I'll admit I was initially enthusiastic about the idea of continuing Buffy the Vampire Slayer in comics, especially since Joss Whedon was going to beI'll admit I was initially enthusiastic about the idea of continuing Buffy the Vampire Slayer in comics, especially since Joss Whedon was going to be involved in the project. (And more than just cashing the checks, I assumed).
Season eight was good, season nine wandered a bit too much and I was at a bit of a crossroads on whether or not I felt like I wanted or needed to read season ten. But my local library got in the first two collected editions of season ten, so I decided to give it a try.
And, for the most part, it's a lot more enjoyable than season nine was -- at least so far. With magic restored to the world -- via a new magical system -- the Scooby gang is contending with trying to be grown ups all while learning the new rules of the game. Seems there's a big book that you can write the rules into and they become reality. Buffy takes it on herself to guard this book and I have a feeling that the book will come to play a big role in the season arc that will eventually unfold in the comics.
Meanwhile, there are consequences to restoring the magic. Dawn has been reset to a certain point before she and Xander were a couple. And while she loves him, she doesn't love him in that way, leading to all kinds of awkwardness and angst. And yet, as with much of the awkwardness and angst of the Buffy-verse, it feels earned and authentic. In fact, it almost feels like something Joss himself would have dreamed up as a way to keep our couple apart but give us hope they'll get back together soon.
Also on tap are a return to Sunnydale and Andrew trying to resurrect a certain dead character that I won't give away. Nicholas Brendan even steps in to co-write an issue that has Spike and Xander falling under the spell of a couple of sirens. I'd almost say this is my favorite installment from the first dozen or so issues of season ten, if only because it pulls away from the heavy arc that the other issues are carrying (even a standalone with Harmony and Clem making a guest appearance gets caught up in arc stuff in its final few pages, including one very interesting reveal).
Overall, I like season ten a bit more than I thought I would. Reading this collection, I still yearn to go back and dust off my DVDs and maybe revisit Sunnydale again. ...more
After a two year hiatus, the Target audio range returned earlier this year and I couldn't have been more delighted at the selection of titles headed tAfter a two year hiatus, the Target audio range returned earlier this year and I couldn't have been more delighted at the selection of titles headed to audiobook. Among them was the fondly remembered adaptation of what I consider to be one of the better fourth Doctor stories, Full Circle.
Andrew Smith (a fan of the show) wrote the script for the story and went on to adapt his story from the printed page. I remembered reading this one on a weekend retreat with my family during quiet times and devouring every last page -- even though I was already fairly familiar with the story. Smith's novelization came in an era when the Target novels were beginning to be more than just straight forward adaptations of what we saw on screen. And while Smith's re-telling of the story is fairly faithful to what we saw on screen, he includes a couple of items and scenes that didn't make it into the broadcast version -- either for time or because Doctor Who couldn't necessarily make these sequences come alive on its budget.
Answering a summons to Gallifrey, the TARDIS passes through a mysterious distortion in space. To the scanner, it appears the Doctor and Romana have arrived in the outer wilderness of Gallifrey. Stepping outside the time and space machine, it appears they've arrived somewhere entirely different.
The world is Alazarius -- and it's one that is about to undergo a change. But instead of the usual political revolution or stopping an evil force, this time around the Doctor and Romana will battle the forces of evolution and stagnation. The two come into conflict during mistfall, a time when the planet Alazarius and its lifeforms begin to undergo a change.
I have to admit when I heard that Full Circle was getting the audiobook treatment, I was fairly delighted. Smith makes the most of the standard Target book page count, inserting in background scenes and character moments that enhance the story and give you a new appreciation of this four-part serial. Smith does a nice job of keeping things moving and I found myself getting lost in the story again as I listened to it.
Part of this credit goes to narrator Matthew Waterhouse, who was introduced to the Doctor Who canon as Adric in this story. Waterhouse has shown himself to be a solid narrator in the past with his reading of The Visitation. If that one was good, this one is better, partially because the novel is a richer one that the fairly straight-forward adaptation of The Visitation.
