Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Originals, Season One, Episode One: Always and Forever

The Originals begins with Elijah talking about the fact that he believes that they are bonded to people with who they share blood with. Sailors find a ship floating and decide to go and investigate.  Unfortunately for them, they are met by Elijah, Klaus and Rebecca.  The group is slaughtered save one, who is ordered to take the supplies of the originals to shore. They are informed that they have landed in the French colony of Louisiana, along the shores of New Orleans.

In present day New Orleans, Elijah is at a bar having a drink and he says that he is there to visit his brother, who has a tendency to get into trouble.  We then get flashes of Klaus slaughtering people as Elijah goes on about the fact that he and Klaus do not share the same father and how this has been difficult for him. Was all of this backstory really necessary? Camille, the bartender, suggests that Elijah has a long history of getting his brother out of trouble and asks what kind of trouble his brother is in. Elijah tells Camille that he is looking for someone who might shed some light on the mess that Klaus is in now- a Jane-Ann Devereaux.  Camille says no but that she knows someone who might.

Elijah is now stalking a woman who is giving a tour through the streets.  She quickly confronts Elijah and reveals that she knows exactly who he is.  Elijah learns that Jane-Anne is dead and that her sister Sophie wants to talk to him.

There is a vigil for the slain Jane-Anne, who is lying dead in the street. Elijah points out how public this is but is told that the only people who come around there are the witches. Apparently, Jane-Anne's spirit cannot rest until she is laid properly in the cemetery.  Elijah wonders if Klaus had anything to do with this and is told that Jane-Anne died because she got caught doing magic. Marcel approaches and Elijah is told that things have changed since the original family left and that if Marcel finds out that a witch lured The Original family back into town, they will all be slaughtered.

Marcel approaches with his vampires and tells Sophie that this is an area which is not providing a lot of luck for her family.  Sophie says that they are putting Jane-Anne to rest and asks to be left alone.  Marcel says that he left the body there for a reason and that his rules state that witches cannot practice magic.  Marcel wants to know why Klaus showed up asking for Jane-Anne.  Sophie says that she doesn't know and that witches don't get involved in vampire business.  Marcel takes Jane-Anne's body until someone can remember why Klaus wanted to see Jane-Anne. Sophie pleads but Marcel says that this is not his problem.

Elijah gets on the phone to tell Rebecca what is going on. He says that Marcel now runs a menagerie of savage vampires who kill in public.  Isn't it interesting that it's the vampires of colour who savage, given all of the things we have seen Klaus do. Elijah adds that he doubts that Klaus had any idea what he was walking into.  Rebecca however is not interested in anything to do with Klaus and reminds Elijah that Klaus has worked hard to ensure that they have had no happiness. Elijah reminds her that they swore always and forever but Rebecca says that Klaus daggered her and she is not interested.  Elijah says that whatever is going on with the witches, they risked luring back the originals, which means that Klaus must be in trouble.

Sophie is standing above a circle of candles asking her sister for the strength to continue.  The door slams and she realizes that she is not alone.  Two vampires appear and accuse Sophie of doing magic.  They ask why the hybrid was looking for Jane-Anne. Elijah kills the vampires and asks Sophie what business her family has with Klaus. Sophie then leads Elijah to a cemetery and says that it's sacred ground, which means that vampires have to be invited in.  Elijah again asks what Jane-Anne wanted with Klaus. Sophie says that they have a vampire problem and that the witches have been trying to fight back, until Jane-Anne met a werewolf, who has a special connection to Klaus.  Sophie reveals that the werewolf is now pregnant with Klaus's child. When Elijah protests that this is impossible, Sophie reminds Elijah that Klaus is a hybrid.  Elijah asks for a moment alone with Haleigh.

Haleigh reveals that the witches lured her out to the bayou and did a bunch of tests on her. Haleigh says that she doesn't know how this could happen because vampires are dead.  Elijah asks Haleigh to open her mind to his and says that in he beginning their family was human.  We get a flashback to a thousand years ago, where their youngest brother was killed by werewolves.  We learn then that Michael forced Elijah's mother to use her blackmagic to protect them.  Apparently. no one felt the hunger more than Klaus and when he killed for the first time, they learned what he really was.  In that moment, Klaus began to change and Michael declared him a beast and an abomination.  Micheal demanded a spell be cast to deny Klaus a connection with his werewolf self, as Klaus begged Elijah for help. Haleigh declares Michael a dick and introduces herself to Elijah. Elijah adds that Michael hunted them for centuries and after Klaus defeated Michael, Klaus became angrier than ever. Elijah wonders if the baby will be a way for Klaus to find happiness. 

Sophie appears and tells Elijah that she is glad he feels this way.  Sophie again says that they want to run Marcel and his vampires out of town and that the baby is the key to Klaus. Sophie points out that anything Marcel knows about being a vampire he learned from Klaus.  Because Marcel trusts Klaus, he won't see the betrayal coming. Elijah reminds Sophie that Klaus won't like being told what to do. Sophie says that Marcel drove the werewolves out decades ago and won't like a hybrid baby being around.  Sophie suggests that no one has to know about the newest member of the original family. 

American Horror Story Sneak Peak

Coming sooon....

The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 1 : I Know What You Did Last Summer

This episode begins with Elena writing an email to Bonnie saying that she doesn't know how she is supposed to do the college thing without her.  It's okay if you laughed.  We all know damn well that Elena only went to school to attend a dance and not a class.  While she is writing, we learn that Matt and Rebecca have been sending post cards but what we see is Rebecca kissing another woman.  I do believe that this is the first same sex kiss on The Vampire Diaries. Caroline is busy packing for college and Tyler is helping a wolf pack in TennesseeBonnie is visiting with Jeremy. 

Damon and Elena are in the tub and he is encouraging her to skip college and she asks him to be supportive while she seeks a normal college experience. We also learn that Stefan has been missing all summer.

