Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review of Being Human U.K. Season One, Episode One

As I mentioned in my review of the pilot, by the time this episode airs quite a bit of recasting had been done.  Mitchell is now being played by Aiden Turner, Annie is being played by Lenora Crichlow and Herrick is being portrayed by Jason Wakins.  This change added to people of colour to the recurring cast, and Herrick is now being played by a White man.  I think this change made for a diversity that was lacking in the pilot.  The chemistry between the actors remains good and I find Turner to be far less brooding.

In this episode we were treated to quite a bit of back story. Mitchell is actually quite young in vampire terms because he was called on the battlefield during WWI by Herrick.  He claims that he made the sacrifice to save his men but Herrick points out that what he sees as a sacrifice granted him immortal life, while his friends were left to either die on the field, or later in life forgotten in an old folks home. 

The tension between Herrick and Mitchell is still quite strong.  When Mitchell finds Seth in the hospital threatening to feed off of the sick and helpless he sends him away to tell Herrick that the hospital is off limits as a feeding ground.  When Mitchell finds Herrick doing magic tricks for the nurses he is clearly upset that the message he sent via Seth is being ignored.  Herrick makes it clear that he wants Mitchell to join him on whatever nefarious plot he has to over throw humans but Mitchell declines.  Herrick warns him that he is going against his nature and points out that Mitchell is already showing signs of deprivation.  Throughout the episode, we see that Mitchell is shaking from the lack of blood as well zoning in on the sound of the heartbeat of those around him.

This episode we are introduced to Owen, Annie's ex boyfriend.  It seems that now that he has returned from Saudi Arabia he wants to see how Mitchell and George are taking care of the place.  Annie is very excited to see him and even gives Mitchell a list of questions she wants him to ask, but she promises to hide when he comes over.  Owen's visit is actually very awkward while George is in the room because George has zero social skills.  I have to say that the way that Russell Tovey plays geeky awkward is so damn adorable. 

Review of Being Human UK Season One, Episode One: Pilot

According to IMBD many of the roles and actors that appeared in the pilot episode of Being Human UK, were changed.  

The episode opens with George changing into a werewolf and John Mitchell having sex and biting Lauren.  In the morning George is forced to steal women's clothing from a close line and call Mitchel to pick him up.  They return to the hospital where they both work and George discovers that his former girlfriend has been admitted.  As George who has the cutest bum, cleans up from his night of being a werewolf, Mitchell suggests to him that the real curse is leading a life filled with the shadows.  He claims that he wants to stop drinking blood and lead a more human existence.  Mitchell suggests that they get a place together and make a go of it.

When George goes to see his girlfriend Julia, she is stunned to find that he is alive and working as an attendant considering his IQ.  She tells him that his family mourned for him because they thought that he was dead. Julia then goes on to inform George that she has moved on and has a new boyfriend. George tries to tell her that it would never have worked out between the two of them and that he was just a pit stop on the way to a better life, but it is clear that Julia is not convinced and clearly wants closure.

When George and Mitchell do find a place, Mitchell is concerned because the rent is so cheap.  The real estate agent tells him that they have attempted to rent it several times but that people invariably felt uncomfortable there and moved on.  When she starts to press about them renting the place, Mitchell stalls saying that it depends on what George thinks because he is picky. Moments later, George bursts into the room, clearly excited about the apartment. He babbles about growing a garden in the back.  The real estate agent assumes that they are gay, saying that she is just like them because she likes cock.  So from this we are to understand that a man excited about laying down roots is gay.  Of course she let's us know that she has no problem with this after George denies that he is gay.  Seizing the moment to tease George Mitchell tells her that he is still closeted and has not told his family yet.  When they agree to rent the place the real estate agent leaves and a perplexed George asks why she thought they were gay, to which Mitchell tells him that it is unimportant because he is out of his league.  
I understand that was meant to be comic relief but it is a tired trope that comes up far too often. On supernatural which involves two brothers, they are consistently assumed to be gay and it is meant to break up the darkness of the supernatural forces that they are dealing with.  Turning someone's identity into a joke is simply not right and in this case specifically referencing the closet, which we know to be harmful is indeed homophobic.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Review: Dances with the Devil, by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Book 3 of the Dark Hunter Series.

Zarek is a Dark hunter – who has been alone for 2,000 years. And as a human before that  he only wished he was alone rather than ciosntantly abused and tortured as a slave of cruel Roman masters. Living in Alaska for the last 600 years has been hard and lonely and only further hardened  him and made him crueller

Until, in the last book, he went to New Orleans and apparently screwed up. One time too many for Artemis who is tired of him as a liability (and she’s looking for an excuse) who dispatches Thanatos to have him annihilated once and for all. Except Acheron, the Dark Hunter leader, believes Zarek is redeemable, that there is still hope for him. Striking a deal with Artemis, Astrid, daughter of Themis and immortal judge who has never found a man innocent is sent to decide whether Zarek is guilty or innocent.

Unfortunately, when Atremis calls Thanatos back, he doesn’t want to heel. Instead he returns to his people, the daimons as their chosen one, the Day Slayer. And what does he want to slay? Why, the Dark Hunters of course. And being a nearly invincible killing machine, that’s somewhat of a problem
Even more of a problem is the fact that Acheron, who is most definitely an invincible killing machine, is currently stuck in Artemis’ temple and unable to return to Earth and swat Thanatos down like the petty annoyance he is.

What should be a simple judging ends up being a desperate fight for survival  against a force that has raised armies and killed cities before

I think the Dark Hunters are badly in need of some therapists. I get that they’ve had tragic pasts (all of them) but after 2,000 years? Time to move on guys. And yes, that “all of them” is relevant. Because of the way Artemis works (approaching people who have been horrendously betrayed to induct them into service in return for a last act of revenge) the Dark Hunters are almost guaranteed to have a horrendous, traumatic past. And, as I’ve mentioned before, the sheer prevalence of traumatic pasts in the genre – and the series – makes it really hard for me to appropriately engage their hurt and pain because it’s so over done.

