Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Vampire Diaries Season Three, Episode Six: Smells Like Teen Spirit

This episode opens with Alaric teaching Elena some defensive moves against vampires.  He tells her that she needs to bulk up, because she is not physically strong enough to stab a vampire. Alaric makes the point of telling Elena that a vampire will hurt her without remorse, and she tells him that he doesn't need to use pronouns and that she knows he is talking about Stefan. Finally, Elena is recognizing that Stefan is dangerous.

At the school, yes I said school, Caroline seems excited about her senior year of high school.  What shocked me is all of the Black people in the background.  Where did all these Black kids from?  And behold, Caroline isn't actually feeding on them. Elena is upset because she met Stefan a year ago on the first day of school, but she apparently is putting it all behind her, because she is starting a new life. Bonnie however is miserable because Jeremy is able to see Anna and knows that their relationship ended because she died, and not because they actually broke up.

At Stefan and Damon's, Stefan has compelled a few girls to play twister as he feeds off of them.  Of course, Rebecca shows up to whine that Klaus left her behind.  Rebecca is quickly becoming my least favorite character to ever appear on this show.  I can handle self-concerned vampire, but whining and snipping in a creature this old is ridiculous. She behaves as though she is 16 and not ancient. When Rebecca asks which one her room is, Stefan tells her that she is not staying there, and she calls them rude and stalks off to find her own room.

Bonnie is actually jealous of Anna the ghost. Anna is dead, but yet Bonnie feels the need to tell Jeremy that he has the power to decide whether or not he sees her.  Sitting in his truck, Matt reminisces with Vicky about the first day of school last year. When he tells her that he misses her, Vicky tells Matt that there is a way that he can help her come back. Once again, I feel that this whole storyline exists simply to justify Matt's continued participation on the show.

When Tyler shows up with blood on his shirt, Caroline and Elena drag him into the bathroom. It seems that Rebecca hooked him up with a blood bag.  Rebecca's job is to keep an eye on Tyler because he is the first hybrid.  He is absolutely giddy about this, but Caroline is not at all pleased.  For Tyler it means a whole new world and I can understand why he is excited.

When Elena leaves the bathroom to let them argue it out, she is stopped by Stefan.  Apparently, he is  playing the role of high school Sr. to keep an eye on her. When Alaric interrupts them, Stefan slams him up against a locker, and tells Alaric that he is not going to want to get into his way.  Elena explains the situation to Alaric, and then tells him that Stefan being in the school is not good for anyone. That's a case of no shit sherlock if I have ever heard it.  In class, Rebecca of all people shows up.

Matt and Vicky talk in the stoner pit, and she tells him that she has a witch ( I wonder how Black the witch is?) on the other side, who is willing to push her through, and that she will be able to come and go as she pleases, if Matt performs the ritual.  Jeremy shows up and talks to Matt, pretending that he does not see Vicky.  He walks off and talks to Anna, who tells him that Vicky is surrounded by darkness. Anna tells Jeremy that you cannot upset the balance of nature from the other side, and that Vicky must have agreed to pay a price.  Vicky plays upon Matt's emotions, telling him that he does not have to be alone anymore.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Which of Your Fav Vampires are Nominated For a People's Choice Award?

'Lego Vampire' photo (c) 2010, Pascal - license:
Some of your favorite actors or actresses that portrayed vampires in movies or television shows are nominated for the 2012 People’s Choice Awards. Here are the nominations and don’t forget to vote here.
Favorite Movie Actor - Robert Pattinson
Favorite Action Movie Star - Taylor Lautner
Favorite Drama Movie - Water for Elephants (Robert Pattinson)
Favorite Movie Star Under 25 Presented by Moviefone - Chloe Moretz (Let Me In), Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner
Favorite Book Adaptation - Water for Elephants (Robert Pattinson)
Favorite Network TV Drama - The Vampire Diaries
Favorite TV Drama Actor - Ian Somerhalder
Favorite Cable TV Drama - True Blood

Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep, Book 4 of the Elemental Assassin's series

Gin's war against Mab is now declared and Mab is feeling the Spider's bite. First killing her lieutenant, Elliot Slater in Venom she has now started hitting Mab's operations around the cities. Her minions and dealers are all under threat, smoothly assassinated and the Spider rune left by their corpses.

