Monday, December 31, 2012

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

A little like Rocky Napier's effect on Mildred Lathbury, I was completely charmed by this lovely little book.  Mildred is the narrator and one of the Excellent Women of the title - i.e. she's a 30 something unmarried lady in late 1940's London, daughter of a clergyman who fills her time being helpful to her church and really anyone else who calls upon her. This description makes it sound insipid and twee but it is nothing of the sort.

Mildred is a wry and knowing narrator with a sly wit and a good heart.  She's a delight to follow along with as she navigates, with a great deal of insight, the everyday mundanities of her life. When her life is unexpectedly injected with drama by the arrival of a young married couple in the flat below hers she finds herself feeling a little less content with her quiet lot in life. 

Despite the rather mundane nature of the book's plot, I found that it sucked me in and I finished it in two days.  Barbara Pym moves things along never dwelling to long on one scene or another so that it feels like more is happening than it is.  She has such a light writing style that you hardly feel you are reading anything of substance but the insights she rolls out so effortlessly, about society, about relationships, about people, reveal an incredible understanding of human nature.  It is hard to really explain how lovely her writing is without providing a sample but at the same time there is so little fat in the narrative it is hard to find passages that aren't intertwined with the story around them.  Here are a few that I marked:

"'More to Drink' said Rockingham with rather forced gaiety.... I began to see how people could need drink to cover up embarrassments, and I remembered many sticky church functions which might have been improved if somebody had happened to open a bottle of wine. But people like us had to rely on the tea-urn and I felt that some credit was due to us for doing as well as we did on that harmless stimulant."

"I could see very well what she meant, for unmarried women with no ties could very well become unwanted.  I should feel it even more than Winifred, for who was there to really grieve for me when I was gone? Dora, the Malorys, one or two people in my old village, might be sorry, but I was not really first in anybody's life. I could so very easily be replaced...."

"I pulled my self and told myself to stop these ridiculous thoughts,wondering why it is that we can never stop trying to analyse the motives of people who have no personal interest in us, in the vain hope of finding that perhaps they may have just a little after all."

Looking at these quotes I see they don't really do her humor justice.  She is really very funny and I laughed out loud more than a few times. Overall it was a joy and delight to read. 

As a side note Barbara Pym was on my list of "Authors I have never read but would like to" that I put together in 2012.  Most of the names on the list are ones you'd recognize such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Iris Murdoch, but Barbara Pym may not be.  I think I added her after reading a forum post on Goodreads about formerly well known authors that have fallen out of favor.  It os very sad that this is the case because she is really a delight.  Excellent Women, I believe is her most well spoken of novel but I hope to explore some more of her writing.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

What to say about this sequel to the impressive start of this series The Name of the Wind?  Much of my critique is pretty grumbly and negative.  But when all is said and done, I really enjoyed it so maybe the notable flaws in the book don't add up to much in the end?

The Wise Man's Fear continues the story of Kvothe an exceptionally talented young man who has, by the time of the books telling, reached legendary status.  He studies at the University, pines after Denna, plays his lute, and goes on many adventures.  The book covers roughly a little more than a year of his early life (16-17 years old)and framed as a single day of dictation by Kvothe to a biographer called Chronicler.  I'll point out that I listened to the audio version, and even subtracting the modern-day interludes it is over 40 hours of recordings.  So 1) definitely not dictated within a single day and 2) poor Chronicler! 

And the bloated length of the book is the crux of my grumpiness with it. There are easily 3 books  - 3 very different books - thrown together here.  Patrick Rothfuss obviously has an incredible imagination and is overflowing with story ideas and vignettes and its like he can't stop himself from jamming them all in there.  At times it feels like there's more tangent then plot.  Ostensibly we are building up to the current moment and the intrigues and conflicts happening in Kvothe's present day but that ultimate story feels so far far away that the book suffers from a lack of focus. The Chandrian pop up on a regular basis but if they are as important to this story as the reader is led to believe they should really be more omnipresent.  It's just a meandering tale of this guy who is quickly becoming someone the reader can no longer sympathize with or relate to.