Full Circle was a delight to hear again. It made me want to dust off the DVD of the original story and watch it again, mentally inserting some of the scenes from the novel into the televised version. It's releases like this one that remind me just how much I enjoyed the Target novels back in the day and just how much fun these audiobooks can be as a journey down memory lane....more
Annie Black seems to have the perfect life -- a wonderful husband and three children. But when her oldest son is involved in a car wreck, secrets fromAnnie Black seems to have the perfect life -- a wonderful husband and three children. But when her oldest son is involved in a car wreck, secrets from Annie's past rear their ugly head, threatening to destroy the life she's built.
Told as a letter written from Annie to her comatose son A Small Indiscretion chronicles Annie's life then and now and the mistakes she made along the way. At nineteen, Annie impulsively decides to head to Europe to find herself. What she finds instead is a job, working for an older, married man named Malcolm. A large part of her job involves going to the pub each evening with Malcolm and hearing about his wife and their unusual marriage -- seems that the wife is having an affair with an artist named Patrick. Before long, Annie is drawn into this world and finds herself sleeping with Patrick all while fending off Malcolm's growing advances.
Twenty years later, Annie has created a seemingly perfect life. Married to a doctor and running her own business, Annie seems to have it all. Until it all comes crashing down on her when an old face from the past emerges and her secrets begin to come to light.
I'll give A Small Indiscretion credit for coming up with an interesting little twist that I didn't necessarily see coming (I thought I'd figured out exactly what the titular indiscretion was long before Annie is ready or willing to reveal it to us) but that is nicely set-up and paid off during the course of the novel. The letter writing style is nicely done, allowing us to see inside some of Annie's thought processes but only giving us as much or as little as she's willing or able to give at the time.
And yet I couldn't help but come away from the novel feeling a bit disappointed overall. The first and final thirds of the book are utterly riveting as we get to know Annie, her family and the situation. It's in the middle third that I felt like things were treading water a bit, with Annie dropping hint after hint things but not offering anything more to her son and readers. I found myself growing frustrated with the middle section of the book wishing that Annie would tell us something that we didn't already know already. Maybe that's the point or what Jan Ellison is trying to have readers feel in this section.
Overall, the novel is a good one. I've seen the marketing materials compare it to The Girl on the Train which I think is a bit unfair to both books. This one is uniquely different and doesn't have quite the same central, driving mystery Train does.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review....more
This new comic series takes a page from the original PhotoNovels, but instead of re-telling classic original series stories, it offers up new adventurThis new comic series takes a page from the original PhotoNovels, but instead of re-telling classic original series stories, it offers up new adventures from the original five year mission. Using screen captures from the original episodes (and even The Motion Picture in a short story that’s included here) and the magic of PhotoShop, writer Johnny Bryne and his team have created a series of new stories. The first three issues were collected in volume I and Volume II is set to hit shelves later this year.
These were fun, at first. I read the first couple of issues and found myself enjoying them a great deal. It was a fun novelty idea and it made me nostalgic for my early days in Trek fandom when I eagerly checked the PhotoNovels out of my local library.
But with this collection, I find that the bloom is off the rose a bit. Part of that comes down to the stories which I felt were more miss than hit this time around. The first installment with Harry Mudd felt like it was trying too hard -- up to and including Captain Tracy returning to the storyline after the events of “The Omega Glory.” The basic plot is that Tracy and Mudd stumble across a device that allows a person to become a virtual clone of another person. Tracy forces Mudd to use it to make himself become a duplicate of Kirk (because we’ve never seen that before!). The Enterprise finds Mudd and begins to unravel what happened. The seams of the story start to show through early and there is some jarringly PhotoShopped images late in the story with a Harry Mudd moustache slapped onto Captain KIrk .
