Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2021

Hello, everyone! This month has been a whirlwind. I crossed 1000 views and 500 likes here on the blog. Thank you all so much for the support! I’ve managed to post daily for the entire month, which was more difficult to keep up with than I thought it would be. I’ll probably slow down a bit for a while, but I have some great things planned for June, as well. So, we’ll see. It will probably depend on how busy work is in the near future. I made quite a bit of progress on my reading goals this month, and I actually finished my monthly TBR for the first time! Check out all the details below:

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Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2021

Hello, everyone! It seems that another month has already flown by! My blog has continued to grow (thank you to everyone who stops by to read the posts), and I’ve been increasing the amount and types of content. It’s been a lot of fun to experiment with all the different posts, but it has also been a bit exhausting keeping up with it all and trying to read books too. That being said, I made a lot of progress on my reading goals this month, which you’ll be able to see below.

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Audiobook Review – Doctor Who: The Minds of Magnox

Goodreads Synopsis

A brand new standalone adventure for the Tenth Doctor, which also forms part of the Time Lord Victorious story arc, read by Jacob Dudman.

The Doctor travels with Brian, the Ood assassin, to the planet Magnox, one of the greatest receptacles of knowledge the universe will ever know. The Doctor needs to ask a vital question, but the answer is Grade 1 Classified! In order to gain an audience with the Minds of Magnox themselves he must take a dangerous test. Is he smart enough to get through?

Meanwhile, Brian gets involved with the criminal fraternity and is given a job: to assassinate the Minds of Magnox. However, others also have the planet within their sights….

Jacob Dudman reads this exclusive audio adventure by Darren Jones, and this edition also features a short coda to the story.

My Review

What I Liked

This is probably my favorite story, so far, of the Time Lord Victorious multimedia project. It is a tight story with an interesting, self-contained plot. While it is clearly interconnected with the overarching story of the event, it tells a good story of its own, which some other entries were lacking. I liked the premise of a planet ruled by people who have access to all the information in the universe and the answer to every question. I also enjoyed seeing the Doctor become obsessed with discovering whether his actions in other parts of the TLV event had made the universe a better place. The consequences of this obsession are ironic given the harm caused by it. This entry also contained another stand out performance by Brian the Ood, which I absolutely loved. He really is such a demented, yet fun, character.

The narration really brought this story to another level, as well. It was top notch, and Jacob Dudman did a great job impersonating the Doctor and making Brian the Ood sound eery. The coda was also fantastic and is probably my favorite scene from all of Time Lord Victorious, so far.

What I Didn’t Like

There isn’t really anything negative that stands out to me about this story.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this audiobook is a great entry in the Time Lord Victorious event. It has a fun and interesting story with fantastic narration. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars. If you are a fan of Doctor Who, I recommend it!

Book Review – Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious: All Flesh Is Grass

Summary

This story picks up where The Knight, The Fool, & The Dead left off, with the 10th Doctor facing off with the Kotturuh to defeat death once and for all. Unexpectedly, two earlier versions of himself, the 8th and 9th Doctors, have teamed up with the Daleks and the vampires to stop him. Major battles ensue, and the Doctors’ alliances become tenuous and fraught with peril. The 10th Doctor struggles to accept that no one should have the power over life and death, including himself, while attempting to prevent his supposed allies from wreaking havoc throughout the Dark Times.

What I Liked

This is a fun adventure with multiple doctors. I enjoyed getting to read them playing off each other, especially the 8th doctor interacting with his two later versions. The story was action-packed with several battles and a lot going on to tie the disparate story threads of Time Lord Victorious together. So, it was never boring. Brian the Ood and Mr. Ball were once again a comical treat, and I hope they show up in more media outside of Time Lord Victorious. I also found the idea of the Doctors fighting each other to be an interesting premise, and seeing the 10th Doctor truly adopt the mantle of Time Lord Victorious as he tries to control time and defeat death was magnificent to read.

