Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wayward Pines, Season Two, Episode Ten: Bedtime Story


Bedtime Story is the season finale and at this point, we don't know for certain whether or not Wayward Pines will be renewed for a third and final season.  It's interesting that the writers chose to end this season in the same fashion that Crouch, the authors of the Wayward Pines trilogy chose to end his story.

With the abbies amassing outside the walls and food in short supply, it's time to return to the pods. Unfortunately, there aren't enough pods for everyone and so tough choices need to be made.  Jason is rushed to the hospital by Kerry, who is still covered in his blood. Oscar, of course is very anxious but Theo says that Jason should be treated like any other patient.  It all seems neutral and nice as we watch as Theo tries in vain to save Jason's life. Theo is calm as he heads outside still covered in Jason's blood to explain that the little maggot is dead and that the best thing they can do to honour Jason is to continue with their plans for evacuation.

It's only when Theo is confronted by Oscar about a mistake he made while trying to treat Jason that it becomes clear that Theo did indeed follow through with his plan to make sure that Jason did not survive to rule. Theo is quick to brush Oscar off and his observations.

lisa simpson the simpsons season 19 episode 18 principal skinner

 Theo may have wanted Jason dead and orchestrated what happened between Kerry and Jason but it seems he doesn't want to take responsibility for his role in Jason's death. The next inconvenience Theo has to deal with is Arlene, who wants Theo to know that she's done many jobs but has been happiest working for him. Arlene clearly is aware something is going on and wants to make sure that she's seen as valuable. Unfortunately, Theo has even less time for her than he had for Oscar.

Theo isn't free of Oscar yet because Oscar  catches up to Theo to inform him that Jason had a rare blood type and other than a family, the only person with the same blood type is Kerry.  Hmmm, maybe Oscar isn't the idiot I always thought him to be.

Theo's next order of business is to meet with C.J. to learn exactly where they are on the evacuation plans. Jason planned to have intact families placed into stasis first, then children, followed by essential adults. C.J. points out that there are still three hundred people who have yet to be awoken, who could be replaced by the residents of Wayward Pines but either way, there's going to be a cost regarding who lives and who dies.  Theo then wonders whether or not they should inform the residents about what is going on, given that it's far too late to do a lottery to figure out who is going to live and who is going to die. CJ assures Theo that those left behind will know after everyone else is safe.

The soldiers take to the streets to start gathering up those who have been chosen to live. For one family it means that the wife and children are safe while the husband is left behind.  At the school, Lucy is ushered onto the bus while her brother Frank is told to wait there for the second pick up. This makes me wonder if Jason suspected that Frank is gay and that's why he was chosen to stay behind? Next, we watch as Rebecca is picked up and Xander is told to stay behind. Rebecca is adamant that she won't go without her husband but Xander encourages her to go saying that he will be with her when she goes to sleep and when she awakens.  Yeah, I think Theo did have a hand in that.  Finally, at the hospital, we watch as Arlene is left behind with a group of clearly disabled people.

Flameout (Souls of Fire #3) by Keri Arthur



Emberly and Jackson are still desperately struggling to find some answer to the Red Vampire Plague. Unfortunately, the notes that may have the cure are nowhere to be found and many factions are gathering around to use them, threaten them or worse

And her big secret is out – far too many people know she’s a phoenix, and have magic to counter her fire.


I love the whole concept of the phoenixes in this series. I love their fire, how their immortality is presented, the awareness of their age and their require companionship. I like the tragedy of them which their cursed romantic existence brings – because it isn’t overwrought and ridiculous

I even like the relationship between Emberly and Jackson. I like how neither side expects it to last forever between them (though I rather think we are moving towards monogamy despite everyone saying it’s not in Jackson’s nature and Emberly has already had a her one true love) and that isn’t a great source of angst. I also like how they have their priorities in order – yes they like each other. Yes they want to have sex. A lot. No they’re not doing it now, they’re tired. No they’re not doing it now, they’re busy. No they’re not doing it now, they have other things to do

It seems ridiculous to praise this – but this is a genre where I have repeatedly seen characters put everything on hold, everything paused because they simply have to hump right now. Books where characters will pause mid-escape to have sex, where they will literally stop in front of their enemies and argue over their relationship.

