Friday, April 11, 2014

Seven Kinds of Hell (Fangborn #1) by Dana Cameron

Zoe Miller knows that she is different.  Having discovered that she is a werewolf,  Zoe will do anything to keep it from the people she loves.  If that were not enough for one young woman to deal with, Zoe and her mother are being pursued by her father's people.  This causes Zoe to spend most of her life on the run. Things come to an head when Zoe's mother dies and her cousin is kidnapped.  Suddenly, Zoe is forced to confront the supernatural world that she has spent her entire life running from.

Though much of this book is concerned with the pursuit for Pandora's legendary box, Seven Kinds of Hell is largerly a thriller.  In some ways, it reminds of The Da Vinci Code or even Indiana Jones but unfortunately,  not nearly as compelling. Part of the problem is that there are too many characters, who then repeatedly change sides. This is thrown into a world in which we are given little information about.  However, in Cameron's defense, this is because the story has a first person POV and  Zoe being a mutt, doesn't know anything about the Fangborn family she was born into. Unfortunately, this gives the book a lack of cohesion.

I started out completely committed to finding out where this story was going but by about 1/3 of the way through, I found myself not really caring. Seven Kinds of Hell became a book to finish because I started reading it and not because it is compelling.  I just found that I couldn't connect with any of the characters and therefore could not invest in the story.  It took me much longer to read than it should have.

Seven Kinds of Hell absolutely passed the Bechdel test.  There are several strong characters, including a female protagonist.  In many ways the male characters feel very much like a supporting cast.  The real problem for me is Zoe. I don't understand why she chooses to stay behind after her mother died, thus leading the enemy straight to her loved ones, after spending a lifetime knowing that the best option is always to run. It feels extremely out of character for her.  Considering that this happened at the very start of the book, it most certainly is a problem.  We are told that Zoe is willing to do anything to save the people she loves and yet she easily ditched Sean.  Why?  Yes, he has been messed with but how was he not in danger?

The 100: Season One, Episode Four: Murphy's Law

Clarke sits at the burial site and is approached by Finn, who is concerned that she is out there by herself.  Finn points out that Wells was killed just outside of the wall. Finn hands Clarke a pencil and she reminisces about when she and Wells were little and how he used to trade his own things to get her anything she could draw with. Clarke then brings up that Well allowed him to hate her so that she wouldn't hate her own mother. Clarke wishes she could make Abigail could feel what she is and heads off.

An alarm goes off on the arc.  Abigail stands and  screams as the words "transmission ended" flash across a picture of Clarke.  Abigail says that it's not conclusive and points out that this is the first terminated symbol in over a week.  Abigail asks Jackson for an analysis of Clarke's vital signs for the last two days. It seems that on earth, Monty managed to take off Clarke's wristband without breaking it.  Monty thinks that they will be able to talk to the arc by nightfall.

Clarke heads outside where the survivors are busy working. Bellamy checks on Charlotte and of course, John takes the time to bully a kid who has fallen to his knees dehydrated.

Octavia leads Jasper outside of the makeshift compound but before they can get far, Octavia is snatched. Jasper is quick to follow, only to learn that Octavia was snatched by a few kids as a prank.  Jasper turns to leave but trips and falls to the ground.  When he looks up, he sees a trail of fingers.  Is this perhaps a message from the grounders?

Back on the arc, Abigail is stopped by Director Cain, who wants to now why she has visited Mecca station 9 times in the past week.  Abigail asks if Cain is tracking him and Cain reveals that he is tracking everybody. Cain asks to come along and Abigail covers by saying that a mechanic came down with something so he would have to be vaccinated first.  Abigail claims that she is checking the bacteria levels on the station to avoid another outbreak.  Cain asks Abigail to keep him informed and she walks away.

Abigail heads to see Raven to find out if they can launch the ship earlier than planned but Raven makes it clear that this is not a possibility.  Abigail reveals that Clarke's signal has been terminated but Raven is not concerned and suggests that there are many reasons this could have happened. Raven tells Abigail that she will get a pressure regulator the today and the less she knows the better.

Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia and Jasper examine the evidence. The metal they found was from the ship and Clarke realises that the grounders didn't kill Wells.  Bellamy wants to keep it quiet believing that it is good for the group. Bellamy says that fear of the grounders is keeping people building the wall. Clarke says that she knows who did it because the initials J.M are carved into.  Clarke heads to confront Murphy and asks if he dropped it after he killed Wells.  Clarke promises Murphy that he is going to pay for this but Murphy adds that Wells's father was the chancellor's son and plenty of people hated him.  When Murphy appeals to Bellamy, Bellmay points out that they found Wells's fingers with Murphy's knife.  Clarke asks the survivors if this is the kind of society they want - one where murder goes unpunished. The boy Murphy bullied calls for Murphy to be floated and Clarke says that revenge isn't justice.  Suddenly, a crowd grabs Murphy and a cord is placed around his neck.  A panicked Charlotte watches.  Murphy is hung from a tree, as Clarke entreats Bellamy to stop this.  Finn hears the noise and comes running. Bellamy tells Clarke that this is on her because she should have kept her mouth shut.  Finn rushes forward calling for Murphy to be cut down. Charlotte finally makes her way through the crowd and screams that Murphy didn't kill Wells and that she did.  Clarke uses the distraction to cut Murphy down.

On the arc, Raven starts to negotiate for the parts that she needs.  She is told that she must pay be having sex with the chief of electrical. Raven turns to walk away and Nigel calls out that Raven's mother would have taken that deal and in fact, did so in the past many times.  Raven attacks Nigel but is escorted out.

