Friday, June 28, 2013

Bite Club (Morganville Vampires #10) by Rachel Caine

The unstable state of Morganville has spawned a considerable number of plots in the aftermath of the last few battles; some of them far reaching and sinister and some as simple as grab to make money. The instability leaves Claire and her friends with a lot of difficult choices. When an acquaintance is involved in dubious activities, do you report them and risk the vampire authority’s disproportionate response? Do you ignore him and hope that he isn’t doing something that could jeopardise the whole system – or provoke and even greater backlash? Or do you get involved and risk being pulled in yourself?

And then Shane is pulled into such a scheme himself - a strange fighting tournament – a chance for him to express his skills and talents, a chance for him to hone them. But it’s also a chance for the deeply repressed sides of him to come to the fore, his deep seated hatred of vampires that he tries to keep buried is encouraged to flourish in the ring – but how much is it changing him? And what are the ultimate goals of his manipulators?

As if it weren’t thorny enough, Bishop, Amelie’s creator, the ancient and lethal vampire has broken free again – and any of the plots could be his doing to reclaim ascendency.

This book did several things right that previous books had annoyed me about. Firstly, Claire was involved in the plot from early on and throughout the book; in the past I’ve been annoyed by the fact that the protagonist seemed almost ancillary to the proceedings, almost a spectator. Secondly, Claire and her crew handled things alone – but they did so for good reason, they weren’t just charging off like a loose cannon because they wanted to or for random reason. They were involved and they had to try and handle this as alone as they could because they understand the ruthless, scorched earth policy the vampires habitually employ and know Shane will get caught up in it. I also like that, when it did come down to it, Claire did seek help, did realise things were beyond her and did stand up for what she wanted and needed without coming off as a petulant child or someone poking the bear (which she has managed extremely well in the past). She both sought the help she needed, worked with the powers that be and wrung out the concessions she deserved in a sensible and reasonable fashion

In fact, all through this book, Claire’s actions have been relatively sensible and realistic. Certainly not always correct – but always believable and always real – and I can believe she is as smart as she’s supposed to be.

I’m not entirely sold on Shane’s POV – to the best of my memory it’s the first time we’ve stepped outside of Claire’s head. It came with a lot of info-dumping and the same style of long winded monologues that so dominate people’s mental processes in this series. Yet I think it was essential to truly explain this book, what was happening to Shane and how he has grown as a character. From the outside this wouldn’t have worked, Shane would have looked nonsensical and Claire would have looked like a doormat. Or the juice he was drinking would have looked like some kind of mind control elixir. Only in his head can we see the effect of his upbringing, his helplessness, what he has suffered, the abuse of his father, his ongoing fear and hatred of vampires and how the juice affected all of them. Together it made Shane a much more complex character – and a character we could still, on some level, identify with even as he goes off the rails

This book did have scenes that could be seen as superfluous – and, again, that has been a problem with the book series in the past. But in this case I think they genuinely did serve a purpose – like the fencing scene showing off more of the factional differences in Morganville and the differences between Oliver and Amelie even while they both make common cause despite their differences. I think it was, perhaps, a slow and drawn out way to make those points, but the scenes did have a point and did develop the complexities that rules this town. I really like the sense of how dangerously balanced the town is – with the different philosophies of ruling and the battle between human independence and vampire predatory instinct all overlaid with a sense of not provoking any one of several factions (human hunters, Amelie, Oliver, the old Bishop loyalists, human authorities) too far without the whole thing collapsing.

I can’t say I’m the greatest fan still. The writing style is too enamoured of its very long winded internal monologues. Nearly everything that happens has to be agonised over by Claire over and over again at great length that I do tend to find boring. I still think Monica and her cronies are almost cartoonish in their ridiculous extremity and, at this stage in the series, I’m not sure they even come close to adding anything to the overall plot.

There are also elements of the world building that I don’t think I can fit into the canon sensibly. I can’t imagine, in a place as control dominated as Morganville, that a building as big and public as the gym would be built without any kind of CCTV. I have trouble believing that the psychic Miranda would be wandering around quite randomly on her own – and known as a psychic by a fair few people – without Amelie or Oliver or Myrnin checking it out, verifying its truth and then seizing her as a valuable asset. I’m not entirely sure why Amelia and Oliver, knowing what was going on, would wait as long as they did to act. Nor am I entirely sure what the point of her was.

Dead Like Me, Season 1, Episode 6: My Room

George’s sister, Reggie, is still being kind of creepy with her taxidermy raven and George and Rube are still moping in the Waffle House over Betty. Until Mason arrives anyway, I don’t think Mason is that capable of moping. And it seems that George isn’t talking to Rube, Rube’s not a 100% sure why but is guessing that she’s blaming him for what happened to Betty. While George practices her passive aggressive funk, Mason desperately tries to flirt with an uninterested woman behind them who is not only uninterested but far far too busy being picky and difficult with the waitress.

Mason’s pathetic and very creepy flirting attempts don’t impress George either, but it turns out that the blonde woman is Daisy – the new Reaper to replace Betty. And Daisy’s first act is to decide she’s going to call George by her full name, Georgia, because she finds it prettier. George declares instant loathing. I kind of agree with George. That hatred backs down a little when Daisy pours her drink down Mason when he continues to creepy flirt with her. Again, I find myself agreeing with George.

At the Lass household, the tension is thick in the air as Joy, in her bath, tries to get her husband Clancy to open up, pay attention to her or express some interest. That failing she turns to Reggie, who has missed school again because she is still have problems over George’s death. Joy again tries to raise the idea of therapy – something he nixed before – but he’s keeping his head in the sand and wants to just talk to her, see how she’s going. To which Joy, with perfect accuracy, points out “we” means her, since Clancy is never there. Healthy relationship it is not.

George, meanwhile, is adapting to living alone and really loving the quiet that comes with it. And she should know better than to say things like that – because Daisy knocks at the door. Guess who has a new room-mate! But she brought potpourri. Yay – y’know you could probably have summed up that entire character with “she brought potpourri” and you’d know there’d be absolutely no hope of you ever liking her.

Let’s seal that – Mason brings up her luggage being a creepy fool who thinks creeping around after an uninterested woman will make her pay attention and, I kid you not, a homeless man called Raol she picked up off the street for booze to carry her bags. I know they’re trying to make us hate Daisy – but really? Why not just have her kick some puppies and have done with any pretence at subtly

We get some of her backstory – she was an actress in Gone with the Wind and she regales George and Mason with a wonderful; tale about how she thought she was giving oral sex to Clark Gable under the table but it turns out she got the wrong guy. I think this is supposed to add to our hatred of her because sexual woman = evil.

Confirming that, the next day Daisy, who doesn’t work, monopolises the bathroom when Georgia, who does, is waiting to get ready for said job. Is Daisy going to be a regular character, because at this point she’s pretty irredeemable.

At the Lass house. Joy tries to talk to Reggie about skipping school, running into Reggie’s lies and tripping up trying to find a nice way to talk about it. Poor Joy. When Reggie refuses a lift to school, Joy follows her to see where she’s going – and is lead to her tree. The tree Reggie has decorated with many many toilet seats. Poor Joy.

At work, George finds more things to annoy her – a broken photocopier and Delores. Delores seems to exist to be annoying and is currently battling a work drama about Jimmy being transferred, George looks as confused and indifferent as I am; Jimmy’s leaving is apparently going to cause problems for the Happy Time bowling team. George continues to have a bemused look on her face. Of course, with someone missing on the team, Delores instantly hones in on a replacement – her favourite Millie (George). At this point if I were George I’d find the nearest window and jump out of it – sure if it’s an upper floor it’ll hurt but it’ll be less painful in the long run. At least her rehab lie is biting her in the arse; I heartily approve.