Elena and Jeremy have a discussion about his cover story and Jeremy is apparently being left in Damon's care.  Elena promises that she is only a few hours away.  Elena asks Damon how their long distance relationship is going to work before kissing him and saying that she loves him.  Elena and Caroline are walking on campus and Elena begins to wonder about Stefan again. Caroline informs Elena that she is experiencing guilt.  Of course, Caroline believes that Elena made a horrible but fixable mistake.  They both pause to express disbelief and excitement that they have made it to college. Yeah, I'm shocked that they had a GPA high enough to get in, given all of the distractions.  What neither of them realize is that Bonnie is walking beside them.  When they reach the supposed dorm room and I say supposed because dorm rooms don't look like that, they are surprised with the arrival of Megan, their new roommate.

Jeremy is in class and he reads Elena's email to Bonnie.  Jeremy feels that she is just postponing the inevitable, when Bonnie asks him to tell Elena that she is at the Grand Canyon.  He then asks about her father but Bonnie points out that she has sent him postcards and emails but her father has not deigned to call her. Jeremy asks about Elena and Bonnie says that she just saw Elena, who is genuinely happy and so she has decided not to take that away from her. Yes, Elena must come first, how could Bonnie be selfish and make herself a priority. Bonnie points out that they are lucky because she is dead and is still able to talk to her best friends.  Jeremy asks how many best friends can't feel each other.  The school bell goes off and Jeremy heads to class.

Elena calls Damon to talk about their new roommate and of course he suggests that Elena just compel Megan to leave.  Elena says that there is no point in going to college if they are only going to recreate what happened in Mystic Falls.  Elena says that them being apart could actually work, as Katherine appears in Damon's house.  Damon quickly says that he has to go.

Matt and Rebecca are back and he points out that she was leaving town.  Rebecca says that she was giving him one last chance to leave with her.  Matt points out that now that he is in the real world again, he has to work. Notice how Matt is the only one who even pretends that little things like money matter. Apparently, the woman that they had a threesome with stole Jeremy's Gilbert ring.  Rebecca tells Matt not to call, or write, and not to miss her and then kisses him passionately.

Lizz is having a meal when she is joined by Silas.  Silas grabs her hand and cuts open, while Liz asks what's happening.  Silas says that he is outing himself as not Stefan and reveals that they have met before, as he tips Liz's hand over a cup to gather the blood. Liz realises that she is talking to Silas and asks if he is appearing to her as Stefan.  Silas says that this is true form and that Stefan is his doppelganger. Liz asks what's with the knife and points out that most vampires go straight for the neck. Silas reminds Liz that he came first and that vampires are nothing more than a perversion of him. Silas says that to function, he needs human blood and suggests that she never again call him a vampire.  Silas takes a swig of the blood and tells Liz that all she needs to remember is that Stefan stopped by to say hello.

Megan, Elena and Caroline are walking and of course Elena wants relationship advice.  Caroline sets down the ground rules for rooming with them and makes it clear she wants privacy and that Megan is not to go looking for her if she disappears for awhile.

Jeremy is getting the bully treatment at school.  He doesn't take it lying down and beats up his bullies as a crowd watches in shock.

Katherine is drinking Damon's booze and he points out that she is unhappy because her hair is a mess and her nails are all chipped.  He slashes his hand and offers her his blood, promising to kill her so that she can become a vampire again.  Katherine refuses, saying that no one has ever taken the cure before and that if she dies, she might not wake up again. Katherine tells Damon that deep down there is a part of him that doesn't want her to die.  The phone rings and Katherine pretends to be Elena.  The call is from the principal to let Elena know that Jeremy has been expelled.  Damon tells Katherine that when he gets back that he wants her gone.  Katherine says that she is being followed and has enemies everywhere. Damon is not sympathetic and suggests that Katherine run.  Katherine asks what happens when word gets out that she is a human and cannot protect herself.  Katherine starts to beg for help.

The real Stefan is still under water and he continues to bang against the coffin.  He has a dream about Damon.  Damon suggest he turns off the humanity switch.  Stefan asks what the point is if he gets out and is a monster again. The point is that bad Stefan is far more interesting.

Back in the dorm room, Caroline is complaining about Megan and she wants to know how Elena is okay with a third roommate.  Elena points out that they are trying to be functional.  Katherine points out the practicalities and asks what happens if they get hungry, or their blood bags go bad because they cannot store them in the fridge. When Caroline attempts to drink a bottle of Megan's protein water, she realises that it is laced with vervain.  Megan comes rushing in to check on the noise and acts very innocent.  When Megan leaves, Caroline says that Megan knows who they are because she drinks vervain water.  Elena says that this doesn't mean that Megan knows who they are.  Caroline asks what happens if Megan is a hunter, or if she steals their daylight rings while they asleep and they burst into flames in the morning. Elena suggests that if Megan were a hunter they would be dead by now.  Caroline is not appeased and suggests that they lock Megan up until the Vervain is out of her system and then compel her to forget about them. Elena says that they are not kidnapping her and that the best way to convince Megan that they are normal, is to do normal human freshman stuff. Of course you know that does not mean going to class.

Caroline and Elena head to a frat party where they meet up with Jesse.  Okay, how long before Caroline eats this guy?  Caroline walks off and Elena asks her to be nice to Jesse. Caroline points out that she is with Tyler and Elena says that she shouldn't get her hopes up about Tyler joining them.  In full snark mode, Caroline asks Elena if she told Damon that she was having dreams about Stefan. They try to enter the frat house and find out that they cannot.  Megan asks why they are just standing there and Caroline and Elena pretend to be waiting for someone.  Caroline then tells Elena that Megan knows.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Desolation of Smaug Trailer

I'm probably going to offend every Tolkein purist in the world by saying I preferred the film to the book. But it's true! And we've got more to come.

