Thursday, May 28, 2015

Book Review: Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot

     So, as I’m doing the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge, I notice one of the entries is “a book you picked based on the cover”. This is dangerous. This is dangerous, because I tend to be drawn to covers that have pretty dresses on them. In my experience, that generally leads to terrible, frustrating reading times. But, I sucked it up, because I noticed a Kindle deal, and the book had a pretty red Victorian dress on it. I’m fairly certain half of my love of Doctor Who comes from a shared joy of Victorian fashion. The fact that the BBC has all these period drama costumes lying around helps them with that.

"I think they're onto us."

     Anyways, be that as it may, I decided to read Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot. And, truly, the book started out with some promise. The main character, Abigail, is an Eastern girl, taking a trip out to Fort Laramie to visit her sister, who seemed out of sorts in her letters. An old widow across from her is talking her ear off and trying to set her up with the handsome soldier nearby. But Abigail will have none of that, because she’s almost mostly kind of engaged to a fellow teacher! Kind of. They haven’t made it official yet. See, here is problem number one: not a good knowledge of social mores. If I recall aright, the only times these “understandings” really took place was between wealthy families who were trying to hammer out the details of what sounds like very complex pre-nups. It’s doubtful this kind of hesitation to commitment would happen between two teachers who really only have themselves to please. (I could be completely wrong, but either way, it's being used as a ridiculous drama device.)

     The book really did sound promising, because a stage coach hold up happens! Quick, someone call Sheriff Dillon! The Lone Ranger! CHUCK NORRIS!

     Our soldier boy helps, and he does so by somehow managing to disarm the crook instead of just shooting him, to our heroine’s relief, and the confusion of the audience who are aware that shooting to maim can go very wrong quite easily if you miss. Abigail, it seems has some past trauma involving guns, but we only get bits of pieces of it even though the book is from her perspective.

     She arrives in Fort Laramie, and discovers that the soldier, Lieutenant Ethan Bowles, is friends with her brother-in-law, also a soldier stationed at the fort. However, what begins as a visit to make sure her pregnant sister is all right becomes complicated as she struggles to understand her sister’s tense marriage and tries to help a local “soiled dove” escape her bad circumstances while Ethan begins to realize that someone at the fort is in on the stage coach robberies.

     And see, that sounds genuinely interesting. Abigail could have been an interesting character, and honestly, Amanda Cabot doesn’t do too bad a job drawing her characters and giving them interesting arcs. Abigail is a middle sister and has moved around her whole life. It makes sense that she ignores her own personality in favor of a steady, quiet future. Ethan has been stuck in an emotionally abusive home most of his life. It makes sense that he wants to escape in any way, including through the army.

     But it goes downhill, because Cabot makes a few gaffes that are very hard to ignore.

     First, let’s talk about her handling of emotionally traumatic issues. This is the biggest problem I have with the book, so I’ll get that out of the way. Abigail is depicted as suffering from PTSD. Okay, no, she is said to not like the sound of guns, and to cringe at fireworks. Which makes sense, except that’s all that happens. Cabot doesn’t depict the real emotional problems that would come of this. It seems like she’s reciting a list of “how to have PTSD”. Abigail’s friend was killed in an accident with a gun when she was a child, and that would clearly affect her. It makes sense that she would be traumatized. But the only time it seems real is when the shooting of a rattlesnake in front of her triggers a flashback. It is then gotten over very quickly, and after talking out her troubles, she is fine and Ethan decides to help her overcome severe emotional trauma by teaching her to shoot a gun. Because that helps PTSD, you guys, totally. (Granted, slow exposure to triggers can help, but this wasn't "slow exposure to trigger". This was "HERE HAVE THIS EXPLODEY THING, IT WILL HELP YOU.")

This also happens to be the greatest comic ever written, in case you were wondering.

