flaws. The book occasionally gets bogged down with technology and almost heist like antics with the security cameras working or being looped. The bad guy is laughably obvious, even how he's doing it is so transparent that you're just waiting for The Doctor to spring his trap. And the "twist" well, how should I put this... ah, I don't want to be rude seeing as I actually liked the book, but, well... it wasn't a twist, just something blindingly obvious. Like so obvious there was an arrow above it in neon going, here's the obvious. In the end, there's just too many historical and technological things vying against each other to make it a truly cohesive story, but somehow, it works. If you can make it a couple of chapters in you won't be disappointed, except perhaps in the fact that the title of the book is repeatedly said by the characters. Here's a good tip for authors, don't obviously use your book title in the book, it's a bit too meta and lame.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Casebook of Newbury and Hobbes Volume One by George Mann
Published by: Titan Books
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Format: Paperback, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A collection of short stories detailing the supernatural steampunk adventures of detective duo, Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes in dark and dangerous Victorian London. Along with Chief Inspector Bainbridge, Newbury & Hobbes will face plague revenants, murderous peers, mechanical beasts, tentacled leviathans, reanimated pygmies, and an encounter with Sherlock Holmes."

Well, there is of course my Newbury and Hobbes and George Mann love here, but more importantly, I adore when authors write little short stories (sometimes really short) but it gets annoying trying to track them all down, find anthologies, you get my point. So I really ADORE when the author finally gets enough of the stories to put them in their own book. Yeah!

Fallen Women by Sandra Dallas
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the ballrooms and mansions of Denver’s newly wealthy, to the seamy life of desperate women, Fallen Women illuminates the darkest places of the human heart.

It is the spring of 1885 and wealthy New York socialite Beret Osmundsen has been estranged from her younger sister, Lillie, for a year when she gets word from her aunt and uncle that Lillie has died suddenly in Denver. What they do not tell her is that Lillie had become a prostitute and was brutally murdered in the brothel where she had been living. When Beret discovers the sordid truth of Lillie’s death, she makes her way to Denver, determined to find her sister’s murderer. Detective Mick McCauley may not want her involved in the case, but Beret is determined, and the investigation soon takes her from the dangerous, seedy underworld of Denver’s tenderloin to the highest levels of Denver society. Along the way, Beret not only learns the depths of Lillie’s depravity, but also exposes the sinister side of Gilded Age ambition in the process.

Sandra Dallas once again delivers a page-turner filled with mystery, intrigue, and the kind of intricate detail that truly transports you to another time and place."

I never really thought of Denver as much of a social scene until I was rewatching Deadwood recently, so therefore this book has sparked my interest.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Published by: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Format: Paperback, 784 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The author of the classic bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with a brilliant, highly anticipated new novel.

Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity.

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate."

While me and Donna have some issues regarding The Secret History, I am willing to give her another chance.

The Mystery of Meerkat Hill by Alexander McCall Smith
Published by: Anchor
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 112 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Once upon a time in Botswana in Africa there was a little girl who would later grow up to be a famous detective: Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Have already cracked the case of the missing cakes at school, she now has a new mystery to solve.

Precious Ramotswe has two new friends at school and they have the funniest and most resourceful pet you can imagine. But they are upset that their family's most valuable possession, their cow, has gone missing. Precious has a plan to find the missing animal but she needs the help of another in her search. Will she succeed and and what obstacles will she face on her path?"

Firstly, I love the Precious Ramotswe has her own series of books from when she was younger, but really, this is all about the meerkat love. Gotta love meerkats!

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 544 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"What if your whole world was a lie?

What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?

What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent."

Yeah, so finally getting around to what most people are calling the biggest YA series since Hunger Games...

Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 528 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In honor of the 10th Anniversary of Eragon, a special edition of the runaway bestseller with a blue faux leather cover, six pieces of exclusive artwork from award-winning artists and the author and a new essay from Christopher about how art has inspired his work.

Ten years ago, fans first met Eragon—Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider. A decade and four books later, readers are as enthusiastic as ever. This 10th-anniversary edition celebrates the journey that Eragon, Christopher Paolini, and his millions of fans have all made together. "

So what do you do if you are apparently looking to be a one hit wonder? Just keep releasing the book over and over again in other forms... not that I didn't enjoy the series, it's just that, it's not Harry Potter so the different editions feel like overkill.

Friday, October 18, 2013

1st Doctor Book Review - Stephen Cole's Ten Little Aliens

Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole
Published by: BBC Books
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2002
Format: Paperback, 305 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy

Ten soldiers are sent to an asteroid. With their commander Haunt they are to participate in this final training exercise with the hopes of becoming part of the elite squad in humanities war against the Schirr. As soon as they get to their location things start to go wrong and one of their own goes missing. There is weird vegetation throughout the asteroid that has bioluminescence, as well as flea like bugs that are drawn to it. Chambers throughout have odd pillars and carvings with elaborate glass dangling from the center like free standing stained glass windows or chandeliers. When they stumble into what appears to be the nerve center of this odd asteroid they are in for another shock. Besides finding the leaders of the Schirr rebellion, DeCaster and the ten strong, apparently dead, they also come across an odd blue box. The Doctor is there with Ben, having already misplaced Polly. They are locked out of the TARDIS and are now face to face with soldiers who were not expecting to find anyone living out in this remote sector of space dangerously close to the Morphiean Empire.