Spirit Dances (The Walker Papers #6) By C.E. Murphy

Joanne is getting used to her Shaman powers and taking the lead more and more – though she still has plenty to learn and some surprising ambushes, especially on when her “warrior path” will or will not permit violence. Usually not.

Her plate is full this book – a domestic violence case that puts her in a very conflicted position, a Native American dance troop being preyed on metaphysically, her boss becoming a wolf and a series of dead and missing homeless people all vie for her attention. And at least some of it is linked to the dark thing that has been stirring in the books for so long.

And on top of that, her relationship with Morrison finally breaks that barrier – after so much denial and awkwardness, who knows where it will lead?

I found the plot interesting in a different way than I usually find the plot of this series interesting – they’re always fun detective stories with lots of magic and interesting twists that always end with a surprise – always. Not that all of that didn’t apply here – we had an excellent detective story that was immense fun – and an ending that was completely unexpected. I can’t really comment more beyond lots of positive there, the plot was fun, interesting, character driven and with a twist end – classic Walker Papers really. If you liked the plots of the previous books, you’ll like this one

No, the difference was the amount of things that were brought in from the past – like Cyrano and Rita and Thunderbird Falls – into this book. Previously, each book had felt at least semi-standalone, this book was still fairly stand alone but had a lot more connections to previous events in the series. In addition, the plot was much more directly related to the lurking big bad. I feel the series is shifting more towards the meta, I am intrigued

Early in the series I had a problem with the metaphysical descriptions completely overwhelming the plot and leaving me lost confused and with a pretty massive headache. That’s nearly entirely gone – but there are still moments of confusion, especially when the metaphysical is involved in one of the fight or action scenes. There are moments towards the end of the book, at the wickerman, where I became rather hopelessly lost in magic and memory and completely lost track of the actual fight that was happening.

I think more than the plot, the main strength of this book is Joanne’s character development. She is reaching a new plateau in her power, settling into her role and into her relationships – both with her friends and finally, oh finally, with Morrison. They are just so awfully awkward and clumsy and fumbling together that they just had to get together. It has been on the cards for so long now and it’s excellent to see them finally pass that barrier. Even if the book didn’t have Gary in it.

Revolution, Season Two, Episode Two: There Will Be Blood

Aaron takes a deep breath and Rachel begins CPR.  Gene states the obvious, "this isn't possible."  Somewhere in the Plains Nation, a man is looking over an ancient issue of Penthouse (notice how the important things survived) and is attacked from behind by Charlie.  She sneaks through the camp and peers down at an unconscious Monroe. 

Miles and Mason (the poc sidekick) are trapped in a cage when Mason sees Sarah - a woman he knows.  Mason asks what's behind the red door and Sarah tells him that people go in but they don't come out. Miles asks Mason how he ended up sheriff and Mason tells him that his father used to tell him stories about a ranger from Dallas Ft Worth.  It turns out the stories that Mason heard were of Walker Texas Ranger. Okay, huge pause.  We have an indigenous sheriff looking up to a White hero ranger?  Really? I guess they were going for comedy but it's some pure bullshit.  Their little tête-à-tête is broken up when their captors barge in and forcibly take a blood sample. From the results, the captors  decide to shoot Mason. Wow, he didn't even make it two entire episodes but then, that's par for the course for Revolution's treatment of POC. They better work some weird fire fly stuff and bring Mason back to life.

Aaron is looking at his bloodstains in the carpet, when Rachel joins him to ask how he is feeling.  Aaron says that he is fine for a dead guy and makes a zombie quip. He asks how long his heart stopped and Rachel says 2 1/2 hours.  Aaron realises that this is impossible and says that Cynthia (nice that they got around to giving her a name) won't stop crying. Aaron asks if it's the nanotech that did this and Rachel replies that it's the only thing that she can think of. Aaron wants to know why this happened and if someone programmed the nanotechs.  He is clearly scared and confused and Rachel has to admit that she doesn't know. 

Mason is barefoot and appears dead on a horse at the camp. This puts people into a panic.  Aaron has gone back to his lecturing of the children.  He is telling them the story of the ghostbusters.  Rachel is trying to talk her father into saving Miles and he insists that no one is going anywhere.  Rachel insists that Miles took care of Charlie and saved her. Gene says that he just wants to keep what Miles gave him and apologises.

Charlie awakes to find herself tied up and in captivity with Monroe.  She is told that she is going to be patched and instructed not to try anything. Her captor wants to know how Charlie found Monroe but says that he understands why Charlie wants to kill him. It seems that he is under the impression that Monroe is responsible for the nuke. Adam says that they are taking Monroe to their employers which turns out to be the U.S. government.  Charlie asks that they put a bullet in Monroe's head and suggests that he will escape and slit Adam's throat.  Apparently, Adam is under strict instructions to bring Monroe in alive.

Miles is working on his chains and of course manages to get loose.  He gets the cage open and is about to leave, until Sarah says wait.  He decides to go back for her and has almost gotten the cage open, when he is attacked by his captors and informed that Titus is going to want to have a word with him.

In the Savannah refugee camp, Neville has taken on the name Edgar Cray and made friends with the U.S. military.  He sits down and tells Jason that before the blackout that Allenford was on Meet the Press and probably knew Randall. Neville surmises that the Pollyanna that the rebels have been fighting for is not what the patriots want.  Neville believes the military is running a "star spangled mass" and are the people who dropped the nukes.  Neville makes it clear he is going to assassinate Allenford.

Cynthia and Aaron are discussing with the pastor his miraculous healing.  Aaron is not pleased with the sentiment that God has touched him.

Monroe asks Charlie where Rachel and Miles are but she does not answer.  He then points out that she was in the tower the night the bombs dropped and questions whether Randall pushed the button.  It seems that Monroe has some guilt about aiding Randall, particularly because people depended on him to protect them.  Charlie snarks that Monroe sucked at his job but Monroe tells her to watch her mouth.