And that is another problem this book starts to struggle with.  Kvothe is an extraordinary man - he's a hero.  How do you write a hero that is still relate-able to us schlubs? I don't have any idea and I think Rothfuss manages just barely to keep Kvothe likeable but it is just barely.  He lost me when he had Kvothe lose his virginity and gain his initial experience as a lover with a fey seductress who's whole purpose is to give men mind-blowing sex.  This whole section had me grinding my teeth.  And I really could not stand the Adem.  At first it was interesting, this idea of a completely foreign culture who expresses emotions with hand gestures and I really tried to go with it but in the end it just did NOT work for me.  We again have some kind of male fantasy, amazonian kingdom where the women are strong and powerful and are also really into having tons of no-strings- attached sex.  And this is because they don't think sex has anything to do with making children. WHAT??!! I'm pretty sure animals know on some level that males and females are necessary for procreation so don't even try to tell me that this uber-civilization where women hold the power is that completely without any logic.

So now that I have just vented all of that let me wander on back to the point.  Patrick Rothfuss is an amazing storyteller and in the end I really enjoyed 38-ish of the 45 hours of the audio.  But I would have fewer frothing rages about his books if he stopped throwing every stray thought and the kitchen sink into them.  I would really like to know why Kvothe has a fey student who is a little shifty, why there are strange creatures out of legend appearing and wreaking havoc and how Kvothe ended up owning an Inn in a podunk town to begin with  - I am dying to sink my teeth into these things.  This is all to the credit of  how awesome this series of books is and to the authors talent.  But can we pretty please get there before the next ice age?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Two books by Kresley Cole

I will likely devote a later post to the allure of romance novels but I wanted to talk about two of my recent reads by Kresley Cole.  I got led into the romance genre 2-3 years ago along the innocent path of Nancy Pearl's recommendation of Georgette Heyer.  Heyer is an unmitigated delight and thankfully she was an incredibly prolific writer but I did eventually run out of her superb regency romances so began nosing around for my next fix among the millions of romance novels out there.  I had no idea where to start and I found this to be dangerous as there are a LOT of truly appalling romance novels out there. 

Long story short, after some research, I landed upon Ms. Cole's Immortals After Dark (IAD) series which, admittedly, is about as far from Georgette Heyer as you can get.  They take place in modern day settings, they involve fantastical supernatural beings and hoo boy are they naughty.  We're talking serious amounts of explicit raunchy sex. Ms. Cole writes some of the Hottest, most carnal sex scenes I've encountered.   However there are some things they have in common with Heyer's novels 1) Cole's characters generally do things/make decisions that make some logical and emotional sense based on the world she has created (you would not believe how many romance novelists throw that shit right out the door in order to get their lovebirds into bed), 2)in a somewhat related point, the characters are also generally well-developed, likeable (or at least interesting/relateable), and consistent in their portrayal and 3) the books have a great sense of humor and whimsy - I've found that I cannot take a romance that takes itself too seriously. 

So onto the book review already.  I've read two of her books recently:

Kiss of the Demon King and Lothaire    

Before I launch into the reviews it's probably important to point out that I deviated from my normally strict practice of reading series' books in order.  While each book in the IAD series are, for the most part, stand alone, they are somewhat linked and probably most important there are appearances of other immortals in each book that give you a little more background and idea of the characters before they get their big chance to shine.  Basically, I knew or remembered little of Rydstrom Woede or Lothaire Dacian from the other books and this may affect how I view them.

Kiss of the Demon King
I hadn't picked up an IAD book in several months so dived into this one with relish... only to be so so disappointed.  The book focuses on the pairing between Rydstrom Woede, ousted king of the rage demons, and Sabine, a sorceress that has earned the moniker "Queen of Illusions".  She is sister to a crazed and evil sorcerer who usurped Rydstrom's throne mostly because the castle is built around some well of power that remains mysterious throughout.  She kidnaps and tries to seduce Rydstrom because she knows they are fated mates and she believes that having his child will help her overthrow her brother. Which she wants to do not because he's evil and crazed and leaves flayed bodies lying around court but because she's power hungry.  When the tables are turned and Rydstrom has her under his power he tortures her the same way she did him and blah blah blah... they fall in love anyway. 