How Book Blogging has Changed Us

'Books behind the bed' photo (c) 2006, rjp - license:

It has been a few years now since we started Fangs for the Fantasy and it has transformed so much. I can honestly say that I’m a more thoughtful reader now, certainly a much more conscious reader. Book blogging has certainly changed us and made us more aware of the various issues in the media we consume every day.

Of course, it has also made some other, rather less impactful, changes to our reading habits.

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: when I finished a book I loved, I turned right back to the beginning and re-read that and all it’s awesomeness! Some of my favourites series have been re-read so many times they can be shuffled like a deck of cards.

And Now? Re-read?! Are you out of your MIND?! Have you seen our to-read pile? We barely have time to read everything once let alone twice! Books are single use items, never ever to be seen again. Re-reading a book is blasphemy to the book blogger!

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: when I read a book I found boring or dull… I put it down and went to find a new one. Or I re-read one of my favourites. Never, ever could reading be WORK! That’s ridiculous…

And Now? when I read a book I find boring, I start to put it down… then look at our DNF and 0.5 Fang lists. And I think “ok, it’s bad… but it’s not as bad as them…” and then I HAVE to keep reading - desperately hoping that it either improves - or becomes so utterly awful I can drop it in the box with the other DNFs without feeling guilt (and, yes, after 3 years of hindsight I do feel kind of guilty about Sunshine). If it’s not as bad as them - then I have a duty to finish it.

Gods have mercy on me.

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: actually receiving an email or tweet from an author would make me kind of giddy. An author had actually notice me! These are people you queue for hours in book shops so they can write their name in your copy of their book while gazing in tongue-tied adoration at them! THE BRINGER OF LITERARY GOODNESS NOTICED ME!!!

And Now?: Oh shit, we “read the book wrong” again… I cringe and put off opening the email as long possible for fear of the angry flounce that we may face. Of course, quite often it’s a nice polite response from an author who is kindly thanking us for a review (thank you, we love you!) but there’s always that cringe that the Outraged Author lurks within…

...or, almost as stressfully, they could be offering their book to review.

Before Becoming a Book Blogger: The thought of getting a book for free, or even an ARC ,would have be doing cartwheels! Yeah, what could be better than a free book that I didn’t have to worry about returning to the library? And, of course, it means the publisher actually wants to give little me a freebie!

And Now: An ARC means I must check publication dates and try somehow to fit it into our ever expanding to read list. I cringe at the growing to-read list, like a giant avalanche of books threatening to overwhelm us. It doesn’t mean jump for joy, it means more work. Yes, work.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Kraken King Part One & Two (Iron Seas #4) by Meljean Brook

Zenobia Fox, novelist, sister to the great adventurer, Archimedes Fox, is ready for an adventure of her own, rather than experiencing her brother’s second and. And preferably without it coming at the hands of yet another kidnapping attempt by her brother’s myriad enemies.

Which brings her to Australia, with her friend Helene, heading towards the Nipponese Empire – when a series of unfortunate events lead to her being somewhat stranded with Ariq. Horde Rebel, smuggler, general and the Kraken King with a truly fearsome reputation. He has his own worries with a threat that could tear apart everything he’s built – and he doesn’t know what to make of her. Spy? Agent? Courier? There’s definitely something she’s hiding.

I love this world. The whole concept of the Mongol Horde with super technology dominating Asia, capturing or decimating Europe and Africa and the European powers fleeing the continent is a fascinating alternate world. With extra zombies as well! Even better this book goes beyond what we’ve seen before, moving to Australia where the fleeing Empire of Japan (or Nippon) has moved to escape the Horde. The whole world has been shaped to make it a wonderful steampunk alternate of ours – not just a few countries, but the whole world has been extensively and carefully built with extra repercussions and possibilities considered (like the fleeing powers not having the power of our colonies and were unable drive out or control indigenous peoples).

I love it

I also love Zenobia. Zenobia is awesome. She’s snarky, has an amazingly excellent acid tongue, she’s witty, she’s clever, she’s highly intelligent, a problem solver, creative and thoroughly dedicated to living her life her way despite the sexist strictures of society. She’s scared, her life is extremely complicated by her brother’s adventures and the number of enemies he’s made who all look at her as a vulnerable link. She lives with her bodyguards under a false name – but despite this fear that drives her life she faces it with courage and resolve, never letting it spill out whether other’s can see. And in a crisis she responds with intelligence, skill and quick, capable action (and not with any kind of super fighting skills or super powers).

And did I mention she’s snarky?

I actually like the romance. Zenobia and Ariq are interested in each other. They’re attracted to each other. They’re impressed by each other. They’re not in love with each other. Oh, I’m sure love will develop – but neither of these characters spotted each other and decided the other was their true love forever. And they’re interested in each other for things that go beyond just lust with endless pages of excess description – their passion, intelligence, bravery and tenacity also motivates them.

Of course, she’s also not interested because of a Misunderstanding and he presses – not nearly as much as we’ve seen in other books, but he continues to flirt when she has made it clear she’s not interested.

From Dusk Till Dawn, Season 1, Episode 5: Self-Centred

Jacob has a flashback (because this is From Dusk Til Dawn and we need a flashback every 10 minutes, it’s a rule!) about the car crash that killed his wife; which is probably a bad thing for a man driving the getaway vehicle to do. The radio does confirm that the police don’t know which vehicle the Gecko brothers have escaped in. Jacob and Seth verbally fence a little bit out of which comes Seth’s protestation that he’s not a murderer and Jacob being far far more worried about Richie. As they should be as Richie hallucinates a woman telling him he’s nearly there but that they will try to stop him.

