Friday, May 30, 2014

Frat House of the Dead (Salt Lake After Dark #1.5) by J.K. Walker

Rachel has finally and reluctantly been coaxed out of her quiet, happy solitude for a Hallowe’en  -party – thanks to Tammy’s determined insistence.

It looks like they may be right – Cassie, Angel, Tammy and Jazz definitely know how to have fun

Then zombies ruin everything. And zombies and frat houses do not mix.

This book was immense fun with a lot of humour and some really great movie references and geeky references. It’s references like this that really build these four women as friends because you can feel the movie nights behind it, the constant back and forth, the long comfort with each other; and poor Rachel’s out-of-placeness simply because she’s way more geeky than them. But they are happy to engage with her geekiness and her geekiness doesn’t mean they’re all less intelligent than she.

It’s awesome interaction and excellent character building. It would have been great if they’d been out camping together or performing an onerous but non-stressful task or any number of other scenarios

It doesn’t work during a zombie outbreak. Especially not one that relies on a lot of powerful pathos to sell scenes of self-sacrifice, the greater good and the intense caring between the four and especially Rachel for Tammy.

It’s hard to put scenes of loss, of terror, of horror in a book where characters are joking and giggling during; not even black humour. It was great, fun, silly humour – and it didn’t work for me. We had excellent humour and excellent horror with a side order of powerful grief and put them all together it was like the most delicious pizza covered in the most decadent ice cream. Separately I’d be in heaven. Together, it tastes really weird and is kind of soggy and cold.

I loved that we had some confirmation of the strong hints on Rachel and Tammylast book – they like women (though, again, we’re dodging around actually using any of the LGBT letters because authors are terrified of them for some unknown reason). Tammy and Rachel care for each other, have finally forged a relationship in the aftermath and showed some real emotion for each other. I think I would have liked to see their friendship develop more, we do seem to have had several weeks pass since the last book and the friendship is just taken as a given, but I do think that will happen in later books as we follow the four women.

The 100, Season One, Episode Eleven: The Calm

The 100 are hyper vigilant, firm in the belief that the Grounders are coming.  Bellamy informs Clarke that Jasper believes he can make more gunpowder and Raven thinks that she can turn that it into landmines. Clarke comments on the irony of surviving 100 years and returning to earth so that humans can go back to slaughtering each other and wonders if there is another way.  Clarke adds that maybe Abby was lucky because she died quickly on the Exodus and that no one is coming down to save them.

On the Arc, Cain slowly comes to consciousness and finds himself alone, so begins to look for fellow survivors.

Back on earth, Octavia is supervising the smoking of meat and Bell snarks that she learned how to do this from her Grounder boyfriend. Murphy questions why Octavia didn't talk to Bellamy about getting a better job and she simply replies if she didn't do it, someone else would have to do it.  Am I the only one wondering what the hell Murphy is still doing in camp?  Octavia is working with ammunition and she is joined by Finn, who says that he keeps wanting to apologize but Raven assures him that they are good.  Raven adds that she isn't just keeping busy but is keeping the 100 alive.  Finn starts to leave and Raven assures him again that they are good and that she just wants him to be a happy.  Okay the Grounders are probably coming, they have lost contact with the earth, and the Exodus has crash landed but by all means, take time to angst about the love triangle.. Calls of  a fire break up the conversation and when Finn and Rave head outside, the smoke house is on fire.  Octavia asks what they are going to do because the smokehouse contained all of the food.

Later, with the ashes of the smokehouse still smoldering, Bellamy tells Clarke that Bell kept feeding the fire because Octavia told him it was a bad idea. Yeah, we didn't need another reminder that the 100 are juveniles but I suppose that this sufficiently puts them in jeopardy.  Clarke questions if they should believe Murphy and then brings up the scant supplies they have left, suggesting that they have to hunt.  Bellamy questions if this is a good idea because of the Grounder army but Clarke makes it clear that they cannot defend themselves if they are hungry.  Later, Bellamy organizes a hunting party and makes it clear that the bullets are for Grounders only and that the 100 are to use spears for hunting.  He orders that they are all to return before it gets dark. Finn asks Clarke to go with him and she turns him down but Finn invites himself along, as Raven of course sends him pained looks.  Raven returns to her tent to pack supplies but Bellamy tells her that she is not leaving. Raven points out that on the Arc, Bellamy was a janitor.  Bellamy points out that it's too dangerous to go alone and asks Raven what else she has in her head.  Raven brings up building radios so that the 100 can talk to each other. Bellamy says that they need her because she is smart.

