Thursday, March 17, 2016

My two favorite things: A Review of The Salvation of Doctor Who

This was a great little book! Of course, I'm biased on two counts: I'm a huge Doctor Who fan and a total theology nerd. So to see the two together in one book...that fact alone made me very happy.

Matt Rawle uses Doctor Who, mainly New Who, to illustrate a number of fundamental theological points. I'm Catholic and I can tell you, the theological issues discussed here were so basic, it was no problem that the author is a Methodist pastor. I give this book my seal-of-approval for fellow Catholics who are weary of reading theological books by Protestants.

I did think of connections that he didn't make. Also, I did think some of the connections he made were a bit of a stretch. But none of that was bad enough to make me dislike the book.

It was a good call of the author to concentrate mainly on New Who, although I could see some Old Who fans being disappointed. Concentrating on New Who makes the book more accessible to a wider audience. People like me who were introduced to Doctor Who through the new run are more familiar with New Who than Old Who.

I do have a bit of a confession. Since I wasn't reading this book as part of a small group, I didn't read the questions in the back so I don't have an opinion on those. I live in Upstate NY, so if anyone is doing a small group study up here, let me know. I'm game.

I was given the opportunity to read this book through my membership in Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Abingdon Press for publishing such an awesome little book. This book is available now at your favorite bookseller.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Twisty-turny Doctor Who Fun: Royal Blood

Of the three Doctor Who books I have reviewed recently, this has been my favorite.

1) It has the all-important voice of the characters. When you can hear the voices of the actors in your head speaking just as the author writes, you know you are in for a good time.

2) It has a reasonable plot. Yeah, Doctor Who doesn't have to make rational sense, but it's always helpful when it does. When the author takes you from point A to point B in a logical progression, you can just sit and relax and enjoy the story.

3) It does have fun plot twists, though. Like the ambassador with a secret and the thing you're searching for being right beside you the entire time. It makes for a very entertaining read.

There is a bit of a surprise environmental message at the very end, but it seems as if the author was conscious of it and successfully minimized the preachy-ness. I might not have even caught it if I didn't read preachy blogs for a living.

All in all, a very good book. If one is to read all of the newly released "Glamour Chronicles," I'd recommend this one first since it is the best and it doesn't completely revolve around the Glamour like the other two do. It offers a good, brief introduction to this enormously powerful weapon that is the subject of the other two books.

I got the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review through my membership in Blogging for Books. I highly recommend this program if you want to get some books free in exchange for writing about them.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation

Or, should I say "big bust"? No, I didn't dislike it that much. As someone who knew River Song long before I read this book, I kept thinking that, 'God, Bernice is a rip-off," but I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, Big Bang Generation features a pyramid appearing in Sydney out of nowhere. It stars the Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi and some older, lesser known characters out of the Doctor Who universe, Bernice Summerfield and her gang.

The book was entertaining enough. It definitely wasn't the best Doctor Who novel I've read. Definitely not the best I've read from this author, Gary Russell. It kept me reading to the end, but at times that push was quite tenuous.

Why? Again, I know and love River Song. I'm relatively new to Who, so this Bernice Summerfield character seemed to be an obnoxious rip-off. I know now that Bernice pre-dates River. I know how Bernice fans felt when River came along.

The first 90 pages were a chore for someone who is not familiar with Bernice and frankly doesn't care for her. Yes, 90 pages, that's almost half the book, was spent on background before the pyramid ever even landed in Sydney. If you love Bernice, you might like the background. If not, it makes for a difficult read.

[Spoiler alert]: I would have preferred if the story started with the Bavarian couple hunting in the woods. It would have been a bit of a fun mystery. And I guess that statement wasn't much of a spoiler at all. Oh, well.

I'd give this book 3 stars out of 5. Not horrible, but definitely not the best. It's difficult to read a book where the first 90 pages are just annoying and you really don't like one of the characters.

I got to read this book through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I love Blogging for Books, they offer an excellent opportunity for bloggers like me to get free books to blog about.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Deep Time with Doctor Who and Trevor Baxendale

Looking for something fun to read? Look no further. Deep Time by Trevor Baxendale is as fun as they come.

Like any good Doctor Who novel, it reads like an episode and you can hear the actors' voices through the dialogue. There is plenty of mystery and your typical amount of 'wtf?' moments. What do I mean? Well, mystery first: you discover very gradually everything you need to know about the the main alien, the Phaeron. Second, 'wtf?': several things are not explained or just ignored. For example, just about everything about a character named Marco. As is true for many aspects of the Doctor Who universe, you just have to take some things at face value and not think too much.

These 'wtf?' moments do not detract from the story and the fun journey to another world with the Doctor. A taste:

'What the hell was this place?' Hobbo wondered aloud, her voice echoing backwards and forwards along the tunnel.