Rachel seeks out help from Ken and he says that he just a butcher. Ken points out that they don't have enough guns or guys who can shoot to protect the town or the kids.  When he walks off, Rachel follows. Why does it always come down to able bodied men protecting women and children? Also, Ken is played by Ricard Jones, so they better do more with his character than what I have seen thus far.

Miles is finally face to face with Titus, who points out that if Miles hadn't gone back for that "whimpering slut," he would have gotten away.  Titus informs Miles that his actions are outdated and Miles suggests that Titus is creepy sounding.  Apparently, the night of the blackout, the police were headed to arrest Titus and because everything collapsed, Titus was supposedly born anew. So, Titus is a pedophile and the boys he groomed are now men,  and are still with him.  Titus then brings in the rider who came to beg for Miles. Miles is unconcerned and instead wants to know what Titus is really up to. Titus refuses to reveal his reason but takes a hammer to Miles' s hands.

Neville is following Allenford and it seems that he wants to kill her but instead, he sets up Jason's friend for attempted murder and kills him.  It looks like Neville has found a way in.

Written-By-Numbers Drinking Game: Dystopian

'New Young Adult Books' photo (c) 2009, Michael Morrow - 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 Dystopian. Grab your bottles, folks and prepare the stomach pumps (we are not responsible for any alcohol poisoning that may develop)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Haven Sneak peaks!

Just to set us up for tomorrow :)

And a behind the scenes:

And an interview about "Lexie"

Finally - how many of the Stephen King references did you catch?

A Lady of Resources (Magnificent Devices #5) by Shelley Adina

Some time has passed since the last book – Claire has graduated from university and is ready to embark on her new career, flush with success. And the Mopsies, now 16, have both graduated from school with a strong education under their bodices and ready to take on the world. Once they decide exactly how they want to do that

It’s a question that haunts Lizzie, fearful of splitting up from her sister, yet not wanting to follow down the same path. She has aspirations of being a lady – but will the barriers of class and upbringing ever truly allow her to become such? And what about Claire’s expectations and disappointment?

Into that comes some startling revelations about her past and new connections she never knew she had; but with them the difficult decision as to who truly counts as family?

This book was a little bit of a different shift from the last few books in the series. We have the obvious change in the protagonist which leads to a shift in its own right – but that is followed through for the whole book.

By this stage in the series, Lady Claire has achieved so much and proved herself over and over again. She is a skilled engineer, she is recognised as such. She has a career ahead of her and she has contacts and friends among the highest echelons – Claire’s presence in this book is relatively minimal but what there is is one of rousing success. And I love that – I love seeing the rewards for all of Claire’s hard work and dedication. I love that she has achieved so much and we get some righteous recognition for that. And I love that she still deeply cares about the Mopsies – and the whole flock – and is still willing to drop everything to rush across the country to play the Lady of Devices riding to the rescue, lightning rifle in hand (and, in the same way, how Claire can be hurt by the people she loves – because the fact a thoughtless word can hurt her so badly says a lot about how much affection Claire has for the Mopsies). It wonderfully adds to Claire’s story without her being the centre of this book – this is her victory and we can see how much Claire has changed from the character who first appeared in Lady of Devices.

Now switch to the Mopsies, Elizabeth specifically, and she’s a very different character. Not just a very different character from the accomplished, successful Claire today, but also different from Lady Claire as we first saw her. From the very beginning, Lady Claire has been true to herself. She has always known who she is, always known what she wanted and always known what she was capable of. Armed with the advantages of her education and her upbringing, she has always had an adamant sense of self and a powerful confidence in herself. She knows what her goals are – it’s fighting to achieve them in a society rife with sexism and her own reduced circumstances. Her identity and goals have always been solid – but she has had to fight incredibly hard to be able to express both.

But when we get to Elizabeth we have a different story. Lizzie spent most of her life surviving on the streets of London – and even then she knows how lucky she was that she fell in with friends and good people and wasn’t attacked, raped or forced into prostitution as could so easily have happened (fates that are so far removed from the upper classes that one man can’t even stand to have her talk about them!) And now she’s torn between two worlds – on the one hand chided for slipping into the accents of the poor and working class, yet at the same time criticised for not respecting her flock properly – particularly giving Trigg and Lewis the cold shoulder and appearing to regard them as beneath her (while feeling incredibly conflicted). There’s the complexity of trying to fit in with what she regards as her new social peers while, at the same time they would ostracise her when they know her actual origins and if she associates with the flock. While Lady Claire always knew who she was and who she wanted to be, Lizzie doesn’t have that same surety – about who she is or her ultimate goal or how to achieve it. In many ways, Lizzie seems to be finding herself in this book.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

His Lordship Possessed (Disenchanted & Co #2) by Lynn Viehl

Kit is on the run – she doesn’t know who her enemy is, Lord Dredmore or Lord Walsh, nor does she know exactly why both of them are pursuing her so passionately, but she hides as more and more of her life is attacked and destroyed.

But as she tries to hold the pieces together, she learns of the true threat not just against her, but against the whole city. Ancient, immortal beings released from long captivity and split into factions at war – and one of those factions is coming to the city and determined to reduce everyone to little more than mindless slaves

And Lord Dredmore is deeply involved in the whole conflict

The world building of this world continues in the same style as the first book – in that it is rich and confusing. The world is huge. I strongly suspect the author has a huge stash of notes, alternate histories, magical rules and a vast amount of detailed work to really produce this alternate world. And it is fascinating – not just what was grasped from the first book – the alternate history, an America that lost the Revolutionary War, the magic that is so prevalent, the class system and its added bigotries against the Native Americans and women, but also in its expansion with the introduction of the Tillers and the Reapers and the whole Aramanthan thing.

