In the Bookcase


Book Review: Doctor Who -- System Wipe

Doctor Who: System Wipe by Oli Smith (4 star review)

Doctor Who: System Wipe // written by Oli Smith

160 pages // published in 2015 // sci-fi fiction


The Doctor finds himself trapped in the virtual world of Parallife. As he tries to save the inhabitants from being destroyed by a deadly virus, Amy and Rory must fight to keep the Doctor's body in the real world safe from the mysterious entity known as Legacy . . .

My Review...

4 Star Rating

System Wipe is a fun Doctor Who read. I miss seeing the 11th Doctor (and Amy and Rory!) on TV, so it was great to have a brand new plot to imagine him in, and exploring yet another new world with him.

I did hope for just a bit more of the 11th Doctor's quirky personality to shine through the story; mayhap it will in other books in the same series. I do wish the Doctor's character could have been more spot-on. There were a few moments I might have chuckled a bit when I felt Eleven's sense of humor:

"Well, I've received a few new bodies in my time, but nothing like this," he declared, peering around at the vast number of options in front of him. "This is going to be fun."
The main aspect of the plot is cool. The Doctor gets sucked into a virtual reality that is all too real; to die in the virtual game is to die in the real world. The story actually takes place in the U.S. stemming out from Chicago, which I found to be fun (being an American and all) to have one of my favorite British characters in the U.S. -- that is, an apocalyptic U.S.

You're in for an adventure filled with all types of robots, virtual reality coming to life, and the world(s) dying out before your eyes. Can the Doctor save the day? Not to mention himself?

"Did that robot just clear its throat at us?" whispered Amy.

"I think it just did," Rory replied.

It's a fairly quick read at about 160 pages. Kids and teens who are fans of the show will love System Wipe, and adults will too.

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy & for the opportunity to express my honest opinions.

Doctor Who: System Wipe is available on Amazon in paperback & e-book format.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


Book Review: Kate's Capitol

Kate's Capitol by Sarah Holman (5 star review)

Kate's Capitol // Kate's Case Files series, #2

written by Sarah Holman

175 pages // published in 2016 // Christian fiction


Do the small compromises we make daily really hurt anyone or matter to God?

Kate’s first case as an FBI agent is nothing like she expected. Posing as an intern at the Texas Capitol, she finds herself spending more time behind the computer than she does figuring out the case. Is Representative Jason Ashbury guilty of a third degree felony or is one of his staff to blame? And how is she supposed to handle the effect Patrick has on her?

Patrick was looking forward to guiding Kate through her first case, instead he was assigned to Ashbury’s home office in Tyler. He cannot figure out either the case or his relationship to Kate. Are Ashbury’s dedicated employees covering for him, or the instigators? Will Kate ever let him be her friend, or will she continue to push him away?

My Review...

5 Star Rating

I love Kate's Capitol just as much as the first book in the Kate's Case Files series -- maybe even a little better.

Kate's Capitol has political suspense and FBI intrigue. I found it to be a fun book, with a lot of interesting angles in the plot. It's Kate's first case as an FBI agent now. She and the rest of the team are taking on undercover roles at the Texas Capitol to investigate who is stealing extra money from Representative Jason Ashbury's campaign. Surely it's not Ashbury himself?

What do I like about it? The FBI agents fit together like a real team. They work together on heavy cases, play around with each other, and learn from each other. Kate is starting to fit right in at her new job. It's always good to see growth and change in your favorite literary characters (emotionally, spiritually, etc.), and Sarah Holman is pulling it off well in this series.

It's a clean read, with some hints of romance. What I like about Sarah Holman's books is that you'll always know that there won't be foul language or immoral situations in her writing, but there's always an inspirational, spirit-filled message.

Overall, I'm comfortable with sharing this series with any adult friends or teenagers. I definitely like the direction that this series is geared toward and will be excited to see more of this series in the future.

Kate's Capitol is available on Amazon in e-book format.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


My Etsy giveaway & 25% off sale!

