Monday, June 30, 2014

My Favourite Companions/Guides: Downton Abbey {Day 4}

There are two very good Downton Abbey guides I've come across. Both are written by the same people, but each looks at the TV show from a different viewpoint.

The World of Downton Abbey looks at the TV show from the historical and cultural end, and focusses a lot on the time period in addition to tying it in with the show. I'm reading this guide now and I am enjoying it highly.

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey looks at the characters of the TV show, instead. I haven't started reading this one yet, but I am sure that it will be just as good as its companion guide.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Favourite Companions/Guides: Narnia {Day 3}

The Official Narnia Movie Guides - THESE are movie guides done right. They are packed with lots of information regarding the movies (about and behind the scenes) and beautiful photos. These are the standard that I base all other official movie guides against.

Narnia Chronology: From the Archives of the Last King is a really nicely illustrated guide for children. It includes stories of Narnia, illustrations from the books, and fun pop-up/interactive bits that even I like to play with. ;)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Favourite Companions/Guides: The Lord of the Rings {Day Two}

The Lord of the Films is one of my absolute favourite guides...for any movie or series. This book is divided into scenes from The Lord of the Rings movies and provides provides pictures, funny reactions from audiences to that certain scene, bloopers, and fun facts. I like to read random snippets from it to amuse myself.

The Magic Worlds of Lord of the Rings is formatted like a question and answer book, with the answers going into depth of about 1-3 pages. This book includes facts for "greenhorns" to facts that even I didn't know (and I'm a huge Tolkien fan who knows a lot of facts about The Lord of the Rings). This guide is very enjoyable to read.

Guide to Tolkien's World: A Bestiary - I'm sort of cheating with this one again because I haven't read it. However, my sister read it and she assures me that it is most excellent.

The Rough Guide to The Lord of the Rings was my first LOTR companion. I really like this one because it covers lots of aspects pertaining to The Lord of the Rings - from the origins of the story to movie trivia to characters to movements that Tolkien's trilogy inspired in the real world.

Books that almost made the list
- The Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide: This is a decent guide to The Fellowship of the Ring, but I have seen better movie guides (such as the official Narnia movie guides).

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Favourite Companions/Guides: Doctor Who {Day One}

Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia - This guide features characters that appear throughout the fifty years of Doctor Who - from Time Lords and companions to monsters and villains. This book was published before the 2013 Christmas special, so it is missing some information regarding the Eleventh Doctor. I have only watched the newest seasons (the Ninth to Eleventh Doctors), but I enjoyed reading about the characters from the classics, as well.

The Doctor: His Lives and Times - I've only read the last fourth of this book because I didn't want to spoil the classic episodes for myself, but I was delighted with the section of this book that I did read. In order to tell the stories of each Doctor, the section on each Doctor features his story told by the point of view of a minor character - such as the diary entries of the Doctor's granddaughter Susan or an interview with Rose's mother Jackie - in addition to news clippings and photographs. Then, to complete the section, there are a couple of pages of quotes regarding casting and filming.

Who is the Doctor: The Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who: The New Series - I feel like I'm cheating with this one because I haven't actually read the book. However, I think this is a really neat book because it gives a summary of each episode from the Ninth to Eleventh Doctors. A TV guide, you might say. :)

New Series Adventure novellas - I've only read one of these books (you can see my review here), but I really enjoyed the one I read and I'm planning on trying to read as many of the books in this series as I can. By the way, I haven't read the book that I chose to represent this series - I just liked the cover. :) I want to read this one...and this one...and...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Deeply Devoted ~ book review

When Catharine Olsen leaves Holland for Wyoming as a mail-order bride, she brings some extra baggage with her: her two sisters Greta and Anna, her mother's set of Blue Willow china, and a tragic past. As she steps off the train, Peter Andersen is glad to see that she is everything her letters showed her to be. But he is a bit perturbed by her unexpected companions. How will he support them all? And what other secrets might Catharine be keeping from him?

Filled with sweet romance and vivid characters, Deeply Devoted highlights a clash of cultures as a highborn European and a simple wheat farmer learn to love one another and trust God with the past--and the future.

I thought this was a lovely story about the ups and downs of marriage. I liked that even though this book featured a couple already married, any descriptions were fine (compared to books I've read with unmarried couples that had descriptions that I'm not sure I would even be comfortable reading in a book with a married couple).

