Saturday, September 8, 2012

Haven Series 3 Sneak Peak

This year we are going to be reviewing Haven on Syfy, which is just starting it's 3rd season.

Before we begin reviewing season 3 we will have season reviews for 1 and 2 to bring us up to date

Mark your calendars, here's a sneak peak

The Almighty Johnsons Season Two, Episode Seven: Effortless Manly Coolness

At Ty's, Olaf and Ingrid are discussing going out but when she finds out that the trip involves a great distance she asks about Danny. Apparently, Ingrid spoke to Olaf about this the night before but because he was drunk and stoned, he has no memory of it.  Ingrid says that she promised Danny that she would pick him up, but Olaf is more interested in heading out, so he leaves and Ty follows saying that he has an appointment.  They head over to Axl's, where Gaia convinces him to help Ingrid out.

It turns out that Danny was a nurse at the psych hospital in which Ingrid spent time. Ingrid explains that she wasn't actually mentally ill, it was just the Goddess thing. Apparently, having sex was not the only ethical lines they crossed, because Danny and Ingrid stole drugs from the hospital and sold them. It turns out that Danny was actually just released from prison that day and this is why he needed Ingrid to pick him up.

At the bar, Mike and Michele are making out when a man walks in and hands Mike a package. Axl, Danny and Ingrid stop at what appears to be a halfway house and Ingrid says immediately that it is too run down for Danny to stay there.  Considering that she does not have a place to live, it's kind of ridiculous that she would snub her nose at free housing. Ty heads off to the hospital to see Michele to talk about dying and coming back without brain damage.  Michele wants to know why Ty needs answers to these questions before agreeing to give him an answer.  This kind of makes me wonder if New Zealand is somehow lacking the internet?  Everything that Ty wants to know he can learn via Google, but I guess that would make too much sense wouldn't it.

Axl takes Danny and Ingrid to Ty's because Ingrid has decided that Ty would have no problem with allowing a complete stranger to stay with him. When  Ty returns, Axl makes it clear that Danny has just gotten out of jail, and Ty makes it clear that it's not a good time for him to have visitors. Ingrid promises that Danny will be no bother because he will be in her room, which causes Ty to remind her that it's actually his room. When Ingrid asks if it is alright for her to be there, Ty says yes, but not to bring in whoever she likes.  Ty is concerned that Olaf is not aware of Danny, but Ingrid again insists that Danny is the one who needs somewhere to stay. 

 Ingrid decides that Ty doesn't need her either and gets Axl to drive them to Mike's bar where she promises that she is good to pay for the drinks, just not today.  Talk about the sense of entitlement on her.  Axl questions how Olaf is going to react when he finds out and Mike responds, "I'm sure he'll roll with it; he and Ingrid had a strange and special relationship."  When Michele arrives, Mike leaves the bar to talk to her but before he goes, he asks Axl to get Ingrid and Danny out of there before they start screwing on his furniture.

Michele and Mike start to have sex and she wants to know who the man in the suit was but Mike says that he cannot say and Michele promises to tell Mike about Ty if he makes her come.  Ingrid and Danny make their way back to Axl's house.  Danny believes that the government is going to make magic mushrooms legal to help people stop smoking.  He wants to get in on the ground floor by growing the mushrooms now. Gaia escapes saying that she has night shift.

Ty is coming back from a run when Mike confronts him about Ty wanting to kill himself. He tells Ty that needs him to come to the bar later on to discuss a legal thing.  The next morning, Ingrid has made herself at home and is making breakfast but when Axl sees the mess that both she and Danny have created in the living room, he is not impressed. It turns out that the bag that Axl thought was full of garbage, is actually full of drugs and Danny asks him if he wants a cut.  It seems that Danny and Ingrid plan to sell drugs to finance the farm they are planing. Axl is enraged and orders Danny to get out.  Ingrid grabs her things to leave and Axl tries to stop her from leaving with Danny.  Axl believes that Danny has brainwashed Ingrid, because she has completely fallen for the idea of the magic mushroom farm.

At the bar, Stacey says to Michele, "there is a name for when you have sex without consent." Unfortunately, Michele believes that Stacey should just get over it and points out that she was totally into Zeb.  Stacey makes it clear that Michele put her under some kind of spell.  I am glad that they have finally gotten around to calling what happened to Stacey rape, but she shouldn't be the only one recognizing that what happened to her was a complete violation. Mike and Ingrid enter and Mike says that he has Agnetha's will and that he is the executor of.  Mike informs them that to get the money, they have to have a plan which will set them up for the rest of their life.  Ingrid asks about the possibility of a farm.

