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review 2018-07-31 04:25
Saying Good-bye to the Twelfth Doctor All Over Again
Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time - Paul Cornell

He sent a wide-beam sonic pulse at exactly the right frequency all the way down that path between him and the tower, and was rewarded with a very satisfying series of detonations. The First Doctor skipped about at every fireball that burst into the sky. Finally, the smoke and flame died down. ‘There you go, all done.’

 

'There could have been one right underneath us!’

 

‘Yeah, but it’s not the kind of mistake you have to live with.' That was the other thing about his centuries of additional experience, he was a little more willing to roll the dice. Or perhaps it was just at this point he didn’t give a damn. What the hell, his clothes were already ruined, might as well mess up the bodywork too. It wasn’t like he was planning to trade the old thing in.


Okay...if you want to read me ramble on a bit about the place of these Target novelizations of Doctor Who episodes to me as a young'un, you can see my post about Doctor Who: Christmas Invasion by Jenny T. Colgan, one of the other new releases in this old and cherished line. Which means we can just cut to the chase about this one, right?

 

Cornell was tasked with bringing the Twelfth Doctor's last Christmas Special to the page -- which includes the challenge of dealing with his regeneration in to the Thirteenth Doctor, which is no small feat. But we'll get to that in a bit. First, he's got to deal with the challenge of having two Doctors meet up -- and the extra fun of telling a story where two characters share the same name (and are sort of the same person, but not really), while not confusing the reader.

 

Cornell did a great job balancing the two Doctors, both going through some doubts about regenerating; while dealing with the question of Bill's identity and the soldier from World War I. One thing I appreciated more in the book than in the original episode was the Doctor's consternation when he realized that there wasn't actually a bad guy to fight for a change. Not sure what else to say, really.

 

Now, the regeneration? Wow. He nailed that one, and got me absolutely misty-eyed in the process. I could hear Capaldi very clearly as I read these pages -- the narrative added just the right amount of extra depth without taking away any of the original script/performance. It wasn't my favorite part of the episode, but it was my favorite part of the book -- he hit all the notes perfectly. The aside about the pears -- great, I loved that so much. And then -- a nice little bit with Thirteen, which has got to be so hard because we don't know anything about her, so even those few seconds of screen-time with her have to be tougher than usual to capture. These few paragraphs, incidentally, made Cornell "the first person to have written for all the Doctors" -- which is just cool.

 

In Twice Upon a Time Cornell has captured the letter and the spirit of the original episode, added some nice new bits and pieces for the fans and generally told a great story in a way that made you feel you hadn't watched it already. This is what these books should shoot for, and Cornell (no surprise to anyone who's read any of his previous fiction) hit his target.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/30/doctor-who-twice-upon-a-time-by-paul-cornell-saying-good-bye-to-the-twelfth-doctor-all-over-again
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review 2018-07-17 03:11
Colgan Captures the 10th Doctor's First Adventure Perfectly in this adaptation.
Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion - Jenny Colgan

Back in High School, I remember attending an author event -- some SF author that I'd never heard of (you probably haven't either), but what did I care? He was an actual SF/Fantasy/Horror writer visiting Idaho (it happens a little more now, but back then I hadn't thought it was possible). He discussed getting to write a novelization of a major Horror film thinking, "How hard can it be? Take the script, throw in some adjectives and verbs -- maybe a few adverbs and you're done!" He then went on to talk about all the things he learned about how hard it was taking a script of whatever quality and turning it into something that works in an entirely different medium. That's really stuck with me for some reason, and I've always respected anyone who can pull it off well (and even those who get close to doing it well).

 

Before I babble on too much, Colgan is one who can pull it off pretty well.I discovered Doctor Who a couple of years before I saw that unnamed SF author, but didn't get to watch much of it, mostly because I lived in about the only place in the States where PBS didn't air old ones. I saw a few Sylvester McCoy episodes (mostly due to the magic of VHS and a friend who lived somewhere with a better PBS affiliate). Other than that, it was the small paperback novelizations of episodes. I owned a few, the same friend owned a few more -- so I read those. A lot. Then comes Russel T. Davies, Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, etc. and all was better. But I still remembered those novels as being Doctor Who to me.

 

So when they announced that they were re-launching that series this year, I got excited. I own them all, but I've only found time to read one -- I started with Jenny T. Colgan, because I know how Paul Cornell writes, and I assume I'll love his -- ditto for Davies and Moffat. Besides, The Christmas Invasion is one of my favorite episodes ever.

I won't bother with describing the plot much -- you know it, or you should. On the heels of regenerating into the 10th Doctor, Rose brings a mostly unconscious stranger into her mother's apartment to recuperate. At the same time, an alien invasion starts -- the British government -- under the direction of Harriet Jones, MP -- and the Torchwood project tries to respond, but really is pining all their hopes on the resident of the TARDIS.

 

Colgan does a great job bringing the episode to life -- I could see the thing playing out in my mind. But she doesn't just do that -- she adds a nice little touch of her own here and there. Expands on some things and whatnot. In general, she just brings out what was there and expands on it. Adds a few spices to an already good dish to enhance the flavors. Colgan absolutely nails Rose's inner turmoil about who this stranger in her old friend's body is.