On the Arc, Cain continues to look for survivors.  Cain come across a survivor named Wood, who informs him of a hull breech in engineering. The two start walking, looking for more survivors and Cain comments that it's like they are on a ghost ship.  They come across a group of people.

Back on earth, Miles, Finn and Octavia find themselves following suspicious tracks.  Miles is shot with arrows, (yep, I knew Miles was the red shirt of that little team) so Clarke and Finn decide to leave him but they don't get far before the are knocked unconscious by Anya and a group of Grounders.

On the Arc, Cain realises that the temperature is dropping and says that it must be a message that they are being monitored.  He is however told by Wood that he must have hypoxia. Cain says that they have to get moving now.

On earth, Clarke ad Fin are marched into a holding area.  Finn whispers that he knows where they are because he tracked their distance along with memorizing markers.  Clarke suggests that this doesn't matter because they weren't blindfolded because the Grounders didn't care what they saw. Clarke believes that they are going to be killed. Anya joins them and uses her sword to free Clarke.  It seems that one of them is sick and so Clarke is ordered to make her better.

Cain and the rest of the survivors come to a collapsed area.  Wood  uses a communications device to contact the earth monitoring station and discover that Jaha survived. Cain reports that he has one dozen survivors with him.  Jaha tells Cain to lead his people to the mess hall because Sinclair is re-rooting power and heat there.  Cain agrees to do so only after he gets Jaha but Jaha says that fire burned through most of the oxygen in his section and all access to it is blocked off.  How many times is Jaha going to play the role of brave hero by offering to die? Cain tells Jaha that he is not going to let Jaha die but Jaha orders him to gather as many survivors as he can.  Cain decides to go on a one man rescue mission and orders the rest of the survivors to the mess hall.  Instead of leaving Cain behind, the other survivors work with him to free Jaha. Exactly why are the survivors interested in saving Jaha when it has been revealed that all he has done is lie to them? I think I would have left him there.

The Art of Inserting a Token

'Feedback checklist' photo (c) 2013, AJ Cann - license:

 One of the prevailing problems with minority representation (beyond erasure - which is still a major issue) is tokenism. The minority character who is dropped in to, basically, be a minority. They’re there to tick some boxes on the inclusion check sheet so the writers/producers/creators can all sit down and pat each other on the back for being all modern.

Of course, “random minority” may be an accurate description of a cast member, it does become awkward actually coming up with a reason why your super special protagonist has, say, a Black lesbian following them around. Of course, you could actually create a fully rounded character with actual goals and a life and issues that blend into the plot line and fully integrate them with the story. But that’s a whole lot of effort for some inclusion box ticking! That might mean working for those precious inclusion cookies!

Instead, here are some handy-dandy tried and tested methods to get your characterless token seamlessly shoe-horned into the cast, following you precious protagonists around while you bask in the warmth of your benevolent diversity.

The Friend

Wait, I hear you cry, this sounds like a lot of effort! You’ve got to establish an actual relationship and make the protagonist care about them and give reasons why they’re friends; that’s a lot of bother!

Ah, but you can just take all that as given. Start the story with your Token Minority clearly labelled as your protagonist’s friend (“Bestie” or “bff” also works) and we can assume all that pesky development stuff happened already. That way when the story starts, they can get right into the good stuff - following the protagonist around, listening to every problem the protagonist has, telling the protagonist how awesome they are, being fully invested in all the protagonist’s issues and being obedient to the protagonist’s whims. After all, they’re FRIENDS! Instant motivation!

Examples: Bonnie (The Vampire Diaries), Hale (Lost Girl), Mulan (Once Upon a Time: friend/love interest/servant), Aaron (Switch), Russell, Astrid (Tomorrow People), Tara, Lafayette (True Blood), Akeldama (Parasol Protectorate Book Series)


Ok, you didn’t want to go with friend because you still thought you’d have to have your protagonist at least PRETEND to care about the friend’s issues. And then you’d actually have to give the friend some issues which is just so much effort for a random token. So, go for family instead! After all, you choose your friends but you’re stuck with your kin, right? As an added bonus your protagonist doesn’t even have to like them - or be remotely likeable - that familial love is an automatic given. All the bonus of a friend, for even less work.