Gaia returns and discovers that Axl kicked out Ingrid and Danny.  Axl adds that "Ingrid was in the looney bin" when she met Danny. It's amazing how easily they just throw around ableist language.  Gaia believes that this is wrong and says that Axl must save Ingrid from Danny because she is a family friend and Axl is the kindest, smartest and the one who cares the most. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Warehouse 13 Sneak Peak

It's been away for a week, but now it's back :)

Review of Devils Said Bang by Richard Kadrey Book 4 in the Sandman Slim Series

When we last left Sandman Slim he had been tricked by Samel into becoming the next Lucifer and his angel half had ditched him in hell.  This book opens with Stark learning how to be Lucifer and to avoid being killed.  The hellions are not impressed to have a human in the top spot and seek to overload him with bureaucracy because hell needs to be rebuilt.  He taken his ancestor wild Bill on as sort of an adviser but longs to be back in LA.

I am pretty sure that this is going to be the last book in this series that I read.  Four books in, and I still don't enjoy the story and this time, I kept drifting from plain old boredom.  I have zero investment in Stark, who cannot figure out whether trouble comes to him, or he finds trouble everywhere that he goes. His sarcasm, if one can even call it that, is puerile and his behaviour is the equivalent of a bull in a china shop.

He seems to float from one disaster to another in his attempt to save the world.  I really enjoyed the first book in this series but since then, it has been nothing but a series of disappointments.  It is really sad because Kadrey has built what could have been an interesting world.  God is not the God that we understand him to be, nor is he the creator of the universe.  

Honestly, I don't have much to say about this novel except to say that I a glad I am done.  I very nearly did not finish.  Stark just seemed to meander from place to place with no real point or destination.  The conversations were stilted and that is particularly true of any scene involving Wild Bill.  It felt like Stark entire mission was to walk around and appear as bad ass as possible. If after four books the protagonist has not developed any complexity or nuance it is quite simply never going to happen. 

Normally we give really detailed reviews on Fangs but this book inspired nothing in me.  There is nothing I can say about Devil Said Bang that I haven't said about every other book in this series.  I think Kadrey and are simply going to have to agree to go our separate ways. Meandering through a weak plot so that we can get to a fight scene does not excite me.  In fact, it seems that this is all this series has ever been, and excuse to get to the fight scene rather than to tell a good story.

GBLT Characters in the Anita Blake Series

When it comes to the portrayal of GBLT people, the Anita Blake series is a classic warning that quantity is never a substitution for quality and that mere number of portrayals does not make a book, TV series or film friendly to GBLT people. We’ve seen this in True Blood as well, where, again, sheer number of portrayals doesn’t change the very large problems with those portrayals.

I can understand the reaction. Most books and series simply don’t have any GBL inclusion at all. And when they do it’s usually one or two characters, in minor roles (usually as best friends and support staff - barely even side kicks). We have started praising even the tiniest inclusion - it’s depressing when we see even progressive blogs analysing media, praising Teen Wolf for its single bit-token gay character, while criticising it for its portrayals of other, more numerous, minorities. So when we see a series that has several GBL characters it is extremely rare and it is tempting to praise it - especially when tiny, virtually characterless tokens are seemingly due fawning.

But quality matters. A book with a terrible, trope laden stereotypes is bad, problematic and prejudiced. The mere fact you have a hundred of them rather than just one doesn’t makes these terrible, trope laden stereotypes ok. And this is abundantly clear in the Anita Blake series.

The easiest place to begin is to look at some of the villains of the Anita Blake series, because I think I spot a pattern:

  • Asher, bisexual – was a villain but was redeemed to the good guys by the sweet love and gentleness of Anita (behold the power of a straight woman’s love!) Its bitter, implied sadistic and now confines 99% of his sexing to Anita.
  • Raina, bisexual. Sadist, rapist, murderer, torturer and generally not a nice woman. Also rapes straight women. Is portrayed as “perverse”.
  • Gabriel: Bisexual, sadist, rapist, torturer, pimp and generally not a nice man. Rapes straight men. Is also portrayed as “perverse”.
  • Chimera: gay or bisexual. Sadist, rapist, torturer. Is more than implied that the reason why he is a sadistic murdering, multiple personality (yes there’s ableism there) rapist is because of his rejection of his own sexuality.
  • Belle Morte: Bisexual, rapist, makes straight people have sex with their own gender for her amusement.
  • Traveller: Gay. Uses his power to possess straight men so he can have sex in their bodies (i.e. rapes them).
  • Niley: Gay, rapes straight men. And tortures them. Bonus points, deals with daemons and is actually looking for a holy relic to defile it.