Our Wish List for E-Books

I was once an anti-ebook person. Yes, I declaimed long screeds about why paper is superior, about the joy of having something tangible, how an ebook can never have the same feel and reality as a paper book. I lamented the decline of paper, I dismissed ereaders as a silly fad of the technologically addicted. I was smug! So very very smug!

And now I’m eating my words of course (hmmm tastes, like Humble Pie). However, despite being a rigorous and passionate convert to the glories of the ebook, there are still some severe problems with epublishing as it stands now that gives me all kinds of grey hairs. So here is my wish list of stuff that would make ebooks even more infinitely superior to paper!

One format

I want to be able to use one tool to read all my books. I want to turn on my tablet, open my reading app and have my whole library laid out before me. Sounds simple? Unfortunately we’re nowhere near that yet. I pick up my tablet now and I’m looking at five different book reading apps


Sometimes it can take me 10 minutes just trying to find where exactly the book IS. This is vexing. very very vexing indeed. I would love just to have one program that lets me read all of my books, regardless of where I bought them or who sent them to me. Alas, no, I get to have a treasure hunt every new book.

Some apps only read certain formats (Aldiko, why do you hate mobi? Did it run over your cat? It’s not like it’s an obscure format), others are lacking most of the features I prefer (Moonreader, that’s a damn thin selection considering you’re a bought app. And why list the page numbers in the chapter but not the book? Seriously who cares how many pages are in a chapter?). And, of course, other retailers insist you use their app and get all awkward if you try to take their books elsewhere - meaning I actually have apps on my reader used entirely for books from one retailer. As a consequences, I try to buy books from these places as little as possible meaning I have the odd one or two books in tiny side apps that I can never ever find. It’s like trying to find a story in a library where the librarians have come up with an interesting new system that sorts books by the colour of their cover.

I’ve bought the book, or I’ve been given a book. I want to read it. Is it so much to ask?

Able to Use Different Devices

But while I want one app on my tablet to read my books - I also don’t want to be stuck with only my tablet. I may be different from most people, partly because I’m a reviewer, partly because I’m me (and therefore very very different indeed), but I don’t use one device to read books.

When writing up a review, having the book on my desktop computer is damn useful - I can copy and paste quotes, I can have the right sections and my notes right in front of me. I can even copy snarky bits of snarkiness directly from where I’ve written them when the line annoyed/amused me. It’s perfect

Most of the time I read on my tablet. Because it’s permanently attached to my hand and removing it will kill me. Yes yes it will. I love my tablet, everything I need in one shiny place - I definitely need my books there

Except when reading in direct sunlight (yes, the silly advert’s right, screen reflection is a pain on a tablet) or, because I have a bigger tablet, sometimes I need something smaller and more compact. So I have my kindle - as a bonus the kindle also has like 8 million years of battery life so, should the worst happen, and my using my tablet for 18 hours solid finally drains all the juice (yes, it happens, I regret nothing) I can still reach for the kindle and not be cut off from my library. Or from my notes - again, from a reviewing standpoint, having notes, highlights et al transfer between is really useful.

And for some of my books, that applies (the All Consuming Amazon). For most, it doesn’t. At least, not without me playing silly beggars with clouds, networks and generally making things far more complicated than my neanderthal grasp of technology can manage. We have technology! I want to be able to pick up any device and instantly go to the last page read, all of my snark intact!

Why make it difficult? This ease of access and transferability is why I am such a convert to ebooks and hardly ever touch paper any more; but when my tablet’s on charge and my library’s out of reach, I find myself looking at my dusty bookshelves with regret.


In allcaps for sheer rage. I hate PDF with a fiery passion. Not only do I hate PDF, but nearly every e-reading app out there hates PDF. It never fits the page, it never scrolls correctly, highlights and notes are normally slow or otherwise difficult; it’s a pain, it’s a nightmare - it’s certainly not a book.

I have a reached a point where I will send back ARCs sent to me in PDF; I am tired of fighting and struggling to read these damn things. The choice between tiny text or not seeing a full page, having to scroll around and odd freezes and not being able to record notes has done me in. Your book is not - cannot - be good enough to justify me putting up with this.

The only thing worse than PDF is PDF with DRM. Adobe editions or whatever the hell it calls it (I know someone’s going to rush in to tell me Aldiko can read this. It’s not true. It’s a lie, a dirty rotten lie told by marauding liars and monsters who kill kittens). You have more chance of reading ancient Etruscan than you have of reading a PDF protected by Adobe’s DRM. Alan Turing and his entire team of cryptologists couldn’t crack this thing. It should be a new event on the Krypton Factor - can you read DRM PDF! Except no-one would succeed.

After receiving one of these and fighting with the damn thing for 4 solid hours I had to send the book back unread; I resisted the urge to start screaming battle cries in the name of Thor and break things - just. Only just.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Magic Gift (Kate Daniels #5.4) By Ilona Andrews

Curran and Kate just want to have a date – especially since Kate has just had a difficult day hunting slimy flying octopus things. A simple date at a simple restaurant

But in post-magic shift Atlanta, nothing is simple. First someone dies over dinner, then there’s rampaging vampires – then there’s a child with a deadly cursed artefact around his neck. And only a limited time to find a way to remove it before it kills him as well

Such knowledge isn’t easily found – and Curran and Kate embark on a rapid race involving dwarfs, Vikings and draugr to save the kid’s life.

When I got this book, I expected it to be a short story. And in some ways it was – except for the length

At which point you all roll your eyes and assume that Sparky has been drinking early today – but no, hear me out

To me, in a long series like this one, a short story is one that doesn’t advance the metaplot a great deal. It provides a more day-in-the-live look at the lives of the main characters. It expands the world a little, but more likely reinforces it and it provides a book that new comers to the series could technically pick up and enjoy.

By most of those accounts, this book fits. It focuses on Kate and Curran, but is less about various big epic battles they fight. You could probably skip this book and not miss anything of their story (though the side characters may become rather confusing).  This is showing Kate and Curran getting on with – well, I hesitate to say their daily lives because it’s probably a bit more adventurous than that – but then, with the chaotic world that Atlanta has become it might very well be! We get to see them working together, not focusing on their relationship or developing their relationship – but just living their relationship with each other. It shows what they have to deal with - the Pack, the Mercenaries Guild and we get a better sense of their place in the world as well, what they mean to the city and why they matter.

I think we’d had a sense of this, obviously, throughout the books – but the story is so complex and the world is so completely unique that this is an excellent book just to reinforce all the things you kind of knew or assumed or expected, without the grand epic mega story to focus on. It also gets to plant some interesting plot hooks for future books – like Kate taking an active role in the Mercenary guild while also showing off her expertise and why she is an asset beyond just her magic and her power. I think that is one of the things I love most about this book is that it emphasises her extensive knowledge, her investigative skills and her wide range of experience and good strong common sense to make her far more than just Kate with the shiny sword and really really shiny magic.

Though she knows several power words – including ones for kill and, as I recall, control – so why she continually uses “kneel” I don’t know.

So, in all we’re left with a story that is fun and exciting. There’s danger, but it’s not world shattering. There’s urgency because the life of a child hangs in the balance so there’s definite cost – but it’s a private, small tragedy. It will be tragic and sad if they fail, not “ALL OF ATLANTA WILL BE DESTROYED!!!” as is more common through the series. It made the book even more fun than the series is usually (and it’s always fun), but less epic. Exciting, but not world shattering. Which is great – and just what we needed to reinforce this world, remind us all about the magic and tech waves and really underline them all – without having the desperate rush to save everything from certain doom.