Catastrophe soon strikes and the asteroid turns out to be a spaceship on course for the center of the Morpheian Empire, which would start a second war if humans were found breaching their boundaries. The asteroid also seems to be turning against the invaders. There are more disappearances, cave-ins, a few of the party start mutating, but most disturbing of all, the Schirr bodies start disappearing. It feels like they are being toyed with and The Doctor just needs to get his mind around what exactly is going on so that he can stop it before they all die or mutate into something entirely different. But The Doctor is an old man, can he keep up until he and his party can retreat to the safety of the TARDIS?

While I did enjoy Ten Little Aliens, there's a part of me, a rather big part, that says, while I enjoyed it, there was almost too much that annoyed me to actually recommend it to anyone. The book has a very Michael Crichton meets Battlestar Galactica vibe that takes awhile to actually get into and then, once you're fully immersed, does some seriously stupid things that alienate you, confuse you, and then just leave you happy the book has ended. The one thing I have to say is that thankfully the title of the book was deliberately a nod to Agatha Christie, which if it hadn't, would have seriously pissed me off and mystified me. But if you read the introduction, I don't quite get how Stephen Cole wrote this to be like a Christie mystery, but in space... just naming your chapters after Christie books and then having the bodies disappear versus pile up in a reverse of And Then There Were None... well, that's not really enough to categorize it as Christie related. And as for the "unreliable narrator," to quote Inigo Montoya "I do not think it means what you think it means." You need a first person narrator who has been concealing something from us, like in Christie's Endless Night, who turns out to be the villain. Someone we thought was good who turns out not to... well, that's just a plot twist used by almost everyone in fiction. If you want to see Doctor Who do Christie right, just watch the 10th's and Donna's episode "The Wasp and the Unicorn" and skip this author's delusions.

As for the worldbuilding... well... yeah, some things really hit the mark and some were so far off the mark there is no chance we even know where it landed. Characters. There are to many. Ten super soldiers, three from the Tardis, another ten Schirr, two killer robots, and countless other creatures... too much to handle, and this from someone who just read Stephen King's Under the Dome. I gave everyone nicknames, like pilot, geek, scary guy, cyborg, and moved on. Also, besides there being too many characters, they were all unlikable, each and every one. But how could I dislike The Doctor? Because he was irrelevant, a non-entity. He was almost unnecessary and old. He didn't need to be in this book at all, which mystified me, because, excuse me, Doctor Who book! As for the politics of this future world of Schirr and Morphieans... I really have no f'ing clue as to what's going on. The war/politics/genocide/creatures without bodies/dead creatures, was so badly explained that I am still a little mystified ever after The Doctor tried to break it down for me at the end. As for the environment of the asteroid, that was spot on, thumbs up. You did a good job of worldbuilding in the sense of the physical world. I could totally believe myself in dark tunnels with creepy plants and bugs, right on. I just wish Stephen Cole had taken this attention to detail with say, everything else in the book. As for the bad guys... well, these Morphieans constructs, whatever that means, basically, the big baby angels, the putti that liked to pull you to pieces... um, they could give the Weeping Angels a run for the money. Seriously scary. But then again, in the end, overshadowed by the book's failings.

But let me get to what destroyed this book, one full star just knocked right off. The "neural net." This is some kind of network that is a band you wear that connects all the soldiers together, to monitor each other and record their experiences for training purposes, or after The Doctor tinkers with it, so that everyone has access to everyone else's brain. The concept is understandable, but the execution is crap. Everyone starts referring to themselves as "we" so you have no real distinction between the vast overly abundant cast, and it makes everyone sound pompous. Though the nail in the coffin is the almost fifty pages wherein, not only are we stuck in the "neural net" of we's, but it's done as a "choose your own adventure!" Say what? You thought, as a writer, it would be fun? Really, justify this to me because it was just HORRID and pissed me off. Not only that, the writing suffered with bad prompts at the end of sections going: "I wonder what the Doctor is doing" or "Go see what Frog is up to" excuse me? I am not a seven year old who lives and breaths by these books. I never liked them then and I don't like them now. I hate that this book resorted to gimmickry and I am glad I'm done with it. Oh, and don't go on and on about the cover to the old edition in your intro, it makes you seem bitter that they gave it a cooler cover. I'm out, I've disconnected myself from the neural net, laters.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Doctor Who Reading Challenge

So, earlier, when introducing this three month themed extravaganza I mentioned "The Doctor Who Reading Challenge," and then told you you'd have to wait for an explanation. Well now is the time for said explanation. For us bibliophiles, what better way is there to celebrate Doctor Who then to read lots and lots of Doctor Who books? In fact, the written and audio books should be lauded as what kept the show alive during the years it was dark. We got new stories from new authors, some of which went on to then write on the show! Mark Gatiss anyone? So yeah books and yeah Doctor Who!

