Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Almighty Johnsons Season One, Episode Six: Goddesses, Axl, Come in All Forms

An old woman stands on her lawn looking up when she is suddenly struck by a meteorite. Olaf suddenly sits up in bed and groans.  The next day, Olaf shows the rest of the Johnsons the story in the paper about the death of the woman and as the brothers joke,  Olaf tells them that it's a sign of Frigg. The Goddesses see the story and Ingrid tells them that this is a sign. Apparently the woman's last name is Hensen and there were Hensens on board the ship that brought the Gods to New Zealand. Anders believes that the sign is telling them to go there and that they must go to the funeral to figure out what the sign means.  The Goddesses decide the same but when Stacey says taking anymore time off work is going to cost her her job, Agnetha is not impressed but agrees to send Michelle and Ingrid in her staid. Mike and Ty both agree to stay home.

At the office, Anders tells Dawn to reschedule his meetings and to tidy his apartment. Dawn is not impressed and tries to stop him from going but he breezes out, not listening to a word that she has to say.

Axel, Anders and Olaf head off in the car with Olaf saying that back in the day they would have tripped out on mushrooms before going into battle. Olaf is always about his drugs.

When Dawn walks into Anders apartment, it's absolutely disgusting and the fridge is on the fritz with everything rotting and draining on the floor.  She calls Ty to fix it and runs out to try on a bridesmaid dress.

When the Johnsons arrive at the funeral, they stand back and check out the women. The Goddesses and the Johnsons see each other at the same time. When Ingrid sees Axel, she remarks,"I thought he would be more Godly." She does have a point as it is hard to take Axel seriously as Odin because they give him few ass kicking moments and he constantly wears skinny jeans which do nothing for him. The Goddess march over to the Johnsons and Anders and Michell start verbal sparring immediately.  The sexual tension between them is great but I didn't not appreciate Anders using Michelle's bisexuality and her gender against her.  Yes, another moment of sexism on The Almighty Johnsons. Ingrid and Olaf hit it off and she admits that they are there to find Frigg.

When Dawn returns, Ty tells her that it would be cheaper for Anders to buy a new fridge than to fix it.  When she says she feels awful, Ty points out that it is not her responsibility and that they should drink Anders beer before it got warm.

During the funeral, Anders asks Axel if he is getting anything from Angelicka, the grandmother of the deceased. When she cries, Anders sees it as a sign until a bearded man goes up to comfort her catches their attention. Anders asks why the man is so important but he says it's all cloudy.  Anders asks about Angelicka and Olaf says she is not important but Anders feels that she is the one.  The Johnsons and the Goddess go to talk to her and she invites them to the farm for the wake.

At Anders, Dawn admits talks about the upcoming wedding and says that she loves the idea of a man and a woman, or two men and two women loving each other enough to publicly declare their love.  Considering the GLBT fails on The Almighty Johnsons to date this feels forced.  They could do so much more with good representation than lines of support. It rings false after having Anders attack Michelle for her bisexuality earlier in the episode. Ty makes a crack about Dawn always being a bridesmaid and she says she has to head back to the office.  

Ty goes to see Mike and asks how many female friends that he has. Mike says 4 or 5 and Ty asks how many are actually his friend and how many are Valarie's friends that he just happens to get along with. Ty says that he has 19 female friends who call him and have coffee with him. Mike suggests that maybe he is just one of those men who gets along with women.  Ty says that he has either tried to sleep with or has slept with all of those women and they are still friends with him because he is a great guy. Ty asks what happens if Axel actually finds Frigg and they become full Gods.  Since Ty is Höðr, God of all things cold and dark, he believes that things won't get any easier with women.  I have to admit that Ty has a point with this one. Mike suggests that he not think about it and live in the here and now.  Ty says that he doesn't want 20 female friends and so Mike tells him to do something about it. 

At the farm they notice a large man with his arm around Angelicka, but Anders says that he will deal with him. When Axel points out that they need to figure out what's up with big man barbecuing the meat, he says that he will deal with that as well. The man is hammering away at the meat and Ingrid approaches Olaf and says, "if what we're thinking is right, this could end very badly." Olaf approaches him asks if he is Thor and the man asks if he knows them.

Ingrid and Olaf steal Anders, Axel and Michelle away from Angelicka and her boyfriend to tell them that the big man is Thor, the God of war.  Anders is not concerned because Axel is Odin but Olaf says, "the thing about Thor is that usually, he's barking mad." Anders says that they can deal with it.  Thor approaches them with a meat hammer and they introduce themselves to him. When Axel says that he is Odin, Thor laughs until Olaf says, "seriously he is." Thor then gets down on one knee.

At Anders apartment Ty cooks dinner for Dawn, saying that he didn't want the food to go to waste. Dawn points out that when she looked in Anders freezer that there was nothing but vodka and Ty says that the food was behind the vodka.  He asks to see the bridesmaid dress and Dawn says that she will see how good his cooking is first. Considering that Ty can't taste anything, I don't see how his cooking could possibly be good.

At the picnic table the Gods gather around to talk about the prophesy.  When Anders asks about Angelicka, Thor tells them that she is not Frigg. Thor says that he is adopted and that he found out that he was a God from a guy in prison, though he claims that he is not barking mad.  Thor says that they are after his daughter and they turn to see Delphine. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Warehouse 13 coming soon!

Like Alphas, we're also going to be reviewing Warehouse 13 when it starts up again on 23rd July. To get ready we have a preview clip to whet your appetite

Review of Silver Tounged Devil by Jaye Wells, Book Four of the Sabina Kane Series

If I had only one word to describe this book, I would have to EPIC.  Okay fair warning folks, I am a huge Jaye Wells fanpoodle.