Under the Dome, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

A nicely ominous thematic start – an egg hatching, a menacing bird, twilight, ominous music and a man digging a pit. A grave, actually, in which he dumps a hastily wrapped blood stained body of a man.

Well, that sets the tone.

In the police station, police woman Linda goes to collect police boss man Duke who is relaxing in one of the cells. Someone has reported a “bang”. Which they both agree is a most unhelpful description.

At Rose’s diner councillor Jim Rennie finishes up and grossly over-tips Rose – there’s an implication the diner is struggling.

And elsewhere, Angie and Junior Rennie have just finished having sex and he tells her he loves her (it doesn’t count in the afterglow, Angie). She thinks it’s been a fun summer (ouch Junior, she totally ducked that, ouch indeed). And he’s dropping out of college – Angie Does Not Approve. But look at the puppy dog eyes – he’s loved you forever and ever Angie! She says no and heads to work - he grabs her arm and she slaps his face. She leaves angry and the angsty ominous music plays

Ok, stop – murderer guy, Linda, Duke, Rose, Jim, Angie, Junior. That’s more than enough characters for the first episode. Stop now.

No such luck – next character is Julia, newspaper editor of the Independent, being all condescending to an older lady, Mrs. Grinnell, who awesomely puts her in place with a “I get my news online, like everyone else.” Ouch, well played, Mrs. Grinnell. She has a tip – someplace has just received 10 deliveries of propane in 2 weeks. Julia downplays Mrs. Grinnell’s fears of a bomb – but really, that’s pretty damn suspicious actually. She did call the police and Duke said it was fine. But he was nervous, Mrs. Grinnell has ever seen Duke nervous. So Julia agrees to dig

What, you downplay reports of 10 deliveries of propane as nothing – but a nervous policeman is cause to get involved? See, this is why online news is taking off, Julia.

Meanwhile bloke whose hiding a body does a very good job (dare I say, practiced job) of hiding the grave and driving off, hiding a cut on his eyebrow. He makes an angry phone call with someone about their man Smith, showing up and trying to “aggressively renegotiate”. Seeing Linda and Duke driving the other way towards him, he hangs up and readies his gun. They pass without stopping – though Linda takes down his numberplate. Murderer guy spends so long looking in the mirror at the departing police, he fails to see the cows in the middle of the road.

Yes, he doesn’t see a cow. He swerves off the road to avoid it (no hamburger today), miring his car in a field and puncturing one of the tyres. And he has no spare.

And then there’s an earthquake. It’s really not murderer guy’s day, is it? The earthquake hits the whole town. Lots of panic and alarm – and Duke seems to have a heart attack.

Near Murderer Guy, in the cow field, a line of explosions appears in front of him. One cow caught on the line is cut cleanly in half. Lengthways. The guy reaches his hand towards the clear line in front of him – and is shocked, he quickly pulls his hand away and accidentally drops it into half of the cow. Eww messy. Looking alone the line, everything has been cut in half – farm equipment, even a barn. He pushes against the line and is stopped by a barrier and it’s like a glass wall – he even smears his bloody handprint on it, the blood seeming to hang in the air. He’s joined by a teenager from one of the local houses who is equally baffled.

In the police car, Duke reassures Linda that his pacemaker just skipped a beat while I yell at the screen that they’ve got more important things to worry about. They get radio calls coming in of downed power lines and all the land lines being cut off.

What – all the land lines cut off? Cows being cut in 2 I could deal with. Being trapped I can deal with. I can even manage being trapped in rural Maine. But no broadband?

Back to the fence where the kid decides to poke it repeatedly. They also find it’s really high because birds are flying into it and breaking their neck. And then a plan hits it – kaboom. Kid looks up at the wreckage about to crush him to goo, but Murderer Guy (who really needs a name) pushes him to safety. They avoid the wreckage – even the chunk of leg that lands next to them. The burned mark on the dome is visible to the whole town.

The Walking Dead Vol. 5 The Best Defense

It’s apparent, if not overtly stated, that some time has passed since the dramatic events of the last volume. Rick and Tyreese have settled on a… at least fake friendly relationship; it’s cordial if nothing else. People are getting on, people are getting by. There’s almost a sense of this is what life could be like for them if all goes well. They focus on more mundane issues – like the vegetable garden and with the stress damped down a little they begin to mend some of the rifts pulled open by their damaged psyches. If nothing else goes wrong, you feel this is how they could live forever, managed, calm and as close to peaceful as possible. There’s still ripples – such as Carol’s need to be accepted by Lori and Rick – but they’re not disrupting how they live.

This gives us a great chance to see what they’ve lost – not through moping and regret, but through what they enjoy. The novelty and wonder of the library and having books to read, or the luxury of having electricity, or the anticipation of having fresh vegetables really bring home how little of the trappings we take for granted they have left; even Patricia’s joy in picture books just to see something else, something different. It’s a segment I like a lot.

Then there’s Woodbury which brings with it a lot of reflection on Rick’s previous actions. Yes the Governor is a monster in all sense of the word – but it’s apparent that a monster is something he became and he wasn’t always like that (this is a theme we’ve seen continued in both the special and The Rise of the Govenor). It’s easy to see the Governor’s descent as a warning to Rick of what he could become with his recent mantra of having to kill to live and be ruthless to survive. It equally begs the question of the others asking what they will do to survive – as we see Dr. Stevens serving the Governor despite knowing what a monster he is.

And behind that is a low key threat that was mentioned in passing but stands as a warning to them all – the helicopter from the news station. Their group fell apart and they all died because the people within couldn’t work together and allowed their mutual suspicion and hatred break them apart and kill them all. So another threat is entered – when you and everyone around you requires the group to be united for safety, to what extent is rocking the boat dangerous and perhaps even suicidal? Again, this links back well to Rick and Tyreese’s fight. This need for unity even comes round to the Governor where at least part of his evil activities are to provide “bread and circuses” for the crowds – because he fears that boredom can lead people to start fighting each other.

I really quite like how all these themes and questions circle round and overlap without ever needing to be overtly stated, but continually reinforce each other.

This is the good stuff. Then there’s the bad

Michonne’s rape and torture is both graphic and gratuitous. It’s unnecessary from a plot point of view and a characterisation point of view, it’s just there for grimness. And it can’t be escaped that Michonne is both the only Black woman and one of the few women (perhaps only woman) who is proactive, willing to speak up and has useful combat skills. It felt like she was specially singled out and the whole image of it cannot be divorced from the context of her being the only Black woman there.

And I know there are people there rushing forward to say how necessary and REALISTIC it was to show this and how evil the Governor is. I call shenanigans. This isn’t the TV series Governor who starts all polite and then gets steadily more evil. Within second of meeting him, the Governor has cut off Rick’s hand, he could have beaten and tortured all three of them equally. He feeds people to zombies. He watches them and expresses his admiration for them. He has a wall of zombie heads. Don’t tell me we’d look at this man and say “well he’s not a rapist, I guess he’s a pretty decent fellow.” There reaches a point when it doesn’t  matter how many puppies your bad guy kicks, he’s already reached maximum evil. Extra adds nothing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dracula's Secret (Blood Wings #1) by Linda Mercury

In the 15th century, Vlad II, Vlad Dracul, is struggling to keep his home, the unstable and war torn land of Wallachia safe – and part of that requires a second heir should his eldest son die. But his wife gives birth to a daughter and they face the harsh choice of exposing her to the elements – until he looks at the new born child and sees a strength in her beyond anything he imagined – or would dare cross. They raise her as a son, Vlad.

Who would later be known as Vlad Tepes. Dracula.

And it is as a man that Vlad lives down the centuries until the terrible events of the Second World War, where Vlad fakes “his” own death and is reborn as Valerie Tate – free from her past but laden with a mission; to find redemption for the horrors she unknowingly abetted.