I think being “they” is not healthy.

Seth has a call from Carlos where they both snarl at each other – Seth isn’t happy by how little help they’re getting from Carlos considering the money they’re giving him and Carlos is furious about the swath of destruction they’re cutting across Texas – and the Ranger on their tale.

Speaking of, said Ranger, Freddie, is being chewed out by his ornery boss because of the mess of the Motel and disobeying his orders and he’s dragged away in cuffs. He has a convenient flashbacks of crusty old Earl advising him to stop running around on his own and actually rely on the other rangers a bit more and how he should never oppose them. Advice he ignores when he beats up the ranger who lets him out of his cuffs and runs off with his car.

Back in the RV, Scott asks Richie to stop pointing his gun because he has a super knowledge of guns and knows this one has a hair trigger. Not that Richie cares – after the obligatory Asian comment (though Scott does correct Richie’s conflation of Asian nations), Richie has a snaky hallucination followed by a demon one

Well, this calls for a flashback to Jacob arguing with his dead wife in the car before it crashes, because we’re all absolutely fascinated by this guy’s martial problems. Anyway, his wife was sad and wants a divorce and Jacob’s solution is “let’s go to Mexico” which seems to be his answer to absolutely everything. She found this solution less than reassuring and tried to leave a speeding car – his attempts to stop her cause the crash.

To the present and Seth stops his brother slaughtering everyone but it’s ok, Richie explains how he has to kill everyone because the hallucination woman tells him so and she wants him to go to the other side. Also the old man is a demon. It has to be said, as far as reassurance goes, this is pretty poor. While the Gecko brothers discuss the reflection woman who wants Richie to kill everyone, Scott shows his sister that he owns a gun and is ready to use it when he gets the chance. Something Kate thinks is a bad idea, though she does warn Scott her dad is dangerous because she thinks he killed their mother.

Seth trying to talk his brother to common sense is interrupted by Jacob nearly crashing into stationary traffic, reaching for a hidden weapon. They’ve reached the border

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Furies: A Thriller by Mark Alpert

The Furies are a family who live on the very edges of society.  After centuries of being hunted and massacred as witches, they have pulled away and try to live peaceably. When John first meets Ariel, he is over come by her beauty.  What he doesn't know is this meeting will put him right into the middle of the Fury civil war. He finds himself almost in a world outside of time, where people use an older version of English and even dress in fashions made popular during the 1600's.  Will his love of Ariel  give him the courage to find a way to thrive in Fury society?  Now that the FBI are looking for John, in connection with a drug deal and terrorist acts, he can never go back to the life he had.

In many ways The Furies has elements of a typical discrimination flip.  The Fury society is matriarchal because the women are extremely long lived, while the men only live the normal human span. We are even told of a mother who tells her son that she simply cannot invest in him because of his short life.  All of the elders are women and the men have no seat on the high council, or right to vote on a course of action for their family. The difference in longevity leads to a gender imbalance causing the women greatly outnumber men. The men are used for physical strength to work the farm.  Fury men are also infertile, which means the women must leave the family compound to be able to breed.  The women meet paramours in the outside world and leave the moment they discover they are pregnant.  Women are almost revered and fear investing in men because of their short lifespans.  The men feel disgruntled because of the lack of power they possess and covet the women's long lives. This comes to head when a formula is discovered which could potentially make the Fury men as long lived as the women, but the council wants to proceed with caution given the difficulty processing the anti aging formula and the concern about potential side effects. In the end, Alpert casts the men as villains because they break their family's code of silence, kill several women and even involve the FBI in their mission to gain their supposed equality.

I don't believe that the FBI would be so gullible as to simply follow along with the directions of Basil. I don't believe that they would invest such huge resources on any informant without any real investigation. I further find the constant involvement in major historical events by this family to implausible and times wondered if I were reading a sci-fi version of Forest Gump.

The Furies is extremely action packed, including descriptions of weapons.  John finds himself on the run with no idea of who is actually chasing him or why and yet he is steadfast about protecting Ariel and staying by her side.  This makes absolutely no sense to me because there is nothing that really binds these two together. Alpert is forced to rely on insta-love to make his story work.  John's devotion continues though he learns that Ariel lied to him from the moment she met him and only interacted with him to use him as a sperm donation. He isn't even really a person, just an entity capable of making her pregnant.  For his part, John justifies his instant devotion of Ariel because he is divorced, his child is dead and he has no friends or family to speak of. Ariel continually justifies her ongoing usage of John by claiming to want to protect him and fear that the burning times will return Though it is genuine to believe that their secret of longevity would cause them to be imprisoned and experimented on by the government, it does not justify what she does to John and it reads as a denial of privilege and power.

Being Human, Season Four, Episode 13: There Goes the Neighborhood: Part 3

In a flashback Sally is talking about Josh and Aidan moving in and how it made her feel hopeful. Sally wonders if they would be friends if they met now.  We see a remembrance of Josh and Nora's wedding. We return to the present where Aidan is crying about losing Sally.  Aidan starts to snap Josh's neck and Sally screams no and that this has to be an accident  Ramona comes downstairs and tells Sally that it's never an accident.  Josh, Sally and Nora find themselves in one room with Aidan in another.  Aidan slams the door over and over again and Sally says that Aidan won't stop until he kills Josh.  Nora tells Sally that she cannot do magic because it's to dangerous.  Sally wonders what would happen if Aidan wasn't a vampire and she tells Josh and Nora that she loves them.

