Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Almighty Johnsons Season Two, Episode Three: Charlie Truman

This episode begins with Zeb wondering if Mike has grown to like him because he invited him to the opening to his bar, but Axl points out that Mike actually invited him, and he invited Zeb.  As with anything involving Gods, Zeb is curious about which Gods will be in attendance, but Axl tells him not to talk about it around the house because Gaia is back.  Zeb pushes that aside claiming that because Gaia is a chick that she'll be ages getting ready.   Yeah, always nice when the show opens with a touch of sexism.  Zeb wants to know if Axl is worried that Gaia will pick up on their God bond, to which Axl responds, "if that is what they have."

Gaia walks into the room and pours a shot of booze and says "lets get messed up."  Axl and Zeb are shocked by this and when she walks out of the room, Zeb asks, "is it just me, or has Gaia loosened up since she got back?"

At the bar, Olaf suggests that Mike name his bar after his hall in Asgard, saying that it was the best party of them all.  Mike is not impressed and answers that if he names his bar after Olaf's hall that it would be a license for him to drink there all the time.  At a table, Axl tells Gaia that it is good to have her back, but she is quick to remind him that she is not back in that way.  When Axl asks about what happened between Gaia and Jacob, Gaia makes it clear that she does not want to talk about it.  Zeb comes to the table with a few beers and says that Mike does indeed hate him, while in the meantime, Gaia is busy checking out a guy in the bar. 

Colin enters in his iconic red suit and Axl is clearly not impressed that he is there.  When Mike goes around back to grab a bottle, Olaf uses that opportunity to hop behind the bar and starts pouring free drinks.  When Mike returns, he pushes Olaf away pointing out that he doesn't want Olaf to give the bar away.  Axl turns to see Gaia having drinks with the man she was looking at.  He accuses Zeb of letting some man hit on her and expresses concern that she has just gotten out of a relationship. It's clear that Axl is still very much into Gaia.  

At the bar, Colin asks Mike how it feels living every man's wet dream, because of course he now owns a bar.  Mike says that it's just a bar, but Colin answers that for Mike it's a calling. Eva and Ty make their way in and Eva shoots Colin the finger and adds, "up your ass."  Clearly, these two are still very much estranged.  Mike tries to pull Ty aside, but Eva attempts to get in the way, causing Mike to tell her that it is family business that does not involve her. 

In a backroom, Axl tells Ty that he looks like shit.  This is hardy surprising considering who the poor man is married to - Eva is after all Hel.  Ty is not impressed with the intervention. When Olaf asks him how stoned he is, Ty accuses him of judging him.  Mike notices the brand on Ty he is concerned but Ty tells him that it's like a love bite.  The man is so far gone that he cannot realise that his relationship with Eva is anything but healthy.  Zeb rushes in and says that everyone needs to go downstairs right now.

It turns out that Eva and Michele are in a fight and I have to say that Eva is really kick ass.  Mike breaks the two women apart and asks Colin for help, but he is not inclined to intervene.  In frustration, Mike shoves Eva at Ty and tells him to control his wife.  When Eva starts to resist, he throws her into the bar viciously.  Eva stands up, spits out a mouth full of blood and then jumps on Ty, and the two start to make out.  Silence descends and Zeb says, "that right there is a whole nother level of dysfunction right there." I couldn't agree with him more actually.  Michel walks out with her arm around Colin.

Upstairs, Olaf and Mike sit down and Olaf begins to tell Mike the story of Charlie Truman, "the bloke who knew he was going to die." Apparently, Olaf was in the same unit with Truman who was convinced he was going to die and then he stepped on a mine.  Olaf says that Truman had embraced his fate long before fate came to him and he points out that Truman had the same look in his eyes as Ty does now.  I am glad that the brothers have taken note how dangerous this relationship is for Ty, because far too often, people remain silent not wanting to get involved or cause a scene.

Downstairs, Stacey is behind the bar serving drinks to Ingrid. Apparently, the fact that Stacey is a handmaiden is still making her want to serve.  When Zeb asks for another drink, Stacey who is drunk herself, tells him that she is not serving him because he is drunk.  Ax approaches Gaia and asks her if she is thinking about heading home, but she says that she is heading to a party and leaves with the man she was making out with. 

In the bathroom, Ty and Eva have a man trapped against a wall.  She tells him that he is going to walk the line between life and death and then Ty places his hand on him.  Axl walks in and realises that Ty is killing the human, so he grabs Tym but when Eva tries to stop Ty from leaving Axl says, "you freaky bitch shut up."  Mike hustles Eva and her adherents out of the bar and tells her not to bother coming back.  Eva asks about her husband, and Mike answers that they need to talk to Ty for a little bit, causing her to call Mike a prick before storming out. 

Mike asks Ty what he was thinking and Ty answers, "they like it - touching death. Eva likes to take them to the edge before we bring them back."  Mike tells him that using his powers on mortals risks all of them, but Ty counters by reminding Mike that he uses his powers all of the time these days. Ty says that it makes him tired listening to Mike sometimes and walks out of the bar.  Olaf simply says, "Charlie Truman." Mike answers that it is time for a think and when Axl asks what he means, Mike responds, "you'll see."

The next day, Axl is sleeping on his couch when a banging at the door wakes him.  When he answers Bryn walks in saying, "I presume that she's here."  When he cannot find Gaia, he again asks where she is. Axl says that when she returned, Gaia was upset about something, and he wants to know what Bryn did to her.  Bryn says that he loved her, which immediately grosses Zeb out, forcing Bryn to rephrase and add that he cared for her as a father.  Bryn again asks where she is and Axl responds, "not here."  Bryn decides that he is going to wait there for Gaia to return.  Axl tells Zeb that he has to go to a think and says that if Gaia shows up, that he shouldn't allow Bryn to take her. 