Lance has his own sins to atone, deeply hidden in his past that stretches far further than his human façade would suggest. He is caught in his own redemption, trying to maintain a shelter for the homeless and dispossessed, no matter who they are; a novelty in world where the supernatural is shunned and persecuted. But an act of kindness brings him to the attention of the national media and to the compelling beauty Valerie, one of the last vampires

And of Radu Dracul, Vlad’s brother – who has ambitions of his own.

Early in this book I was quickly hooked seeing the massive potential it had. Imagine, a female Dracula, raised as male, living her entire life – centuries – as male and then finally having the chance to present as female. The debate as to what was truly her and what was the act, how comfortable is she assuming a female role – how much of it is liberated desire and how much does she miss of the persona she has maintained so long? How much of her is Valerie? And how much is Vlad Tepes?

Then there’s the conflict with her brother Radu – the combination of love, shared experience and bitter hatred, vengeance and a need for redemption.

There’s Dracula’s involvement with Nazi Germany and her desperate need to redeem herself. There’re fallen angels seeing a way back to heaven, nascent angels seeking to offer guidance. And across this is a backdrop of a vast world full of a huge range of supernatural beings seeking to enter politics and find legal recognistion. Even a battle to try and keep a homeless shelter open in the face of fierce opposition and lack of resources

There is vast potential . There is so much that can be done with this story.  I couldn’t wait to see how all these wonderful, myriad issues would be brought together. There’s so much that could be done with this…

…so let’s do none of it and just have a purple-prosed romance, ‘kay?


The very potential of this book and the incredible world and premise that has been established just makes the actual book produced so much more disappointing! It’s not that some of those issues are all absent – we definitely touch on a few – but only shallowly because by far and away the dominant focus is on how very very hot Valerie and Lance find each other. Which is very very hot indeed. Extremely hot. I cannot stress how sexy they find each other. I mean, the first time they see each other we get three solid pages of description and how very compelling they find each other. This is before they speak a word. This is before they even stand within 10 feet of each other.

And it keeps going and going and going and going throughout the book. For every 4 lines about something else, there’s a line for how hot they find each other. They can’t move without framing their groin or cocking their hip or stroking a hand down various places as an invitation or to draw attention. And some of the prose is so very very very very purple. For example here is a description of her taking off his glove:

Hooking a fang around a fold in the leather covering his middle finger, Valerie tugged and sucked until his glove peeled off of him. Her mouth undressed his hand in a slow strip-tease. She heard his heart accelerate as the glove surrendered to her oral prowess. 
Is this actually sexy to anyone? Because I found it hilarious and have been quoting it aloud to make people giggle. Or there’s a scene where she gives him her car keys:

She pulled out keys, complete with a battered leather Mustang fob, and dangled them in front of him. They chimed like the church bells in the dark. Her smirk still-extended, wickedly delicious fangs. His mouth watered at the thought of those 350 vintage horses under his fingers waiting for his command.

It’s rare that I have come across such overly elaborate wording and there’re few books that have achieved this level of purpleness. And while it can certainly be entertaining from a comedy point of view, it does rather derail the plot of the story – and certainly any attempt at theme.

I want to read this book. I want to love this book. I don’t want to feel like a prospector desperately seeking the nuggets of story and world among the dross of purple dripping sex scenes (also, an aside, but this man’s foreskin is described as purple. Purple. Foreskins shouldn’t be purple. If your foreskin is purple you need to seek medical attention.)

The romance between Valerie and Lance is not just frustrating because it’s a rather clichéd (love at first sight, conflict which is convoluted and doesn’t develop, characters knowing each other for a few days and now being willing to die for each other and throw away decades long goals) romance written in brilliant purple prose that consumes vast chunks of the book. And it’s not just frustrating because of all of the depth we didn’t get and the storylines we didn’t pursue. No, it’s ALSO frustrating for the way it breaks its own story

Lance starts out with a passionate dedication to keep the homeless shelter open for all – supernatural and otherwise. Half way through and with a few sessions around the bedroom and absolutely no-one cares about it any more. And then we get John – or we don’t get John. We have some flashbacks with him in lance’s childhood, then absence, then sudden presence and he and Valerie are living together – why? How? What? When did this happen? Why did this happen? WHO IS THIS PERSON AND WHY IS HE EVEN HERE?! All of the political machinations devolved into a simple fight scene and odd ascension moment that just left me kind of lost because none of it was developed or truly explored in between the eternal turgidness, moistness and humping.

Warehouse 13, Season 4, Episode 18: Lost and Found

It’s 1:00am and Myka is browsing through websites about ovarian cancer, when she hastily hides them when Pete joins her. She starts being nostalgic and Pete realises something’s wrong. She considers telling him – and has a series of flashes of how she thinks he’ll react (some of them ludicrous) and decides not to tell him. Alas, Pete being up early also stops Claudia and Nick (remember Nick?) from stealing Pete’s 3:00am sandwich (I’m vaguely disturbed that Pete has a 3:00am sandwich and that everyone knows about it).

And then Artie comes in – this is a house full of nightowls – with a ping. He acts quickly – getting rid of Nick, getting Claudia to find a place to put Nick that isn’t the super-secret Warehouse that is supposed to be a secret and hidden and all (she steal’s Pete’s sandwich, all is good) and then gets really really excited about the super-duper ping. The Treasure of Roaring Dan Seavy. A pirate. Oh dear, a pirate? There is no way Pete is going to let that pass.

Apparently this pirate stole shinies from Warehouse 12 (Victorian London – wait, pirates? In Victorian London?) and Artie intends to get them back. During the transfer of Artefacts from Warehouse 12 to 13 a cargo ship full of Artefacts was raided by pirates off the Atlantic coasts – we get a nice view of… hmm, 16th century wooden ships fighting? Anyway, apparently a crate of Artefacts was stolen and agent David Walker was killed.

Artie has a lead – half of a puzzle box built by Roaring Dan (Artie stole it from the Smithsonian). And they have 5 hours to meet up with Artie’s black market dealer in Buffalo to buy the second half

In a café in Buffalo they find Fisher, Artie’s contact. Who turns out to be a front for Charlotte Duprix who has the other half of the puzzle box. She also reminds them of breaking into her home, stealing from her and shooting her in case there’s any doubt about her illwill. After much haggling she says she’s willing to combine their puzzle boxes and split the loot 50/50; Artie looks ready to agree before Pete and Myka bring some sanity. But Artie has some more sense than just desperation – Charlotte must have dragged them to Buffalo for a reason, the stash must be nearby. They can’t risk Charlotte finding the stash without them.

So, after a brief snarking of Artie aimed perfectly at recapping, Myka and Pete have another moment where Myka considers telling Pete the truth but can’t bring herself to. They activate the puzzle box and it shows them a series of numbers – longitude and latitude. Then seals itself. Charlotte briefly panics that she can’t get the numbers again but, of course, Myka’s super-memory kicks in. They go to the location –it’s a grave yard. They split up and find the grave of Roaring Dan’s first mate and it’s made of an odd substance – time for Rodin’s hammer and chisel to reveal shapes within it (and Pete wonderfully lampshades how Artie’s bag always has exactly what they need).  They see a meter, the letters NFPC – which is when Artie discusses loosing Charlotte and her minion, Lars – and they get tased. Yes, Charlotte was expecting a double cross. Or was ready to double cross. Possibly both.