     This “quick fix to trauma” is carried over to Ethan. Ethan’s back story is that his parents were estranged from his grandfather, who thought Ethan’s father seduced the old man’s daughter for her money. When they both die, Ethan is left with the angry old man, who shows no love or caring for him. When his grandfather dies in the course of the book, Ethan has no real reaction to it, because his emotions toward the man have been dulled by years of abuse. Abigail insists that he must be feeling “shocked and numb” over the death of a loved one, despite already knowing what Ethan went through. It makes absolute sense that Ethan wouldn’t feel any real grief at the death of someone who treated him ill. Yes, we are supposed to forgive others, but sometimes that can take a while. Abigail’s blithe assurance that he’ll feel the grief soon enough is mirrored by the author’s own treatment of the subject.

     Amanda Cabot fixes it all by having Ethan remember that one time his grandfather did something nice for him. It’s okay! He really loved Ethan deep down! That will fix years of emotional and mental abuse, because the abuser wasn’t really that bad of a guy!

I'll just leave this here...

     ABUSE IS NOT EXCUSED BY SAYING THE PERSON DIDN’T MEAN IT. The pain and trauma from it is still there. And oh, while we’re on that…


     Oh, come on, you knew that was going to happen. It’s a Christian romance, they have to have a surprise come to Jesus moment.

     That is part of what magically gets rid of all Ethan’s troubles. He sits up with a poisoned dog trying to purge it of the poison, and prays, and remembers one time his grandfather sat up with him while he was sick, and suddenly it’s all okay. Look, Christ’s love and grace can help with all the problems of fallen humanity. But it’s not a magic pill. You will still have psychological scars that can only heal with time. Your troubles, your temptations, your pain, do not poof away the moment you “get saved”. The struggle against the fallen nature of the world is part of the Christian journey.

     So those are my big problems with the book. The blithe treatment of trauma and bad, bad theology.

     Some smaller problems: Ethan is shown to love Abigail when he gets irrationally jealous over her. And by “irrationally jealous” I mean “another male talked to her, once, and that made him mad”. While this isn’t carried on and on, can romance novels stop trying to claim that irrational jealousy is a sign of love? Look, jealousy can happen within romantic relationships, but when the character gets angry that their love interest is politely talking to someone of the opposite sex, that is silly. We have enough vapid novels doing this regularly. Stop adding to that.

     Also, the villains. The “secret villain” was so obvious from the beginning it was painful. The main antagonist was so two dimensional I expected her to start stroking a fluffy cat and laughing evilly at any moment. She vaguely complains about “men”, or something, but her motivations beyond “MONEY AND EVIL” are never given.

She really likes evil. LIKE, A LOT.

     I will add a positive note. It’s clear that Amanda Cabot does love the Wyoming landscape and has a deep interest in Fort Laramie. The scenic descriptions really pulled me in.

     But the next person who uses the trite phrase “heart as big as Wyoming” needs to be punched in the face. It was old ten years ago. Stop it.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

When I first heard this song, I had no idea it was based in reality. I thought it was simply a song about WWII. Then I read up about it, and the story caught my interest.

The Sullivan boys were from Waterloo, IA (about an hour and a half from where I live). All five joined the Navy, and they insisted that they serve together. Not even a year after they shipped out, their ship was torpedoed and all five died.

It had a lasting impact on the war. It brought about the Sole Survivor policy (which is the basis for Saving Private Ryan).

Their parents' reactions are what intrigued me. They could have been understandably enraged at the government and the military after suffering such enormous grief. Instead, they used their grief to encourage and uphold the war effort. They took something terrible and used it for something constructive.

Let's remember the Sullivans, as well as countless others who have died in war. Many people are uncomfortable with the military. But even in a conflict that, in hindsight, was a bad idea, the soldiers who died did so because they believed they were making a difference in this world. Let's not use this day to complain about the government or the military for the bad things that they have caused. Use it to remember those who were brave enough to put themselves in the line of fire for their country and the people that live in it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Quick Lit: May 2015: The Finals Slump

So, basically, it's finals time, which means less reading, more studying. However, there are a few books I want to mention briefly.


