Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 14: No Exit

Damon and Enzo have invited a local farmer and his wife to host them – well be dinner anyway, but Enzo thinks this is no reason to not show good manners towards one’s host. It’s good to see a vampire with standards in these wayward times. He’s also keeping a close eye on the clock to see how long Damon can go before he needs his vampire blood after the little oopsie last episode.

The farmer them wakes up – their solution to Damon’s little problem is to turn people into vampires for Damon to eat. Well, it’s one way to make it work. They also have a bet about whether the farmer’s wife left him or not – and yes, I was totally wrong and laughed. Enzo’s also not impressed by Damon’s attempts to scare him off.

I take it all back, get Damon off the redemption train, cut everyone else, let’s just follow Enzo and Damon on their evil little tour of mayhem, they’re just so much fun together! It also shows how very much Dr. Wes didn’t think things through

Alas it’s not to be and we have to deal with Stefan helping Kathlena study for her history test. Katherine is still the worst at being undercover and reveals her in depth, detailed knowledge of history (though I semi-agree with her take in the treaty of Westphalia) that there’s absolutely no way Elena knew (because she never actually went to school unless there was a dance, ball, party, founder’s parade etc – which was, admittedly, every 3 weeks). This is interrupted by Caroline bringing in some research from her mother (who will always be Founderella to me) that basically confirms that Damon is eating vampires. Stefan has a bit of a guilt trip and Caroline is still clearly uncomfortable with Kathlena’s eager chasing of Stefan.

Tyler calls Caroline and apparently the incident with him being pissed at her over sleeping with his mother’s murderer has evolved into “when he nearly killed you” in Stefan’s eyes which is an interesting… reinterpretation of events. Anyway, he’s worried about the disappearing Matt after Nadia was playing compulsion games with him. Caroline decides this is a great time for her and Tyler to work together to find him despite Tyler loathing her right now – because you really want to spend more quality time with the woman who embraced the murderer of your mother and a substantial number of your friends, right?

Kathlena contacts Nadia because the whole Matt disappearing thing was totally not part of her awful awful plan to hang around in the middle of nowhere with people who will very soon guess she’s not Elena especially since she’s really really bad at undercover work. Nadia wants to recompell him to forget once the vervain has left his system, Katherine just wants him dead. I kind of want him dead too – but only because he is a completely unnecessary, dull character. Nadia isn’t on board with killing people to keep the secret especially since Katherine is doing such an utterly awful job of it herself, she’s rather stay and canoodle with Matt; once she knows what it means anyway

Enzo and Damon have been followed by Dr Wes (who has to die) and his friendly pack of travellers who chant them into being trapped in the house. The plan is to trap them both in the house and see how long Damon can go before he munches on Enzo. Alas they even covered the throw things out the window plan. Has anyone tried the roof?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Up From the Grave (Night Huntress Series #7) by Jeaniene Frost

Kat and Bones have a very happy life having found a sense of normality and peace – but not so much for Tate and the other members of her team. Working under the devious new director, Madigan, they all seem to have disappeared mysteriously. Obviously Kat and Bones can’t let that slide – especially since it’s clear that Madigan is hiding something that the Vampire and Ghoul nations will need to know about

When they find the full extent of what he was doing, not only is it horrific but it has horrendous potential consequences should the results be known. And not cleaned up

But cleaning it up means the death of a child who has already suffered so much – Kat must find a way to prevent disaster striking them all, and living with the aftermath

This book has a moment of utter guilty pleasure epic for me in the middle which had good and bad points. On the good – while I like character development and nuanced plot lines, sometimes it’s fun to read about pure mayhem, well written, glorious, bloodthirsty chaos! Especially in this genre where the actual sheer destructive power of vampires is surprisingly often muted. It’s an abstract, or buried under mustiness, or fear of humans finding out or something. There’s usually an urge to keep the mayhem off screen or have it in bouts followed by lots of guilt.

This? Not so much. This was a pack of vampires against a human opponent who had effectively declared war. Destruction, mayhem and a whole lot of “you REALLY shouldn’t have done that” follow and it was epic, it was exciting, it was glorious, it was carnage and the bodies piled high and I should have been so very disapproving as the red shirts piled up in glorious bloody heaps – but I wasn’t. Because they’re vampires and someone has screwed with them and if you’re going to screw with super powerful creatures then you should expect to have your arm ripped off and you to be beaten to death with the soggy end.

It was epic and I loved it. It was a great and glorious ending

In the middle of the book.

It kind of took me a long time to get back into the story after that. I had had my grand finale. I had had Kat and Bones establishing their Happily Ever After – and it did it really well. The book opened with Kat thinking how perfect her life was, how she loved her husband, how she loved her friends and how she had, over the course of the series, completely resolved all of her self-hatred issues (which has been a fun and complex journey to follow). With the big glorious slaughter with Kat, Bones and just a few of her allies slaughtering their enemies with ease and glee, it established that Kat’s happy life was also secure because they were all far too powerful to be messed with any more. It was a great ending.

But the book kept going. Part of that is I get the sense that Kat’s HEA was somehow unsatisfactory – especially since a child was then inserted to “complete” Kat and Bones’s family and I’m not sure how happy I am with that. Kat and Bones had an epic HEA, I’m not sure why it would be broken without the addiction of a child figure to make it more real.

Not that I didn’t like the storyline of finding and protecting Katie. In fact, it was an excellent contrast to the slaughter they had just unleashed. There we got to see how ruthless, how dangerous they could be when it came down to protecting themselves against outside threats. Anyone who threatens them, anyone involved in actions against them, will be slaughtered – brutally and epically. However, the other side is not only do they spare the innocent but they’re not willing to see an innocent killed just because it would be convenient to preventing the vampire/ghoul world being shattered by tension again. They’re ruthless, but they’re just, they’re harsh, but they have limits.