So why did I leave disappointed? Mostly because the three things I mentioned above, that make me love Kresley Cole, that she shares with Heyer, were all missing from this book.  I found Rydstrom impossibly boring and Sabine was about as unlikeable a "heroine" you can get - I never warmed up to her. Furthermore, I  never felt the chemistry between these two and never felt that their attraction to one another was built on anything more  substantial then their status as fated mates.   The plot wavered somewhere between non-existent and incomprehensible - I never really understood the sorceri court and its intrigues well enough to really get why Sabine was the way she was.  Things seemed to happen out of nowhere with little proper lead up or explanation.  Various factions/creatures are attacking - why?  Not really sure and in the end Omort just wipes armies out with a snap of his fingers...ummm.. that was easy... and unexplained.  Lothaire betrays his covenent - why?  Who knows but it sure is a convenient plot device at that moment.  Why does Omort not like to see both sisters at the same time?  You got me.  Anyway, it all felt incredibly sloppy and thrown together in order to make a fairly weak plot jump forward in erratic starts. Finally, there is no foreplay to the sex play - we just jump right in.  There is little emotion involved which makes it exceedingly boring. 

I really thought this was a poorly crafted book with characters and emotions that never affected me.  I was dismayed to see that this won some kind of award and has an average 4.3 star rating out of 5 on goodreads.  So obviously other very different opinions are available:)


Lothaire Dacian is a  very old natural-born vampire and is also one of the biggest most evil bad asses of the Lore.  Ellie Peirce is a mortal human raised in a mundane world of poverty in Appalachia until she is possessed by Saroya, evil goddess of death.  Then she starts killing people left and right.  Either Ellie or Saroya is Lothaire's fated Bride and being an arrogant son of a cuss who hates humans, he of course assumes its Saroya and plots to drive Ellie out of her body and give Saroya an eternal host.  However, as is usual with such plots, things go awry.

I entered into this novel, fresh off reading Kiss of a Demon King so my expectations were muted.  Had Cole become tired of her series?  Was the sparkle gone?  While I can't really guess how Ms. Cole feels about her series I was so pleased to find that the shine had not worn off. 

Lothaire is an especially complicated "hero".  He truly does some horrific things throughout the book and his  attitudes are not easy to take.  However, we get enough background into Lothaire to understand, if not love him.  His arrogance is at the same time attractive and off-putting, and his sardonic sense of humor and his old fashion turn of phrase, the Russian accent and endearments, his Lothaire speak - all of these make him super duper interesting and hot. He certainly ain't boring.

Ellie is quite the opposite of Lothaire but Cole does a good job of emphasizing those things in her character that would be extremely attractive to Lothaire.  Despite all appearances, it makes sense that these two would be a good match.  She has a strong enough will and moral compass and is generally pretty unflappable which helps to balance and calm Lothaire's crazier and more homicidal tendencies.  She's the good solid, clever, country girl who keeps the rock star grounded - it works. 

The plot is pretty interesting and moves forward in an organic fashion.  Lothaire has to overcome his prejudices in order to accept Ellie as his Bride  - this takes the appropriate amount of time and the things that lead him there make sense.  A seemingly unbreakable barrier to  them being together is resolved in a logical and interesting twist.  There are a lot of clever little ties to the bigger story arc.  Basically its a well-plotted and crafted story with two intriguing main characters.  And the sex?  WOW.  

So really excited that my dislike for Kiss of a Demon King was a fluke.  Lothaire redeemed it all :0)!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


I knew this was going to be a good ‘un when the first five minutes had me grinning like a fool idiot and biting my nails in anxiety practically at the same time.  And there may have been some gasping.  And then Adele’s compelling theme comes in and the awesome kept on rolling for the remainder of its approximately 2 ½ hour run time.  And I’m going to go ahead and say it.    And while I can’t be 100% about this as this installment has the advantage of being freshest in my mind and I have missed one or two Bond movies over its run (most notable, according to Mark Kermode, Her Majesty’s Secret Service) but I think this takes the title of best Bond movie.   And, perhaps more importantly it’s just a great movie period.

It delivers everything you expect from a Bond movie –a suave and clever Bond, the occasional zippy, somewhat corny one-liners, fantastical and exotic action set-pieces, a scenery chewing villain, and plenty of flirty sexy ladies.  So those patrons just in it for the Bond package will not in any way be disappointed.  In fact, the action set pieces are particularly stupendous and Bond gets an assist from a Komodo dragon of all things. 

What vaults this movie into the 5-star category is its simple but emotionally resonant plot. It is a very introspective film which is very appropriate for the franchises’ 50th birthday.  It’s hard to talk about without giving too much away but much of the focus is one M’s tough and morally challenging job and how ruthlessly she does it.  It questions the very fiber of international espionage and there are moments of real physical and mental struggle for the normally unflappable Bond.  The cast is fantastic and juggles all the emotional weight and the “bondness” with ease.