Did you catch the pattern? When you have more GBL rapists in a series than you can count on the fingers of one hand? There’s a problem.

But, of course, not all the GBLT people in the book are villains - but let us look at how these are portrayed. Firstly, the series does its very best to make the men in Anita’s immediate circle as straight as possible while still opening up the possibility for the hawt mansex. Byron makes it clear that Jean-Claude massively prefers women and that Asher is “an exception.” (Nearly had a bisexual character as a leading man there, - danger! Danger!) Much the same applies to Micah, maybe Jason and even Nathaniel. In later books, Laurell K Hamilton learns the phrase “heteroflexible” and instantly stamps it on Anita’s men rather than risk having gay or bisexual men running around as major character.

And the “hawt mansex” is labelled there for a reason - because the sex between men is presented in an extremely fetishistic manner. While Anita is happily in her merry threesomes, foursomes, moresomes - the men keep touching each other to a minimum for fear of upsetting her (and gods forbid that affection between men offend a straight person). This changes when Anita lets it be known that she likes to watch 2 men get it on, then everyone gets in on the heteroflexible action for Anita’s viewing pleasure. The affection and sex between 2 men became acceptable only because a straight woman enjoys it. That is fetishistic in the extreme, really homophobic - and one of the Slash and M/M genre’s biggest problems.

With the heteroflexibleness, there’s actually only one of Anita’s men who is actually allowed to be bisexual - and that is Asher. Oh some of the tigers may be, but if you can even remember their names at this point, it’s only because you have a very good memory and they have very very very ridiculous names.

Asher - the biggest, whiniest drama queen the books have ever seen (perhaps even surpassing Richard, but at least Richard’s are based on real issues). He stomps, he pouts, he sulks, he has epic, whining tantrums. He dishes out emotion laden ultimatums, his ego constantly needs pampering, he wallows in angst, he’s possessive and he is ludicrously over-emotional. Surrounded by all these heteroflexible guys, it’s the actual bisexual who is throwing his toys out of the pram, unable to control his emotions and generally wallowing in that stereotype. At this point, I actually loathe Asher more than I loathe Richard or Micah.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K Hamilton, Book 9 of the Anita Blake Series

 Anita killed one of Edward’s backups – which means she owes him a favour and he has finally called to collect. Or his alter ego has – reassuring Anita that what he wants in New Mexico is nice and legal. And a holiday away from her love life is probably not a bad idea.

Little did she imagine she’d be plunged into Edwards and that the cold, lethal assassin has a fiancée and she has 2 children – all of which have no idea about the man she’s going to marry.

And while the job may be legal – it’s brutal. Dozens of people have been killed or mutilated – and the deaths are some of the worst Anita has ever seen. Worse, it’s been done in a way neither she nor Edward’s erstwhile and experienced back up have ever seen.

Anita has to find and stop the murderer even as the death toll rises. That means facing Aztec gods, a fellow necromancer, ancient vampires and a prejudiced police force – even before she gets to the monster itself, which can feel her looking for it, and is watching her.

The writing style of this book – indeed of this series – walks that line between being evocative, setting the scene and having that fun, snarky, hard boiled internal narrative that I so love and being extremely over descriptive, pointless and dull. Since this book is set apart from her lovers, it pulls it back and goes back to earlier books where it is more for setting scene, theme and mood, rather than us enjoying 20 pages describing just how blue Jean-Claude’s very blue eyes are.

And it really does convey the sense of place. It’s one of those books where you’re nearly sure the author must have spent some time in the location in question because they seem to know it. There’s such a realness to the scene and the area that you rarely get from second hand accounts.

The story also went back to the roots of what Anita does. Police investigation. Finding the big gribbly monster and killing it. Following the clues, enduring the grisly, horrifying crime scenes, trying to find the monster before it causes too much damage, putting life, limb and moral code at risk trying to protect innocent people. We have twists and turns, brilliant ideas and deductions alongside the gruelling police work. It was a great story to read, the plot never made me bored or had me turning away – and as in previous books we have multiple plot lines that come together nicely, bringing in Riker, Itzpaplotl and the Big Bad all in a natural, well paced and inter-related manner.