But it was confused. A lot of this information was introduced extremely quickly, with little chance to truly assimilate it or digest it. Many times I had to flip back to try and catch up and sometimes I just plunged on not understanding and hoping things would become clear. I was lost several times, I had to work to keep up others.

Excellent world, amazing, imaginative and vast fun – but incredibly confusing and poorly conveyed.

I know some readers have also had problems with the language use – and there is a glossary at the back of the book. I didn’t – but then most of the language use are variations of anglicised slang, so, being English, it’s probably less of a problem for me.

I feel the story, because of this, rather lurched out of control. It started strongly, Kit running around trying to hold her life together as her enemies try to destroy her. She faces the law, she faces vandalism, she faces murder attempts and she continues to rise above and try to not just survive but survive on her own terms. Including the line:

“If I can’t live as I want… then why go on?”

As she rejects any suggestion that she leave the city and hide.

It’s action packed, it’s edge-of-your seat reading and we have so many diving questions pulling us in.

And then we get the answers and it’s like one great big brick wall of confusion laid across the tracks of the story and I’m laid in the wreckage of the train that was the plot trying to figure out where we’re going and why (that metaphor fell apart along the way).

Suddenly there’s possessed soldiers and magic stones and children with magical powers and Kit’s grandfather’s involved and there’s more possession and an invading army and secret societies and special powers which are super magic but completely separate from magic… I think?

The story continued as well as it could – we had action, we had Kit still directing her own life. We had Kit determined to save the city and Dredmore and being pretty cunning with it – but it was built on the shaky foundation of the very confusing world building. Well written, even well executed – but a great story can only go so far when the reader is confused and doubling back.

And the ending. On the one hand it was very satisfying – a good victory that was full of triumph and resolution and well worth cheering and being happy about. On the other hand, it came about because of a sudden magical bauble that did super-special stuff – none of it hinted at before, none of it fought for, none of it due to any actions on the part of the characters. It’s like reading a book that spends 300 pages depicting a character fighting desperately to find their way into a house, only to find the key in their pocket on page 290. It felt like a Deus Ex without the deity.

The society presented is very clearly labelled as misogynist. In many ways, Kit challenges this by merely existing as a woman who breaks all of the rules and by being openly scornful of the prejudice against women and the way it is used to force women to become property and even sex slaves. As part of that, we have an equal challenge of prejudice against prostitutes and the hypocritical double standard around sexual women and sexual men – all of which is fiercely challenged extremely well in this highly misogynist culture.

We also have Kit taking advantage of the misogynistic belief that, as a woman, she must be weak, feeble, delicate and foolish (always with biting sarcasm) which helps emphasise just how ridiculous the beliefs are because they fit Kit so poorly.

The one shaky side to this is that Kit herself seems to regard herself as an “exceptional woman”. Often regarding women collectively with faint derision – but this is partially understandable since Kit is a product of her own society, especially since it is subverted by Kit’s best friends and, pretty much, every woman in the story. Also a lot of it may be sarcasm. There’s a whole lot of glorious sarcasm.

We do not have any challenge of the massive problem of “dubious consent” in the last book. Kit is certainly bitter and angry from the experience – but though she’s angry at Dredmore, she’s also angry at herself and it’s more regrets and how she should have realised what a dastardly fiend he was, rather than outrage over the being kidnapped, chased down and stripped in the maze.  And Dredmore quickly returns as Kit’s love interest.

What we do have are more attempts to remove Kit’s agency (because she’s a helpless lady) failed and even be turned against the wielder (one excellent moment with drugged tea, for example) as Kit aggressively rejects even well-meaning attempts to control her “for her own good.” And the book ends, admittedly rather randomly, with Kit firmly in charge – leading Dredmore, Walsh and everyone else around as she solved the problems and created the solution (even if it did arise from a rather bizarre Deux Ex). If anyone could be said to be as strong as Kit in that moment, then it was Lady Walsh who rose to the occasion – which was extra satisfying because she so epitomised those “weak” women that Kit seemed to hold with a level of contempt.

Unfortunately, for all the excellent portrayal of women, class and sex workers, there were no POC and no GBLT people in this book.

This book, both of these books (and, really, they should have been put together as one book) is one of extremes. There’s no “good” or “bad”, there’s “supremely awesome” and “grossly horrendous”. The world is supremely awesome, the way it’s conveyed is grossly horrendous. The story is supremely awesome, the way it ends is grossly horrendous. On a variety of issues this book is truly excellent, but equally it’s truly terrible on others. It makes it quite hard to judge

In the end, I have to come down on the lower end of the scale both for the love interest’s unchallenged arseholery, the weak ending and, above all, that shaky world building. Because that’s a foundation on which the whole book is built – and it doesn’t matter how amazing the story you build on top of that is, it’s still going to crumble and fall.

Sleepy Hollow, Season One, Episode Three: For the Triumph of Evil...

When Abbie arrives at the police station she learns that Ichabod is interrogating a suspect. I guess this week we are going to get a bit of fast and loose with the law. The doctor watching the interview suggests that the suspect is building an insanity defense. Abbie learns that they are interrogating Abigail Mills and when she walks into the room, she notices that Ichabod has no pupils and she is unable to leave the room. A monster approaches Abbie and she wakes to her phone ringing. Abbie is told that emergency response has requested her.

When Abbie arrives at the scene she briefly discusses the dream with Ichabod before learning Dr. Vega is on a rooftop and refusing to speak to anyone except her.  Dr. Vega says that what Jenny saw was real and says that she should have told the truth.  Dr. Vega is the woman that appeared in Abbie's dream. Vega then jumps to her death.