There were, however, a couple of details in this book that weren't historically correct. For example, Anna wears overalls around the farm and her sisters think it is a good idea. The characters treat Greta's turning 18 as a big occasion. Peter and Catherine have a "cute" mud fight. A restaurant owner offers refills. Other historical mistakes.

However, I didn't notice most of these things until thinking about the book later. This book is captivating and I couldn't put it down. I loved that the reader gets not only Catherine's point of view, but also the points of view of Peter and his meddling mother.

Alyianna's review: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Songs from the Movies ~ Mary Chapin Carpenter album review

Genre: Americana; easy listening

This album was very different than the things I usually listen to. The songs seemed to blend together as one, sounding very similar. However, Mary Carptenter's voice (which reminds me Annie Lennox) and the orchestral music has a very calming and peaceful effect. I really like this album and think it would be great to play when one is in a bad mood... or in the background for studying.

Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sarai ~ book review

Sarai, the last child of her aged father, is beautiful, spoiled, and used to getting her own way. Even as a young girl, she is aware of the way men look at her, including her half brother Abram. When Abram finally requests Sarai's hand, she asks one thing--that he promise never to take another wife as long as she lives. Even her father thinks the demand is restrictive and agrees to the union only if Sarai makes a promise in return--to give Abram a son and heir. Certain she can easily do that, Sarai agrees. 

But as the years stretch on and Sarai's womb remains empty, she becomes desperate to fulfill her end of the bargain--lest Abram decide that he will not fulfill his. To what lengths will Sarai go in her quest to bear a son? And how long will Abram's patience last? 

After reading the summary on the back of this book, I wasn't sure whether I was going to like it or not. However, I decided to try it anyway because I've loved every other book recommended on Charity's blog. While I haven't liked it quite as much as those other books (such as When the Smoke Clears and With Every Letter), I still enjoyed this retelling of Sarah and Abraham's story. I appreciated Sarah's doubt, attesting to her humanity... although I did get a little annoyed with her at times. I also liked that Abraham even had his doubts (come on, the Bible stories made me wonder about him because NO ONE can be that good and faithful). I was a little disappointed that the book didn't quite finish their entire story, but I guess that was done to leave it on a good note. I also liked that there the reader sees the points of view of other characters, such as Lot, his wife Milcah, and Sarai's maid Hagar.

Alyianna's Rating: 8 out 10
(I'm not sure whether I'm going to try the other books of this series or not.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

When the Smoke Clears ~ book review

As a member of the North Cascades Smokejumpers, Alexia Allen always takes care of the equipment that keeps her safe. So when she nearly dies in a fire due to equipment failure, she knows something is up. Ordered to take time off while the investigation continues, Alexia makes a last-minute decision to recuperate at her mother's home and attend her high school reunion. Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving home she's involved with murder, arson--and a handsome detective. But the conflicts ahead are nothing compared to the ghosts of her past. As she strives to remember and forgive her family history, she must also decide if the secret she's been guarding for the last ten years must finally come to light. 

When the Smoke Clears begins with a prologue of what happened ten years before the story begins, on Alexia Allen's graduation day. I thought this was a very clever way to begin the story, especially since it ended on a very climactic note, making me feel like I needed to go find the author and beg for information to what had happened right away. As the story enfolds, we learn more about Alexia's life and her side of things, but with still no answers to the climactic prologue. Then a murderer begins to target Alexia.

This book was very suspenseful, keeping me from putting it down. It was very enjoyable, being written so well. I liked the Christian and light romance elements - the love interest was godly and sweet, but he could also take care of himself, being a police officer.

And then the book ends on a climactic note. Well, that means that I can't wait to read the next book in the series! :)

Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10

Monday, June 16, 2014

With Every Letter ~ book review

As part of a World War II morale-building program, flight nurse Lt. Mellie Blake begins an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, they develop a deep friendship. But when they're both transferred to Algeria, will their future be held hostage by the past---or will they reveal their identities?

I enjoyed this book very much. While every single book I've read this year that claimed to having sweet romance turned out to be borderline, this book's touch of romance, stemming from a wonderful friendship, was perfect and added to the plot instead of distracting from it. Really, I haven't been so pleased with a book's romance plot for a while.