The only time I felt the story pacing was off was during the long and repeated monologues while Anita considered her own relationships and when looking at Edward’s with Donna. I can understand the latter – but they were drawn out, repeated, and the same message, information and growth could have been shown much more concisely. My only complaint is I feel the story ended with rather an anti-climax

I also liked the building of Edward as a character, finally adding more to him than “man who has guns.” I’ve never particularly liked him as a character – I always considered him to empty, more a convenient walking weapon than any real kind of person. This added a level of depth even though it was a series of masks – and showed something he truly cared about as well as his growing relationship with Anita. It humanised him without damaging his aura of mystery too much – it was well done.

There is a lot less sexual content in this book than there were in previous – yet there are still moments which feel all the more gratuitous and unnecessary because of that – like Bernardo having to strip. And Blade. And Deuce. And every man having apparently had a penis transplant with an elephant or the sexy times with the werejaguars. Nor did Anita have to be seen as a potential sex interest for Bernardo, Ramirez, Red Woman’s Husband and even Olaf. I don’t see this adding anything else to the story and just adds that even the villains in this series must have 14 inch penises.

Anita continues to be a strong, determined woman who does her own things, dishes out shit when deserves, takes the lead unless her respect has been earned, makes her own decisions, refuses to be belittled and can stand toe-to-toe with any other man there. She has some Keille independence, but otherwise is a pretty awesome character. Anita faces sexism, labels it and calls it out – she expects it and has a very realistic and cynical view of what it is to be a woman in her profession and circles.

The other women in the book? Not so much. I’ve said before, Anita seems to present herself as a strong character despite being female, rather than a strong female character.  Donna is repeatedly presented as insecure, fragile, innocent (even Olaf thinks so) and weak – which Anita has to drag her over the coals for. Professor Dallas is petite, tiny – and the whole time we see her everyone, even the big bad vampire, is worried about her being Olaf’s victim. Paulina is dangerous – but we switch to the second mode of attack and Anita analyses how unattractive she is (and insecure about Anita and her husband) and she ends up dead. Amanda the Amazon – yes, I know – is a woman who can fight, but she is described as not only being tall and strong – but only her breasts let you know she’s actually a woman. She’s described in a way that downplays or dismisses her femaleness – and she ends up dead.

Blood Ties Season 2, Episode 10: Deep Dark

Coreen wants to get some help for Vicki and her tumultuous love life – and has gone to speak to her spirit guide. But things are different from what she’s done before, and after a blood ritual and the intervention of a spooky voiced possession, Coreen ends up red eyed, bleeding from the eye and speaking with the demonic possession voice – and Vicki is sent sprawling as her marks glow and burn.

Vicki goes to check on the spirit guide after Coreen is 5 hours late returning. The spirit guide is being nicely cryptic – so Vicki threatens to punch her. Apparently “he” has come through. She gives precious little information so Vicki follows through and does punch her. Vicki puts 2 and 2 together and comes up with Astaroth (remember Astaroth? I nearly didn’t) as she tells Henry. Since the psychic warned her that she would hear about what’s doing she decides that the police are most likely to know – but Celluci is still miffed with her so she calls in, pretending to be Kate (Celluci’s occasional partner) to get the news. And hears that Coreen is at a strip bar.

Where she is, beating down the bouncers with her Astaroth strength. And forcing the dancers to kiss her, to the cheering of all the men in the club.

Celluci is part of a task force involved in a major case (with Kate and Dave – my gods, they can appear on the screen at the same time!), a kidnapping of a rich Hong Kong business man’s daughter. Vicki insists on his help, dragging him away to help intervene with Coreen so she doesn’t get arrested.

Coreen is just smacking the police aside as Vicki arrives. Coreen/Astaroth and Vicki fight, again to the cheering delight of the crowd, and Coreen easily knocks Vicki aside – but Henry, with his vampire speed, manages to knock Coreen out.

Back to the office and Celluci is still with the gang (hello, kidnapping task force?)  Astaroth claims he is there for Vicki, what she wants – needs. Henry and Vicki go to find a priest for an exorcism, leaving Celluci to babysit Coreen (despite his protests about the task force). The priest is reluctant, his lastb exorcism wasn’t a happy, fun time apparently.