On his way out, Axl calls Gaia to warn her that Bryn is at the house waiting for her.  As Ty leaves his house, Mike grabs his keys and tells him that they are calling a thing and Olaf picks him up and puts him bodily into the truck. I have to say that this is the second time that we have seen how strong the actor who plays Olaf is.  Just wow.  Ty points out that he has appointments to keep but Olaf says that he is a tradesman and people expect him to be late.  As they drive off, Stacey watches from her bike.

They take Ty to play mini golf and Axl is not impressed, but Olaf says that this is what they do while they are doing the thing.  Axl again asks what thing, and Olaf says a thing in the old language means a gathering of the clans to meet talk and solve problems.  Axl wants to know if the thing is going to take long, but Olaf says it takes as long as it's going to take. As they begin to play, obviously Mike cannot lose.  Ty says that he chose this path and that it is his path to tread. Mike responds that should he chose not to tread this path that he will support him.  Ty answers that they don't want to go to war with Hel - and not on his behalf.  Olaf points out that there are four of them and five if they count Anders.  Olaf suggests that they can take her out in a fight but Ty says that he doesn't need them, or Agnetha fighting his fights. Mike points out that even if Ty is fine, which is bullshit, that freezing people for fun effects them all. Axl pipes up saying that he is afraid that Ty is going to kill someone.  Ty points out that he feels more alive around Eva than he has in years, but Mike says that he doesn't want Ty to die. Ty asks if he promises to stop freezing people, if they will leave him and alone and Mike promises to do so for now.

When Axl returns to the house, Bryn is still waiting, so Axl says that he will tell Gaia that he was there but Bryn is not happy with this arrangement. Bryn says "I came for my daughter and I'll leave with my daughter."  Axl tells him that this is not going to happen and that Gaia has a say in this.  Finally, finally, someone brings up the point that Gaia actually might have some agency. Then he says that he will stop Bryn if need be.  Bryn reminds Axl that he warned him what he would do to him if need be, and Axl says that he would like to see him try.  As Bryn gets up, Gaia walks in and announces, "yes, I'm a slut. See a problem?" 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Alphas Sneak Peak!

Review: No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong, Book 7 of the Otherworld Series

 Jaime Vegas, celebrity spiritualist, has the chance for her big break. A cheesy TV show in Hollywood, raising dead celebrities cumulating in that cheesiest of the cheesy – Marilyn Monroe. The problem is, Jaime isn’t just a spiritualist, she’s a necromancer. She can actually see and communicate with ghosts. This gives her an amazing advantage with some excellent credibility when she does get through to real dead celebrities, but is somewhat more difficult when you have hanging men over the breakfast table.

And worst still when there’s some unknown, impossible ghosts haunting the garden. Ghosts that may not be there at all – but maybe a source of the Necromancer’s worst fear, losing touch with reality altogether.

Tracking down these faded ghosts proves no easy matter, as no-one in the magical community – down to the very darkest of dark practitioners and even the demons themselves, know of any spell that can do this. It’s a path that leads them down the dangerous and unknown paths of supposedly impossible human magic.

And to complicate things, it turns out the TV show is actually a reality show filming her every move, and she’s trying to pursue her much wanted relationship with Jeremy, the werewolf Alpha, now she’s finally got him alone.

The story and the world building mesh so well in this plot, especially with Jaime’s life. It has some original features – Big Brother Spiritualist cracked me up – and an intriguing mystery – what can make a thin, faded ghost? The question leads them to many, realistic places, each of which shows us some more of the world. We catch up with Paige, Lucas and Savannah (I always like to see the state of previous protagonists), the methods of dark practitioners, Hope and her mission to keep the supernatural quite by making it look ridiculous in the tabloids

And we get to see Jaime’s daily life as a Necromancer – what it means, what a nuisance ghosts can be, how heart breaking it can be to be unable to help and how frustrating it is to have

The new thread of human magic, humans seeking supernatural power, theories about latent supernatural blood is also an interesting new thread that adds texture to the world, especially when contrasted with the supernaturals and their immortality experiences – the extremes people go to for the unobtainable.

Why Author Identity Matters

'Writer's Block' photo (c) 2008, Vince Kusters - license:

There is an ongoing conversation in various venues about the identity of writers - specifically, marginalised writers and whether or not it truly matters whether a writeR is a POC, GBLT, disabled or holds another marginalisation. We know a whole lot of people are quick to ask who cares whether an author is POC, GBLT et al? Why is this relevant?

Well, we do, and it is relevant. It’s usually one of the first things we try to find out when coming across a new author.

We’ve spoken before about the gatekeepers that marginalised authors face. We’ve seen the drama in YA trying to exclude gay characters, we’ve seen the white washing that covers face if they presume to show a POC. This is one of the reasons we’re supportive of webisodes and self-publishing, because there are a lot of gatekeepers out there that make it hard for maginalised people to be traditionally published. With these gatekeepers, it is reasonable for marginalised people and their allies to try and turn the tide by deliberately going out of their way to support marginalised authors.

Even when marginalised authors do write about their own marginalisation and are published, it greatly increases the chance the book will be shelved as niche and considered undesirable for mainstream consumption. It becomes all the more important to buy the book, support the author and to say this book belongs on the shelves.

There’s also a matter of authenticity. And this doesn’t mean that privileged people can’t write marginalised characters. In fact, we don’t even think it’s hard for privileged people to write marginalised characters - but it’s a very common excuse not to do so. Which is a reason why we seek marginalised authors because so many privileged authors keep writing trope laden stereotypes that it has frequently reached a point where we wish these authors would erase us; erasure would be preferably to the offensive portrayals they create.

But even aside from that, there is power in a marginalised person telling their own story. There is a power in authenticity. It matters, in genres that are erased, where our own writers are so rare, to be able to pick up a book about us, by us. In so much of life our stories, the narratives of our lives, are either completely ignored or are framed and shaped by the oppressor. It is white people who we repeatedly see talking about race. It is straight people declaiming their opinions on GBLT people. It is the able bodied who speak on disability. Our lives are common property to be picked over and we are often not considered to be experts or experienced in our own lives.