Through June 1st, everything in the Pixel Berry Pie Designs shop is 25% off! This is a BIG DEAL that doesn't come along often.

Get 25% off your order of Etsy shop graphics & 8x10 wall art from Pixel Berry Pie Designs!

Grab some new modern art prints at this reduced price while it lasts. (Great gift ideas for graduations and weddings!)



Etsy sellers can get a new design for their Etsy shop at this reduced price while it lasts. (Summer makeover, anyone?!)



Just use the coupon code through June 1st: PIXEL2016

Have you entered the giveaway the Etsy branding package this month?

Etsy sellers, win a new set of shop graphics from Pixel Berry Pie Designs!

Enter to win!

Connect with Pixel Berry Pie Designs online!

Website | Etsy | Facebook | Pinterest | eNewsletter


June reading challenge! Let's read Louisa May Alcott together?

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2016

It's just 9 more days until my favorite reading challenge starts this summer. (Of course, yes, I'm biased.) But I simply cannot wait to delve further into Louisa May Alcott's writings.

You're invited to join! Everyone can make their own selection of books to read. Anything written by or about L. M. Alcott is perfect for this challenge.

I hope to see you here on June 1st!


Book Review & Excerpt: Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic

Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic by Iain Reading (4 star review)

Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic

(Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency series, #4)

written by Iain Reading

320 pages // published in 2014 // young adult fiction

My Review...

5 Star Rating

If you're looking for a thrilling tale of hidden treasure, secret codes, and... sure, jet-skiing down River Thames! -- then you need to read this book.

Kitty Hawk is continuing her big journey across the world and, somehow, a treasure hunt is simply dropped in her lap. Who wouldn't want a cool experience like that? (This is the 4th volume of the Kitty Hawk series, but it reads just fine as a standalone book, if you haven't read the other books yet.) She's a confident young woman (well, she's still a teen -- with a lot of spirit!), who's not afraid to get into scrapes -- except, of course, when she's worried that police in a foreign country might be after her...

"That's quite a story," Ellie said, somehow managing to look impressed and puzzled at the same time. "Stolen paintings, Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, the Titanic -- it's got it all."
-- Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic

This has to be my favorite installment in the Kitty Hawk series yet. It covered so many topics I love or that intrigued me, and which I'm sure will be highly interesting to most other readers... Kitty visits London, England, and Dublin, Ireland to track down a priceless bounty that has been in hiding since 1912 -- back when the RMS Titanic sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. I can't imagine how the author did it all, but he even included Egyptian history and hieroglyphs into the mystery, and then added the serial killer, Jack the Ripper -- just for good effect, I'm sure! It's a lot to pack into one novel, but Iain Reading does it well. I even feel like I can sort of "read" a tiny smidgen of Egyptian hieroglyphs now. Like, what?!

Titanic buffs, like myself, will be thrilled to know that the descendants of First Officer Murdoch and J. Bruce Ismay not only make appearances, but are integrated deeply into the plot. Way cool. The author incorporated so many fun historical details about the Titanic in this one, and I loved it.

NOTE to the discerning reader & parents: I wanted to express a couple things about the content. Some minor language is used throughout the book. Also, the word "prostitute" shows up several times, at least 30+ (the word is used often when the characters are discussing the story of Jack the Ripper, and his lady victims). And also, just for reference, a man briefly disguises himself as a woman.

"...I've chased my share of so-called treasures, and I've realized that the real treasures in life are moments like tonight and all the adventures that brought us here. Those are the things that make life unusual and special."
-- Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic

Wise words, indeed, Miss Kitty Hawk.

I don't know how the next books in the series could top this one, but I'll be excited to read them, nonetheless.

Thanks to the author and NetGalley for the free review copy.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.
Iain is also the author of The Wizards of Waterfire Series. The first book in the series The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire was published in April 2014. Also check out one of Iain's newest books, The Dragon of the Month Club, published December 2013.
Connect with Iain on Twitter and Goodreads.

