Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hemlock Grove Season One, Episode One: Jellyfish in the Sky

Roman is sitting in what looks to be an ice cream parlor staring out the window when Brooke approaches the door, but does not enter the parlor

Roman and Brooke are having sex in a car and he grabs a razor, cuts his fingers and smears the blood on Brooke. When they are done, Roman hands Brooke some money and she tells him that its too much but Roman says that this is the part where she leaves.  Brooke hops out of the car as he sucks blood off his fingers.

The scene then shifts to a football field where Brooke is teaching little girls how to cheerlead and looks up to find a strange young man staring at her.  We next see the Brooke in science class. When the class ends, Brooke approaches the science to teacher to complain that the text which she was given to read was not accessible. Brooke tells the teacher that she loved the text anyway and that there is some much more happening than what you think you see.  The teacher tells Brooke to keep the book and writes a note in it before handing it back. When Brooke opens the book, there is a note saying tonight Bansky's at 8 pm.

Later that evening, Brooke is stopped at a train crossing and a text message appears on phone saying to call when she is near Banskys.  The train goes by as Brooke continues with her phone and something suddenly attacks her.  Brooke takes off running through the woods until she finds a shed and attempts to hide. Brooke tries to hold on as her body is dragged out of the shed. Brook grabs her phone and it rings her science teacher, who listens in horror as Brooke is being murdered.

Earlier this summer two people at what looks to be a rundown trailer park.  Apparently, the trailer belongs to someone named Vince who is now dead.  The woman comes across a box containing some form of liquid.  What neither of them realize is that they are being watched.

Peter makes his way into Hemlock Grove and when he returns he is wearing a stolen jacket and his mother has straightened up the trailer. They sit down and she says that she cooked pork chops and pours a drink and they have a toast to their new home.  Peter then takes a nap on a hammock and dreams of snakes. When Peter wakes, he finds a girl staring at him.  She tells Peter that she has seen him swimming in her grandparents pond and he points out that she has seen him naked then.  She calls him a gypsy and asks why he is swimming in the pond instead of the lake. Peter tells her that the lake is polluted and that he is only a half breed because his grandfather was pure Roma. Peter then offers the girl a beer and she says no because beer kills brain cells.  The girl asks what happened to the guy who used to live there and Peter tells her that Vince, his uncle, died of alcohol poisoning. She asks if he worships  the devil,, when she sees a pentagram but he scoffs and replies that each point represents an element with the top most being soul.  Suddenly, she asks if he is a werewolf and Peter replies that he now knows who her literary heroes are and asks if she is going to find him a vampire to have a sexless three way with. The girl points out that two of his fingers are the same length and suggests that this makes him a werewolf. Peter cavalierly says "sure are you a retard?"  She tells him that she does not think that he is supposed to use that world.  Peter replies that werewolf is pretty racist and that he prefers sexy manbeast.

Their conversation is interrupted when the local sheriff Tom drives by.  She tells him that she goes to school with his kids and Peter says that he knows when to give up. She tells Peter that he is kind of mean and he replies, "there's the door."  When he enters the trailer, she turns and says welcome to the neighbourhood.

Roman  awakes to find Olivia staring down at him.  Apparently, school starts the next day, so Olivia believes that he needs new clothes but he replies  that it has taken him 17 years to perfect his look. Olivia points out that he does not know the distinction between vintage and old. Olivia light a smoke and tells Roman that he is an adult more or less and that if he would rather spend the day with his cousin than his mother that he should say so.  Roman answers that he would rather hang out with his cousin Letha.

Roman does not win and quickly finds himself being fitted for a suit.  Olivia tells Roman that though she is not sure that Norman would approve that she has arranged a surprise for indulging her on the last day of his summer vacation. Roman learns that Olivia rented out Pennsylvania.

That evening, Roman meets up with Letha at a carnival, where they are the only visitors.  Letha asks if Roman knows that Pennsylvania has the most hate groups than any state in the country.  Roman quips that it's about time they win on something.  When he heads to another ride, Letha says that she is not in the mood. Letha then turns and asks what the carnies think of them and Roman asks who.  Letha then says that it's time to go home.

The Vampire Diaries Season Four, Episode Nineteen: Pictures of You

Bonnie is in the cemetery with flowers and she goes to visit Jeremy's grave. At the grave site, Bonnie says that Jeremy was supposed to come back with them.  Suddenly, Jeremy appears and tells Bonnie that she has to wake up.  In actuality, Bonnie is at home sleeping on the couch, which is on fire. 

Damon and Stefan are tossing the football around saying that they have lost count of how many days its been since Elena has killed someone.  Who tosses a football around inside their house? Could they have come up with something less ridiculous for Damon and Stefan to do to set up a bonding moment? Damon reminds Stefan that Elena does not want the cure and adds that if she thinks that they are looking for it that she will kill someone.  Stefan suggests pulling a Lexy and bombarding Elena with emotions until one of them sticks.  Stefan adds that if this doesn't work they should keep Elena locked up until they come up with a plan C.  Can we please, please stop the trend of imprisoning YA protagonists for their own damn good? Would it really be so damn hard? It's particularly horrific given the fact that both Damon and Stefan are mass murderers themselves. Damon asks what happens to Elena when she gets slammed with every emotion since Jeremy died and Stefan replies that Damon will be there to help Elena get through it. Damon says that when this is all over Stefan is going to get out of Elena's life because Stefan doesn't want to keep reliving history.