The idea behind this book challenge is that there are 11 Doctors so far (remember we're not quite 100% sure what they're doing with John Hurt and the 12th doesn't come round supposedly till Christmas, I'm guessing it will be at the 50th though). The 50th anniversary is in the 11th month of the year. So the idea is to each month count down till the 50th by reading a book staring that months Doctor. So January would be the 1st Doctor all the way till November would be the 11th Doctor, you get the idea. I'm more condensing this into an epic read crammed into three months, and this is for a multitude of reasons, my other themed months being one of them. But my main reason was I was figuratively paralyzed... what books to read? I mean, I have a lot of 9th and 10th Doctor books lying about, and a few 11th. Then there's a few old 4th Doctor paperbacks I have somewhere... but which ones to read? Then I started to make a list based on authors I love who wrote Doctor Who books, you know, Mark Gatiss, Paul Magrs, George Mann, those ones... but so many of them are out of print. Grrr I say.

So the BBC came to my rescue. I don't know if they had planned this all along for the 50th, or, if hearing about this book challenge, went "Aha! A marketing idea we can exploit!" So what they did was re-release eleven books, one for each Doctor, in nifty new and special 50th Anniversary editions (seen above on my Doctor Who shelf, and yes, I have a Doctor Who shelf, no judging). So viola! My reading list was made. Of course the books didn't come out till April, so there's four months wasted right there, so time to cram some reading in now! Therefore, over the next few weeks, one of the features of my 50th Anniversary Special is the review of said books... here's hoping these live up to the name of The Doctor (whatever that name might be)!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review - Emma J. Chapman's How To Be a Good Wife

How To Be a Good Wife by Emma J. Chapman
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 15th, 2013
Format: Kindle, 288 Pages
Rating: ★
To Buy

Marta has lived her married life to her older husband Hector quite literally by the book. She has learned How To Be a Good Wife. Though the book doesn't tell you want to do when your son goes off to college and your life becomes meaningless. Marta starts to unravel. She drinks, she cleans, she takes her meds, she doesn't take her meds, she starts to remember, but are her memories real? She remembers a room under the house and being held captive and brainwashed till she was the wife Hector wanted. She tries to tell her son, Kylan, but he has his own life now. She is unhinged, she is a danger to herself. She is not the Marta that they remember, but did that Marta ever truly exist?  

If you have a book with an unreliable narrator there has to be some kind of revelation, an inside or outside force that is able to give some kind of resolution to the unfolding drama, even if it is a dissatisfying resolution, re Agatha Christie's Endless Night. To be left without any closure makes for a disgruntled reading experience. But then again, being in Marta's brain for even the short amount of time it took to read this book had already alienated me against her and her antics, so what's one more nail in the book's coffin eh? Marta is scatterbrained, obsessive about the weirdest things, her dinner party for her son is such a disaster it makes the Christmas dinner in The Ref look like the best party in the world. She's unstable, unlikable, and, well, selfish. Why did I read this book again? Oh yeah, book club.

The question though remains, did or didn't Hector create this wife? My mind thinks no. Because it's just too outlandish. If he had done it his own mother would have been complicit, something I don't think she'd ever have done. Plus, let's look at it this way. If Hector was making the perfect wife, after all these years of brainwashing why would she crack? Yes, empty nest syndrome, but this is a major psychotic break. And her meds wouldn't make her more compliant, after all this time she'd totally be in the thrall of Stockholm Syndrome, so drugs wouldn't be needed. Whereas if she's just crazy, going off her meds would do something. They'd make her go back to her natural crazy state. But in the end I don't care. No, seriously, I hated each character so much there was no sympathy and well, fuck the lot of them.

With Marta we are given a woman who is neurotic and self-destructive as well as more then a little dumb. Instead of doing anything logical she runs around like a chicken with her head cut off. If she had just sat down and laid out her thoughts and provided proof of her delusion, perhaps someone would have believed her. Instead of making it seem like her illness was responsible for her inability to tell her suspicions Chapman made Marta's failings feel like an idiotic character flaw of the greatest order, total dumb blond syndrome. Perhaps her decision making is completely impaired, but for some reason I just don't think so. I have this feeling that Marta has a very fixed view of the world and her place in it and when things don't go her way she acts out. This seems to be supported by how everyone treats and coddles her. She's a selfish woman who may have issues, but in the end it's her selfishness that defines her. How else would you categorize the fact that she kills herself on the day of her son's wedding? She's making the happiest day of his life all about her.