Aidan makes his way downstairs and when he approaches Josh, Sally uses her magic to throw him across the room, knocking him unconscious in the process.  They take Aidan to the bed and Sally does a spell. Sally says that there is always a sacrifice and Aidan sits up saying that she can feel his heartbeat.  Sally has gone deathly pale and she turns to Nora and says that she will be watching.  To Josh, Sally says that it's worth it and to Aidan that she wants him to have the life he deserves.  Suddenly, Sally disappears.  The house shakes and Ramona lets out a screech. When they head upstairs, Ramona is screaming that Nora, Josh and Aidan have ruined everything and promises that they are going to be in the house forever.

The roommates make it outside and away from the house.  Sally is narrating  about how the idea of home has changed to something they make for themselves. Aidan and Nora embrace, as Josh sits and stares off into space.  Nora offers to let them all stay at her new apartment but Aidan declines the offer saying that Josh and Nora need some space.  Josh talks about the many times Sally has managed to claw her way back but Aidan bursts his bubble by saying that this time he felt Sally go.  Aidan says that he doesn't know what to do and asks Josh when the last time Aidan ate food was.

They take Aidan to a burger joint and he is in ectasy over the taste of the burger.  Aidan says that it all feel strange but spectacular he does add that it's wasted because Sally had to miss it.  Later,  Aidan sits in front of the campfire drinking alone.  He says that he loves Sally and then starts smashing things in his grief.

The next morning, Aidan wakes to find himself still outside.  He heads inside but pauses when he sees his reflection in the mirror. Aidan now has grey hair.

A workman enters the house and is greeted by Ramona.  He tells Ramona that it is dangerous to be in the house and Ramona asks if he wants to see her room before running upstairs.  The workman follows Ramona upstairs and  into the hidden room. Ramona kills him and says that she shouldn't have been left alone and so is sending out a message.

Aidan is waiting for his medical test results.  Nora hands over the results and it seems that Aidan is ill. Aidan says that he's not meant to be alive but Nora points out that she saw what Sally did. Apparently, Aidan has the heart of a 90 year old man and his organs are failing.  Nora says that she is amazed that Aidan is standing in front of her right now and Aidan jokes about maybe having a week left.

Nora, Josh and Aidan are walking outside and Josh is talking about working in a restaurant.  Nora is upset and says that they should all be making plans.  Aidan reveals that he has a week to live and Josh replies that this is not something people say in real life.  Aidan believes that this is a consequence for becoming human and that this is the result of the years that he cheated. Aidan says that they should celebrate their upcoming baby and when they are shocked, Aidan reveals that he smelled it when he was still a vampire.  Aidan heads off, leaving Josh and Nora alone.  Nora admits that she wasn't sure she wanted the baby but now she does. Josh and Nora hug.

Aidan heads to the cemetery with a rose in his hand..He places a rose on Sally's grave site.  Aidan then makes his way through the city, clearly taking in every moment.  He ends up at a bar and has a vision of Sally sitting right next to him.  Aidan ends up sitting down next to a vampire and asks him what his plan is after he kills the girl he has been flirting with.  They end up walking together and Aidan advises him to get on bagged blood. The vampire asks how he can become human again and Aidan admits that this is something he wanted for centuries and now, all he can think about is going back.  Aidan attacks the vampire and tells him to turn him.

This Week in Book Covers 31st March - 4th April

We continue our weekly review of the covers from the books we read last week - and this week we’re hit with the terrible difficult of 5 pretty good covers. If we have any complaint, it’s possible that there is a lack of connection between cover and content sometimes - but really, they’re beautiful, intriguing and fascinating.

I’m sure we’ll have some spine twisting next week.

There are actually several different covers for this book. One is from the movie released in 1994. The original cover had a bronze background with the title in red. As for this cover, there really isn't much to say. It's boring. What do the candles represent? I don't think it's actually trying to entice readers as much as counting on the author's name and the popularity of the series to sell the book. I suppose it's more appealing than the original cover but at best it's middle of the road. In some ways, the aesthetic minimalism is a statement of how little a cover the book needs - just something pretty and vaguely intriguing. Sometimes less is more

Circus Escape by Liliana Rose

Perfect. Steampunk, big mechanical spiders, cogs and corsets. It’s pretty - a vital for steampunks where the aesthetic is so primary. There’s really not much to say - because it’s ideal

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Remaining (The Remaining #1) by D.J. Molles

Lee is part of a secret government project to be deployed should the worst happen. Whatever that worst is. Whenever a crisis hits the US, he and his fellows go to ground in their bunkers to weather the storm and emerge in the aftermath

There have been many drills, many false alarms and Lee didn’t think much of the latest alert – a plague spreading that turned people violent and near mindless. No doubt it would be resolved like many before

And then the time stretched – and stretched. This is not a drill. Society has fallen, the US is devastated and it’s Lee’s job to pick up the pieces.

I love this concept, it’s a great new spin on an old concept. We’ve seem dystopian, post-apocalyptic worlds. We’ve seen any number of survivors struggling to live and learn in the new world they’re presented in. We’ve seen them make the hard choices, having to set their moral lines, we’ve seen them be totally unprepared.