Mab can't tolerate this any more and calls in LaFleur, her own assassin. An expert assassin of the Spider's calibre and an Electricity Elemental. She's in town to run Mab's operations – and take out the Spider. As a bonus prize, she's also to take out Bria, Gin's sister, to finally remove that thorn out of Mab's side as well. To complicate things, Mab has not missed Gin's friendship with Roslyn and is looking to spy on her and undermine her as much as possible

Gin faces an assassin of equal calibre to herself and with extremely powerful magic. Killing her is not just about another blow against Mab – this assassin is hunting her. And she has not only to protect herself, but also her sister and her growing circle of friends and loved ones.

And with that she needs to deal with Bria finally learning that Gin is her sister – and what the honest, law abiding police detective will do with the vigilante assassin? And can she accept her as her sister?.

Mixed Raced Characters in Urban Fantasy don't Necessarily Constitute Inclusion

'Coffee Swirl' photo (c) 2009, Will Keightley - license:

One of the recurring tropes we’ve found in Urban Fantasy is the use of token inclusion for people of colour. Unfortunately for many authors, the addition of one person of color in an all White cast, even in cities in which the population demographics would suggest a larger representation is necessary, qualifies for a claim of equal representation. This is beyond irritating in and of itself. But there’s a related trope that doesn’t even go so far as that to use the oft normalized tokens - mixed race protagonists. One of the major issues is that even though these people are technically bi-racial, they are often so light skinned that they exist with passing privilege, thereby never having to negotiate the racism faced by everyday people of colour. Urban fantasy gives new meaning to the phrase light bright and damn near White.

In and of themselves, mixed race protagonists are by any means a bad thing - not by any stretch. We’d welcome, hail and do happy dances about more mixed-race protagonists, or more protagonists of colour in general, if it constituted good equal representation but alas that is not the case. It would be good to see if these mixed raced people read like mixed raced people, instead of White people with a touch of exotic thrown in for extra flavour.

They nearly always have a disconnect with their heritages of colour. Often this is in the form of a dead or missing parent. For example, Anita Blake’s Hispanic mother is dead, Mercy Thomas’ Native American father is missing. Kelley Armstrong’s Jeremy has an absent Asian mother. Richelle Mead’s Rose Hathaway has an absent Turkish father. In Clay and Susan Griffith’s Greyfriar series, Adele’s Persian mother is dead. The dead parents trope in this situation gives the author the opportunity to iinclude a mixed race character, (and mention their physical characteristics) without ever having to include any cultural context or signifiers (Though, it has to be said, this is not limited purely to canonical mixed race characters and there are no small number of POC token inclusions that are also divorced entirely from cultural signifiers). It also creates the question of where are the other members of the characters family? Was every single raced parent an orphan, that they left no family behind to interact with their children? There is always a reason why these families completely disappear to justify the erasure, and allow the author to claim faux inclusion points. It also means that authors don’t have to research cultures outside of their direct experience and serves to privilege Whiteness.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1' -- Kristen Stewart Interview

Bedlam: Season 1, Episode 1: Cohabitants

Now that's an intriguing beginning – the menacing, ominous hitchiker turns round, threatening and doesn't attack the driver – he convinces him to move on. The driver's already dead, died in a crash several; days before. Very good beginning, dark, slightly scary and very intriguing.

So, this is Bedlam apartments, high end luxury apartments converted from an old asylum. With a graveyard next door. And a big sign over the roof marked “SPOOKY!” Yup, laying it on thick with the reasons for the hauntings. The building was owned by Kate's grandfather (who ran the mental institute) and is now owned by Kate's father (Warren), who bought it in an attempt to do something “good” with it after allegations of dark happenings and patient abuse in the grandfather's time.

With such a history, of course the flats are haunted. In fact I imagine there's queue of ghosts.

We have Kate, who manages the flats, with Ryan and Molly who live in them (also looks like the token POC inclusion, though as is very common on TV they have chosen a very pale WOC for the inclusion).

