While some of my peers were reading the Sweet Valley High or R.L. Stine's novels, I spent my teenage years reading Stephen King and Target adaptationsWhile some of my peers were reading the Sweet Valley High or R.L. Stine's novels, I spent my teenage years reading Stephen King and Target adaptations of classic Doctor Who stories. One of the most prolific authors of the Who range was former script-editor Terrance Dicks. If you take a step back and look at the sheer volume of novels published by Dicks during this era, it's staggering -- to the point that I had an image of poor Terrance chained to a desk, fed only bread and water and forced to hammer out adaptation after adaptation on his typewriter.
Visiting some of Dicks' output again thanks to BBC Audio has only underlined again just what Dicks was able to do for an entire generation of Doctor Who fans -- keep the series alive and fresh in our imaginations when we couldn't see all the stories we wanted to again, much less collect them to sit our shelves. The fact that these novels are still readable and enjoyable today is a testament to just how good Dicks was.
"The Claws of Axos" comes from an era when Dicks wasn't given as much time to adapt serials as he had in the bookends of his Doctor Who adapting career. "Claws" is pretty much a straight-forward adaptation of the original script with some nifty descriptions and one or two embellishments thrown in for good measure (for example, at the end when the serial ends with the Doctor's chagrin at being "a galactic yo-yo," Dicks allows the action to continue onward with everyone saying their farewells and the Doctor rushing out to ensure the UNIT guys don't jostle the TARDIS).
And while the TV version of "Axos" is hampered by the budget of the time, there are no such restrictions for the printed page. Dicks allows the readers to see a larger view of the world under attack from Axos, including a sparkling moment when the trap of Axonite is sprung all across the globe. The Axons are a bit more threatening on the printed page and their alliance with the Master makes a bit more sense. Even the Doctor's apparent betrayal of his friends in the fourth episode is given a bigger element of mystery and questioning if the Doctor is just playing along or if he really intends to throw Earth to the Axons and escape.
Even some of the battles between the Axons and UNIT seem bigger than they could or would on a television budget of the time.
It's one of the reasons I think that the story was so fondly loved by fans before it his VHS in the 90's. It was one of those stories that the televised version just couldn't quite live up to the picture that Dicks painted on our minds eye.
The structure of the original script by Bob Baker and Dave Martin also helps in adapting it for print. The Bristol Boys (as they were known) structured their stories to have a big revelation or turning point come every five or so minutes, building up to the cliffhanger each 25 or so minutes. These build-ups create some nice chapter breaks for Dicks and help make "Axos" a real page turner. And yet, there are still some faults to the story -- both on screen and on the printed page.
One of the biggest is that the audience knows Axos is up to no good from the early stages of episode two, but it takes UNIT and company a long time to catch up to the fact. Dicks tries to make this work a bit better on the printed page by playing up the Doctor's overriding desire to escape his exile on Earth using the Axonite. He also wisely has Jo become a bit suspicious his motivations earlier in the story so she's not nearly as blind-sided by his decision to join forces with the Master late in novel (or episode four on screens).
And yet for all of this, I can't necessarily say that "Axos" is one of my favorite stories or adaptations of that era.
But it still made for a nice little piece of mind bubble-gum while I was pounding out miles on the jogging trail this year. Richard Franklin's reading of the story is well done. Franklin attempts to get into the character of some of the regulars from the era with varying degrees of success. He creates an entirely different voice and tone for Axos and the Axons that works well here. At times, Axos gets a bit too excited in its reaction to events, but for the most part Franklin does a solid job with the material.
As with many of the Target novels, "The Claws of Axos" left me wanting to dust off my DVD copy of the original story and visit it again. I may just have to do that......more
Since the beginning of the Target audio book range, there have been a couple of the classic Doctor Who adaptations that I really wanted to see get theSince the beginning of the Target audio book range, there have been a couple of the classic Doctor Who adaptations that I really wanted to see get the audio treatment. So imagine my delight when the range included several of those titles last year, including my all-time favorite Doctor Who serial and one of my favorite adaptations, "The Curse of Fenric."