What I Didn’t Like

The pacing of this story was strange. It seemed to jump from battle to battle with little breathing room or explanation of what was going on. I figured it all out before the end, but a little more down time in the story would have probably helped keep the story from feeling too jumpy. I also wish more time was devoted to the 10th Doctor when he was the Time Lord Victorious. It is such an interesting idea, and he did not take on that mantle for very long in the book. I would have loved to see him struggle with it a bit more.

I was also disappointed that the Kotturuh were defeated so quickly. I really liked their introduction in the last book and wish they had been a bit more formidable since they were literally death-bringers. Instead, this book was yet another Dalek story. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Daleks. However, I also wanted something fresh from the overall story of this book and multimedia project, and I didn’t get that from this at all. It felt like I was reading about Time War Part 2 by the end of the book.

Final Thoughts

All Flesh Is Grass was a fitting crescendo to the Time Lord Victorious project. It is a short, fast-paced read and a fun multi-doctor story. Just like many of the other Time Lord Victorious works, this book is fun, yet somewhat frustrating, because it does not live up to its full potential. However, despite the weird pacing and rehash of previous story beats and monsters, the interaction between the Doctors and getting to see even a glimpse of the 10th Doctor take on the Time Lord Victorious mantle is worth giving it a read. Therefore, I rate it 3 out of 5 stars.

Wrap-Up: March 2021

This month has been an absolute whirlwind. I can’t believe it is already over! The months of this year seem to be flying by quickly. Luckily, I’ve been able to find a lot of great books to enjoy this month. I’ve made significant progress toward my reading goal for this year and am on track to beat it if I can manage to keep up this same pace. We’ll see if life continues to allow it to happen. Regardless, I am excited to reflect on my reading journey from this month. So, without further ado… Here is my wrap-up for March 2021!

What I Read

Master Thief/Lesser Evils by Sophie Iles/Simon Guerrier ⭐⭐⭐

These Doctor Who short audio dramas follow the Master during two of his adventures, which are tangentially connected to other outings in the Time Lord Victorious multimedia project. They are both interesting, straightforward stories that I found fun to listen to.

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not by Carrie Thompson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is another audio drama from the Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious crossover event. It follows the 8th Doctor as he discovers a world that is different than it should be. The theme of the story is Western, and it is a fun introduction to Brian the Ood.

Amazing Spider-Man: Sins Rising by Nick Spencer ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This collection of Spider-Man comics pits the web crawler against a resurrected Sin Eater. I enjoyed reading it and found the parallels with violence extremists to be interesting.

Amazing Spider-Man: Green Goblin Returns by Nick Spencer ⭐⭐⭐⭐

These comics make up the conclusion to the Sins Rising story line. In them, Spider-Man must decide whether he is willing to let Norman Osborn be cleansed to prevent him from committing future evil acts. It is an interesting moral dilemma that is fairly well executed.

Into the Dark by Claudia Gray ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The first YA entry in the Star Wars: The High Republic multimedia event was a lot of fun to read. It follows the adventures of several Jedi as they get stranded on an ancient space station after the hyperspace disaster. See the full review!

Solaris Seethes by Janet McNulty ⭐⭐

This book had the potential to be a great story. It had an interesting premise and was filled with fun adventures. It followed a group of people determined to find six crystals before they could be merged into a galaxy-dominating super-weapon. Unfortunately, the writing style was quite annoying and difficult to read. See the full review!

The Enemy of My Enemy by Tracy Ann Barnes ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This next story in the Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious event follows the 8th Doctor as he helps the Daleks broker a peace treaty with a race of people who shouldn’t exist. It was a fun story in which the Daleks were incredibly smart and ruthless. See the full review!

Doctor Who Annual 2021 by Paul Laing ⭐⭐⭐

I bought this book for the Time Lord Victorious background information, but it also has diary entries from the characters of Series 12 of Doctor Who that describe each of the episodes. It is a quick, informative read. See the full review!

Incursion by Mitchell Hogan ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book. It is an interesting fantasy novel with a unique magic system and great characters. It follows a young man as he attempts to pass his trials to become a Knight while grappling with the darkness rising within him. See the full review!