The next morning Abbie is asked what happened and she says that Vega's eyes were glazed over white and that it was like she was sleep walking. Ichabod marches off to check the body and when he opens the eye it bursts into sand. Abbie reveals to Frank that Vega mentioned her sister Jenny and surmises that this is how she knew about her. When Frank walks away Ichabod asks if there is information that Abbie didn't share with Frank.  Abbie becomes resistant once again to the idea that she is a Witness but Ichabod points out that the creature in her nightmare is the true cause of Vegas death.  Abbie suggests that they stick with regular detective work.

Abbie looks through Vegas notes where she states that she didn't believe that Jenny was crazy. Abbie says that Vega felt guilty for keep Jenny hospitalised and calls the case closed. Ichabod refuses to give up and brings up Abbie's dream and wonders why Abbie is still doubting. Ichabod believes that Jenny and Abbie are a threat to the demon; Abbie resists because she does not talk to her sister but Ichabod is insistent.

They arrive at the hospital and Abbie says that Jenny won't help them because she is a cop and Jenny is a criminal.  Ichabod questions whether or not their current legal system incarcerates all thieves in sanatoriums and Abbie reveals that Jenny told the cops that she needed the money because she was preparing for the end of the world. Ichabod decrees that Jenny is perfectly sane.  While they are waiting to see Jenny Abbie remembers the vision of her partner, the sheriff saying not to be afraid of number 49. The nurse the tells Abbie that Jenny does not want to see her, which surprises Ichabod because he  believes that Jenny should have no choice because Abbie is a cop.  Ichabod then asks Abbie's permission to see Jenny.

Jenny admits that she agreed to see Ichabod because she was curious. Ichabod tells her that he has seen the demon in the woods and Jenny instructs him to be quiet because they lock people up when they act crazy  Jenny tells Ichabod to get Abbie to tell him the dirty details.  Ichabod grabs a seat and tells Jenny that Vegas is dead and that the doctor said that they all have it coming.  He adds that the four horsemen are coming and that the first is already here.  Jenny stands and tells Ichabod that if he means what he says that there isn't much she can do and that her conscience is clear.  Jenny questions whether Abbie can say the same.

Ichabod and Abbie are leaving the institution and he asks about the rift between Abbie and Jenny. Abbie says that it's complicated but Ichabod points out that the consequences of keeping the secret could be dire.  Abbie agrees to trust Ichabod and says that when she and Jenny saw that thing in the woods that she remembers waking and realising that it had been four days and the entire town had been looking for them. The people asked questions she didn't want to answer and so she told Jenny not to say anything but Jenny told them about what she saw. When Abbie was asked what she saw, Abbie said that she didn't see anything.  The cops then dragged Jenny away as she begged Abbie to tell the truth. Abbie felt that if they started talking about demons they would have been put back into the foster system.  Ichabod tells her that she was frightened but there is no reason to be afraid today.  Abbie says that what is between her and Jenny is between her and Jenny.  Ichabod suggests that they go and see Gillespie - the man who also saw the demon when he found Abbie and Jenny.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gods Among Us - Episode Five

As Baldr, Olaf is reborn each day but what was his life like before he became a God? In his very long life, what kinds of things has Olaf seen or done?

The Devil You Know (Demon Legacy Series #1) by J.M. Gregoire

Mike and Dez, vampire and half-demon, are just pursuing a relationship together after a long period of friendship; confronting the fear that everything may irrevocably change between them.

But a far greater fear is stalking the world – a demon has managed to breach the barrier between worlds and seeks the stone that will allow him to open the doors wide and bring his forces across the great divide. Mike and Dez, joined by Mike’s heart broken brother, Lucas and backed by the council of witch and vampire covens race to catch the demon and stop him before it’s too late.

First of all, this book is a short story/novella start to a new series and, I have to say, I don’t think that’s a good idea.

The first book in a series is your hook, your bait. It’s the tasty morsel of joy you hang in front of me that lures me into the series and makes me look for book 2. It has to drag me in, it has to get me invested in the series and want to see the story continue.

Which means it has to develop some decent characters. It has to showcase a brand new world. It has to show off your writing style to the best possible extent. It has to establish a story, both interesting enough to make this book good and with sufficient points left open to make the next book necessary so I have a reason to stay with the series

All of that is a tall order in a full length book. In a novella it’s nearly impossible.

And I don’t think this book really achieved any of these.

The world has vampire, witches and demons. The witches and vampires are organised into covens and the demons want to do bad things because, well, they’re demons, it’s what they do. And that’s kind of it. I don’t know the why of anything, how these things interacts, how the magic works – I know there was a war deep back in history but that’s about it. I don’t even know how old the principle characters are beyond “very”. The world is hollow, the world is generic, the organisations that make up the world – the covens, the record keeper, the guardians – they’re all just words. This becomes especially glaring when the guardians seem to be utterly incapable of actually guarding anything.

The characters – well the most developed characters two me were introduced in the prologue, their personality, their relationship, their feelings are more real than anyone else’s – and they become pretty irrelevant once the prologue is done.

The main characters, Deziree and Michael feel much more shallow. Michael has one element – attraction to Dez. In fact, their whole romance is an unnecessary distraction, in this short book, from the actual end-of-the-world plot that is supposed to be their main attention. Michael feels almost… distracted by the end of the world. Especially since that’s pretty much all we have on Michael – he’s a mercenary (totally unexplained what that means and who for) who was called in for REASONS and he loves Dez, that’s it

Now move to Dez and we do know a lot more about her – she’s a thief and a bar owner and we know her position on a range of topics – because Dez doesn’t have issues, she has entire compilation volumes. Dez has mother issues over her dead, raped mother. She has daddy issues that come to the fore. She has issues over falling in love and immortality (or at least longevity). She has issues with her adoptive mother. She has issues with loving Michael. She has issues with her own demon blood and what that means for her.

