Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mama Cried by Talia Haven

Jenny doesn’t remember much before the playground where she plays with her friends and her puppies, but she does enjoy herself.

But her fun is at an end when one of the Guardians, Azula, arrives and takes her to make a very important choice.

This book is a very short story – which usually leaves me with little to say and kind of frustrated by lack of content.

But being a short story worked here. There was no need for exposition or world building. There was no need for epic description or even detailed characterisation. The past of these characters, the details about them, their history, their lives and even where they go from here are all purposeless. The nature of the world with the afterlife and the Guardians and the playground and the dogs all lack explanation – and don’t need it

Not only would any exposition be unnecessary, it would also really damage the power of this story

This story is stark and very present. It’s about the pain and grief and forgiveness and the shallowness of that and easy paths to redemption. It’s incredibly powerful, it cuts to the bone and it’s amazingly moving

This story is 12 pages long. It doesn’t need to be one page longer and never have I read something so short that had so much impact and emotion and thought provoking material in it.

Normally I wouldn’t read something so short and I certainly wouldn’t review it. Had I realised how short it was before picking it up I would have put it back down again. I’m very glad I didn’t.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Season 1, Episode 2: How is Lady Pole?

Brest, Northern France and the French guards of the fortress port are horrified to see an English fleet appear – apparently from nowhere and in vast, impossible numbers. But they look odd – spectral. The French admiral has himself taken to them by oar boat to see they are made of water – out of rain. The English magician has fooled them – so he knows there is an English magician then

In Parliament everyone applauds Norrell, considering him a hero and they love his ability to show them images of their commanders in the field. Of course, they’d rather like to have Mr. Norrell in the field as well – something he’s not a fan of. They also start competing for more resurrections of great British generals – Norrell does come up with good reasons not to do this (zombie generals) and some other suggestions that are more appropriate.

Mr. Norrell has another focus – he wants to ensure magic remains “respectable.” He’s still irked by the bad name magic gets from charlatans and street magicians – and wants Parliament to crack down on them.

Norrell attends an important dinner (with Lord and Lady Pole – the latter newly resurrected) when we hear that charlatans claiming to be magicians are not uncommon and, from Stephen Black their butler (you’ve called the Black character Black? Well… how subtle of you) that there are rumours of the house being haunted. Annoying when servants believe such superstition, it gets in the way

Of course, Norrell is more concerned about such rumours. Concern which seems to increase when Lady Pole interrupts dinner to decide she wants to dance.

Yes all the superstitions – bells et all – are related to the fairy magic resurrection of Lady Pole. Norrell bargained away half of her life, but that doesn’t mean she’ll disappear after so many years. The fairy claims his due when she sleeps, dancing in her dreams

She wakes out of sorts, startled by bells and no longer wanting to dance.

Lord Pole calls in Mr. Norrell to speak to Lady Emma Pole, and Emma is confused, speaking fairy stories and nonsense whenever she tries to describe what is happening to her. Norrell tells Sir Walter he can do nothing for her – her ailment is “spiritual” whatever that means; either way outside the purview of magic and medicine. “Magic cannot cure madness”

Norrell summons the fae, (known only as The Gentleman) angry and claiming to be cheated (and, tellingly, saying very clearly he cares nothing for Emma’s happiness – just that Sir Walter is the champion of English magic). More, The Gentleman continues to push for Norrell to rely on him, while simultaneously scolding him for his improper summoning etiquette – which of course he’d be happy to teach. Norrell refuses – he won’t let English magic be controlled by the fae.

Salem, Season 2, Episode 8: Dead Birds

Cotton is all traumatised by the visit of his ghostly daddy when increase disappears – and reappears in Mary Sibley’s chambers. She didn’t bring him back to play Ghost of Christmas Daddy Issues. Increase starts to haggle, he will tell Mary the Countesses weakness, but he wants to speak to Cotton.

She agrees – but wants the info first. Countess Marburg is super-duper ancient and super-duper powerful and all gung-ho to bring Lucifer (possibly her lover) from Hell. She has been killed in innumerable grisly and inventive ways but she keeps coming back from the dead. He stopped her Grand Rite when she hid among refugee children using magic to appear as one of them – he solved that by simply slaughtering all the kids because he’s that kind of guy (and it’s that same disregard of life that let May use him to make her own sacrifices). When he killed her he left his hand print on her shoulder even as she burned his hand

The key to her immortality is the box that held her remains. But he won’t tell her where it is without speaking to Cotton and, annoyingly, he points out he literally has nothing to lose so there’s a limit to how much Mary can compel him to obey.