For the first time in her life things seem to be okay for Sabina.  Her relationship with Adam is going great and she is happy. The treaty to unite the dark races is only days away from being signed, when on her way to Slade's vampire club, Sabina comes across a dead human body completely drained of blood.  Sabina sees this as vampire business and since she now sees herself largely as a mage, having killed her grandmother Lavina in the last book, Sabina keeps moving.  Things escalate when she gets to the club and a mage dies, as Pussy Willow is having her debut.

Sabina does not want to get involved but she is ordered to investigate. She quickly learns that there is a connection between the mage death and the human death and believes that this is an attempt to destabilize Slade's leadership of the vampires in New York. If that were not enough, Maisie has yet to recover from the horror that Lavina has subjected her to and her PTSD is stopping her from having a vision about the future.  No matter how she reaches out to her twin, Sabina keeps being rejected. 

The peace that she has worked so hard to achieve is crumbling around and Sabina realises that perhaps the reason is because they are up against the evil of all evils - Cain.  Can Sabina somehow unite the dark races and keep the people she loves safe from harm?

Silver Tounged Devil starts agonizingly slow and the bickering between the characters is distracting but when it all comes together, one realizes how necessary this is for the conclusion of the book.  The climax of the story is so shocking and unexpected that it is impossible to put the book down until the last page is read.  

Okay, I suppose I should add some critique, even though my mind is screaming don't attack the precious, must protect the precious.  Unfortunately, there is a deal of ableism in this story.  A side character in the story is Goldie and she is a little person. On page 136, she is referred to as a "midget", though the preferred term is little person, or person of short stature.  To her credit, Goldie Schwartz does call out the usage of the term midget but says, "And I'm not a fucking midget. I prefer the term fun-sized."  As in Green Eyed Demon, she is also called the gimp.  Obviously, this is far from the ideal and is completely unnecessary to the story. The only thing we learn about Goldie is that she is disabled and that she is into water sports.  

There's also the issue of Pussy Willow, who was formerly Brooks. After being attacked, Brooks assumed a female persona as a way of dealing with the tragedy.  Pussy Willow completely identifies as female and lives her life as a woman on a full-time basis and this is why the usage of the terms transvestite and cross dresser are not fitting.  Part of my issue is that it took a trauma for this to happen, which suggests that anyone who transgresses the gender binary is damaged in someway.  When Pussy Willow is banned from participating in the roller derby, Giguhl says:
"It's the whole penis thing." He shrugged. "Somehow the league found out she was smuggling extra equipment in her skirt.  They're refusing to bend about the whole 'only biological females are allowed on to be on the teams' thing. So I had to tell her she can't play." [pg 164]

Bedlam Season 2, Episode 3: Unfaithful

Dan is in his usual flirting form showing Rita, a new character, around part of the Bedlam building. She’s looking for a venue to get married in after her last choice blew up in a gas leak (go for the rubble, Rita, it beats ghosts). Despite the reason she’s there, Dan is still on full flirting form – much to the disapproval of a bridal-dressed ghost haunting around. The flirting escalates as he promises to fix everything for her wedding within a week – and they kiss (I agree, Dan beats a hen do any day). It geos no further as the lights go off – and bride ghost is furious.

After the credits we catch up with them dressing which means a) it went further than a kiss and b) we didn’t get to see Dan half nekked. Boo. Rita has understandable regrets and Dan promises discretion. Unfortunately the haunting begins and in Rita’s flat a little bridal-themed music box is playing.

Max and Dan have some banter then Max goes on to play with his ghost site and the information he received last episode (unknowingly from Dan to try and shut down the site) when Ellie barges into his room without knocking and grabs his closed lap top against his objections (hmmm, she has complained about him crossing boundaries when he looked in her rucksack – but she’s doing this?). She finds the ghost blog and puts it down as her life online (because if it’s about the ghosts it’s her life?) and orders him to shut it down. She belittles him as if he were a child and accuses him of treating it like a game – as if he wasn’t there trying to save Cass’s life last episode and if he hasn’t saved Ellie’s as well. Of course, according to Warren and Dan, this website is the main reason more tenants (and victims) aren’t flocking to the building.

Warren is suffering from sleep deprivation after his many spooky dreams, but Dan comes in with the good news – the site has been taken down (Max was obedient to Ellie’s orders) though Dan intends to keep looking for the culprit. Dan attributes Warren’s distraction  to missing Kate (though the mention of family seems to be hitting sore spots for Dan). When Dan leaves, Warren looks up Kate in his phone, but then gets woozy – and enters one of the spooky dreams with a  shadowy figure. When he comes out of it, seemingly seconds later, he’s in the deserted, still-under-construction part of the building (which has a body in the walls, still). His phone rings – from Kate, but he only hears noise and static.

In the lobby Max runs into Rita – and they know each other from the past. There’s a somewhat awkward reunion (and, perhaps  a suggestion that he may have had an unrequited crush on her). Her mobile rings – but when she answers she only hears static-fuzzed bridal music. Yes, the spooky is beginning. She returns to her room to find the bridal music box playing again – and the television showing BBC news has scrolling text at the bottom “Forsaking all others” over and over. The tension ratchets up in perfect bedlam style, until Ed, her fiancé leaps in, breaking it. He has a copy several wedding vows for them to look through – but Rita focuses on the “forsaking all others” line. They both then get to discuss wedding plans with Dan which isn’t awkward at all

Later in the bar, Ellie attacks Max some more and Max reveals that he was haunted as a child by his dead father. She’s briefly stunned by this revelation (that Max may have feelings?) but Max moves the conversation on quickly to assure her the blog is shut down and to offer her some sweets she got from Rita (who he reveals to have been his girlfriend when he was 17, hence the awkward). The sweets trigger Ellie’s Spook Vision – showing the music box and a bride being dragged away during her wedding day. She also finally tells Max about Eve – the spooky  little glowing girl with the marbles.