We know this authenticity is valued, because we know there are a horrendous number of privileged writers appropriating marginalised identities in order to claim it. In the M/M genre we saw this with numerous authors who weren’t gay men, pretending to be gay men; but it’s hardly unique to the genre - People of Colour (The Education of Little Tree, anyone?) and disabled people have faced the same identity appropriation. By pretending to be marginalised, they deceive the community that is seeking this authenticity, the community that is seeking a shared experience, a shared culture or just a shared understanding.

With these people peddling fake authenticity, it becomes even more important for marginalised people to find actual marginalised authors - if nothing else but to actually make sure they are noticed among the fakes.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Warehouse 13 Sneak Peak

Review: The Janus Affair Book 2 of A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Philippa Ballantine & Tee Morris

Though Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are still ensconced in the ministry's archives, they both continue to investigate cases.  A nefarious plot still carries on to bring down Director Sound and with him, their beloved Ministry. By continuing their investigations, Books and Eliza continue to disobey direct orders and are unknowingly placing the future of the ministry in jeopardy.  They manage to continue clandestinely, until the kidnappings of suffragette's begin to occur.

Elisa is deeply committed to the cause quite naturally and when she notices that the kidnappings are being filed in the archives without so much as a cursory investigation, she dives in with both feet, once again dragging Wellington with her.  When Eliza's first love Douglas Sheppard arrives in London with his mother, Mrs. Kate Sheppard, Eliza must protect the much needed leader of the suffragists and confront her feelings for Douglas. Wellington quite naturally becomes jealous and attempts to draw Eliza's attentions back to him at all costs.  Eliza now must not only solve the case of the mysterious kidnappings, she has to decide where her heart truly belongs.

It is impossible to read this novel and not root for Wellington and Eliza.  In The Janus Affair, we learn more about the apparently retiring archivist and it's fascinating.  Clearly, he has unresolved issues regarding how he was raised and the fact that he hears his father's voice in his head continuously throughout the book, suggests that Wellington is not neurotypical.  This is a rare thing in any genre, let alone steampunk. 

Blood Ties, Season 2, Episode 6: Drawn and Quartered

 Henry makes an awesome look out with his senses while Vicki is breaking and entering and planting bugs. But less so when he distracts Vicki by inviting her to one of his art shows – an actual date. They are going on an actual date – time for Vicki’s happy shocked face.

Of course there’s a complication. The gallery owner, Jude, is trying to set up – we see an ominous picture with a hanged man in it and then something unseen leaps on him. The next day, Henry tells Vicki that the owner has gone missing which rather puts a crimp in their plans. And he’s brought a friend, Mia, an artis t and Jude’s girlfriend, to help deal with the situation (we’re also pointed towards Mia’s tattoo in a not-too-subtle manner so I’m sure it’ll be relevant at some point).

Mia is rather flaky for Vicki, vague and not very pleasant Vicki and her don’t get along – and it seems Jude is inclined to these tantrums and disappearing as well – but not usually before a show. Vicki promises to look for him but Mia is less than appreciative.

This leads to Vicki and Coreen going to the art gallery to mingle and investigate. Vicki finds the picture that Henry is selling is both in high demand and modelled after her – as one of the pretentious patrons of the gallery tells her (Angus), who also tells her that Jude and Mia’s relationship is rocky and ending.

Meanwhile, Coreen is fascinated by the creeping painting of the house with the hanged man – much to the artist’s (Tyrone) joy. Henry arrives to marvel at Vicki wearing a dress (and gooshily compliment her) and I marvel that Vicki doesn’t comment on the fact his trousers come with a sequinned groin. Trying too hard Henry, really, trying too hard. They snark back and forth a little. Coreen (in between gushing about her new artist friend) and Vicki both dish the dirt on the not-very-pleasant Mia while Henry gets snippy defending her and on another painting Vicki spots Mia’s tattoo on a painting (yes we’re really drawing attention to it).

And Celluci has found Jude’s body – disturbingly posed in a chair, outside. To the police station and the morgue (yes, Celluci allows Vicki and Henry to come with, no he has no reason to, but he has for 2 seasons it’s not going to change. I assume Toronto just has revolving doors on the morgue) where Henry takes issue with Celluci questioning Mia as a suspect – and asks Vicki to prove Mia innocent. Vicki promises to find the killer – all she’ll do. When the menfolk have finished snarling at each other, Dr. Mohadevan gives Vicki the real info – Jude died of drowning in oil paint – only it wasn’t forced down his throat and there’s no sign of pain in his mouth – just his lungs. Which is impossible – which is always fun to the awesome Dr. Mohadevan.

Stop the GR Bullies: Defending the Indefensible "Save the Pearls"

We have spoken about Stop the GR Bullies and their awful site before. As can be clear, we not only think this site is highly reprehensible, we think the people behind it are pretty damn awful as well. But, perhaps from some shred of naivety, we kind of thought they would have some limits. Then we found the latest author they are protecting from the legions of us nasty nasty reviewers. Yes, it’s Victoria Foyt’s racist Save the Pearls. She is being bullied by being called a racist, according to STGRB

Yes, we were naive. They have no limits.

Save the Pearls (read: save the poor oppressed White people from the beast like Black people) flew under the radar for quite sometime, until Foyt paid for and received the Eric Hoffer award.  Suddenly, people who never would have heard of her racist novel were forced to pay attention.  I watched with pleasure as reader after reader took to Goodreads to register their dissent.  Some were angry and some were thoughtful, but what they all had in common is a righteous reason to declare Foyt’s work racist.  This must having been shocking because prior to the revelation of the award, most of the reviews on Save the Pearls were positive.