I also think the beginning interactions between Zarek and Astrid didn’t feel very real. Yes, Zarek has had a terrible past, but his utter inability to even attempt anything resembling civil conduct is ridiculous to the point of caricature. He is found wounded and unconscious in the snow by Astrid who takes him in to help heal him – I can’t imagine that in 2,000 years Zarek hasn’t learned to be at least borderline stand-offish in this situation rather than outright rude.

Similarly, since Astrid is aware of the Dark Hunters, their pasts etc her shock and horror that Zarek had a terribad upbringing and her failure to recognise basic defence mechanisms. She’s supposed to have judged thousands and she can’t recognise this?

Oh, and yes, they did meet each other for 5 seconds  and lo there is throbbing engorged wetness and zomg this serial killer I’m judging is so hawwwwwt and this complete stranger I’ve met while desperately running for my life is so hawwwt. Oh the hawwwwt.

I also question the wisdom of judging a dangerous supernatural murdering criminal by putting them in isolation with a woman who apparently lacks any real defensive capabilities. She repeatedly expresses her fear of him.

Review of American Horror Story Season One, Episode Nine: Spooky Little Girl

I actually dread sitting down to watch this show each week, because of its tendency to overwhelm the viewers with isms.  This is the first episode in some time that I didn't walk away feeling absolutely disgusted.  It began with one of its every famous flashbacks to the year 1947.

It begins with Elizabeth Shore visiting Dr. Curan in the now famous murder house.  She says that she is an actress and is desperately in need of a filling. but does not have the money to pay for the procedure.  Elizabeth makes it clear that while she does not have money, she can pay for it in other ways, after affirming that Dr. Curan does not indeed have a wife.

In the present day, Moira is up to her old tricks.  Ben approaches her to get her to make a sandwich for Violet.  This of course is the beginning of the flirtation.  She tells him that his secret is safe, the way he looks at her and fantasizes about her.  Ben answers, "I think you must have pretty low self-esteem to keep throwing yourself at a man that does not want you.I don't want this, I love my wife. I love my wife and I want her to get better, to come home, so that I can take care of her".  Moira replies "It's just a matter of time Ben, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." I suspect she is right about this because even though Ben rejected her, he fantasized about her.

Constance is painting and clearly drunk when her boy toy Travis shows up.  When he tracks in mud along with a new dog, she tells him to clean up his mess.  This however does not make Travis feel manly enough and he says, "I already have a job and when I come over here, I don't want to have to work more."  This is one Constance pays her trump card and answers, "You gotta job, reading a script down at a call center for two hours a day. Oh my, let me rub your feet.  And how did those head shots that I paid for work out for you?"  It is clear that Candace's power in this relationship is based on her wealth, because she is not afraid to remind Travis who has the money in the relationship.  Travis starts to walk out after she accuses him of abusing Adelaide, but Constance stops him saying, "Why don't you run down to the Koreans and get us another pack of ciggies (cigarettes), take that dog with you and don't come back until it does its business"  Well I suppose Constance wouldn't be Constance if she didn't say something offensive continually.  I will however say that this is yet another example of a White character something offensive about a historically marginalized group that goes unchallenged.

On his way to the store he is stopped by Hayden with a whistle.  Travis asks, "do you want me to get you some candy little girl?"  Really? Is that the best the writers could do?  After a few minutes, Hayden and Travis end up in bed together.  When he orgasms he tells her, "I came inside," but she eases his worries saying, "It's cool, I can't get pregnant."  Yeah after you cum is the perfect time to worry about protection. Just sayin. Travis tells her that he hopes that Constance gets pissed but then makes the point of saying that he is not going to tell her.  Picking up on the illogical nature of his actions Hayden responds, "Then what's the point? Sex is the only weapon you have against her. She's treating you like shit because she is afraid of losing you. Prove to her that she's right and she'll be blowing rainbows up your ass again."  It seems that Travis' willingness to upset Constance only goes so far because he loves her.  When he asks what Hayden's story is she replies, "I don't live here yet but I'm moving in soon. Dr.Harmon and I are in love. When Travis asked why she rocked it out with him she says, "to see if I could do it with a guy who is alive."  Well it seems that Hayden has some plans for Ben.  This is not going to end well for him I suspect.  He still thinks that she is alive, though he watched as Terry killed and buried her in the backyard.

Detective Jack Colquitt and Marla McClaine (Hayden's Sister) show up at the door.  It seems that Marla has filed a missing persons report in the belief that Ben has something to do with the disappearance of her sister. When he denies it, she tell him, "you're a liar, Hayden's pregnant with your baby and she comes here with that crazy idea that somehow you are going to leave your wife, support her and lead a life together. So what did you do Ben? Where is she in a hole somewhere?"  The Detective points out that the last time he was here he saw Hayden leaving his house and that he was also working on a hole in the backyard.  Hayden then saves Ben's ass by walking into the room asking, "What's with all of the drama?"  She tells them, "you were wrong about Ben. I've decided to say here in lala land. This is my home now."  As soon as they leave Ben threatens her for her actions on Halloween but she calms him by apologizing saying that she was pregnant and scared. "I deserve whatever punishment you think is right. Ben this whole thing has been so ugly. It's not me, it's not how I want you to think of me. I don't know if we have a future together but I've always been there for you, from the beginning. I just want you to remember that. By the way, I had the abortion. You don't have to worry about it anymore."