Mary plays mother to her evil offspring for a bit, drying his tears and giving him coloured chalks to play with – until she finds the pile of dead birds in his bed. The evil child claims they just come to him. Uh-huh. Might I suggest a high window for the child to play in front of?

Tituba thinks he should be watched at all times. I’m sticking to the high window. Tituba expresses her not very sincere concern for the evil boy and Mary, as is her habit, snarls at her and gives her laundry to do. Tituba actually seems really upset after Mary snaps at her.

She goes to her chained up John to say they’ve both been betrayed but the same woman. And John, ridiculously, asks why Tituba even serves Mary. Tituba reminds John that she’s a slave and that doesn’t actually come with a choice. Though she plots as well. She was happy to work with the Essex witches to kill Puritans because they slaughtered her people – but it’s clear they never accepted her and with Mary’s anger and spite, she doesn’t think Mary loved her either. She was just used by them. While groping and molesting John she talks about destroying both the witches and the puritans. She cuts his bonds and they have sex –until partway through she morphs into Mary. He tells her no and to go to hell – and Tituba hits him then slams him to the floor with magic.

And creepy evil child, unsurprisingly, draws super creepy evil drawings. Super super creepy. Seriously, high window time Mary. Or a well, a well will do.

Tituba sees the pictures and surprisingly isn’t creeped out by them, but is angry that the child is drawing important secrets and burns the drawings which annoys evil child – and birds start bludgeoning themselves to death against the window. Did I mention the child is creepy and should probably be drowned in a well? Tituba quickly backtracks and plays nice with the evil child. When Tituba leaves, he tells someone they can come out

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Elven Blood (Imp #3) by Debra Dunbar

Having been chosen by an ancient artifact, Sam is now the Iblis, or in other words Ha-satan.  This is a role that no one in hell wants, including Sam, causing her to wonder if her infamous lucky streak is now at an end.  Unfortunately for Sam, this means that she now has to meet with angels as a member of the angel counsel and as luck or in her case bad luck would have it, this means copious amounts of paperwork, something the trouble loving imp is not the least bit fond of. To make matters worse, there is a demon who has placed a bounty on her head and the elves want her to track down an elf/demon hybrid.  With all of the juggling Sam has to do, will Sam ever manage to finish the requisite forms before Gregory has to punish her?

If you haven't guessed it by now, I am a huge fan of this series.  It's laugh out loud funny and the characters feel extremely real to me.  I love that Sam tortures her Elf escorts by singing sappy love songs, saving Air Supply for her ultimate weapon of choice, after hearing that their music would cause people to void their bowels. Sam has grown so much from the first book in the series from an Imp who makes everyone claim hot wings and throws gum on the floor hoping that it will stick to people shoes, to a demon who has begun to pick up on human morality.  At one time, Sam would have thought nothing about killing and Owning another being but after considering how she would feel if one of her humans were to meet the same fate, Sam actively starts to rethink her position. Being an Imp, some of her change of heart is still about avoiding the paperwork that comes with each kill.

As an imp, Sam's typical modus operandi is to duck and run.  Being the Iblis, she is quickly learning that this is not a tactic that she can take any longer. Just as Wyatt challenges Sam to think about morality in a more human way, Gregory pushes Sam to accept her role as the Iblis, grow her power and throw up a mighty defense against those who seek to kill her.  It is only when Sam faces Haagenti, instead of running that she gets a true sense of herself.  Demons, Elves, and Angels, most certainly don't respect Sam or her potential, so the only way for Sam to survive is to beat them all at their own game.  For Sam that mean beating Haagenti, using angel logic against Gregory and displaying her power while threatening the Elves.

Penny Dreadful, Season 2, Episode 4: Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places

Vanessa finishes recounting last week’s epic episode to the whole gang and how she knows of the verbis diablo. Victor is considerably dubious about the idea of witches stalking the streets of London but even he can’t maintain scepticism in the face of Vanessa.

As Malcolm puts it, they now have a name for their enemy and even more reason to decipher the Verbis Diablo – Lyle’s turn to step up with his random collection of objects some diablo spouting monk scrawled all over in medieval times before being burned to death for defacing the furnishings (or demonic possession. One of the two).

He’s piecing together a narrative that continually switches languages – it’s the stories of angels being cast out of heaven told from the point of view of those angels. Or, as Lyle puts it with maximum drama, the memoirs of the devil.

As Victor leaves he discusses with Vanessa how his viewpoint has expanded – he believes now anything is out there, worse than they can imagine. Vanessa adds “and better” – interesting that she, of all people, clings to hope. He also asks her to go with him somewhere the next day, seeming quite awkward about the whole thing

Sembene decides to creepily hang around and watch out that night, when the witches hunt. And one of the witches does watch from outside.