But this? Someone who has been prepared for exactly this scenario. Someone who has the supplies and skills for a zombie apocalypse and is ready to take it on. It sounds like it would make for a simpler story – after all, the struggle to survive becomes so much easier. Which is true – but it’s a whole different dynamic – because Lee has a mission. In other books the survivors battle hard choices on moral lines, whether to save or trust other people and focus on living. Lee can’t do that – he can’t decide not to save people, he can’t just focus on his own survival. His job is to put the country back together. He has been prepared and supplied to restore order and civilisation – focusing on daily survival alone cannot be his priority. Not reaching out to people not taking the risk in trusting people, not saving people are all things he cannot do – not unless he’s willing to abandon his mission entirely. It’s a fascinating new dynamic and makes for a very fresh story against a very familiar background.

We still have a lot of the standard themes of a zombie apocalypse – watching friends and loved ones becoming monsters, having to make the decision to put them down, facing the slow degradation of someone you know slowly deteriorating, roving bands of marauders and gangs exploiting the break down of order to take whatever they want – and they’re all really well done. But Lee’s mission colours everything and adds a new angle to all of these well portrayed and familiar themes.

Continuum, Season 3, Episode 4: A Minute Changes Everything

Time for another insight to the future to remind us what a terrible terrible terrible place it is and further make us question why Kiera was such a big fan of the system. Kiera rescues a child from a burning building with her nifty shield suit – but  there’s another little girl in need of rescue. She starts to go back to save her when her boss says, basically, forget the child there’s some rich guys needs rescuing! And the fire-brigade is delayed because they’re at another fire with even richer people who are, obviously, far far more important.

Back to the past and Carlos is all kinds of conflicted and tortured and decides to meet up with Julian Randall who is a naughty boy for various reasons and in future is going to be some kind of Messiah figure against the corporations. Carlos is all conflicted – apparently about whether people can change (does he think Julian needs redemption?) and he orders Julian to keep his head down – something he links to T-shirt with Julian’s face on it in a classic revolutionary style that are apparently becoming popular.

From there to a big party full of teenagers and young adults who are great Liber8 fans. It’s pretty non-threatening, music and dancing and the police arrive to shut it down. There’s an argument, the students are outraged, one of the cops pulls a baton and violence breaks out and the campus police get their arses handed to them.

To Dillon’s police station where Dillon announces the university has responded to Student outrage over their gathering being shut down by shutting down any future gatherings, leaflets with extra profiling of “suspicious” students. Because just because you’re professors doesn’t make you smart. Carlos snarks away at what an awful idea this is. Kiera speaks up – how could Carlos think of letting them tear down the system – and Carlos responds with some actual perspective. There’s also a gun missing because one of the campus cops lost his – Carlos questions why, in the name of common sense, was he carrying a gun. Kiera, of course, speaks up – fearful cops carrying guns in case of escalation is a good thing (uh-huh) and she tells Carlos that campuses is where it all starts with Theseus rising.

When Carlos goes to pick up the list of people to harass off Betty’s desk, he finds she has a phone SIM card taped to the bottom of her stapler.

Time for some drama – Emily drops in on Alec in his nifty new lab at Prion and Alec is very very bitter and angry about the secrets she kept, with the video of her violently attacking people playing in the background. She responds by hitting at his sheltered existence – he just hasn’t found the part of himself that will do anything to survive. Though he hits back that she knows nothing of his experiences and feelings (he was involved in an armed siege, for example) before she leaves because he has a meeting. A board meeting – which he attends and is awkward and is quickly shuffled out the room to go do some research while the board handles matters.

Kellogg is there to poke Alec while he’s down and offer his services for dealing with the board. He hands over the research he’s dug up on the board members and points out they’re bullying because they have a weak hand and are trying to make Alec back down.

Carlos and Kiera go to the campus where they’re not popular (and Kiera declares the whole thing so unthreatening), and likely to become less so when Kiera runs down and chokes a student who she has seen with Theseus in the past. After checking the CCTV they find absolutely nothing to hold the girl – or anyone else on especially since the college isn’t pressing charges thanks to a Professor who happily comes to talk to them and isn’t impressed by Kiera’s “AAARGH TERRORISTS”, pointing out that an awful lot of groups have been called terrorists over the years. He adds as well that, in the name of combating Liber8, the powers that be are becoming more and more oppressive.

Resurrection, Season One, Episode Five: Insomnia

Resurrection opens with Bellamy's dream sequence.  Lucille is playing the piano and Bellamy sits on the floor playing soldiers with Jacob.  We learn that Bellamy was an only child and that his parents died ten years ago. Bellamy never bothered to look for his biological parents.  Suddenly, armed men break in and take Jacob away while Martin is being restrained.  Suddenly the scene changes to a child being put into a car by authorities.  Bellamy awakes to find himself alone in bed.

The real Jacob asks Henry to check on his windows.  Henry assures Jacob that his uncle scared the kids away.  Jacob asks if Caleb was found in the factory and Henry replies that Caleb is in jail and that Jacob does't have to be afraid of him.  Jacob wonders if someone is going to take him away because he is different and Henry tries to assure him but Jacob is not convinced.

It seems that insomnia is contagious in this town.  Tom gets out of bed and Janine apologizes for "acting like one of the women." Tom assures Janine that she is not controlling or manipulative. Janine is worried that asking Rachel to leave will become between them.  Tom promises that it won't and starts to head downstairs, when Janine asks where Rachel went.  Tom replies that Rachel is in Tennessee.