And I think that contrast would have been far better served and far better done without Kat having a super special reason to care for Katie and this freaky forced relationship that I just didn’t really buy. And “didn’t really buy” unfortunately holds for a lot of the story – Bones pulls a trick we’ve seen him do before but it works because he’s decided to keep a load of his growing powers secret from Kat for… reasons. And Denise is an awful, terrible character – not because of her personality, but her power set is world breaking. She’s too powerful. She’s too useful. She just wanders in and FIXES things, she’s a friendly Deus Ex to help the author out of a tricky spot.

Revolution, Season Two, Episode Fourteen: Fear and Loathing

In New Vegas, Connor and Monroe are dragged and dumped into a chain-link cage.  Charlie who is still free, moves along the outskirts and she follows Duncan Page. Gould reveals that he knows who Bass is and announces that Connor and Bass are going to fight.  When Connor agrees, Bass informs Connor that this is a fight to death. Monroe reaches through the fence and puts a knife to Gould's throat and Gould tells his soldiers to shoot Connor if Bass does not let him go.  With no options, Bass withdraws and Gould says that the fight is tomorrow and if they try to throw the fight, he will shoot both of them on the spot, before walking away.  Connor asks how they are going to get out and Bass asks if he has any ideas. Connor points out that Charlie is still free, but Bass is not hopeful and instead informs Connor that he is going to teach him how to kill.

Neville, Miles, Jason and Rachel are at the site of the old field hospital and it seems that the Patriots are making renovations.  When Rachel asks about Doyle, both Neville and Jason deny knowledge of who he is. Miles suggests picking up Doyle to find out what the Patriots are up to.

Outside of Duncan's camp,  Charlie makes her way through the crowd.  She is stopped and grabbed by two men.  Duncan refers to Charlie as Monroe's bitch and asks where her diamonds are.  Charlie says that there is a delay and that Gould has Monroe.  Charlie asks for help getting Bass out and Duncan says that she is not going to make things worse for herself  Charlie points out that without Duncan's help, Monroe will die and adds that she cannot do this alone.  Duncan orders Charlie taken away.

Alone, Jason tells Neville that Doyle is building a re-education center and he is keeping cadets in barrels. Neville points out that they don't have a choice but Jason reminds Neville that Doyle took his mother. Neville reminds Jason that their job is to find Bass and kill him and that saving his mother is their top priority.  At a distance, Rachel and Miles talk about the sense of trusting Neville and Jason.  Miles says that if the Nevilles have actually turned that they would make a great addition to the team. Miles informs Rachel that he wants her to stay behind when they go to grab Doyle and Rachel replies that he needs to stop worrying about her.

In Lubbock Texas, Aaron and Priscilla are still locked in a room.  Aaron paces while Priscilla sleeps. When Aaron looks in the mirror, the nanos appear in the form of Cynthia and repeatedly say, "save us."  Aaron tells the nanos that he is sick of their crap.  The nanos reveal that they are dying and then disappear.  Priscilla wakes up and says that she saw her father who said, "save us," and asks what it means

Back in Vegas, Monroe is coaching Connor on how to fight.  Monroe quickly defeats Connor and then informs him that he has a blind spot in his left eye and tells Connor to come at him from the left.  Connor puts down his weapon and suggests they should make a run at the guards.  Bass makes it clear that this is not a good plan because they are surrounded by men with rifles.  Bass tells Connor that he has to take him down for real because Gould will know.  Connor refuses to participate saying that he is not going to kill Bass. Miles tells Connor that he should want to kill him because he got his mother killed by dragging her into gunfight where she got shot, bled out and died in his arms. Connor does not believe what Bass is saying so Bass asserts that this is the truth and asks how Connor feels about him now.  Connor picks up a weapon and attacks and this time he quickly over powers Monroe.

Miles and Neville watch the patriot camp where Doyle is walking around giving orders.  Neville says that he and Miles are quite a team and Miles tells Tom that he never liked him.  Miles sympathisez with Neville's loss of Julia and Neville says that there''s nothing he wouldn't do to see Julia again.  Jason shows up and says that he has found a place with a better vantage point.  Before they leave, Neville snarks about Miles getting together with Rachel.

Peter walks into Priscilla and Aaron's room and asks, "what save us," means.  Priscilla asks if they should pretend that they are all friends again.  Peter apologizes saying that the nanos wanted them there and that there is something is wrong with the code. Aaron admits that there must be a problem with the code and that eventually the nanos will become corrupt and die.  Peter calls them blessed and adds that everything that has happened has led them to the opportunity to save the nanos.  Aaron points out that there are not a lot of computers around.  Prisicilla asks what happens if they refuse to help, and Peter says that they don't have a choice and cannot fight fate.  Peter adds that the nanos are alive who answers their prayers and heals and is therefore a new God.  Priscilla refuses to help and adds that she wants the nanos to die because it is too powerful. Peter asks them not to force him to do anything he doesn't want to do.

The Tomorrow People, Season 1, Episode 14: Brother's Keeper

In the aftermath of the drive by at the sandwich shop, Marla (quite possibly the worst parent in the world) leaps into action – teleporting him and hitting her secret stash of cash after having Stephen drop Astrid and her dad off at the bus stop. She tells him to pack while he would rather talk because HUGE BIG REVELATION of the secret she has been keeping for NO DAMN REASON. She’s busy but the best she can manage is “it’s the only way I knew how to help.” She tries to get him to run saying, as his mother, she protects him but Stephen is hella pissed at the severely awful job she’s done so far.

When Jedikiah and some gun toting minions burst in – apparently to help (he, like everyone else in the world, doesn’t know about Marla). He wants some time alone with Stephen which she allows after she and Stephen have a brief, telepathic conversation.