Some took their criticism a step further and not only declared Save the Pearls racist but the author as well.  Of course Stop the GR Bullies could not let it stand.  To be clear this is a woman who  proudly claims to live in a colorblind world, erased the comments from POC on Facebook who challenged her, and she questioned whether or not an African-American community exists.  Even before reading her racist novel, her statements alone would be enough to understand that White sheets are one of Foyt’s favourite items.  Establishing the degree to which Foyt is absolutely drowning in her privilege, to the point where her work is blatantly racist is not difficult.

Let us be clear here, we reviewed Save the Pearls after we read it. All of it, all the way through - and I apologise right now to all of our DNFs because, while we didn’t like any of you, at least you weren't this offensively racist. STGRB loves to push the idea that most of the people criticising this book haven’t actually read it, because that’s such an easy way to dismiss them (and STGRB seems very eager to dismiss POC). No, we read it and we hated it.

And we have to remember that Victoria Foyt, with her blackface promotion videos and her racist blog posts means that people don’t have to have read the book to know to avoid it - and to spread the word warning for others to avoid it. Victoria Foyt, with her own words, already made it clear what kind of book it was and her own racism. Foyt said on Facebook, “Judging A Book By Its Cover Gives Birth To Racism,” this highlights the fact that not only does Foyt have no idea what racism really means, but after all of the criticism her book has received, she still cannot understand why having a White woman in Blackface on the cover is problematic.  At this point, choosing not to read Save the Pearls absolutely comes down to an act of self care.

STGRB has also pushed the idea that people should avoid labelling someone a racist because it is supposedly “slander” (note: it can’t be slander because it’s written) and “libelous” (note: it’s an opinion and you can say anything as an opinion as long as you are not asserting a fact.  An opinion cannot be untrue)  More importantly, it is not liable if what you’re saying is true, and judging from the promotional video, and Foyt’s various responses, Foyt is unequivocally a racist. Stop the GR Bullies seem to feel  a book review is not the place for this sort of accusation, and to that I say that there always seems to be some reason why White people should not be held accountable for their language/actions. No one forced Foyt to pen such a racist tome and no one forced her to engage in further racism to defend it. Contrary to popular opinion, living with racism is much harder than being called a racist.  In fact, being called a racist is something that is easily avoidable, whereas living without being affected by racism is absolutely impossible if you are a POC.  For a website so determined to hold reviewers accountable, it is absolute hypocrisy on the part of Stop the Goodreads Bullies to fail to hold an author publicly responsible for the hatred that they knowingly and willingly put in this world.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Alphas Season 2, Episode 3: Alpha Dogs

This episode opens with Bill in the bathroom, clearly under some sort of stress.  He pops some pills in his mouth and his wife knocks on the door. Jillian wants him to call in sick because she is concerned with his health.  She tells him that the medication is not working anymore, but Bill simply says, "I got this."  It was nice to see the return of Jillian, but I would like to know when they are going to pick up the baby storyline.

At Gary's, his mother calls him for breakfast and then we hear a bloodcurdling scream from upstairs. Sandra calls Rosen, who tells her that the scream is a way of releasing stress. Sandra believes that with everything that Gary has been through that he went back to work too early, but of course Rosen counters saying that Gary needs to work and that he will pick him up. Scenes like this really make me despise Rosen, because even when he is told that Gary is screaming everyday, and needs to talk to someone, he does not really pause to think about what Gary really needs.  

At the office, Rachel is complaining to Rosen about her parents and he suggests that she get her own apartment. When Rosen gets a call from Clay, he walks off without even bothering to acknowledge that he was in a conversation with Rachel.  Rachel then stops in her tracks when she picks up a smell. Gary immediately denies that it's him and Rachel says its like an overdose of cologne and follows the smell into Bill's office, where she meets John Bennet the new lead tactical. Rachel is not impressed, though he has a great smile and tells him that his body spray is way to distracting. Before she can finish, Rosen enters saying that Clay called to say that Jack Duffy -- a building 7 escapee -- who could generate electricity with his bare hands is dead. 

At the morgue, Rachel picks up the smell hydrochloric acid on Duffy and claims that someone spit it on him. Gary says, "that's cool; it's poison spit, like a cobra." Bill notices that there is skin under the nails and surmises that he put up a fight.  When Bill notices something on his hand, Rachel reads out a phone number. Rosen asks him to take point on this because he needs to keep looking for Stanton Parish.

Gary, Rachel and Cameron show up at the address connected to the number.  Bill and Cameron decide to investigate, but Rachel wants to accompany them, Bill says that it's not safe. John grabs her arm and says that she needs to stay with him and when Rachel turns to Bill, he says that John is lead tactical now and therefore Rachel needs to stay with him.  

When they enter the address Bill and Cameron find a sort of Alpha fight club. When Bill says Olivia, they assume that he's a fighter. In the van, Rachel starts to cough and when John asks her what's wrong, she tells him that he stinks and that it's like a spice rack exploded in her face. Rachel opens the door, as John grabs her hand saying that she can't go out there. Rachel tells him not to tell her how to do her job and hops out. I was glad to see this because I didn't like the fact that John put his hand on her in an attempt to restrain her and the casting of Rachel as this delicate flower.

Rachel moves towards the fight club, as she gets on the walkie talkie to tell Hicks that she can smell the hydrochloric acid. As she enters, she sees a sort of green mist and then to her left, an aging man appears.  She notices an acid burn on his face.  When Rachel asks about the burn she is told that he was spit at when it became clear that another alpha named Bazevich was going to lose the fight.  The man is still walking forward, causing Rachel to back up.  He reaches for her hair and tells Rachel that she is pretty cute. John shows up asking if everything is okay and when it is clear that the tension is pretty strong, Rachel reminds the man about Bazevich. Rachel thanks John for not staying in the van and they walk away. Why is it then when a female character asserts her independence and desire not to be protected that a man is always sent in anyway to play the role of conquering hero?