I also appreciated the long-distance correspondence because my high school was online and some of the best friendships that I ever (and/or still do) had were forged and maintained without ever (or very rarely) meeting that person at all. I liked how Mellie and Tom were able to touch and help each other's lives in such a wonderful way. And may I just say that Tom is one of the most honorable young men that I have met in a book for a long time. :)

Alyianna's rating: 10 out 10

Friday, June 13, 2014

Merlin Series 1 ~ TV show review

Main Actors/Actresses: Colin Morgan (Merlin), Bradley James (Arthur), Katie McGrath (Morgana), Angel Coulby (Guinevere), Richard Wilson (Gaius), John Hurt (voice of Great Dragon), Anthony Head (King Uther)

I started watching Merlin a couple of weeks ago and I love it. Really, so far I have not ceased to be amazed at the quality of television BBC has produced (though my only experience has been the old Chronicles of Narnia, 1995 Pride and Prejudice, Doctor Who, and now Merlin).

This show focuses on an adolescent Merlin and the events that lead up to the stories of King Arthur and the great wizard Merlin that we all know and love (at least, I hope so). I really love this take on these stories because I think it provides character development and stories to the characters we all know (King Uther, Arthur, Merlin, Morgana, Guinevere). Some of the myths (such as Excalibur) are put to use. We also see some more minor(ish) characters who appear for a short time and leave, providing back story to the well-known characters... and some delight for those of who would be disappointed not to see their favourite characters (AWESOME! We get to see LANCELOT, too?!) The adventures are exciting (though I'm not sure what's up with all of the creatures being gigantic and also usually looking like a dinosaur). There is a good amount of emotional moments...and a little dash of something that may turn into sweet romance.

I get a little uncomfortable with the emphasizing of the importance of magic, but it's not too bad. Merlin always uses his magic for a good end (and, if not, he either gets reprimanded by his mentor/father-in-spirit Gaius or something bad happens). Other characters also have their moments when they choose good or evil, which I really like in a movie or TV show. So far, the show has been family friendly - at the moment, I am actually watching the episodes a second time with my sister (because this show is just so good).

I love most of the episodes equally (episode 1 starts very well and is one of my favourites), but my absolute favourite episode of Merlin so far is is the season's finale, "Le Morte d'Arthur". Not only is it very exciting, I really love that Merlin stands up to some of his magical mentors who encourage him to use the wrong means for a good end. When that episode finished, I was literally sitting there in awe before I could get back to normal life. ;) So obviously, I am very excited to start series 2!

My Top Five Favourite Episodes
1. "Le Morte d'Arthur" (episode 13)
2. "The Poisoned Chalice" (episode 4)
3. "The Dragon's Call" (episode 1)
4. "The Labyrinth of Gedref" (episode 11)
5. "The Moment of Truth" (episode 10)

Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Fairest Beauty ~ book review

Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe? 

After reading The Captive Maiden, I decided that I want to read all of Melanie Dickerson's other books. This book was even better than its sequel (yes, I didn't realize that I was reading the books backwards until now), in my opinion. There was the same type of sweet romance, but I found the heroine Sophie to be purer of heart than Giselle from CM was, and likewise for Gabe from FB versus Valten from CM.

I actually liked having read CM first, though because it left me with a feeling of things being satisfactorily finalized (because I know that Valten gets his Princess in the sequel, so he wasn't really left out at the end for me). But if you're trying to figure out which book of the series to read first, both have their benefits so it really doesn't matter.

Alyianna's rating: 10 out 10

Other Reviews
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Charity U
This book was a lovely surprise! I was quite sure from reviews of Melanie’s other books, and also from the back cover, that I would enjoy this book…I just didn’t know how much! This is a delightful retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. But it isn’t really a fantasy book…everything that happens really could have happened! There isn’t any “magic” like you usually see in these retellings. However, it is easy to see how in later retellings (I’m pretty sure this is the TRUE story) magic was worked in. The characters depended on God, making them clearly Christian. However, this didn’t detract from the delightfulness of the story in the least! The dwarves were changed, but recognizable…and that’s all I’m going to say about that here. Go buy a copy. :) Oh, also, if you’ve read The Healer's Apprentice, I’m pretty sure you’re going to find a character or two to recognize! I haven’t, but I caught the reference through pure luck. Definitely want to read more by Melanie! See review.