Alone, Jedikiah assures Stephen it was the Founder who ordered the hit on Astrid and Jedikiah is totally the good one. Now enough of these silly making deals with the Founder, come back to Jed and all will be forgiven. Stephen’s not buying that because of the whole Jedikiah ordering his dad’s death – but Jedikiah wants him to know the truth and offers him access to his mind.

Where we see that Jedikiah and Roger clearly had a close relationship. But they still have a difference of opinion – Jedikiah, with a very very very very sketchy view of evolution, believes that paranormals have evolved to replace his species (normal humans) so humans simply have to kill them – and to do that he has to ally with the Founder for REASONS. Roger would rather everyone not kill each other and he opposes the Founder – which worries Jedikiah because the Founder will force him to go after Roger and his family. This is your ally to preserve your species?

Back to reality and he tells Stephen he tried to warn Roger. That’s his excuse. And he doesn’t think they can run and avoid the Founder so they should all stay, Stephen keep working for Ultra and they can all rely on Jedikiah to keep them safe. Stephen… agrees.

Oh for the love of sense – someone get me a drink, there’s no way I’m getting through this episode sober.

Away from the sucking void where intelligence should be, we have some plot – a man called Alexis appears to be in police protection when a paranormal knocks out two of his guards then starts garrotting him.

Alas, the void drags us back – Stephen drops in on The Tomorrow People HQ and isn’t amused to see, in a time when he’s facing death threats and drive by shootings, Cara’s kicked John out for Refusing to Respect Her Authoritay! Stephen goes out and finds a rather drunk John to take home to crash – much to Marla’s surprise (I would say inviting people home without informing parents is an arsehole move, but after what Marla’s pulled, Stephen has the Everest of moral high grounds to perch upon).

Which is basically what he tells her – she lost the right to make decisions when she spent a year drugging him. She protests that she protects them and he hits back that’s what he’s been doing for months. She agrees to one night before they leave but she doesn’t buy the idea that his dad is going to save them all (does she even know he’s dead?)

Next day it’s back to work with Jedikiah and investigating Alexi’s murder (well, trying to find the Paranormal anyway), they’re watched by a pouty Cara who goes back to base to tell Russell about a paranormal who can apparently kill which is supposedly impossible (barring a few exceptions who she Does Not Want To Talk About).

Stephen goes home to check with John about paranormals who can kill (since John is one of them) and John  takes a second to try and get Stephen to forgive his mother. Um… no. Really. John is confident that all of his fellow classmates are dead, but that doesn’t mean Jedikiah hasn’t started up the program again without telling anyone.

Tyler Posey and the Sterek Fandom

Tyler Posey, the actor who plays Scott on Teen Wolf has said something less than complimentary about the Sterek (Stiles/Derek) slash ship - he believes it’s a bizarre, weird, twisted thing. And a large amount of fandom has lost it’s ever loving mind - including lots of accusations of being homophobic.

I feel the need to respond to Tyler Posey’s comments by saying - I completely agree: Sterek is a bizarre, weird, twisted thing.

I actually do hate Sterek - yes me, a gay man, hates the Sterek ship - if you want to run at me yelling “homophobe” over this then I will Have Words.

I hate Sterek because of its power in fandom, because of the way the show creators pander to it (as we’ve mentioned before) with endless slash bait that makes both a fetish and a joke of gay male sexuality. I hate it because the actual gay characters on the show are repeatedly ignored in favour of an imaginary ship. I hate the message this sends to show creators - I hate the idea that hints and subtext are all that is needed for GBLT inclusion because fans will always be happy - and excited - and that this is so much more important than actual representation that actual representation can be ignored in favour of it. The counter argument to this is usually that “it’s all we have so we have to make the most of it” but Danny and Ethan are there and are real and are comparatively ignored. There’s more focus on Sterek than an actual gay couple who have actually had sex, including at conventions and certainly on places like twitter and tumblr where the show creators are bombarded with fannish squee over the pairing. There are even Sterek fans who threatened to boycott Season 3, Episode 6: Hotel California because Derek and Jennifer had sex - their precious Derek was with a woman. Never mind this was also the first episode where we saw Danny and Ethan have sex; pause and absorb that for a second. That is beyond twisted.

I hate that the show creators are clearly listening to this and listening to the Sterek Shippers. I hate that they’re happy to pander to the character hate of anyone who dares to get between their preferred pairing and they’re willing to add to the slashbait and hints of this non-inclusion while continuing to keep the actual GBLT characters so very much in the background.

And I hate it because of the whole way it has changed how Teen Wolf is viewed as a show.

Teen Wolf is hailed as one of the most pro-gay shows on television. And that is really twisted.


We have 2 canonical gay characters on the show, Danny and Ethan. Other than them we have a couple of brief cameo appearances in one off episodes. Yay, two very minor characters, that’s way better than the 30 shows we watch that are completely erased - but two extremely minor side characters hardly worthy of inclusion cookies - in fact, we’ve scathingly criticised a number of shows for having such minor, token members of minority groups.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nightmaster (Nightsiders #2) by Susan Krinard

Trinity is a dhampire and an Aegis agent and she has a mission – to infiltrate the vampire city of Erebus and contact the Underground there. They’ve had communication that the vampires are building up to another war against the human Enclave and she has to find out more – and stop it if she can.

But the only way humans get into Erebus is as serfs – blood slaves owned by the vampire Bloodlords and Bloodmasters. But that could work in her favour – considering the addictive blood of the dhampire.

Ares is one of the oldest and most powerful Bloodmaster’s in the city, but also one of the least active. What he wants most out of life is to be left alone; but when he finds himself in a dual over Trinity, a new serf, he finds himself dragged into vampire politics far more than he would wish to – but it is past time for the city to change.

When this book started I cringed. Trinity is undercover and being literally sold as a slave to Ares, they see each other and… we get pages and pages and pages of overwhelming description of how hot they each find the other – before they know each other’s names, barely recognising their difference in status or their mission – it was hawt hawt hawt, breaking the habit of millennia because ZOMG SO HAWT.