The Knight, The Fool, & The Dead by Steve Cole ⭐⭐⭐

The first novel in the Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious event is a fun read that follows the 10th Doctor as he faces off against the Kotturuh. Can the Doctor defeat Death? Or, more importantly, should he? See the full review!

Monstrous Beauty by Scott Gray ⭐⭐

This comic follows the 9th Doctor and Rose as they explore the Dark Times. The story is a bit rushed, and I was confused about certain aspects of the story and overall timeline. However, it does provide some background info for other parts of Time Lord Victorious. See the full review!

Genex of Halcyon by Joshua Stelling ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book is a beautifully written look into the potential future of mankind. While the story lacks a clear plot and is confusing at times, the world-building and exploration of deep themes is exceptional. See the full review!

Thurmond’s Saga by Robert John MacKenzie ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thurmond is the most unlikely of heroes, but he dreams of becoming a professional adventurer. After being approached by a stranger to complete some odd tasks, he finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime. This is a fun fantasy story that I highly recommend. See the full review!

Shadow Fall by Alexander Freed ⭐⭐⭐

This second book in the Star Wars Alphabet Squadron trilogy is an improvement on the first novel. It delves deeper into the psyches of the characters and explores the impacts that war can have on a person. Full review is coming soon!

All Flesh Is Grass by Una McCormack ⭐⭐⭐

This book is the climax of the Doctor Who Time Lord Victorious event. It is filled with vampires, Daleks, and a fast-paced adventure. Full review is coming soon!

The House In the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I cannot emphasize enough how much I love this book. It follows case worker Linus Baker as he investigates an orphanage that houses children who just happen to also be magical creatures. The character work, pacing, and emotional tone of this book are all fantastic. Full review is coming soon!

Minds of Magnox by Darren Jones (Narrated by Jacob Dudman) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This Doctor Who Time Lord Victorious audiobook follows the 10th Doctor and Brian the Ood when they land on Magnox to find answers to an important question. The Doctor thinks the Minds of Magnox can give him answers, but, as usual, things don’t go the way the doctor has planned. This audiobook is a fun adventure that provides interesting background information on Brian. Full review is coming soon!

Jairus’s Girl by L.R. Hay ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tammie is a young girl living in Israel during the time period of the life of Jesus. This book was written for children to provide a window into Jesus’s life, and it follows Tammie as she witnesses events firsthand. Full review is coming soon!

Final Thoughts

I can’t believe I read 18 books this month! I usually don’t even read that much in a year. I enjoyed a lot of good books, especially a great number of Doctor Who stories. I hope to finish Time Lord Victorious in the coming month or two. Check back tomorrow to see my reading goal for April 2021!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Leave a comment and let me know!

Book Review – Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious: The Knight, The Fool, And The Dead

‘So,’ she said, ‘the trick is to spend our days trying to live instead of trying not to die?’

The Knight, The Fool, And The Dead, page 126

There is a lot to like in this short Doctor Who novel. The tenth doctor has traveled to the Dark Times shortly after declaring himself the Time Lord Victorious, a being who has the discretion to write the rules of time as he sees fit. He is also struggling and running away from his own impending demise after being told a prophecy of his impending death/regeneration. During his adventure to this time period, the Doctor quickly runs into the Kotturuh, a species who judges all creatures by their potential contribution to the universe by imposing life spans on them. This removes the immortality all species had at creation, and, in effect, begins the occurrence of ‘natural death.’ The tenth Doctor, along with an Ood assassin, a survivor of the Kotturuh, and a scientist, struggle to determine how to stop the Kotturuh from passing judgement on more planets before death sweeps across the entire universe.

I enjoyed the fast pace of the book, and it was an easy read. I was able to finish it in a couple hours. However, I do think the shortness of the novel detracted from its ability to tell an excellent story rather than just a good one. I loved learning more about the Kotturuh, and they truly are an interesting foe for the Doctor, especially at the stage of his life during this story. The physical description of them was eery and learning more about how they set lifespans was interesting, if not totally understandable or believable. I also really enjoyed the comedy of Brian, the assassin Ood, and was happy with his appearance in this book since I enjoyed him in previous outings as well. There were hints of depth and greatness sprinkled throughout the book, such as in my favorite quote shown above, but I would have liked more existential musings (especially from the Doctor) given the entire book is about death. The ending, however, sets the Doctor in an interesting place and role, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with it in future installments of this multimedia project.