And they are joined by Jed – just out of hospital and on medication for seeing... ghosts. I'm not entirely comfortable with this – the somewhat demeaning references to mental illness. The patronising and angry attitude of both Warren and Kate towards Jed for what they perceive to be his mental illness. Because he is actually psychic rather than ill this is never addressed – and his constant response to their rather snide comments is “I'm better now”. It's a trifle vexatious, the idea that being “better” (i.e. no longer mentally ill) is the only thing that would make him a tolerable presence.

In a much haunted building, of course, having someone who can see ghosts is quite useful – especially if said ghostie is going around drowning people to get her bling back (though, personally I think said ghost is just offended by the new decorations – honestly their taste is horrifying).

Lover Unbound, by JR Ward, Book 5 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood

Lover Unbound is another instalment of the Black Dagger Brotherhood in their continuing quest to protect the vampire race from the lessening society and the Omega's goal to destroy them all..

Well, kinda. With the fore-lesser dead in Lover Revealed the lessening society is even less effective than it was before. And virtually absent in this book. You run into a couple now and then for random drive by murdering

But the Scribe Virgin is worried. The deity of the vampires is concerned that there remains only 5 Brothers to defend the entire race. In the past, the Brotherhood would mate with the Chosen, a select order of sequestered females dedicated to the Scribe Virgin, to produce more Chosen and Brothers, but that hasn't happened for centuries. The numbers of both are dwindling and without more warriors the Brotherhood, and the whole vampire species is doomed.

So she needs a new Primale – one of the Brotherhood to go among the children and begin having many many babies. And she chooses her actual son, Vishous, to be the prospective daddy.

But Vishous is not willing. Aside from his less than enthusiastic relationship with sex, he has kidnapped his own true love, his own mate (yes, kidnapped. We'll get to that) who he wants to be with, despite her being human. He also has to reconcile his long and tortured past with the knowledge that his mother, actual flesh and blood mother, was their species' deity and she did nothing to help him as he was tortured, mutilated and abused for decades.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Being Human Season 2 Promo

Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine, Book 3 of the Morganville Vampires series

So let us begin, as I normally do, with a plot summary.... and I've deleted this a few times because my openers were a bit snarky – but the plot of this book was a problem to me.

Stuff happened. There are EVENTS. Random stuff happening, but they're not really linked as a plot. There's no coherent whole and, in some ways, Claire feels completely dropped into storylines that don't concern or involve her. There's a lot happening that doesn't advance the plot, storylines kind of limping along without going anywhere but above all, these events and plot lines are not linked. There's a tangle of stuff happening rather than a coherent plot.

The dominant story line is that Amelie, big Founder Vampire, to whom Claire has pledged herself (for some reason. Technically to protect her friends but the at the same time it's made clear that the protection doesn't extend to them) has ordered Claire to become the apprentice to Myrnin, an ancient and knowledgeable vampire. Myrnin is ill and Amelie wishes to preserve his knowledge as much as possible by using Claire's superbrain (I know I know, after reading Glass House and The Dead Girl's Dance it's bemusing to think Claire even has a brain, but remember she's supposed to be super smart). To further complicate things, the illness makes Myrnin violent, unpredictable, unstable and dangerous – and he's killed his 5 previous apprentices. Myrnin's illness is degenerative and, surprise, all the vampires have it! So it's only a matter of time before everyone dies – and it's Claire's job to continue his work and find a cure!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Mortal Instruments Series: Clary's Sketch Book

Regular readers know that The Fangs for the Fantasy crew are not large fans of Cassandra Clare's work' however, we do recognize that she has a large stable of fanpoodles.  Those that are familiar with Clare's Mortal Instruments series are well aware that Clary, the protagonist, loves to sketch.  Have you ever wondered what's inside Clary's sketchbook?  Well, now is your chance to find out.

Here's the link, for those who want to see more. 