     I've already finished this book, actually. It was a quick read, and I have an hour lunch now. I can read a lot in one hour. do I say this? I chose this book because of the cover. Unfortunately I've had bad experiences in the past choosing a book because it has a pretty cover, and this was no exception. The book was light and fluffy, which was good for finals week reading, but unfortunately that translated to a rather vapid plot and writing style, as well as some other problems that I'll go into when I write a larger review. Let's just say, it was a stereotypical Christian romance novel, and I really wish Christian writers would actually think about what they're writing rather than focusing on hammering a moral into the plot.
     (Honestly, I'm sitting here without the book in front of me and I can barely remember what the plot was, much less the names of the characters. It was something to read at the moment but sadly forgettable.)


     My former coworkers at the library gave me an Amazon gift card as a going away present. Naturally, I immediately went home and ordered Lincoln Child's new book. I'm adding this to the Reading Challenge, but I'm not sure what I'll classify it as yet. I can add it to "favorite author", but I have another book in mind for that. I can also add it to "book published this year", but I'm really hoping it will wind up on the NYT bestseller list. Preston and Child's books, together and separate, tend to wind up there. And there's a Pendergast book coming up in November (SQUEE) that will wind up somewhere on the Reading Challenge too.
     I haven't started it yet. I still have a couple finals to go and I'd rather start it when I can focus on it fully. Needless to say, next Tuesday I'm starting on it. It's a haunted house mystery involving our favorite enigmalogist Jeremy Logan, who previously took on a mystical Arctic monster that may or may not have been Ithaqua and the spirit of an Egyptian queen who was feeling a bit surly. He also kind of helped when some people were trying to figure out why the Daleks dropped a bunch of dangerous super weapons into the Atlantic. (Look, that's my head canon for Deep Storm and there is nothing that will change that, nothing.) So, let's see how he handles something closer to home.


     Some more fluffy finals reading. It's not bad so far, but it's been rather typical of romance novels. I think after this I will have had my share of fluff. Perhaps I'll delve into some more Cthulhu mythos, because everyone loves Cthulhu.

     Speaking of, this is on my list. I'm gonna read the crap out of that book, if for no other reason than because it was written by Nostalgia Chick fans.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Erica Writes Poetry: Slant rhymes, how do they work?

The Grass is Always Greener

It was deep summer, and the corn grew tall
above the earth, with the green of stalks
glinting in the sun. It wasn't always this way.
A mere few months before, winter held sway
Over the land, with ice and snow
covering the fields, and the air was cold.
But that is past. Now we can relax,
Watching tractors plow paths
Through the fields, like an intricate dance,
While we wipe away sweat, and start to wish winter would take a chance.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hiatus; or, My Life Is Chaos

I want to find the Deviant who made this picture and shake their hand.

So. Chaos. I started a full time job. It involves answering lots of phones, and any person who is needed is in a meeting. But in all seriousness, I'm actually enjoying it. (I'm secretary at a center for adults with developmental disabilities, so due to the sensitive nature of the job I won't be saying exactly where or give many details about it.) Keeping busy makes the day go faster.

However, along with starting a new job, I am also in the middle of finals. So far, finals have been: 1.) Drive out to QC to take final, only to discover when professor said it would be available he didn't mean literally that day, because the campus was closed, and 2.) Scramble around trying to get tests proctored, discover one test doesn't need to be but another test, which said it had to be taken on campus and the professor insisting the campus is closed this Saturday despite the website clearly stating otherwise, doesn't need to be done on campus and trying to get that test proctored as well, and also working up courage to submit poems to a magazine, because that is more difficult than taking an actual poetry test, and 3.) Reading funny things on the Internet instead of, you know, studying.