Chapman is obviously trying to explore the themes of PTSD and what it does to us knowingly or unknowingly, after all if you didn't get it she talks all about it in her afterword. But the problem is we don't know if Marta is suffering from PTSD or is just run of the mill crazy. Either way Marta is not a sympathetic character so whether she was always crazy or became crazy signifies very little to the book itself. But I think if I was a sufferer of PTSD that this would signify very much to me if I was reading this book, which I wouldn't recommend anyone to do. Because How To Be a Good Wife doesn't exactly portray PTSD in a flattering light. In fact the book kind of makes sufferers of PTSD get lumped in with people with severe mental illnesses. Now, while PTSD is a mental illness, well, it's a different kind and to have it lumped in with the psychotics, this is doing the sufferers of this disease an injustice. In fact everything about this book should offend anyone with any kind of mental instability, because Chapman obviously doesn't get it and doesn't have the compassion to render their fight with compassion and honesty.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tuesday Tomorrow

Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding
Published by: Knopf
Publication Date: October 15th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"What do you do when your girlfriend’s sixtieth birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend’s thirtieth?

Is it better to die of Botox or die of loneliness because you’re so wrinkly?

Is it wrong to lie about your age when online dating?

Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice?

Is it normal to be too vain to put on your reading glasses when checking your toy boy for head lice?

Does the Dalai Lama actually tweet or is it his assistant?

Is it normal to get fewer followers the more you tweet?

Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood?

If you put lip plumper on your hands do you get plump hands?

Is sleeping with someone after two dates and six weeks of texting the same as getting married after two meetings and six months of letter writing in Jane Austen’s day?

Pondering these and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of loss, single motherhood, tweeting, texting, technology, and rediscovering her sexuality in—Warning! Bad, outdated phrase approaching!—middle age.

In a triumphant return after fourteen years of silence, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is timely, tender, touching, page-turning, witty, wise, outrageous, and bloody hilarious."

Um... new Bridget Jones? I'm kind of split on this. The books were never as good as the movie (first, not second, ug). Also... yeah... I'm not sure. Will I read it? Duh.

Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: October 15th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A ruined abbey on a beautiful estate in Derbyshire, a murdered peer, and a most unlikely romance make New York Times bestseller Tasha Alexander's new novel absolutely irresistible

Anglemore Park is the ancestral home of Lady Emily Hargreave's husband Colin. But the stately calm of country life is destroyed when their neighbor, the Marquess of Montagu, bursts through the French doors from the garden and falls down dead in front of the shocked gathering. But who has a motive for murdering the young aristocrat? The lovely cousin who was threatened by his engagement, the Oxford friend he falsely accused of cheating, the scheming vicar's daughter he shamelessly seduced or the relative no one knew existed who appears to claim the Montagu title? Who is the mysterious woman seen walking with him moments before he was brutally attacked? The trail takes readers into the gilded world of a British manor house and below stairs to the servants who know all the secrets. One family's hidden past and a forbidden passion are the clues to a puzzle only Lady Emily can solve."

Oh, this sounds so fabulous as well as having yet another luscious cover! Can not wait to read!

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George
Published by: Dutton Adult
Publication Date: October 15th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 736 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"#1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George delivers another masterpiece of suspense in her Inspector Lynley series: a gripping child-in-danger story that tests Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers like never before.

Barbara is at a loss: The daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can’t really help—Azhar had never married Angelina, and his name isn’t on Hadiyyah’s, their daughter’s, birth certificate. He has no legal claim. Azhar and Barbara hire a private detective, but the trail goes cold.

Azhar is just beginning to accept his soul-crushing loss when Angelina reappears with shocking news: Hadiyyah is missing, kidnapped from an Italian marketplace. The Italian police are investigating, and the Yard won’t get involved, until Barbara takes matters into her own hands — at the risk of her own career.

As both Barbara and her partner, Inspector Thomas Lynley, soon discover, the case is far more complex than a typical kidnapping, revealing secrets that could have far-reaching effects outside of the investigation. With both her job and the life of a little girl on the line, Barbara must decide what matters most, and how far she’s willing to go to protect it."

New Lynley? Yes please!

Copperhead by Tina Connolly
Published by: Tor
Publication Date: October 15th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
" Copperhead is the sequel to Tina Connolly's stunning historical fantasy debut.

Helen Huntingdon is beautiful—so beautiful she has to wear an iron mask.

Six months ago her sister Jane uncovered a fey plot to take over the city. Too late for Helen, who opted for fey beauty in her face—and now has to cover her face with iron so she won’t be taken over, her personality erased by the bodiless fey.

Not that Helen would mind that some days. Stuck in a marriage with the wealthy and controlling Alistair, she lives at the edges of her life, secretly helping Jane remove the dangerous fey beauty from the wealthy society women who paid for it. But when the chancy procedure turns deadly, Jane goes missing—and is implicated in a murder.

Meanwhile, Alistair’s influential clique Copperhead—whose emblem is the poisonous copperhead hydra—is out to restore humans to their “rightful” place, even to the point of destroying the dwarvven who have always been allies.

Helen is determined to find her missing sister, as well as continue the good fight against the fey. But when that pits her against her own husband—and when she meets an enigmatic young revolutionary—she’s pushed to discover how far she’ll bend society’s rules to do what’s right. It may be more than her beauty at stake. It may be her honor...and her heart."