I admit I checked how long the book was and seriously considered putting it down right there.

But I hung in there, waded through some more HAWT HAWT HAWT, and more dubious romance elements like him manhandling her – then expressing his regret for manhandling her but, of course, keeping on the table that she lives or dies at his whim so his regret means not a thing. And we have his current Favourite sex slave who

This book also tries really hard to make it all consensual but it doesn’t – cannot – really work. Ares is determined that he won’t have sex with Trinity until she wants him to (and even then he keeps saying no for Reasons, but largely because the plot wants to draw out this conflict extra extra long), even ignoring her when she begs him to have sex with her and drink her blood. But she’s a slave – she is property and at any moment he can either abuse her or pass her on to someone who will. We know she consents because we can read her mind – but he cannot. He cannot ever know if her enthusiastic consent is real or just feigned in an attempt to secure her own safety. You cannot have informed consent in these circumstances.

So, I wasn’t enthused. But as I read on things got rapidly better. Trinity didn’t instantly jump on Ares’s team and abandon her old loyalties because of her lust – because it was lust. She continued to push her plan to gain control over Ares by any means necessary, to work with the resistance and, ultimately, to continue to serve her people. Yes she lusts after Ares, yes she even comes to care for Ares (and, yes, it is fast but at least it does develop and there is a sense of time about it unlike in the previous book) but that doesn’t radically alter her priorities

Same with Ares, he doesn’t radically change his viewpoint because of Trinity. He slowly evolves – and he evolves from a position that wasn’t too far from it. He wants Trinity, he grows to love Trinity, but love for Trinity alone isn’t enough for him to turn his house upside down, burn all the things and utterly change his life.

Both of them do. Both of them radically change their lives, their opinions and their positions. They both betray the people they once were, Ares being forced well out of his preferred isolation and Trinity rethinking her mission and taking very drastic steps that will irrevocably change her life. They just don’t do it just for the love of a person they haven’t known that long. Sure love is a part, but Ares is faced with enemies who are actively plotting to bring him down, has things happening in his household, in his own family he never even imagined and one of his oldest friends is actively involved and up to their neck. He can’t not act – he has to do something and I even get the distinct impression that if the only thing pulling him into acting were Trinity’s love then he’d turn around and wave goodbye.

Supernatural: Season 9, Episode 14: Captives

There be something creepy moving around the Winchester cave – and it gets in Dean’s headphones. He calls for Sam – but when Sam arrives Dean’s missing. The lights are flickering and things are moving without anything touching them: Sam grabs a whacky thing to whack the ghost (I’m assuming it’s an iron whacky thing). More spookiness and even a cloud of ghostly smoke moving around (Sam’s iron whacky thing is a sword apparently, my bad – he has a slashy thing I assume is iron) but whether a slashy or whacky thing, Dean’s shotgun full of rock salt beats it.

Bunker’s haunted. And I love the way Dean says it – like they have rats or cockroaches

The two brainstorm while loading up because the bunker has been warded up the wazoo so no ghosts could have got in – it must have been someone who died here. Y’know, you could play this mystery much much better if you hadn’t included Kevin in the “previously on Supernatural” section.

Dean declares it can’t possibly be Kevin (it’s Kevin) because he burned the body (most certainly Kevin) and it isn’t Kevin! (yes it is). While the ghost messes with the coffee maker.

Ghost!Kevin, you’re lucky I’m not there – I don’t care if you’re the ghost of my sainted grandmother, I’ll exorcise you faster than the pope on crystal meth if you touch my coffee.

Messing with the caffeine seemed to convince them at least.

Cut to a man leaving a funeral – to be ambushed by Castiel

 The man is an angel and so the dead woman, Rebecca, was also possessed by one and Castiel thinks they can lead him to Metatron. Sadly it’s a dead end because he’s found another faction of angels – this one focused on being good and fluffy because they believe all of these violent genocidal angels bent on mutual destruction have probably lost touch with their roots, just a tad. Sounds very nice, the problem is when you’re part of a multi-sided war, playing pacifist only works if your enemies are also willing to play pacifist. Faction leader Bartholomew didn’t want to play so Rebecca and most of her minions are dead.

The grieving angel leaves – but Castiel gets ambushed by 2 more creepy angels who want to take him to see their boss. Who is… Bartholomew, who greats Castiel like a long lost brother. Uh-huh. They sit and share past war stories of Castiel’s glory days – but Castiel isn’t playing, because he remembers what Bartholomew did – torturing and killing captives. Bartholomew pulls out the “just following orders” excuse which has bad precedent, adding that that’s what angels do. Well until now – now Bartholomew’s in charge.

Turns out Bartholomew has dumped the human minister and cut out the middleman since he’s so unpredictable and they now run the televangelist ministry themselves; and he totally wants Castiel to be his best friend and hang around (his minions would rather see Castiel cut into teeny tiny pieces). He probably also has a bridge to sell you. He wants Castiel to set aside his little issues about Bartholomew slaughtering everyone in the hope they can work together to find and kill Metatron

He shows off his shiny toys and how Castiel can use them while also musing how have Castiel on side will give him the power to TAKE OVER THE WORLD! MUAHAHAHA! The sales pitch might have worked except his goons bring in the fleeing pacifist angel from earlier

Castiel objects to the torture and when Bartholomew puts a blade in his hand to finish the man off, Castiel pleads for a peaceful resolution; but Bartholomew demands Castiel proves he can kill, that all the terrible things Castiel has done (which are a fair few) have changed him into someone willing to murder. Castiel refuses – so Bartholomew kills the man instead, his goons holding back Castiel.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Speak of the Devil #3) by Patricia Eimer