Warehouse 13: Season 4, Episode 3: Personal Effects

 Ok, everyone’s alive, the warehouse is rebuilt, Lena is shelving the Artefacts, Jinks is getting his stuff from the Dead Agents storage and Pete is complaining about the lack of hot water with 5 people living in the B&B (what happened to the HG Wells anyway?) – in short, it’s business as usual.

And they have a ping, an Artefact that causes spider venom poisoning without actually having people bitten by a spider. It’s an artefact that Jinks recognises from his time undercover with Sykes, part of his arsenal – but the arsenal disappeared after Sykes died

The woman who has been bitten was a cleaner and one of her jobs was to clean a house that belonged to the man who illustrated Pinocchio – and since Sykes was obsessed with the writer of the book (since the bracelet allowed him to walk) it’s a good place to start looking. Carefully.

Looking round the house, they find photographs with default pictures in them and even plastic food – pointing to the house as being for show. They do find the biting spider artefact – and lots of empty crates were the other artefacts were.

Next clue – the building had an alarm so time to go to the security company to see if someone broke in, or had the code. Turns out all their fear of conspiracy actually come down to an inept security employee giving out the code to his friend so he could steal the stuff, pawn it and split the money. To the pawn shop! That then blows up (but like the pop-culture reference to the History Channels love of pawn shows). Warned by a “vibe” from Pete they’re ok – but more investigation is now needed.

And they even let Leena out! In the field! Out of her plot box! Because Leena has the psychic ability to tell how an Artefact should be stored without it becoming dangerous, she’s the ideal person to sort through the stack and make sure another explosion doesn’t happen. But 6 Artefacts have already been sold – as well as a pipe the original thief kept.

Time for them to split up (Jinks and Claudia, Artie and Leena, Myka and Pete). A pair of invisibility sunglasses, Napolean’s violin, some anger-inducing golf clubs and a bird cage that summons murderous birds. Nicely standard snatch and grabs – almost. Artie’s touching the raging golf club leads him to rant about how he sacrificed for everyone, that he saw all he loved die and he can’t even tell anyone. Which, naturally, rather surprises Leena.

Teen Wolf: Season 2, Episode 11: Battlefield

 This episode begins stylistically very different with Stiles narrating various things to Ms. Morrel the school guidance counsellor. It’s an elegant and very powerful and emotional way to bring together just how much happened last week. It brought it all together, everything up to date, and added a whole truck load of emotional impact. This scene needs applauding.

We move into the action with evil Grandaddy Argent, new master of the Kanima, using the weregecko to hold Melissa McCall (Scott’s mother) captive while he talks to Scott. He wants Derek and his pack, to avenge his evil daughter, Kate. Melissa can’t deal with any of this – the weregecko or Scott as a werewolf for that matter, and just wants Scott to give Granddaddy Argent whatever he wants.

Meanwhile Erica and Boyd are worried about the whole being a werewolf thing and the risk that comes with it (especially since there’s suddenly a whole lot of howling going on). In particular, to live they want to find another pack, another alpha, one that isn’t under attack by the evil Argents. And since they heard howling, they assume there’s another pack that they could join and they’re leaving.

Isaac didn’t join them and went to Dr. Deaton instead where Scott and the vet are treating a dog – and we get to see a new werewolf power, apparently they have the ability to take the pain of other creatures. It’s a bit randomly inserted (we didn’t get to see this before) but still kind of nicely done. Isaac is there to ask for Scott’s advice – and planning to leave during the lacrosse game as well, same as Boyd and Erica.

That night they run, running off into the woods – but are hunted by Argents. Including Evil Argent Allison who decides to join her murderous family and shoot Erica with an arrow. Erica urges Boyd to run. Helpless and shot in the leg, Erica lies there unable to stop Allison shooting another arrow at her – an arrow that is caught by Boyd. Allison the fills Boyd full of arrows, forever confirming her as a villain. Finally it’s Daddy Argent that has to stop his sadistic daughter. Can we have all the Argents dead now?

The Rising Moon Giveaway

Along with our review for The Rising Moon by Nilsa Rodriguez, as part of the Full Moon Bites blog tour, we’re also offering a giveaway of her book:
Title: The Rising Moon
Author: Nilsa Rodriguez
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Young-Adult
Publisher: Black Dove Publishing
Pages: 318


Book Description:
How many lives must you live to realize that love is stronger than time and death?
Orphaned at the age of five, Angelia (Lia) Lafosse was left with questions about whom and what she truly was. One thing was clear. Lia was different…some might even say cursed.
With the help of her best friend, Ryan Woodruff, she begins to unlock the secrets of her families past and discover answers that prove more startling than she ever imagined. Not only was she a werewolf, but a reincarnation of the immortal werewolf, a werewolf with immense powers beyond any of her kind. A werewolf that if discovered by the Lobison’s to have returned, can jeopardize both Lia and those she love.
Torn between Lyle Ulric, the charming werewolf whose bloodline is as ancient and powerful as her own. And Adam Ambrose, the mysterious and alluring vampire who’s determined not to allow fate or anyone tear their love apart again.
Lia has to make a choice… Destiny or Love…Run or Fight…Live or Die

Excerpt. © reprinted by permission. All rights reserved

∞ Chapter 1 ∞

Review: The Rising Moon by Nilsa Rodriguez

  Angelia, or Lia, is a struggling teenager trying to get on with life. Alone and lonely, she’s an orphan and her foster mother is recently deceased. Her foster father has taken to drink to try and deal with it, life isn’t easy.

At school she is largely alone, until finally, in her senior year, through sheer persistence, Ryan manages to crack her isolation. Suddenly with a new circle of friends and a boy who likes her, things are looking up. Perhaps a little too up when Lyle, her friend and neighbour Emi’s brother, also expresses an interest.

But then she learns far more about her past than she imagined – including the reality of her parents and foster mother. She learns even more about herself, that her vivid dreams are just a herald of the werewolf within her. A werewolf who has lived before – and has an immortal lover that is now seeking her out. And a werewolf that has a long running feud with the family closest to her – who are now determined to get their revenge.