Caleb is in jail and is being visited by Bellamy.  Bellamy points out that Caleb had a second chance at life and used it to put a man in the hospital, murder another and rob a bank. Bellamy asks why and Caleb claims to have a different perspective on life and death.  Bellamy wants to know why Caleb is lying about what he went through.  Caleb waxes philosophical about how people go through life scared of death and that he now believes that there is no life or death, just the present.  Caleb wonders why the question is so important to Bellamy.  We get a flash to a crime scene where a woman wails.  Bellamy leaves.

Bellamy heads to  see Fred.  Fred reveals he got a message from the FBI and that they will be there in 48 hours.  Fred asks Bellamy to call in favors because he does't want the FBI in town. Bellamy suggests that they find the money, so that the FBI will have nothing to investigate.  Fred is afraid that if they start looking into Caleb, the FBI will look into Jacob.  Bellamy says that they have to make sure that this doesn't happen.

The police are searching Elaine's house while she sits on the couch spaced out.  Maggie pops in and starts to pick up the books on the floor but Elaine says that there is no point in cleaning until the police are gone. Elaine plays a recording of her boss calling to fire her and says that she is fantastic.  They discuss the fact that Maggie did't reveal that Caleb was being investigated.  Elaine believes that she was kept in the dark because Maggie sees herself as put together and Elaine as a child.  Maggie brings up the different circumstances that they had to face and says that Elaine had to grow up fast and that she admires her.  Elaine cries that she cannot do this alone and Maggie tells her that she is stronger than she realizes and is not alone.

Tom pulls up to a hotel and grabs things from the back of the car.  He knocks on Rachel's door.  They hug awkwardly and Rachel thanks him for putting her up.  Tom gives Rachel some clean clothing and food and Rachel sits experiencing a dizzy spell.  Tom realises that Rachel has a fever and Rachel says that she hasn't felt well since coming back.  Tom wants to take Rachel to see Maggie and Rachel brings up Janine but Tom relays that Janine believes he is helping someone in need.

Fred and Bellamy head to see Caleb and Fred informs Caleb that the FBI is coming to town, which means that Caleb will spend what's left of his days in a secret lab.  Caleb says that he is not afraid and Fred tells Caleb that he can help himself by pleading guilty and telling them where the money is.  Caleb snarks about a lawyer and Bellamy replies that dead men don't get lawyers.  Caleb asks about Elaine and Fred informs him that she hasn't visited but the police have already searched the house looking for the money. Bellamy tells Caleb that he has put Elaine through enough. Caleb asks to talk to Elaine and points out that the FBI will be interested in Jacob as well. When Fred tries to claim not to care about Jacob, Caleb points out that Bellamy does. We get a flash to the little boy from earlier and Bellamy dropping him off.  Caleb asks Fred if his wife really loved him, as Fred heads out of the cell. Fred attacks Caleb and tells him that he bleeds like everyone else. As Bellamy and Fred walk away, Caleb calls out more are coming, indeed, more than they can imagine.

Lucille works on her garden and Henry heads out to chat. Henry says that the bedroom is to quiet without Lucille in bed next to him. Henry says that he has been thinking about the Aldon's, former neighbors who also lost a child. Henry adds that they never talked to the Aldon's about the loss of their child though they had so much in common. Lucille replies that Henry was scared. Henry says that he knows he is hurting Jacob and that he wants to let the Jacob they lost go.  Lucille instructs Henry that he has to let himself feel, before returning to the house.

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 16: It's Not Easy Being Green

In Oz in the past there’s a great big green storm that drops a baby into the road. To be found by a couple heading down the Yellow Brick Road (I wonder if it was a conscious choice to give her a very lower class accent and him a professor’s accent or if the casting director just said “British accents! THAT’LL DO!”). Despite the little baby’s (Zelina’s) disturbing talent ability to move half a tree, the woman is adamant they take her in and care for her.

In present day Storybrooke, everyone is gathered and tragic for Neal’s funeral (woo-hoo! Tragic funeral means much less chance of them bringing him back! Oh… that’s not the emotion we’re going for here? Right. Sad and solemn. Sad and solemn). Everyone places a shovel full of dirt on the coffin (it is really sad and solemn and beautifully done and the fact I’m thinking “it’ll take you ALL DAY filling it like that! Hurry up, the sooner he’s buried the less chance he’ll come back” is totally my fault).

Zelina still controls Rumple and taunts him about the death of his son – and Rumple fires back that she doesn’t understand family. That calls for a flashback of her much older with her adoptive father and the advice he passed on we’ve heard before – always put on a good face, no matter what you feel inside. He’s harsh over her mistakes and clearly terrified of the magic she can’t control; he refuses to let her learn because it would make her – him - look bad. He also calls her Wicked (and her wickedness drove him to drink) and not really his daughter. Since her mother wasn’t evil, she’s long dead. When Zelina starts to cry he tells her to “put on a good face.” She storms out to see the Wizard of Oz.

In Storybrooke, Emma chooses anger as her outlet for grief, especially since she can’t talk about Neal with Henry without revealing he knows more about him than the absent father Henry remembers. Hook offers to talk to him (and not about “leather conditioner and eye-liner” though that was an awesome come back) since he knew Neal when Neal was a child in Neverland.

Robin and Regina continue their circling and Tinkerbell notices Robin’s lion tattoo meaning he is Regina’s prophesised love. Tinkerbell criticises Regina again for not leaping into True Love whether she wants to or not.

And Zelina gate crashes the wake – which is just rude and tacky – brandishing the Dark One’s dagger to hold everyone at bay. She’s there to reveal she’s Regina’s big sister and calling her out to a duel at sundown where everyone can see the Evil Queen lose to the Wicked Witch. Afterwards everyone discusses the challenge (Regina still has the best lines “I think I would have remembered my mother saying she had a love child with the Scarecrow”). Of course, everyone assumes Regina has done something terrible to Zelina to justify the attack.