Being the devil's youngest daughter continues to be a challenge for Faith.  Her love life is a mess, having broken up with her nephlim boyfriend Matt and now that she has accidentally become the angel of death, she may never be able to touch another person again.  Faith may be a demon but as a kind hearted nurse who works in the pediatric ward, deciding who is going to live and die each day is at odds with her profession of saving lives. Not to mention, being the Angel of Death comes with a lot of paperwork. Unfortunately for Faith, this is only the beginning of her problems.  When the archangel Michael decides he wants her powers, it's up to Faith and the rest of her odd family to put a stop to the apocalypse.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead continues in the irreverent manner of the last two books in this series. If you are a bible literalist or even highly religious, this most definitely will not be the book for you.  If however you are open to the idea of God and Satan being brothers heading up what is easily the most dysfunctional family ever, dive right in. Eimer plays with many biblical stories and adds great humor to them like an over protective dad being the reason Jesus was resurrected.  Or even things like having Jesus say, "in my name," when he is frustrated. 

Faith really hasn't grown very much since the first two books.  This would be a problem if I didn't like her character so much.  She knows who she is, what she values, and is always ready to act. At times she walks the line between becoming a spunky agent, particularly when briefly stripped of her powers but she manages to keep her wits about her.  All of the surrounding female cast are strong women particularly Lisa who refuses to be treated like an invalid because she is pregnant and demanding that Faith now wallow in her misery after becoming the Angel of the death.  There is a real sense of camaraderie to the female characters. The only real problem I have in terms of gender is the vengeful Brenda, who attacked Faith sure in the belief that Faith was the reason Matt rejected her.  Brenda is the trope laden, stalking ex girlfriend.

Unfortunately, once again the gender switching, bisexual Malachi is a problem.  When he shas ex with men it's in the guise of having a dirty weekend  to create a distraction for Bassano.  When Malachi has sex with women, it's in the form of a relationship.  This is highly problematic because there is an element of deceptive gender in his interaction with Bassano because Malachi clearly identifies as male as well as positioning the sex with Bassano as dirty and wrong.  I wish that Eimer had simply included a GLBT character without the subterfuge. 

Being Human (US) Last Season

Syfy has confirmed that this will be the last season of Being Human. I'll be sad to see it go, but at least them planning it like this will give them chance to tidy up all the storylines and not leave us with any terrible cliffhangers.

Being Human, Season Four Episode Seven: Gallows Humor

Aidan is siting outside when he is joined by Kenny.  Aidan expects Kenny to judge him because he just finished slaughtering a human but Kenny calls it a slip up and adds that one slip up does not invalidate Aidan's way of life. Kenny tells Aidan that he should become back to the office because he believes that all of the fresh blood is reeking havoc on Aidan's system. Aidan leaves asking Kenny to take care of the body

Back at the house, Sally, Josh and ghost Robbie stand over his body when Nora enters wondering what is going on. Robbie asks why he can be seen by Josh and Nora and Nora reveals that they are werewolves. Josh offers his condolences and then says that they need to figure out what to do with Robbie's body. Robbie wonders if this is really happening and asks Sally what happened to her.  Sally explains that Danny killed her. Sally beings to wonder if there is a way to bring Robbie back from the dead.  Upstairs, Josh pleads with them to wait until Aidan returns home because of the drawbacks of raising a corpse.  Sally makes it clear that she would never do to Robbie what was done to her. Sally demands that no one touch Robbie's body. Aidan enters and realises that Robbie is now a ghost and he offers his condolences to Sally.

Aidan heads downstairs to supposedly grab blood and leans over Robbie's body.  When Sally appears, she finds Aidan kneeling over Robbie's body with all black eyes. Aidan immediately apologises and Sally blows it off then brings up using magic to save Robbie.  Aidan tells Sally that her power is part of who she is now and that this is a good use of her power.  Sally reveals that she needs to summon Donna because there is no spell to save Robbie in the book.

Upstairs, Josh tells Robbie that him returning to life is between him and his sister.  Sally comes upstairs and says that she needs to go and find Donna and rejects Robbie's offer to help.  Josh and Nora volunteer to watch over Robbie and Sally leaves instructing Nora and Josh to stop Robbie from going through his door if it arrives. Robbie begs Sally not to walk out on him again and she promises that she will come back.

At a department store, Sally exists the body of a woman who she used to move a riser.  As she climes the stairs, the pilgrims appear again. Donna begs to be left alone and Sally drags her through her death spot.

Aidan pays a visit to Suzanna and he says that he needs something to control his hunger.  Suzanna says that it took her years to wean herself and hands Aidan a small bottle of blood to comsume.  The blood makes Aidan sick and he collapses across the bed.

Nora and Josh head into the kitchen and Josh assures Nora that Robbie is just terrified and not himself. Nora says that she is feeling out of her league with the whole ghost counselling. It seems that Nora is concerned about sending the message that the paranormal world is grand.  Josh admits that he has not been the same person since he was brought back and he wonders if Donna can fix him. Josh argues that it was the magic that did this to him but Nora is not convinced and argues back that the magic didn't make him like it. Nora adds that the magic didn't make him lie to her.  Robbie suddenly appears in the kitchen interrupting the conversation.

Back at the department store, Donna tells Sally that she didn't save her from anything and that as long as her death spot is intact, it's a two way door. Sally asks why Donna asked her to summon her the last time and Donna reveals that coming back through her death door forces her to relive it.  Donna says that she has a story just like Sally.  Sally says that Robbie is dead and asks for help bringing him back.  Donna replies that her magic has limits and that bringing somebody back from the other side goes against nature. Sally asks if there is another way.  The two end up in the woods and bicker about Sally's plans and the consequences of her actions.  They are transported back to Donna's death scene, where Donna is hung for being a witch.

Aidan is now passed out on Suzanna's floor and she reveals that she could smell the live blood on him and asks who it was. Suzanna has a stake in her hands and says that she is now going to force Aidan to dry out. Again with the comparison to substance abuse.