Review of Claimed by Shadow: Book 2 of the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance

Just about every mystical creature that you could possibly think of, has been mentioned at least once in this story.  This makes for a very large and interesting world. At times however, Chance gets downright ridiculous in her choices.  In the last book, we were introduced to Marlow, Rasputin, Baby face Nelson, Jack the Ripper and the famed artist Raphael as vampires.  It's enough to make one wonder if Chance believes that any historical figure was human.  To some degree, one must suspend belief to read urban fantasy but Chance simply has pushed this too far with her latest editions.  Would you believe that zombie Elvis makes an appearance as an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas and when he gets accidentally hurt in a battle, he is temporarily replaced by zombie Jimi Hendrix? If that were not enough, Casanova the incubus, inhabits the body of a vampire.  I side eyed my kindle so hard, I damn near hurt myself. It seems that Chance just loves a dash of camp with her urban fantasy.

With the death of the Pythia, Cassie inherits great power, unfortunately she does not have the training to be able to control it and the Circle (Light witches), vamps and fae all want something from her.  Cassie's goal is to find someone to transfer the power to, save her father from an eternity of imprisonment and to avenge the mortal death of her parents. As you can see, there is a lot going on with this world and this is even further complicated by time travel.  As an agent to move things along, time travel is excellent; however, if not treated carefully, the varying timelines can and in this case do make story difficult to follow. 

In a trip to fairy, Cassie is offered the opportunity to complete the transfer of power and claim her rightful tittle as Pythra.  As you may have guessed from my previous review, this involves having intercourse.  We are repeatedly told that Cassie is a virgin, though if she is -- it is name only --having done every sexual act except penile penetration; this definition of virginity is highly heterosexist.  It means that a gay man or woman who has never had sex with someone of the opposite sex, would by Chance's definition, remain a perpetual virgin, regardless of how many times they had sex. This coupled with the fact that there isn't a single gay or lesbian character in the series thus far is highly problematic.  I will give Chance a bone though, for having succubi and incubi change gender at will however, once  they change their gender to ensure that whatever coupling they participate in is heterosexual.  There is only one hint of a same sex relationship involving an incubus and the vampire Dracula and that is thrown in as an aside, but with the ability of the incubi to change genders, there is enough room to question whether this really constitutes a same sex interaction.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, Episode 37

This week we discuss the Vampire Diaries, the Secret Circle and the long awaited return of the Walking Dead


'Pouring' photo (c) 2009, Andy Melton - license:
1 package Swansdown Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix (or Duncan Hines, if you
can’t find Swansdown anymore)
1 package (8 oz.) seedless dates
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
⅛ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. shortening
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. brewed coffee
1 cup chopped pecans
I know you’ll be surprised, people of Bon Temps, that my recipe contains a mix! This has been my dark secret for many years. I’ve always driven to Clarice to make the purchase, so no one would see me. So now you know! If you’re a purist, please use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, providing it’s very moist.
Mix the cake mix and bake in a greased 9 × 13” glass pan, following the box directions.
Cook the dates, water, and sugar in a double boiler for 30–40 minutes. Spread on top of the cooled cake.
While the date mixture is cooling on the cake, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, salt, shortening, vanilla, coffee, and pecans. Spread on top of the cake. Sometimes I use pecan halves to create a pattern to make it look prettier.
From Caroline Bellefleur, as told to Charlaine Harris
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion

The Walking Dead Season Two Episode One: What Lies Ahead

When we last saw The Walking Dead, Rick and the fellow survivors left the CDC after it was blown up.  The show opens up with Rick on the rooftop of a building talking to Morgan via the radio. He explains Jacqui's death by saying that she had lost faith; however,  I don't know if that is enough to justify the writers killing off the only woman of colour on the show. Rick tells Morgan that they are moving forward to Fort Benning.  He says that he is trying hard not to lose faith for the sake of his family, and that he believes that because they have such few numbers, that they have to stick together, and be willing to lay their lives down for each other. In these moments, you can clearly see Rick's struggle, as he signs off saying that he hopes to meet Morgan in Fort Benning one day. 