Urban Fantasy's Guide to an Authentic British Vampire

'Changing the guard - Buckingham Palace' photo (c) 2010, Gabriel Villena - license:

Deep within our lexicon is the trope Dick Van Spike. And it amuses me muchly it does, oh yes it does. I often read passages aloud to see how many people I can get giggling

The sexy British vampire isn’t the most common in the genre (Scandanavians seem to becoming more popular thank to True Blood - but the portrayals include far less accent mocking - but it’s coming! Don’t you get comfy, Swedes!), but it certainly has its place and in the interest of ensuring the integrity of these characters I feel we need a guide on how to write a truly authentic Urban Fantasy British Vampire

First of all, you need profanity. Nothing says authentically British like a character who can’t stop bloody swearing every sodding sentence. Specifically it must be special British profanity. Now, if you go to Britain today, you'll probably find that “fuck” and “shit” etc are pretty common. This will not stand! Such generic cussin’ completely ruins the mood. No, find some truly British cussin' – “bugger”, “sod,” and of course the holy grail “bloody”. Yes, nothing says British like a good “bloody hell”.

But if you really want to go for gold, try to find some anachronisms. “Bloody” is good, but “Bleedin'” and “Bloomin'” (the missing gs are important! We’ll come back to that!) are jackpots. In fact, you might want to check out some Shakespeare – sure your by our lady protag may sound like a concussed, time travelling renfair reject, but at least he's an authentically British, concussed time travelling renfair reject!

Secondly, you must use that profanity everywhere and all the time. In front of a truckload of nuns? His mother? Small children? Never mind that – bring on the profanity! Nothing breaks the ice like a foul mouthed tirade in front of your aged granny. Not only that but squeeze it in everywhere. If a sentence doesn't have at least 3 of them in, you're slipping. You can't ask for a cup of tea (and it better be tea! British people cannot drink anything else, it is known. In fact, what you don’t know is because of our unique British constitution, tea is actually crack to us. Heroin addicts have an easier time of going cold turkey than british people have doing without the Earl Grey, it is known). He needs to “Sodding ask for a buggering cup of bloody hell tea.”

Which brings us neatly to the next point. Any of these profanities can be used anywhere in any context. Yes “that buggering thing” is hardly in common usage and “bloody hell” isn't really an adjective, but don't let little details like that get in the way of authenticity!

Thirdly - the accent. Those missing g’s. So we can have bleedin’ and bloomin’. And advanced classes can skip some hs too - bloody ‘ell. Remember, while you’re making the effort to type the accent, there’s no rule saying ti has to be consistent! In fact, often you can get away with just using your authentic accent on the authentic cussin’! If you truly want to go the whole hog you can have “loves” (or even luv’s!) and “duckies” and even the odd “pet”: now these terms of endearment tend to come from different parts of the UK, but let’s not complicate things. Remember there is only one accent in the UK; usually a London one - which is, of course, the only place in the UK as well. There’s London and the hot guys in kilts and nothing in between.

And we need a brief insert for Scotland here. They will wear kilts and tartan, they will belong to some kind of clan and they will live in a castle. Even if the story is contemporary, the whole land will resemble the 14th century (I think these authors think Edinburgh is a series of mud huts around many many castles) and there will be a big, brawny, bare chested red haired Scotsman seducing a fiery lassie! On the plus side, there are very few Scottish vampires out there; but werewolves? Scottish werewolves abound! I think it’s something about the hairiness for some reason

Ahem, back to the English vampires.. Fourthly - idiom! It doesn’t matter how convoluted the the sentences, how tortured the conversation, you simply must squeeze in some genuine British idiom! Never mind that no-one has used the phrase “sound as a pound” since the 50s, you simply must squeeze it in somewhere! And of course we need to use the word “pound” and “quid” even if your vampire has lived in the US for 50 years and is surely familiar with dollars. The British vampire simply must deal in sterling!

Fifthly - remember, there is exactly one period in British history, the 80s. Specifically, the punk movement. Now, you may think this was just a passing subculture embraced by a relatively tiny minority of British people - but not, not in Urban Fantasy. Clearly it became Britain’s new official religion - and there was an vicious inquisition ensuring everyone had appropriate mohawks. even musty, fusty Bill Compton in True Blood had to go punk when he went to the UK.

The punk inquisition also assigned the proper ration of peroxide hair dye. Speaking of - could any foreigners out there please send us some peroxide? We use so much ensuring everyone has bleached hair that our levels are dangerously low. We simply cannot be seen in public without bleached white hair!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The difference between a Negative and a Bad Review.

'also a lovey book !' photo (c) 2010, tim geers - license:

The thorny debate of reviewing - and negative reviews - has raised its ugly head again. Many an author has spoken forcefully on the subject with the most recent being this blog post on reviews and amazon reviews in particular

While the post has been edited repeatedly showing the author has listened to some objections, the original problematic nature remains (albeit watered down) and we feel, as reviewers, that we need to address the suggestion that reviews should provide positive reviews - and the very idea that 20 words constitutes a review

Firstly, we want to challenge the idea that a negative review is a bad review. These terms should not be confused. A review that says “ZOMG SO AWESOME YAAAY BUY IT!” is a bad review. It’s awful. Why is this book awesome? Why should I buy it? This tells me as a reader absolutely nothing. I don’t know if my tastes match the reviewers, I don’t know what parts they like and why and for all I know it could be written by the author’s mother.

Similarly a negative review that explains in detail the many reasons why the reviewer didn’t like the book and all the problems within it? That is a good review. It’s a great review - and it can even recommend the book. If I read a review that says “there wasn’t nearly enough focus on the relationship development and far too much distraction when X, Y and Z happen in the plot” then to me that is a recommendation to me - because plot focus rather than relationship focus is what II prefer. Similarly if you read our review of a paranormal romance and see that we didn’t like it because there’s too much focus on the sex and relationship angst - or we didn’t like a YA because there was too much highschool drama and you want to read that - then our review recommends it.