Back with Rita, the haunting continues – with a piece of paper whjere the ghost has scrawled “forsaking all others” dozens of times – and “whore” on the other side. She rushes to Dan to tell him someone’s been in her room – and asks if he’s told anyone. He says no… and they end up in bed together. After the action she reveals this isn’t the first time and that her fiancé has no idea. She discusses her motives for getting married which seems to be more based on familial obligation rather than what she actually wants.

Chelsea Lately, Nelson Ellis and a Whole Lot of Problems

Chelsea: This is you on the cover of Entertainment Weekly by the way (she’s holding up the magazine) with makeup on right? You have eyeliner on there for your character?

Nelsan: Yes Ma’am

Chelsea: You have to wear a lot of makeup don’t you?

Nelsan: I do, I probably wear a lot more makeup than all the females.

Chelsea: So you play - it’s true he does. You play a gay character on the show and you’re a medium.

Nelsan: I am

Chelsea: Well don’t so excited about it. (Nelsan laughs) So you get possessed basically by a different person each season, or for the whole season, or for just a couple of episodes?

Nelsan: Umm, pretty half the season and it’s mostly women.  And so I am playing a gay dude and I get possessed by nothing but women.  (audience laughter) There’s only so far my masculine body can move in terms of....(Nelsan moves hands and a wave like motion)

Chelsea: So how did you decide to play a gay character, if you’re a straight guy?

Nelsan: I just act like my momma. (audience laughter) I been watching her all my life. I’ve been watching her, imitating her all my life so I was like, I can just do what she do (Nelsan snaps his fingers in a Z snap formation)

Chelsea: Your father, your parents are conservative right? Your dad’s like a deacon?

Nelsan: My father’s a super duper deacon. He’s one of those deacons who jumps and shouts. Mmmm Jesus.  So then he has a son on tv wearing lipstick hooker. (Nelsan snaps his fingers) So uh, yeah.

Chelsea: So what does he say about the show? He must have been horrified in the beginning.

Nelsan: This type of material would never exist in my father’s house; it never has. Now, he’s watching the show.  I mean, he supports me now but in the beginning not so much.  Yeah, it’s like, that and Jesus don’t exist in his world. But now, he called me yesterday and he was like “that first episode was good son. It wasn’t all weird like always is; it was good.  

Chelsea: Have you ever questioned your sexuality in real life?

Nelsan: No, I’m nervous

Chelsea (looking over her shoulder): Chewie have you?

Chewie: No

Chelsea: Am I making you nervous? Did you just say you were nervous?

Nelsan: I am nervous, can you tell?

Chelsea: Why are you nervous?

Nelsan: ‘Cause, I’m a really big fan of yours.

Chelsea: Oh you’re so cute you don’t have to be nervous.

Nelsan: I’m sweating

Chelsea: No, I’m sweating to (fans herself) it’s not just you. It’s hot in here. It’s very hard to come on for interviews for normal people.  So, don’t feel weird, everyone feels like that unless you’re really obnoxious like me. (Nelsan laughs) So I appreciate you being honest and telling me that you’re nervous but don’t worry, Chewie shits his pants every single day.

It’s a short video but there’s a lot of problems here that make me cringe to watch it.

Firstly - one of the most prevalent ideas that dog gay men is the idea that gay men are somehow less men than straight men. And this is hammered throughout this short clip - Nathan Ellis jokes about how his “masculine” body can only move so far. Yeah, because playing a gay man is so much stress on a straight man’s body.

He compounds this by his inspiration for Lafayette - his mother. Because, of course a gay man is based on a woman. Why is a straight man deciding the best way to look for inspiration to play a gay man is too look towards women? Why are women templates for how a gay man should act? A gay man is still a man - being gay doesn’t change that.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Alphas Coming Soon!

Since we'll be reviewing the next season of Alphas, we thought we'd share this sneak peak

Blood Ties Season 1, Episode 12: Norman.

Vicki and Henry are watching old vampire films, flirting (as ever) and discussing the nature of vampires feeding and the different ways of doing it – and how it all feels different. Vicki listens then rapidly derails the near-sex talk much to Henry’s frustration.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, a man cuts himself, the blood falls on his wooden floor that opens a pentacle on the floor, from which emerges a demon – and the last occupant of the house, who promptly cuts the human’s throat. See, this is why houses should have wall-to-wall carpeting. It’s Norman, the man who was pulled into the demon dimension in the first episode.

Vicki, at her office is discussing her mundane work, but her pentacle marks are burning. She wants to remove them but Coreen reminds her that they’re powerful and have helped her before – Vicki decides to avoid the issue (an allusion to her and Henry as well) and a Client, Camille Stone arrives to break up the conversation. She is a psychic and that she had a dream in which a being of pure evil attacked and killed Vicki. Something was summoned from a pentagram, using a book and a chalice. Vicki believes her – having seen demonic summoning before – and asks her to contact Vicki if she has any more visions.  The knife, book and chalice were all involved in the previous summoning and Vicki thought Henry had destroyed them. I’m glad that Vicki, after all she’s seen, doesn’t play sceptic, that’s already annoying when Celluci does it.

Vicki goes to see Henry but it’s not a good time – Henry has company. There follows some snark with Vicki poking his lechery which he responds with “a man has to eat”, “you don’t have to play with your food.” It’s a good snark exchange but  it is rather dehumanising – but then, being the prey of a vampire is dehumanising. Turns out Henry has separated the summoning items but not destroyed them – Vicki wants them destroyed the next night.

And we see that, surprise surprise, the psychic is actually the demon in disguise – using Vicki and Henry to gather the objects together and take them from their safe spaces and hiding spots.