The next installment involves an alien ship from Spock’s past and includes flashbacks to his time on the Enterprise before the current five year mission. The linking piece (besides Spock) is Number One, who comes back to the Enterprise as part of the mission. Of the three, this is the weakest of the stories and the one where I felt my patience was running thinnest. Part of it could be the limited number of stills that creative team has to pull from for PIke and his crew. But a larger part of it was that there were some obviously PhotoShop created backgrounds for the alien ship during the PIke era that looked out of place in the story.
The final story is set right after the Doomsday Machine and answers the question of who would create such a thing. Putting aside that Peter David did a far better job of tying this thread to the Borg in his novel Vendetta two decades ago, this story suffered from the art work. Not the screen captures of the crew, though if you look closely you can see that they have sampled season one Kirk and season two Kirk within a few panels of each other. No, again it’s the added artwork -- in this case a science vessel and then the alien we meet whose people created the Doomsday Machine. The difference between screen captures and the created artwork is just a bit too obvious and took me out of the story too much.
The most satisfying story in the collection is a short one that looks at Spock on Vulcan before the events of TMP. This short story finds Spock having to let go of T’Pring and his past, paying homage to the recently deceased Adrian Martel. At six pages, this is the most effective of the stories and the best realized from an artistic standpoint.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Hitchhiking his way across the country, Reacher ends up in Maine near the Canadian border. Picked up by tourists from Canada, Reacher shares a ride anHitchhiking his way across the country, Reacher ends up in Maine near the Canadian border. Picked up by tourists from Canada, Reacher shares a ride and a meal with them (in a diner, because where else would Jack Reacher have a meal?!?), he parts ways with them. Only to find a few hours later that the trails are closed and the military police are out in force.
Reacher is drawn into the mystery of what happened to the hikers and what the military police are so intent on hiding from the world at large.
As far as Reacher stories go, this one is a perfectly entertaining enough one. Honestly, it felt a lot more complete and enjoyable that the last longer Reacher novel in the series. It doesn't overstay its welcome and it tells an effective little mystery.
One of the better Reacher novellas that Lee Child has published in the last few years. ...more
In many ways Emily Maguire's Taming the Beast feels like a companion novel to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. But instead of getting inside the head of a cIn many ways Emily Maguire's Taming the Beast feels like a companion novel to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. But instead of getting inside the head of a charming liar like Humbert, Maguire examines how an illicit romance between a teacher and student can impact the lives of just about every one involved.
At the age of fourteen, Sarah Chalke is seduced by her English teacher. At first it's their love of words and literature that brings them together, but one afternoon things become heated and the two begin an illicit (and illegal) romance, including lots of after school encounters. Sarah keeps the affair a secret from everyone but her best friend, Jaime, who is secretly in love with Sarah. Things end with Mr. Carr's takes a new job at a different school and decides to try and work things out with his wife, who has become aware of the affair.
The emotional and psychological impact of the affair follows Sarah for her entire life, influencing every relationship and decision she has after that. Despite having an interest and drive to further her education, Sarah is estranged from her conservative family and forced to make it on her own in the world, taking on a string of short-term lovers, none of whom satisfy her needs in quite the same way Mr. Carr did. Sarah even strings Jaime along over the years, including during Jaime's engagement, marriage and becoming a father. In many ways, Jaime sees himself as the only thing keeping Sarah from going off the deep end and maybe he can save her if he simply loves her enough.
Then one day, Mr. Carr wanders back into Sarah's life and things go from bad to worse. Controlling and manipulative, Carr wants to dictate to Sarah all aspects of her life.