BrandiFirst, Sophie herself is a great protagonist. She's honest and sweet, but also strong-willed and brave in the face of trouble. I've always thought of Snow White as animpossibly kind character, but I felt that Sophie was believable. Gabe is also has a believable personality. He's capable, resilient, and courageous - but also extremely impulsive. He's driven by the desire to exceed his brother's reputation. Read more.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ashton Park ~ a book review

When I read "for fans of Downton Abbey" on the back of this book, there was no question about me reading this book. I liked what I was reading from the page one. However, I did became a little less enthralled halfway into the book. As the description on the back of the book compares Ashton Park to Downton Abbey AND claims that it focuses on the lives of those both upstairs and downstairs, I was pretty disappointed when I figured out that this book primarily focuses on the lives of the family, and hardly mentions the servants ('downstairs' characters are some of my favourites in Downton Abbey). Okay, yes, some portions of the servant's lives are mentioned, but only when that is directly connected to the family in some way.

In addition, the book skips through long periods of time - sometimes there is half a year's time in between one chapter and the next. I understand that Downton Abbey does the same in between seasons, but it is much more inconspicuous. This style of writing makes Mr. Pura's novel feel rushed (especially further into the book), and it made me feel as if the children's relationship subplots were the only important things happening in the Danforth family. About that...I got super annoyed that the reader almost only sees the Danforth's children's relationships, and not much else of their lives. As soon as the female (or male) character meets another character of the opposite sex, I knew right away that he or she would be her or his future husband or wife and that they would fall in love very soon. I also got a little uncomfortable with some of the romantic scenes. They weren't that bad, but they weren't as Christian as I was hoping them to be. But maybe that's just me being too picky again. I'm going to put some more thoughts on the relationships of the story at the bottom of this post since it includes spoilers.

I've also noticed a review on Goodreads which was nitpicking at some problems which I didn't even notice. This person claimed that Ashton Park is not historically and culturally accurate. One of her examples was the spelling of 'ma'am' as 'ma'arm'; she believed that one should stick to the actual spelling of the word, not the sound. However, I believe that spelling a word how it sounds adds more to the reality of a historical fiction, and makes the story that much more interesting. There are so many classic books that you can read that have this in them. About his other comments, I'm not an expert so I don't know, but here's her review if you want to read it.

Alyianna's Rating: 8 out 10

Some Thoughts on the Relationships of the Story (SPOILERS)
Some of the relationships just annoyed me, like Ben and Victoria's relationship, which seemed like the stereotypical servant-and-rich-person-fall-in-love-and-get-married type of thing. I found Sir William's sister Holly to be a little inappropriate and pushy/controlling in relationship-type things. I found the most interesting relationships to be Libby and Michael's because they hated each other at the beginning, and also Catherine and Albert's because they had a difficult marriage, but they worked together and fixed it.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle ~ book review

In the golden time of Arthur and Guinevere, the Island of the West shines like an emerald in the sea—one of the last strongholds of Goddess-worship and Mother-right. Isolde is the only daughter and heiress of Ireland’s great ruling queen, a lady as passionate in battle as she is in love. La Belle Isolde, like her mother, is famed for her beauty, but she is a healer instead of a warrior, “of all surgeons, the best among the isles.” A natural peacemaker, Isolde is struggling to save Ireland from a war waged by her dangerously reckless mother. The Queen is influenced by her lover, Sir Marhaus, who urges her to invade neighboring Cornwall and claim it for her own, a foolhardy move Isolde is determined to prevent. But she is unable to stop them. King Mark of Cornwall sends forth his own champion to do battle with the Irish—Sir Tristan of Lyonesse—a young, untested knight with a mysterious past. A member of the Round Table, Tristan has returned to the land of his birth after many years in exile, only to face Ireland’s fiercest champion in combat. When he lies victorious but near death on the field of battle, Tristan knows that his only hope of survival lies to the West. He must be taken to Ireland to be healed, but he must go in disguise—for if the Queen finds out who killed her beloved, he will follow Marhaus into the spirit world. His men smuggle him into the Queen’s fort at Dubh Lein, and beg the princess to save him.