The Doctor and Ace arrive in World War II at classified naval base where one of the first computers is being used to break the German coded ciphers. But with the arrival of a group of Russians, it soon becomes clear that a bigger game is being played -- one that the Doctor has known was coming ever since he met Ace.
To number the ways I love "Fenric" could take all the characters I have left in this review and it wouldn't even crack the surface. While the storytelling in the late 80's wasn't quite as serialized as we see in many of the television series today, seasons 25 and 26 did insert a loose character arc for Ace.
The novelization comes from the end of the Target line when writers were given more than 126 or so pages to adapt the story, allowing original script-writer Ian Briggs to expand the story a bit and give us some more shading. As with the televised version, the key word is "undercurrents" (a word you'll hear/read a lot in the book) as Ace grows up and begins to understand what being an adult is about. Briggs fills in the history of various characters, painting a more sympathetic version of Ms. Hardacre and offering some shades of nuance to Dr. Judson and Commander Millington. Also included is a document that details the original battle between the Doctor and Fenric. This was one of the things I loved when I first read this adaptation close to twenty years ago and it still brought a big, silly grin to my face as I heard it again.
I'm not sure what it says about me as a discerning literary person that one of my favorite novels is a printed adaptation of one of my favorite television shows. But listening to this one again, I found myself becoming less and less concerned with that and instead enjoying the story Briggs is relating here. There's a lot of room on my favorites shelf for a wide variety of literary offerings -- and while this one won't necessarily be taught in an overview of great world literature, that doesn't mean it doesn't connect with me and speak to me in the same way some of the best literature in the world does (and if we're being honest here, in a way that Lord of the Flies never really did).
The audio version is performed by Terry Molloy, who is best known for his on-screen portrayal of Davros in several late 80's serials. Molloy's reading of this one is well done and his attempts to mimic certain characters speech patterns works well. It helps that he's got strong material to start with, but I'll say that Molloy's performance made me enjoy the story even more over the course of the four plus hours I spent revisiting this one.
I'm sure there are people who can and will point out flaws, defects and plot holes in the original tv version and the novel. This fan isn't one of them.
Simply put, I loved it then and I love it now....more
As Big Finish celebrates its 200th main Doctor Who range release, I decided to take a look back on some of the old favorites and see if they still helAs Big Finish celebrates its 200th main Doctor Who range release, I decided to take a look back on some of the old favorites and see if they still held up.
Intended as the Cybermen version of "Genesis of the Daleks," "Spare Parts" is one of the more revered stories from Big Finish. And yet as I listened, I couldn't recall when or if I'd heard this one before. I feel like I should have heard it when it first came out, but I couldn't recall many details beyond superficial ones.
Arriving on Mondas in the last days before the population became fully Cyber-ized, the fifth Doctor and Nyssa find themselves embroiled in the politics that helped created the earliest Cybermen. Listening to "Spare Parts," I couldn't help but feel that Marc Platt has crafted a superb prelude to "The Tenth Planet" and that I should dust off that DVD and visit the classic serial again.
What could have been a simple imitation of "Genesis of the Daleks" becomes something a bit deeper and different. There's no one unifying voice for the Cybermen as there was with the Daleks. Instead we see various members of the population and how they react to the developments taking place within their society and on their world. Platt allows us a bit of time to get invested and interested in these characters before he begins changing them into what will eventually become the Cybermen. (If you've seen the new series, there are certain sequences from the story that were used in the return of the Cybermen there, though I'd argue they are more effective here).
Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton are on the top of their game in this one. I'd argue that the story is a richer one for Nyssa than much of what we got in the classic series. But that's probably because the classic series was less character driven than the Big Finish stories or the new series are. Both actors rise to the occasion, though it's interesting to hear the Doctor shuffle to the sidelines for a bit of the story instead of the companion.