The gang wake with Charlotte gone – but know where she’s going: Niagara Falls Power Company. To the falls; built in 1897 when Roaring Dan was active, Artie suspects the stash would be buried around there (and Pete suffers as the genius Myka gets all her superhero knowledge wrong). They find the key to the hidden cave – but it looks like Charlotte may be there first. And Pete’s inevitably pirate voice appears. Of course

Inside the cave they find Lars’s body, his neck snapped. Guess Charlotte has no more use for him. Going further in they find a room that looks like a replica of one from Roaring Dan’s ship – and it looks undisturbed. Inside they find a very very old body – a skeleton; Roaring Dan himself. Such a blatant display of mortality bothers Myka and she goes outside to watch the hall.

Where she finds Charlotte. A brief fight later and Myka easily pins her. She claims she didn’t kill he bodyguard – they were attacked, they’re not the only ones down there.

Which is when Artie and Pete are attacked by a shadowy cloud of pretty decent CGI. A shadowy cloud that can lift Artie and is seemingly immune to tesla fire. Only Artie accidentally hitting a bell – causing it to ring, makes the shadow back off. Pete assumes noise is what drives it off and starts banging things, I think it may have more to do with the odd way the bell resonates. The shadow flees under a rug – a very very obvious location for a secret passage. Which is when Myka calls with the warning – a little late

All in the room, Charlotte confirms the dagger Lars had was treasure he picked up not a weapon to fend her off. Artie puts that together with him moving coins off a chest to the shadowy creature being there to protect the loot. Charlotte Duprix finds this very stranger. The Warehouse team rate it, maybe a 6 out of 10 for strangeness. They’ve seen stranger. And in an excruciatingly slow mental process, they find the hidden doorway under the rug. Even without the shadow lurking around, isn’t under the rug the first place you look for a secret trap door? That’s up there with checking behind paintings for safes!

In the secret lair they find treasure and the missing Warehouse 12 Artefacts. But they need to find the smoke monster Artefact before touching anything so they can goo it. Charlotte, meanwhile, finds half an amethyst geode which she pockets – then texts Nick to say she’s only found half. Artie notices and confronts her. In the argument she grabs a golden goblet – and Smokey appears. Alas, the gang listens to Pete and just stand there making noise which achieves nothing – and Smokey snaps Charlotte’s neck. So much for immortality. And Myka snaps at Pete for his joke – her mortality issues raising again. Artie realises the bell is the thing that distracted Smokey and Myka, from examining Smokey’s skeletal fingers, realises it’s the spirit of Roaring Dan.

Looking through the crates they find the amulet of Alistair Crowley, that is related to Astral Projection. And Myka remembers it in the skeleton’s hand upstairs. They go, prepared with the goo bag and the bell – but the minute they touch the amulet, Smokey appears, pinning all 3 of them and strangling Artie and Pete. Myka can’t reach the amulet – but Charlotte appears and asks how to stop it, Myka tells her and the amulet is gooed.

Ok, I take it back – apparently that immortality thing is pretty damn good.

Meanwhile Claudia sees Jinks in a “snit” because Nick is bothering him – everything Nick says is pinging Jink’s lie detector sense and/or is evasive. Claudia puts it down to him being a naturally suspicious street kid, like she was, and dismisses it all, identifying too much with Nick to listen to Jinks’ words of caution. This conversation is overheard by Nefarious Nick who goes outside to collect an untraceable phone and a gun from Charlotte Duprix – his mother.

He tries to patch up with Jinks – by tearfully confessing to Jinks that yes he is a liar because he’s not used to being able to trust people because of living on the street and being preyed upon. It ends with awkward hugging. But apparently Jinks has mountains of paperwork to do

Despite awkward hugging, Nick then goes to Claudia and tells her how mean Jinks is and how he’ll never trust Nick. At this point Claudia, you should be asking why the person with the INFALLIBLE LIE DETECTOR doesn’t trust someone and realise how silly this whole thing is.

Defiance, Season 1, Episode 11: The Bride Wore Black

In what I can only assume is a Castithan stag night, Alak duels a series of young Castithan men with wooden swords, while a woman poses in a cage wearing a wedding dress, waiting to be “rescued”. Having defeated them, he unlocks her cage and she removes her wrap-around dress and moves on Alak. He backs off and calsl for more drinks though the Castithans want him to “mount his bride”. Alak says no – ritual coitus is too old school and, besides, his actual bridge would object. He then ends up beating down one of his friends for saying something crude and less than complimentary about humans. They fight – and one of them hits the thin plasterboard wall hard enough to break it –revealing a skeletal hand.

There be dead people in the walls. I don’t think it’s going to catch on as an architectural trend. And it can’t be hygienic.

At the Mccawley household Christie’s being fitted into her wedding dress by Kenya (it’s Kenya’s old dress) and Stahma brings her something “borrowed” to wear since Christie’s mother is dead; a Tilo, one of the three items she was allowed to bring on board the Arc travelling from her home world. It’s a metal veil –blindfold – in Castithan tradition a bride is blind until her betrothed “opens her eyes”.

Is it just me or does Stahma’s smile always make me think “all the better to eat you with, my dear”

Out in the street Tommy’s all looking forward to the wedding – chance for a party, but Irisa’s against the whole idea. He pokes her for being such a loner and pushes her to come with him with lots of the friendly flirting they have; which is her insulting him and him smiling and poking her

Y’know, this scene would work better if Irisa and her people hadn’t been rounded up and shoved in a cave, one of them murdered.

They join Yewl and Nolan examining the body found in the wall of Need Want – and the big shiny diamond its wearing. Tommy recognises it, back from when he was a card sharp who first arrived in Defiance, it belonged to Hunter Bell, who owned the Need Want

Flashback to when Tommy was a card shark, Kenya a waitress and married to Hunter and Datak someone Tommy was cheating. He takes Tommy outside, placating Datak, and doesn’t cut him saying the first lesson is free and tommy isn’t as good as he thinks – he takes him to the lawkeeper to get a job instead. Tommy feels he owed Hunter who went missing 7 years ago – they found one drop of blood but since he had enemies the old Lawkeeper was happy to dismiss it as Hunter just leaving town; Tommy didn’t accept it because in the dystopian world no-one just leaves everything they’ve managed to acquire.

Nolan’s suspicious that Kenya never mentioned a missing husband and they go to talk to her and break the news. Tommy is suspicious but Nolan more caring and gentle asking how their relationship was – Kenya puts on a positive spin but the flashback shows Hunter was an abusive husband.

To the Mayor’s office were Amanda is worrying away to Nicky about the upcoming election when Nolan and Tommy arrive to tell them about Hunter Bell. Amanda has a flashback to noticing Hunter had hit her little sister, Kenya, Kenya’s insistence on staying with him and Amanda’s threat that she would do anything to make sure he never laid a hand on Kenya again. Nicky leaves and Amanda describes Hunter as charming, rich handsome and a bully – but denies he did anything to Kenya, that they loved each other.