100% cover lust.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Doctor

So who is my Doctor (the above picture should give you a clue)? If you aren't familiar with this idea, here's how it goes. Everyone has THEIR Doctor. This is The Doctor that made them a Whovian. The one who made Doctor Who an integral part of their lives. He is the first Doctor you think of when someone mentions Doctor Who. He might not even necessarily be your favorite Doctor, but you know that he is what defines the show for you. He is YOUR Doctor. For me, this is a concept that I have struggled with. Not because I didn't grasp it, but because I kind of wanted David Tennant or Matt Smith to be My Doctor. Until Matt Smith came around, I would have said that David Tennant was hands down my favorite Doctor, but there's something about Matt Smith, his raw acting ability, the fact that he can rise above sub-par writing and being labored with crappy companions to be this luminous, amazing Doctor makes me want to go, "There, that's him, there's My Doctor." Yet I know this would be a lie. I would just be tricking myself into what I wanted while all the while Tom Baker is My Doctor.

Why is Tom Baker My Doctor? Because he just is. This isn't something that can be easily explained, it's something you just know in your bones. But that goofy grin and that scarf are what is at the core of Doctor Who for me. Perhaps it's because he was The Doctor when I was born and PBS only showed his episodes when I was young and impressionable and sitting on my grandparents slightly gross shag rug (I mean, it started out brown and over time it became like orangey/red with hints of green... that is NOT right.) But he IS Doctor Who to me. So who's Doctor Who to you? Who is YOUR Doctor?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Doctor Returns

I seriously don't know why or how I knew Doctor Who was returning. At this time I didn't really use the internet for much, other then to do homework (see, I can't escape school now that it's sucked me back in, and in fact this fall is the first time since 2006 I haven't had classes) and to play online games with my friends. But there, in the back of my mind, I knew that there was a new series and that, well, obviously, I had to see it. The one thing I did know, from my various British addictions, was you could be sure, whenever the show showed up in the US, it would be a long time since it had aired in England. In fact it was almost a full year from the airing of "Rose" on the BBC till it aired on Sci-Fi (or Syfy as it now ludicrously is). As it turns out, I didn't have to wait that long...

In the spring of 2005 I was done with college (round one) and at a bit of a loose end, thinking maybe grad school, maybe not. My friend Sara had gone to graduate school in Halifax, Nova Scotia at NSCAD. She was graduating that spring and having a big gallery show/thesis/dissertation combo event with mashed potatoes on the side (seriously, there were mashed potatoes at the opening). Her whole family and a few of her close friends, me included, decided to descend on Halifax. Cold and wet and bleak and full of children wielding led pipes... the drug capital of Canada... needless to say, I didn't go out much. After most everyone else had returned to their respective homes, I stayed in Canada for another two weeks or so. I spent most of my time in Sara's little cramped apartment. She had one roommate, Kenny, and no spare space. The kitchen was minuscule, the bedrooms were tiny, the bathroom was somewhat large, but the hallway was non-existent as it kind of merged with the stairwell and the ceiling in this stairwell was mildly psychedelic, as the landlord had plastered the ceiling with these swoopy wave patterns. It was white, but there was like glitter mixed in. This ceiling fascinated me, because all I could think of was who would spend that much time on a ceiling? It would have actually fit in quite well with a few of the TARDIS interiors over the years.

Her roommate Kenny was also doing his performance/thesis/dissertation, so he was gone much of the time. He was gone and in return for keeping the tiny kitchen clean (not that hard) I had full access to his tv. I was instantly addicted to Canadian television, mainly because it's like all the big shows are on one station and some of it is in French. There was no flipping back and forth between ABC and CBS and Fox, it was all there on one channel. And while watching that one channel of an evening they said something that really caught my eye... on April 5th, a mere ten days after "Rose" aired in the UK, the CBBC was showing the first episode of the new Doctor Who! Even though Kenny had basically given me carte blanche over his television, I made sure to ask him as soon as I saw the ad that I would have the tv that Tuesday night. He said there was no problem and my heart leaped.

Here I was, far from home and my cat, in another country, but I was going to watch Doctor Who! Not just any Doctor Who, the newly rebooted series! I remember the Sunday night before there was a horrid cold front that moved in. Sara and I were driving back from PEI and it was so windy the car was struggling the whole way back to Halifax. And then the wind that night. It howled and howled. I started putting on more and more clothes in an attempt to keep warm. The next day the whole apartment was frigid, because of the fact the landlord turned down the heat during the day. The cold continued into Tuesday, but I didn't care, I had a fire in me to keep me warm, I had The Doctor. I remember it was still a little light outside the window as I sat down on the edge of the orange plaid blanket that covered Kenny's bed. I was instantly hooked as soon as Christopher Eccleston said "Run!" I mean, the first episode sure had it's flaws, but, well, that was to be expected. Mickey was the main flaw, but then, well, Rose left him in the dust didn't she? When the episode ended and I realized that come the next Tuesday I would be in New York again and not able to watch "The End of the World" I was beyond depressed. When Christopher Eccleston's face lit up in that wide smile surrounded by the London Eye, well, I knew I couldn't wait till this show came stateside.