Cheerleader vampire (read: Rebekah) is talking to Elijah about how being human means a fresh start and that she can grow old, and have children. Klaus says that Silas can appear as anyone and convinced him that he was dying. Klaus believes that Klaus will torment until he hands over the cure. Rebekah reminds Klaus that if this happens, Silas will breakdown the wall to the other side. Klaus counters that this will mean the return of Kol and Flynn, thus giving them their family back. Rebekah is not pleased and reminds Klaus that he hated Kol and kept him in a box for most of his life. Elijah interjects and says that Klaus's personal discomfort might not be a sufficient reason to put the entire world in jeopardy and that Rebekah deserves a shot at happiness. Klaus asks if Elijah is joking and Elijah says that he has made his decision. Klaus leans in and tells Rebekah that when she is sick and dieing and begs for his blood that he will laugh in her face and compel her to forget him before walking away. Rebekah asks Elijah where the cure is and he tells her that she is impulsive and emotional and that she has prove it's not another one of her whims. Elijah says that he wants Rebekah to live a day as a human with no vampire privileges like strength or compulsion and that if she succeeds and still believes that this is what she wants that he will give her the cure.

On the street, Elena tells Rebekah that she is going to fail and that she should be locking herself inside not out shopping for prom. Rebekah replies that there isn't a more human experience than prom. Really?  What it means to be human can be reduced to getting dressed up and going to prom? Why oh why is a thousand years old woman interested in prom? Elena points out that Rebekah will not be able to compel herself a date. Rebekah asks why she should listen to Elena because her humanity has been turned off and adds that Elena is living with her now because no one else can tolerate her. Elena says that she is going to stay with her to make sure that Rebekah passes Elijah's test because as soon as she takes the cure, no on will be able to use it on Elena.

Caroline is also dress shopping and Bonnie tells her about the dream she had about Jeremy.  Caroline believes its because Bonnie never got to say goodbye and that she is grieving.  Bonnie points out that the couch was on fire and wonders if it is because she was emotional in her dream or because she cannot control her power without Shane's help.  Caroline asserts its because Bonnie needs a night off from mourning. Elena and Rebekah walk into the store, so Caroline and Bonnie make a hasty exit.

Later that night, Elena is wearing the same dress that Caroline chose, when Stefan arrives in a limo with flowers to pick her up.  Elena is not happy to see him and says that she does not need a babysitter but Stefan points out that the last time he saw her, she snapped the spine of a waitress.  When she turns, Damon is there and adds that they are there to make sure she keeps up her end of the bargain and forces a corsage on her arm.

Klaus is staring at the fireplace when Caroline walks in calling his name.  Klaus says that he is in no mood for company. Caroline tells him that Elena stole her prom dress and adds that the vervain is out of the town's water supply, which means that the store keeper was compelled.  Klaus starts to laugh and Caroline tells him that it's not funny.  She adds that though prom isn't important to him, it is important to her.  Klaus suggests that finding another dress should be easy for her and Caroline whines, yes whines that she doesn't want another dress. Caroline adds that she wants to look Princess Grace of Monaco hot and asks if Klaus will dig her up a dress of royal caliber. Am I the only one who thinks its weird for a thousand year old vampire to cart around gowns just cause?

Stefan and Damon escort Elena to the prom and Elena pauses at a picture of her and Matt on the first day of freshman year. Matt is walking in with Bonnie and asks why he feels like they are at a practice run of Caroline's wedding.  Damon is taking a drink and Elena points out that it is creepy for him to be at the prom because he's over age.  Now it occurs to her that there is something icky about a vampire who is over 100 years old involving himself with teenagers - talk about late to the party. Damon replies that no bad ass senior is complete without a date who is slightly to old for high school. Elena starts to drink and says that Damon is not her date but Damon counters and says that he is her boyfriend.  Elena asks if Damon is trying to stir feelings in her and reminds him that he is the one who had her turn them off. Elena tells Damon that he is nothing to her and so Damon asks why she told him that she is in love with him and the most real thing in her life. Elena answers that she only said those things because she was sired to him and that now that she isn't, she knows that none of it was real before walking away.

Beauty and the Beast Season 1 Episode 18: Heart of Darkness

 So, after another random hiatus that American television loves so much (why do these keep happening? Do they think the shows are so awesome that only the worthy may watch? You have  to prove your mettle in a little scavenger hunt to find out when they’re actually showing in order to watch?) Beauty and the Beast has returned.

If you remember, last week after deciding they need to be cautious not one episode before since their carelessness had almost ruined their lives and got Vincent killed, Vincent decided to jump down from the 6th story because he couldn’t be bothered to take the stares, and was seen by Evan.

I have to say, I was tempted to just throw up my hands and walk away from the whole damn show at that point. Rarely, if ever, have I seen such awful writing and convolutedly forced conflict. The writer should be ashamed. The actor should be ashamed for agreeing to do it. The other actors should be ashamed for not throwing rotten fruit. The director should be ashamed. The producer ashamed. The cameraman should have been shamed! The architect who designed that building ashamed! SHAME ON ALL OF YOU!!


Ok, I’m done, I’m done.  To the recap

So what does Evan do with this shameful revelation? He gets drunk and calls Muirfield, of course. I’m willing to withdraw a tiny bit of the shame because Evan looks surprisingly good drunk. He also gets a panic button from Muirfield and becomes aware of the totally-subtle guys stalking him. Uh-huh, you’re working for an evil organisation, what did you expect? And you totally threw away your chance to be free of them. Shame on you. He also punches someone else in the bar because… well I assume reasons will be apparent later.

Vincent and Catherine are being all domestic now Vincent’s house got blown up and he has to use her washing machine and shower (but is still dodging Heather). It was a huge sacrifice to make but at least they now are safe so long as they don’t do ridiculous things like JUMP OFF TALL BUILDINGS! But Catherine’s planned day with Vincent is interrupted by Tess arriving for some girl time (which, being Tess would probably involve talking about guys anyway) and the awkward tension between Tess and Vincent and hoping it won’t be weird between them after the whole shooting, holding prisoner, life saving thing. Hey, bet Ms. Manners never had a column for THAT!