Also, we have a stray cat who is insisting she is actually our cat, and she appears to be bringing her boyfriends around now, and I expect the basement will be full of kittens in no time.

I have taken a couple poems down from the blog as I will be submitting them, but there is one scheduled poem coming up in which I attempt slant rhymes without sounding like a desperate pop song writer.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Erica Writes Poetry: I Am A Technobane

They said we could write about whatever we wanted, and I wrote about my computer breaking.

An Ending

It stops and starts
The little circle goes round and round as I tap my fingers impatiently against the desk.
I glance at the clock, and listen to the whirring and clicking inside the computer.
This was not how I meant to spend my morning.
Impatience gets the best of me.
I hit escape, and nothing happens.
The whole screen freezes, and I sit there, dumbfounded.
A curse tears from my mouth, and I hit escape several more times
The whirring clicking continues.
I get up
Storm off
Making sure my footsteps rattle the windows
Come back with another cup of coffee.
No hard disk found
Computer cannot boot.
I drop my head to the desk and finally surrender.
Looks like it’s time for a new computer.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NuWho Reviews: The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, and Boom Town

     Russell T. Davis just spent a couple episodes punching us repeatedly in the feels. Now it’s time for him to completely terrify us!

The Empty Child

     A Mysterious Cylinder is flying through the Time Vortex. The Doctor and Rose follow it all the way to World War II, where the Blitz is on and a small child in a gas mask keeps walking around asking people if they are his mummy, and the Doctor gets a strange call on the phone outside the TARDIS, which isn’t actually hooked up, where the little boy also asks if he is his mummy. A girl named Nancy appears and warns the Doctor away.

     Rose, meanwhile, has somehow become entangled on the rope from a barrage balloon, and is now dangling in mid-air in a t-shirt plastered with the British flag while Germans are bombing things. Great!

Hold on and think of England!

     Lucky for Rose, Captain Jack Harkness spots her and rescues her using a tractor beam from a Chula warship he is piloting. This is presumably supposed to make absolute sense. While Rose and Jack get their flirt on, the Doctor follows Nancy and a group of children to a house abandoned during the raid, where they are eating the food that was left out. After trolling a while, Gas Mask arrives again, following Nancy whose brother has died. She tells the Doctor not to let the gas-masked boy touch him, because he will turn into the same thing. She also knows that the cylinder that fell from the sky is connected to the little boy.

     While this is going on, Rose discovers that Captain Jack is a former time agent who now has something interesting to sell. Rose pretends to be a time agent in turn, and says she’ll need to consult with the Doctor. They find him at a hospital near the cylinder crashed, where Doctor Constantine is caring for patients with…unusual symptoms. See…their faces have started morphing into gas masks…and the first patient that showed the symptoms was Nancy’s brother Jaime.

     With that, Doctor Constantine and the other patients morph and corner the trio, all asking for their mummy, while Jaime finally finds Nancy…


     YOU GUYS THIS EPISODE TERRIFIED ME. SERIOUSLY. It’s relentlessly creepy, and set with the backdrop of the London Blitz, where everything is dark and bombs are exploding everywhere, the atmosphere is perfect. Also, the visuals for the transformation is horrifying. You can hear their skulls cracking as they morph! It also introduced the delightful Captain Jack, who I wish would show up again. Alas, he seems to be relegated to the Ninth and Tenth Doctor eras. (I haven’t seen Torchwood yet. That’s on the list.) This is super-creepy, and the follow up is just as amazing. (Incidentally, Colin Baker says it’s the best Doctor Who story ever. And because Colin Baker is awesome, I immediately believe him.)

The Doctor Dances

     The Doctor has an idea, you guys. He figures, all these people are infected by Jaime, why not pretend to be an angry parent? He sends Jaime to his room. Downside? They are standing in Jaime’s room. Forethought, Doctor. Forethought.