Overall, the book is a good and enjoyable read that is somewhat constrained by its length, lack of depth in approaching a topic such as death, and confusing/unbelievable scientific explanations for the Kotturuh’s abilities. Therefore, I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Update: 2021 Reading Challenge

As part of starting this blog, I decided to increase my reading goal to 100 books for this year. For the past few years, I have typically averaged between 15 and 30 books per year. So, this new goal is a huge step up from my past reading habits. As of today, I have finished 25 books so far this year, which I consider to be a huge accomplishment. Overall, I’ve enjoyed reading them all, and I’m excited to recap some of my favorites from before I started reviewing my reads on the blog.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed this follow up book to Carry On. It was refreshing to see what happens after the hero wins the day, and I liked its exploration of what the ‘chosen one’ does after he is no longer so special. I also loved the LGBT representation in this book. It was a great read to start the year!

The Accursed Kings Series by Maurice Druon

This series is an historical fiction tale describing the fall of the Capetian French dynasty and the beginning of the Hundred Years War. It is a fantastic tale of kings, queens, and nobles filled with intrigue, murder, and political plotting. I started reading the series because I wanted to learn more about French history after learning some details about my own French ancestry. I enjoyed the series immensely as a whole, but some of the books were better than others. The writing style changed abruptly for the last book, and it was a struggle to get through it. It seemed almost superfluous to the story. However, the rest of the series was well done and told a very engaging story while providing interesting info about French history. The books in the series are

  • The Iron King ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Strangled Queen ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Poisoned Crown ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Royal Succession ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The She Wolf ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Lily and the Lion ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The King Without a Kingdom ⭐⭐⭐

Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I think this was a good first entry to the High Republic crossover event. It set up many characters, and the disaster that starts the book off was interesting. I found the particulars of the disaster and hyperspace to be somewhat confusing, but it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story. I enjoyed seeing the Jedi order and Republic in action during a different time period, and I am looking forward to seeing how this golden age turns into the corruption of the Senate and deterioration of the Jedi order seen in the prequel movies. The villains were intriguing but not up to par with the threat of the Sith. However, the book made it seemed as if there is still more to them than we know. Overall, I think it was a good introduction to this time period.

A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book, which was a pleasant surprise. I bought it so I wouldn’t miss out on parts of the High Republic story, but I didn’t expect much from it since it is a children’s book. However, the story was really good and tackled some deep themes well, especially coping with loss and grief. It ended up being my favorite of the first wave of High Republic books. If you were thinking of skipping it…don’t!

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not by Carrie Thompson

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is one of the first audio dramas in the Time Lord Victorious multimedia event. It is a Western story set on an alien planet. It was fun, and I enjoyed the introduction of Brian the Ood. I didn’t see how it would relate to the overall event at the time, but it sets up some things that become relevant in later stories.

I look forward to seeing what is in store in the next 75 books throughout this year. As always, I will keep you all posted. What are some of your favorite reads so far this year?

Comic Book Review – Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious: Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty is a three-part comic that was published in the Doctor Who Magazine as part of the Time Lord Victorious multimedia project. In this comic, we find the 9th doctor and Rose after they accidentally venture into the dark times at the very beginning of creation. Throughout this adventure they face multiple obstacles and encounter new, but ancient, species that seem to have a taste for blood.