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 1: The Heart of the Truest Believer

My things have changed since last season! Emma’s pregnant and giving birth – and screaming so intensely she can apparently knock out the electrics. Might want to get an electrician to look at that. The baby is born – it’s a boy – and the doctor realises that Emma doesn’t want to know the details because she’s giving him up for adoption. Ahh, flashback – they could have at least tried to make Emma look younger. She tearfully says she can’t be a mother

And we move to the present day Emma, Hook’s pirate ship and a terrible ocean storm as they navigate through the portal in their quest to rescue Henry (I’m going to restrain my desperate urge to ask why they want to. Really).  Everyone gets through in one piece (including the Charmings, alas). To Neverland.

Y’know, no matter how dramatically Hook says it, there’s no way “Neverland” can ever sound menacing.

Henry is being held captive by Tamara and Greg and he threatens them with the wrath of both of his mothers. Apparently Tamara and Greg want to destroy Neverland because it has super-duper magic- and they don’t ask their bosses any questions like how they leave a land they’re destroying before they get destroyed with it – because they believe in their cause (and they are not the brightest sparks out there).  This becomes more clear when Tamara tries to call their mysterious bosses and can’t. There could be a fancy magical reason – or it could be that their little walkie-talkie is full of sand, not batteries. As Henry points out, their whole not asking questions thing isn’t really working out for them.

Regina and Hook have a moment reflecting on being the villains, how villains don’t get happy endings and how that means their lives have been pretty wasted. Don’t worry guys, your character development is so completely and utterly random you could be freaking saints by the end of the series. Or randomly declare that you are, in fact, pretty pretty teapots, it would make as much sense.

And the charming family has a little chit-chat – Mary Margaret of the Wet Lettuce insists Emma shouldn’t blame herself about Neal and Henry to which Emma counters “I don’t – I blame you”. She blames listening to Mary Margaret and David who grew up in fairy tale where good always wins; furthermore, the whole trying to be parents thing is nice but David and Mary Margaret are the same age as Emma so pulling the older, wiser, advisor is silly. If Emma hadn’t broken the curse, she could have just been with Henry (well, not quite – since you had no legal right to be near him and it was only by breaking into fairytale land that completely suspended actual legal systems and made David de-facto leader for REASONS that suddenly made you magically Henry’s legitimate guardian. But, hey, you’re ranting at Mary Margaret of the Wet Lettuce, so far be it from me to nitpick).

The Charmings continue to be fluffy bunnies with their endless boundless optimism while Emma rants that their optimism is completely and utterly unfounded! And Gold throws in his opinion – he’s going to get Henry back because Emma will fail – because she doesn’t believe in magic until forced (and why should she have?), because she doesn’t believe in her parents (the Charmings of the Wet Lettuce?) or herself so she is doomed to fail. He mocks and derides her for constantly looking for evidence and never just believing stuff.

Is everyone seriously dogpiling Emma because she insists on logic and reasoning rather than believing shit and hoping it comes true?

Gold adds that Neverland is a place of wild imagination – and Emma doesn’t have that, before he magically disappears.

Back on land, Greg is still on message wanting to contact their employers while Tamara is having doubts. Greg warns her against Henry’s manipulation – please, Greg, your communicator had no batteries, her doubts are not unreasonable here. Made all the more apparent when a group of teenagers with clubs appear and introduce themselves as the Home Office.

See, this is why you really should research your employers first.

Henry correctly identifies them as the Lost Boys – and no, they don’t want to destroy magic, Greg and Tamara just seemed to believe absolutely anything they’re told. They want Henry and there’s no plan to send Tamara and Greg home – Greg smugly declares they won’t hand Henry over (ignoring the fact they’re out numbered 4 to one by people with big sticks and sharp things) and Peter Pan, the shadow monster, steals Greg’s shadow – this is apparently not healthy and Greg collapses to the floor, possibly dead. Tamara gets shot with an arrow which looks equally unhealthy and possibly dead – and Henry makes a run for it. Henry escapes when an ex-Lost Boy grabs him and helps hide him.

The boy is all despair and Henry proves he is Mary Margaret of the Wet Lettuce’s grandson with lots of “I promise everything will be ok”, uh-huh. However he is right when he says his family is different and them coming for him is considerably more likely than most of the boys kidnapped to Neverland. The fugitive Lost Boy is on Pan’s hitlist for stealing pixie dust (which doesn’t work – probably lack of happy thoughts there, grumpy), this exposition concludes when they decide to hide in the Echo Caves, the only place the Lost Boys can’t track them – I kind of think they should have been making a bee-line there.

Back on the ship, Emma exercises and Hook appears to give her Neal’s old sword (since Neal/Baelfire spent some time with Hook in Neverland after random portalling) and for Hook and Emma to build a little more of that sexual tension between them.

It also reminds who Neal is in time for him to wake up in the Enchanted Forest, ready for Mulan, Aurora and Phillip to question. Lots of random splutterings where they kind of learn Neal is Henry’s father (and from the Enchanted forest) and Aurora offers her Dream Walking abilities (hereby snarkily referred to as the power to Take To One’s Bed) to try and contact Mary Margaret or others in whichever world they’re in.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Gods Among Us - Episode Four

Thor has made a few unforgettable appearances on The Almighty Johnsons. He is certainly far removed from the Marvel character. That being said Thor had children and we never got to see them. This time, Olaf tells us about what it's like to spend time with someone related Thor and as you might image, it's anything but normal.

Star Trek: Generations

Alright, I fully admit that by doing a marathon on all of the Star Trek movies, I am stepping completely outside of our stated genre, but as a life long Trekkie, this simply had to happen. Given the success of this franchise, I'm betting that at least a few of our readers are also Star Trek fans. Of course, I will stick to the usual social justice perspective, as we work our way through the series.

