Sunday, August 30, 2015

Book Review of Doctor Who: The Drosten's Curse by A. L. Kennedy

The Drosten’s Curse is one of a series of books written about the Doctor Who British television series. The Doctor has been entertaining audiences on both sides of the pond for a long time. For those who don’t know, the show revolves around the adventures of a Time Lord only referred to as The Doctor. He travels the universe in his space ship/time machine called the Tardis that looks like an old fashioned police call box. He tends to like company and picks up plucky female human platonic companions along the way to share his adventures. (No sex please, we’re British.)

Early on, to solve the problem of an actor playing Doctor Who leaving the show, the writers devised a creative solution. The Doctor became a kind of immortal. If mortally wounded, he doesn’t actually die, but instead conveniently transforms his old body into the new actor. I know, it’s dumb, but it’s science fiction, so just go with it. This book details a new adventure of one of The Doctor’s from the 1970’s played by Tom Baker. There are generally two types of Doctor’s; grumpy and slightly mad. Tom Baker was one of the best of the slightly mad.

The Drosten’s Curse attempts to recreate the feel of a Baker episode, and to a large extent it succeeds. The action takes place in the British countryside in 1978 at the Fetch Brothers Golf Resort and Spa. People are mysteriously disappearing. The owner, an old woman named Julia Fetch, has an unnatural obsession with octopi and two unusual grandchildren who may not be as human as they seem. Why, what this story needs is a plucky heroine. Fortunately, she comes along in the form of Bryony Mailer, just the sort of person to help The Doctor discover what horror hides under the links.

Books like these are really no more than elevated fan fiction. As such, they should be as well-written as the original with an engaging story and interesting characters. The author does well with that. Her recreation of the Tom Baker Doctor Who captures much of the appealing lunacy of the original and the plucky heroine is, well, suitably plucky. The story has a nice couple of twists and fits The Doctor Who mold well.

The major problem with the book is dithering. Doctor Who television episodes are about an hour long and proceed at a brisk pace. The action is naturally condensed, but is usually meant to span less than a day. The TV writing is brisk, intelligent, with a certain amount of cheek. Much of that is seen in The Drosten’s Curse, but the dithering gets in the way. Yow, it drips from every page and every character. On television, you only have an hour to get your point across. Dithering is kept to a necessary minimum. Here, paragraphs are spent in characters wondering if they should do this, or that, or the other, or maybe something entirely different. Sheesh. Just get a move on, already.  Dithering constantly interrupts the flow of the plot and is a major annoyance. The book is 361 pages long. Take out the dithering and you’d have a tightly written 200 page story more reminiscent of the fun of the TV show.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Facebook Party Today Only! Chat with Authors and Enter to Win Prizes

Tuesday, August 25
11 am to 9 pm Eastern Time Only!

An all-day Facebook Party to celebrate twelve novels being re-released under the Amazon Encore online with the authors, learn about their books, and win loads of prizes!

Join the Party! Encore Facebook Party

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What did you miss at Pensacola's Comic Con?

Security was excellent. 

Dress was business casual.

No racism. All colors are accepted. Even blue.

Robot dogs are allowed to bring their human.

You may wear your squirrel as a hat.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Release Day Sale for Second Chance City by L. A. Kelley

Publisher's New Release Sale for Second Chance City by L. A. Kelley

Only $2.50 at Wild Rose Press on August, 7, 8, 9
Regular price $4.99 at Amazon

Comic books can be the death of you.

Officer Nate Hammond had no regrets staying in his hometown of Coldwater Bay. He had a good life and a promising future with the police department. Then a chance meeting with a girl from his past drags him into an extraordinary adventure.

Elizabeth Parish had a plan than never included a return to Coldwater Bay. Small town life held nothing but bittersweet memories of an unhappy home, yet why was she possessed by the strange obsession to return? Did it have something to do with that mysterious comic book or its equally secretive author? Or could the real reason be the boy she left many years ago?