I still think how naive I was to the ways of the internet. I didn't know about downloads or torrenting. I knew about Amazon UK, and so, I pre-ordered the DVDs, which came out in batches of three episodes every so often and then took about a month to get to me. So over the course of 2005 I slowly watched all the series. Each episode making me more and more a Whovian. In fact, that Christmas when they aired David Tennant's first episode simultaneously in Canada and England, I told Sara all I wanted for Christmas was for her to tape that episode, she did and I was ever so grateful, it was like being back in Canada again!

Step two was to get others addicted. When I went back to New York in Fall 2005 to look at a grad school, I bought tons of Doctor Who tie-in books at Forbidden Planet. When I was back again in Spring 2006, well, then the inculcation of my friend Miss Jessica began. We had returned to her apartment after a long night seeing Alan Cumming in The Three Penny Opera, and then several hours outside to meet him (which we did!) Then there was the train ride back to Queens, so it was long after midnight when I popped in disc one and said, "just one episode." Soon it was episode two and we were singing along with the 9th to "Tainted Love." Over the years, whenever me and Miss Jessica get together, well, there is always Doctor Who involved somehow. When she came to visit me shortly after David Tennant became The Doctor, a certain line from "New Earth" was used repeatedly while bowling. "Ooh. Curves. Oh Baby! It's like living inside a bouncy castle!" (Say while caressing a bowling ball, or other round parts of your anatomy. Oi! Not so dirty, we were at a bowling alley! They allow small children in bowling alleys and they get the cool bumpers).

Since then, the addiction has only gotten more rooted and with my increasing knowledge of technology, my addiction is fed on a regular and timely basis. Though I will admit to not watching the end of Rose's time on Doctor Who till I read some spoilers... I was really worried they were going to kill her and I knew I couldn't take that (and right there is where I lose my friend Moxie's sympathies, Rose hater that she is). Ever since that fateful Tuesday evening in Canada, I have become a Whovian in every sense of the word. And you know what? I wouldn't change a thing! Meeting new people, falling in love with new Doctors and companions, having recurring jokes with friends. Every single second of it has been awesome. Though if Moffat makes me cry again this Christmas as much as I did during the Michael Gambon Christmas special... I may go slam his hand in a car door so he knows the pain he has caused me.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tuesday Tomorrow

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Published by: Knopf
Publication Date: October 8th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Pride and Prejudice was only half the story.

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own."

It's Upstairs, Downstairs meets Jane Austen! I have been jealous for weeks over those in the UK who have already had a chance to read it!

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon  Hale
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 8th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens...whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen's destiny is to follow in her mother's wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven's style. She's starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn't sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both."

Don't care if the cover is cheesy and the book is based on a line of dolls, it's Shannon Hale, so it will be awesome and a must read for me!

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: October 8th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is.She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.This stunning conclusion picks up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate."

I only recently heard about this series, but I was so intrigued that I instantly ordered the first book.

Desert Tales by Melissa Marr
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 8th, 2013
Format: Paperback, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Return to the world of Melissa Marr's bestselling series and discover how the events of Wicked Lovely set a different faery tale in motion. . . . Originally presented as a manga series and now available for the first time as a stand-alone novel, Desert Tales combines tentative romance, outward strength, and inner resolve in a faery story of desert and destiny.

The Mojave Desert was a million miles away from the plots and schemes of the Faerie Courts—and that's exactly why Rika chose it as her home. The once-mortal faery retreated to the desert's isolation after decades of carrying winter's curse inside her body. But her seclusion—and the freedom of the desert fey—is threatened by the Summer King's newfound strength. And when the manipulations of her trickster friend, Sionnach, thrust Rika into a new romance, she finds new power within herself—and a new desire to help Sionnach protect the desert fey and mortals alike. The time for hiding is over."

Kind of just skipped over this before because they were manga... much more likely to pick up now... even more likely if they had bothered to release it in hardcover so it would be a matching set. People don't get the importance of the matching set (aside from other bibliophiles), sigh.

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Later Years

When I graduated high school, my very first decision was not to go to college, if you know me now, the perpetually in school, this is very ironic. But I didn't want anything further to do with education. What ended up happening is I took a gap year, I know, how very British for this little Midwestern teenager right? During my gap year I did many far ranging things. I took to grocery shopping and embroidery and watching daytime talk shows... yes, in essence, I became a little old lady, sitting at home with my cats talking to the tv, or to the cats, because to the day he died Spike never justified why he wouldn't watch Dallas beyond the death of Jock Ewing. That seems a very specific thing to take against and totally disrupted my three o'clock ritual.

Well, during this year I was also spending more time with my new friends. Well, I shouldn't really call them new. We knew each other all through high school, but it really wasn't till senior year we became good friends, and since then, well, they are the best friends anyone could ask for. No seriously, my best friends have been my best friends since the 90s! Anyway, as is the way, our interests all started to come together and blend. Therefore I started to learn about tv shows I'd never heard of, like Red Dwarf. Because I was not regularly employed, I would seriously do small jobs around the house for Red Dwarf VHS tapes from Suncoast video (cheers to you and a high five if you remember Suncoast). At this time I also started picking up Jane Austen and other British authors, in fact anything British became like crack to me. This expanded to The Avengers and Monty Python and yes, it all came back to Doctor Who.