The relationship is good. The world building is excellent. The general pacing of the story is excellent, in terms of actual writing if not focus. I generally find her an intriguing character

I do have some frustrations. Firstly, I spent a lot of the book wondering exactly what the hell was happening, what they were doing and why. It could be that it has just been a very long time since I read the last books or it could be because there’s just sooooo many players involved. And this doesn’t get better now we’ve introduced another vampire faction and the werewolves

Which means we now have:
1) The Werewolves
2) The wererats
3) PIT (the police kinda)
4) Syndicati Vampires
5) New Vampire blokey
6) Angry former members of a vampire faction
7) The hive mind plague-end-of-the-world-scary vampires

That’s a lot of focus. So many factions. So many people to juggle. So many distractions. We get lost and a lot of this doesn’t seem relevant.

And there’s a reason why I’ve put The Red Vampires at number 7. It’s not necessarily related to how much attention they pay so much as how much attention it feels like they pay considering the overwhelming threat it represents (and this doesn’t just apply to Emberley and Jackson – I mean the vampires, werewolves et al as well). The red vampires are quite literally being held up as an utter threat to the country, if not the entire world. So… why isn’t everyone focused on this? Oh, sure they’re all looking for these long lost notes for cure – but they’re treating these notes like a spell or the Maltese Falcon or something. Is no-one doing independent research? What about finding head Red Vampire and putting a bullet in his head? Honestly if he didn’t chase them around and regularly launch attacks there’s a decent chance I’d forget about them all together. This is a terrible way to treat your big bad, especially when you get to the end of the book and we have the super, epic ending with so much damage – and that damage is justified because we have a whole end of the world spectre there – so we needed to keep that in mind and we didn’t.

While I like most of the magic system etc I have developed a major pet hate. Fire. Fire is a major part of the powers of the Phoenix. We know how fire works. It burns things. It doesn’t throw people around. You can’t pick people up with fire. You can’t knock them out with fire. You certainly can’t tie people up with fire. It’s fire. It burns. Don’t give your protagonist Swiss Army Magic when it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s not quite an Arse Grimoire, but still.


This book does sadly lack any meaningful diversity. I can’t remember any meaningful POC, any meaningful LGBTQ characters. And Emberly moves through an incredibly male world – with the only woman who was regularly mentioned both a) hating Emberly and b) dying. When we consider just how many characters and factions we have, that’s just an almost ridiculous lack.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3) by Lev Grossman

When Quentin is tossed out of Fillory he is forced to start at the beginning and that means returning to Brakebills, the school that made him a magician. Back at where he started, Quentin now has time to evaluate his life.  What does magic mean to him and what things would he undo if he could.  In this final trip, Quentin must finally accept himself for who he is and now and not who he thought he would be.  Life isn't fair to anyone really, you just have to deal with as it comes along.

One of the things that I have struggled with in this series is that I don't find a single character in the least bit likable and while that's not necessary for a good book, it certainly goes a long way. Thankfully, by the time we get to The Magician's Land, Quentin and crew are all about thirty years old and a long way from the annoying teenagers we first met in The Magicians.  Gone is the heavy sense of entitlement and purposeful disillusionment with life and instead there's a more mature acceptance that not everyone can be special. That being said, I feel as though Grossman spent more time telling me that Quentin had changed and become a different person than showing me. It's as though he felt that if he said it enough times, the reader would be convinced that this is the case.

The few attempts at growth really came out of nowhere and made little sense to me.  When Quentin's father dies, he becomes angry and emotional when he learns that his father was exactly what he appeared to be - an ordinary man. What I don't understand is why this is such a big deal to Quentin, given that he has spent the entire series talking about how disconnected he is from his parents. In fact, in this very book, when he landed on earth after being expelled from Fillory, he chose to go to Brakebills instead of seeing his parents, yet I'm supposed to believe that he's mourning the loss of his father?  Quentin's search for a father figure then moves to Brakebills South and even then I found myself wondering where this parental relationship came from? Mayakovsky didn't seem particularly enamored with Quentin when they met in the first book and Quentin is all too eager to put him in the position of daddy. I'm not even sure where this came from and why it's relevant beyond Quentin picking up the coins he would need for later.

Women have pretty much gotten the short shift in this series and I don't think I can say that The Magician's Land is much better.  I know that Grossman was trying to tie up loose ends but Quentin bringing Alice back from the dead really didn't help matters as far as I am concerned. Sure, Alice becomes human again and she lets Quentin have it and it's almost cathartic to read after how insufferable Quentin has been.  Had Alice held onto her anger, it really could have gone somewhere but Quentin feeds her bacon, mangoes and chocolate and the plies her with champagne and it's all over.  Alice is ready to jump in the sack with Quentin and while she may not be ready to be in a romantic relationship with him right away, the seeds are there. Sure, Alice does save Quentin by punching Penny in the face but really, bringing Alice back is all about making Quentin a hero again. All of her pain and all of her suffering is really about him and his path.