And Astaroth/Coreen is taunting Celluci – with his relationship with Vicki, with Henry and with his father (sorry, you need some foreshadowing before I care about Celluci’s daddy issues) and finally hits on she knows crimes being committed – including the location of his kidnap victim, she’ll tell him so long as he adjusts her pillows. This is when Vicki, Henry and the priest arrives and tells him not to – apparently fluffing demonic pillows is an exorcism no-no.

Cue Exorcism scene. You all know this script, holy water, taunting, appeals, bargains etc. But Henry has a revelation – he can’t hear Coreen’s heartbeat. Upon opening her top, Vicki finds a wound through which you can see ribs – and the heart is missing.

Vicki and Celluci go back to the police station to follow leads and Kate makes it clear that Crowley has already noticed his absence and bringing Vicki was a bad idea. Celluci uses his tit-bit he gained from the demon to explain his absence. Crowley demands his gun and his badge –suspending him. He walked out of an investigation and didn’t explain where he went, a big no-no. Vicki and Celluci have a moment – not just a resentment moment but a relationship moment, asking what Vicki actually wants.

They get a lead on the taxi driver who dropped Coreen/Astaroth off and, while Vicki stays with Coreen to reassure her and have a touching moment, Celluci and Henry go investigate. They lern where Astaroth/Coreen put her heart, and at the same time Celluci gets Henry to use his vampire powers on him to pull back the image Astaroth gave him – getting an image of the crypt where his kidnap victim is being kept. He calls Kate and passes on the information, though he’s unsure whether she’ll follow it

Autumn Line Up on Fangs for the Fantasy

'Film Real (57/365)' photo (c) 2011, derrickcollins - license:
Another Autumn season is with us folks. That means all our Summer shows are tucking up waiting for the Sun again and a lot of our old favourites are returning. Renee and I are discussing our Autumn line up, looking at what new shows we’re going to follow and add to our big list – we’ve already got our eyes on 666 Park Avenue, Beauty and the Beast, Misfits and Revolution as well as a few others
But it’s hard to keep track of what is being released – especially in different countries (we missed Almighty Johnsons when it first appeared in New Zealand – and we love that show) so we’re turning to the readers.

What do you want us to watch? What’s coming up that you intend to watch? What shows should we know about?
Remember, we just need an element of the fantastic – sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, dystopia – and it’s on our list.
We’re looking for shows that are current – but if you’ve got a show that’s been cancelled you think might be worth us looking at then chip in as well.
We will, of course, continue to watch the shows we’ve started that are returning this Autumn:
We're sending out the call again just in case we miss anything :) Neither of us watch enough adverts

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review Two Ravens and One Crow, by Kevin Hearne book 4.5 in the Iron Druid Chronicles

Regular readers know that we are huge fans of Kevin Hearne and have a tendency to fanpoodle terribly, but oh my goodness it's Kevin Hearne, how could we not? Because this is a novella, it's going to be difficult to talk about without spoilers, so consider yourself warned. 

Atticus still has a few years left in his training of Granuaile and this of course means much sexual tension.  He has devised a plan with Oberon to "conceal the tower of his CARNAL DESIRE," by leaving to give his faithful hound a snack when she starts to perform her exercises in tight fighting work our gear.  They both know that something is going on between them, but Atticus believes that their relationship must remain professional.

Into this sexual angst drops the Morrigan to order Atticus, who she still insists on calling Siodhachan to come away with her immediately.  Before they can attend a dinner with the Gods who wish to converse with Atticus, he must have his tattoos repaired and this is something only the Morrigan can do, unfortunately for Atticus.  In Two Ravens and One Crow we get to see a different side of the Morrigan.  According to Atticus, she laughs almost girlishly - a term which most certainly does not go hand in hand with the Morrigan.  When they enter the chamber of abundance, fertility and harmony, we get to see her frustration and not being able to connect with others because she represents "sex or violent death. Sometimes both." Just when I thought that the Morrigan could not be more complex, this revelation of an inability to connect with others and that it brings her sadness, adds a new dimension to her character. 

Review: Something from the Nightside by Simon R Green, Book 1 of the Nightside Series

John Taylor is a private detective. And not a very successful one, given his mounting debts and declining business. He used to be very good – 5 years ago when he was still in the Nightside where his ability, to be able to find anything, actually worked.

But the Nightside is a dangerous place, where literally anything and everything can exist. Wizards and aliens, monsters and demons, ghosts and gods – anything imaginable is in there somewhere; and John is well clear of it.