If you’re really good, you can also pull this off with a love interest. After all, they love the protagonist so that gives them plenty of reason to hang around; but this is tricky since you have to present them as someone your protagonist actually loves without actually wasting time giving them a personality.

Examples: Felix (Orphan Black), Priscilla (Revolution), Wells (The 100), Sean (Otherworld Book Series), Alec (Mortal Instruments Book Series)

The Colleague

This has all the bonuses of a friend, but also lets the character keep them around on the job - and no need to worry about them having any of their own storylines, they should be leaving that personal crap at home (unlike your protagonist who is special and different, of course). We have the same instant, development-less motivation to be around and to serve - and because it’s their job we can even count following the protagonist around as fulfilling their job!

Examples: Hank, Wu (Grimm), Barbie (Witches of East End)

Support Worker

The trouble with the colleague is that they’re ALWAYS THERE. And sooner or later someone’s going to point out that they’re a moveable cardboard cut-out. So, get someone in who is a little less high profile - someone whose job means they’re always kind of around the protagonist but not all that involved. Then you have a minority to tick those boxes without the demand to actually do something with them

Examples: Leena, Abigail (Warehouse 13), Many minor pathologists (Blood Ties, Alcatraz)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fevered Souls Season 1 by S.K. Falls

Cara dreaded returning home from Chicago – but with no job and no job prospects, she didn’t really have much choice but to return to the small town of Eden

And get a job with the mysterious and wealthy Dax Allard – but an encounter with a hellhound and a strange mystical connection has made this small town far more exciting than she imagined.

I am often wary of romance in books – not because I’m against a romance plot, but because there are so many ways a romance plot can be written to guarantee I’ll hate it. What are those ways? Well there are several. And they’re in this book.

All of them.

Cara and Dax meet and LOVE STRIKES! Special Woo-woo love that means she is now his betrothed (which totally doesn’t mean the same as what we usually mean by that word – it also includes a compulsion to murder as well). She is dramatically attracted to him at first sight, tearful at the idea of his rejection and neither of them can stay away from each other.  No development, no character (at all), no relationship, no interaction – just ZING INSTA LOVE FOREVER! Not only insta-love, but she is addictive to her – even her smell (like a certain sparkly vampire we may know) meaning it’s almost impossible for him to be around her without a relationship happening (at least in the beginning of the book, not so much by the end because consistency is not one of this book’s strong points).

Dax is a demon which makes him super dangerous and deadly to Cara – but she doesn’t care! She has known him for precisely 2 seconds and will now be with him forever EVEN IF HE MAY EAT HER SOUL! Of course he nobly warns her several times which she just completely ignores, maybe pausing long enough to insist that he’d never hurt her because she just knows. She’s also the one to keep pushing for the deadly soul eating sex because life and limb meaning nothing to this woman.

Being a noble love interest, Dax decides to protect Cara by staying away from her – something she takes as devastating, tearful rejection. In a job interview. Yes because he’s a complete stranger looking to employ her and him not doing so is enough to cause an epic tantrum of “it’s not fair!!!!” Frankly, I wouldn’t have hired her anyway, because she went to this interview for a job she needed and wanted and didn’t bother to research it first – not even realising Dax was a person, not a company. She googled him after the fact.

And while Dax is a demon he’s a super-special nice demon, not only abstaining from human souls (a demon vegetarian? Do they have golden yellow eyes) but being a special kind of demon that has SUPER BINDING LOVE.

We have a love triangle – but not really. There’s a guy, James, who’s really into Cara but she doesn’t like him that way – so she invites him to talk in the middle of the night, hugs him a lot and generally keeps him hopeful and he remains on call. He constantly worries about Cara being in an abusive relationship because Cara, well, basically keeps sending up red flags that she’s in an abusive relationship.

Review and Recap: The 4400 Season One

Though I very much enjoyed season one of Resurrection, many of the discussions online kept bringing up The 4400 as a referential.  The curiosity finally  got to me and I decided to give it a go myself.  The 4400 is about a group of humans who are abducted and suddenly returned all at once.  We aren't originally told who took them but by the end of this season, we learn that they were taken by humans from the future to avert a catastrophe which would lead to the near extinction of all humankind.  Many of the 4400 who returned were also given special powers.  NTAC (The National Threat Assessment Command), which is a division of Homeland Security, is the unit assigned to keep watch over the 4400, for both the protection of the 4400 themselves and the general population.