While this story was an interesting take on the story of King Arthur and his knights, I decided to stop reading this book halfway through. This was due to the male characters in the book; every man was portrayed as a lustful human being. Even Merlin had a woman on his mind at some point, but it isn't the thinking of women that I was bothered by. Even from the beginning, we see a man who is definitely having non-marital relations with a queen. While some descriptions were a little troubling, they weren't too bad and, in addition, the reader can tell from the very beginning that this guy was going to be a villain of the story. I enjoyed the sweet romance between the hero and the heroine. But when the hero, once-before admirable in my eyes, has a night with his lady, I had more than enough. I don't care how the ending would turn out, I just know that the book stepped over my boundaries. The romance was not sweet anymore, and the descriptions were getting too graphic. I was actually left feeling disgusted with anyone of the male gender for the next few days.

Another point that was to a lesser extreme - there are certain Christian characters in this book that are shown in a very negative light, while the main characters are all Goddess-worshipers.

Alyianna's rating: 4 out of 10 (interesting story, but the things mentioned above ruined the entire story)

Other reader's ratings (both positive and negative)

Juju (negative)
Tristan and Isolde in this novel seem more like selfish children than star-crossed lovers. They bring most of their troubles upon themselves through pouting and poor decision making. I also couldn't help wondering why it took a love potion to unite these two lovers who were supposedly destined for each other.

Shala Howell (negative)
Childish emotions--too overwrought and changeable. Imagery obvious. Writing veers from painfully bad to barely serviceable. Characters appear to have the emotional capacity of twelve-year-olds. I can't really comment on the story, because I was too busy groaning at the writing to notice if the plot was progressing the way the story of Tristan and Isolde should. 

Sharon (positive)
This story takes place in the time of Arthur and Gwenevere and so reads like a fairytale. Ireland was one of the last places where Goddess-worship and Mother-right disappeared or at least diminished because of Christianity emerging. Rosalind Miles takes these two ideas to their extreme and that is why the book is a light and 'airy-fairy' read. But the age-old story of a princess and her knight is always captivating and this story definitely is. Isolde, the Queen of Ireland's daughter and a renowned healer, first meets Tristan, her knight, when he is brought to her to be saved from near death after having fought Ireland's best champion in combat. His true identity was disguised because the champion he had killed just happened to be her mother, the Queen's, own lover knight and she had sworn revenge. When Tristan recovers he has to return to the safety of Cornwall and his uncle, King Mark's, castle. King Mark decides to bind their lands under one rule by making Isolde his queen. While escorting Isolde to Cornwall on the ship, by a twist of fate they drink an elexir intended for King Mark and Isolde, to create a passion in her for this stranger King, but the effects ensure that the passion is between Tristan and Isolde till death. And so the story unfolds with all the elements of Other-world lore like Merlin being able to take on different shapes to appear before people, and seemingly bottomless pools that open out into caverns where the goddess resides in one of her many forms. And if you are 'hooked' there are two more novels in this trilogy.

You can read more reviews here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

#38: Night of the Humans ~ book review

'This is the Gyre - the most hostile environment in the galaxy...' 250,000 years' worth of junk floating in deep space, home to the shipwrecked Sittuun, the carnivorous Sollogs, and worst of all - a band of Humans who have turned back towards barbarianism and superstition. The Doctor and Amy arrive on this terrifying world in the middle of an all-out frontier war between Sittuun and Humans, and the countdown has already started. There's a comet in the sky, and it's on a collision course with the Gyre...When the Doctor is kidnapped, it's up to Amy and "galaxy-famous swashbuckler" Dirk Slipstream to save the day. But is Slipstream really to be trusted?

I snatched up this book as soon as I saw it at my public library because I am a huge fan of Doctor Who. Night of the Humans didn't disappoint. Similar to any other Doctor Who story, the pages of this book contain an exciting and moving story not only about survival, but about forgiveness and life. It was well-written and read just as if it were a regular Doctor Who episode written down. This series is, simply put, amazing official Doctor Who fan fiction. I can't wait to read the next books in this series.

Alyianna's rating: 9 out 10

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Doctor Who Series 7 ~ a television show review

Head Writer: Steven Moffat
Main Cast: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Jenna Louise-Coleman
Composer: Murray Gold (his music is pure gold)

The first time I watched series 7, I actually didn't like it very much. The first few and last few episodes were very good, but the middle episodes seemed more like fillers that didn't go with the theme of the latter episodes (the "Impossible Girl" theme - which was fantastic, by the way). However, after a second viewing, I like the middle episodes a lot better.