A good review isn’t a positive review, it’s a detailed review. It’s a review that truly gives the reader an insight into the book and what problems it may have - and whether they are enough to put the reader off - or recommend it to them.

There is a lot of concern here for the impact of a negative review on an author - but what about the impact of a false positive review on authors who have written genuinely great work? To take Amazon reviews as an example - if the mediocre (or outright awful!) books are given 4 or 5 stars (especially with short, scrappy “reviews” accompanying them) then how do we find the actual gems that are worth the 4 or 5 stars? If we, on Fangs, decide to give trope laden, boring, outright offensive or just plain awful books 4 fangs or more then how can you find which books we truly fanpoodle?

There are no more book clerks to give you recommendations on books - but what value would even their recommendations have been if they were lying? If anything this creates a greater onus on the reviewer to be honest - even brutally so when called for.

Let us be clear here - we are reviewers. We give honest opinions on the books (and films and tv series) we’ve read. We are not the author’s marketing or advertisers. That is not the role of reviewers nor what we should be considering when we write reviews - our reviews are not based on what will make the book sell; our reviews are based on the quality of the book. Why does this have to be said? Any other critic is expected to be honest - harsh in fact. We don’t expect the Michelin Star judge to considera restaurants sales; we expect him to consider the food quality

Also, while authors are concerned about their reputation their good name and whether people think they can produce a good product, what about reviewers? What about our reputation and name? What about the trust of our readers? If we sugarcoat reviews - or write outright deceptive reviews, then no-one will trust us. It is our name, our product, our reputation that is flushed down the tubes. And just as a bad (or, should I say UNFLATTERING) review remains on the Internet to haunt the author forever, so does a bad (as in INACCURATE) review remain for the reviewer.

Which brings us to the all important role of integrity. As reviewers (and bloggers in general) we build a relationship with our readers - and in doing so we encourage them to trust our opinions and analysis. We violate that trust when we lie - and destroy that relationship and that trust.

From our specific point of view, sugarcoating a review is problematic. Fangs for the Fantasy is a site that analyses the genre (and occasionally outside of it) from a social justice point of view and we do this because we think it is important. We can’t ignore or downplay prejudice/stereotype/erasure without defeating our purpose. And every book we read, every series we watch, will contain criticism. No matter how much we love it or how tempted we are to fanpoodle, nothing is perfect, there’s always something wrong. And everything is a product of our prejudiced and generally problematic society – and will be stained by that. It’s a matter of “how much” more than “whether it is or not.”

And most online reviewers have comment sections. If you think we’ve not given a book justice then come, comment, debate (try not to fanpoodle mindlessly though, we will mock you rather cruelly and do recall that, as a social justice space if you come in carrying a load of prejudice foolery we will treat it accordingly) tell us what you thought or what we missed or even if we made a mistake or you have an entirely new perspective – let your comments add to the review. That is the joy of the Internet - you don’t have statements, you have discussions

Review of Rajmund by D.B Reynolds Book Three of Vampires in America Series

To be absolutely fair to D.B. Reynolds, I am going to say upfront that I am not a fan of paranormal romance.  In terms of the Vampires in America Series, we have reviewed, Raphael and Jabril.  In Rajmond, the protagonist changes from Cynthia to her friend Sarah.  I wish I could tell you that this improved the already disastrous series.

Sarah is haunted by her past.  As a young girl, when she began dreaming about women being abused and trying to help the police, her parents thought that she was crazy, and so they had her institutionalized. After reaching the age of 18, she created a new identity, and worked two jobs to get an education to put her past behind her.  When she finally achieves her dream and becomes a professor Cuny in Buffalo, the dreams return, turning her peaceful life into a nightmare.  Sensing that something is not quite right with her friend, Cyn invites Sarah to meet in her in Manhattan for a weekend of fun and shopping, after getting Raphael's permission, 'cause of course, grown women property cannot travel without supervision.
"I too have a place," he chided her gently. "With far more suitable accommodations than your father's.
where Sarah meets the vampire Rajmond, or Raj as he likes to be called. But it is not a simple matter for me or my mate to travel to another's territory." He drew a long breath, thinking about Cyn's request and how it might serve a purpose of his own. "One weekend, lubimaya, no more." (pg 17 -18)
Aww isn't Raphael sweet? Of course this controlling shit is justified, because he is a master vampire after all. I suppose we should be thankful, because without his permission, there would have been no way to create a situation in which Cyn, introduces her friend Sarah to Raj.

While the trip to New York, is social for Cyn, for Raphael it's business, and so he sends the little women away so that he can confer with Raj.  They come straight to the point, and Raj tells Raphael that his master, who just happens to reside in Buffalo (nope, not contrived its supposedly happenstance), no longer has the strength to take care of the vampires in his territory, and that he is considering challenging him for leadership. When their business is concluded, Raj and Sarah hit the dance floor, where she gets lost in the pheromones and begins fantasizing about sex right on the spot.  We learn later that Sarah is highly susceptible to vamp pheromones.  This fact alone should make Sarah question her ongoing attraction to Raj, given that he is patronizing from the moment that he meets her, referring to her as "little one" and is arrogant beyond belief, but that would have invested Sarah with agency, and we simply cannot have that unless she is setting herself up to be saved or planning a beautiful night time wedding.

Cover Snark: The Sideways View: T&A for Everyone!

The cover of a book is very important because other than the name of the writer itself, publishers count on the image on the front to attract a reader enough to pick up the book and read the synopsis.  

One of the reoccurring tropes is the repeated display of women’s bodies exemplified by the oft use side view.