     Luckily, Captain Jack manages to teleport them all back to his ship. While the Doctor takes advantage of the advanced healing on the ship, nanogenes, Jack explains what happened to him: he decided to leave the Time Agency after he discovered he had two years of missing memories, which does not sound like the start of a Slender Man vlog at all.

     Planetside, Nancy has warned the other children away and is captured trying to reach the crash site. Despite noticing their comrade behave oddly and ask about his mummy, they still leave her locked up with him, because of course they do. When our trio arrives, they find that everyone is changing, indicating the problem is airborne. Nancy has escaped the soldier by singing a lullaby, and the Doctor discovers the cylinder at the crash site is an old Chula medical ship. He makes the connection with the nanogenes and realizes that the ship’s nanogenes are attempting to heal people, but are basing the healing off of Jaime with his gas mask.

     In an attempt to get inside, an alarm goes off, and all the transformed people arrive, asking for their mummies. (Can I just say how hard it is to use the phrase “mummy” in connection with moms without laughing really hard? British slang. Always fun.) Nancy finally confesses the truth: she’s older than she looks, and she’s actually Jaime’s mother, but hid it because she had him when she was a teenager. When she tells Jaime the truth, the nanogenes switch to using her as a template for the healing, and everyone is restored to normal. (Although why they don’t use her mental template like they did with Jaime is one of those questions that don’t get asked.) Before leaving, the Doctor sets the medical ship to explode and destroy that technology, keeping it in line with the historical explosion at the site.

And then you realize you're still out of tissues from Father's Day...

     Then, the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack have a dance party ending. No, really.

Everything about this gif is wonderful.

     This was an amazing two parter. Apart from that plothole I mentioned, it was creepy, tense, and eventually heartwarming.

Boom Town

     You remember that Cardiff rift at the BBC quarry? It’s super important still, in case you were wondering. The Doctor, Rose, and Jack arrive to let the TARDIS refuel, to let Rose actually have a relationship with her “boyfriend”, and discuss Jack’s sexual frustration since the TARDIS is still basically a monastery.

He then attempted to flirt with the TARDIS, and took three days to recover from his injuries.

     Also, it appears that the Slitheen, still using the name “Margaret”, has become Cardiff’s mayor. They track her down, and a wacky chase scene ensues, in which Margaret climbs out a window and gets cornered in the courtyard. The Doctor discovers her plan-build a nuclear power plant in such a way that it will melt down, open the rift, and-you guessed it-destroy the Earth. The Doctor wants to take Margaret back to her home planet of Word I Can’t Pronounce, but Margaret is under a death sentence there. So he decides to be nice and take her to dinner first, where she talks about her Bad Childhood, declares that she is becoming Welsh, and insists that she totally wants to turn over a new leaf, you guys. Totally legit.

I mean, except for the part where she tries to kill the Doctor multiple times. Other than that.

     Jack, meanwhile, is hooking up Margaret’s teleporter (that’s not what it’s called, but we’re just going to call it a teleporter) to the TARDIS, Mickey and Rose talk about their not-relationship, and the teleporter redirects the TARDIS energy into the rift, thereby opening the rift and-you guessed it-destroying the Earth. The Doctor is less than amused.

     It ends in the heart of the TARDIS opening up and turning Margaret into an egg and Rose realizing that hey, just maybe she hasn’t been treating Mickey quite right.

     Also, the nuclear station was supposed to be called the Welsh phrase for “Bad Wolf”. Tune in next time to figure out just what the heck this “Bad Wolf” thing is about, and also the end of the brief Ninth Doctor era.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Erica Writes Poetry: Geek culture, geek culture everywhere

It was deliberate reference day, and then I drank too much caffeine and this happened.