Between, Season Two, Episode One:


Pretty Lake is very much still reeling from the government's attempt to murder it's surviving citizens as it deals with hunger from lack of food. Outside the walls, people are starting to worry that things aren't as they have been told.  A set of parents arrive at the gate asking to be let into Pretty Lake to be with their son.  They contend that their child isn't actually a resident and was only in Pretty Lake to visit family.  Despite how sad and worried they look, the government soldiers won't let them in.  The parents don't realise that their lives have just been saved because they would have died of the virus shortly after entering the quarantine.  The parents however will not be stopped and decide to force their way into Pretty Lake only to be stopped by a missile. Yep, no one's getting in or out of Pretty Lake.

Wiley returns to Adam's to find that he has shaved his head and come up with a plan to escape Pretty Lake.  Wiley of course points out that they are infectious and that people will die if they do but Adam simply brushes this off. Adam points out that they are running out of food and that the government can come any day and finish them off.  Wiley says no and so Adam plays his trump card and points out that Jason isn't eating enough. Yeah, Adam has no problem playing dirty.

food baby crying hungry asian baby

Mark returns to the bar to find some kid casually strolling away with the booze. The kid plays possum and then stabs Mark in the leg.  When the kid moves to strike again, Adam pushes him aside causing the kid to land on his own knife and collapse. Adam looks around but unbeknownst to him he is being watched. When Mark checks the kid's bag, he finds a can of soup and then puts on his guilty face.

Adam, Wiley and Jason start to make their escape.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Warrior Witch (The Malediction Trilogy #3) by Danielle L. Jensen

Warrior Witch is the final book in The Malediction Trilogy. With the witch Anushka dead and trolls finally freed, the isle is at war.  Tristan and Cécile, are finally together again after being separated but they have no time to celebrate. They quickly find themselves fighting a war on two fronts and if that were not enough, each of them owe a life debt to the fae.  Somehow, they must find away to stop Tristan's violently insane younger brother from claiming the throne, as they try to stay one step ahead of the fae, who clearly have been playing the long game.

Cécile has been through much since we were first introduced to her in Stolen Songbird. My first complaint with her character was the she turned out to be the typical spunky agent and this still has not changed.  I am well aware that this book YA and therefore a younger protagonist might make mistakes that a more mature one might not but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some character growth, of which Cécile had absolutely none.  Cécile constantly vacillated between wallowing in self pity due to the consequences of her actions and in turn blaming others and shirking responsibility altogether.  What was perhaps must irritating about Cécile was her absolute refusal to listen to others. The trolls on her side of the war were experienced and trained and time after time, she ignored their advice to do things her own way which inevitably further complicated whatever situation she was trying to extricate herself from.

The thing that bothered me most about Cécile as a spunky agent is that her actions didn't even make sense.  Who exactly decides to sneak into the enemies lair in the middle of the night without bothering to inform friends and family of the risk they are taking? Cécile that's who.  She knew damn well that cooler heads would have forced her to think through her actions and so she ran off instead with a half formed idea.  When called upon her action, Cécile didn't even seem to want to acknowledge that her friends and family were terrified that she had died.  She's almost bitter about having to take her lumps for their rightful anger.

Warrior Witch is filled with action which for me is a bit of a turn off.  I don't enjoy reading battle scene after battle scene and the writing in these portions of the book was far from descriptive enough for me to be drawn in.  Instead, it felt like the action was drawing out the inevitable conclusion of the story.  There just wasn't enough meta holding Warrior Witch together for me, even with the introduction of the fae and an explanation as to how they become trolls and trapped on earth. The introduction of the fae should have added something special to this story and yet, I felt at least the Winter Queen was far too easily defeated to be of much interest.  If that were not enough, solving the mystery of how the Trolls became trapped on earth on the first place occurred in what felt like a blink of the eye. How is it that the Trolls and witches have been trying for centuries to deal with the iron poisoning which trapped the Trolls on earth and Cécile was able to put together a little spell in a New York minute? I understand that Cécile is the super special chosen one but watching her vacillate between an utter wreck and then completely competent threw off the flow of the story.

Preacher, Season 1, Episode 9: Finish the Song



Time for the glorious randomness that is Preacher. And yes, it’s just so much fun and I love it despite being so very weird

Jessie has been arrested by the sheriff, but absolutely no-one is surprised that this lasts exactly two seconds before he escapes.