The Doctor either didn't hear her or didn't bother to reply. He strode confidently ahead, using his sonic screwdriver to light the way. The cool green glow revealed what seemed to be an intricate cave system carved out by unknown hands. The circular walls and floor were oddly smooth and etched with obscure markings. 

Hobbo hurried to keep up. 'This is gettin' weirder all the time. Do you know where we're even goin'?'

'I'm trying to home in on the signal from my TARDIS.' The Doctor paused to fiddle with the screwdriver for a minute and then held it up to his ear, listening carefully. 'It's getting weaker all the time, even though we seem to be getting closer. I don't understand...'
'This place is like a maze,' said Jem. 

A blue glow appeared around the corner, and the now familiar robed shape stepped into view. Jem watched in barely concealed awe as the birdlike face turned slowly within the shadow of its hood to look directly at her. Nictitating eyelids flicked across the dark eyes and then the wraith vanished.

'We must keep on,' Jem said. 'Go deeper into the caves. The Phaeron are waiting for us. They're calling us!'

Tell me you don't want to know what 'wraith' is. Even if you don't know what 'nictitating' means.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from my membership in Blogging for Books. Blogging for Books is awesome! Join them today!

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Drosten's Curse: Yet Another Doctor Who Review

This book was so much fun! I enjoyed every second of it and I'm sure you will to.

The Drosten's Curse is a classic Doctor Who novel featuring the Fourth Doctor and people being eaten alive at a golf course. The mystery is thick and complex. How are all of these people being eaten alive? Who are these creepy twins that seem to appear out of nowhere? Why is their sand in the pool at the resort's spa? Why is the TARDIS going nuts? Who is this weirdo who is so utterly obsessed with the receptionist? And, speaking of obsession, who is this old lady who is obsessed with octopuses and doesn't seem to remember anything?

I am not terribly familiar with the Old Who, so this book was delightfully packed with great little nuggets and facts I'd never heard of. The Fourth Doctor shines in all of his goofy glory. I found myself laughing in surprise as I learned so much stuff about him in so little time.

The novel is a great blend of humor and suspense that will keep you up reading late into the night. All of your questions are eventually answered, but not necessarily in a way you could expect. No one (well, almost no one) and nothing (well, almost nothing) is as it seems at this golf course, hotel and spa.

I got the opportunity to read this book through my membership in Blogging for Books. If you want to get free books so you can blog about them, they are the place to go.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood: A Review

I will re-post this review on my regular blog next week, I promise. But in the meantime, I wanted to get my thoughts out on paper here.

Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood is an 11 week Bible study for mothers of all stages, from newborn to college. Based on a personal study written by a mom for another mom-to-be, this book is definitely applicable for the whole season of motherhood and it is full of probing questions to help you with your journey with God.

My only complaints are:

1) It seems as if every day's readings and questions are really stinking long for a busy mom. It took me at least 15 minutes to complete most of the readings. To the book's credit, they do print the Bible verses right in the study so you don't have to look everything up. Also, except for the probing personal application questions, the questions are easy with short answers. I just question if I would have time for this every Monday-Friday. (Btw, there are only 5 study days a week. Which does help give you the weekend to reflect and spend those 15 minutes with the kids.)

2) I would give this book a yellow, caution light for Catholics, especially Catholics who are not firm in their faith. This book is unapologetically evangelical, so the Reformation's "solas," sola fide (faith alone) and sola scriptura (Bible alone), are all over this study. The Church does not teach either "sola." I make it a yellow light, because there is still much good in this study and there is plenty of overlap in Catholic and Evangelical thought.

Now to my praises:

1) It was great to see a systematic application of the fruits of the Spirit to the life of the mother.

2) She challenges the reader to be a better Christian and to put their life in correct order, putting God first.

3) There is a guide in the back for group study.

4) She addresses many of those mothering questions that you typically don't discuss with others, like the drive for perfection.

Balancing the concerns and the praises, I would give this book 4-ish stars.

I was able to review this book thanks to my membership in Blogging for Books. Thank you for the opportunity. Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood is available now in your favorite bookstore.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Doctor Who: Silhouette, A Review

I saw Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax on the cover and I knew I had to get this book! These characters are my favorites. In this book, they were depicted flawlessly. I love it when you can hear the characters speak in a book just like they do in the show. Overall, the writing was superb and the book was enjoyable, if you didn't think about it too much.

The book is almost ruined by the plot. Reading the blurb, you'd think the plot would be awesome. Not so much. You do need a pretty complete suspension of disbelief to accept some of the plot twists and the very point of this "most dangerous weapon" (to quote the blurb). Yeah, I know this is fiction, science fiction at that, but I expect my fiction to at least make logical sense if not in this world, than in the world of the book.

I'd still recommend this book to any Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax fans who are looking for a fix. Those characters are still awesome and are depicted in all of their glory. Just be prepared for a mental workout trying to make sense of the plot or making yourself not think about it.

I received this book in exchange for a review from Blogging for Books.