A Fangirl’s Dream Band

I’ve decided to form a band
I’m going to call it “Self-Righteous Higher Life Forms”
I have a lot to choose from
On the older side of things, you have the Fair Folk
They’re prickly things, the Fair Folk, but I heard they can throw a great party.
I would invite Zeus
But he always abuses the groupies
And then his wife catches him in bed with them, and they trash the hotel rooms fighting.
It’s a new world, and we need new blood
Thor will be lead singer
German metal is in now, you know
Q will be jealous, he’s such a diva
But I’ll distract him with pyrotechnics and stage lighting and all the flashy things
Cthulhu agreed to play guitar
I’ll keep energy drinks around, dude always goes to sleep on us
I tried getting hold of Kosh
But I only got voicemail, and he never calls back
Maybe I’ll shoot an email off to Illyria
I need a drummer who can hit hard.

Monday, May 4, 2015

NuWho Reviews: Dalek, The Long Game, and Father's Day



     The Doctor and Rose notice a distress signal and land in a huge bunker near Salt Lake City. In an astonishing twist, it is not an underground bunker for Mormons. Instead, it’s owned by Not!Tony Stark, in the year 2012. There, they find display cases full of alien artifacts. While Rose mildly flirts with an employee named Adam, the owner van Statten asks the Doctor his opinion on a particular artifact, something he calls a Metaltron

     Spoiler alert, it’s a Dalek. Because the title wasn’t a dead giveaway or anything. The Dalek tries to exterminate the Doctor, but it’s too weak to do so. So it tells him he would make a good Dalek instead, which is the worst kind of trolling anyone can get up to. (Also, it gets a beautiful call back in the eighth series.) The Doctor proceeds to torture it with electricity, laugh madly, literally froth at the mouth (LITERALLY), and terrify the children in the audience. PTSD is a bad thing to have happen to you.

      After the Doctor is escorted out by armed guards who are crying on the inside, Rose and Adam arrive. Rose feels sorry for the Dalek, because she’s one of those fans that think they’re cute or something. Don’t know anyone like that at all. *cough*


     Apparently the Dalek can repair itself using a time traveler’s DNA, absorbed through its casing LOOK DON’T QUESTION THE DALEKS and promptly goes on a rampage after absorbing the Internet. Van Statten is distracted from torturing the Doctor (torturing things to find out how they work seems to be his only strategy), and bad, bad things happen. Then, someone decides to crack a staircase joke, why would you do that, DON’T YOU KNOW DALEKS HATE THE STAIRCASE JOKE. They are exterminated, and then the Dalek gets creative, spills water on the floor, and performs a mass extermination. I think he’s upset? He seems a bit upset to me.

     Despite their best efforts, Rose doesn’t escape before the Doctor seals off the area with the Dalek. The Dalek takes aim, and finds it has suddenly graduated from Storm Trooper academy. Poor thing can’t hit the broadside of a barn, but apparently it’s become uncomfortable with the idea of shooting Rose, spawning a thousand terrifying fanfics that are burned into my mind forever, THANKS INTERNET. (Said fanfics are probably why said Dalek goes on a rampage.)

     Rose’s DNA is changing the Dalek into…something else, and apparently he isn’t taking it as well as Alpha did, despite his apparent desire to sunbathe. (No heroic revolution here-just angst and misery for everyone.) The Doctor is still frothing at the mouth a bit and Rose points out he’s pointing a gun at her. Meanwhile, the Dalek is so miserable with the idea of feelings that it begs Rose for an order to self destruct.

The Dalek can't stand the feels any more than we can.

     Tears ensue, the Doctor realizes he needs to get therapy, van Statten is mindwiped because he’s a jerk, and Adam tags along in an effort to break the universe.

     This is one of the best ones in the first series, and not just because Daleks are awesome. It presented a more realistic look at what would happen if a Dalek started changing from its single minded, hate-filled self. It would go insane and commit suicide. It also showed us a side of the Doctor we haven’t really seen yet. We see the reason the universe is terrified of him: he didn’t just kill all the Daleks, he killed all the Time Lords as well, just to end the war.   
     To sum this episode up, ALL OF THE FEELS.