Tommy makes the not very big leap of logic and realises that Kenya and Amanda are lying. Nolan doesn’t know if Amanda killed Hunter for Kenya or Kenya killed Hunter – but he also doesn’t particularly care who killed the wife beater and is quite happy to let it all go away. He’s there to keep the peace not investigate crime – Tommy is concerned about justice

Time for Datak and Rafe to hiss at each other over the metal veil that Rafe doesn’t want Christie to wear (especially since he’s paying for the wedding); Datak responds with anti-human insults, mocking the pink skin of humans (seems to be the invented Castithan slur for the ultra-pale Castithans. Which Rafe skewers by pointing out his skin isn’t pink). Of course, neither man asks what Christie wants to wear on her wedding day. Still, Rafe sees Datak’s contempt for humanity and finally asks why Datak is so ok about Alak and Christie marrying – and he hasn’t come round to the idea like Rafe has, he’s always been in favour of it. Rafe seems to have a pretty good idea since he has a plan – he’s so very sorry that his mines are on stolen Irathient land, so he’s going to leave them to a trust for Irathients in Defiance when he dies. Datak doesn’t raise to the bait in front of him

Instead he goes home and rants and raves. Stahma tries to calm him down, sure they can convince Rafe otherwise when his first grandchild is born. But Datak is insistent and says Alak will get over it – and we seem some genuine anger from the normally reserved Stahma – since her own parents would have stopped her marrying Datak; she wants Alak to be happy and he sees humans differently than Votan-born Castithan. Datak just sneers about Alak losing his sense of smell – and begins to call the priest. Stahma manages to delay him

Meanwhile Tommy is still searching for evidence where they found Hunter’s body, while Irisa mocks him and finally helps – easily seeing and plucking a Liberata whisker out of the dust. Time to talk to Jerrod the bar tender who was bar tender back in the day as well. But he doesn’t answer his door – while Tommy considers legal ways to gain entry, Irisa breaks a window. Inside Jerrod is dead. They call in Nolan – there’s something odd with Jerrod’s fingers (Nolan puts it down to “nitrogen deprivation”) and his throat has been slashed, suggesting a Castithan hit.

Speaking of, Datak tells Alak of his father who refused to join the Arcs away from their dying planet because he had promises to preserve some holy scrolls. This is all a rambling way to say “no you can’t marry, because tradition!”. Alak, unsurprisingly, refuses to call off the wedding – or watch his tongue. He’s not impressed with Datak’s veiled threat to disown him and leave him a “street-haint” (haint being a slur for Castithans) because that’s what Datak said he was before clawing his way up. Alak doesn’t care about Casti traditions from a planet he has never seen. Datak leaves to allow Alak to “cool off”. And when outside he’s arrested by Nolan for murder.

Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 4: Unleashed

We’re at the vet with Dr. Deaton and Scott (who, if you remember, works as his assistant), treating a sick dog called Bullet and his worried worried owner. They think he’s eaten poison; after some treatment, owner and scrappy little dog leaves while Scott examines the sample (reason #9076785 I could never be a vet or a doctor) and finds mistletoe. Definitely poisonous

The dog acts oddly and gets away from the owner who chases the dog into an alley. He searches under a dumpster for what he thinks is the dog – and is bitten by ominous hissing creature that tells him to come closer. He does – which means either it has hypnotic power or this guy is quite possibly the stupidest man on the entire planet. He gets nommed and when Scott comes out, he’s disappeared, leaving his car behind

And this is why cats are better than dogs. And also why you need to get laid when there’s a virgin hunter about.

At the school Ms. Blake is clearly a little shaken from her experience in the basement, hears something in the school and runs into a class room. Right into Derek. She threatens him with a stick and asks if he’s here to intimidate/threaten/kill her. Derek has an excellent “you’re kidding me, right?” look. He has a very good one and works both for the idea he will kill her and for the very very silly stick she’s waving. He’s actually here to check up on her (yes, she is so his love interest) to which she begins babbling about her therapist and already being emotionally unstable. Nervous babbling, a sure sign of romance to follow. More babbling an awkward flailing and an exchange of first names.

Scott and Stiles discuss the disappearing man and Stiles asks if he was a virgin. To which Scott jokes “definitely not, Deaton makes me have sex with all of his clients.” Uh-huh, I’m just going to leave this link here. Stile is not amused and very much panicking since something’s killing virgins which makes Stiles a target. He panics and rambles as he does declaring repeatedly that someone has to have sex with him right now, today. Danny volunteers “plan to stay the night, I like to cuddle”. Uh-huh, I’d be happier with this joke if it wasn’t all Danny was used for. Time for the coach to come in with his own joke – complaining about his lacrosse team members getting out of shape in the offseason (while the guys take off their shirts to reveal the sculpted bodies of Greek gods for the camera).

Time for crosscountry running with lots of dramatic music because Isaac has seen the Alpha Twins. The twins quickly clear the rest of the pack and Isaac chases after them – not the wisest thing you’ve ever done Isaac.  When they’re alone the twins grab Isaac and say menacing things – I’m actually more struck by the fact they actually talk! Scott to the rescue! Time for posturing and growling

Probably thankfully for Scott and Isaac, given the twins being alphas, a woman screams and they’re distracted. Going to her scream they find the guy who disappeared from the vets – strung up from a tree by his neck like the other victims.

Sherriff Stilinski is called and the coach tries to help clear the crowd in his usual awesome style (the coach is a severely underrated character). As they leave Isaac thinks the twins were involved (despite the twins looking at each other in utter confusion) but Stiles is still pushing human sacrifices. Which Scott has a hard time believing to which Stiles has the most awesome line of any show ever, pointing out that Scott has glowsticks for eyes, grows hair that magically disappears and heals instantly – but human sacrifice is a stretch for him to believe? Isaac isn’t hearing reason, he just wants to kill the Alphas

And joining him in that sentiment at the Wolf Loft is Cora, Derek’s sister, who wants revenge and is all kinds of angry and disappointed in Derek. Said disappointment is short lived because the alarms sound and the Alphas invade – 2 of them anyway. One of them, Ennis, easily pinning Cora and the other, the female alpha, Kali, attacking Derek and impaling him with a metal pole. Ouch. That gets everyone settled for Deucalion to arrive (evil British accent! Ah, good to know we still make the best bad guys).

Time for some school scenes; Alison falls asleep in French class with Ms. Morrel and they both have a little “what were you doing at the bank” glarefest ending in an impasse. In another class Scott tries to convince Isaac not to do anything hasty – and Isaac leave the room. To run into the Alpha twins in the corridors; the teacher doesn’t let Scott follow. But the Twins don’t attack Isaac – one of them repeatedly hits the other, their smiles never stopping – throwing the bloodied twin at Isaac’s feet just as the class breaks out. The twin says Isaac attacked him.

Scott tries to keep Isaac calm but they both see more plotting from the twins – one of them flirting with Lydia (who reminds us how bright she is). And elsewhere in the school Stiles asks the dead guy’s girlfriend if they’d had sex and gets slapped for it. Oh Stiles, really? His dad isn’t impressed either. It turns out the dead guy, Kyle, wasn’t a virgin

Back to the Wolf Loft where Deucalion is cool and evil. He wants Derek to kill one of his pack members and then he’ll want to kill the others himself – just like he, Ennis and Kali did. He calls his pack a liability.

To the school – we have a brief appearance of Boyd who is surprised at Stile greeting him because they’re not friends. He only had one friend – and she’s dead. Beyond reminding us that Boyd is alive, I think this scene was also to tell us that Kyle was ROTC, a military guy. So this is probably the pattern we’re looking for. And in detention, Isaac isn’t thrilled to be working with Allison given the whole fact she stabbed him 20 times. With knives. She says sorry. We shall put this down as the most inadequate apology of all time ever. And someone locks them in the cupboard – and moves a vending machine in front of it. Isaac, claustrophobic after what his father did to him, starts to panic and wolf out. He’s only stopped from attacking Allison but Scott pulling away the vending machine, dragging him out and using his Wolfy Voice to get through to him. Allison is scratched but everyone acknowledges that it’s not Isaac’s fault and Scott realises the Alphas want to do more than annoying people – they want to hurt them.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stalking the Others (H&W Investigations #4) by Jess Haines

Shiarra has a mission – to find the werewolf who infected her and kill him. And maybe her cheating ex-boyfriend Chaz, leader of the Sunstrikers as well. And who knows how many other Sunstrikers if she has the chance

She also has a time limit. One month. One month before she turns. One month before she becomes a werewolf. One month before she cannot use her belt – her magical hunter belt containing the spirit of Isaac, a skilled and dangerous anti-vampire hunter – to give her the edge she so desperately needs.