Much of the first season deals with the 4400 trying to adjust to the new timeline.  Some are able to continue on as though nothing went wrong and others, like Richard Tyler, an air force pilot who disappeared in 1951
discover that most of their family is gone, along with any trace of the society they once knew.  This is what makes the season compelling to me. Because of the large number of returnees, The 4400 does occasionally engage in a returnee of the week story; however, due to the fact that the 4400 quickly become organized and the same NTAC agents work each case, the story never lost its cohesion and it managed to keep the meta plot moving quite nicely. As much as there is strong sci-fi element to The 4400, it's the human relationships that keep this showing moving.

The 4400 is very much a White centric show despite being located in Seattle and the 4400 consisting of people across the globe.  Unsurprisingly, The 4400 is also overwhelmingly U.S. centric.  I am not surprised by the Whiteness of the show because sci-fi has a long history of excluding people of colour.  Richard Tyler seems to be very central to the show itself but his position as the only man of colour very much tokenizes his character. The 4400 does a great job of depicting the racism he faced as a Black man in the military in 1951; however, in the  present time, race disappears as an issue for Richard.  He is told about Blacks in high level government position and racism is depicted as something which is an archaic idea.  It is further problematic  that when Richard has problems gaining and maintaining employment, he then compares the oppression he faces as a member of the 4400 to Jim Crow.  To be clear, these words were placed in this character's mouth by the writers.  Not only is it a false equivalency, it's absolutely racist.

This Week in Book Covers 19th May -23rd May

This week we have a lot of pretty to feast our eyes on - but also a lot of books that, for various reasons, just have bits that seem out of place. Either the book itself hasn’t been consistent with the setting, or the cover isn’t really conveying what lies within the pages.

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

There seems to be an odd link between compelling, beautiful covers and pretty bad books. Not always, by any stretch, (Steampunk tends to break the rule); but here we have a pretty beautiful cover and a not very compelling story

It does a good job of showing the story, but in some ways it has been too faithful - like showing the burning building under water. And showing the very book-accurate gown on the mermaid which just makes me think how incredibly awkward it must be Serafina to actually swim in. The cover’s too accurate! It shows how silly some parts of this world are!

A lush, beautiful scenario full of the natural wonder that is so important to the series. Subtle Native American accents to Joanne’s clothing which fits with her so well and makes the link that so underpins this book without resorting to feathers etc.

And Joanne apparently wanting us all to look at her breasts. Why is she laid in the middle of the forest (she’s probably laid on a rock. Or a pine cone. It looks damned uncomfortable)? Why do we have a protagonist who has an enchanted sword and wears an ankle length white leather duster not looking cheesey-awesome and badass on the cover? Did she get lost on the way to saving the world and instead end up in a magazine shoot?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tales of the Hidden World by Simon r Green

This short story collection has an excellent, coherent, link between the best stories in the book (something that many collections miss) – they’re all extremely, incredibly eerie. There’s a sense of darkness, of creepiness that permeates every story here. Not otherness – speculative fiction lends itself to otherness and weirdness – but crawl down your spine creepiness. For most of them

Then there’s a few extra stories slotted in there which just feel more questionable

There is a theme of death that carries through many of these stories – the nature and fear of death in particular and even a question of whether death is worse than life. A Question of Solace takes an old man who has lived an exciting and productive life, finally slowing down and losing his touch but not realising it; his memories, his doubts, his guilt over his legacy all combine to be a beautiful, powerful and moving goodbye scene for him – a time when death is certainly not to be feared or grieved, but a life celebrated. Dorothy Dreams is a powerful story of Dorothy from Oz growing old, being forgotten, neglected in her old age, finally getting to return to Oz. It’s a beautiful interpretation of that old story – and so many other stories – and another story that celebrates death even as life is seen as something painful to endure.

Find Heaven and Hell In the Smallest Things takes it to the next level, with Paul, the protagonist, enduring a living hell after his life was “saved” after a terrible accident; saved but now doomed to work the rest of his days imprisoned in a mechanical suit, enduring horrendous conditions to serve the government with the incomplete memory of his dead wife in the suits computer for company – a wife who cannot remember the last 3 years of their marriage or that it had fallen apart before her death. The excellent writing really does bring home a fate worse than death and any release as a relief.