The Long Game

     It is the year 200,000. Humans have not yet become shiny wrong sci-fi show and the future looks a lot like a parody of 2005 with lots of big fast food chains, and lots of TV channels that have nothing on. The Doctor was expecting humanity at its best and found it at its…human-est. Bewildered, the Doctor investigates by convincing a couple journalists that he’s from “management” on the space station of Satellite 5. It turns out journalism involves opening a hole in your head and absorbing information, which is…well…at least efficient, if not a little strange.

Actually it's just kind of tingly.

     Simon Pegg is the Editor, and has zombie employees to control the entire space station. He’s puzzled because there’s no record of the visitors. While the Doctor and Rose try to reach the 500th floor, the highest place in the organization that an employee can reach, Adam gets a hole put in his head. I mean, other than the one that was already there.

     It turns out Simon Pegg works for the Jagrafess. What is a Jagrafess you ask? Well…it’s a thing. It’s very large, and the only part we see of it is a giant mouth filled with teeth. The Doctor gets one of the journalists to reverse the cooling system, overheating the Jagrafess. Well, that was easy. The Doctor does suspect someone has been manipulating humanity for a lot longer…

     He then gets mad at Adam for putting a second hole in his head and dumps him back home, where his mother discovers her son is a cyborg.

     Also, there is a station called Bad Wolf. Just to throw out some more arc words.

I heard you guys needed some more story arc. Also, Rose, there's a bit of red on you.

     This was an interesting serial. It didn’t have the same emotional impact, but like the Doctor you sense there’s a bigger story behind all this. (There is.) Also, this is one of several serials designed to essentially parody pop culture, which I found to be…well, annoying. We don’t need to be told pop culture is silly. Everyone knows it. It just didn’t seem that funny to me. (Although I’m amused that they had beef flavored shakes, and now everyone’s talking about bacon shakes…)

     So, what’s next? OH LOOK MORE FEELS.

Father’s Day

     When Rose was just a baby, her father was killed in a hit-and-run on his way to a friend’s wedding, dying alone in the street before anyone could get to him. Even though Rose never met him, her mother told her wonderful stories about him. She decides she would like to be there for him so he doesn’t have to die alone.

     The Doctor reluctantly agrees to this. The first time it happens, Rose is too stunned to do anything. But when they go back for a second round, she shoves Pete out of the way.

     Lots and lots of bad things happen as a result. The inside of the TARDIS has disappeared, and unseen by anyone else, large gargoyle things are starting to swoop out of the sky and attack people. Rose and the Doctor go with Pete to the wedding, while the radio plays rap music that won’t be written for at least a decade and Alexander Graham Bell talks from Rose’s phone. At the church, a tiny Mickey runs in to imprint on Rose like a chicken and tell everyone about the gargoyles.

None of which are named Goliath.

     The gargoyles are Reapers, beings that fix wounds in time. They are doing this by murdering random people. Okay. Meanwhile, Rose sees that her parents actually had a tense relationship, and Pete tries to prove that Rose is his infant daughter all grown up by making her hold her infant self.

     That just drives the Reapers crazy, because they don’t like paradoxes. (They apparently get over it later in the series though looking at you River.) The Doctor, in his attempts to force the TARDIS to materialize properly, is snatched up by a Reaper, which disappears into the TARDIS’ glowing outline.

     And then the feels start happening. Pete realizes that he was meant to die earlier, and that Rose had changed that. So when he sees the car coming around the block, he walks out in front of it. Everything reverts to normal, and Rose is able to sit with him and hold his hand as he dies. Her memories change too: now, she remembers her mother talking about a random woman who sat by Pete’s side after the accident.

Were you out of tears at the end of Dalek? TOO BAD.