When Dale's RV's radiator hose causes the engine to over heat on the highway, they are forced to come to a stop. Darryl begins to look for items in the abandoned vehicles, but of course concern troll Lori pipes up to say that she does not know about this, because they would looting a graveyard. Yeah, I think in a situation like that, it's okay to take everything you need. Lori of course judges, Carol when she holds up a shirt and admires it saying, "Ed never let me wear nice clothes like this".  I am starting to think Lori needs to be eaten along with Shane, but I take heart in the fact that I know what happens to her in the comics.

The highway is quickly overrun by roamers, and the survivors are forced to hide under the vehicles. When T-dog accidentally cuts himself and blood comes pouring out of his arm, I thought for sure that he was a dead man walking, but he is saved by Darryl.  Really? Couldn't we have him save himself the way that Andrea did?  I suppose I should be grateful that he wasn't turned into snack food because that would have left Glenn as the only person of color on the show.  Darryl puts a dead body over himself and T-dog to hide their scent.  I cannot imagine the horror of lying there praying not to be discovered, with a dead body on top of you.

When Sophia goes missing, of course Shane has to pipe up that maybe she was to scared to listen to Ricks instructions. What else was Rick supposed to do?  Rick sends Shane and Glenn back to the highway to clear the cars and get ready to move.  When Carl finds an arsenal, he takes it to Lori and she tells him that he cannot keep a weapon. Carl then appeals to Shane for help, and he orders him to take the arsenal to Dale.  You would think that would be enough for Lori and Shane (who is not dead), but she yells at him for crushing Carl's heart and then is upset that he is giving her the cold shoulder.  Ummm Shane who is not dead tried to rape her in the last episode.  Can we have some consistency please. Shane has the nerve to call what happened in the rec room a mistake, and says that he is leaving the group. He plans to quietly slip away the next chance that he gets. Lori should be happy to see him go but proving that you cannot possibly make this woman happy she is upset. Why oh why would Lori be sad to see the man that attempted to rape her leave? Don't get your hopes up on Shane leaving though, according to IMBD, he will be in the entire second season.

Darryl takes down a walker with his bow, and Rick discovers that there is flesh in its mouth and under its fingernail.  Darryl guts the walker in an attempt to learn what it has just fed on.  Rick so clearly is physically ill and struggles not to vomit.  Darryl tells him the zombie had a big meal not long ago. When they cut him open they discover that the walker had a woodchuck for lunch.  Honestly I don't know how Rick managed not to be sick, just watching, I felt my stomach turning.

Andrea confronts Dale about taking her gun and when she asks for it back, he tells her that he does not think it's a good idea because he's not comfortable with it.  Shane of course says that the less guns they have floating around camp the better. When Andrea asks Shane if he is going to give up his gun, he says no, because he is trained and he believes that what everyone needs is proper training with the guns. Can we all say paternalistic excuse for sexism.  Having a gun could be the difference between life and death but of course the mens are there to protect the women. This is further highlighted when Shane turns to ask Dale why he made the decision he did.  So it looks like the men this season are set to put on a united front to keep the women in line.

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews, Book 4 of the Kate Daniels Series

We have another new epic here. Oh yes we do. There's a new evil in town, a powerful ancient evil that spreads plague and destruction and death – that can make warriors run in terror, that can fight the greatest fighters in the city with ease and leaves a trail of magically sentient plague behind. Not even the best experts in the city knows who this threat is, not Saiman, not the People, not the Order – and it's already moved through several cities leaving a swath of destruction and death. And if that weren't enough – for Kate, this may be a family matter.

With a new epic bad guy in town Kate has to literally save Atlanta – and the pack. But she's also coming to more and more attention of the servants of Roland – the ancient and enormously powerful leader of the People of the Dead seeking to re-establish a new empire. He's looking for her and with every battle it becomes harder for her to hide.