Down and Out in Deadtown also follows the theme of death but to a far more cutting degree – the dead rises in a zombie horde… that doesn’t hunger. They’re dead… but moving. Not moving much or doing anything – they’re just… there. And people are happy until they realise the returned dead aren’t who they want them to be so they’re shuffled away and forgotten, rendered invisible; and all of this is told through the eyes of a homeless man – shuffled away and forgotten, rendered invisible. The comparisons and insight is razor sharp and very very true.

Many of these stories make me want to read more in the universe – A Question of Solace certainly will have me looking up the rest of the Drood series – supernatural James Bond’s trying to deal with world wide supernatural and sci-fi problems, with a side order of moral quandaries as they have to do terrible things for the “greater good”? Sign me up for that – exciting, well written and full of surprising depth and characterisation, I’m sold. I’d already read Street Wizard in another anthology and what I said then still applies. It’s All About The Rendering is probably the only story in this book that isn’t a little dark in some way – it’s a surprising break among the deep, dark, grittiness, hard choices, and uplifting death: a fun, whacky story of a house on the border between normality and wonder. And I really want to read more. It does seem completely out of place in the book, however.

In the Flesh, Season 2, Episode 4

Amy starts her day with an attempt at breakfast – which is a little odd since the PDS don’t eat and she spits the bar she eats into the sink.

Phillip, by his dreams, is still obsessed with Amy – and he comes downstairs to find his mum, the awesome Shirley, talking to Henry’s mum and they’re pretty upset that absolutely no-one cares about Henry’s disappearance. That also includes Phillip

Which brings us to Maxine who also doesn’t care – since she’s poring over her records to find the first risen; so much so she threatens the PDS with being listed as non-compliant for not listing their times of rising (which, since most of them don’t know, is likely to just get everyone to make it up). While she does this, Dean leads the “give back” PDS on how not to alarm living people (which is every bit as awful as you can imagine). Simon is missing and Kieren notices, so is Amy.

Back at the Walker household, Jem tells her mum, Sue, that she’s going on patrol again and everything is totally fine while Sue worries massively about her daughter (and for pretty good reason).  

Kieren comes home and his dad is still all positive and upbeat about the whole give-back scheme while Kieren can see exactly how useful Dean’s guide to civilised humanity actually is and it’s little more than ritual humiliation (showing sufficient cynicism to remind us that Steve is a northerner even if he is upbeat, he points out that that’s the work place). He also wants to go out, probably to spend some time looking for Simon, though his parents are pushing him for family time. Ahhh even as a PDS, the old dramas remain – a little normality to contrast wrenchingly with everything else.

Phillip delays his meeting, drawn to the PDS brothel again (unknown to him, a nosy neighbour is making note of everyone going in and out), studiously avoiding the eyes of the other patrons to meet with fake-Amy-sex-worker which, in a show about zombies, still manages to be the creepiest thing. While he sleeps it off, Maxine notices his absence. Phillip wakes in the brothel and realises he is late – but as he hurries off he is confronted by the nosy neighbour who rants at him and spits on him

Kieren does go to Simon’s, all dressed up – only to find Amy and a whole room full of PDS congregants. Awkward. Simon continues to talk some very good sense though – about PDS not being ashamed of who they are, not trying to hide who they are etc; but Amy doesn’t here because she has to hurry away with a nosebleed. Simon greets Kieren as a congregant and Kieren, after the kiss last episode, is not impressed. He warns Simon that all his followers (who he calls brainwashed) are going to get into trouble for not complying and gets irritated with Simon for not being a “normal person” for 2 seconds – I think this is more related to his recruitment pitches than failure to conform though. Amy interrupts to stop them all arguing while both of them jump – because Amy still has a crush on Simon. She’s also showing signs of confusion, trying to do a task she’s clearly already done.