     Now that we’ve gone through an entire box of tissues and are still lying on the floor weeping, let me just say how awesome this episode was? I mean, the Reapers were pretty funny CGI, but the actual story was intense. The idea of changing someone's death and causing major issues throughout time is nothing new ( Butterfly Effect, Donnie Darko, etc.) but this had a different feeling to it. Most of the other stories like this I’ve seen felt hopeless and miserable. This, while bittersweet, was also optimistic. Rose could not save her father, but she still had wonderful memories of him and his sacrifice. She knows what kind of man he was, and not just through stories from her mother now.

Doctor Who is pretty much FEELS FOREVER.

     Now, let’s see what’s nex—


Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Disclaimer: My employer, the Bettendorf Public Library, received this book as an ARC for the employees’ personal use. I was not asked to do this review by the publisher, the author, or the library. Any opinions stated in this review are mine alone.

     Well, with that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

     I hadn’t read any of Naomi Novik’s books before, although I’ve got Temeraire on my TBR list. I grabbed this book purely because I needed something to read at work during lunch. I thought I’d just read a few pages then put it aside for another day.

     I got so hooked I could barely put it down. I had to finish it, even though I had three other books and The Prince and The Chronicles of the Fourth Crusade to read for history class. What can I say? I like to live dangerously.

     Agnieszka lives in a quiet village on the edge of the Wood, a malicious place that changes those who venture too far in. But her life has other dangers as well. Every ten years, the Dragon, a local wizard who keeps the Wood out of the village, takes a young girl away. Ten years later she returns, claiming no ill treatment but utterly changed, and leaving for other towns and cities shortly afterward. Usually a girl with astonishing talent, beauty, or kindness is taken, and Agnieszka has known all her life that it will be her dear friend Kasia.

     To her utter astonishment, she is taken instead. As Agnieszka learns to deal with the coldhearted Dragon, she discovers more about herself, and about the dangers posed by the Wood. It soon becomes apparent that far more is going on than she ever realized.

     I have to say, this had me hooked from page one. Agnieszka is an engaging heroine, with plenty of flaws that can be strengths if used right. I really enjoyed the idea of intuitive magic versus learned, rational magic. The interplay was a rather fascinating concept.

     The Dragon, too, was an interesting character. While I don’t think his back story quite justifies his behavior, at the very least he is an original take on the typical “brooding hero” trope.

     Kasia was also a surprise. She started out as, basically, a not-love interest for Agnieszka to rescue, but wound up becoming a very strong character with a different twist on her story. In fact, the most refreshing part of this was how none of the characters fit into the typical “character roulette”. All of them had some unique, fresh take on something that might have been old since fairy tales. Even the antagonists were very real and understandable.

     Therein lies the only problem I saw. I love the idea of the antagonist having a rather good reason for their actions, even if their actions are reprehensible. In my Redwall review, I said that I enjoyed a straight forward good vs. evil story. But I also enjoy stories where the antagonist has been spurred to their actions in some way. Done right, it can make us sympathize with them even while we wish for their defeat. In A Dance with Dragons, Cersei’s walk of shame made me feel genuinely sorry for her, despite everything she had done throughout the books.

     The problem comes when such a motivation seems to be revealed out of nowhere. I don’t mind that the antagonist of this book had that kind of motivation, but it wasn’t hinted at anywhere. It was just suddenly dropped on us. While I can see where that can be a bombshell, designed to astonish the reader (and the characters), I felt like it jolted me out of the story a bit. Thus far, the Wood had been a rather creepy, dangerous villain. Right then, all that went out the window for me. I can see that some people would love the twist, but I just couldn’t get into it.

     On a better note, the creepy feeling was what really drew me into the book. The Wood is horrifying. The way the book describes its effects when turning people into puppets, and the metaphysical battles with it, had me on edge. The place has giant mantises, for crying out loud! Now, I love me some mantises, but I think giant ones are a bit much. The “Walkers”, too, gave me the shivers.

     So, final verdict? This was absolutely amazing. My dislike of the book’s reveal definitely isn’t enough to make me say anything bad about it. I was hooked from beginning to end and now I really want to read more of Novik’s work.