 And what are the advantages of the side-view? Why, tits and ass in one picture! Also let’s not forget the ever so popular arch.  Women must be sure to arch their bodies in such a way that both their breasts and buttocks are jutting outwards.  That this may cause back pain is no concern because that’s why chiropractors exist. 

Enter to Win Rise of The Governor

Hello everyone, it's giveaway time again.  As you know, the fangs crew are huge fans of the comics and show The Walking Dead.  Unfortunately, The Walking Dead is on hiatus until February.  If you're like us, you're already dreading the long wait.  This is why we thought this month we would offer one lucky a winner a chance to win:
Rise of the Governor is the back story of the governor, the most hated character in The Walking Dead universe.  This is a must read for any real fan.  You can find our review of the book here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We Have a Winner

Hello everyone The Twilight Breaking Dawn Celebration package giveaway has come to an end. The lucky winner of:

A 2012 Twilight Breaking Dawn Calender, The Robert Pattinson Watch, and the Twilight Breaking Dawn Tote Bag is........

Jennifer Wedemeyer

Jennifer, you have been sent an email and will have 48 hours to reply with your mailing address or a new winner will be selected.  Thanks so much for reading and stay tuned everyone for new and exciting giveaways. 

Jeremy Jahns Has a Few Words to Say About Twilight Breaking Dawn Part I

Alright, I know that this is just going to piss the twi fans off, but truth is truth. 

Review of Cold Magic by Kate Elliot Book One of the Spiritwalker Trilogy

Cold Magic is the first book in the Spiritwalker trilogy.  As with all new books in a series, it is necessary to do some world building to properly set the story for a reader.  Unfortunately, Elliott's approach was heavy handed and boring, because she ignored the adage of show and not tell.  At times it felt like being immersed in a history lesson about people, wars, and countries that as a reader, I could care less about.  Approximately, the first 100 pages is dedicated to world building and this makes the story exceedingly boring to read. At one point, I was tempted to put the book down, and simply give it a DNF.  It should not take 100 pages to begin telling a story.

Cold Magic is a steampunk novel in which magic and technology are clearly at war with each other.  The cold mages demand patronage of the people for protection and in return, the people are virtually enslaved and must exchange their labour.  Technology holds the promise of freedom from the oppressors.  The people seek voting rights as they were formed in ancient Rome as well as the ability to profit from their own labour.  There are far too many clans to list in this review and they are often difficult to remember as one reads the story.

For all of their belief in technology, the people are very spiritual.  Beneath the world that is readily visible is another realm of magic.  In this realm a dragon dreams and these dreams effect the faith of the waking world.  Fantastical creatures exist there whose purpose is as of yet unexplained.

In this world lives Catherine Bell Barahal and her beloved cousin Bee. They are both believe that that they are the descendants of the Hassi Barahal clan.  The Hassi Barahal's began as messengers but quickly became spies.  When the populace attempted to over throw the cruel rule of the cold mages led by Camjiata the rebellion was crushed placing the Hassi Barahal family in grave danger because of the potential of their activities becoming public knowledge and so a deal was struck whereby the eldest daughter of the Hassi Barahal clan would be forced to marry a cold mage of the four moon house before the age of majority.  Days before reaching the age of majority,  Andevai, an incredibly strong cold mage arrives to claim her.  Catherine is whisked from the home of the only family she has ever known and married off in a ceremony that binds her to Andevai using unbreakable magic.

Wednesday Reboot: The Craft

The Craft was released in 1996 and stars Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney, Rachel True and Neve Campbell.  As with previous Reboot Wednesday posts, the goal of this piece is to interrogate the social justice fails in older movies.  At the time that movies like The Craft came out, the social justice blogosphere as we know it today did not exist and so consequently, these movies that have in some cases become cult classics have managed to avoid the criticism often aimed at current movies like Twilight.  

When Sarah Bailey played by Robin Tunney arrives in a new town she makes friends with three girls who are social outcasts at their school.  Nancy is bullied after being slut shamed by the highschool jock, Bonnie for her disfigurement and Rochelle for being Black.  As they walk through the halls, they are called things like the bitches of Eastwick, a play on the 1987 movie, The Witches of Eastwick staring Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, Veronica Cartwright, and Jack Nicholson.  Shortly after arriving at the school, Sarah goes out on a date with Chris Hooker and he tells the entire school that not only did she sleep with him on the first date, but that she was a bad lay.  This of course sets of a solid round of slut shaming. 

As Sarah, Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle come together they discover that they have the ability to form a coven and perform magic. Bonnie wishes for the disappearance of her scars, Rochelle for revenge on Laurie Lizze played by Christine Taylor for her constant racial abuse, Sarah for Chris Hooker to like her and Nancy to an end of her White trash existence and having to watch as her mother is abused by her boyfriend. Over time each on of their wishes come to fruition but they are warned that whatever the put out into the world will return to them times three by Lirio, the woman who owns the local magic shop.  

In no time at all, the power that they wield quickly runs out of control leaving two men dead.  Sensing that Nancy is out of control, Sarah attempts to bind her.  This of course does not go down well with Nancy and she attacks her.  The two end up in the huge battle of magic in which Sarah is the victor, leaving Nancy institutionalized.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Few Things You Might To Know About Grimm's David Giuntoli

1. Navy blue is his favorite color. “I’ve been told I look good in it,” he says with a laugh.

2. David never had a favorite fairy story as a child. “I’ve been asked this question before,” he says. “I don’t think I really have. I loved ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.’ I loved being scared. I loved horror movies. I loved ‘The Shining’ but I can’t say I was reading any fairytales necessarily. I was kind of more into wrestlers and things.

3. Lists the following among his hobbies.  “I like to go see music. I like to read. Portland is a wonderful place to kinda go bike around and become a foodie, and I’ve done that here quite a bit. Those are my hobbies up here. Pottering about!” he laughs. “And drinking coffee and reading.”