Celluci has the case of the man who had his throat cut – and since Dave (his normal token POC sidekick) is away (not that you’d notice) he has a new one – Kate (who also has a crush on him). Speaking to the awesome Dr. Mohadevan they do link this dead body to the blood drained bodies they had waaay back in episode one. We also see that Kate is capable and observant – maybe due to be more than just a silent partner.

Time for a consultation and notes sharing between Celluci and Vicki where they bring each other up to date. Celluci wants Vicki to run but she doesn’t think you can from demons. Celluci and Kate also discuss the matter and Kate accurately links the case to Vicki and the weird cases she has been taking since becoming a private detective – I hope this develops as suspicion based on experience and knowledge rather than jealousy.

Time for magical item treasure hunting! The chalice is in the hands of s surly, demon fighting antique dealer, Maurice (who is British, of course) who is upset because Henry told him not to tell anyone where it was, even him. He has hidden the Chalice under a concealing spell – no-one knows where it is, including him. He says it’s safe as it is.  They leave - and in comes the demon wearing a Vicki disguise. There’s  a snag with spells – when the caster dies their magic dies with them, which means killing Maurice will reveal the chalice. Slice n’ dice time.

Cover Snark: Heroines on their Knees

We’ve seen before that an awful lot of covers where, for reasons unknown, the female protagonists have felt the need to get as low to the ground as possible.

I think I’ll never know why an action heroine is not going to leap into battle, not going to run into battle, is not even going to charge into battle - no she squats into battle.

But if something bemuses me more than the Squat - it’s the kneel.

Review: Ancient Canada by Clinton Festa (Part of the FMB Blog tour)

Book Description:

“Ancient Canada is a fantasy epic and a story of mythology for an alternate Canada.  Because of her unique ability to see life and death, Lavender is exiled from her home.  With the help of her sister Marigold, she survives in the wild using her gift.  The two encounter various characters and creatures along their journey, not all human and not all friendly.  Each chapter is narrated by one of these characters or creatures, sharing their personal story as well as their encounter of the two sisters.  Together the chapters link to bring Lavender and Marigold’s epic, the mythological story of Ancient Canada.”

This book is fascinating in many ways and the author has an incredible imagination. Set in an ancient land of semi-medieval technology, it resembles fantasy more than anything, while there are shreds of our world there, especially in the names, the world is extremely different from ours.

From Lichen to the feathermen, there is a lot of creativity here. We have a vast array of characters and creatures that largely dodge previous stories and patterns we have seen over and over again in fantasy. Lavender’s gift is also pretty unusual – not least of which because the power creep that is so common was resisted. Yet, despite not expanding her powers to control life and death, we still see a lot of very creative uses for it – from writing their book about poisonous food, to using it as a guide for safety, avoiding those paths where her death is imminent in favour of safer ones. It’s a unique way to give someone the limited ability of a Seer.

This is also a book that analyses a lot of issues (albeit not in a way that I found ideal). We have in depth discussions on the nature of evil, on passive and aggressive personalities, on ways to negotiate a homogenous culture when one is Other, on class, on welfare, on being fat, on sexism, on privatisation vs nationalisation, on mental illness, on freedom, on selfishness and self-perception, on self-worth, on the value of diversity and many more. Every story had at least one intense debate or examination of one of these concepts and more besides. There’s a lot of deep thinking in this book and a lot of urges to think as well – it encourages the reader to explore these concepts and follow the character’s paths.

Marigold and Lavender also work extremely well together. Lavender is overly serious, but Marigold is fun and often hilariously funny, adding a lightness to the book (albeit, also adding considerable, inappropriate distractions as well).

The story is as much a story of the world as much as it is Lavender and Marigold, with many of the chapters focused on the countries and cultures and creatures within it rather than just their story. It was a sight seeing tour in many ways – occasionally creating redundancies and distractions, but serving to show case these lands and the debates that arise from them

The problem is that this book has a writing style I don’t care for. It is over-written, it may be the most over-written book I’ve read – and I’ve read Dickens. The most glaring of this is the descriptions – things are described in incredible, and unnecessary, detail; people talk in extremely over-wordy and stilted fashion, conversations more a series of speeches delivered to each other. Frankly, the book is over 700 pages long and could quite possibly be halved without loss.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being Human U.S. Season Four Episode One: Eve of the War

This series opener begins with a flash forward  to the year 2037.  London looks like a war zone.  It seems the vampires have finally gotten the war that they wanted.  The resistance listens in to a broadcast and learns that New York has been sacked by the vampires.  A young woman says, "I don't understand, this wasn't supposed to happen."  The voice on the radio announces that resistance has been crushed and that the earth belongs to the vampires.

In the present day, it seems that Tom is working at a little diner.  A young man walks in and orders some tea. He has a sign on his back that says stake me.  When he bends over to pick up his items, Tom notices a bite mark on his neck.  Tom runs out back with a stake, ambushes the man and kills the two vampires he was with.  Tom tells him that two weeks ago Nina was killed, and he is now looking for Griffin, the vampire who ordered the hit. 

Back at the house, George sits in a room alone holding a stake guarding his infant daughter. He is exhausted and can barely keep his eyes open. Annie comes into the room with a cup of tea and says that she was thinking about taking the baby into the garden and promises to leave at the first sign of trouble. George says, "Nina left, Nina died, so like I said, she doesn't leave this room."  Annie says that this isn't good for either of them, but George insists that he is protecting her. Annie wants to name the baby, but all George can see is the name written on her gravestone. Annie is upset because she believes that George is acting like he is the only one in pain. She reminds him that she lost her best friend and her lover.  Annie tells him that with him like this, the vampires have already won.