There are even some twists and turns along the way to really keep things interesting. I'll admit that Platt caught me by surprise with one of the cliffhangers and its implications. My reaction to the cliffhanger (which I went in unaware of it) leads me to believe I didn't listen to this one when it first came out because I can't see myself forgetting it.
The big question surrounding this one is -- can it really live up to the hype?
I'll go out and say yes, yes it can. There's a reason this one is so well regarded and it still shows through. Even with the new series delivering some stellar stories, this is one of the more engaging and memorable Doctor Who stories I've had the pleasure of experiencing.
The only negative is the realization of The Committee. The voice used sounds a bit too much like the Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica and that makes some of their long bits of dialogue difficult to listen to and concentrate on. ...more
Christopher H. Bidmead's adaptation of his third (and final) classic Doctor Who script, "Frontios" restores parts of the script that were dropped eithChristopher H. Bidmead's adaptation of his third (and final) classic Doctor Who script, "Frontios" restores parts of the script that were dropped either due to budget constrnts or they were considered too dark at the time, making this seem like a glimpse of what could have been on our screens.
Bidmead's "Frontios" novelization was one of those Target novelizations I missed in my days of collecting them (as a younger viewer, the story wasn't among my favorites). So coming to it now as an older reader/listener, I must admit I was intrigued by the small flourishes that the adaptation indulges in. (It's also interesting to have the DVD now with the extended and deleted scenes and get some idea of where those scenes would go in the context of the story).
The TARDIS crew arrive on the edge of the Time Lord's knowledge of time and space, drug down to one of the last colonies of humans by a mysterious force. In trying to not become too involved in these later days of humanity, the Doctor is drawn into the mystery of the colony on Frontios. Seems that the colony has been enduring attacks from the skies for thirty plus years with no signs of the invaders coming to follow-up. In the course of one attack, the TARDIS is destroyed, stranding the TARDIS crew in this time and place possibly forever.
As far as cliffhangers go, the TARDIS' destruction is a pretty effective one. It's also a memorable one that was, to my younger self, the only real highlight of the show. As I've gotten older, I've started to appreciate the story a bit more -- and Bidmead's adaptation has helped me see what could have been if they'd had the budget for it. The Tractators who come across on screen as a bit silly are given a bit more menace in the novel. There's also the grim detail that the mining machine used the monsters of the week uses human parts to tunnel under the ground in Frontios as opposed to having it be all mechanical.
And yet for all of this, the same weaknesses that I see in the story are still on display here. Namely, it's a bit oddly paced at times. There are times when it feels a bit too much like the old Doctor Who cliche of wandering down a corridor and biding our time as we wait for something to happen.
As with his previous two scripts, Bidmead reads his own adaptation for the audiobook. And once again, he does a solid enough job, though it's not quite as memorable as some of the other readers we've had in the past couple of months. ...more
One of things you have to admire about Stephen King is how he is willing to keep pushing the boundaries of the publishing world. He's not just contentOne of things you have to admire about Stephen King is how he is willing to keep pushing the boundaries of the publishing world. He's not just content to churn out best-seller after best-seller in hard-cover format, but instead he's willing to take a chance or two along the way to challenge not only himself but his readers. Some of them work very well (The Green Mile) and some have withered on the vine (The Vine).
King has also been releasing stories via audiobooks for the past dozen or so years and every once in a while he puts out an exclusive audio only story. (King has admitted he's a an audio reader himself). Sometimes it's a fairly straight-forward short story and then other times it's something like Drunken Fireworks.
And while the story will be part of his upcoming short story collection, King said in an interview that this one was meant to be listened to.
It certainly shows.
Thanks to an insurance and lottery windfall, Alden McCausland and his mother spend the warmest months of the year at their three-room cabin on Lake Abenaki. One fourth of July, Alden and his mother light up a few sparklers and other fireworks, setting off an inadvertent contest with their neighbors across the lake, the Massimos. Each summer, Alden tries to find the next big thing to shoot off, only to have the Massimo family ready to counter them with something just a bit better. It would all be in good fun for the two families if Alden and his mother didn't feel like one member of their family was taunting them with his trumpet.