4. Nick Burkhardt’s fiancee is played by actress Bitsie Tulloch. Coincidentally Both David and Bitise appeared together in an independent movie earlier this year called Caroline and Jackie – also playing a couple. “It’s a total indie but it’s got really good people in it,” David says of the movie.

5. Lists London as a place he would like to visit if he had the opportunity to live and work abroad for a year. “I would go to London,” he says decisively after a moment’s pause. “I’ve never been there. It would feed my soul. The best trained actors come out of there and I would love to immerse myself in that as much as I could. And it’s an expensive city, so there’s where I’d like to work!

Read the rest of the article here

Review: Changeless by Gail Carriger, Book 2 of the Parasol Protectorate Series

I am going to say right up front, that when it comes to Gail Carriger, we have officially become fan poodles so do not expect an unbiased review.  Changeless marks the return of the indefatigable Lady Maccon, formerly known to us Miss. Alexia Tarabotti. Just as with Soulless, the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series Alexia continues to be a protagonist that is simply beyond compare. She is bright, funny, daring, logical, sarcastic but must importantly, strikingly independent, despite her marriage to Lord Maccon.  These traits are rare in a female protagonist and LJ Smith, Charlaine Harris,  and Cassandra Clare, really need to read this series and take notes. Yes, this is how it's done. This is how you make a character who is strong and intelligent. Who is independent but doesn’t make awful decisions. Who holds her own without being unreasonable, violent or a spoiled child throwing a tantrum. Not a whiff of Spunky Agency or Keille Independence In short, I don’t think we’ve come across a better female protagonist in this genre.

When Lady Maccon awakes in the morning to find her husband yelling, she assumes instantly that it is time argument and instantly argues back half asleep, with no idea what is going on.    
"Wasn't me, she immediately said, without having the barest hint of an idea as to what her husband was carrying on about. Of course, it usually was her, but it would not do to fess up right away, regardless of whatever it was that had his britches in a bunch this time." 
On several occasions various people turn to Lord Maccon from sort of relief from Alexia's biting tongue, but no relief is to be found, because Lady Maccon is simply determined to have her say.  

Lady Maccon further is not afraid to involve herself in action whenever necessary.  When the pack returns and takes up residence in the forecourt, Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings no less, has the misfortune to assume Lady Maccon is the hired help and becomes openly suggestive and condescending towards her. He quickly learns of his mistake when he is hit squarely over the head with her beloved parasol, Lady Maccon's weapon of choice.  It is virtually impossible to read the exchange without laughing out loud.  Fortunately for us, this is not the last we see of Lady Maccon and her infamous parasol.

Once Upon a Time, Season 1, Episode 5: That Still Small Voice

So we begin with a pickpocketing youngster and his parents in fairytale land. And we end up with some very heavy-handed “ideals” which clearly are going to be challenged by the end of the episode (wow, seriously, there wasn’t even a hint of subtlety here). Interesting that we’re going to have some more moral questioning on the programme – like we did with Cinderella’stale that had some fantastic (albeit un-nuanced) messages in it. But a lighter hand would be nicer.

Anyway, little pickpocket boy has been told that good=weak, let his parents do his thinking for him, he’s “free to do what we want”, and he can’t change who and what he is. Oh and the boy is Jiminy Cricket (he grows up to become a cricket, wow, not my dream come true, but different strokes I guess). We continue to follow him working with his immoral, thieving parents objecting to their naughty ways (one thing it does make clear is that the parents steal from greed rather than necessity as their legitimate enterprises earn them enough money. I can understand doing this to differentiate them from many driven to extremes by poverty but at the same time it feels like a simplistic way to avoid any nuance or grey areas. But at least it kind of acknowledges that those grey areas exist).

His fence for all his thieving turns out to be Rumplestiltskin whose scheme is, of course, nefarious and wrong which kills 2 people and leaves their child an orphan. Leading to Jiminy wishing and regretting until the blue fairy (token black inclusion for 5 minutes, at least she didn’t die this time) turns him into a cricket to help him guide the boy who lost his parents.

In the real world Emma is having uniform arguments with the sheriff (yes, remember Emma is a deputy. I can’t say I’m familiar with American law enforcement but I cannot imagine it’s that easy) making it clear she doesn’t need a tie (or traditional masculine clothing) to have authority. Did I mention I liked Emma?

And Henry is having therapy sessions with Dr. Archie (Jiminy Cricket: oh dear gods, can you imagine? I’d squish him by the third session!) who has apparently been pulled into Henry’s minions as well. The mayor is tired with Archie’s therapy and has a big dramatic threat to demand the doctor uses other methods to “cure” Henry of his delusions. She reminds him whose boss and that she can destroy him, an employee (shadows of what his parents said in fairytale land, yes that’s that lack of nuance again). In some ways this has strong echoes of how many people treat mental illness – as something that can be quickly and easily fixed. And also how vulnerable many are to incompetent, prejudiced or agenda driven mental health practitioners

Lost Girl, Season 2, Episode 10: Raging Fae

Wow, we start with the succubus actually feeding? About time! 

Bo, having had an apocalyptic vision last episode, has decided that the best thing to do is avoid trick – y’know the guy with all the knowledge, because she thinks she killed him in the vision (which is a reason not to find out more, apparently or, maybe, give him a vested interest in making sure said vision doesn’t come to pass). She even resists Trick’s offer of a full Sunday lunch with Yorkshire Pudding.