Simply put, I loved it. Though I don’t know how they will ever top Skyfall, I can’t wait to see them try.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I got my first taste of graphic novels in 2012 and my introduction was in the form of the Fables series by Bill Willingham and many, many talented artists.  Since my foray has been limited to this series, I can't say it was a better or worse entry into the genre but it sure was pretty close to perfect. 

As the series starts most of our favorite fairy tale characters have been forced out of their magic kingdoms by an evil and unknown enemy that has brutally conquered the homelands and keeps them under a totalitarian rule.  The characters that have escaped are living in New York - the more human like characters sharing a vast apartment building in the city and the less human like characters living on "the farm" in the countryside.  From here launches a 1000 tales of magical fables adjusting to the modern world, of the fight to free the homeland and tackle other menaces that threaten.  There's action, adventure, romance, mystery, twists on old archetypal characters, and a lot of stunning artwork.  

I've mostly read the volumes which combine the individual comics into larger collections.  There are 18 of these thus far and I've read through volume 16.  Each volume can be read in one sitting.  Being new to graphic novels I was nervous that they would be difficult to physically follow  - that it would be hard to know where to look on the page or read dialogue in the correct order.  I didn't have a problem. I have recently picked up the first volume of Sandman and I have had a little more difficulty with following it which leads me to think that Fables is a really good place to start for someone not used to reading comics.  

Some of my favorite things about the series thus far include Bigby and Snow White, the evolution of Prince Charming, Frau Totenkinder, Little Boy Blue, the 1001 Nights collection, seeing old stories in a new light, the secret life of Cinderella.  I think my favorite volumes were the early ones (maybe 1-5).  

Are you a graphic novel fan?  What are your favorite series and why?  Are you a fan of fairy tales? What's your favorite use of fairy tales in modern literature or media?  


I am currently catching up on seasons 6 and 7 of Supernatural.

This show is one of my guilty pleasures.  And we could probably have a debate about whether feeling guilty about something that brings you pleasure, at least in the realms of TV, books and movies, is really all that sane.  What guilty pleasure should actually be called is an embarrassing pleasure because that's what's really going on.  I'm  embarrassed at how much I like this show but, hell, if the utterly fantastic Jim Beaver can regularly appear on the show without so much as a blush who am I to be embarrassed. 

Now that that's out of the way, we can move on.  Supernatural is a show that focuses on the trials and tribulations of two brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester, who have the unusual occupation of "hunters".  What do they hunt?  You guessed it - all manner of supernatural things.  At its best a Supernatural episode is a mini horror flick with some laughs and human drama thrown in.  At its worst Supernatural is, well, a friggin cesspool of brotherly angst.

The show heavily relies on its two focal characters and in fact the first couple, perhaps even three seasons barely had a supporting cast. The two stars of Supernatural are certainly charismatic and..ahem.. easy on the eyes (more on that later) but it is hard to stay compelling week after week focused on one relationship (X-Files is a show that comes to mind which did it well).  So I think in that regard the show has been enhanced with the addition of some excellent recurring supporting characters such as the aforementioned Jim Beaver as Bobby Singer and Misha Collins as the angel Castiel.  But as season six rolls on I have to say its running out of steam.  This show has had some really great moments but reveletionary or revolutionary television it ain't.  And there's only so much you can do to these two poor guys - I mean they've both been damned to hell and come back, Sam was supposed to be the antichrist for a while, they stopped the apocalypse and a war between heaven and hell...ummm... where do you go from there.  They've gotten to the point where they keep having the same conversations over and over and over....

I continue to watch, however.  Why?  Well it's fun and you don't have to pay too close attention.  And I'm also a big fan of Jensen Ackles.  To the point where I like to puzzle on why he hasn't "made it big". First of all, look at the man:

130 Jensen Ackles picture.jpg
He's pretty.  AND, more importantly, he can act.  He's got an incredibly mobile and expressive face which he uses to great affect.  He can break your heart in a dramatic scene while also having pretty spot-on comic timing. Supernatural has given him some opportunities to shine and he has really shone but those moments have become pretty scarce.   So why hasn't Hollywood snatched him up?  One of the great mysteries of our time...or well... my not-nearly-occupied-enough time.  He's still mostly a pleasure to watch and I'm glad the show is still rolling so at least he remains gainfully employed but I shudder to think what a seventh and ..lord preserve us.. eighth season have in store for those of us who can't look away.