Sally and Donna are in the past and Donna reveals that they are in the year 1692, as they watch a group of women prepare for some sort of ceremony. Donna says that if this happens each time Sally time travels each time she does magic that means that the tether holding her in place will eventually snap, leaving her lost in time for good. The women now uncover past Donna's body and she explains that this is how she died twice.

Suanna pours water over Aidan to wake up and says that the pain of withdrawal is a reminder of what he has done. Aidan cowers as Suzanna asks for the name of the girl he killed. When Aidan replies that he doesn't remember, Suzanna says that remembering her name would be to honour her death.  Suzanna orders Aidan to picture the girl's face and tell her the victim's name.  Aidan says that the girl had pretty eyes and talks about how the life drained out of them. Suzanna  tells Aidan that she is not going away, so Aidan reveals the victim's name was Amy.  Suzanna demands that Aidan talk about Amy and he talks about how her blood tasted and how the life ran into his mouth.  Suzanna tells Aidan that remembering what he did and the person he did it to is what is going to stop him from killing ever again.  Aidan says that he does not understand because this is what they are and that punishing him isn't going to work because the only thing that makes him feel good is blood.

Almost Human, Season 1, Episode 12: Beholder

We start with the crime – a man with an awesome computer game system who then uses said system to play GOLF. Karma quickly catches up with him and he’s attacked by a scarred man with heavy bandages who tases him and then extracts some kind of blue glowing liquid from him. People shouldn’t have blue glowing liquid in them, I’m pretty sure that’s not healthy.

At work John’s phone rings and Dorian helpfully answers it and informs a Samantha that John doesn’t want to talk to her and he’s desperately waving at him not to pass the phone over.

Dorian is gloriously evil. Apparently John when on a date with her the night before and she “holoblocked him”, basically accepting every call she received, and ending up with them having dinner with holograms of her room mate and mother. He complains about being unable to just have dinner with another person but also dismisses Dorian’s attempts to be sympathetic since he can’t experience them so Dorian suggests that maybe John is just boring… ooooooooh

Further sniping is interrupting Valerie who wants their help on a murder – despite no indication of violence of foul play and the EMTs calling the death a heart attack. But Valerie doesn’t buy it, the victim’s a chrome like her (genetically enchanced), chromes don’t die young from natural causes.

To the scene of the crime with the deceased Brian who had a perfect life and perfect health – though John throws in some doubt, Dorian sees the teeny tiny puncture wound; he checks it for DNA (which involves injecting himself with it – ew) and finds 7 different people’s strands.

At the police station the check the 7 – all of them are dead, all by apparent natural causes, but none of them are chromes. There are no patterns between them but Maldondo notes they’re all attractive people.

The heavily bandaged man goes to see a very seedy looking doctor who doesn’t look thrilled to see him to give him the phial he took to “do it again”. The doc isn’t thrilled but blackmail over his revoked medical license makes him co-operate. The bandaged man is plugged into a machine and injected with the liquid which is apparently not a very pleasant experience.

At the police station, Maldonado isn’t amuse because the case has been leaked to the press; Valerie isn’t shocked – chromes are rich and connected and look after their own. The dead man, Brian, had recently come from a club before his death so it needs checking out – by Valerie, since it’s a chrome club. Maldonado asks Valerie about going to the club and Valerie notes that while they may hate her job, they do like what she can do for chromes; and that chromes will be hoping it’s a murder because murder is easier for them to face than the idea that their perfect genes won’t give them the long life they promised.

Valerie goes to the club which gets all kinds of shock and disgust that a chrome is a cop (and her own contempt for the elitism of the chromes). The manager still wants to kick Valerie out because her special members don’t want the privacy violated by piffling cops so they play game of threat on threat until another chrome, Jake, arrives to play nice.

Lots of flirting and he pulls out his brother how is a sculptor which is, apparently, also not an acceptable life for chrome so he’s super tolerant of her unusual job

It apparently worked because when she returns to Maldonado she’s all melty and happy and has had the realisation that she resents clones so much she tends to forget they’re people (oh Jake is most definitely evil now - this just confirms it). And they join the Dorian school of making nifty jokes at John’s expense.

Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 20: Echo House

Starting with a trigger warning for mature scenes and suicide… this is going to be a rough one.

Stiles and the sheriff drive in very very moody silence, to a building surrounded by large gates and faces – the emotion, without a single word, is palpable. Scott arrives hurriedly on his bike trying to find out why they didn’t tell him. Stiles is going into the mental institution for 72 hours while the sheriff goes to LA to see a specialist about Stiles brain condition. Staying in the institution – the same place Burrows was imprisoned – is Stiles’s idea. He’s afraid he’ll hurt Scott and the others and he asks Scott to make sure, if they can’t find a way to fix him, that he never gets out.

The place is very grim, very dark and very ominous (really not very conductive to mental health – personally I’ve found such institutions to be more bright, white, light and eyeball searingly sterile or trying waaaaay too hard to be cutsey with a terrifying amount of chintz and pastels. Grim and dark may be an improvement). As Stiles checks in, the Sheriff is more and more panicky and clings to any reason to try and stop him – but Stiles settles him down and they hug in a cloud of powerful emotion.

As Stiles climbs the stairs to his room, a man above them ties a sheet knotted into a noose around a bannister, chanting as he does (“I can swim in the ocean yet still remain dry”). Stiles sees him and runs to try stop him but he’s too late – the man jumps and kills himself. Stiles see the nogitsune in a group of fellow patients.