That calls for a flashback – Zelina going to see the Wizard of Oz in his awesome castle – who shows her her family, her mother who abandoned her when she was a disappointment and Regina who was everything Cora wanted. She’s also showed Rumple – “the most powerful wizard in all the realms”. She demands to meet Rumple so he can teach her rather than Regina. So Ozzy gives her Emerald Slippers to travel to Rumple… so long as she brings something of Rumple’s back. She travels to Rumple who is very very surprised to see Cora had another daughter.

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 1: Two Swords

Is it bad that I skipped back to listen to the opening credits 3 times? (you know you did the same!)

In a beautifully symbolic scene showing the fall of so much of House Stark, Tywin Lannister has the Stark Greatsword Ice melted down into two smaller swords – and burns the wolf pelt scabbard it was sheaved in. The sword if for Jaime (who needs a one handed sword now, since he’s one handed) who is surprised to see a new Valerian steel sword since one hasn’t been made for a very very long time. Tywin handwaves where he got the precious steel from but it’s something the Lannisters have wanted for a while. Tywin does note that one handed and with his left hand Jaime won’t be as good – which he concedes. But so long as he’s better than everyone else, it doesn’t matter. Ah, Lannister confidence.

Despite that, Tywin wants Jaime to leave the Kingsguard and go back to Castlery rock and rule the Lannister lands while Tywin is King’s Hand (and, it often seems, the only one who can control King Joffrey). Jaime doesn’t want it, he doesn’t want to break another oath, doesn’t want to be Lord and doesn’t want a wife and kids – he even tells his dad no!

Tyrion and party are waiting on the road to meet the Prince of Dorne (that would be the one nation of Westeros that has avoided all the troubles up to now) – and Tyrion, the least liked member of House Lannister, is meeting the Prince because House Lannister and House Martel are not the bestest of friends. Pod shows off his encyclopaedic knowledge of Dornish houses and Tyrion makes his greetings to the silent Dornishmen – the Prince isn’t there, he has chosen to stay home. He’s sent his brother, Oberyn, instead and he’s already arrived early to skip the whole greeting thing. The rest of the party just rides off without bothering to listen to Tryian

The Dornish are masters of the snub it seems. Definitely no love lost between the houses. But that leaves Tyrion to track down Oberyn

Not that that should be hard, in theory, since Oberyn us renowned for his promiscuity. But then, as we’ve said before, the sole industry of Kings Landing, indeed, all Westeros, appears to be prostitution so maybe it will take a while. Yes, Oberyn is in a brothel – and it’s the first gratuitous nudity of the season! I’m impressed Game of Thrones, you waited a full 12 minutes before breasts appeared. Oberyn and his lover Ellaria Sand (Sand is the Dornish version of the North’s “Snow” – indicating she’s illegitimate) pick a prostitute who suits both their tastes and Oberyn orders the male procurer to stay and join in as well.

Festivities are broken up when Oberyn hears someone singing The Rains of Castamere (this song keeps coming up – it’s the Lannister’s anthem) and goes to track down the singer, despite Ellaria trying to stop him. The Lannisters he finds then make some rather foolish comments about Dornishmen. Oberyn stabs one of them in the wrist – and Tyrion arrives. He tries to talk to Oberyn while he busily makes out with Ellaria before finally making introductions.

Posturing at least delayed, they can talk politics, just Oberyn and Tyrion and they both remark on being the “family insult” as second sons. Oberyn also expositions us a little on the history of House Martel, how his sister Elia was married to Rhaegar Targaryen (the son of the last Targaryen king, Daenerys’s older brother – keep up) and the Lannister army that took Kings Landing during the civil war raped and killed Elia and her 2 small children – killed by Gregor at Tywin’s order. Oberyn is clear that he holds a grudge.

Speaking of Targaryens, to Daenerys, Oberyn’s sister-in-law and her now much bigger dragons. One seems much bigger than the other two – and when Daenerys tries to touch him when squabbling over food, he snaps at her. Jorah notes that dragons cannot be tamed.

We’re reminded how vast Daenerys’s army is (and we have a flock of POC civilians to hail her as “mhysa” because she’s their super saviour woman) and she makes a point about who is in charge to Grey Worm (leader of her former slave legion who are now her free legion and indistinguishable from the slave legion but are totally free, honest) and Daario (hey there re-casting! Leader of her mercenaries). They’re heading to the city of Meeren, next on Daenerys’s “let’s conquer it because it’s there” list. Daario continues to try and flirt with her, trying to present her with a bouquet under the excuse of teaching her about local flowers, honest. Of course, it does remind her why Daario and his local knowledge may be useful to her. The road to Meeren is decorated with a hundred dead slaves (the one we see a young girl) because we have to be reminded how brutal and savage this exotic foreigners are and how noble and righteous Deanerys’s invasions are.

Back in King’s Landing, Shae tries to coax Sansa to eat before her husband, Tyrion takes over (Shae giving Tyrion a look to remind us she’s not happy about Tyrion’s new marriage). After the Red Wedding (I’m not even going to link to that, everyone knows what happened at the Red Wedding), Sansa is not feeling all that hungry. Nor does she want any comfort from Tyrion. Tyrion returns to his rooms to find Shae ready to seduce him even as he points out the many many people who hate him or want to kill him or both which is rather a distraction. Shae takes his lack of interest for him being in love with Sansa (he earlier turned down prostitutes as well – he may not love Sansa, as he points out he barely knows her, but he tries to respect her). When Shea asks if he wants her to stay, he is silent.