 

I particularly enjoyed reading the scene where the Doctor emerges from the TARDIS, finally awake and ready to resume being Earth's protector -- between Rose's reaction, the already great dialogue, and Colgan's capturing the essence of Tennant's (and everyone else's) performances in her prose. Seriously, I've read that scene three times. I never do that.

 

I'm not particularly crazy about the little addition she made to Harriet Jones' downfall, but I get it. I'm not scandalized by it or anything, I just didn't think it was necessary. Other than that, I appreciate everything Colgan did to put her stamp on this story.

 

If the rest of these books are as good, I'm going to be very glad to read them, and hope that there are more to come soon.

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review 2018-07-09 13:22
Insidious and disquieting horror. Great evil characters, a very satisfying ending.
Doctor Perry - Kirsten McKenzie

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank Rosie Amber (check here if you would like to have your book reviewed) and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel, that I freely chose to review.

I read and reviewed Kirsten McKenzie’s book Painted a while back and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, so when I heard about her new novel, and after reading the description, I knew I should read it.

Although the topic is quite different, there are many similarities between this story and the author’s previous incursion into the horror genre. The setting is not quite as important as the old house was in Painted, but Rose Haven, the retirement home where much of the action takes place, plays a central role in the story. This home, which had previously been a motel, has not much to recommend it, other than being cheap. There are a few sympathetic members of staff, but mostly, from the director to the nursing and auxiliary staff, people are in it for what they can get, try to do as little as possible, and some are downright dangerous. Caring professionals they are not, that’s for sure. What comes across more than anything is how dehumanised and dehumanising a place it is, but there are also gothic elements to it, particularly the doctor’s lab, that seems to have come right out of Frankenstein or Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The novel also has a timeless feel, as there is talk about television and the news, but no mention of social media or modern technology, and the action is set in the recent past, or in a parallel time-frame, similar but not quite the same as our present. Even with the outdoors scenes and the many settings, the novel manages to create a sense of claustrophobia that makes readers feel uneasy as if they were also trapped and caught up in the conspiracy.

I found this novel much more plot-driven than the previous one. The cast of characters is much larger here (there is a list at the end, which is quite useful), and it is not always easy to keep them separate, as some of them don’t have major roles, and sometimes the only difference between them might be their degree of nastiness or their specific bad habits (drug use, thieving, violence…). Some characters we don’t know well enough to be able to make our minds up about, like the police officers or some of Dr Perry’s patients. There are not many truly sympathetic characters, and even those (like Elijah and Sulia) show a certain degree of moral ambiguity that makes the novel much more interesting and realistic in my opinion. The book is full of characters that show psychopathic tendencies, and its shining star is Doctor Perry. I’ll try not to reveal any spoilers, but from the cover of the book and the description, I think anybody reading the book will know who the main baddie is (as I said, he’s not alone, but he is in a league of his own). He is a fascinating character, and we learn more and more about him as we read, although there’s enough left to readers’ imagination to keep him alive in our minds for a long time. Oh, there are two other characters that are quite high up in the malevolent league, but I’ll let you discover them yourselves. (I love them!)

The author uses the same peculiar point of view she used in Painted to narrate the story. The novel is written in the third person, from the point of view of most of the characters, from the residents in the hospital to the receptionist, and of course, the doctor, while also having moments when we are told things from an outside observer’s perspective (it is not a third-person omniscient POV but it is not a third-person limited point of view either, but a combination of the two), and that increases the intrigue and adds to the novel rhythm and pacing. There is head-hopping, as a chapter can be experienced through several different characters, and I recommend paying attention to all the details, although the main characters are very distinct and their points of view easy to tell apart. The mystery, in this case, is not who the guilty party is (that is evident from the beginning) but what exactly is happening and who the next victim will be. And also, how it will all end. In case you’re wondering, and although I won’t give you any specifics, I enjoyed the ending.

There are great descriptions of places, characters’ thoughts, and their sensations (including those due to chronic illness, which are portrayed in a realistic and accurate way), and also of some of the ‘supernatural’ (I can’t be more precise not to ruin the surprise) processes that take place. There is more gore in this novel than in the previous one, and although it is not extreme, I would not recommend it to people who are hypersensitive and have a vivid imagination unless they like horror. If you can easily “feel the pain” of the characters, this could be torture.

Another fascinating novel by Kirsten McKenzie, and one that will make readers think beyond the plot to related subjects (elderly abuse, unethical behaviours by caring professionals…). Great evil characters and a very satisfying ending. I recommend it to readers of horror who enjoy a gothic touch, and to those who prefer their horror ambiguous, insidious, and disquieting.

(Don’t miss the mention of a real orphanage in Florida and the link to donate to their important cause).

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review 2018-07-06 13:12
Nope!
Avengers (2018-) #1 - Jason Aaron,Ed McGuinness

I wanted to see what Jason Aaron would do with Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes version.)   So far they are not working well as a group.   And by that I mean the dynamics don't work. 

 

Also, I still feel rage at Marvel for not realizing how much gas lighting they did during Secret Empire.   Every.  Time.   I.  See.  Cap. 

 

Every time. 

 

Anyway, yeah, didn't work for me.   I got this for free with Marvel Insider, and I was curious, but I can't see myself continuing.

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