Time for a meeting – Deaton, Chris (in prison by phone), Allison, Scott: confirming that the lichen is only temporary (and that Chris helped Deaton get it); for a shujinda scroll, an ancient scroll from Japan with knowledge of how to exorcise a nogitsune. They don’t have one but they do know who last bought it: Kincaid, Katashi Silverfinger’s assistant (that would be the silverfinger who is dead and who Chris and Derek were framed for murdering). Allison has an idea where it may be

But first we check back in on Stiles who is already trying to break the no phone calls rule and protesting her referring to the suicide as an “accident.” She threatens him with restraints (which his room mate, Oliver doesn’t recommend) if he doesn’t go to bed and to sleep. Uh-huh, so we’ll put this place down as an unethical hell-hole and have done with it. Oliver is quite casual about the new suicide and talks about them being more common on a Monday – yet more reasons to leave this place. For additional creepiness, the place is known as “echo house” because the acoustics mean absolutely everything echoes

Which is totally an awesome design feature in a mental institution, uh-huh. A restless night follows after which Oliver gives Stiles a tour of the place introducing several fellow patients and their com; apparently the place turns off the phones for 24 hours after a suicide – why to help cover it up? Which is when he runs into Malia – who is apparently a fellow patient. How promptly punches him, this seems to be a habit of hers. He’s pinned by some orderlies who rush in – over a window into the basement which he remembers from when he went wandering (and where the kanji self symbol is still present). This distraction is noticed by Ms. Morrell (Deaton’s sister, fellow druid, school guidance councillor etc etc) , who apparently works there – and apparently isn’t dead.

She’s also leading the group session, now with a less violent Malia – and Stiles keeps seeing the nogitsune which makes it really hard to focus on Ms. Morrell. As he rubs his neck in ever growing stress, markings appear – and Ms. Morrell calls a break. Alone with Stiles she calls the marks Lichtenburg figures apparently from the poison (though it’s unusual) and when they disappear the nogitsune will be back in charge. Sleeping will also accelerate the process so noooo sleep; have some wakey wakey pills. And if Stiles’s friends don’t find a way to cure him, she will kill him; this is Ms. Morrell after all, she exists to maintain the balance (though she has very odd ideas about what that means – stopping nogitsune good for balance! Helping Deucalion, also good for balance. For some reason.).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Iron Night (American Vampire #2) by M.L. Brennan

Having accepted the reality that he is part of the vampire world, Fortitude Scott has made some significant changes to his life.  He is now working out seriously several times a week with his older brother, feeding more frequently from his mother, has even found himself a new job and shocker of shockers, a roommate who actually pays his half of the rent on time.  Finally, Fortitude has achieved the stability he has longed for but unfortunately for Fort, it's short lived.  When he awakes one morning to find his roommate Gage drained of blood, missing body parts and dead, Fort is determined to get justice for him and not allow his powerful mother to sweep Gage's death under the carpet.  Fort's investigation brings him closer to crafty kitsune Suzume Hollis, as together they race against time to discover why bodies are starting to pile up.  If that were not enough, Matt, the one human Fort has loved since childhood is starting to get suspicious.  Can Fort get justice for Gage, while keeping Matt in the dark, in order to save his life?

In Iron Night, Brennan enlarges the world and we learn about the necessity of vampires as apex predators to police their territory.  We get a very strong sense of the hierarchy amongst the supernaturals and how delicate the balance of power is with humanity.  As Fort's vampire nature continues to mature, he begins to change.  Now Fort makes the necessary decisions to accomplish his ends no matter how difficult. He doesn't want to be like his sociopath sister Prudence but at the same time, he is highly aware that he cannot allow people to fun roughshod over him anymore.

American Vampire is one of the few series with a male protagonist but the women in Iron Night play exceptionally strong roles. Suzume continues to delight me with her trickster nature and I love that Fort is continually left off balance by her antics.  Though Fort is supposedly in charge of the mission, Suzume is not a side kick who follows blindly; she is an equal partner.  Suzume is not only highly intelligent, physically she is clearly more capable than Fortitude. This naturally subverts gender roles and Brennan manages this while allowing Suzume to remain feminine.  Madeline, Fort's mother though clearly on the decline, rules with an iron fist.  Prudence plays the role of Fort's enforcer and while there is no doubt she is a sociopath, her relationship with Fort is extremely complex.

Hereafter (Afterlife #1) by Terri Bruce

Even though she has to work the next day, Irene goes out drinking with the girls.  Her friends sensibly tell Irene to take a cab with them but Irene, realizing that she needs her car to get to work the next day hops behind the wheel of her car.  Irene then suddenly finds herself standing on the side of the road next to her car.  It takes a while for her to realise that not only is she dead, no one can see her or hear her.  Luckily for Irene she meets, Jonah whose interest in death rituals has allowed him to find a spell which allows him to speak to and interact with the dead.  Irene, with Johah's help, embarks on a mission to learn what comes next or more specifically, what to make of her undead life.

Fans of urban fantasy won't find much to draw them into this story.  Irene is indeed a ghost but this is far from a typical ghost story and is actually more of an examination of life - specifically what matters and what doesn't. There is little action to speak of and the one major question which is asked throughout the novel really doesn't get answered.  Despite that fact, Hereafter doesn't have an incomplete feeling and this is probably because I personally could not take another minute of reading about Irene the protagonist.

Irene is an extremely unlikable character and it is worth noting that I don't believe Bruce means the reader to identify with, let alone like Irene. She is very much in denial that she died as a result of drinking and driving and might even have a drinking problem.  Though Irene is a supposedly 36 year old woman with an M.B.A (a fact we are reminded far to often), Jonah, her 14 year old sidekick, is far more mature than her.  Irene vacillates constantly between fits of rage and remorse. She lashes out cruelly at Jonah though he does nothing but help her, risking the trust of his parents and his good school record.  At times, I honestly could not understand why Jonah kept coming back because Irene was certainly not worthy of his attention, let alone his concern.  Irene is beyond self absorbed and only seems to show momentary concern for Jonah when he is in physical danger.