Big brother Jaime is given a new, pretty golden hand by Cersei though Jaimie points out how utterly useless it is. Cersei brushes over some “symptoms” the ex-maester is also treating her for. Jaime notes her greater drinking for which she throws out a litany of reasons to drink (including very disparaging remarks about Margaery and Loras) – and she rejects Jaimie’s advances which rather upsets him, especially since one of the reasons he stayed in the Kingsguard is to be near her. She blames him for leaving her – and taking too long to return.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast: 2014, Episode 13

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 those with odd fish fixations will continue to be disappointed).

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 about The Bitten finale, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and the new season of Game of Thrones.

The new season of Game of Thrones! and it was awesome! We had the Bitten season finale, which wasn't bad but had issues with Logan and Rachel. The end of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and the rather hurried ending and the awesome Knave.

31st March - 7th April:  The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
7th April - 14th April:  Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
14th April - 21st April: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
21st April - 28th April: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
28th April - 5th May: Night Season by Eileen Wilks
5th May - 12th May: The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
12th May - 19th May: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

With the death of the Berliner, Jake is the last living werewolf. With the next full moon, he will be hunted and he will be killed.

He’s actually rather looking forward to it. The centuries weigh heavily on him, he has little reason to go on living and even less actual inclination. Unfortunately, there are a number of people who would rather he didn’t go gently into the grave and are determined to keep him alive.

On the first page of this book we have the following quote:

“I sipped, swallowed, glimpsed the peat bog plashing white legs of the kilted clan Macallan as the whisky kindled in my chest. It’s official. You’re the last. I’m sorry. I’d known what he was going to tell me. Now that he had, what? Vague ontological vertigo. Kubrick’s astronaut with the severed umbilicus spinning away all alone into infinity … At a certain point one’s imagination refused. The phrase was: It doesn’t bear thinking about. Manifestly it didn’t.”

Which is excellent, I applaud – I mean, really, the publisher might as well have put a sticker on the front page declaring “Warning: Horrendously Overwritten Pretentious Crap Lurks Within!”

But first, let me cover some positives:

I liked several elements of Harley. He was a non-stereotypical gay man – his life was seedy and dark, but this whole book is seedy and dark. He was interesting and he had genuine affection for Jake who, in turn, genuinely cared for him. Does that affection result in Harley being exploited as we see with many gay friends of straight people in fiction? Yes it does – but surprisingly Jake even acknowledges that:

“Harley, a man who’d devoted his life to my protection, who’d loved me, whose love I’d exploited when it suited and stonewalled when it didn’t…”

Does it make a trope ok that it is acknowledged? No, but it helps a lot, especially when the wrongness of it is recognised. Of course, Harley is also repeatedly victimised in this book and, ultimately, his unpleasant fate is some extra grist for Jake’s eternal angst – but until then he’s a good, humanised character with a real connection.

Secondly, I like how every character is humanised – even the prostitutes that Jake sleeps with (because he is punishing himself never to know love but has the absolutely-mandatory-in-fiction werewolf horniness) have large rambling insights to what makes them people, turning them into more than sex objects. Some of the insight truly opens up a character – like Jake’s ex-wife so full of self-assurance and standing above the slut-shaming she experiences to live life the way she wishes, on her terms.

The same applies to his victims – which brings us to another element I like – the world building and the concepts. The werewolves as monsters is always good to revisit, the blurred morality of this book and the question of whose side we should be on is a new twist and I especially love the idea of werewolves consuming lives, living the experiences of their victims in the utmost detail, humanising every one they eat.

This book also does an excellent job of portraying the ennui of a long life. Of how the centuries of existence blur together, how nothing is new, how there is so little of interest left, how everything is just a new version of an old thing. I have never seen a book that expressed so well the sheer, painful wait of centuries of experience.

Right – all of these are good – but all of these are expressed in the most over written, convoluted style I have ever read. Ever. Literally, this is the most impenetrable prose I’ve ever had to try and mine through.

The author is certainly not without skill – many passages and wonderfully elaborate and elegant in their perfect word choice. It’s nice to find authors who CAN write extremely long winded books and still make it good because they are that good at crafting words. But it feels like this author took that skill and then decided to dial the book to 11. It’s too much.

“I looked out of the window. The snow was coming down with the implacability of an Old Testament plague. In Earl’s Court Road pedestrians tottered and slid and in the cold swirling angelic freshness felt their childhoods still there and the shock like a snapped stem of not being children any more.”

Or, to put it another way, he looked out the window and saw it was snowing.

“Back into the urinous doorway, however, I found myself thinking…. Of the refreshing abruptness with which financial institution – B & B among them – had collapsed in the Crunch. Adds for banks and building societies had continued to run days, sometimes weeks after the going concerns had gone. For many it was impossible to believe watching the green-jacketed lady in the black bowler hat with her smile fusing sexual and financial know-how, that the company she represented no longer existed. I’ve seen this sort of thing before, obviously, the death of certainties. I was in Europe when Nietzsche and Darwin between them got rid of God, and in the United states when Wall Street refused the American Dream to a broken suitcase and a worn-out shoe. The difference with the current crisis is that the world’s downer has coincided with my own…”

This appallingly long winded splurge of verbiage happens after Jake ducks into a door way to avoid gunfire. Yes, he’s in the middle of a fire fight and has time to dwell on this head-ache causing waffle.