Star Trek Generations is the film that bridges the gap between the original series and Star Trek The Next Generation.  It begins when we see a much older Kirk, Scotty and Chekov present for the launch of USS- Enterprise B.  This is the first time we are introduced to Sulu's daughter and Kirk asks when Sulu had time for a family.  I think this comment is very telling because it shows exactly the kind of relationship that Kirk and Sulu have.  Clearly it never progressed beyond a professional one, if Kirk didn't know that Sulu had a daughter.  Kirk being Kirk, cannot stand still when the Enterprise is in trouble and he sacrifices himself to save the ship, which is being damaged by the Nexus - a utopian ribbon in space.

I found discussions of utopia quite fascinating.  The idea that they can never be real and that we cannot hold onto it and must exist in the real world.  It almost suggests that searching for happiness is not worthwhile. It's interesting because Star Trek itself is meant to be a utopian view of the future.  In the Star Trek Universe, racism, sexism, hunger and poverty are all supposedly things of the past, or so they would like the audience to believe.  By projecting utopia as unappealing and unrealistic, in many ways it felt like a reversal of its own narrative.

Flash forward to Picard's Enterprise and Worf is finally being promoted in a ceremony at sea.  Picard gets a message that his nephew René is dead and becomes maudlin because this means that the Picard line is coming to and end.  You see, he had never felt the burden to reproduce because of René. Thus, we have the premise of the movie - regret. It is the motivation behind Soran's drive to return to the Nexus where he can be with his family once again and the struggle of both captains between duty and family.

Dark Union (Descent Series #3) by SM Reine

Elise and Anthony are still reeling from the events that shook their lives and the loss of Betty. They’re barely getting by, Anthony having lost almost as much as Elise and Elise crawling into a bottle and refusing to listen to anyone – especially people in need.

Until an old Kopis contact, Lucas, contacts her – and he’s a man she owes and trusts and cannot say no to. He needs her and Anthony to pretend to be him and his wife to represent his territory. It’s time for a 50 year meeting of Angels and Demons to get together and squabble with the Kopides standing guard – and Lucas’s wife Letitia is heavily pregnant and he can’t be there. If he doesn’t attend the Union, a new organisation, will take over.

When Elise turns up, however, she finds that Lucas has heavily edited events and finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation.

Unfortunately, this book is a low be for me in a series I really like. I try to tell myself it’s a bridging book, one leading us from the original storyline to the whole new place where the series is clearly going and to a degree I can see that – but equally I can see the book as pretty unnecessary.

A lot of dramatic things happened at the end of the last book, some grand revelations about Elise herself, some major expositions of her vast, shiny power and some wandering around heavenly realms. It felt, in many ways, like the end of an era and definitely the start of a whole new chapter in Elise’s life.

Except the last book also brought us the death of Betty, which, coupled with James’s absence (and a rift between James and Elise) means we only have 2 main characters in this book – Elise and Anthony who are both grieving. And by “grieving” I mean angry and surly and non-communicative and inclined to be drunk and snarling at just about everything and anything. Elise’s general kick arse attitude

It’s not fun. Even if they have a reason for the behaviour it’s still not endearing or particularly interesting. Elise being in silent mode also means a lot of things aren’t developed – we know she has parental issues and have a rough idea why but it’s not explored. She doesn’t want anyone else in Reno  but I’m not entirely sure why and she doesn’t particularly want to tell the Kopis world that she’s still around but I’m not entirely sure why. Ok, note the “entirely” there, because I’m pretty sure I know why by extrapolating on her character but she’s a brick wall of surly grumpiness and it’s hard to get a connection to her. I also, to be honest, completely forgot that she and Anthony were dating because they were completely and utterly non-couplish this entire book. I would say they barely tolerated each other but even that may be a bit of a stretch

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gods Among Us - Episode Three

This time, Zeb is exploring what it's like to become a God. Unsurprising Olaf has some unaddressed issues where this is concerned. Apparently, it's no fun to be the butt of a cosmic joke.

Haven, Season 4, Episode 3: Bad Blood

In the tunnels under Haven where a worker is checking on the wiring, something is moving in the water. Something with odd red-tinted vision – and something that jumps on the worker and splatters blood everywhere. Why it’s almost a Supernatural start to an episode.

On the surface, the Teagues bicker their way into Dwight’s office; Dwight has intercepted one of Nathan’s faxes. Someone thinks they’ve found Audrey – or, rather, her body. This instantly sets of a lot more bickering since Vince isn’t sure he can stop the Guard killing Nathan without Audrey (Dave objects ferociously and their bickering has to be stopped by Dwight, again).

Nathan, meanwhile, pokes Duke about poking Jennifer to refresh her memories about what she heard from the barn now she’s off her meds. Duke checks that but it’s more a lead in for slowly building not-quite-flirting between him and Jennifer and worries about Wade (who is apparently partying now his marriage is crumbling) and trying to get him out of town. And he has a minor panic when Jennifer accidentally cuts herself – since the blood of the Troubled sets off his own “kill-troubled-people-with-my-super-strength” Trouble.

He tries to talk to his brother which doesn’t go well – starting with Wade defending their murderous father repeatedly and not being happy with Duke being possessive over his bar

And the Guard still don’t like Nathan, which is a surprise to no-one. But it’s time for this week’s Trouble and the poor guy who took a wrong turn from Supernatural’s opening credits. Apparently the guy was drained of blood without a cut on him – and he’s not the only one. Nathan is also being stalked by Jordan, presumably to stop anything killing him before Audrey gets the chance to do so (therefore ending the Troubles).

They do make the connection with the sewer lines so come up with a cover to convince people to stay away from them (is there really anyone in Haven not aware of the Troubles yet?). Except across town a woman taking a show has a similar blood splattery experience – so the threat is all drains or all water sources? When Nathan and Dwight arrive, there’s not a drop of blood to be found around the exsanguinated body, despite the splatter we saw. Even a luminol test shows nothing.

When Dwight tries to run Jordan off, they both see a large pool of blood oozing its way into a sewer grate.