Except he has a client who is willing tom give him an awful lot of money to find her daughter – in the Nightside. Against his many reservations he finds himself plunging back into this fantastic world, the dark underbelly of London, to face old enemies and old allies, from the sinister to the sublime to the ridiculous. The investigation is dangerous, horrifying, fantastic and macabre, with new revelations even he never imagined, and a threat far greater than he expected. But it does feel like coming home…

This world is one of the strangest, deepest and weirdest I’ve ever come across. Everything you can imagine – absolutely everything – can exist in the Nightside. From aliens and their abductions to gods, to extra-dimensional entities to ghosts to the fae to werecreatures to everything else imagineable. There are timeless pockets where you can drink old style Coca-cola in an eternally 60s café, there are dark and dangerous streets where even the architecture will eat people. There are cars, carriages and other conveyances that will eat people and old hansom cabs pulled by talking horses.

This book has some amazingly fun characters. John Taylor himself is a hard boiled detective with all that means – the good, but very little of the bad. We hear some of his past, enough to make him interesting, menacing and a bit scary, but not enough to destroy his mystery. He is a bit of a Gary Stu in the way everyone is in awe of his power and reputation and his power does have some severely extreme applications. But he also has his considerable limits and there’s a suggestion, at least, that part of his reputation is inflated. It is a powerfest though – but that can be fun. I also appreciate a character with a good grasp of quips and sarcasm.

Grimm, Season 2, Episode 4: Quill

 “Death stood behind him and said: ‘Follow me, the hour of your departure from this world has come.’”

We start right with the action, with a car accident between a park ranger – and a boil encrusted, groaning man trying to eat his face (I’m going to go with zombie here). The park ranger surprises us by sprouting quills, (a porcupine Wesen?) driving face-eater off him to crash into a nearby building.

Hank is still adapting to the world of Wesen existing and Nick being a Grimm with Nick taking time to bring him up to speed when their lunch is interrupted by Wu calling them in for the big car crash/assault. They enter the building looking for zombie man and find it trashed – with dramatic, zombie-style bloody handprints (they’re like a zombie’s calling card. Every programme with zombies in will have one of them) on the glass.

Stanton, the zombie man, is still trashing the office and as they go up into the building the place is well and truly wrecked. Wu goes to get backup while Hank and Nick follow the blood trial. They find Stanton throwing things and demand he stop – and he Woges (only seen by Nick) into a Reinegen (rat Wesen)  – before attacking them with an iron bar. Hank and Nick shoot him. Nick confirms to Hank that the man was a Wesen – but the boils all over his skin suggest there’s something else going on. Nick fills in Hank – and Hank points out that he has holes in his arms that suggest he has been stabbed by giant needles.

So time to talk to the ranger, Ryan, who zombie-rat-man crashed into. They try to question him to find a motive and Hank tries to figure out how to ask “hey did you see him go ratty” to which Nick’s facial expression is just perfect. Ryan goes to get his police report from a police officer – and suddenly seems to shift personality and hit on her really unsubtly. She tells him how out of line he is and he walks off – scratching his arms.

Nick and Hank report to Renard – no drugs in his system except ibuprofen and a big sack of over-the-counter pain killers in his car – and he looked scabby and nasty and attacked like an animal. They go home and Renard gets a call from his European Royal Family (that is, his family who are European royals). The family in Europe has sent something else to Portland – a Nuckalavee (which is an evil Scottish fae in folklore) to get the key – something Renard vehemently opposes. But if “they” learn it will jeopardise “everything they’ve been working for”. Oooooooh plot. Renard gets one of his officers to check out the guy arriving – calling him a fugitive.

Juliette is still struggling to remember Nick, why does she remember everything except Nick. She calls Monroe to see if it’s possible that they were unhappy – but Monroe assures her they were a happy couple and suggests she talks to Nick, which isn’t very helpful.

Nick takes the chance to go see Monroe and tell him that he has told Hank everything – but didn’t want to tell Hank about Monroe until he saw how Hank reacted. Monroe is less than pleased and questions why Nick didn’t wonder how Monroe would react (and appropriates “coming out” language. Ugh, Grimm, bad enough you have zero GBLT characters without that). Monroe tells Nick about Juliette calling about memory loss and Nick leaves. Leaving Monroe to have a mini panic about Hank knowing.

Meanwhile Juliette is having memory flash backs – not about Nick, but about an Eisbiber who was afraid of Nick and begging her to make sure Nick didn’t come after him. Nick comes home and they have another very well acted, painful scene as they both try to deal with the memory loss.