At a vampire stronghold, the young vampire that Tom stopped shows up claiming to have information, asking to talk to Griffin. He is quickly dismissed by Cutler.  In a vampire meeting, we learn that the old ones will be arriving in two months and they plan on kidnapping George's daughter. They want the baby because she is the first of her kind - werewolves have only ever been made, not born. The old ones are going to move to strategic positions on the coast and then move inland killing and recruiting. Cutler says that what is being suggested shows a lack of understanding of how small the world is now.  He believes that before they reach the first major city that humans will raise an army on Twitter. Griffin says that they have to take the world by force, but Cutler believes that they need to create a new context.

Back at the house, Tom goes to see George and George tries to stake him. Tom asks if the baby is a werewolf and asks if she has a name yet.  Tom asks what happened to Nina and says that he knows  Griffin is going to be at the docks tonight, because he got the information from a vampire. George says that it's a trap because it's a full moon and Tom agrees saying that it's the one night that they know that werewolves won't be able to get to him. George says that he hardly knew Nina, but Tom responds that he knew her enough.  Annie bursts into the room asking to talk to Tom.

As Tom walks into the hallway, Annie smacks him over the head and says, "I have still have some relatives in Brighton, maybe you would like to get them killed too."  Apparently, she was listening at the chimney and heard every single word. Tom asks what else he was supposed to do because of the state of George.  Annie says that she will have him about soon. Tom tells Annie that this might be the last chance that George will get at Griffin, but Annie blows him off and smacks him again. Annie cries that she cannot lose anyone else and that she cannot process it.  Her whole life was Mitchell, George and Nina, and now Mitchell and Nina are dead, and George is gone.  She says that there is nothing nice in the house anymore except the baby.  George comes downstairs and tells Tom, "let's do it."

Cutler is getting his hair cut and Leo the barber asks what he thinks his chances are. Cutler replies, "the last full moon left you bedridden for two weeks, it's likely that the next one will kill you." The barber thanks him for his honesty. Cutler suggests sedating Leo to save him the pain, but worries that it will reduce his chances of changing back.  Leo is worried what will happen to Pearl if he dies. Cutler tells him that the shop and the flat would be gone, because they are in his name, and that if a ghost loses their roots and their familiars that they will fade.  Cutler says that Pearl will disperse and Leo replies that Pearl will still have him. Cutler answers that Leo, Pearl, and this place, have kept him safe from the world, and the world safe from him.

Nina tries to talk George out of going out, and she reminds him that not only has he not named his daughter, but that this is her first transformation. George answers, "the curse repairs what it damages, she'll be fine." He tells Annie not to answer the door for anyone and to transport the baby out if something happens.  Annie says that she cannot just disappear, if she is carrying a living thing. Tom leaves the room and comes back with a kennel.  George says it isn't for her sake, but for everyone elses. Annie is not in the least bit impressed.  George goes to leave and Annie reminds him to say goodbye to his daughter. As he walks towards the door, she tells him that she loves him and says, "don't die."  Annie suggests that she be the one to do it, because vampires can't hurt her, and she has hurt vampires before, but George simply responds, "you know why," and walks out the door.

Teen Wolf, Season 2, Episode 4: Abomination

Awesome Mysterious vet is hurriedly cleaning Scott’s wound (that, since it has been inflicted by Derek the Alpha, won’t heal quickly) before the murderous Argents return. He knows about werewolves, and knows the Argent the lizard thing killed wasn’t one (though, if it’s killing Argents I’m all for it. Go Team Lizard Thing! Go Weregeckos!). He doesn’t know anything about them but he thinks the Argents will because they will have books and records.

And then the Argents arrive – including murderous Granddaddy Argent who knows Alan the Awesome Vet who awesomely points out that they’ve ripped up their own code (Daddy Argent, chief apologist  tries to cast them as the victims, but Awesome Vet isn’t having any of his conscience dodging) but granddaddy Argent is only interested in shape-shifting murderers, not Argent murderers.

He discusses his findings from examining the dead Bennett – he was hit by a paralytic venom and that he was clawed up by something very strong and very fast – and that the Argents need to be very very afraid. And that the killer killed just to kill – not to eat (hey, if he’s killing Argents? I’m still Team Weregecko!). Did I mention that I loved Alan the Awesome Vet?

Stiles is getting his car fixed of a little problem, but the very diligent mechanic (ahem) has found lots of other expensive problems that need fixing too. Poor Stiles. There’s also goo on the handles of the garage door (which I assume is indicative of Geckoness or the ominous music wouldn’t have started) – and yes, having touched it Stiles can’t move his hands. He can look through the window, though, and see the Weregecko paralyse his mechanic (aww, don’t’ kill the hot mechanic! Go find an Argent – any Argent will do!) and lower Stiles’s jeep on top of him until it crushes him (in a very very very tense scene). He also lets Stiles see his gecko face and roar/scream/whatever at him. It’s actually a lot less scary after seeing its face.

The police arrive to Stiles’s struggled phone call and he tells his dad what happened – albeit with the supernatural elements removed.  And his jeep has to be impounded for evidence.

Moving on we meet up with Allison (please give this character some more personality) and her murderous, evil Granddaddy Argent, playing the “pity me old man” routine and then giving a very transparent lecture about trust to Allison (here, let me finish it for you – Allison, your family are murderers, don’t trust them. Simple!) . He then spends some time defending the murderous Kate Argent who died “doing what she thought was right.” In case you have forgotten, dear readers, what she thought was right was burning a house full of people to the ground, killing them, then going around torturing and murdering people. Even Allison is moved to protest that (and Granddaddy responds by saying she reminds him of Kate – wow, Allison, you going to take that insult?). He liked that she challenged him too. When she seems half hearted about trust he demands a clear yes that she can trust him. Yeah – this is the extent of Allison’s challenge?