If you feel like you need some in depth analysis and recaps of Supernatural I highly recommend you check out the recaps posted on Television Without Pity by Demian and his imaginary gay dragon Raoul.  You won't be disappointed.  Though I see Demian and Raoul have slowly backed away for Season 8...

What are your guilty pleasures?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

This is the 4th installment in the Maisie Dobbs series of historical mysteries. They take place in the late 1920's in Great Britain and the aftermath WWI looms large.  Maisie is hired by a well-to-do journalist to investigate the presumed accidental death of her artist twin brother.  With her usual methods blending traditional investigation techniques and psychology, Maisie dives into the life of the dead artist.  In the process she illuminates some truths about the unique bohemian family to which the siblings belong.

This is a pretty solid addition to the Maisie Dobbs Series. The case being investigated was fairly interesting though I figured out the who and why fairly early on.  It sometimes felt like there was a little too much padding included to mimic substance. However, overall it was relatively satisfying if not a gasp-inducing page-turner.

The most compelling thing about the books is the character of Maisie. Maisie continues to struggle with conflict between her deep satisfaction with her independence and her loneliness.  She is also challenged with her change in social position and she doesn't seem to fit comfortably anywhere. While she is some ways deeply compassionate she also comes across as very detached and disconnected with those around her.  I have to say I'm not sure I entirely like her but I don't know that I've encountered a similar character before so I do enjoy reading about her. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's much bigger on the inside!

Well any Doctor Who purists are going to hate this post because when I say Doctor Who I am referring to the new incarnation of the show that re-appeared thanks to Russell T. Davies back in 2005.  And to add insult to injury I’ve never watched a single episode of Doctor Who classic. Nor do I have any real desire to do so, based on my complete and utter disagreement with most comments posted on the TWOP forum by classic Doctor Who fans.  Basically the things they hate about the new show and compare disparagingly with classic are the things I love about the show.  

And, fair warning, this is going to be a very long post.

So with that out of the way I can start gushing about what a fantastic show Doctor Who is.  I have to admit the first few episodes did not immediately grab me.  Somewhere in the middle of season 1 however I became completely smitten.  It is because of this initial impression, that I urge any new viewers to give it a few episodes.  It’s not until episode 5 or 6 that the addictive drugs kick in.  The problem is that at first glance, the show can seem silly, goofy, and shallow.  And well it is often silly and goofy but it most certainly is not shallow.  What at first seems to be fluff is only the outermost layer of a most delicious and chewy treat.  

First, a quick synopsis.  The Doctor is an alien that bears a striking resemblance to a slightly goofy Englishman.   He’s a Time Lord to be exact and as new Who starts we meet Doctor #9 just after he has lost his world and his people in a war with archenemies the Daleks.   The Doctor likes to travel space and time saving the universe and he’s particularly fond of a small rainy island on a planet called Earth.  He can do all this universe saving because the time lords are technologically advanced and uber brilliant.  Oh yeah and he has the coolest ship ever called the Tardis which looks like a 1960s call box but “is much bigger on the inside.”  The other thing to know about the Doctor is that he likes to travel  with a companion, usually a human who serves as the viewers entry into the adventures because while the Doctor looks human, and even sometimes acts human, he is not human which becomes a very interesting theme throughout the New Who.  Oh and one final thing.  Doctor Who was initially intended for kids.  So you get episodes with farting aliens and some other silliness but as long as you are not too high brow to soldier through these moments you’re in for some awesome telly. 

So what’s so fabulous about Doctor Who?  Well with the traveling in time AND space the adventures to be had are almost endless and the stories are usually creative and interesting.   There’s the fantastic and campy sets and props. There’s the prevalence of the 2 and 3 parter that provide a change of pace at least 1-2 times a season. There’s the almost across- the -board high level of the acting.  But what really does it for me is the relationship between the Doctor and his companion.  