There was a thrill in rediscovering The Doctor. I had always viewed him as kind of the goofy guy running around trying to escape the stuff of my nightmares, mainly Cybermen. Doctor Who had fallen off my radar since I was little. There was a blip in 1996 when one of my friends in Art Metal dressed up in honor of the 8th Doctor's movie, but that was about it. As it happened, my friend Sara, who also does "Art Metal" (aka is a kick ass metalsmith) was a Doctor Who addict because of her brother Paul. Now Paul quite literally had every episode you could get at that time on VHS. And we'd watch them at any chance we could get. We'd bring tapes with us when we'd go over to our other friends shitty student apartments in downtown Madison. Sure, we'd get together to watch this documentary on Nefertiti and there's even a themed cake, but now that it's over, how about a little "The Trial of a Time Lord?" The teenager in me started to have a real crush on the 5th Doctor, because seriously, until the new series, Peter Davidson was the "hot doctor." So, I tended to lean in that direction, because I hadn't ever seen those episode before being a 4th Doctor girl. Plus, I always had a soft spot for redheads, and well, there's Turlough. But there's also Adric. Oh, how I hate Adric. It has become a custom now, whenever we gather, to once again watch Adric's final episode to watch him die, and to laugh with tears of joy. In fact "Earthshock" might be the one episode of Doctor Who I've watched more then any other.

Of course, with this new found obsession, well, I realized I really liked hanging out with people with similar interests. Seriously, if you think about it, could you be friends with someone who didn't like Doctor Who in this day and age? It is the age of Who! In fact, my convention bug was started because of Doctor Who. Back in 1998 I went to my first science fiction and fantasy convention in Chicago, At Her Majesty's Pleasure. Oh, the dealer's room, the guests, the people dressed up as Tom Baker, and look, there's K-9! Thankfully I didn't have much money so I didn't go crazy. The aforementioned Paul, let's put it this way, he was down $1000 after about thirty minutes in the dealers room*, at least it wasn't all for him, he was purchasing for others as well.

*Photographic evidence of said spending spree, so many books and ephemera, they couldn't be stacked in one pile, try as he might. The T-Shirt over his face is a parody of the Fed-Ex Logo and the TARDIS, just saying cause I think it's cool, not as cool as my tin banks at the top of this post, but still wicked cool.

We spent the weekend in little dark rooms watching reconstructed episodes of Doctor Who, as well as The Vicar of Dibley, The Young Ones, Father Ted (Spider Baby!), all these glorious shows and all these glorious people! The 7th Doctor, Sylvester McCoy was there! As was my crush Mark Strickson, aka Turlough. But I think that's when I realized I loved Turlough and not Mark, much as I feel about David Tennant and the 10th. But this convention marked a turning point. There was no going back, I was truly a Whovian for life.

Stupid camera and stupid guys head... I swear that Slyvester McCoy, Mark Strickson, and Louise Jameson are in this picture!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Formative Years

When I was just a little girl... (ok, now I have "Que Sera, Sera" in my head). But, seriously, when I was just a little girl I don't think I ever had a full weekend at home. My brother and I would be bundled into the car and would either head east to Milwaukee, where my dad would have work and we would stay with my Uncle spending vast periods of time at the Milwaukee Public Museum, or, which was more likely the case, we would head west to my maternal grandparents farm. They had a big old farm house out in the driftless region about half way between Spring Green and Lone Rock (the coldest place in the state with the warmest heart) out on Hwy. JJ. The house was huge, having been a mail order farmstead from Sears that was expanded on over the generations. Almost every Sunday this is where I was to be found, in the house, while my grandfather would always insist that we should go outside and play (rare photo of me "in the wild" flying a kite above). There were many reasons that I didn't like to go outside. One was my really bad allergies, two was it was usually hot or cold and I liked the standard temperature indoors, but three was because of Doctor Who.

I am a tv addict. I love television (though I am studiously ignoring it and obviously bored in this picture of my grandparents living room). I can honestly say that I came by this through genetics. My grandfather was a worse tv addict then me (notice, the tv is the center of the room). Not only did he have the tv on constantly, even eating his dinner away from the rest of the family watching tv, but when he got a VCR he would record everything he watched as well. Now there is only so much space for tapes of America's Funniest Home Videos... I mean seriously, that house was filled with them. At this time though, what was to be his favorite and most recorded show had not yet made it's debut. Instead he turned on PBS and left it on all day. No one was allowed to turn the channel because in the morning was This Old House, which being a constant remodeller in the most unique of ways (there was an outlet built into the top of the house to hang lights on the old satellite dish) he had to watch. Then at dinner time Are You Being Served? was on... which was his favorite comedy. So that there would be no interruption between the two shows the channel was never changed all day.

