Review

Review: Doctor Who – Engines of War by George Mann

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I may not have been a Doctor Who fan as long as some, entering the fandom sometime in 2010, but I feel I’ve attempted to make up for lost time in many ways – one of them being to read as many Doctor Who books as I can get my hand on. So far, none of them have quite hit the heights of the television show, none of them have shown the Doctor in quite the right way.

But that’s the good thing about this book – it features a Doctor we barely know, the ‘War Doctor’ who was first introduced in the show’s 50th anniversary special. This Doctor is nothing like the others, and this is the point in his life where he earned the nickname ‘Predator’ from the Daleks. This means that George Mann had an opportunity to create his ‘own’ Doctor, in a way, or at least not have to rely on the mannerisms and characteristics of the Doctors we know from the screen. The War Doctor is how he sounds – more ruthless, perhaps a little cold, but every bit as determined to save people.

And because this is the War Doctor, Gallifrey still exists, as do the Time Lords. It was wonderful being able to glimpse their society, and also shocking to see that the majority are not as compassionate towards the human race as the Doctor. This definitely felt like a more adult book, compared to other Doctor Who novels I have read, but then again Doctor Who has always had a reputation for being unexpectedly scary in places!

This was a fun adventure that allowed me a glimpse into the Doctor’s past, and fleshed out a version of the beloved Time Lord that we have only briefly seen. If you’re looking for something to tide you over until the next series, this could be it.

Review

Review: Doctor Who – The Shakespeare Notebooks by Justin Richards

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2 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to like this book. I really did. It has such promise – after all, any Doctor Who fan knows that the Doctor has met many a historical figure on his travels. In fact, those are often my favourite episodes of the show – not the ones where he travels to the future, but where he goes back in time and we get to see recognisable figures from history.

I do believe, however, that this book will be a much more enjoyable read in hardback or paperback format. I read the eARC, which I highly doubt did it justice. Judging by the illustrations, which of course were in black and white for me, the book is very nicely presented. What I did like was how it didn’t just focus on the ‘new’ Doctor, but all of his other faces, and brought in companions old and new as well. Those who remember the times of Jamie and Zoe, as well as newer fans of Amy and Rory, will be happy.

Unfortunately, I think this book suffers from having a rather niche audience. Sure, it will appeal to Doctor Who fans, but ironically the Shakespeare element of it won’t work for all. Ultimately to me, it felt a little like an attempt to cash in on the ever-popular ‘crossover’ book, mixing characters from different fandoms (if you can refer to Shakespeare as such!).

As much as I love Doctor Who, and as much as I like to read anything about it that I can get my hands on, this sadly did not work for me. It feels more like the sort of book an ultimate fan would buy to complete their collection – it’s not one I can see myself reading again, unlike the adventure story series about the Doctor.

Review

Review: A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Despite not having seen the accompanying television series, I pretty much proved Lucy Worsley’s point when I was drawn to this book because of the title. A tale of how the British public have been obsessed with the idea of murder, particularly in the past three hundred years or so, it’s actually quite a lot more than that. Covering the development of the police force, the popularity of horror and true crime novels, famous authors inspired by true crime and other anecdotes like the origins of Madame Tussaud’s, Lucy Worsley manages to pack a lot into one volume.

The first chapter, the story of the Ratcliff Highway Murders, just didn’t do much to grab my attention despite its rather morbid happenings, and I have to admit that I only glanced over much of it – and I actually skipped over many more, but there were some stand-out sections. For example, the chapter on the first appearance of the ‘Penny Dreadful’ was fascinating – these were cheaper alternatives to true crime novels and therefore also accessible to the lower classes. It also explains the name of the recent TV series, which features familiar characters from horror and crime together in one place. There are also sections on authors like Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie – which serves to remind me that I haven’t read anything by either of them!

Although I may have skipped some chapters, this is definitely the sort of history book you can read the entirety of due to Worsley’s writing style, which panders to all. She does not assume the reader is familiar with the history, which makes it perfect for anyone with a new interest in the subject, yet she also does not patronise. However, some areas just unfortunately failed to capture my interest at all. Recommended if you’re interested in the history of criminology and inspiration behind true crime, or fancy reading something a bit more macabre!