This book did have a decent concept and a very nice idea. The immortal, reincarnated werewolf trying to assimilate into mundane life and not knowing what she was. The haunted, grieving vampire looking for his lost love and rebuild their relationship. The ancient feuding family looking for revenge for long past grievances and even the shapeshifters having all this dumped on them but with more ties than they imagined. It could have been developed and well done.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it was. Largely because none of these points really were developed, they were just accepted facts. There’s even one bemusing scene where Lia goes to speak to Ani for the first time and Ani basically says “you’re a reincarnated werewolf, they want to kill you and a vampire loves you. Want a cup of tea?” It’s just dumped with no development – and Lia’s drama is not DOUBTING Ani but being unable to deal with how much this changes her life. Really? If a complete stranger told me I was a werewolf, I’d advise them to water down their booze more. Events happen, people form connections, people do things but their reasons are very shaky.

The writing was also a barrier. I’m not normally one to care too much about grammar or spelling – so long as it’s readable and flows, it’s not something I criticise a book for. But, in this case, it went just a bit too far. I think commas were inserted at random and the sentence structure was rather random, often with lots of short, staccato sentences that were jarring. I think the balance of writing was off as well – words were wasted on the exact details of getting dressed or making breakfast, and not enough spent on describing characters and developing relationships. There was also a problem with repeated wrong use of words – some of them were blatant spellcheck errors (“Now” instead of “know”) but some were just wrong words – obvious malapropisms.

I don’t like the relationships in this book or the character interactions in general. Lia starts the book as an ostracised lonely girl – but we have no idea why. We’re told she’s bullied and picked on, but again, no reason why or who (nor does it ever actually happen). She keeps her head down and drives off anyone around her (again, no idea why) and then we’re supposed to feel for her because she’s lonely? It’s not even relevant to the plot – it just feels shoe-horned in to give Lia some character without any depth.

Then along comes Ryan and decides he wants to be her friend. And that he loves her (yes, it’s another infatuation based on a few second contact). She tries to rebuff him, drive him off and he keeps pushing (looking a little creepy, but mainly her looking more anti-social than lonely). Eventually she accepts his friendship and gets a whole group of his family and friends as her close friends as well - they go on to be willing to fight for her, risk their lives for her and provide room and board for her based on very little friendship. Her relationship with Ryan is fraught – she constantly threatens him with no longer being his friend (sometimes what she wants is reasonable, sometimes not. But the overused threat is gross manipulation) and he remains a dedicated tool throughout. There’s also a moment where she decides they simply cannot be friends and he must stay away because… because… nope, no real clue.

Then there’s Kima. Kima hates Lia because she loves Ryan. But then Lia talks to her and now they’re bestest friends. No, really. What was the point of this convoluted lump of aborted conflict?

She meets Lyle, the werewolf and he falls madly in love with her instantly. To the point of being willing to betray his siblings and even hurt them for her. I don’t think he even knows her surname or has spent as much as an hour in her company.

And there’s Adam, who loves her because she’s a reincarnation of the woman he loves. And she loves him because…. Yes, it’s another “I hardly know you but I will DIE WITHOUT YOU!” moment.

It doesn’t help that the dialogue is often stilted, melodramatic and, frankly, unbelievable. I just can’t picture real people, actual people, especially teenagers, speaking like this.

I have a problem with many of the character’s motivations. Emi changing over night to loathing Lia was excessive, smacked more of possession than inheriting her family powers and was not strongly explained, especially since Emi and her grandmother were both presented as reasonable people before. I don’t understand everyone falling in love with Lia and the sudden friendships. I don’t understand any of the love interests. I’m just constantly left wondering why the characters are doing what they’re doing.

As you can probably see, I didn’t like Lia as a character. She has a very busy backstory – orphaned, raised by foster parents, foster mother died (and was really her aunt, a secret that as kept from her because… I have absolutely no idea, it just was) and her foster father’s an alcoholic; she’s ostracised and picked on at school. And all of this is just a biography – none of it is really reflected in the character herself, it’s just a tragic backstory tagged onto the character that has no actual relevance to who she is. She is prone to pouting, self-recriminating angst (you know the kind “oh pity me I have done such a terrible thing to someone” while everyone assures you it’s not your fault) and throwing manipulative tantrums to get her own way.

There were a large number of POC in this book, including the protagonist, most of them Native American. I wish they had been developed more as characters, though, rather than sources of magic, advice, support and shapeshifting army.

In general, this book had an interesting concept. An immortal, reincarnated werewolf, shapeshifters, a vampire looking to reconnect with his past love and an ancient feud. It could have been done very well – but the lack of character development, world exploration and establishing the characters motives made the story fall very flat. The writing was too convoluted to make it flow well and the book is sorely in need of an editor.

Title: The Rising Moon
Author: Nilsa Rodriguez
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Young-Adult
Publisher: Black Dove Publishing
Pages: 318

About the Author:
Nilsa Rodriguez ‘s love for writing began at an early age. Being an author is quite literally a dream come true for a girl who spent most of her childhood moments escaping to far-away lands and wondering into enchanted forests through the many books she's read growing up and still enjoys to this very day.
Having had studied Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design and Early Childhood Education at Penn Foster College her love for writing has always remained close to heart. Nilsa received her literary diploma from The Institute for Children Literature in 2009.
Born and raised in New Jersey, she now lives in sunny Florida with her husband and son where you can find her writing well into the night on her next novel.
Visit the author on the web:
Find the Author:

This post is part of the Rising Moon Blog tour, arranged by Full Moon Bites Blog Tours.