Interrupting the musings of a good dinner, Lauren calls Bo to one of her patients – an ogre who has been badly beaten by a human (clearly this ogre goes to the Bo school of combat) in illegal underground fighting ring. And yes, that’s a human defeating ogres – which shouldn’t be happening.
Needless to say, Bo isn’t all that amused by the idea of underground fighting rings. Except that Fererro, the guy who runs the fights is a Light Fae of impeccable record – and, of course, beating and killing humans isn’t considered that big a no-no in fae society. Giving special powers to humans so they can beat ogres? Now that is naughty and will get one into trouble, if it can be proved. 

Bo goes to join Ferrero's fighting gym and cage fights (and lo, she remembers her succubus powers to save her from the human beating her! How is it that waaaaay back in season 1, episode 1, with no training or experience with her abilities,Bo can take down underfae without breaking a sweat but now wrestling human fighters and even battling a human dominatrix is beyondher?). Oh and of course, while Bo was considered too delicate for a fighting gymn (go find a yoga class – after all yoga and pilates are the only physical exercise delicate white women can do, right?) the woman she fights is a muscular black woman – that’s not stereotyping at all now, is it? Then she gets the stage name “boom boom”. Yeah, do I even need to talk about that? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, episode 43

This week we examined the lastest episodes of The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Lost Girl and American Horror Story

We examined our book of the week: Cold Fire by Kate Elliott, as well as the books we're reading including JR Ward, DB Reynolds. We also mentioned Charlaine Harris and infamous Teagarden series. Next week we will be reading My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

A Behind The Scenes Look at Season Two of 'Game of Thrones'

Alright, I know that this is straight up fantasy and not urban fantasy, but I am a fan of this show and so I was super excited when I came across the following video. I know that Game of Thrones has a huge fan base and so I thought that others might be excited to see the following video.

Review, Lover Mine by J.R. Ward, Book 8 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood

This book follows John Matthew and unlike the last book it’s pretty much focused on his story – and the story of Xhex. 

A few things happened in this book – Xhex had to evade her kidnapping at the hands of Lash, the Omega’s own son. Lash originally took her because she killed his symphath prisoner and ended up infatuated with her and her willingness to fight back. But all is not simple in Lash’s life – with a rift developing between him and the Omega and his own body transforming around him.With Lash on the outs, the Omega has a new fore-lesser with a new and potentially horrendous tactic – the Brotherhood has to deal with

We see greater insight into John’s connection to Darius – and more of Darius and Tohrment’s past, as well as some of the changes to the Chosen’s circumstances. But mainly we see Xhex and John recover from their ordeal, sort through their past issues and finally plough their way towards each other, seeking vengeance and having lots and lots of sex. Oh and Qhuinn and Blay drowning in theirs.

Ok, as summaries go that was a little scrappy, but they are focused on one storyline (the side-plots are not only distracting but they’re almost laughably hollow and irrelevant) and the relationship between John  and Xhex is just one long angst/issues/sex/make me want to break my kindle fest. Deep breath guys because this isn’t going to be a good one.

I say the Brotherhood have to deal with various things here, but I’m taking that on trust, because I have no idea what they were doing. I know I wanted a more focused story, but what are Zsadist, Vishous, Rhage and Phury (who is always on speakerphone, he’s that busy) actually doing? Because not only do we not see them much, but they always seem to be there when needed. Do they just hang around looking bad-ass until called? If they’re not doing anything could someone get them a thesaurus and point out that “shitkicker” is not synonymous with “shoes”.

In general I have found this series to be highly problematic (and have other flaws besides) but I’ve found enough to amuse me that I generally leave each book laughing rather than cringing.
I'm not laughing.

This book took most of the problems the series has had, highlighted them and clicked bold and poured them all out at once.

The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode Seven: Pretty Much Dead

The episode opens over breakfast with Carol cooking.  Why is it the male survivors can never make any food or wash a damn dish?  Glenn gathers their attention and says, "so, the barn is full of walkers." The scene flashes to the barn and we see walkers ambling about as Shane peers through a hole in the wood. Shane immediately charges up to Rick saying, "you can't tell me that you are alright with this. We either get make this right or we got to go".  Rick reminds him that this is Hershels land. When Carol intervens saying that her daughter is still out there, but Shane  asserts that she is dead which causes Darryl to intervene. Shane says to Darryl, "And if she saw you coming with your buck teeth, and ears around the neck she would run in the other direction".  Dale tells them that Hershel sees these things as people, but then Shane loses his mind again that Dale waited to say anything.

This one time I have to agree with Shane.  Those walkers are dangerous and no matter what Hershel says, they are most definitely not people.  He walks around outside the barn and attempts to brake the locks. Glenn approaches Maggie and begs her to talk to him.  She asks him for his hat, and then puts an egg in it and cracks the egg over his head. He asks, "why would you waste an egg like that," and she says, "I think it was rotten".
Working on some math problems, Carl tells Lori that he is not leaving until they find Sophia and even then he does not want to leave.  He tells her that he thinks this would a good home. After everything that this little boy has seen it really is no wonder that he sees Hershel's farm as a good place to stay. 

In frustration, Darryl saddles a horse to leave because it is clear that searching for Sophia is no longer high on the list of things to do, but Carol tries to stop him.  She says, "we don't know if we're going to find her, we don't, I don't.  I can't lose you to".  Darryl throws the saddle in anger injuring himself, but when Carol asks him how he is he says, "just leave me be, stupid bitch".  Okay, anyone still arguing that he is a good guy? 

At the camper, Glenn is sitting watch and finds Andrea loading up on weapons.  She tells him that Shane wants a watch duty at the barn.  Dale tells her that he does not know what is going on with Shane and that she may not really know him. She says, "I get it you don't like him".  He asks, "is that how you wanna be, like him"? And she responds, "he's not a victim". Dale says, "you don't know him".  Andrea answers, "Dale I need you to stop, you spend so much time watching me". He says "you want to beat me up everytime I show any kind of concern". Isn't that just typical, he's been policing her and treating her like a possession, but it really is all about him being the victim. There isn't a woman in camp that he hasn't tried to control in some way. She says, "I'm okay, things are different".