Listening to the story, I couldn't help but be reminded of the first season of True Detective and the brilliant interview sequences. From the start, we know that something has clearly gone awry this this year's celebration but it takes Alden a good hour to set things up and give us the background before we get to exactly what happened.
Drunken Fireworks doesn't have a supernatural twist or element to it like many of King's stories do. Instead what it gives us is King having a damn good time, crafting a story that is meant to be heard more than it is read. Part of what makes the story work is the voice he gives Alden. The voice is brought to life by Tim Sample, who does some great work here.
As a solid, entertaining short story Drunken Fireworks succeeds on just about every level. It's also made me that much more curious and enthusiastic about King's upcoming short story collection. If this one is just a sample of what we're going to get there, we are in for a treat. ...more
Cassie's mother taught her a lot of things -- including how to read people. But Cassie's ability is far more than just figuring out clues about a persCassie's mother taught her a lot of things -- including how to read people. But Cassie's ability is far more than just figuring out clues about a person in order to give them a psychic reading. She has a natural ability as a profiler -- something the FBI is aware of and wants to take advantage of.
Recruited to a team of fellow teens with natural abilities (Dean can profile, Lea can read if you're lying, Sloane is gifted in reciting facts and figures and Michael can really, really read people), Cassie is promised that she'll get to enhance her abilities and maybe use the FBI resources to finally track down who killed her mother.
The world that Jennifer Lynn Barnes has created for her The Naturals series is a fascinating one. The idea that there would be five teens who would come together as a kind of Criminal Minds for the younger set works very well. It also creates a very bizarre household where there are body outlines in the swimming pool, a test lab in the basement and a library full of cold cases for Cassie to train on.
When The Naturals sticks its procedural aspects, it works very well. I'll give Barnes a lot of credit -- she was able to put in enough red herrings as to who the central villain of this novel was to keep me guessing (wrongly as it turns out) over the entire run of the book.
It's when The Naturals gives us the young adult trope of a love triangle and a conflicted girl trying to choose between two competing guys that I found myself rolling my eyes and wanting to fast forward the audio book. Dean and Michael both engage in a contest to try and woe Cassie and she's clearly torn between the two. But as I listened to the audio version of this book, I couldn't help but wonder why these two guys were so into. Beyond the mystery surrounding her mother, there really isn't a lot of detail given about Cassie. There's not much reason given to why the guys are so in love with her other than she's our narrator and entry point into this world.
At times, I found myself thinking that a book told from Sloane or Lia's point of view might be a bit more interesting.
I suppose I should just be thanking my lucky stars that there are no sparkly vampires or misunderstood mythical creatures lurking in these pages.
And while Cassie may lack the depth I was hoping for, I will admit that Barnes creates enough of a backstory for Michael and Dean that we can see why Cassie is torn between them. Both offer positives and negative reasons why Cassie could or should choose one or the other.
Luckily Barnes keeps the angst to a minimum, concentrating more on the team and the serial killer who may be targeting Cassie. The final few chapters and the big reveal are all well earned by Barnes and the questions about if and how this ties into the fate of Cassie's mother are intriguing enough.
They're intriguing enough that despite my eye-rolling at the love triangle, I'm willing and interested enough to give the next installment in this series a try. ...more
The first couple of chapters of Paul S. Kemp's Lords of the Sith reminded me of my childhood, playing in the yard with my Star Wars action figures. IThe first couple of chapters of Paul S. Kemp's Lords of the Sith reminded me of my childhood, playing in the yard with my Star Wars action figures. I could create a wide variety of scenarios and battles among the action figures, including making Darth Vader the baddest bad guy in all the universe.