August 7th- The YA Cafe
August 8th- Abbey Ann's Bookland
August 8th- Fangs For The Fantasy
August 9th- The Bunny's Review
August 10th- A Dream Within A Dream
August 11th- Romancing the Darkside
August 12th- Tricia Kristufek

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review: Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch: Book 3 of the Rivers of London Series

Peter Grant is back and he, Leslie and Nightingale are faced with the ongoing dilemma of wizards with dubious ethics wandering around London doing very very unpleasant things. It’s be useful to be able to focus on them – but, of course, other things arise.

Including a murder – a murder which Stephanopoulos and Seawall, doughty members of the murder squad that they are, believe involves funny magic stuff. Not that they ever use the m-word, nor do they expect it to be used around them; they just know it makes their lives much much more complicated. And to make matters worse and even more complicated, the victim is an American, and the son of a state senator at that.

It’s a case that takes them into the warrens of London’s underground –it’s sewers and it’s railways and it’s many many many many tunnels that go on for miles and have been centuries in the building. It’s a maze down there – and it’s beyond amazing what can actually hide down there, unseen, for so very long as they try to find the cause of the man’s death – and the many surprises awaiting them underground.

It’s another review of fulsome praise, I have to say. In some ways it’s easier to write a review with lots of dubious errors, pacing issues or diversity fails because at least you have something concrete to say. When a book is just awesome you’re presented with the difficulty of finding a sufficient diversity of superlative adjectives to try and fill a full review.

The book has an incredible feel of place. You can feel London in its pages, the attitudes, the people, the places, the procedures; this is London through and through.  The richness and authenticity of not just the places, but also the history really shows through the book and makes everything so much more real. Despite the fantastic elements, it feels more fact than fiction because there is so much realness there. And not just in the places and not even just in the people, but also in the police procedures, the different jurisdictions, the way different things are handled, the way they were handled – and not just the way they’re officially handled, but also the daily practicalities of daily life.

The book is also funny with constant little side-references, tangents and wry observations about life, the city and everything linked with a cynical acknowledgement of how things are with an amusing twits that makes me repeatedly smile and laugh out loud. I’m not sure how much of it travels outside of a British context and British understanding, but to me it was perfect – amusing, injected lightness and fun and added yet further to the strong British feel of the book.

Continuum Season One, Episode Ten: End Times

We start off with a flashback and Kagme is being put into a cell. He turns and asks what now and  someone says they wait.  In the future, he hands a Sonya a key saying that she will find the answers to her question.

Kiera wakes up on Kellog's boat and he hands her a coffee.  She tells him that it didn't happen and that it will never happen again and leaves the boat. I guess that's the equivalent of morning shame.  He says that she will be back  She gets a phone call from Carlos to say that a CSIS agent is at the station. Kiera calls Alec to find out if he has found Julian yet.  Alec admits that he found something when he was hacking her CMR but then  loses his cell service.  It looks like Lucas did it at the behest of Kagame.

On the street a man approaches Kiera and tells her that today is the day that everything changes. He says that he knows her because she was at the execution and that she is from the future. The man tells him that he arrived 20 years ago and that cut backs forced him to be released from the mental hospital.  Apparently, Jason thought he was the only one who made it through from 2077.

Travis and Kagame trade words when he learns that Sonya is not with them. The ongoing battle for control of Liber8 had become so tiresome. At the station, the inspector says that Kiera is from section 6  and is helping out with Liber8.  It turns out that 2000lbs of classified gel concentrate military grade is missing.  Lucy enters to say that all cell service is down. Are they ever going to give her something significant to do?  Alec tracks Julian by his email.  

Jason tells Kiera that privateers are there as well. Okay how did it go from him believing that he was the only one from the future to announcing that privateers are there?  If you are going to tell a story with time travel, you have to keep track of the cannon as you are setting it.  When Alec and Kiera get back in touch, he says that he may have tracked Julian and she says to patch her through to Carlos. Alec does not want to get the police involved.  She promises that Julian will be treated fairly and Alec pretends not to hear her and cuts off the connection. Considering that the last time the police were involved his step father was murdered, this makes perfect sense.  Alec grabs his jacket and leaves.  Jason pulls Kiera aside to say that he has found a working time machine.

Sonya opens a safe security box and back at Liber8, Travis keeps asking about where Sonya is.  Lucas pipes up saying that now he knows what its like to not be part of the inner circle.  Travis answers that Kagame is planning something.  The doorbell rings and its Julian.

Jason takes Kiera to some sort of warehouse near the bridge from the night she arrived. She asks him to show her the time machine and he stops to tell her that the machine is legitimate, but he needs a piece that was not developed until 2034.  Kiera pulls the piece out of her pocket and hands it to him. Jason asks how she got this and Kiera says it not important. Yeah of course the one piece he needs, is the piece that she has.  Could they make this show a little less predictable please?  Jason says that she is CPS and wants to know if she is there to arrest him.  When asked if she wants to return, Kiera tears up and Jason says that he can help with that.

At the station they are noticing that Kiera is not there.  Agent Gardner is clearly onto Kiera and says that section 6 isn't filing any reports with his agency.  Agent Randall Gardner gets on the phone and asks for a check on section six.  It's about time that more investigation happened into Kiera's background.  I don't care how much Alec has super hacking abilities, the ease at which she infiltrated the police is ridiculous.  Apparently, the first attack on the city happened today and Jason says this is the reason they need to leave.  When Kiera shows doubt, Jason says that they need to go and that if they wait until after it happens, there could be all kinds of repercussions.  Kiera says she wants to go home, but she cannot let thousands of people die,  if there is a small chance she may be able to change what is happening.

Sinbad, Season 1, Episode 5

With Team Evil, Lord Akbari and Taryn are still using their wiles to try and find Sinbad. And, between her sight and his throwing people off rooftops, they may have found him.

Sinbad and co are sat in a nice little place, drinking bad booze, sharing stories and laughing other Anwar’s terrified attempt to get a tattoo from Rina, when Anwar see’s Basran guards moving through the town showing pictures of Sinbad to people. Sinbad loses his temper and wants to fight them but Gunnar brings the common sense to the discussion and points out they’ll all be killed – even if they want Sinbad alive, his companions are fair game.