Taming the Beast is a book full of fascinating characters, none of them extremely likable. Each character is blinded by self-destructive tendencies and an ability to justify their behavior to themselves as "doing the right thing." In many ways, this is a novel about addictions and self-delusion. It makes for a fascinating read for the first half of the book, but once Mr. Carr shows back up things take a left turn and the novel never quite recovers. It makes a bunch of likably unlikable characters completely unlikeable and I found myself becoming frustrated with the bad choices everyone was making. Maybe that's what Maguire is going for in the novel. I'm not one who feels that every book should have a "happy ending." But it still feels like this one just misses the mark when it comes to sticking the landing. ...more
After sitting on my bookshelf for three years (and multiple attempts to make it past the first twenty or so pages), I finally decided it was time to gAfter sitting on my bookshelf for three years (and multiple attempts to make it past the first twenty or so pages), I finally decided it was time to give J.K. Rowling's first non-Potter book The Casual Vacancy my full attention. I'd read and enjoyed her two mystery novels and hoped that maybe having read those, I wouldn't be looking for bits of magic and fantasy in the novel. I will also admit I was motivated by curiosity about the mini-series and I'm enough of a bibliophile that I don't generally like to watch the adaptation without reading the book first.
And so, I was determined to read The Casual Vacancy. And I did.
And I didn't actually care for it all that much.
Now before all the Rowling fans get up in arms and start heading up the mountain with pitchforks and torches, let me say that I felt the novel had an interesting starting point and the first third of it actually held my attention and had my intrigued to see what would come next. When council member Barry Fairbrother passes away suddenly, he leaves an opening on the council and some gaps in the lives of his family and the people he touched. I'll admit that early on, I was intrigued by the lives of the various people that Barry's life touched and how his death had an impact on them. But somewhere around the middle third of the book, I started to lose track of characters, their relationships to each other and their general story arc. Part of this I blame on an excessive number of characters in the book and part of I blame on Rowling for not really having much for them to do in the middle third of the book but tread water. It all means that by the final third of the novel, I'd lost most of my interest in most of the characters and couldn't help but wonder if Rowling couldn't or shouldn't have wrapped things up sooner. Or perhaps had a better editor. I have a feeling if this one hadn't had the name J.K. Rowling on the manuscript it might have got a tighter editing and been a better book.
As it stands, Rowling's first post-Potter offering is a bit of a disappointment. Thankfully, she's shown off some skills in the mystery genre since this one hit the shelves. ...more
Have you ever heard the saying that if you meet a jerk in the morning, you just ran into a jerk. But if you keep encountering jerks all day, maybe it'Have you ever heard the saying that if you meet a jerk in the morning, you just ran into a jerk. But if you keep encountering jerks all day, maybe it's you who is the jerk.
Thomas Covenant is a jerk. Or at least as far as I can tell he is. Contracting leprosy, Covenant is sent to away for six months to for counselling and treatment. Upon returning home, he finds his wife has left him and taken their son with her. His community wants nothing to do with him, even to the point that complete strangers are paying his bills so he won't have to come into town to conduct his business. None of this sits well with Thomas, who decides that he'll walk into town and pay his phone bill, only to find that he gets hit by a car and sent into a fantasy world.
This fantasy world finds Thomas given the task of delivering a message. It also has Thomas encounter a young woman named Lena who shows him who the dirt of this world can help cure him of his leprosy. He repays this kindness and the kindness of her family's village by proving himself virile again and forcing himself upon Lena. Luckily for Thomas, the village has some kind of kindness pact that doesn't allow her family to seek out vengeance on him, but instead forces his mother to lead him to the people to whom he is supposed to deliver his message.
And so they set out on ye olde fantasy quest. Thankfully, Donelson decides not to describe every leaf on every tree, but there are still some long stretches in the middle third of this book where not much happens but Thomas and his guide go wandering around.
Fantasy novels with a less than noble and unlikeable protagonist aren't exactly a new thing. And yet somehow Thomas Covenant comes across as more unlikeable than the entire case of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire And Ice series. Donaldson seems to have little interest in creating any redeeming qualities in Covenant or at least allowing readers to understand why he's such a jerk to begin with. That makes it difficult to want to spend much time with him -- and all of this is before the infamous rape scene. Reading the book I can see why it's so polarizing among fans of the genre.
While not being the worst book I've ever read, it's certainly up there among the less enjoyable novels I've read in quite a while.
There are more entries in this series, but it's highly unlikely I am going to pick up any of them. ...more