Victor’s errand is, to Vanessa’s surprise, to a dress shop, to help him shop for his simple country cousin (I don’t think the “retarded” clarification was remotely necessary). Victor is ludicrously nervous and babbly –he’s a rather terrible liar. Vanessa seems to take such glee in his awkwardness (I think “my non-husband and I” may be the best line). His anatomical precision in describing “Lily” is rather creepy. He also invites Vanessa to tea to meet Lily while Vanessa enjoys herself by scandalising Victor with undergarments.

He takes his new acquisitions to Lily who complains about the tightness, impracticality and uncomfortableness of Victorian women’s clothes but Victor is well and truly smitten. There’s some nice byplay there including:
“So women wear corsets so they don’t exert themselves. What would be the danger if they did?”
“They’d take over the world.”

While saying that Victor adds they’re meant to flatter the figure and Lily, with a fresh slate of memories, notes it’s for a man’s eye – realising everything women do is for men. Keeping houses, tending children, “flattering them with our pain.” When she asks if he likes her in a corset he says yes, when she asks if he wants her to wear it he says no – not if it causes her pain, not for his vanity. Even then she still keeps the shoes – despite them hurting her feet.

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 7: The Gift

The Wall

Jon prepares to leave with Torren to bring the Wildlings back from the north – Ser Alliser naturally disapproves. Jon thanks him for his honesty, which I think is Northerner speak for “bless your heart.”

Sam seems to be the only supporter – and gives Jon his dragonglass blade to kill White Walkers. He then takes Gilly and baby Sam to see Maester Aemon who reminisces about his little brother, the old king, as a baby before warning them both to go south.

Aemon is clearly very sick and confused and Gilly tells Sam he’ll have to speak for him the next day. That night, Aemon Targaryen dies and Sam leads his funeral speech. Ser Alliser is an arsehole, of course. Because he’s Alliser.

Later, Gilly is cornered by two of the Watchmen attempting to rape her when Sam arrives – he tries to defend her but he’s a terrible fighter and they knock him to the ground and brutally beat him. They turn back to Gilly and Sam gets up again, still preparing to fight them – not that he has to, because Jon’s direwolf, Ghost arrives. Sam then passes out

Gilly treats his wounds and tries to get him to promise never to intervene again since he’s not a fighter but Sam refuses “what kind of a man would I be if I ran away when I saw someone hurting you.”

She stays with him – and kisses him and then climbs on top of him and they have sex.


Sansa sobs pitiably in her bed when Theon comes in to bring something (water, food, something) and Sansa appeals to him. He tells her to do what Ramsay says or he’ll hurt her – to which she says he hurts her every night. He flinches away but she begs for help, asking him to send the signal for help she was told about. He keeps calling himself Reek and she insists he hear his own name and titles.

Ramsay continues to try and place nice when they’re in public. He talks about Stannis coming and the snowstorm – which benefits the Boltons because Northern troops are far more experienced fighting in winter weather than Stannis’s mercenaries (Sansa takes the chance to grab something sharp). She also pokes Ramsay about his new baby brother – legitimate without needing to be legitimised – bastards don’t count. He says the king acknowledged him to which Sansa points out that Tommen is also a bastard – openly saying that Jaime is Tommen’s father, not Robert. Talking about bastards, Ramsay tells her about Jon becoming Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.

He then takes her to see where her messenger has been flayed – Theon betrayed her. It’s a scene that’s a direct reminder of when Joffrey took her to see her beheaded father.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Orphan Black, Season 3, Episode 6: Scarred by Many Past Frustrations

Sarah has several creepy dreams, including Rudy transfusing blood from him into her, and wakes up. With a bandage on her neck suggesting it wasn’t all a dream

Kira is on an iceberg somewhere with Cal where they eat salted fish and skyping with Mrs. S and Felix who try to pretend Sarah is all fine and dandy and everything’s good despite her being missing. Sadly the only research S has managed to drag up is that Sarah is in Mexico somewhere. Gracie’s also around serving tea so she’s not dead.

Cosima wakes up in bed, half naked with an equally half naked Shay being all cute and couply – until Shay asks who Sarah is. Cosima is instantly suspicious that Shay would even know who Sarah is but Shay says Cosima said her name in her sleep. Cosima calls Sarah her friend, like a sister, a wilder version of her.

Cosima goes to work and finds who has been calling hr all morning: Scott warning her that Delphine is back. Set the hostility to max. Cosima isn’t happy, nor is Delphine since Cosima had a Castor brain and Gracie without telling anyone. Delphine has found something in their research though – theirs a unique protein in both the Castor brain (Seth’s brain) and Gracie.