My Thoughts on the Season

The Christmas special "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe" did an interesting spin on a story of a family during the war with a play on the 'wardrobe-leading-to-another-world' theme of Narnia. The episode focuses on the importance of family - and, most especially, the strength of a mother. This one is probably one of my favourite of Moffat's Christmas specials (after "The Snowmen").

Run. Run, you clever boy... and remember me. 
- "Asylum of the Daleks"

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory imprisoned by Daleks
In "Asylum of the Daleks", the Doctor, Amy, and Rory are captured by Daleks (who, for those of you who don't know, are the fiercest enemies of the Doctor), who have a favour to ask of the Doctor. Along the way, they meet a genius girl who is trapped in a crash-landed space ship, Oswin Oswald. This episode is very good ... and is the beginning of the "Impossible Girl" theme. However, the Amy/Rory divorce theme of this episode was not only unappreciated by me, but doesn't even really make sense when compared to other Amy and Rory episodes before and after "Asylum of the Daleks".

We'd been at war for nine years. A war that had already decimated half of our planet. Our task was to bring peace. And we did. We built an army that routed the enemy and ended the war in less than a week. Do you want me to repent? To beg forgiveness for saving millions of lives? 
- "A Town Called Mercy"

Then there are three filler episodes as we abruptly leave Oswin (which, I suppose works with how the last episode ended, but doesn't work as well with the season in its entirety). "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" is a fun one (in which we get introduced to Rory's dad Brian), but I think it's one of the weaker ones. I like "A Town Called Mercy" (a Western with big questions of morality - meaning in the way that it deals with villains who are low on morality, not that the episode is low on morality) and "The Power of Three" (in which we see Brian again and see the Doctor saving London and coping with Earth life simultaneously) better. However, these three episodes are still more of filler episodes before we come to the next big climactic one.

Do one more thing for me. There's a little girl waiting in a garden. She's going to wait a long while, so she's going to need a lot of hope. Go to her. Tell her a story. Tell her that if she's patient, the days are coming that she'll never forget. Tell her she'll go to see and fight pirates. She'll fall in love with a man who'll wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she'll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived. And save a whale in outer space. Tell her, this is the story of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends.  
- "The Angels Take Manhattan"

Together...or not at all.
"The Angels Take Manhattan" is one of my favourite episodes. It's got the creepy Weeping Angels, beautiful moments between Rory and Amy (and River and the Doctor), and it has an ending that is as much of a tear-jerker as the Christmas specials in which the Doctor gets killed off (I haven't been so emotionally affected after watching this episode since the Tenth Doctor's death - and I was almost hysterical after THAT episode).

There's a man called The Doctor. He lives on a cloud in the sky. And all he does, all day every day, is to stop all the children in the world ever having bad dreams. 
- "The Snowmen"

In the Christmas special "The Snowmen", the Doctor has vowed never to interfere in human affairs again after his devastating loss of Amy and Rory. But something is about to convince him otherwise. We meet a girl who looks exactly like Oswin. Except that her name is Clara and she is a governess in Victorian London. Mystery abounds, the "Impossible Girl" theme REALLY starts, and Moffat genius follows. And we meet the Paternoster Gang again. This episode is one of Moffat's finest.

Things get a little less exciting again in "The Bells of St. John". However, Moffat is still on track with the "Impossible Girl" as we meet ANOTHER Clara. The Doctor is just as mystified as we are. I personally enjoyed this episode, but not everyone seems to think so. Looking back, that line "I don't know where I am!" ties in incredibly well with "The Name of the Doctor" later on.

I walked away from the last great Time War. I marked the passing of the Time Lords. I saw the birth of the universe and watched as time ran out, moment by moment, until nothing remained. No time, no space. Just me! I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a madman! And I watched universes freeze and creation burn! I have seen things you wouldn't believe! I have lost things you will never understand! And I know things, secrets that must never be told, knowledge that must never be spoken! Knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze!  
- "The Rings of Akhaten"

One of "The Rings of Akhaten"'s glorious moments.
"The Rings of Akhaten". What can I say? I have heard one review describe this episode as a "yawnfest", but I heartily disagree. I think it is one of the best episodes of this entire season.