Sucked into a deadly comic book universe Nate and Libby find themselves in Second Chance City, home of Refractor and a league of murderous adversaries. Can a knowledge of comic books, a half-hearted super-hero, misunderstood villains, science gone horribly awry, and a magical flashlight help them find a way home or will their second chance at happily-ever-after only end in in death?

The building was silent with the exception of a faint hum now emanating from the glow in the corner. Nate moved cautiously forward, shining the flashlight. “Debolt?” No one answered. “We’ll check the rest of the store…Libby?”
Libby had stepped from his side, her attention drawn elsewhere. She stood in front of the display stand filled with comic books. Her respiration sharply increased. “What is that?” she said. The eerie glow came directly from one of the books.
            Nate’s gaze widened. “I’ve no idea.” The glow began to fluctuate, pulsing with a bright green neon light.
            Libby squinted at the glare. She leaned in as if striving to discern the cover. “It’s the latest Refractor issue. Why is it doing that?” On and off, on and off, the hypnotic beat flashed.
            The light was oddly attractive. “It’s not some marketing gimmick?” Nate said.
“No way,” insisted Libby. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The tempo of the pulses increased, so did the hum. A little voice in Nate’s head bleated a warning. This isn’t normal. You should do something…do something…do something. His thoughts muddled with the incessant flash. The hand which had been resting on the gun, dropped to his side.
 Libby clutched the pencil light to her chest. As if drawn by an irresistible impulse, the other hand reached for the Refractor comic.
            Nate’s confusion vanished, shoved aside by a powerful protective urge. “Libby, don’t! It might be dangerous.” He grabbed her arm at the same time she touched the comic. For an instant, the world turned to green light.

Then total blackness enveloped them.

Buy Links
(sale price $2.50 until August 9): Wild Rose Press
(regular price $4.99): Amazon

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Book Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

Zach Lightman is a dreamer. He has no plans for the future other than to get through the last few months of high school and graduate. The teenager lives a lackluster life of dull routine, hoping for an indescribable something to give his life meaning.  Then one day he sees a spaceship outside his classroom window. Next thing you know Zach is recruited by a mysterious global organization to protect Earth from an alien invasion. World governments have been secretly training soldiers by the use of video games that mimic actual battlefield technology. One of the games is called Armada, and Zach just happens to be a top player.

Armada starts out surprisingly slow, the action doesn’t ramp up until the last two thirds of the novel. Meanwhile, the story is crammed with cultural references and video-game speak. If you don’t like sci-fy or have at least a passing interest in gaming then this book will bore you to tears. For those of us who’ve frittered away too many hours watching cheesy TV or playing video games the book also has few surprises. The plot will feel eerily familiar as if different parts of sci-fy venues had been strung together. As I read, I mentally connected plot points from old favorite books, TV, and movies. Yup, this theme comes from Star Wars...this twist comes from a Stargate episode...this is Star Trek...this is The Last Starfighter. It was actually kind of fun tying all the pieces together. That’s not to say the book is completely derivative or a total waste of time. It has the same appeal as summer superhero movies. You already know what’s coming, but you buy the ticket and order extra butter on the popcorn anyway.

The weakest part of the book is the characterization. You’ve met all these types before in dozens of different books and shows. Everyone has a role to play and doesn’t deviate; the misunderstood hero, the gamer dudes, the hacker chick who is (guess what?) beautiful, tattooed, snarky and drops the f bomb at every opportunity. Wow, I’ve never seen any of them before. No, wait, that’s my inner snarky hacker chick speaking. Yeah, unfortunately I’ve met them all before and they’re not any more interesting the hundredth time around.

Anyone who is a fan of the sci-fy genre can see the ending coming for the entire final third of the book. For that point alone, I didn’t find it particularly satisfying. It’s also pretty obvious who will live and who will die. The conclusion hints at a sequel. Again, no surprise. So does every other summer blockbuster.

Is this a terrible book?  No, but it isn’t terrific, either. It falls somewhere in between. A pleasant way to waste a few hours, but not interesting enough to look forward to more of Zach Lightman’s adventures.

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