The bookends of this one make Vader (and to a lesser extend Emperor Palpatine) just that. Set in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, this story establishes Vader as a complete and total bad-ass. In the opening chapter, Vader uses his ship to kamikaze another after he's ejected to board the ship and then takes out an entire crew of 24 with just his lightsaber and the Force. At this point, I was fully hooked, wondering if and how this book couple top that. But I was ready to give it the chance to do so.
Unfortunately, the book peaks early and never quite gets back to that point of pure awesomeness that felt like it was straight out of my childhood back yard. Instead, we get a lot of characters who are part of the growing rebellion that we have little or no connection with in the movies. I understand from looking at other reviews that there is a connect to the animated universe, but I've not had the time to delve as deeply into that part of a galaxy far, far away as I'd like.
Vader and the Emperor travel to an outer world that is the source of the rebellion. The rebel leaders plan to try to take our Vader and the Emperor. Things do not go as planned.
It's not that this isn't interesting so much as I felt like for a book titled Lords of the Sith, we don't spend a lot of time with Vader and the Emperor.
I wanted to love this one, but ended up only really liking it. It has some great moments, but overall it's not my favorite Star Wars tie-in novel since the books rebooted.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
It's rare to find a Doctor Who novel that will allow us inside the mind of the Doctor. More often than not, we'll see into the mind of his companionsIt's rare to find a Doctor Who novel that will allow us inside the mind of the Doctor. More often than not, we'll see into the mind of his companions and those around him.
That makes a story like "The Deadly Assassin" difficult to adapt for the printed page since it's the only story in the classic canon that doesn't feature a companion for the Doctor. It's also a story whose third episode features a lot of action pieces and very little in the way of dialogue.
Because of this, Terrance Dicks' attempt to adapt the classic Robert Holmes four-parter falls a bit short. I can't help but wonder if Dicks had produced this story at the beginning or the end of his association with the Target range if he might have expanded some things a bit or made some different storytelling choices. As it is, this comes from the middle period when Dicks rarely had time to do more than adapt the shooting script for the printed page. He didn't have time to add the flourishes that made novels like "The Day of the Daleks" so memorable.
With two mysterious adversaries for the Doctor to battle (one works for the other), Dicks decides to give away the identity of one earlier in the novel than the televised story does. I can't help but wonder if it might have been better to let readers in on who is working for the Master rather than the Master himself. It's disappointing that one of the more pivotal and controversial stories in the classic series run only gets a novelization that's par for the course. Dicks tries his best, but this is a story that works better visually (at least the sections inside the Matrix do) than they do on the printed page.
Thankfully, the audio version features a reading by Geoffrey Beavers, the only actor who played the Master in the classic series who is still with us. Beavers reading is, as always, a delight and he brings a lot to the read, especially when called upon to read lines for the Master. You can just hear Beavers voice dripping with contempt as he channels the Master in this one. I can't help but wonder why this line hasn't seen fit to let Beavers read a story or two that doesn't feature the Master. I think he'd be great. Why not let him read "Day of the Daleks" -- one of the truly great entries from the Target line that hasn't yet been adapted for audio. ...more
Don't fall in love with a Vargas. That's the vow of the Hernandez sisters after two of Jude's older sisters had their hearts broken by a Vargas brotheDon't fall in love with a Vargas. That's the vow of the Hernandez sisters after two of Jude's older sisters had their hearts broken by a Vargas brother. One got stood up at prom and another saw an engagement called off just weeks before the wedding. Each of the four Hernandez sisters swore and signed an oath that they wouldn't get involved with a Vargas boy.
But when her father develops early onset Alzheimer's, Jude wants to defy the doctor and experts by helping her father restore his Harley. And that means hiring a Emilio Vargas to work on the bike. Jude hopes she can keep his identity hidden from her sisters and parents, who may not react well to having Emilio spending time in their barn, working with their father and putting the old motorcycle back together. But as her father slowly disappears into his illness and parts of his life vanish from his memory, Jude finds herself isolated from her old friends and touched by Emilio's sensitivity and connection not only to the Harley but to her father as well.