The plot of Hereafter is quite slow moving.  Though Jonah encourages Irene to plan and act with agency, the only time Irene acts with any agency is when she is being petulant.  As a result, events just seem strung together with Irene simply reacting and Jonah playing the role of the clean up man. Hereafter is set up as an existential crises which is a boring read at the best of times.  I kept waiting for Hereafter to go somewhere and the ending was simply anti-climactic after all of those pages of angst.

Last God Standing by Michael Boatman

After presiding over humanity for over 2000 years, God has decided to abdicate and live as a human. No, this isn't like when Jesus was born of a virgin; this time his only motive is to simply let humanity get on with it. With Yahweh out of the way, humanity's now lesser deities like Zeus want to step into his shoes and become powerful again.  The battle lines are drawn and now God, stuck in the body of Lando Calrissian (yes, that Lando Calrissian from Star Wars) Darnell Cooper has a war on his hands that he might no longer have the ability to fight.

Last God Standing has a very interesting concept. With all of the horrors in recent history it is hard for some to believe that there is an all knowing being up in the sky directing the hot mess we currently live in.  From the concentration camps, to natural disasters, global warming, environmental decay and income inequality, even the most optimistic amongst us has to believe that humanity is in trouble.  As far as a premise goes, Michael Boatman picked a winner.  Unfortunately, that is the last good thing I can say about Last God Standing.

At times, Last God Standing made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  The entire plot was incredibly rushed and even with that, I found myself struggling to get to the end.  At about the 1/3 I sincerely considered DNFing this book for it's sheer incomprehensibility.  The characters had absolutely no development and felt like cartoons rather than representatives of real people.  Last God Standing is little more than a long winded joke, which when finally coming to end, has no damn punch line.  My deepest regret is that I will never retrieve the hours I invested reading this story hoping that it would at some point live up to its premise.

Not only is Last God Standing poorly written, it is offensive on almost every level you can think of.  It quickly became a written guide to homophobia with f@g appearing constantly without any indication that such hate speech is problematic. When the word gay was not being used as a pejorative, it was operationalized as the punchline of many jokes. Last God Standing heavily implied that real men most certainly were not gay or effeminate. In one passage, Herb refers to gay as a "lifestyle", something that irresponsible men of colour are free to engage in like the "White Man's children," now that African-Americans have made some civil rights gains.  For almost the entirety of this novel, there were no GLBT characters, that is until "Barbara declared herself a "Happy Lesbian," sold her taverns and moved to the Pacific Northwest with her therapist to open a rehabilitation facility."  Boatman filled his novel with homophobia and no GLBT characters until page 300, as though this could somehow redeem the problematic language he engaged in throughout the book.  Just no. No. No. With passages like the following, there can be no doubt that Boatman means his homophobia to pass as comedy.

This Week in Book Covers

It has been too long since we did our cover snark series - but while it’s fun to look at covers that are united by their flaws, it’s also fun to look at the covers we see every week (especially since, as a big e-reader, I barely even see the cover half of the time) and seeing how those flaws continue and also compare what’s on the cover with what is inside: so here’s our first of our new cover-posts, looking at the books we’ve read through the week and the face they present on our bookshelves (virtual or otherwise).

Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

This cover is further proof of one of my long running theories - awesome cover = awful book. I don’t know why, do cover artists take pity on awful books or something? Is it a kind of charity work? Look at this - wonderfully moody, evocative an excellent cover for the setting and scene. I look at this, I love it and I can’t help but think what a disappointment it sets you up for.

Grim Anthology

This cover is, to me, like Regency Stripe wallpaper. Kind of classy, really stylish and can’t help but look awesome - but it’s also a little impersonal. I think that’s part of the issue with abstract covers; they have to be carefully made to give you a sense of what’s in them. Still, it does a good job, the fake leather cover gives the sense of an old book, evocative of the fairy tales within. The tree with the pictures suggests several different stories - even if it does also look a little like a family tree and you look at it and think “wait, your cousin was a bird?”

It’s definitely beautiful and it’s kind of intriguing but it doesn’t really tell me anything.

Blake 187: A Zombie Revolution Aiden James & Michelle Wright

I didn’t see this cover before I read the book - but if I had it would have made me buy it. It’s unique, it speaks of a unique story and a very original character and it’s damn pretty as well. Of course, the breastplate would also
In terms of relating to the book - it’s perfect. This is kind of exactly how I picture Blake (and manages to make it clear he’s a zombie AND not make him look so hideous he could be hard to relate to). The looking up towards the light is a sense of hope, the dark, ruined setting a perfect.

This is one quality bespoke cover. Even if he is kind of staring up at the author’s names in a kind of resignation. It’s like “oh, they’re writing my book? *sigh*” And now I can’t unsee it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast: 2014, Episode 7

It's Monday! Time for another episode of Fangs for the Fantasy, the podcast where we examine many of the shows we've been following this week, along with our book of the week and dissect them all from a social justice lens (though, alas, still no mermaids.).

You can join us here and you can listen live on our youtube channel, here, or in our sidebar. All will also carry a recording after the show is finished. As ever all our previous podcasts can be found in the archive

The podcast begins at 7:00pm EST (technology willing)

This week we talk The Walking Dead the horror of the mullet, Michonne's development with the unfortunate mammy implications. Being Human and us liking the new focus on Sally but hating their addiction comparisons. Bitten and the lack of explaining the books better - which is a wonderful turn around for us. Helix and it's continued development

We also discuss how a bad reputation with treatment of marginalised people can't be forgotten with one or two good scenes.

Our next few books of the week:

17th February - 24th February: The Chopping Block (Grimm)
24th February - 3rd March: Undead Pool by Kim Harrison
3rd March - 10th March: Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
10th March - 17th March: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
17th March - 24th March: The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor Part 2 by Robert Kirkman & Jay Bonansinga