Moving on from the expected escape, let’s go to something more unexpected. As we saw last episode, Tulip has grabbed Cassidy and is now trying to heal him with lots of blood from a whole petting zoo of animals she’s trying to get from anywhere.

Until she’s sick of it. Of Jessie. Of just about everything – as she tells Emily as she passes the job of feeding Cassidy to her, reveals he’s a vampire and then leaves to hunt down Carlos. Tulip is done. And she drops everything on an overwhelmed Emily who, on top of all of this, just presented the Mayor as her boyfriend and, it seems, was left with a very nasty taste in her mouth.

So what is she to do? If you are surprised that her answer is “feeding the mayor to Cassidy” then I just have to ask – have you been watching the same show as the rest of us? This is Preacher!

The mayor is now snack food and Emily now gets to release her little petting zoo. Cassidy also gets to be a little more sensible for when Jessie shows up so we can have a wonderful reconciliation between them

And it is kind of awesome. For all Cassidy has been such a completely hilariously fun, amoral character, is genuinely ashamed of killing the mayor, ashamed of Jessie seeing him like this, terrified of hurting Jessie as well. Their relationship is so very real here. They’re really good together

On top of that is Jessie – we’ve already seen his guilt about sending Eugene to hell. He now is hot by extra guilt over letting Jessie burn – he put him out. He thinks it isn’t enough, Cassidy thinks that the important thing is that Jessie did put him out. Again, it’s an awesome scene. After which both of them do what any good friends would do – bury a body together. Awww that’s friendship.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Asura Night (Immortals #1) by Fionn Jameson



When Emi Tsukijima is attacked by a serial killer and survives, her whole life as a successful business woman is disrupted. The trauma consumes her, fear makes it nearly impossible to do her job and, below that is the terrible knowledge that humans are not alone. That there’s something dark and terrible on the streets that hunts them

After that, the emotional impact of knowing her presumed dead ex-boyfriend is hunting them is just an extra blow to her fragile realisation.




The emotional journey of Emi in this book is incredible and powerful – and excellently balanced

She begins as a very normal woman with very mundane problems. Her job, her love life and her romantic plans being dashed rather terribly

Then the supernatural hits and we get the devastating impact of her victimisation, her desperate fight for her life and being thrust into a world she doesn’t understand, facing monsters she never knew existed and trying desperately to hold her world together. She is damaged, she is hurt, she is afraid and she cannot return to normality

She has the excellent emotional impact of discovering and old lover is a hunter and the incredible pain that was caused by him leaving her life and his family’s life. It’s an extremely heartbreaking scene as she describes the pain he has caused.

But from that we also see Emi progress, find her strength, find her determination, her honour, her courage. We see her fight and sacrifice because she simply can’t expect less of herself. She cannot stand to be the person she would be if she didn’t. We definitely see her rise up from the ashes to an extent that impresses even the monsters

Her emotional journey is one of the best I’ve ever seen

Ok so everything I’ve written up there is practically screaming “but”. So let’s hit that but.

Outcast, Season 1, Episode 7: The Damage Done



The town is commemorating a new memorial to many men who died in an apparent mining disaster. This means everyone being kind of solemn and also kind of festive because, hey, party.

Though we do see some hints of demonic cause behind this – Kyle, who managed to survive the disaster (much to the disgust of Ogden and, no doubt, other members of the community who are not Kyle’s biggest fan) remembers touching a friend’s hand and him recoiling. As does a random member of the crowd he touches. There’s demons demons everywhere.

Despite this as the backdrop, we actually focus very little on the event and more on various meltdowns everyone’s having.

Anderson is having the most epic meltdown following Ominous Sidney carving a pentacle into his chest. This has pretty much traumatised him – as it should really (I think we can be so inured to violence on television it can be surprising for us to see a character actually be traumatised when something terrible happens to them. So I’m glad to see this even if Anderson has sufficiently made me Team Demon). He’s not only off his poker game, but when he sees a pentacle painted on their new memorial he completely breaks down and has a rather unhinged rant about demons among them. He isn’t convincing and he’s probably lost most of the crowd. Kyle has to take him home and tell him to calm down and be more intelligent

Kyle tells him this

Kyle. When Kyle is the voice of reason you know you’ve gone awry.

He kind of ruins the whole memorial celebration – but what do you expect inviting a fire and brimstone preacher to a memorial?