Book Review

My Week In Books. [7]

This week’s post has a bit of a theme, I’ve spent the whole week reading tv tie-in fiction. I absolutely love books related to tv, I have a bookcase filled with reference books, episode guides, and most importantly fiction – both novelisations and original stories. I see tv tie-in fiction as a wonderful way to spend more time with characters I love, the only thing that would be better would be if I achieved my big dream of getting to write it!

The first part of last week was spent with a pair of classic Doctor Who novelisations. I was pretty young when Doctor Who left tv screens in the 1980s and was born into an entirely non-geeky family so there was never any effort made to introduce me to any of the classic sci fi around. I became a fan as an adult and so far the majority of my experiences of the first seven doctors have come from books – I’ve read a handful of Target novelisations and built up a reasonable collection of Big Finish’s Short Trips anthologies before they went out of print.

Last year BBC Books started to reissue classic titles from the Target range of novelisations, to date they’ve released 12 of them, each with an introduction from current writers and fans. I have a set of the first 6 and decided to read Doctor Who and the Daleks and Doctor Who and the Crusaders. Both were written by David Whitaker and feature the first incarnation of The Doctor as portrayed by William Hartnell.

I hadn’t had much exposure to this version of The Doctor, and I have to admit I found both books a little hard going. I think this could be down to one of, or a combination of, factors; they were originally written in the 1960s so the writing style is different, they feature Hartnell’s Doctor – as I’ve already said I’m most unfamiliar with him, they’re written in the first person with a narrator (Ian Chesterton) who comes across in quite an irritating manner, and the tight binding of the books meant that I spent as long wrestling with the book as I did reading it (I’ve since discovered the books are available as eBooks so I will have to add these to my Kindle and see if this solves that problem).

I enjoyed the plot of Doctor Who and the Daleks, I know it deviates from the tv episodes but as I haven’t seen them it didn’t clash or appear wrong to me. It was lovely to get an idea of how the Daleks first appeared, and to meet the Thals who I’d heard of but knew nothing about. I didn’t enjoy the plot of Doctor Who and the Crusaders anywhere near as much. It’s not a period of history I know anything about but I think I could have coped okay with that if the story interested me more, and didn’t include quite so much cruelty and violence (both threatened and carried out) towards Barbara. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly can’t imagine I’ll be revisiting it any time soon.

I spent the second half of the week reading Torchwood tie-in books. I had previously read and enjoyed the first fifteen novels that had been released covering the Torchwood story up until the beginning of the Children of Earth, the two I read this week came from the most recently released trio that fit between Children of Earth and Miracle Day. I read First Born by James Goss which focuses on Gwen, Rhys and baby Anwen, and Long Time Dead by Sarah Pinborough which allows former Torchwood team member Suzie Costello another chance to take centre stage.

I thoroughly enjoyed both books. I’d read and loved books by both authors before so I was pretty confidant they would go some way to ease the disappointment Miracle Day had left me with, and I was right. I found First Born a little slow to get going but once it did it was a great read, twisty and disturbing with a lovely vein of humour running right through it. I fell straight into Long Time Dead, it was wonderful to see Suzie again and to see her back to her villainous best. I read the book in a single sitting, and finally put it down feeling entirely satisfied.

My only complaint about these new Torchwood novels is in their production. The first fifteen were all released in batches of three, they came in a hardcover and the spines each contained a third of a picture so that lined up on a shelf they all look really nice. These new releases are in paperback and don’t have the spine illustration so my nicely coordinated shelf now doesn’t look quite so nice. It’s a real shame, I really dislike it when publishers do this and I know I’m not the only one who feels like that.

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Phew, that turned into a much longer post than I’d expected. It is also the last of these posts for the forseeable future, December is going to see Juniper’s Jungle fully open for reviews again. Whilst I enjoyed the break from reviewing (and getting through the second year of my degree) it was always my plan to get back to it and the time is now right. I’ve got some great books waiting for my attention and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on them in the coming weeks.

Book Review

My Week In Books. [5]

Each Monday I review the books I’ve read in the previous week in mini reviews.

The Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery by Justin Richards. BBC Books.
I was really excited when BBC Books announced this eBook tie in to the final episode of the first half of the current series of Doctor Who. TV tie in books are a real love of mine and having seen Melody Malone’s book play such a prominent part in the episode I couldn’t wait to read it. Initially I was really disappointed, this book is not the book featured in the episode but another Melody Malone Mystery. Once I’d got over that and got stuck into reading I was soon won over.

The book is a really enjoyable read, I thought Melody’s voice was captured really well which really added to the reading experience. It was good to read a story about the Weeping Angels – they’re a little less scary in prose than they are on the tv screen! I thought it was interesting that they had facets that hadn’t been explored in the tv series, I wonder whether this will be brought into the tv canon at any point. I’d love it if the BBC produced more Melody Malone books though I imagine there’s a limited number of stories they could do featuring the Weeping Angels.

Playground by 50 Cent. Quercus.
The book opens with a title page crediting both 5o Cent and Laura Moser, which pleased me to see the ghost writer clearly credited, and a foreword from 50 Cent where he talks about how the book is a semi-autobiographical account of his youth and his time as a bully. I must admit I was a bit unsure about the book when I picked it up but these things made me more interested in what was held within it.

50 Cent says that he hopes to show the various sides of a bully and I think this is achieved well by the book, from the very beginning the lead character, Butterball, comes across as an angry teenager with a challenging attitude. Over the course of the book as you get to know Butterball better you discover the other layers that he has and get to see the whole boy. Whilst this is a book with a definite moral message it avoids feeling preachy – I think this book could be a useful read for a lot of teens. I was surprised by how much I liked this book, if there are to be more YA titles from 50 Cent I will most definitely be adding them to my collection.

Red Tears by Joanna Kenrick. Faber and Faber.
I saw this book discussed on a discussion group and was intrigued by it so requested it from the local library. Whilst I’d read books that included mentions of self harm before I think this book covered the subject in more detail than any of them. It is a book that’s clearly been well researched and it’s thoughtfully written, it never glamorises or demonises self harm but instead carefully explores the subject matter and the different ways people react to it.

I found the book hard going at times because I could identify a lot with some of the pressures the lead character is facing, it definitely reminded me of some of my own year 11 experiences (though I dealt with them in a different way to the lead character). I think if this book had been around back then I’d have found it reassuring just to read that someone else was feeling similarly. This is a book I am sure I will be recommending, though with caution as the author herself advises that it may be triggering for some readers.

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A double post this week after I was away last weekend. I feel a bit bad that in two weeks I only managed to read 3 books, but I’ve spent quite a bit of time catching up on the issues of Rolling Stone I’m behind on instead.