To the roof, where Catherine and Tess have a talk about Tess adapting to the new reality. And Catherine warns Tess about Muirfield and basically that by being in on the secret – especially if she’s going to help – then her entire life is going to change. And on that bombshell they get a call that Evan is in the drunk tank for punching someone

This is apparently his way of getting to talk to Catherine without being watched by the Muirfield stalkers (your own damn fault man. And you even renewed their interest in you! SHAME!) and he drops his own bombshell on Catherine that he knows her secret and can’t understand why she’d choose the monster (rather than him. I’d have picked Evan.) Evan decides that Vincent is a threat and that’s why he joined the organisation of brutal murderers who experiment on people. He tells her her feelings are invalid because he says so – and that he’s currently protecting her. Which Catherine realises means Evan’s already called Muirfield

Y’know what would have avoided all this? Not jumping off a 6 storey building. SHAME!

Friday, April 19, 2013

After The Ending (The Ending #1) by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue

It's flu season and so people are slowly getting sick. As with every year, there are deaths involving the very young and seniors but when the flu suddenly becomes more virulent, otherwise perfectly healthy adults start to die. It quickly becomes clear that the world is in a pandemic, which just might mean the end of the world as we know it. Those who do survive the mega flu are the people who have already had HINI.  As they climb out of their sickbeds, they learn that for some, survival has benefits - that's right, shiny super abilities like talking to animals or the ability to sense people's emotions and read minds.

Zoe and Dani are on opposite coasts and childhood best friends for evah.  Fortunately, both survive the massive flu and decide to cross the country and meet in the middle.  Both travel with military personnel as they struggle to survive.  After the Ending, basically shifts between the POV of these two women.

Zoe and Dani are both 26 but from the way they are written, their behaviour reads closer to 16 or 17.  Of course they are both stunningly beautiful, not skanks (unlike any other woman who is hot for their man) or fat (cause totes fat people are all disgusting)  They keep in touch with each other via email.  There is barely any gas, electricity and running water are touch and go at best but nothing can keep the world wide web down.  I understand Fairleigh and Pogue's desire to have communication between the two women but having them communicate through email meant a lot of repetition and made this book longer than it needed to be.  It would have been much better to have them agree upon a meeting place before leaving their homes and then shifting the POV that way. 

Dani and Zoe both engage in sex and are sexual beings.  Though they are confidant about their desires, neither of them has any problem with using anti woman slurs every time they are angry. CeCe for instance is a "super skank", as well as a "psycho skank" By far however, the slur used most often is bitch, with 42 different occurrences.  There are no male equivalents to these words but no man, regardless of his behaviour were written in any way a problematic as the women in this story.  Jason who clearly has a long sexually history cannot be slut shamed because he's just so damn handsome and it's natural from him to sleep around.  No matter what a man does, it is never attributed to his gender or his sexuality but the women of After The Ending have no such luck.

Navigating Through Race- The Plight of Storytellers of Color

 This is a Guest Post by Dennis Upkins

A gent by the name of Malcolm X once said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Many people often wonder how I’m able to reconcile being a spec fic author with being a social justice activist. Malcolm X’s quote is that very reason.

Because while the media has the power to control the minds of the masses, it’s also a platform to hold a mirror and expose inconvenient truths such as bigotry to a society who is still plugged into the proverbial Matrix of privilege and institutional oppression.

But in order share the truth, marginalized artists have to make many decisions that can play an impact on our careers, our art and its potential impact on society.

An example of this would be a conversation I was having with a buddy a few years back. He and I were discussing a popular graphic novel series created by a storyteller of color. My friend thought it was odd and a bit disappointing that the storyteller decided to make the main protagonist of the series, white. My buddy explained that even as a caucasian male, even he gets sick and tired of seeing white characters inundate the media. As I explained to my good buddy, there’s whole double standard that storytellers of color have to contend with when it comes to our narratives.

It’s never easy being an artist of color. When it comes to race, the race itself is a rigged one. No matter how talented and gifted you are, there are legions upon legions of bigoted whites who are looking to attack, denigrate and discredit you.

As I learned from several white critics and readers with my debut novel, Hollowstone, black writers are not real writers. We employed some type of chicanery, especially if we got published before many aspiring white writers did. I was also whitesplained that publishers who target black audiences or other readers of color aren’t “legitimate” publishers. They’re just not real.

Written-By-Numbers Drinking Game: Paranormal YA

'Cheap booze 1' photo (c) 2008, Melissa Wiese - license:

Sometimes, when we read a book we get a dreadful sense of deja vu, almost like we’ve read the book before. After a brief desperate hope that we’ve developed some kind of psychic powers or perhaps have discovered Time Travel, we succumb to disappointment (and check that the Doctor isn’t in the next room. Just in case) and realise nothing supernatural is afoot - what we’ve got is another book that has been Written-by-Numbers.

Yes, like those paint by numbers kits we all did as children, it’s a book that feels it’s been written following a pre-set pattern. At each stage the same old clichés are faithfully followed more rigidly than any fundamentalist ever adhered to his dogma. The result is often called a rip-off by some critics but I have to disagree - it’s just that so many books are following the same rigid patterns that they feel like they’re copying each other. Not so, they are merely all worshipping at the altar of the same tired clichés and flogging the zombie horse of overused tropes.

So how to get through one of these books that, while not bad enough to DNF, does feel like a reanimated Frankenstein’s monster of old tropes sewn together by an inept hand?

We propose a drinking game! And this week, it’s for Paranormal Young Adult. Grab your bottles, folks and prepare the stomach pumps (we are not responsible for any alcohol poisoning that may develop)

The Protagonist!: 1 drink if:
  • Per dead/absent parent
    • +1 drink for every tragically deceased sibling
    • +1 drink If has abused/tragic childhood (1 drink per element of tragedy)
    • +1 drink if the protagonist operates with zero parental/guardian supervision

  • Teenager has super powers but just wants to be noooormal and hates her specialness!
    • +1 drink if their powers have absolutely zero negative effects.
    • Empty Glass if they don’t just have powers but are the the Super Special Chosen One of Amazingly Awesome Power

  • Protagonist thinks she’s more hideous than quasimodo after being beaten for 8 years with the ugly stick
    • +1 drink if she is obviously conventionally attractive
    • +1 drink if love interest has to convince her how beautiful she is
    • Empty Glass if she has a swarm of admirers
    • Empty Bottle if she considers her conventional beauty markers to be ugly (“oh my terrible straight hair!” “curse my pale, luminous skin!” “woe, my hideously ginormous breasts!”)