With the police hunting her and having fled Royce’s protection in favour of more direct hunting, Shiarra decides to align herself with the White Hats once again; the fanatical anti-Other hunters will probably kill her if she changes. But until then she can work with them to hunt down Chaz – who has gone to ground leaving almost no trace or trail.

Shiarra, all alone – having fled Royce and fighting against her boyfriend and the entire Sunstriker pack – where oh where can Shiarra turn?

Why to her friendly neighbourhood hate group of course!

No! I’ve said it before and I will say it again – if the White Hats are some vicious, violent hate group that seeks to kill all the Others regardless of whether they deserve it or not then they are not the people who should be on your rolodex under “people to ask for favours.” She has done this time and again, all the time emphasising their utter hatred of all things Other and how much they hate her contacts with them. It’s ridiculous when you consider how a few mean words about her link with a vampire from a werewolf were sufficient to send Shiarra into tears in the last book, but violent murdering hate groups? Yup, she’s fine with this.  Why would they be more welcoming after she ran out on them the last time?

Add in to this is that Shiarra thinks she is turning into a werewolf. Last book she was making all kinds of preparations for this – but now she goes to the White Hats who discuss whether to kill her now and get it over with? She even lurches into an off-again-on-again possible wish for suicide to try and justify it – but it’s never maintained. She mentions that the White Hats will be able to do what has to be done when the time comes – a clear indication she expects them to kill her, but at no point does she express that being dead would be better than being a werewolf and it goes against how she acted in the last book seeking help and guidance with how to be a werewolf.

This gets more annoying when she has to kill an Other and gets ten kinds of angst out of it. That wasn’t part of the plan! Noooo! Well, you’re working with a hate group that wants to slaughter all of the Others and you are surprised that this comes with death? I’d support her angst and grief over killing someone if it weren’t for her being utterly incapable to follow the very obvious consequences to her decisions.

There’s also Shiarra’s ongoing loathing of all things Royce when, of all the people she has to deal with, Royce is the most reasonable, caring, accepting and helpful of anyone she has dealt with – and has proven this many times. Her blaming of Royce for even the most convoluted things became an almost running joke – I expected her to start cursing Royce every time she stubbed a toe or someone drank the last of the milk. Shiarra must go through life constantly shaking her fist at the sky screaming “daaaamn you Royce!!!”

Ironically, the one thing that Royce can be blamed for – his behaviour in the first book – has been rather consigned to history. The whole forced contract and threat that went with it seems to be banished to the mists of memory.

Falling Skies, Season 3, Episode 4: At All Costs

The battle that started last week continues – the Espheni forces attacking the perimeter while humans try to hold the line (hey, what happened to their special mech-killing Volm weapons?) In the command HQ the generals and colonels monitor the fight and lead their forces, holding their own and, at Tom’s request, Catherine, the human sniper, is lead into the room. Catherine wants to be let loose, at least give her a fighting chance rather than being buried in the rubble – Weaver doesn’t think that’s going to happen and Tom leads her uptop where the Volm are mobilised. Up top she sees a squad of Beamers approaching and tries to run – and the Volm shoot them out of the sky. She gasps, stunned and shocked – and asks how. Behind her Cochise says that “how” is not simple (I presume he means the technology – either way it’s a dramatic “look friendly alien!” moment)

In the battle’s aftermath, Matt and his friends are picking through the wreckage for salvage, Maggie and a soldier praise Hal for saving them while Tom and Weaver discuss the attack – because the Espheni had to know they couldn’t win; they worry it may be a distraction for something else. Hal tries to talk to his dad again about being the spy but Maggie stops him – tells him to wait till he’s alone in his office and besides, he’s not the spy – he wouldn’t have fought so hard in the firefight if he were.

Ann is still being creeped out by her Demon Alien Baby and takes a swab from her for DNA testing – hiding it from Lourdes who is now swooping round with great concern. Alexis has a scary smile for a baby. Creepy Creepy

Tom and Weaver go through the list of the dead – and find Silas, someone who had been with the 2nd Massachusetts from the very beginning, they drink to his memory and Catherine barges in, awed by the casualties they inflicted. And calls Tom “sir.”  Tom puts the victory down to the Volm alliance and Catherine apologises (which Weavers puts down as too little) but she has to tell President Hathaway what Tom and his group has achieved.

They get her a radio and she gets through to her president – and passes the radio to Tom who, off screen, explains all the many many things they have been doing. The president wants a face-to-face meeting to confirm all this.

*Ahem* IT’S A TRAP!

Meanwhile in the clinic, Lourdes is talking to Ben, Deni and the other old-style deharnessed kids about using Volm technology to remove their spikes. There could be sideeffects with muscle strain from the enhanced abilities it gives – and it does funky things to their stem cells that will reduced their life expectancy. But Ben & co aren’t thrilled about losing their super-strength and agility, let alone needing inhalers, glasses et al again (also, how else do they plan to communicate with the Skitters?) Ben’s reluctant but Deni talks him into it.

Anyway, back to the plan – to get to the location they need an aircraft. Why they chose this location and time that requires something so rare I do not know, but the people of Falling Skies have never been the brightest bunch. But the only person who has a plane is Pope (for some reason) and he has a hissy fit about them commandeering his private property (does anyone have private property in this apocalyptic world, really?) and lots of whining follows which basically results in Pope going with them on their merry holiday. Great. Can someone kill him already? Oh and Bressler’s going as well. Joy, my two favourite characters. Maybe they can kill each other.

And finally Weaver asks the question “we’re doing this why?” They’ve got a good thing going in Charleston, they’re safe, they’re winning against the Espheni – something the actual president seems to having trouble with – the volm are building a weapon. What do they get out of this? Brushes these legitimate concerns aside, he says his goodbyes to Ann (after all, by the time he comes back Evil Demon Alien Baby will have eaten her soul) and they collect Cochise who questions whether the antique plane can actually fly.

Back to Ben and Dani who are musing over losing their Skitterabilities – lifting cars, and Ben being better than Hal. Lots of things they’ll be losing but while Deni considers them great to be gone – Ben is far less convinced and will miss being needed. Later he expresses similar angst and stress to Matt, worried that he’ll miss having the spikes – to which Matt says to keep them. The debate continues, again with Deni emphasising how much they let them do things – though she’s still stuck on the “maybe dead by 20” thing – but emphasises their abilities by jumping off a 6 storey building

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hunted (Iron Druid Chronicles #6) by Kevin Hearne

Following the dramatic events of the last book, Atticus, Granuaile and Oberon are on the run. Granuaile is a full druid now, but them disposing of Bacchus has infuriated the Olympians – both the Greeks and the Romans. With Faunus and Pan preventing them from reaching the Irish planes, they need to race across Europe – from Romania to Britain – chased by Diana and Artemis, goddesses of the Hunt. They’re only assured that some safety can be found in England – but it’s a long way to go on a road scattered with vampires, the machinations of the Olympians and who knows what other monsters

And none of this stops the brewing Ragnarok, or Loki rampaging around, hunting Atticus and causing general chaos. Atticus needs to prepare to help the Norse against Loki and Hel – but how can he do that with the Olympians hunting him across the continent?

I am very tired as I write this review. I am tired because I picked this book up to read yesterday evening and started reading. At 6:00am I could finally stop reading. I may or may not have killed anyone who tried to interrupt me during that time. I believe I would have been perfectly justified in doing so.

Not that I didn’t put it down in all that time. This book was an incredibly powerful, amazingly well written emotional rollercoaster. Within 5% of the book I yelled “no!” aloud in denial of what had just happened.

At another point in the book I put it down and walked away in some kind of denial – that maybe if I didn’t keep reading then I could pretend that it didn’t happen and could live in blissful ignorance.