I don’t hate this story, but I don’t love it either. The premise is interesting, and we get to see a little more of the dark times and some of the monsters that are supposed to make it so scary. It also did a great job of portraying the 9th doctor and Rose. The dialogue really made me feel like I was watching an episode with the two of them in it. The story also provided a glimpse into what the Gallifreyans were up to at this point in history, which was interesting but also confusingly contradictory to the current canon as outlined in the Timeless Children. For example, the Gallifreyan people we see in this comic clearly have mastered space travel, but their genetics are different from that of the doctor, which I assume means they cannot regenerate yet. However, one the most recent episodes of the show indicated that the first space traveler, Tecteun, was also the person who granted the Time Lords regeneration abilities. So, how can they have advanced space travel but not regeneration? Maybe I just missed some detail that explains this, but I still find it very confusing. Most importantly, the ending of this story was rushed and did not make sense to me at all. I think the story would have been better if it had more issues to flesh out the conflicts and resolutions.

Overall, I came away from this comic feeling underwhelmed and somewhat confused. While certain aspects of it were fun to see (it truly was a delight to see nine and Rose back together), this was clearly a forgettable, filler story to explain how the ninth doctor shows up in other parts of the Time Lord Victorious story. Therefore, I rate it 2 out of 5 stars.

Book Review – Doctor Who The Official Annual 2021

Goodreads Synopsis

The must-have gift for Doctor Who fans of all ages!

Join the Doctor for a brand new adventure in the TARDIS! Jam packed with activities, puzzles, stories and so much more, this beautifully illustrated annual will entertain fans for hours.

My Review

So, I bought this for the Time Lord Victorious tie-in information, but I read the entire book. It is filled with information about Series 12 of Doctor Who and provides diary entries from the cast that describe each episode. The book also has games and quizzes throughout, which showed me I need to re-watch this series of the show because I didn’t do so great on the quizzes. I learned some things from the book that I never knew, such as the reason for the TARDIS console having six sides. Overall, the book was filled with interesting info about the most recent series, but keep in mind the book is targeted for a younger audience.

As for the Time Lord Victorious part of the book, it was fun to read because it was written as if Melody Malone (AKA River Song) wrote it for a newspaper. The information provided a glimpse into the dark times and set up the overall narrative for the entire project. However, I found nothing here that I hadn’t already pieced together from the other media available. I would not consider this required reading for the Time Lord Victorious story.

This annual was a short, fun read that provided details about series 12 of Doctor Who, games, quizzes, and a setup of the Time Lord Victorious with descriptions of its key players. It was an enjoyable, but unnecessary, read. Therefore, I rate it 3 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for anyone wanting a refresher on series 12 without actually watching it. Children also may especially enjoy this book because of the games and puzzles it contains.

Audiobook Review – Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious: The Enemy of My Enemy

Goodreads Synopsis

The people of Wrax are happy to begin peaceful negotiations with the Dalek Empire. The two species are preparing to engage in an alliance that will last throughout the ages.


The only one who seems to object to this happy union is the Doctor. He knows that you can never trust the Daleks.


But more than that, he knows that the Wraxians should never have existed…

My Review

The Doctor is back in another installment of the Time Lord Victorious multimedia project, and he is working WITH the Daleks. After being abducted by the Daleks at the end of the last installment, the Doctor decides to team up with their Time Squad to find out what is causing disturbances in time, which have led to massive changes in planets and civilizations across the cosmos. Specifically, the Daleks are interested in investigating the Wraxian civilization for two main reasons: they shouldn’t exist, and they possess a weapon of great power that threatens all species in existence.

This audiobook moves the Time Lord Victorious story forward more than any other previous release. It does a good job of tying together previous entries in the series that seemed incredibly disparate up to this point while also setting up what seems to be a more interesting future story. The Enemy of My Enemy also works great as a standalone story. The Daleks were menacing, as usual, but they also possessed a level of deviousness that was fun to listen to. Nicholas Briggs did an excellent job giving each Dalek a distinctive voice and personality. I particularly like the Strategist and have enjoyed following him through different stories in this event. Paul McGann was a treat as the doctor, which I expected. I particularly enjoyed his delivery of dialogue related to the question, “What is life?” Overall, this was a well-acted, straightforward story that is a pretty strong addition to the Time Lord Victorious story arc, which earns it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

Can the Daleks or the Wraxians be trusted? What is causing the disturbances in time and where did the Wraxians come from? Pick up this delightful audiobook from Big Finish now!