  • Protagonist is all alone and isolated and complains about what an outsider they are and how alone they are
    • +1 drink if they actually do have friends
    • +1 drink if many people try to be their friend
    • Empty Glass if they have more than 5 friends
    • Refill Glass and Empty again if their behaviour should actively drive their friends away

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Shape Stealer (Black Swan Rising #3) by Lee Carroll, Carol Goodman

When we last we left Garet James, she had finally made it back to the present time to find that she had not returned to the present with her love the 400 year old Will Hughes, but a younger and human version of him. Will justified this decision by suggesting that he was giving Garet the best of himself by sending his younger version rather than himself, and thus dedicated the next 400 years to erasing his mistakes so that he wold be worthy of Garet's love.  Unfortunately for Garet, dealing with a man 400 years out of time is not her only issue. In the infamous John Dee as well as Marduk - an ancient
Babylonian deity have followed her back and have vowed to collapse the world's economy and bring and end to the world as they know it.  

Of all three of the books thus far, The Shape Stealer is by far the most convoluted and over written.  We know that Will fancies himself a poet; however, the amount of bad poetry gracing the pages The Shape Stealer, was absolutely painful.  It was enough to make wonder if the authors decided to use poems they were unable to otherwise publish. 

The dank and murk of these four walls appall,
No matter if a jail, or woe-soaked tomb:
Time’s dreadful to me as it  

slowly crawls,

Just like mites on
blackened walls. This 

Belongs to Satan' corpus;
we must flee

Or we'll be born again
as something foul,

And Garet, suffer Marduck. I 
can see

In mind's eye how that beast
without a soul

Craves vipering her blood to
make him whole.

a thing of such malevolence
that Dee,

Though sinister himself, will
shriek and flee

Yet now, if only Kepler might

And use his genius for poor
mankind's sake,

We might be saved.  and
Marduck take a Fall.

Did you find that painful?  Well, there's a lot more of that in the book.  I found myself just skipping ahead each time I came across a poem, thankful that the poems were in italics, thus warning me of the torture up ahead. If I had wanted to read a book of poetry, I would have bought a book of poetry.  Though poetry was used as a way for both Wills to declare their love of Garet, such an expression could surely have come in a less tedious form. 

Dark Angel Season 2, Episode 20: Love Among the Runes


We start in breeding cult central! Complete with a prison full of people the Cult has rejected (the implication is that they’re mentally ill) and all the reality based cult members dressing up and getting all excited by the meteor storms and they’re deadly venomous snake (which is so a constrictor and not venomous). Not only does the storm distract them enough that they don’t notice one of their prisoners escape, but he manages to steal their pet snake as well.

See, security here kind of fails.

White is also enjoying the meteor storm and doing the same chant when his assistant tells him he has a meeting – alas all the official paperwork and hoops one has to jump through when one isn’t a member of a covert kill squad any more.

In Terminal City Max has a whole range of contacts including transgenics who know the full mythological history of the modified caduceus symbol of the Breeding Cult. But Joshua will not hear that Sandeman may have been involved with the Breeding Cult since he still puts “Father” on a pedestal. They also receive a report of a transgenic on the run – Max heads out to help. She calls Alec whose at work at Jampony reminiscing with another employee – another new X5. They both head out.

All three of them get into sector 5 with their Jam Pony passes and surge through the police on their bikes, easily pulling out the transgenic and leaving White to have his little hissy fit in their wake. They get him to Terminal City and the safety of the crowd of transgenics.

At Jam Pony Normal continues his crusade against transgenics, ranting to Alec about the danger of the X series, while Alec nods and smiles and gets him to give more sector passes to more X5 workers and encourages him to have them ride motorcycles. As Max notes to Original Cindy, Normal’s calling to vigilance while Jampony is transgenic central.

Logan’s crashing in Joshua’s old home and contacting Terminal City for new supplies to set up Eyes Only again – Terminal City has a lot of excellent technology abandoned when the containment on the bioweapons failed. All is looking shiny until Max and Logan talk with all their underlying tension and sadness. Which she doesn’t talk with with Alec because she prefers to mope – and we find out that, hiding from the transgenics, the escaped inmate and his pet snake from the Breeding Cult are also hiding in Terminal City. Also I kind of love the rivalry between the transgenics adapted for arctic conditions and those adapted for desert conditions. And Max is finally forced to tell Alec that he told Logan they were a couple. Alec refuses to accept that – he’s not going to be her bad guy.

Not everything is going their way though, White’s team has found out something useful: X series body temperature is 3 degrees higher than normal people’s. Making them easy to pick out with high tech thermal imaging. His good mood is ruined when his priestess tells him that “he’s escaped”.  White’s worried because he “knows too much.”

Alec takes the hardware to Logan, refusing to avoid Logan because of Max’s lie; and Logan is wearing his exoskeleton again even though he doesn’t need it to walk with Joshua’s blood transfusion, because it vastly enhances his lower body strength. Alec tries to explain the Max thing to Logan several times but he doesn’t give Alec chance in between giving him lots of noble speeches about letting her go and be with someone like herself.

At Crash Max accepts some Original Cindy therapy before being joined by Alec who tells her he didn’t break her secret and how noble Logan was. And then they notice new markings on Max’s wrist, like a tattoo. Only max hasn’t got a new tattoo.