And there's her rocky, tumultuous and explosive relationship with Curran – whether she wants to involve herself in the Pack, whether she can with her Order affiliation and, above all, whether she can deal with the demands Curran puts on her and whether he can tolerate her refusal to bend. And that's before you get to the inflexible and prejudiced Order that would deny humanity to the people she cares for the most

It's a lot to handle and, in many ways, an entirely new beginning for Kate. Epic battles, a new life and a whole lot of struggle.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Secret Circle: Season 1, Episode 5: Slither

Cassie's grandmother starts asking suspicious questions of Cassie, suggesting she's finally got a clue But Chief Scooby Diana tells Cassie that Parent Circle had its powers stripped by Grandparent Circle as punishment for the whole burning people to death thing, so it's best to keep it all a secret (yeah I know there's some logic missing there)

Speaking of the Parent Circle, Dawn and Charles (Diana, and Faye's parents), the Bad Guys, are calling on the Blood Moon to find 5 other crystals linked to the one they have, with the help of the bound circle, to get their powers back, it fails though, the crystal is out of batteries.

At the end of last week's episode we saw Melissa, as the most dispensable and characterless witch, have a demon snake enter her ear – and she wakes grumpy with a headache (see, we know she's possessed because she is actually defying Nick. So out of character).

After being fully demonised, she tells Nick she's found her family's Book of Shadows (that would be hidden in her non-existent home, the only home we haven't seen and be from her non-existent parent. The only parent we haven't seen I might add and the parent whose apparently fine with their daughter spending every night at Nick's place) and takes him to the forest to dig up a suitcase.

Enter to Win Buffy The Vampire Slayer Omnibus Vol. 1

That's right everyone, it's time for another exciting giveaway.  This month we are giving away Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Volume 1.  We know that even though it has been many years since the last episode, there are plenty of people are still in love with the Buffyverse. This graphic novel is based on the television show, but begins before the very first season.

Scott Allie writes in the introduction:
The old Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1, and the story in DHP, are not in this volume. When we started work in early 1988, we set the stories in the then - current Season Two. These stories, set at the very start of Buffy's career came later. A few months into our initial run, Buffy novelist Chris Golden suggested adapting Joss's original film script - faithful adaptation as opposed to the tongue-in-cheek 1992 film. This led to Buffy: The Origin, reprinted here. Soon afterward, Golden proposed a Spike and Dru Comic, co-written with James Marsters, who (of course) played Spike on the show. There were to follow-up comics written out of chronological order, so this volume reprints the last of them, set long before Spike and Dru had ever heard of Sunnydale.

Toward the end of the original series - of both show and the comics - Scott Lobdell was writing the comic. He proposed a sort of Buffy: Year One story.  For those of you who didn't grow up on comics, Year One is a term that, like so many things, we owe to Frank Miller. It's not so much an origin story, as a story set at the beginning of a characters career - in this case, between the burning of Buffy's highschool and her arrival in Sunnydale. Joss's plans for Season Seven, the final season of the show, were so tight, it was impossible for us to set stories parallel for those episodes. So we looked to Buffy's past. There were the loose ends with Pike, her boyfriend from the film; a trip to Las Vegas; and her time in an institution, referred to in the 2002 TV episode "Normal Again."  The year one stories from the majority of this book and will conclude in volume two.
If you are feeling nostalgic for Buffy, and want something that feels new, this is the giveaway for you. This contest is open to Americans and Canadians.  All you have to do is follow us (not like) on Facebook (underneath the word networked blogs, there's a big blue button marked "follow"), Goodreads  or Google or Tumblr  If  you already follow us, on one of the aforementioned sites, simply send us a short to note to let us know that you would like to enter, and where you already follow us.  When you are done, leave your email address in the comment section of this post, along with where you have chosen to follow us, or send us an email at fangsforthefantasy (at) gmail (dot) com. Without contact information, your entry will be deemed invalidEVEN IF YOU SIGN UP BELOW WE STILL NEED YOUR CONTACT DETAILS IN THE COMMENTS OR BY EMAIL. This contest closes October 31, 2011. We allow only one entry per person. The winner will have 48 hours after being selected to contact us, or a new winner will be selected.  Good luck everyone and stay tuned for our next exciting give away.

Contest Is Now Closed

The Winner of The Walking Dead Comics Vol. 1 and 2

 Yes, we have selected a winner for our Walking Dead Comics giveaway.


And the winner is:


We will be contacting you via email for you mailing address.  You will have 48 hours to claim your prize or we will be forced to select a new winner.