We’ve had 2 Doctor’s (time lords don’t die they just regenerate with a whole new look and body – hence why the show could run for 40 years – clever Brits :0) in the fist 4 seasons both really excellent.  Chris Eccleston was Number 9 and filled the role during the first season.  His Doctor was darker, harder, and angrier with a bit of scary edge.  Don’t get me wrong he was also goofy and manic but always with an underlying streak of violence.  Number 10, played by David Tennant, is hyperactive and over the top and really fabulous.  It’s a great combo because as mentioned above number 9 has just lost his planet and his people in the time war.  He is filled with violence and loss, a little bit of self loathing and an undirected desire for revenge.  The events and companion of season 1 serve to lessen the sway of that darkness and the result is the lighter but not less substantial number 10.  The most important thing to know about the Doctor is that he is profoundly lonely and each of the 4 seasons have dealt with a different aspect of the loneliness as explored through the eyes of and the relationship with the companion.

There were 3 companions over the first 4 seasons.  During seasons one and two we have Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, arguably the most important of the companions.  She also shows up briefly in Season 4.  Season 3 is Martha Jones and Season 4 is the heartbreaking Donna Noble.    

First Rose.  We meet her as a 19 year old living in a flat with her mum and working in a shop.  She’s clever but uneducated and is looking ahead to a life of mundane dullness floating just above the poverty line.  She meets the Doctor when he blows up her shop and after a few more encounters where she proves her strength despite her immaturity; the Doctor lures her into the Tardis with the promise of time travel.  The first thing he does is take her to the day the Earth explodes and thus subtly put them on the same footing.  Rose is great and is by far my favorite companion though I’m not sure this is a popular opinion.  Billie Piper surprises, well, everyone I think, by turning out to be a really terrific actress, with fantastic chemistry with both Chris Eccleston in season 1 and David Tennant in season 2.  The writers also take her character through a believable evolution from a young working class girl with more sass and heart than confidence who has a wide-eyed wonder at the world the Doctor has opened for her, to a confident, almost arrogant girl who devastatingly falls in love with the wrong alien and loses everything.  There are times in season 2 where she is hard to take with her possessiveness of the doctor but it’s the doctor forgetting that he is not human and letting a part of him fall in love with her that’s to blame.  How is a 20-year old supposed to act when adored by a god?  Rose serves to heal the Doctor of the hurt from the time war but then crushes him in a new way by reminding him that he is not human and that he is very truly alone.   

Martha Jones is quite different from Rose.  She is young but closer to 24-25 and more mature than Rose. She comes from a middle class background and is studying to be a Doctor.  She’s beautiful and smart and has a bright future before her.  It is because of this, coupled with the fact that Freema Agyeman is a rather meh actor in my opinion, that, at least for me, Martha Jones was not nearly as likeable a companion.  She is extremely competent, more so than Rose, and is actually called upon to be more self-sufficient and make more sacrifices.  But still.  One of the aspects of the show that is so addicting is the idea of a random human being given the chance to live up to their full potential, travel through time and space and save the universe.  It is an opportunity to be ones most noble self and to live a life that matters and is significant.  When that random human is an unremarkable person working a job to pay the bills completely unaware of their nobility it is beautiful and so easy to root for.  When that random human is a successful, remarkable young lady already embarked on a noble career saving people’s lives it is less compelling.  Still, Martha serves her function, by developing an immediate crush on the Doctor and being wonderful and then strong enough to give the doctor the finger when he very studiously decides not to notice.  You see he’s just seen what havoc he can wreak in his companion’s and his own life by letting himself open up too much.  So with Martha, he closes up and is really rather cruel to her at times with his coldness but he learns this too is not the answer and he must open up and accept the pain on both himself and those who choose to travel with him.   Being closed away makes him too dangerous and causes him to lose touch with his more human and less godly side. 

The companion for season 4 (and also the special between season’s 2 and 3) is Donna Noble.  Donna is a 30 something with little ambition or skill with life.   She has even less going for her than Rose and even less reason to believe in herself.  Her transformation as number ten’s companion is pretty epic as she finds that not only is she self-sufficient but quite a bit less self-involved and compassionate than she appeared to be in her “normal” life.  She’s a great companion, very funny, and is a great friend to the doctor, which is just what he needed after Rose and then Martha’s crush.  What happens to her at the end of the series is arguably one of the most heartbreaking things to happen on this show.  We’d been shown, quite forcefully, in series 2 that life for the companions post doctor is pretty devastating – they’ve experienced wonderful things, been heroic and now they have to go back to mundane life.  However they get to hold on to that heroic part of themselves and they are changed, for the better, forever.  Donna must go back to everyday mundane life but she doesn’t get to remember that she can be heroic.