This is Your Life: Original Cindy

Cynthia McEachin (Original Cindy)

What is she?: Human

Biography: Original Cindy is a woman trying to survive in a dystopian world working as a bike messenger for Jampony. She has little money, no family but some firm friends - particularly Max. After Logan, she’s the first person in Max’s circle to learn she’s a transgenic - and of course she has Max’s back

What We love about her: While in many ways Cindy is a stereotype, she’s also someone who embraces her life and her identity on her own terms in her own way. She’s a Black Lesbian and while she does have strong elements of the Sassy Black friend about her, she also has a fully fleshed background that explains who and why she is: the personality she has built, the person she wants to be, the person she chose to be and why. She is powerfully resistant to repression, will not be intimidated and, in the beginning, had her own agendas and her own life. Even surrounded by super-powered beings, Cindy still has value and purpose and she’s not only a powerfully good friend to Max, but it’s also clear Max cares for her as well which is missing so much in speculative fiction. Cindy is even used to address some issues in the understated way Dark Angel managed - class, code switching, even Black hair.

What we hate about her: Well there is an element of sassy Black Gay Friend about her, even with a strong personality under it. More sadly is that the one love interest she was allowed was killed off in the same episode - despite often talking about almost dates, they’re never developed and she remained single. But the worst thing to happen to Original Cindy was season 2. From fully actualised character to token sidekick in 2 seconds flat. She’s missing many episodes, has bit parts otherwise and is generally there to say “there there Max, there there” when she’s angsting about her relationship with Logan. She becomes a non-character and they resort to having Normal make disparaging remarks about her being part of “sapho’s sisterhood” to remind us she’s a Lesbian.

Television Series: Dark Angel

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bloodspell by Amalie Howard

I can’t. It’s no use, I just can’t finish this book. The characters, their contrived, useless conflicts, the intriguing world that is hopelessly undeveloped and, above all, the immense cliché abuse just defeat me, Not only can I not finish this book but, since I was tempted to DNF it after a mere 10%, going any further would be unfair to the other DNF books that I finally gave up on.

Now, saying you’re tempted to give up by 10% is pretty extreme – but this book begins with so many of the classic clichés, tropes and general fails that I was cringing.

Firstly, we have a prologue paragraph telling us there’s a law that forbids vampires and witches from consorting.

Right, folks, who can tell me what the plot is about? If you answered “it’s about a vampire and a witch falling in love” have a cookie. I have no idea why we have this new habit of giving away the plot in the opening prelude, especially when you have damn little plot, but it has to end.

Then we have a girl, bullied at school with dead parents (mark off two more points on your checklist). She has super special powers she just doesn’t want because she wants to be normal, wooooe! Yes, it’s another teenager with super powers who just wants to be like everyone else – like every teenager never. Mark another cliché off the checklist. Oh and she has a book that may guide her about her specialness but she just can’t bring herself to read it because it’s just too awful

She goes to a new school and meets a vampire (no he’s not labelled as such but after the opening prelude why even pretend this is supposed to be a secret). And ZOMG he’s hot and awesome and hot and sexy and hot and has an amazing voice and he’s hot – this goes on for a few paragraphs.

Then we switch to his POV  - actually, brief interlude for a side rant: the book keeps doing this. There’s no chapter break or anything else, we’re suddenly in Christian’s head rather than Victoria’s – suddenly her thoughts are a mystery and his are an open book. Then we whiplash back again – no rhyme or reason, no necessity, just constantly switching back and forth clumsily to allow more exposition

Defiance Interview

Grant Bowler sits down with the Executive Producer to discuss episode 1

Defiance, Season 1, Episode 1 & 2: Pilot

A brand new series, it starts with a voice over describing a dream. A dream that explains what happened – the Votans approach Earth on the Arcs, several large space ships.

33 years later, the Earth is surrounded by wreckage from these Arcs and Earth is now terraformed. This was the world the narrator was born into: After the vessels were destroyed and after the Arcfalls began - we see a large chunk of floating debris descend to Earth. After the terrafromers changed the planet –we see the terrain of Earth is radically different and has alien flora.

As a child the narrator’s father, Nolan says the world has no natives, so it belongs to everyone – and Antarctica will be a paradise; though she’s wary of his claim, too cynical to believe it. We finally see our narrator sat next to Nolan (a human) in a jeep, she’s an alien, one of the Votans, an Irathient and she’s writing her diary in an alien language.

And like many children through since the dawn of time, she’ giving Nolan the silent treatment. It seems he got involved with a married Votan – though he protests he didn’t know. They’re heading to a projected Arcfall, guaranteed payday– and they see the falling rubble pass overhead. He also penetrates her sulk with an impromptu karaoke duet session.

Note to parents everywhere: This is a bad bad bad bad idea and will earn you literally decades of teenaged scorn.

At the wreckage of the Arcfall, they start looking for salvage in the vast corridors and halls of the fallen space ship. Irisa, the Irathient, has a moment of sadness seeing the bodies of Votans who never made it to Earth. Moving in they find some intact Votan tech that they activate – the Earth Republic pays a lot of money for Votan tech. And this pristine sample is going to make them extremely rich – rich enough to pay off Nolan’s debt and move to Antarctica (apparently terraformed into something pleasant).

But as they leave they hear engines – Spirit Riders. And Nolan turns to find several of them – including one holding Irisa captive. They’re all Irathient, like Irisa. They mock Irisa and question her for following a human around. Outside the Spirit Riders are ransacking their Roller and the boss demands Nolan empty his pack. Nolan reaches to empty it – and Irisa stabs the man holding her and throws Nolan a gun – he uses it to shoot a flare, creating a big distraction.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Helix Sneak Peak

Coming soon on Syfy, is the new show Helix. We're intrigued, yes yes we are.

Lost Girl, Season Three, Episode 13: Those Who Wander

Dyson is still trapped and he is calling for Aife, saying that there must be a way out of there and Aife tells Dyson that death is coming for him.