Stiles consults with Scott, confirms that the weregecko isn’t a werewolf but also says he’s sure he’s seen the gecko before (presumably in human form) and that it recognised Stiles.

Meanwhile Derek is training his new pack (who aren’t entirely up to his standards) and to be unpredictable Erica climbs him to make out with him – which is quite quite quite understandable. Which he doesn’t agree with. Derek’s training, however is brutal and cruel – including breaking Isaac’s arm to make a point while Erica and Boyd look on in fear. Derek is worried – there’s both the Argents and the Weregecko – his pack needs to be ready and able to fight.

Wednesday Reboot: Devil

Devil was released in 2010 and stars Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas and Bokeem Woodbine. Detective Mowden is talking to his sponsor about his sobriety, when the sponsor suggests that he seek a high power. Mowden is resistant because he cannot understand how God could allow his family to be killed by a drunk driver.  Later that morning he is called to a suicide and when he goes to the building that he believes the man jumped from the situation quickly escalates. Mowden gets a call for the location when five people get stuck in the elevator and one of the women has her back bitten. One of the five people who are stuck in the elevator is the devil.

Along the way, anyone who tries to help free the people from the devil's grasp is killed.  Apparently, the devil does not take kindly to interference. Ramirez who is a security guard watching the footage is the only one who figures out what happened. It seems that when he was a child, his mother used to tell him stories about the devil appearing to punish the wicked.  Until what happened in the elevator, he had always believed that these stories were a myth. When Ramirez tries to tell Detective Mowden about what he saw in the footage -- Lustig a white security guard -- tells Mowden to just ignore Ramirez.

After the salesman dies, Ramierz says, "you must consider that one of those people might be the devil." The moment these words come out of his mouth Mowden says, "I want you to stop telling campfire stories and get your head in the game."  Mowden says that he must be missing something because they don't look like murderers.

It turns out that the salesman ran a ponzi scheme in which many people lost their life savings and one man even committed suicide, Mowden discovers during his investigation.  When Ramierz shows him the strange image on the tape and says that even guys like Mowden, who don't believe in God, believe in the devil, Mowden pulls out a coupon with words "I'm sorry on it" - a note from the hit and run driver who killed his family.  Mowden says that he doesn't believe in the devil because there is enough evil right here on earth.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Interview with Benedict Jacka!

Today we have a special episode of Fangs for the Fantasy - an interview with author Benedict Jacka - author of the Alex Verus series, which we enjoy massively - and have reviewed here:



You can find his webiste here: with updates on his series - including his latest book being released in September

Game of Thrones Is Your New Favorite Rom-Com


Review: The Golden Lilly, by Richelle Mead, Book 2 of the Bloodlines Series

Sydney has been commended by the Alchemists for being so very loyal to their cause, exposing the wrong-doers and dedicating herself to keeping the threat of Moroi and Dhampires from the poor humans. The problem is, while she follows her duties to the letter, she has made very strong friendships with several Moroi and Dhampires – she is uncomfortably aware that, from the Alchemist standpoint, she is a traitor.

And it’s something that becomes ever more complex as her friendships grow and deepen and she becomes involved in the Moroi experiments to permanently immunise people against becoming Strigoi. While the Alchemists approve of them, the idea that they may involve her goes against her own beliefs and everything the Alchemists have taught

Things are not simplified by the appearance of the Vampire Hunters – humans who hunt and kill Strigoi but have nothing but contempt for the Moroi. While their methods are extreme, their philosophy is not that far from that espoused by her own Alchemists

And then she has a teacher who is pushing her to learn magic, against all of her beliefs – and against the principles of the Alchemists – though she can’t deny the utility of it. Then there’s the complications of her love life as well.

The story is much better paced than the previous book. With that as an introduction we’re thrown into the major conflicts from the first page. The actual major part of the plot picks up around 40% with considerable groundwork being laid beforehand. 40% is a little late still, but this is in part because the daily school life and foundation for the characters that was laid in the first half wasn’t overly interesting to me. The relationship dramas of Jil, Eddie, and even Sydney didn’t fascinate me, nor did the problems Angeline had with the school authorities. This did make the first 40% somewhat slow for me – but not nearly so much as the first book and I recognise this is as much an issue of taste as anything else.

Once we do hit the 40% mark it really does pick up, we have action and intrigue and mystery – we have some twists, we have real development and we have some well laid seeds of meta-plot as well. It’s an interesting read with some very well done actions scenes and some excellently written conflict

There are some great conflicts in this book. Sydney is confronted with her deep held Alchemist beliefs against her friendships with the Moroi and the Dhampires. And it’s not just that the Alchemists reserve severe and terrifying penalties for those who dare to break their rules and fraternise with the Moroi – she has her own actual terror of them. She is unnerved getting too close or touching them and utterly afraid of expressions of their magic or actual blood drinking. Even giving a blood sample for medical purposes to them frightens her. Yet at the same time she has built bonds of affection and trust with them – they are her friends and she can’t imagine being without them even as her superiors seek to reward her by moving her away from them. This conflict is thrown into even harsher relief when we compare with the Vampire Hunters – their beliefs are not alien, they are just Alchemist beliefs taken to a more extreme (or not even that extreme) level. Her vehement rejection of their brutality is not just showing her humanity but also shows just how far she has deviated from the Alchemists own morals – and leads to uncomfortable questions about blinkered loyalty and who the monsters actually are.

Continuum Season One, Episode Four: Matter of Time

This episode begins with a flashback to happier times for Kiera.  The power goes out and Kiera immediately begins to worry that terrorists are back in action.

We go back to the past or present, (whichever way you want to look at it) with Kierra struggling to get on her makeup. When the power goes out she gets a call from Carlos. It turns out that they have found a new dead body and of course Kierra is quick to make pronouncements she has no business making, if she is trying to hide who she really is.  In the meantime, Kellog is investing in the stock market and unsurprisingly is doing extremely well.