Glenn asks if Dale is okay and Dale uses this opportunity to be relieved  to get him some water, because he needs a second. Glenn asks him if he will keep watch and distracted he answers, yeah sure. Clearly Dale is up to something and it is based in his absolute distrust of Shane. 

Hershel sits at a table when Rick walks in.  He offers to help them out with the work and he says, "it's my field to tend". Rick tells him that he found the barn, but Hershel says that he does not want to talk about the barn.  He then says "I need you and your group gone by the end of the week". Rick responds that if they send them out there that they may not live. He says this farm is special and that Hershel has  been shielded from everything that happened out there.  "The first time I saw walker, it was just half a body with a head snapping at me". Viewers may recognize this walker as the one that was featured in the webisodes. Rick says "please do not send us out there again. Lori is pregnant. That is either a gift here, or a death sentence out there".  Hershel says he thought about it and that they cannot survive together. 

Outside Rick approaches Shane. Shane asks "whats it going to be man, which way does this thing go?" Rick tells him that they are negotiating.  Shane answers that the clock is thinking.  He says they know that there are about a dozen walkers in there, a stones throw away from where they sleep.  He asks why he wants to stay there, when it's not safe? Rick finally tells Shane that Lori is pregnant, and that they need to stay. Shane says, Lori is having a baby man, congratulations, but the minute he walks away, Shane turns to face the barn. It is obvious that congratulating Rick was extremely hard for Shane to do. No matter what he has said to Lori, Shane has not let go of what happened between them.

In the kitchen, Hershel tells Maggie that Carl does not need anymore of his help. He says that it will be hard and that Rick was being dramatic. He feels that they need to choose their own farm.  Maggie tells him that all the farms are all full of walkers. She says, "Love one another as I have loved you," when Hershel asks how Ricks people are his responsibility. Maggie tells him that he's different. Hershel asks if this is about her and "the Asian boy". It seems that despite his strong religious faith, his White male privilege prevents hims from seeing Glenn as a person.  She tells him that his name is Glenn and that he saved her life yesterday.  I was so relieved that Maggie called him on his reductive treatment of Glenn, She says, "things aren't what you think they are, don't do this. It's not about me and Glenn, it's about you, who you are and who you are going to be". 

Rick and Andrea are planning on doing a seach for Sophia, when Hershel walks up says that he needs his help with something. Andrea offers to help, but he says, "thanks, I just need Rick". Can we ever have a moment on this show where women aren't automatically dismissed?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Snark theatre: Laurell K Hamilton's Narcissus in Chains

It may surprise you that I like me a bit of snark. No, I know you're totally shocked, right?

So, upon finding this lovely series snarking Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series:

I'm devouring it with glee and episodes that make me stand up and cheer I will share :)

Like the snarker, I dislike what has happened to Anita Blake - and I have to say it's definitely "what happened." I think in many ways I intensely dislike the books from Narcissus onwards because I KNOW Laurell K Hamilton can do better than this. And yes, it is a little more to me because LKH's Anita Blake was my first Urban Fantasy, the first ones I ever read, a good decade or more ago. This series was what sold me the genre. Yes, behold why I cling desperately to them

This is why I don't actually dislike Meredith Gentry to the same degree - because Merry and her colour coded orgy-elves have never been anything but Merry and her orgy-elves. The same way why so many other bad paranormal romance doesn't irritate me as much as Anita

But Anita? Once she was more than this. She had plot, she had style, she wasn't perfect (and certainly there were Mary Sue elements) but she was strong and arsekicking (in ways that went beyond a new sex-activated super power every week). Not the BEST protagonist up there, but she was up there - ready and willing to show Sookie, Elena and Bella how it SHOULD be done.

And then along came Narcissus in Chains. it was getting shakey up to then, but Narcissus was when we firmly boarded the Hot Mess express to Train Wreck Land

The Fades, Season 1, Episode 5

Last episode we had a lot of coming back to life. John, the Big Bad Fade came back to life eating human flesh and also helped Natalie, another Fade do the same – and they’re getting an army of flesh eating Fades. Meanwhile Paul, our hero, also came back to life because he’s that powerful an Angelic, and the Angelics have their own Fade, Sarah, snacking on human flesh so she can become real as well (though I wonder how much of that is to help the side of goodness and how much of it is so she can reconcile with her husband Mark who is accused of the murders and pushing her away because he can’t stand the idea that she could be there but be utterly unable to sense her).

This episode we open with Mac’s father, Detective Armstrong looking at an investigation board covered in missing and murdered people – the casualties in the Fades’ quest to gain flesh to manifest. I like this scene if nothing else because there tends to be a lot of series/books in urban fantasy with a high bodycount and very little of the repercussions of that being shown (except hero angst). Here we have a sense of that much loss.

And the large numbers of new, naked fades being born. The good news is that Detective Armstrong’s arsehole, racist boss gets eaten by John the Evil!Fade. good, I was hoping he would be eaten (Walking Dead, take note – unpleasant people get eaten by the undead. Please have Shane eaten now). The escalating missing rate leads to a crisis centre being set up in the school

Meanwhile Paul is out of hospital (I want a Got Well Soon cake) against Doctor’s orders simply because they can’t imagine someone coming out of a coma healthier than when he went in (go go Angelic power) but Mac declares him geekily cured. Can I say for the hundredth time how amazingly good the relationship between Mac and Paul is? I mean the relationships in this series are amazing anyway – Paul and his mother, Paul and Jay, even Anna came into her own this episode – but Paul and Mac are such perfect, real, amazingly portrayed friends who bounce off each other most excellently