Tamsin is passed out on Bo's couch after escaping the compound in the last episode. Bo has asked Amanda and Kasey the kitsune's to help her.  They pull out Tamsin's hair and tell Bo  that Tamsin is at the end of her life cycle.  This shocks Bo and she says that there must be something to can do about it. The Kitsunes tell Bo that death has got to be as sweet way out, considering who Tamsin has gotten involved with. Bo then gets on the phone and calls Kenzi, who says she is keeping it real in the sewers. Bo tells Kenzi that she found Dyson but has not saved him yet. 

When Tamsin wakes, she finds the Kitsune staring at her and says that she didn't know she was going to wake up in slut heaven.  When they tell Tamsin that she doesn't even look like she is dying, Tamsin asks what Bo was told. Bo chases the Kitsune out and asks Tamsin if she is still willing to get Dyson out of the compound. Tamsin says that there was a time when she could lay waste to an entire army but if she goes full Valkyrie she will pass out. Bo tells Tamsin that she is sorry but Tamsin says that she needs to power up with the druid Massimo.

Kenzi is still at the Dahl with the Morrigan and she tells The Morrigan that she is not that afraid of death but is open to other alternatives.  The Morrigan says that she is not interested in Kenzi but in Trick.

Back at the compound Aife asks if her daughter is okay and then starts singing nursery rhymes. Clearly, Aife's  mind is damaged from the confinement and whatever experiments that Issac decided to run on her.  Aife  admits that she never told Issac who was the strongest fae is and that she told him Dyson rather than Bo. Apparently, Aife  did this out of love for Bo.

Lauren is helping Sheneifa, the wife of the bartender who died.  When Lauren promises that she will survive, Issac interrupts and says it's not nice to make promises you can't keep. Issac then tells Lauren not to get attached to the lab rats.  Issac opens the door and says that he put her in there for her own good but now has so much to do. Laruen demands surgical tools and antiseptic to save Sheneifa before he will agree to help.

Tamsin goes to see Massimo and Bo grabs the potion saying that she will hold it until they need Tamsin at her strongest. When Bo walks off to call Trick, Massimo points out that Tamsin is trembling and asks if she has lost her touch.  Before he walks away, he hands Tamsin something and tells her to measure it three times and cut it once.

Lauren demands that Issac let everyone go and he tells her that the fae took his little brother.  Issac was blamed for the death of his brother and then shipped off to an asylum.  This made Issac determined to figure it out and he realised it was a Wendigo. Issac later found a Wendigo and killed it, though he was not sure if that was the one who killed William. This lead him to the discovery of the fae.  Lauren promises that the fae will find him and take more than his head.  Issac tells Lauren to go, but reminds her that she has gone AWOL and if she fleas, Lauren leaves her only protection. This surprises Lauren and she wants to know how long he knew that she worked for the fae. Issac says that he brought her there so she could implant the stem cells from strongest fae he could find.  Lauren then realises that Issac wants to become fae.

Tamsin and Bo head back to the compound and Tamsin complains that it's going to hurt.They are quickly surrounded and Bo tells Tamsin not to hold back.  The guards grab them and escort them inside saying that they are just like the others.

The Morrigan tells Kenzi that she is quite the comedian. Kenzi replies that the fae elders might have bought her routine but she does not. The Morrigan says that Trick is already dead, Dyson is probably a shag carpet and Bo is missing. Kenzi brings up Hale but The Morrigan says that Hale is gone and pissed his leather pants.  The Morrigan says she has specific questions about the sucusluts heritage and grabs a taser.  Kenzi tells her to torture away cause she is not telling her anything. Before The Morrigan can zap her, the taswer shorts out and Morrigan wonders if the sanctuary is warded.  The Morrigan then decides that she what she needs and orders Kenzi killed.

Bo and Tamsin are taken to see Issac and he calls them the latest edition to his collection.  Lauren enters the room and says that Bo came for Dyson and that she knew Bo would. Bo asks what this is and Lauren replies that the fae have ruined her life, cursed her girlfriend, and held her prisoner.  Lauren says that this is a chance for her to do something meaningful to save her kind.   Lauren then tells Bo that Lauren is not even her real name but Bo says that she loves her regardless. Lauren agrees to do the surgery, as long as Issac lets Bo go. Issac asks about Lauren's change of heart and she replies that at the compound she has a chance to transform humanity and to take out the one man who has stood in her way - Dyson. Lauren  adds that she cannot save them both, just like Bo couldn't love them both.  Bo is then escorted out of the rom.

Issac goes into a room where Dyson is strapped down.  Issac tells Dyson that he is the strongest, and fastest creature that he has ever found. Issac adds that the cannot wait to feel what Dyson feels and says that he will see him on the other side, before walking out of the room. Lauren is washing up and Issac goes to see her and says that he likes the wolf and it would be nice if he survived. Lauren replies, "I wouldn't bet on it."

Kitty Rocks the House (Kitty Norville # 11) by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty is settled in Denver for the first time in a long time, and there’s a lot of things she has to address. Not least of which is a challenge for leadership of her pack which she has been neglecting with her various battles against Roman. She has to re-build those bonds to see off the challenger.

And then a vampire in town comes looking for Rick – and they sequester themselves behind magical shields, leaving Kitty to soldier on managing Denver, her family, her pack and the fight against Roman alone.

I’m tempted to say this book is a filler – and in many ways it is. There’s little advancement of the meta plot despite a revelation at the end. There’s little coherent central plot to be advanced. There’s a series of random stuff happening, a lot of it isn’t resolved. We see Kitty with her family, we see a couple of her radio shows that aren’t really linked to anything, including a long, vaguely interesting debate between 2 academics and an equally long ramble about a crystal skull.

It doesn’t really go anywhere, it doesn’t really develop anything, it doesn’t bring much in the way of new information, it doesn’t advance Kitty’s life at all. Really, we finish this book no further along than when we started it.