Review

Review: Doctor Who – Keeping Up With The Joneses (Time Trips #3) by Nick Harkaway

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2 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I didn’t actually take too many notes whilst writing this one – firstly because it’s such a short book, and secondly because I just couldn’t really think of much to talk about… needless to say, this will be a short review.

Serves me right for not reading the blurb of this one properly: I saw a Doctor Who book with the word ‘Jones’ in the title, and assumed it was about Martha. Unfortunately not, although this is a Tenth Doctor adventure. Our favourite Time Lord is companion-less on this particular adventure, as he has been with the other Time Trips stories so far. However, unlike the previous Time Trips, this one features a familiar character: the Lady Christina de Souza. If you don’t recognise the name, she was featured in the episode ‘Planet of the Dead’, where a double decker bus somehow got transported from London to the desert planet of San Helios.

Whilst it contained some ‘typical’ Ten moments (he finds brushing his teeth fun, I can definitely imagine that for Ten), this book just felt really… weird, even for Doctor Who. It felt like there was no real consistency to it, flitting from one bit to the next and it never really gripped me. I read it in one sitting, and I actually struggled to finish it because, quite honestly, I was bored.

I don’t know if it was the advanced copy I had, or if this is pretty much the finalised version, but some of the sentences felt really mangled. The structure was very odd, and that made it really hard to picture things.

Sadly, although I’ve enjoyed all the Doctor Who books I’ve read so far, this one was quite a let down. I would say read it if you’re a hardcore fan (for completionist purposes!), but if you’re just looking to read some of the DW books then there are plenty more enjoyable ones out there.

Review

Review: Doctor Who – The Death Pit (Time Trips #1) by A.L. Kennedy

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Just like Doctor Who: Into the Nowhere, this is part of the ‘Time Trips’ series, a sequence of short Doctor Who novellas by different authors and covering different Doctors. This one in particular follows the Fourth Doctor – one I’ve not actually watched in action, but probably the most familiar of the ‘Classic’ Doctors. It has the brilliant Doctor Who trait of combining both funny and scary situations in a unique blend, whilst still being pretty horrifying in parts – and this one really is.

Unlike other Doctor Who books I’ve read so far, there is no companion alongside the Doctor when he lands, meaning we get to experience that initial excitement of someone meeting the Doctor for the first time. Bryony, the someone in question, is a wonderful character in that she surprises even the Doctor. She is ambitious but somehow just got stuck working at the golf club, and her adventures with the Doctor help her to realise that if she wants to achieve her dreams, she needs to go out and do something about them. For such a short story the characters were quite detailed, which really added to my enjoyment of the novella.

As well as being well written and developed, there were plenty of fun and humorous moments to keep the reader amused. The Doctor was his manic self, as Tom Baker’s Doctor was, and it was pretty funny imagining him in a shower cap (especially with all that hair!). Overall, a wonderful short adventure for fans of the show, particularly those who would love some more stories involving Four.

 

Review

Review: Doctor Who – Into the Nowhere (Time Trips #2) by Jenny T. Colgan

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

From the very first paragraph of this book, I immediately knew it was more skillfully written than previous Doctor Who reads – at least in terms of the description. The story wasn’t quite as fun as some of the books aimed at younger audiences. Jenny T. Colgan captures the personalities and mannerisms of the Eleventh Doctor and Clara really well, and I could easily picture each scene in my head with Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman acting them out – Clara with her no-nonsense ways, and Eleven acting like a child and showing off occasionally (or more than occasionally…).

The setting was a ‘typical’ Doctor Who planet – mysterious, a little bit creepy and naturally very intriguing to the Doctor. The forest that the two travel through felt like the one from Disney’s version of Snow White, with trees seemingly coming to life and reaching out for our protagonists. The Doctor Who books can get away with some more grisly images and moments than the TV series, and this one certainly does.

There were, however, a couple of things that bugged me. I know that Doctor Who as a TV show contains pop culture references, for example the Doctor has referenced the Harry Potter series before, but for such a short book (forty-nine pages) this contained a few too many pop culture references. The villain of the story, a nerdy computer geek, felt like a major cliche – and also completely ruined the scary image of the planet.

Overall, despite a few clunky and overlong sentences and a couple of other points, this was a fun read. I mean, it is Doctor Who after all…

And I just want to share this status update I posted to Goodreads…