Lots of filler episodes. "Cold War" ... "Hide" ... "Journey to the Center of the Tardis" ... "The Crimson Horror" ... "Nightmare in Silver".  I think that "The Crimson Horror" and "Nightmare in Silver" are quite good, and "Hide" isn't bad, but for the most part, these five episodes don't add much to the season. "Cold War" is probably my least favourite episode of the whole Doctor Who reboot.

The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave. It has been discovered. 
- "The Name of the Doctor"

"The Name of the Doctor" is undeniably the best episode of this season (excluding the Fiftieth Anniversary). I think it is a perfect resolution to the "Impossible Girl" as well as to the "Question that Must Never Be Answered" theme that began last season. It brings in elements from "The Snowmen" (including the Paternoster Gang) and is SO. DARN. QUOTABLE.

I've had many faces, many lives. But I don't admit to all of them. There's one life I've tried very hard to forget. 
- "The Day of the Doctor"

Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame. 
- "The Day of the Doctor"

Ten, the War Doctor, Clara, Eleven
The Fiftieth Anniversary, "The Day of the Doctor", was everything that it should be - from the incorporation of previous characters and symbols to an exciting adventure with THREE Doctors to the resolution of the tragedy of Gallifrey to a nod to the fans from Moffat with a young scientist-fan of the Doctor. Very quotable, very funny, very emotional, and very epic. I found the first half with the Zygons pointless on my first viewing, but I realized how it really glued the events of the episode together on my second viewing. And man, it was good to see David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) again!!

I have a new destination. My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone's. It's taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I'm going. Where I've always been going. Home. The long way around. 
- "The Day of the Doctor"

.....And then it all goes down with "The Time of the Doctor". I was very unimpressed with this episode. Not only did most of the plot seem to undo the magical cohesiveness of "The Day of the Doctor", but there was a whole mess of previous villains thrown in this episode that didn't even have a purpose in the episode (such as the Weeping Angels). Also, a good portion of this episode was inappropriate and anti-Catholic (I only watched a small portion of the beginning and was informed about the rest by my dad because I just couldn't take any more of it). It all begins when we see the parts of the Doctor not hidden behind the Tardis console...naked. He claims that it is because he is "going to church". The "Papal Mainframe" is a huge jab against the Catholic church - with a "nun" who "appreciates the Doctor's nudity", old villains being turned into "priests", and a fully-decorated room with a bed that looks exactly like an altar.

Goodbye to Eleven
However, the ending of the episode is good. If you're looking for a part when to start watching, scroll in until you see Clara with an old Doctor (who has been in the town of Christmas for 2000 years). While the gift to the Doctor of another set of regenerations leads to an epic victory against Daleks, I do find it a little tacky to make sure that the show can continue on for another good long portion of time. I'd rather that the show ended well than went on and got worse... and, honestly, I wouldn't put it past Moffat to ruin Doctor Who after this episode.

HOWEVER, the death of 11 and regeneration into 12 is brilliantly done - with Murray Gold's incredible music tying this episode with "The Rings of Akhaten" and an appearance of a companion very dear to Eleven's heart. But really, these ending scenes in which the Doctor first has a sad scene, then regenerates into his new form, and then the episode ends with a funny moment are love/hate relationships for me because I always feel bad for laughing right after a beloved Doctor has left us.

And what do YOU think about Capaldi?

We all change when you think about it. We're all different all through our lives. And that's okay, that's good. You've got to keeping moving. As long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me. 
- "The Time of the Doctor"


At times, I didn't think this season was going to be very good, but it redeemed itself in the end. I'm looking forward to the Peter Capaldi era, albeit a little cautiously after "The Time of the Doctor".

My Top Five Episodes
#1. "The Day of the Doctor"
#2. "The Name of the Doctor"
#3. "The Rings of Akhaten"
#4. "The Angels Take Manhatten"
#5. "The Snowmen"

Alyianna's Rating: 9.5 out of 10

More Pictures!!

"The Bells of St. John"

"A Town Called Mercy"

"The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe"

"The Name of the Doctor"

"Nightmare in Silver"

"The Snowmen"

"The Day of the Doctor"