That night, Ryan, the porcupine Wesen, wakes up from a nightmare sweaty, itchy, looking like Hell and covered in horrible scabby boils.

And that morning, Rosalie goes to her shop to find a mess – and hear the sound of evil monster cat (the one Adalind used to curse Juliette) has managed to rip its way out of its cat carrier. And is now clinging to the ceiling in a totally-not-creepy way, honest. She runs to the door – and forces the cat outside – just managing to force the door closed. Then Monroe arrives and marvels at the destruction. He worries briefly at it being out on the street – but they hear the sound of a car horn and a cat yowl… but decide that, all the same, let’s not go look (yes, I laughed, they do bounce off each other well. In fact, Monroe bounces off just about everyone well). Monroe, instead, wants to take Rosalie on a picnic

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: Barcode, Legend of Apollo by Kashif Ross

Spencer Colt carries the barcode of the god Apollo, making him one of the most powerful Gladiators in the world. But such power comes with a price – in particular a destiny to face off against Helios, the tyrant of the east coast.

In this future America, the country has been split by devastating war. A war so destructive that the gods themselves acted to end the conflict. Now wars are fought between gladiators – beings enhanced by the gods and demigods – but not everyone plays by the rules and Helios is plotting to expand his empire by any means necessary

While leaves Spencer with a hard destiny to live up to, complete with a father with high expectations but no time for him and woefully inadequate training and a complicate love triangle between himself, Hannah who he’s always loved, Michelle who he’s often fought and Angie who everyone thinks he should be with due to prophecy.

And then there’s Kode – empowered by the mask of Tartarus and caught in numerous, horrendous acts – is he an enemy or an ally?

The further we go, the more the plots and secrets are unveiled – and the greater the stakes become.

For a long time in this book, I’m flailing without really knowing what’s going on. There isn’t enough world building or character background for me to truly grasp what is happening and why. Even after the 70% mark, when there’s a huge amount of information dumped in there, I’m still guessing and extrapolating more than anything. I’m not sure how the barcodes (which appear to be tattoos and they appear to be born with) give them powers or how much power or what power they give. I’m not sure if there’s a difference based on which god you’re imbued with or whether 2 people imbued with the same god have the same powers. I’m not sure of the power difference between gods and demigods since we see 2 demigods who are more feared and powerful than most gods.

I’m not sure about the writer. Not sure of the relevance of the position of the tattoos. I don’t know why Spencer’s tattoos were bound not sure why the arena and gladiator system exists – I have a vague idea, but I’m not sure. I think it was an alternative to war – but then we go and have a war anyway. Not sure where liminal beings come in at all or where they fit, not sure what dropping into Hades even means – and I’m not especially sure as to the technology and their acronyms that are thrown around a lot to my growing confusion.

And it’s the same with the character interactions. We start the book with a huge rift between Spencer and his dad – but I never quite got why that’s there. Or the relation between Spencer and Michelle and Hannah. We also have Spencer being the moodiest, arsiest angst monster we’ve ever seen – and again I’m not sure why this is. Without a good reason why for the surly teenager act, I was left with Spencer feeling pretty unlikeable to say the least.

There are also a huge number of characters that, despite the large amount of character interaction for the beginning of the book, I had real trouble keeping track of – which was especially hard when one was imperilled. The only characters that felt significant to me were Spencer, Michelle and Kode – so when, for example, Kode’s brother showed up or Spencer’s grandfather, I had to stop to double check who this person actually was. The problem is, menace and even death to some of these people were supposed to be a source of tension in the plot (or at least a source of angst for Spencer) and I didn’t know enough about them to care about their fate.

Sinbad, Season 1, Episode 9

 A man in a robe communes with a really ugly vase – it’s apparently a vase of prophecy and gives him visions of the future. When he uses it this year he gets a vision of Sinbad stabbing him, which rather perturbs him when he passes this onto his son.

Sinbad is similarly perturbed since he learned from Anwar last week that he was going on an important journey but Anwar didn’t really get any more information out of the goddess Kuji than that. Cook is less than amused by this whole trying to see the future thing (and the disparaging of his cooking) and warns Sinbad that he sounds like the silly Stone People. Who apparently have a rock that allows them to see the future – which instantly intrigues Sinbad, of course. Visibly dubious, he tells Sinbad where the stone is – and off they sail.