Excerpt from Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic:
I found myself surrounded by an all-consuming blackness so thick that it felt as though I could touch it. It was such a deep inky blackness that it made me realize that even when we think we’re in complete and utter darkness, there is almost always light emanating from somewhere: light in the hallway sneaking under the doorway, perhaps, or the light of the stars on a moonless night in the wilderness. But this inky blackness wasn’t like that at all. It was so dark, as the saying goes, that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. It was so intense and absolute that the longer I stood there, the more I felt it seeping into my pores.

To make matters worse, it was also cold—bitterly cold. And while I stood there waiting, I was forced to pull my jacket more tightly around me in a vain attempt to protect myself from the freezing air. Just a few days earlier, I’d been in the tropics, wearing shorts and sandals and suffering in the oppressive, sweltering heat of equatorial Africa. But now I’d returned to the colder climate of Ireland by backtracking north on commercial airliners along the path I’d already taken across Europe and Africa.

Six months earlier, I’d filled out an entry form on a whim, and that’s how I found myself standing there on that cold December morning, but I wasn’t alone. Surrounding me on all sides were others waiting with me for the sunrise. I could feel their presence somehow, and I could hear them breathing the icy air. They were even close enough for me to feel their warmth, but in the invisible blackness, they might as well have been a million miles away. I felt isolated and alone as though I were a lost soul floating aimlessly through the universe.

I looked up at the ceiling. I couldn’t see a thing in the darkness, but I knew it was up there—the writing that we’d discovered so many months ago—the final clue that had unlocked the secret to everything.

I had to remind myself that I was supposed to be looking down, not up, so I peered down toward my feet where at any moment the light of the rising sun would begin to carve its way across the floor of the chamber.

Just imagine being in this place so many thousands of years ago when it was first built, I thought to myself in wonder as I stared blindly into the black. Far underground, cold and frightened, and probably wondering if the sun would ever rise again, but they knew it would. That’s why they built this place. And with the rising sun their world would be reborn.

My breath caught suddenly in my throat as I thought I caught a glimpse of light in motion in the endless dark. Was it the first rays of the sun breaking over the distant horizon? Or was it just a trick of my imagination?

The seconds passed, and my eyes detected a flicker of light in the gloom as the curtain of darkness slowly lifted from my eyes. Seconds turned into minutes, and I stared in utter amazement as a thin rapier of pure liquid light knifed its way across the stone floor and poured a golden heavenly luminescence into the crowded chamber, filling it with light and warmth.

My mouth was hanging open in complete astonishment at the sheer and absolute beauty of it. I glanced around me and saw that the others were every bit as breathless as I was. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

It was numinous.

It was sublime.

But in truth there were absolutely no words to describe it, and yet my mind raced to find some linguist hook upon which I could anchor the experience and never forget it, not that I ever would. I would remember it for the rest of my days.

As the heavenly fire continued to fill every nook and cranny of the underground chamber, I couldn’t resist lifting my head again to look at the ceiling. Somehow, I just had to be sure that the writing was still there, and of course it –was; it had been there for many, many years before I ever laid eyes on it, and it would remain there for many years more, perhaps for all eternity. But I just had to know for sure, so for a quick moment I tore my eyes away from the radiant beam of light splitting the floor and glanced upward. It took a moment to orient myself and find it again, but there it was, waiting to be found again.

So many months and a thousand memories had passed since I’d last been inside this underground temple of light, and yet it felt like yesterday.

With a lump growing in my throat and tears of emotion in my eyes, I lowered my gaze and watched the dagger of light slowly recede across the floor. Before I knew it, and as mysteriously as it had arrived, the beam soon retreated up the tunnel and out into the reborn world outside, plunging our underground world into the same thick and utter blackness from which we’d just emerged.

And then there was silence. A silence so complete that not a single one of us dared to breathe. For a moment, I was a lost soul again, set adrift in the universe and floating on the memory of the adventures that had led me to this place so many months before.