Could it be that Emilio is the apple that fell far away from the family tree? Or will he eventually revert to family type and break Jude's heart?
Sarah Ockler's The Book of Broken Hearts attempts to answer those questions. Listening to Jude's struggle between her growing feelings for Emilio and her determined denial that the Alzheimer's will claim her father's memories drives a great deal of the first half of this novel. Jude's quiet desperation to prove the experts wrong is as touching as it is heartbreaking. As a reader/listener, I quickly realized that Jude's pinning her hopes that by restoring the Harley, she might restore her father was totally misguided but completely understandable. Add in that Jude's old friends don't quite know how to react to her father's new condition and begin distancing themselves from her while Emilio is patient with her father and doesn't flinch when her father has an episode and you've got a recipe for the good girl falling for the bad boy, who may not be as bad as he appears.
Ockler creates a fully realized, realistic world for her teenage romance. It's interesting to hear that one of Jude's sisters is a reader for a publishing house. This gives Ockler (via Jude) the chance to comment on how real life romance rarely involves supernatural elements or sparkly vampires. The occasional jabs at those areas of the young adult shelf are welcome.
But what really drives the story is our first person narrator Jude. Her conflict between what she sees as her loyalty to her family and her growing attraction to Emilio helps drive much of the novel. It's not an easy road to romance for these two, but the obstacles (both real and imagined) feel realistic and earned. And while Ocker resolves some of the threads in Jude's story, not everything is conveniently wrapped up by the time we get to the end of the final disc. This part of Jude's journey is complete, but that doesn't mean everything is neatly wrapped up with a bow.
Ockler's story is an entertaining one. I listen to audio books while working out and I found this one worked as a good distraction from how hard I was working and, at times, I looked forward to my next work out so I could see how the story of Jude and her family would progress. ...more
Have you ever had one of those weeks when a couple of the books you're reading seem to be related even if they're from two different sections of the bHave you ever had one of those weeks when a couple of the books you're reading seem to be related even if they're from two different sections of the bookstore or library?
In the case of Every Fifteen Minutes and To All the Boys I've Loved, it's not a thematic similarity the books share, but instead my growing frustration with the main characters of each novel. Reading/listening to both books, I kept having to resist the urge to want to reach into the novel and tell the protagonist to wake up and smell the coffee already!
With Every Fifteen Minutes this urge comes about a third of the way into the novel, after Lisa Scottoline has spent a hundred or so pages setting up the story and situation of Dr. Eric Parrish. Separated from his wife, Parrish is the head of an elite psychiatric department who also has his own private practice. Parish is introduced to a young man whose grandmother is dying and who has other issues due to his lack of any parental figures. Parrish takes the boy on as a patient and quickly becomes concerned about his mental health and the boy's apparent obsession with a young girl he tutors as part of his job.
The hook of Every Fifteen Minutes is that every couple of chapters, a first-person, self-admitted sociopath shows up to remind us that he or she is working to destroy Parrish's life. And just as you reach the middle third of the novel, the unnamed sociopath begins to pull the rug out from Parrish, slowly manipulating him into making decisions that can and would ruin his personal and professional lives. It's as this point I began to get increasingly frustrated with Parrish, if only because he makes a series of well-intentioned decisions that aren't necessarily the most practical. For example, when the young boy goes missing after his grandmother passes away, Eric throws caution to the wind to try and find the boy, fearing he's suicidal. Eric goes so far as to track down the girl who is the focus of his patients obsession, stalking her at her job and then following her home to try and catch a glimpse of his patient. This doesn't end well when bad things happen to the girl and Eric suddenly becomes the prime suspect in the case.
There are moments when I can see what Scottoline is trying to do by putting Eric in a situation where his professional ethics can't be violated -- even if it means damning himself by his silence. And yet I still couldn't help but feel that Eric brought a lot of his trouble on himself through some of his decisions and not thinking through how this would all look to someone on the outside.
