Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Review: A Devil in the Details by Stewart

A Devil in the Details (Jesse James Dawson, #1)A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wry urban fantasy is not my normal fantasy subgenre, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart. I can savor the supernatural (angels, demons, witches, clerics) but please pass on the paranormal (vampires, werewolves, zombies) and that's just what Jesse James Dawson did.

Check out my guest review at

View all my GoodReads reviews

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Doctor Who: The Doctor's Wife

The Doctor's Wife

An amazing episode, written by none other than Neil Gaiman, a well known popular award winning science fiction author. Again, I'm too lazy to write my own synopsis, so please visit the Wikipedia article on The Doctor's Wife episode if you need more info.

My favorite snippet of dialogue from this episode:
Idris: You ever wonder why I chose you all those years ago?
The Doctor: I chose you. You were unlocked.
Idris: Of course I was. I wanted to see the universe so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one mad enough.
This episode is overflowing with revelations about the TARDIS (it's female and likes being called both 'old girl' and 'sexy'). We see more of the TARDIS (well, Amy and Rory running through endlessly similar corridors while the villain, House, terrorizes them). We see other dead TARDISes (or is it TARDI ??) and revisit the Tenth Doctor's console (Tenant's desktop so to speak). Definitely a four star rating.

Next Episode: Rebel Flesh

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What are the Odds? Astronomical Apparently

B&N's Nook Color
As an anniversary gift, my husband bought me a Nook Color last week. I've used the free downloadable Nook for PC software for years (well, at least as long as Barnes & Noble has offered it) and even used it on my BlackBerry last year before budget belt tightening meant my employer retracted said BlackBerry. So, I've accumulated about three dozen ebooks from various sources, including Barnes & Noble, but relied heavily upon Project Gutenberg for access to public domain works from the 19th century, which allowed me to read such English Literature classics as The Age of Innocence and Jane Ayre as well as purchase contemporary science fiction and fantasy works that I consider some of my all-time favorites like The Time of the Dark and The Magic of Recluce.

The first week or so of ownership didn't involve much reading, in the traditional sense. I test read a couple of books (including reading the Nook Color User's Guide twice) to adjust the font size to suit my aging eyes. I explored various wifi hot-spots I might frequent near my employer's building (including the free one offered by the KC Public Library via their Plaza branch) and at home (my own guest wifi network which I setup a couple of months ago but had not tested yet).

The first app I downloaded and tested I heard about at GoodReads. Announced on their blog back in late April, the developers at my favorite book-lovers website created an app specifically for the Nook Color. Currently, the app is limited in functionality very similar to their mobile site but I hope for some improvements in future versions, most notably the ability to vote (or like) reviews from my updates feed and support for discussions and groups. I may have found a bug in the status update feature, at least as respects audio books or ebooks (which use percentage read instead of page read). Since the Nook Color also includes a web browser, I can surf to GoodReads' mobile site or even regular website if I encounter a problem with the app.

The Pulse news feed application came next. I am not as wowed by what it serves up for news articles and find myself preferring my laptop and FireFox web browser for current events perusing.

Since I had given up on listening to audiobooks on my dumbphone, I took the 4GB microSD card I purchased several months ago (and could not use in said dumbphone due to firmware restrictions to 2GB) and inserted it into the Nook Color. I then connected the device to my laptop via the miniUSB cord and copied the entire audio book for Elvenbane (all 15 CDs worth in MP3 audio format). Using my old BlackBerry stereo headphones (the best sounding most comfortable ear buds I've every worn), I have enjoyed listening to the book while relaxing on the back seat of the van I ride to commute daily.

Astronomy Magazine (June 2011)
But the most exciting opportunity occurred today at lunch, while I surfed my feeds at Twitter and Facebook using Planet Sub's free wifi service. Astronomy Magazine announce today, at 11:25 a.m. the ability to subscribe to a digital version for the Nook! I subscribed right then and there and downloaded the June 2011 issue before returning to my office building. Now, if I can just get B&N to also offer Sky & Telescope for the Nook Color, I'll be in astronomical heaven! I will console myself by reading the digital edition of Astronomy magazine on the ride home this afternoon.

The first ten days of ownership of the Nook Color promise many more enjoyable hours of reading, listening and surfing. I have had very few problems with the device. I highly recommend it for the geeky gadget-loving reader.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Doctor Who: The Curse of the Black Spot

Doctor Who: Curse of the Black Spot

"Yo ho ho! or does nobody actually say that?" -- the Doctor (soon to be one of my favorite quotes).

Plot summary at Wikipedia (yes, I'm being lazy again but I have an excuse ... it's Mother's Day).

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and would give it four stars, possibly more, especially for the dramatic scene between Amy and Rory towards the end and for the pirates! Who doesn't love a romping swashbuckling tale of the high seas, pirates and sea monsters?

And was I the only one who noticed that the newly inaugurated space pirates first visited the Dog Star aka Sirius?

I think I still prefer Robert Picardo over a supermodel with his signature 'Please state the nature of the medical emergency.' But that's just me.

Next week we might meet the Doctor's wife or possibly another time lord. Either way, I'm excited and ecstatic to have exceptional science fiction to look forward to each and every Saturday night. Hip Hip Hurray for BBC America!

Doctor Who: The Day of the Moon

Nearly the first thing we did upon returning home from our weekend getaway to Table Rock Lake, after visiting the necessary room of course, was to watch the Day of the Moon via the DVR. Follow this link for a plot synopsis at the relevant Wikipedia article.

Doctor Who: Day of the Moon

The beginning and middle of this episode kept me confused for longer than I like. And the Silents started creeping me out, similar to the Weeping Angels in "Blink" episode, especially when Amy was wondering a deserted orphanage during a night thunderstorm alone. Part of my confusion probably stemmed from the unreliably nature of the narration. Since the characters (including Doctor Who) could not cohesively remember their encounters with the Silents, we experienced what they experienced without much third-person omnipotent viewpoint advantage.

I am not convinced we have seen the last of the Silents, especially if you consider the continuity flashbacks and foreshadowings. I liked the very American response and call to revolution against the Silents that the Doctor engineered and I especially liked the black box at Area 51, but the resolution arrived too quickly for me.

As to the identity of the girl in the astronaut suit, you can find a good discussion ongoing here where I bring up some questions about who the girl might be and who her mother might be, all of which will be answered in Moffat's good time.

Close to four stars, better than three and a half stars (out of five stars) for an episode of Doctor Who. Next week it appears Doctor Who et al. will be playing pirates and chasing mermaids on the high seas in "The Curse of the Black Spot" episode.