On a street outside, there is a huge flash of light and yet another supposed terrorist arrives.

Kierra complains to Alec about her suit being broken and he offers to fix it for her, but she thinks it's beyond his capabilities.  While she has been busy complaining about her suit, Carlos arranges to talk with one of professor Aims' assistants [note Aims is the man who died] It is his contention that Calisto, the machine that Aims was working on backfired.  They were attempting to contain anti matter to create sustainable clean energy. They learn about Vincent, a group called Stop Mad Scientist, who threatened to burn down their research, and that the military was interested in the research. The whole time Shane is being interviewed, Kiera monitors his vitals.

The terrorists decide to beat up a marijuana grow up.  What is interesting about this scene is that the women at first used their sex appeal to appear non threatening and then proceeded to kick some major ass, while the men stood on the sidelines and simply waited for them to finish. Normally a scene like this would have been filmed with men being active and the women being passive. Score one for Continuum.

At the hospital, the new arrival awakes.  Kellog has now begun to place bets.  He begins to shower his grandmother with presents.  She worries that he wants more from her, until he claims that he is just repaying a debt to the family. With all of this tampering in his family's life, I cannot help but wonder why it is that Kellog seems so unconcerned about destroying the timeline?

Kiera and Carlos head off to see Vincent. He argues that the issue is not the science but the motivation of the people behind the science.  Of course this is not enough to have Kiera question her viewpoint on this issue. Vincent points them to Melissa Dobek.  Kiera believes that there is more to the relationship between Aims and Melissa than business. A man and woman cannot possibly be partners without screwing. Thank goodness we have Kiera to make these logical leaps.  Melissa denies any wrong doing as Carlos gets a call from the precinct.

Falling Skies Season 2, Episode 2: Shall We Gather at the River

We dramatically begin with Tom having a nightmare about a Skitter- which is probably natural given the world and the situation. He’s worried about what the aliens may have done to him – and keeps getting tested by Ann. Ann has full faith in him despite him walking onto a ship of his own free will (told you it was ridiculous), but Ann is there to reassure his guilt. Ann is also talking powerfully about the toll the war is taking on her, how she’s lost so many patients and can’t even remember what they’ve looked like. We also learn that Rick has completely disappeared – and that Ben’s tough skin is spreading. Without an X-ray they can’t discover what’s going on inside Ben or whether something has been put inside Tom (after all, you don’t have to have advanced technology for a tracking beacon).

Jamil and Dai are testing a bridge, the only one over the river that seems intact. With Hal and Maggie in charge with Jimmy trying to reassure Ben about shooting his dad. They’re interrupted by some of the alien ships – but with their big gun and the new ammo Dai manages to shoot them down – but the crashed ship destroys the bridge.

Weaver and Tom discuss how things have been since tom disappeared – they’ve been in retreat with the aliens pouring into them, Ben saved them when they were surrounded, finding a soft spot in their lines and in general they’ve lost a lot of people. Now with their back to the river they’re facing the same situation again. Weaver does a really good job of both saying how essential Tom is, how much they need him and how much Weaver needs someone who will argue with him and slap him down if necessary (ok, Weaver officially gets to live) while at the same time chiding him for disappearing for 3 months. But Tom is worried – he doesn’t know what they’ve done to him and he doesn’t trust himself – and doesn’t think Weaver should trust them. Weaver dismisses that – he will choose who he can trust.

Pope, however, certainly doesn’t trust him (don’t make me agree with Pope, it makes me feel dirty). And they have a little field trip to the broken bridge and discuss rebuilding it. It’s risky and will take a while – but the alien army will find them within 2 days and they have no other way to cross the river or stop the aliens from surrounding them. Jamil, their chief engineer is plotting how it can be done and how quickly.

But before they go across they need someone to scout across the river – and Ben is the best choice with his Harness-improved physical prowess – something Hal later explains to Tom. This leads into one of their bonding moments which, in turn, leads to Tom talking about his time with the aliens – including time he can’t remember, he doesn’t know what they did to him and if he loses control, he wants Hal to stop him by any means necessary. This is all overheard by youngest son, Matt. Hall tries to talk him down but Tom gets agitated and demands he be there to stop him – and collapses. Matt calls for Ann.

Ann, Lourdes and Weaver gather round Tom’s medical bed – and find something in his eye, something small and wormlike and moving. They pull it out (uckies uckies oh ew ew ew ew uckies) and store it in a jar – where it rolls up into a ball. They gather Jamil and discuss what it is – Ann points out if it were a tracking device the aliens would have found them by now. Tom is, naturally, worried about other critters in his body and wants to be restrained until they’re across the river, just in case. Weaver agrees to the pleas for bondage and they tie him up (stood up? That’s not the most comfortable way they could do it) in the med bus.

Falling Skies, Season 2, Episode 1: Worlds Apart

We pick up where we left off at the end of last season – in the aftermath of the failed mission to destroy the structure over Boston and with Tom, for reasons unfathomable, deciding to go play with the aliens.

Captain Weaver, Pope, Hal, Maggie and just about everyone else are all playing shoot the alien (and those Mechs seem to have got rather more dynamic than last episode)  it’s a victory but Ben (Tom’s second son, who was harnessed) – who is now fighting is driven to finish off wounded Skitters even when the retreat has been called; hunting down another Skitter he and Hal find Tom! Back from his alien road trip. Who promptly collapses.