I don’t go in to series 5 and 6 here.  I’m having some trouble warming up to number 11 and these “new” adventures.  But I’m thinking I may need to re-watch s. 5 and watch s. 6 when I’m in the right frame of mind.  Because this show is too good to give up on!

So… Who’s your favorite companion and why?  Do you enjoy the doctor’s complicated relationships or do you just wish they’d get on with the farting aliens, already?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mystery and Mayhem

I've been catching up lately with a couple of my favorite mystery series.  They couldn't be more different than one another which is fun.

Sherlock Poster 
The second series of Sherlock seriously rocked.  I don't remember being as blown away by series one.  And though each series is only three episodes they cover a lot of ground.  Benedict Cumberbatch is a perfect Sherlock - odious and lovable at the same time.  Martin Freeman (and the writers I suppose) also does a fantastic job giving Watson a personality beyond being Sherlock's loyal, somewhat dimwitted companion. The chemistry the two of them have really shines and I think has a lot to do with why this modernization of the Sherlock stories works so well. I would go so far as to say that, this series, more than any of the others, and perhaps even the original books (don't kill me!), gives the two characters some really interesting depth and complexity.  The penultimate scene of this series is surprisingly affecting and heartwrenching - I'll admit to some watery eyes.  And it definitely ends on a note that left me anxious for a series 3 though it looks like it will be a good long wait

Murdoch Mysteries Poster
A reasonable, though maybe not 100% accurate, description of Murdoch Mysteries is a cozy mystery Canadian Style.  The characters are all a little caricaturesque, which gives the show a lighter tone. It takes place around the turn of the century in Toronto following Detective William Murdoch who employs and experiments with some of the more modern criminal investigation techniques of the time. I'm really fascinated by the birth of modern forensic science so I am understandably drawn to this show.  Murdoch's partner in his march into the future is the female coroner Dr. Julia Ogden.  Her character brings an interesting layer to the show because she introduces an exploration of the life of an early female professional - she's a strong female character and also serves as a romantic interest for Murdoch.  Their relationship is fun because in many ways Julia is the more worldly and confident of the pair.  I'm currently diving into Season 4 which is sadly Dr. Ogden deficient, at least in the first couple episodes. The mysteries are good however and Yannick Bisson is cute as a bug so I'm carrying on without too much angst. 

P.S. Julia shows up in Ep. 3!  Awkward conversations galore - Yee Haw!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Once Upon A Douchebag

Is it just me or is the "David" version of Prince Charming a complete douchebag?  It raises some questions.  Would all Prince Charmings turn into asshats once transported to the modern world?  An intriguing and disturbing idea.  Is this douchebaggery an intentional part of the writers plan to put into motion a some clever plot to awe and amaze or is it the messy result of trying to drag out the romance with Mary Margaret?  


 Do I, perhaps, just expect too much of men?  Hmmmm....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


For someone who lists TV as one of her major dorky interest, I watch very little "live" TV.  I'm not terribly patient and don't like to wait for a week until the next installment. So if it ain't on netflix streaming or at the local library I'm not that savvy.

The point of this little piece of pointless info is to say that I don't know anything about 90% of the shows or characters presented in Television Without Pity's 2012 TV MVPS but I'm posting it here for the Blaine (Glee) and Arya (Game of Thrones) shout-outs which are two shows and characters I do know something about.  I'm sure I'll go on ad nauseum in future posts but suffice it to say they rock seriously hard.   

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Are you a competitive reader?

I’m not a competitive reader, not really. But I did set myself a reading challenge of 73 books in 2012.  And it was going along swimmingly until, well, now.  I had a kept up a good pace, mostly thanks to discovering Graphic novels in general, and the Fables series of graphic novels specifically.  They are fabulous afternoon reads and I've devoured 14 volumes of the suckers this year.

But along comes thanksgiving and I pick up 1) The Stand by Stephen King (~1300 pages) and 2) The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (994 pages or a whopping 43.5 hours of audio). What was I thinking?  Now I am 11 books away from my goal with 3 weeks left in the year.  I’ve actually set aside The Stand, though I am enjoying it, and picked up some quicker reads but this seems a little mercenary.  I mean, shouldn’t it be about quality rather than quantity?  However I have to say having a challenge has encouraged me to make more time for reading.  So maybe I am a competitive reader.

So what do you think about reading challenges?  What would you do, if you were behind in the final stretch and without thinking had committed yourself to two monster reads?