On that score I’d slap 2 fangs on this book, file it under “meh” and move on.

And I’m still tempted to do that – it wasn’t fascinating or immense fun. It was fun and vaguely amusing, but certainly not more than that.

But, when looked at in the context of the entire series, it makes a bit more sense. Kitty has been letting things slide in the last few books. Not her battle against Roman, but her more at home issues. Her pack, her family, the city of Denver – she hasn’t been around, In fact, in the last 2 books (putting aside the short stories) she hasn’t even been in the city – she’s been in London and San Francisco. She has let things slide and she’s supposed to be an alpha werewolf, she’s supposed to have a job and she’s supposed to have a family including a mother who is just recovering from cancer and a sister stressed out about the whole thing.

Game of Thrones, Season 3, Episode 3: Walk of Punishment

 Riverrun: Robb, Catelyn, the Tullies; abandon all intelligence all ye who enter here
It’s Hoster Tully’s funeral , somewhat ruined by the archer who is supposed to shoot the burning arrow at the body being not all that good at archery and Robb having an inappropriate giggle fit. I’m like that at funerals, I’ll be all sombre and then I catch a glance of Aunt Mabel’s hat and I’m gone. Anyway, an archer who actually checks the wind fires the arrow and the job is done before the body goes out of range down the river.

Time for a council where Brynden Tully (the Blackfish, Cat’s uncle, the dead Hoster’s brother) snarks with Edmure Tully (Cat’s brother, Hoster’s son, the new Lord Tulley. Sometimes the guide is really helpful on this show). And it seems that Edmure, in a quest for glory, ignored the battle plans and went charging after the Lannister forces lead by Clegane rather than drawing them into a trap. Oopsie. Now Clegane escaped, Robb isn’t happy either. And the hostages Edmure boasts about are completely inconsequential. And yes, he caused more casualties than he took – but the Lannisters have more.

Cat has a moment with her uncle, Brynden, about dead Hoster. She remembers waiting at the window for her father to return from war or visiting the capital, and breaks down as she thinks of Bran and Rickon waiting for her – and she’ll never see them again. Brynden urges her to stay strong for Robb.

In the dungeon, Talissa is treating the injuries of the Lannister hostages – they’re boys who believe all kinds of wild stories about Robb Stark and how he turns into a wolf. Talissa both reassures them and encourages the stories.

Kings Landing: The Lannisters, their toadies et al
It’s a meeting of the King’s small council – but Tyrion and Cersei have both been relegated to the end of the table away from the Hand. They’re not having that – they move their chairs. Tyrion snarks – but Tywin wants to know about Jaime – and they know nothing. Some spy masters they are

Varys fills in Tywin about Hoster’s funeral and makes a snide remark about Bolton holding Harrenhal (Baelish is technically lord of Harrenhal). Tywin’s more interested in the title rather than the castle (well, ruin) since Baelish having the title means he is of sufficient social standing to court Lysa Arren (Cat’s sister, the Widow to the Lord of the Vale, one of the 7 Kingdoms). Tyrion speaks up that, with the war, winter attending and the upcoming royal wedding, Kings Landing needs someone to manage the finances – which is Baelish’s job. Tywin agrees – and appoints Tyrion as the new Master of Coin. Tyrion doesn’t relish the role – a lifetime of “outrageous wealth” hasn’t taught him how to save money. The council – especially Pycelle and Cersei (his enemies) approve of the position.

I think giving Tyrion any position and power, no matter how much of a burden, means he’s sure to use it against you with great skill.

Tyrion goes, with Pod his squire, to collect the royal legers where they are kept in one of Baelish’s brothels. Some fencing follows between Baelish and Tyrion, with Baelish wondering why Cersei thought Tyrion and Roz were close (because Cersei heard Tyrion was in love with a prostitute and didn’t realise it was Shae). Baelish further advises him that the accounts are just numbers on a page – easily managed.

They leave through the brothel, past many bare breasts (hence the reason we’re in a brothel, of course. An episode without naked breasts last week was too much for the writers to endure). And Tyrion has arranged a reward for Pod for saving his life – 3 prostitutes. Of course.

Looking over the legers, Tyrion comments that Baelish was known for always being able to find gold for the crown – turns out he’s been doing that by borrowing 3,000,000 from Tywin Lannister. Bronn assumes Tywin will forgive the debt with Joffrey on the throne and Tyrion is amused by his naivety.  Bronn wonders what happens if they don’t pay the debt and Tyrion isn’t worried about Tywin’s consequences – but the 10s of millions they owe the Iron Bank of Braavos, who will fund their enemies if they don’t pay them back. Apparently they always get their gold back.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fangs for the Fantasy Episode 118

This week we discuss the premier of Da Vinci's Demons as well as Orphan Black, Game of Thrones and the season finale of Lost Girl and Being Human (US).

Our book of the week is The Queen is Dead by Kate Locke

Our next books of the week are:
15th April - 22nd April: The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines
22nd April - 29th April: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
29th April - 6th May: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
6th May - 13th May: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris 13th May  20th May: Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks

The Queen is Dead (Immortal Empire #2) by Kate Locke

Xandra has had a lot of changes in her life – from half-blooded Royal guard to goblin queen. Despite being monarch, she seems to have lost a lot; her family no longer trusts her, she’s lost her job, she’s lost her home, she’s earned the enmity of Queen Victoria herself, she’s become a tabloid sensation – and universally feared. And she still doesn’t know what she wants to be or become – she’s not ready to make those decisions.

But she doesn’t have much time to delay, not with her brother going missing, possibly falling victim to the same conspiracy that her mentor was part of; experimenting on unusual half bloods to see if they can be used to increase aristo numbers and tip the balance of power. With her own unprecedented goblinhood and her sister giving birth to a full blooded vampire, her family are prime targets for experimentation.