Regroup and back to the camp where Ann is tending the wounded. Turns out Tom collapsed because Ben, in shooting the Skitter, hit Tom who was stood behind it (awfully close). Naturally Tom, wounded and being carried, is quick to assure Ben it’s not his fault with every noble breath. It’s time for everyone to have a tense moment while Tom goes into surgery

And we get a flashback of what it was like for Tom in alien captivity – including cramped and slimy prison quarters and Skitters with tasers. Careful, skitter, that’s the Big Damn Hero you’re shocking. Karen is around, trying to convince him in her alien monotone that she’s still the real Karen despite the Harness. To further reassure you of her Karen-ness she has a lovely speech on the futility of resistance and why the humans should just surrender – yes, the Borg did a better job at being persuasive.

To further prove her “I’m still Karen" one of the tall alien leaders uses her as a puppet to speak to Tom. He has a peace treaty for Tom – surrender and they will relocate humanity into designated areas where they can rule themselves – and if that sounds familiar, yes they have lifted that straight out of history and they overtly say so. The alien uses the blackest points in human history to justify their atrocities against humanity.

Tom demands to know why they didn’t try to negotiate for what they wanted before attacking, why they invaded – the aliens say it was never a negotiation and ask why Tom expects the aliens to be better than humans are? Tom refuses to take the humans to a “neutral zone”  and then has a Big Damn Hero moment, taking the taser from the Skitter and using it on the tall leader alien. They knock him out and later drop him off with several over captives in a field. In an object lesson, they also drop a Mech that slaughters all the captives – except Tom

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy: Episode 71

This week we discuss our book of the week – Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter, book 4 of Jane Yellowrock Series. We also look at the return of Falling Skies with its double season premier. Of course, we also look at True Blood as move further into the series.

And even some things that Charlaine Harris gets right!

Review: Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter, Book 4 of the Jane Yellowrock Series

Jane Yellowrock has a job from Leo Pelliser, Master of the city of New Orleans and, as it turns out, Master of the whole South-east of the United States, meaning he has far more oomph than Jane imagined.

He has sent her to escort Gregoire, one of his top vampires, to negotiate with the local vampire Shaddock who wishes to become Master of Asheville on account of his children becoming vampires super-quickly without decades of madness. It’s an important bodyguard job and Jane is focused on it and in charge despite the distraction of Rick, her sort-of-boyfriend turning into a wereleopard.

Unfortunately things are complicated by the remaining werewolves from the pack she destroyed in the last book seeking revenge – and by revenge that means slaughtering people in her area. Jane is forced to work with local police to find the wolves, balancing law enforcement with orders from Leo who wants them dead as soon as possible. Jane has her own reasons since Molly and her family (and coven witches) are in the area –Molly’s husband blames her for putting their children in danger, Jane cannot stand the idea that she has put them at risk again

But even Molly’s coven isn’t a source of peace – with it being betrayed from within with dark magic, old secrets and an ancient evil being summoned at the heart of it – an evil whose influence is making all Jane’s jobs that much harder and that much more complicated.

This book was overwhelming. There was a lot happening – with the parley talks, lethal werewolves running around killing people, the Grindylow apparently with its own agenda, Kenmebi both mentoring and threatening to kill Rick, the rogue vampire to hunt down and, of course, Evangeline playing her own game. At times I was almost lost, I kept wondering what plot line we were on and where we were going and why. Usually, such a book annoys me, I wish they’d remove a plot line so the story would flow better, there wouldn’t be so many distractions and I wouldn’t feel like I had to take notes to try and keep up with everything. But not in this case. Yes it was overwhelming but it was equally clear that it was meant to be. As Jane bounced from crisis to crisis, slipping sleep, desperately trying to fit everything in – this was one of the themes of the book; exhaustion, stress and constantly have to run to keep up with everything – and everything being too important to just cast aside or even realistically delay. It makes for a very strong part of the book, being very sustained and well balanced. I was overwhelmed, but I wasn’t lost.

I also like how the storylines come together – it adds the plausibility of not having everything just spontaneously happen at once and prevents everything in Jane’s life happening in complete isolation. It is very well done and doesn’t feel even remotely strained or convoluted – it flows naturally and it’s also completely and utterly unpredictable. I didn’t see the ending, I didn’t see what was happening and discovered everything as and when the characters did – the mystery was mysterious and the confusion was natural and shared with the protagonist.

The pacing was excellent, I was never bored and it never dropped and got lost. The action scenes were well laid out and described – nothing was too rushed or dragged. Everything was described appropriately – it was a very well balanced book, really well written and never once made me want to put it down.

Face Off: Werewolf vs Werewolf

Werewolves aren’t nearly as popular as vampires in urban fantasy, but they have managed to carve out their own specific niche.  With the exception of Teen Wolf, they are rarely the sole supernatural characters, let alone the protagonist.  I think part of the problem is the way that werewolves are portrayed in media.  To make a good werewolf, CGI is necessary. As much as I may dislike the angst ridden Twilight, I think that it’s impossible to deny that the shifters, (I say shifters because technically speaking, the members of the tribe were not werewolves) were absolutely impressive.  

Seriously, who would ever want to mess with a creature that looked like that?  That is something to be feared. 

There is also this entry from The Underworld Series.

This werewolf may not be sexy, but it sure as hell inspires fear.  It is easy to understand how these lycans present an actual threat to vampires.

Fangs for the Fantasy Books of the Week

Every week on the Fangs for the Fantasy podcast (archives here) we read a book and discuss it on the show. The review for the book of the week always goes up on 3:00pm (EST) on a Monday (Monday’s book review).
To give people a chance to read along with us, every Monday we’re also going to include a list of our planned books of the week for the next few shows, so people can get the books, read them and join in the conversation.

18/6-25/6: Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
25/6-2/7: The Fall by Guillermo del Torro
2/7-9/7: Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues: Diana Rowland
9/7-16/7: Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner

We will discuss each book on the latter date – so on the 2nd July, we will discuss The Fall by Guillermo del Torro
We will post a new list every Monday with any changes or new books.