Cosima and Delphine continue to be icy and the temperature drops a few more notches when Felix brings Gracie to the Leda base. They take her for more testing while Felix demands Scott takes him to Rachel.

Paul, having found the creepiest of creepy little black books, takes it (along with its locks of hair and descriptions of women the Castor clones have slept with) to his boss. His boss suggests there may be a non-awful explanation for this. I challenge him to imagine two. Or one. Seriously these books can never be not creepy. Paul isn’t putting up with these excuses – it’s unsanctioned research on civilians and naughty. His boss still demands proof.

Paul returns to the compound to find Sarah extremely sick in the hospital wing; she tells him that the Castors are experimenting on her (really Paul? You didn’t expect this?) Sarah is sure to tell him that a terrible person he is which he thoroughly deserves. When Virginia arrives she also tells them she’s set Rudy after Helena.

Poor Rudy.

Helena didn’t return for Sarah – she is on the run in the desert, Rudy chasing in a jeep. Helena nearly collapses from exhaustion – she’s hungry. So she eats Pupok, her hallucination scorpion.

I… well… behold Helena. Did I mention “poor Rudy”?

Paul questions the doctor about what was done to Sarah and the doctor points out how much has changed while Paul wasn’t paying attention. He tells them about the testing of the hair of the women the Castor clones have “intimate encounters with”. There’s a whole bunch of secret research only Virginia has. So Paul turns to Mark, the only Castor clone with something vaguely, possibly resembling humanity

They examine Virginia’s research even as, in Dyad, Cosima examines Gracie. Separately they both come up with the same conclusion – the Leda disease (which was killing Cosima) and the Castor disease (which killed Seth) are actually the same disease and in the Castor’s it’s an STD: so the women who sleep with Castor men die of the same disease which was killing Cosima (the disease targets women’s ovaries and men’s brains which… is… odd?).

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Originals, Season 2, Episode 22: Ashes to Ashes

So, after last week’s mayhem and Klaus’s machinations he and Dahlia are about to become magically linked. Dahlia also plans to kill Freya as she bonds to Hope

Back at the house Cami is telling a very emotional and angry Elijah (very upset over Gia’s death) about Klaus’s plan. Starting with the fact Elijah’s plan, the plan he and Freya had, wouldn’t have actually worked (we learned this last week when Dahlia mocked Freya). Klaus’s plan involves the link. Elijah can’t see how this is a good idea since Klaus’s power will make Dahlia unstoppable – but Klaus needs time to get the RIGHT ingredients to kill Dahlia, unlike the wrong ones Elijah and Freya had.

Klaus and Dahlia complete their link – and Klaus then daggers himself, putting them both into comas. Freya then wakes up.

Marcel faces Rebekah having just killed herself to avoid Marcel having to kill her – the plan being that she would be reborn back in her original (Original) body. After a moment of angst and worry, it works and Rebekah, the Original model, wakes up (and points out if Marcel is still compelled to kill her it’s going to go much worse for him). Marcel makes it clear how much he cares for Rebekah and how terrible what Klaus compelled him to do was.

Cami tries to talk Elijah round but he’s incensed over Gia’s death and, rightly, says Klaus will do whatever he needs for Klaus and Rebekah and Marcel arrive just before he rants at Cami. Of course telling Elijah that Hayley and the Crescents have been cursed doesn’t make him any happier – he zooms off when he gets the message that Dahlia has been incapacitated.

He arrives to find Freya with Hope. Still very miffed. But intelligent – he realised that Klaus was right, their ingredients wouldn’t work. They needed the blood of the witch that Dahlia loved the most – and that is not Freya; that witch is their mother, Esther. Inconvenient since Esther is dead, but they have her body (or one of her many bodies). They will need to revive her.

This is the trouble with Originals, they just don’t stay dead.

Speaking of, Davina is doing her Kol resurrection spell despite Vincent warning her that she is using her one shot to use super ancestor power the Regent gets and she’s using it on a less-than-pleasant person. Hilariously, Davina insists that Kol isn’t like his brothers (HA! Kol the honourable one! HA!) Vincent warns Davina that even while the Mikkelsons fight, in the end they will always support each other.

To those siblings and the complications of Klaus’s plan  – to resurrect Esther to get her blood to kill Dahlia will mean hijacking Davina’s Kol resurrection spell (and therefore lose Kol). Elijah suggests just dropping Klaus and Dahlia in a pit (a good plan), Freya suggests White-Oak-Staking Klaus which will kill Dahlia too (and, as Marcel points out, him and every other vampire descended from Klaus).