There was a time when I considered booking a flight to Arizona, appearing outside of Kevin Hearne’s door, falling to my knees and wailing “WHYYYYYYYYYYYY?!” It would have been quite quite undignified.

It’s a testament to how strong a story is and how powerful the characters are that you can be this emotionally invested in them.

That same investment and emotional impact means it would be absolutely criminal to spoil this book, so I’m going to have to be really careful in this review.

I just loved so much of it. I love Atticus’s tone. I love his humour, I loves his unabashed joy in the world. I love his depth of knowledge that mean I believe Atticus’s 2000 year history far more than most ancient characters in the genre – even with his pop culture references and deep love of modern culture. I love how he can joke between modern internet references and still quite Shakespeare – and how he can do them both at once flawlessly and without the slightest jar. I love that, even with all that is at stake, he’s ultimately a mischievous trickster character every bit as much as Coyote. But there’s depth to him as well – his depression over what he has done, his fears for Granuaile and Oberon and the future of the world and the people who are hurt because of him all come through starkly. He manages to balance the ancient with the modern, the weighty with the light, the cheerful with the seriously awareness of what rests on his shoulders. Managing to fit all this in one character is difficult but really well done.

And Granuaile – for the first time we see in her head and it’s such a different headspace. She’s more passionate, more fiery and, oddly, more formal and poetic. She still takes things much more seriously than Atticus or, perhaps, hasn’t reached the point of being able to integrate her constant awe and respect for her role with the light heartedness that so characterises Atticus.  Her wording is almost purple at time – if the whole book was written like it I’d be seriously put off, but because it’s only occasional it strikes a strong contrast between her and Atticus’s mental tones. Granuaile is awed and overcome by what it means to be a druid, with it all so new to her – and she waxes poetic with it.

The story itself is excellently paced. It’s a roaring chase to escape the two hunter goddesses, hoping to delay them while making a hurried dash to safety, facing off against various forces along the way and with Odin spectating and taking bets with the Einherjar with Loki throwing a regular spanner in the works. It’s exciting, it’s funny, it’s often serious, it makes your blood fizz. There’s a real sense of consequences, we’ve already seen throughout the series that gods can and will die (except the Olympians which is why facing them is such a bother, they keep on coming and coming). It’s even poignant at times – powerfully, deeply, incredibly sad in ways I can’t talk about without spoiling – and that would be criminal. But it is an incredible emotional rollercoaster. It can mix the pougnance of heart rending loss, with the sheer joy of bribing Odin with girl scout cookies.

Oberon is still hilariously funny, immense fun – but even he brings a deeply, agonisingly sad moment.

True Blood, Season 6, Episode 2: The Sun

Sookie’s dreaming, her magic faerie contract which she just leaves out on her nightstand, as you do, is glowing. And out on the covered bridge, Warlow pulls himself through a portal and into the real world.

Jason nearly crashes into a tree – having pulled a gun on the man driving (because he’s smart like that. At least he’s pretty). He is saved by the driver appearing in front of him and shooting the car with faerie magic, pushing it to a stop. Jason gets out and points a gun at the man he thinks is Warlow to which he says “I’m your fucking fairy grandfather”. Hi Niall! +20 points for awesome entrance

After a few questions, Niall reveals that he has been watching Jason his whole life (and even knows about his stash of porn which is uber creepy) before giving Jason a verbal smackdown for blabbing his business to a complete stranger in the middle of the night, he may as well hand himself to Warlow. Jason insists he will be ready and Niall just takes his gun off him. Jason has to ask for it back and they both get back in the car

Maybe this is what Jason needs – Niall to smack him upside the head.

In Fangtasia, Tara is in agony from the billet inside her – she’s not healing and Pam holds her hand trying to comfort her. Eric and Nora arrive and Eric removes the bullet – behold the new weapons the human government has developed that the general warned them about; silver bullets that emit UV light.

Actually, I call shenanigans. Silver is expensive, putting mini batteries and lightbulbs in bullets is expensive and damn time consuming. When wooden bullets have been shown to kill vampires (albeit with a heart strike), I can’t imagine pouring in money to try and mass produce these things.

Nora is shocked, SHOCKED! The humans are fighting back! They’re not just laying down and being snack food. To which Pam says what we were all thinking. Honestly, how did Nora live this long with Jason-level intelligence? Pam continues to lay on to both Eric (I’m not scared) and Nora (your authority screwed us) and Nora has the gall to act like Pam is being selfish. Eric wants to go to war with the humans and he roars at Nora to scour the vampire bible for anti-Billith weapons. Huh, at this stage I’d be using Billith against humanity, personally.

Pam, Tara? If I were you I’d be so out of there right now.

Speaking of Billith – he’s having a complete freak out. Apparently merging with the Lilliths means he can now experience what all vampires are feeling – and a whole lot of them are being attacked, tortured and killed by humans. Jessica tries to comfort him until he becomes catatonic. It’s vision time; Bill walks in a sunlit meadow, led by 3 naked, blood covered women to a fourth woman in a tunic who spouts cryptic bullshit about “it” beginning. Seriously, what’s the point in having a vision state if you’re going to give less coherent information than Mystic Meg after half a bottle of tequila?

Sookie gets a call from an irritated Arlene because she was due to work today – y’know Sookie, you could pretend to be sorry. Arlene’s day gets better when Patrick’s heavily pregnant wife comes in. Remember Patrick? That was pointless storyline no. 979568 with the Ifrit hunting Terry and his cohorts ending with Terry killing Patrick. Arlene pushes Terry to talk to her – and she believes Patrick ran off with another woman; Terry hesitates but Arlene swoops in and seizes on the excuse. She gives her a huge pep talk and holds her while she cries.

You know what True Blood really really doesn’t need? It doesn’t need pointless storylines we thought were dead and gone to be dragged up again for no good reason

Oh well, back to Sookie walking to work when, at the side of the road, she sees an injured man struggling in pain. She starts to walk on – she has to go to work damn it (wow, Sook, you channeling book Sookie or something? Because that’s cold) before  finally deigning to help with an exasperated sigh. Surprise, injured man has been attacked by a vampire – and is a half faerie, just like her. She takes him home, sprinkles the air with sexual tension and he tells her she’s just like his first love, but even nicer. And ye gods was there ever a cornier pick up line?

Y’know what else True Blood really really doesn’t need? More love interests for Sookie.

Back to Merlottes and Arlene is really competing to see if she can get all the good lines this season “Organic? This is Bon Temps, Organic means you play the fancy piano at church.” Sam calls Lafayette who is at Sam’s babysitting Emma and checking to see if there’s any blatant gay stereotypes he’s missed. What am I looking at here?! And there’s some very excitable people in the bar – one of which wants to talk to Sam. She’s Nicole, she works for vampire unite and she knows he’s a Shifter (after seeing the news about Luna) and she knows he’s “closeted” but she wants him to “come out” and tell his story to the world. And if this appropriated the gay experience any more, Sam would be changing his name to Harvey Milk. She throws in a “first they came for the vampires…” speech. And Sam needs to have the gut to “come out” and inspire everyone to do the same – after all, what can the government do if they all reveal themselves. Seriously? Because public visibility makes you immune? Hah! Oh gods then she goes on to make a direct comparison to the civil rights movement and freedom riders – and they use a Black woman to do it?

True Blood has a really nasty habit of appropriating marginalised issues, but this is pushing it even for them. Back up from comparing monsters to actual persecuted minorities. This whole scene made me nauseous. And someone hit this woman with a history book as well – because it’s not only grossly appropriative, it’s sickeningly ignorant the shit being spouted here. This is so far out of line it can’t even see the line now.