Time for a cunning plan. A distraction as both Rina and Nala pretend to fight over Anwar, allowing Sinbad to sneak away. Anwar, Nala and Rina are to sneak on the ship and sail it round the cape where they can pick up Sinbad and Gunnar. That’s the plan but it doesn’t go well, with Basran guards and Taryn on the Providence, capturing Anwar, Rina, Nala and Cook. Taryn threatens to kill his friends right there unless Anwar tells them everything – and he does, spilling about Sinbad and Gunnar going to the Cape and that Sinbad is cursed.

Taryn uses Sinbad’s hair, herself and some salt to create a salt monster, a hunter that Cook identifies as old, dark magic, and sends it out hunting Sinbad.

It doesn’t go simply for Gunnar and Sinbad either, with Sinbad refusing to run and leading them to a patrol. Gunnar knocks him down easily but is furious with Sinbad for seeking a fight they could have avoided. This isn’t the first time Gunnar has shown himself averse to violence – and to have a powerful rage when pushed.

As they move through the city they’re followed by masked figures in red who, when they’re alone, leap on them and attack. After a nifty battle, they manage to knock out Sinbad and, finally, subdue Gunnar (who refuses to draw his sword).

Sinbad wakes with Gunnar missing and follows his trail (I assume. Or psychically knows where he is) to a castle on a hill, inside which lots of the red clad masked people are practicing martial arts and one of them, a guy without a mask, reveals they’ve been hunting Gunnar for a while. The man is called Obsidian (shouldn’t he wear black?) and the men are the Kaimar and their job is to be world police, protect the innocent, punish the lawless (hey, Akbari’s over there guys).

Falling Skies, Season 2, Episode 8: Death March

The 2nd Massachusetts is doing its big push to Charleston where the remains of the human government are supposed to be hiding (waiting for an air strike – yes I’m cynical) and Tom is worrying and sad about Ben deciding to leave and try and join the Skitter rebels. He also has to reassure Matt who has made a Will because he’s worried about not making it. Pope is still being a nuisance with Maggie and Hal (may Pope die soon) but Maggie doesn’t think Hal is “dark” enough to murder Pope, alas. Maggie and Hal are flirting, Ann and Tom are flirting. Weaver and Tector are not flirting, but Weaver does point out that he knows Tector was military – but the questioning ends when they hit a Harnessed kid on the road.

Having had such great experiences with harnessed people before, they decide to put the kid in the Doctor Bus and take her with them. This is something that couldn’t possibly backfire in anyway. Weaver begins to see sense but the harnessed child wakes up and starts being pathetic so his heart melts. It’s ok, it’s not like harnessed people can be manipulative of people’s emotions, right Karen? Oh. I’m with Anthony on this one. In further ill-advised actions, Matt starts bonding with the girl, Jenny, which totally worked out with Ben and Karen… oh wait again.

She talks about how much she loved her “Guardian” (what she calls the Skitters) and how much they were a family. And Matt tells her that Charleston’s awesome – right in there with super-secret knowledge there Matt. Why are they leaving a kid unattended with the dangerous alien servant? In between Mat begging her to join them in Charleston, something hits the side of the bus – something Jenny says is her brother, Tyler. The next time he visits, she uses her harness strength to break out and run for it.

The 2nd Massachussettes arrives at Charleston, at last! Or they arrive at a ruined bridge outside of Charleston. A ruined bridge outside of the ruined city of Charleston – with no sign of any kind of resistance presence.

Hal, Maggie and Pope are having engine trouble, which is a problem given that they’re the forward scouts (in a truck?) plotting a safe path and have to stop to top up the water. With Hal off to fetch water, Pope questions what will happen when Hal learns Maggie’s DEEP DARK SECRET! To which my response is “is she an alien? No? Her secret’s not relevant – welcome to dystopian world priorities!” but Maggie seems quite perturbed. Pope urges her to tell the truth in between urging her to join him on whatever adventure he’s planning.

Maggie and Hal have a deep conversation about what she’s hiding – apparently she took drugs, stole things, went to prison and had a baby she gave up for adoption. I’m kind of waiting here for the big bad dark past that is supposed to completely change how Hal feels about her. Is that it? Apparently it’s big for Hal and he needs time to absorb everything.

We have some emotional scenes where Weaver digs out exactly why Tector left the military and is trying to avoid being part of the military parts of the 2nd Massachusetts, and we see more of Lourdes dealing with her grief over Jamil, it’s nice to see he wasn’t just brushed over.

Ann comforts Tom who is dealing with his disappointment and emotional breakdown over Charleston – Hal missing. Ben out playing with the Aliens and his 9 year old Matt making a will. And Tector turns the tables and gives Weaver a pep talk so he can get out there and encourage the 2nd Massachusetts to pick themselves up and keep going.

And then Colonel Porter arrives – who was the big boss of all the Massachusetts divisions. And it turns out that there is a settlement in Charleston – but it’s very well hidden. And then Hal and Maggie catch up as well – for a wonderful little reunion.

Who is Tector? I mean we kind of breezed through a season and several episodes without seeing him then he had a bit role in the Berserkers and then they’re suddenly treating him almost like a side character. We’re even getting, now, some insight into his background – is he another side character like Lourdes or Maggie or Pope, if so what does he add to the story? Or is he another bit support like Dai or Anthony or Jamil – in which case, why the background?

I had to laugh at Tom worrying about what they’ll do with all the thousands, if not millions of harnessed kids who, even free of the harness, are still affected when the humans drive the aliens off the planet. Talk about borrowing trouble; since there’s no indication that the aliens are going to be driven off.

I am bemused that Maggie’s revelations are that shocking or, in a post-apocalyptic world, really that relevant. Drug use, theft and an adoption? Really?