What was on PBS during the interval between This Old House and Are You Being Served? you might ask? The answer is Doctor Who. Doctor Who with Tom Baker. Now, I'm a little kid at this point, like 6 or 7, and, not wanting to go outside, well, that left Doctor Who. This show freaked me out on a regular basis. I liked the goofy man in the blue box who saved the day, but what I most remember is him being chased in gravel pits by evil monsters, notably, the Cybermen. Now to add to this story the crucial point. My grandparents farm had two big fields and then hills. In these hills were located two quarries. As in gravel pits. As in, the place where The Doctor always encountered his enemies. So after spending an afternoon seeing a show that clearly stated the dangers of gravel pits, my grandfather would tell me to go out and play in a gravel pit (in the photo above, the gravel pit is out of sight to the right). Now, at this point, you might be thinking that, oh, he didn't mean to scare me, this isn't his way. WRONG! This is just the sadistic kind of humor he had, which I have indeed inherited. This is a man who would hid peas in his blind cat's food to watch him sort it out in a little line on the side, laughing the whole time. So in other words, he knew exactly what he was doing.

Whenever I went to the lower gravel pit my parents always wondered why there was one section I would never go into. Well, in fairness, I spent so much time learning about the dangers of gravel pits, I knew that that little curve in the valley created by the gravel was where the Cybermen lived. I knew it in my heart. Years later, when Doctor Who had fallen out of my life, now that my grandfather had switched to watching ABC on Sundays, I would still get chills thinking about that lower pit. In fact, it wasn't until I started watching Doctor Who again that I remembered that this was the reason I was scared. I had totally forgotten about Cyberman and the goofy guy in the blue box, but I remember expecting to see a flash of silver if I where to turn round that corner. I still find it odd that years later I would look back on this time as a defining time in my life, despite the fear. Was a born to be a Whovian? Or did my grandfather make me into one?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

50 Years of Doctor Who

I think it can go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: I love Doctor Who. While I haven't been around nearly as long as The Doctor, growing up in the late 70s and early 80s thanks to PBS The Doctor has always been a part of my life. I can literally not think of a time when I didn't know who he was. Therefore, I couldn't miss this opportunity, this once in a lifetime chance to celebrate Doctor Who. The Doctor has been gracing our lives for fifty years! Just think of that, that's half a century. Sure, half a century is no time at all to a Time Lord claiming to be around 1200 years old. But to us mere mortals, us humans, this is a long time and our love for him just seems to grow and grow. Will this show go for another fifty years? I can't tell you, my guess would be no, but if it does, I plan on being around to see it happen. But for now, let us revel, let us take delight in the fact that he has been here this long and shows no sign of retiring the TARDIS.

So how does one mark fifty years? Isn't silver something something like the wedding equivalent? Yeah, you can really see I pay attention... or maybe it's diamonds... nope, totally wrong, it's gold. Moving on... for me, the marking of this occasion will be much watching of Doctor Who, much reading of Doctor Who, much thinking about Doctor Who and then, most likely, much crying once Matt Smith leaves (damn you Moffat). As for how I'm celebrating on my blog... well, I'll reminisce about The Doctor and my life, then I'm doing the Doctor Who Book Reading Challenge, you'll have to wait for an explanation if you don't know what it is, then I'll talk about how the Whoverse has expanded beyond just The Doctor and, seeing as this goes right into the holidays, crafty me (as in glue and yarn, not manically laughing and rubbing my hands) will show you how to do the holidays up in true Doctor Who fashion, on the cheap. So sit back, grab your sonic screwdriver, bundle up in an appropriate Tom Baker scarf, and let's get this party started*!  

*It starts with prizes!

The Prize:
A copy of Chicks Dig Time Lords edited by Lynne Thomas and Tara O'Shea which is a MUST for any Whovian, and in particular, any girl out there who loves The Doctor. Essay authors range from my most favorite of authors, Mary Robinette Kowal (she's a fan of the 9th), to Captain Jack's own sister, Carole Barrowman, who is pretty kick ass awesome in her own right.

The Rules:
1. Open to EVERYONE (for clarification, this means international too), just because you haven't been following me all along doesn't mean you don't matter, you just get more entries and prizes if you prove you love me by following.

2. Please make sure I have a way to contact you if your name is drawn, either your blogger profile or a link to your website/blog or you could even include your email address with your comment(s) or email me.

3. Contest ends Tuesday, December 31st at 11:59PM CST (yes, I know it's New Year's Eve, so get those entries in early)

4. How to enter: Just comment in the space below!

5. And for those addicted to getting extra entries:

  • +1 for answering the question: Who is YOUR Doctor (as in 1-11, I guess you can have 12, though that would be a little silly now wouldn't it)?
  • +2 for becoming a follower
  • +10 if you are already a follower
  • +10 for each time you advertise this contest - blog post, sidebar, twitter (please @eliza_lefebvre), etc. (but you only get credit for the first post, so tweet all you like, and I thank you for it, but you'll only get the +10 once). Also please leave a link! There's a handy code on the side for your sidebars!
  • +25 if you comment on any of the posts during the Doctor Who Celebration, with something other than "I hope I win" or a variation thereof.
Good luck!

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