In the city the son of the vision blokey is frustrated because he thought he was heir apparent when his dad dies and, apparently he isn’t and also some debate about them keeping hold of the stone and not letting anyone else use it. There follows numerous little conversations from different characters about whether you can change the future or whether it’s set and whether it’s a good idea to be able to see it. And a woman in enveloping robes is tracking someone while staring at the camera with dramatic eye liner. Or possibly she’s doing a very poor job of street cleaning, but I think she’s tracking.

Sinbad and Rina enter a tavern to ask about the stone, posing as Pilgrims – and run into the son who is drinking and bitter. He says anyone can see the stone if they petition the great Azdi (his father) to join the order and then have a long, apprenticeship or which he is very very bitter. Rina suggests stealing it, while a bar maid guesses that they’re there to see the stone and just realised what a wasted journey it is – time for flirting from Sinbad. Rina reflects on what a good thieving team they’d make, overheard by Griff (the son) who mocks them for trying to steal the stone and let him describe how utterly impossible it is, in a maze, surrounded by traps.

Anwar convinces Griff of his epic maze solving skills, collects Sinbad and recruits Griff’s help to get to the stone – Griff is so bitter about never being able to see the stone and his father blocking him that he’s willing to steal the key if they will help him through the labyrinth. After Gunnar confirms he’s telling the truth and not setting up a trap with a little threat of violence, they trust him.

On to the labyrinth where Griff uses his shiny key – all secretly watched by dramatic-eyeliner and nifty fedora woman who was tracking them earlier and who follows them into the labyrinth with some impressive backflips.

Anwar interprets the symbols on the walls of the labyrinth to find the correct path (it’s a maze with a map on the walls! That’s totally cheating!) while Rina keeps looking behind, convinced they are being followed, but she doesn’t see nifty fedora-woman.

It takes Anwar a while to figure out the puzzle, during which Griff has an epic temper tantrum – setting off a trap that Gunnar awesomely protects him from. I really like Gunnar, his epic fighting skills coupled with his sense and conscience make him an interesting character. Griff continues to freak out – but then Azdil arrives with his retinue, causing Griff to run off through the maze to escape being noticed. When he runs, he runs into nifty-fedora woman who stares at him dramatically.

Sinbad and his friends, meanwhile, are taken prisoner and, since Azdil recognises Sinbad as the man who will kill him, he orders Sinbad to be executed. Let me predict – Sinbad would never have killed Azdil, but Azdil’s actions will eventually force him to, thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Adzil smacks his son around and announces he will be banished for letting Sinbad and co into the labyrinth. Before he leaves, Griff asks how Sinbad will be executed – Adzil plans to poison him as the surest method (what? Beheading is pretty damn sure. Poisoning is open to all kind of doubt!) Griff begs to be the one to administer the poison to redeem himself and to prevent Adzil being the one who kills them.

They enter the prison – and Griff administers the poison to Sinbad. He collapses and his body is taken away. Later, the bound Gunnar, Rina and Anwar are taken out of the city and dumped. They’re lost but Gunnar won’t leave Sinbad’s body behind, at least they owe him a proper burial.

Of course, Sinbad isn’t actually dead. He was drugged, not poisoned. It seems Griff saved him to make a bargain with Nifty Fedora Woman. Griff demands she now make his father take him through the labyrinth, but she’s reneging and smacking him down when he tries to kill Sinbad in response – he leaves in a pout. Nifty Fedora Woman now explains herself – and puts a metal collar around Sinbad’s neck (not nearly as shiny as the last one) that will kill him if he gets too far from her. She’s a bounty hunter called Tiger sent to collect him – for Taryn. He tries to fight her – but she’s rather more skilled than him – but he does manage to pull her knife and hold her at knife point. But he succumbs to her seduction charms, allowing her to take the dagger back and punch him.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy Epsiode 83

We look at Grimm which continues to hold to our expectations, though we’re concerned by the treatment of women. We look at Alphas and our ongoing loathing for Dr. Rosen. We also look at Warehouse 13, Sinbad and Misfits.

We also discuss frustrations with ebooks – especially the problem with ebooks being released at different dates in different countries. Why are publishers making it hard for us to spend money?

Our book of the week is Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff.

Our next books of the week:
3/9-10/9: Constantine Affliction by T Aaron Payton
10/9-17/9: Tempest Rising: Tracy Deebs  
17/9-24/9: Masque of the Red Death: Bethany Griffin  
24/9-1/10: Lies Beneath: Anne Greenwood Brown