Interestingly, Scottoline includes a few nice red herrings before the final revelation of who the sociopath really is. I had a guess and it turned out to be off-base (though I'd argue that if Scottoline had chosen to go the route I thought she was going, there was enough ground work in place to make it seem like a reasonable choice within the structure of the story).
The first third of the novel hooked me, the middle third had me rolling my eyes at the moves being made by Eric and the final third had me guessing and then second guessing the identity of our main antagonist. That's not necessarily a bad way to spend four hundred or so pages. If Every Fifteen Minutes were a movie, it'd be one of those popcorn thrillers that everyone talked about for a few weeks. As a summer read, it works very well -- all frustration with the main characters aside.
On the other side of the coin, there's Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Love Before.
Now, I've made little or no secret that when I run, I sometimes enjoy a good young adult fiction audio book. The reason for this is that these books can be a bit lighter and don't always require that I pay as close attention for details as I might for other novels. And sometimes a little teenage angst can be a nice way to pound out those miles as I run.
With To All The Boys, I found the more time I spent with LaraJean, the less I liked her and the situation she finds herself in. The middle of three sisters, LaraJean has never had a boyfriend before. She's had guys she loves and when she felt she was over them, she wrote them a letter and then put into a hat box. LaraJean never intended these letters to see the light of day, much less be read by the five guys she once loved.
One was her good friend from junior high, Peter K and another was the boy next door, Josh, who dated her older sister Margo for several years, before the two separated when Margo goes to Scotland for college. LaraJean begins her junior year with the knowledge that someone has mailed the letters to the one-time objects of her affection. She decides to avoid Josh (hard to do since they are good friends and he lives next door) while Peter K decides the two should take advantage of her once feelings by creating a fake relationship to make certain people jealous (in his case, his ex-girlfriend who is the queen of school and in LaraJean's case, maybe Josh might get jealous). The two even sign a contract, laying out what is expected from each side in this pretend relationship.
If you can't see where this is all headed, odds are you haven't seen a romantic comedy in the last dozen or so years. And while I don't mind a book that treads the same ground that others have in the past, I do mind when the book doesn't really try to do much new with the material. This even boils down the thread that Peter and Josh don't like each other and that the lady's man Peter might have more to him than meets the eyes while Josh may not be the white knight that LaraJean has built him up to be in her mind.
Where my frustration began to set in with LaraJean and the story as a whole is that little, if any consideration is given to the fact that Josh was her older sister's boyfriend for a significant amount of time. Neither LaraJean nor Josh come out looking good when they're both willing to consider a relationship with each other or when they admit they were attracted to each other before Margo entered the picture. Couple this with the revelation mid-way through the book that Margo and Josh slept together and I kept looking around for Barney Stinson to show up and give Josh a lesson in the Bro Code. Or for someone to realize that maybe trying to be romantically involved with sisters isn't going to be a good idea.
Another frustration comes from LaraJean and her lack of maturity. It's hard to believe she's a junior in high school when, at times, it feels like she's acting like someone in middle school. I can see what Jenny Han is trying to do with making her a bit more sheltered and having Margo be the one who had to grow up quickly and sheltering her sisters from certain things. But I still found myself scratching my head at times at just how LaraJean was behaving and relating to the world. I also kept thinking that it was fortunate that Peter isn't the bad boy his reputation suggests because a guy like that could do a real number on LaraJean.
The audio version of the book may not have helped things here. Maybe hearing the performance by Laura Knight Keating as LaraJean took me out of things a bit -- or maybe it made LaraJean seem whiner than might on the printed page. It's nothing against the performance, but this could be why I felt LaraJean came across as younger than she really is.
Of course, a lot of my frustration could have been dealt with if I felt like we could a satisfactory ending to things. I don't feel like this happened and instead we're left with an emotional cliffhanger to lead into the next book. Whether or not I'm going to spent more time with LaraJean remains to be seen. After listening to her story all week, I feel like I'm invested enough to see if everything at I'm not sure that spending more time with these characters right now would be a good thing. ...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
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