And, of course, Victoria is breathing down her neck, with the police following Xandra trying to find out what happened to her mentor. Being harassed by the police and demonised by the press doesn’t  make investigating any easier

This series has one of the most original world settings we’ve come across in Urban Fantasy. The idea of a modern Steampunk – a 21st century world, with the immortal vampire Queen Victoria ruling over it – creates a really fascinating world when it comes to tone theme and aesthetics. We have many of the elements of the modern world and a similar level of technology, but all with a Victorian twist as the elites of the society are still from that era. So we have minidresses – with corsets. The technology is subtly different, there are mores of etiquette in high society that still have to be upheld. Yet all of this is done without a lot of info dumping, this different feel is given with a few descriptions of clothes, the way people talk and different words for things like motorbikes and mobile phones that make it clear what they are while still having a strong hint of a more steampunk aesthetic.

There’s a lot of research that has gone into this book making sure that the places visited are very close to actual London with the necessary changes for the setting. I particularly like references to obscure things like the church of St. Andrew by the Wardrobe.There is also a generally good maintenance of tone, keeping the Britishisms intact and the new vocabulary from the setting. Occasionally it does go over the top though – like the details of the geography are very accurate but also long winded and not strictly needed. Or a generally well done Xandra will spout long string of slang and profanity that is just a little excessive and fake – like her Britishness is really trying to be rammed home. I don’t know how noticeable it would be to someone who isn’t English, however.

Fangs for the Fantasy Book of the Week.

Every week on the Fangs for the Fantasy podcast (archives here) we read a book and discuss it on the show. The review for the book of the week always goes up on a Monday

Our podcast now broadcasts at 6:30pm EST, which is 11:30pm GMT

To give people a chance to read along with us, every Monday we’re also going to include a list of our planned books of the week for the next few shows, so people can get the books, read them and join in the conversation.
8th April - 15th April: The Queen is Dead by Kate Locke
15th April - 22nd April: The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines
22nd April - 29th April: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
29th April - 6th May: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
6th May - 13th May: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
13th May  20th May: Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks

Orphan Black, Season One, Episode Three: Variation Under Nature

When we last left Sarah, she was meeting Cosima for the first time, having been introduced by Allison.  Cosima affirms that Beth was losing it clinically when Sarah gets upset about Beth's death.  Sarah wants answers and Allison eventually tell Sarah that they are clones and that someone is killing them off. Felix is still sitting in the car, when someone knocks on the door and tells him that he is not supposed to be sitting there at night.  Frustrated, Felix makes his way into Allison's house and she holds a gun on him wanting to know why he is there.  Sarah intervenes and vouches for Felix and when Allison lowers her weapon, Sarah slaps her across the face and says that if Allison goes anywhere near Felix again that she will kick the shit out her.  Allison takes off running and Sarah tells Felix that she needs to get her things, as Cosima comes out and informs Sarah that she broke the first rule of clone club.  Cosima hands Sarah back her things and tells Sarah that this is life and death and that she wants the briefcase, in exchange for answers.

Back at Felix's, he says that the last time he checked, human cloning was illegal and impossible.  Sarah says that it does not matter but Felix points out the number of clones who have died. He tells Sarah that she just cannot ignore it but Sarah is determined to stick to her original plan - get the money and leave town.

Sarah heads to the police station to see Art and she tells him that things are bad with Paul.  Art again asserts that she gets the cash when she is back on active duty.  They are called into Lieutenant Gavin Hardcastle's office where believing Sarah is Beth, she is reinstated.  Sarah grabs the badge and the gun, as she and Art leave the office. Sarah pauses to put on her holster in the bathroom, and then puts the ammunition in her back pocket, rather than loading the gun.  When Art and Sarah arrive at the scene, it's same at the same place where Sarah buried the German. Because Katja was buried near a quarry, the body has been ripped apart, so Sarah is told that reconstructing the face is going to be tough.  Sarah then calls Cosima to tell her that Art found parts of the German. Sarah is concerned that if the prints match hers that the cops will find a body that looks like hers with a criminal record and this will clash with the fact that she is already supposed to be dead.  Cosima advises her not to bolt and says that the cops cannot run prints that quickly.  When Sarah asks how much time, Cosima tells her to give her the briefcase.

Sarah heads back to Art and again asks for the money, so Art informs Sarah that he does not walk around with that kind of cash.  He then asks to see her gun, and discovers that Sarah did not bother to load her weapon. Art is not impressed and points out that an empty gun is not regulation, nor will it keep him safe.  Sarah tries to blow it off saying that they were headed to a homicide case.  Art tells her to get up to speed at her desk and then says that he will work this with someone else.  As Art walks away, Sarah again asks about the money but Art threatens to put it in the shredder if she asks again and then walks away.

Cosima and Sarah meet at a bar, where Cosima asks for the briefcase but Sarah says that she wants some information first. Sarah asks if she should be worried that the German was sick and Cosima tells her to hand over the case and she can have the answer in a couple of weeks. Cosima tells Sarah that Beth used facial recognition to identify the clones in North America but they don't know who the original is, who created them, or who is killing them. Cosima says that they really need a cop to find out who is killing them but Sarah is concerned that Art will figure out that she is not a cop.  Cosima replies that she gets it, but they are her biological imperative now. Cosima says that Katja's fingerprints will match her fingerprints and informs Sarah that she needs to do something about that.

Sarah goes to see Art, who tells her that he booked her practice time on the gun range. When Sarah asks about the prints, Art tells her to call for information and clear the pile on her desk.  Art then gets a call and the person says that "jane doe" (read Katja) is just one of a few not fit for family. Art leaves to do more investigation and Sarah sits at her desk.  Beth's computer is password protected and so she approaches Raj to reset the password and the procedure for checking fingerprints.  Sarah then heads down to the lab, where she deletes the fingerprints before anyone can link her with Katja.