When she leaves, Simon tries to kiss Kieren but he stops him – Amy’s right out there and she deserves to be told rather than her continue to desperately crush on Simon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Stone Song (Cold Iron #3) by D.L. McDermott

Sorcha never believed her grandmother when she warned her about the fairies, when she took away Sorcha’s violin and forbid her from music – a fate that, for a girl born with the mystical voice of the druids, is almost impossible to imagine

She learned how right her grandmother was when she fell into a fae’s clutches and it was only by chance and her long buried powers that she managed to escape. Now she’s much more careful – but the fae have still come looking for her; Elada with his claims of love and alliance and the Prince who wishes to enslave her for his own terrible needs. Worse, there are many fae with long memories of the druids’ abuses – and are still bitterly seeking revenge.

The framework of this book is interesting. The underlying world building is excellent – we have the ancient druids and fae with a terrible history that is interestingly balanced on both sides. There’s a lot of hatred to bury that is especially difficult and complicated given the immortal nature of the fae who, of course, remember the atrocities the druids committed against them and their loved ones. Asking them to just let it go is complicated. We have at least 3 different fae factions who, to a greater or lesser degree, all fear the Prince successfully bringing the court back. But they all have dramatically different views when it comes to humans and especially druids – the politicking as these groups try to work together but clash is excellent to navigate.

But when you look at the details it doesn’t follow through so well. There’s too much call-back to characters from previous books (and I think part of this is, I admit, from my missing the second book), like Conn and Beth and Helene – I’m not sure why they’re even in this book since they didn’t really add anything to it.

The plot itself starts quite well – though romance is a large part and (as mentioned below), I’m not a fan of it. Sorcha is interesting enough – but the ending is a rather clichéd kidnapping complete with “I must go alone because bad guy said so” which is so infuriatingly overdone and hardly ever makes sense – especially considering Sorcha’s complete ignorance over what she’s dealing with. We have a side order of trusting the bad guys to keep their word (complete non-spoiler: they don’t).  And relying on her super power kicking in despite her being very new to it, barely able to control it, not even able to use it most of the time AND not expecting the bad guys to have a counter measure for even though they know she has it and are all super worried because of that. As an extra bonus, the bad guys who super-duper want her dead, are going to wait a long time before they actually kill her.

Continuum, Season 3, Episode 9: Minute of Silence

Starting in the future, we have a crowd of people queuing up for “citizenship extraction” (which invalidates birth certificates) and apparently very painful, unpleasant process to remove a chip from their arm.

And in the present a man wakes up after 2 months in a coma – he doesn’t remember much, not even his own name. But he remembers Kiera’s name.

At the police station, everyone returns from Betty’s funeral and Carlos tries to confront Dillon about investigating Betty’s murder – but they’re too close to it, Independent Investigation has taken over and it’s not like this particular police department has the best reputation at the moment. And he may have handed over the investigation just to ensure Betty’s Liber8 connections remain buried.

Kiera goes to the hospital to see the mystery man – but she doesn’t recognise him. But the doctor decides to farm him off on her anyway because he’s perfectly healthy and she has no-one else to hand him over to. I’m pretty sure this isn’t standard procedure.

Carlos has taken up day drinking and decides to show Corporate Alec the other Kiera’s body. This turns into Carlos and Alec deciding they can trust the dead original but new Kiera is scary and unknown.

So when Kiera calls Alec for help with her John Doe, he’s snarky and uncooperative and really really passive aggressive. Alec’s day gets a little worse when he learns that Kellog is suing him – because the contract he signed for Sadtech with him had anti-competition rules and Kellog getting a sizeable cut of every one of Alec’s ideas. Working for Piron breaches that. Oh and Kellog adds that, since he’s from the future, he knows that Sadtech ends up beating Piron

More bad news – even working with Jason he can’t get Halo to work without a patch on the back of the neck which is ugly and not likely to be wanted. And he’s losing talent to Sadtech. Jacqueline, his lawyer/assistant also points out that Kellog has reasonable grounds to sue and Jason has no good news about Halo – the things he needs to make it will be very easily available. In 10 years.

To another plot – a guy sneaks into a building and steals something and then escapes pursuit with impressive agility and parkour skills – and some future technology that makes him invisible.

Dillon, Kiera and Carlos meet about the theft (and taking lots of proprietary information) using high tech and inside knowledge without a leak and come up Liber8 (this is deduction. To be fair, though, every time someone jaywalks in the city, Dillon screams “Liber8”). But Kiera takes time off the case because she’s obsessing with John Doe and has found a hotel he apparently was booked in. Which shows he’s either poor or has poor taste (it’s not the most up market) and that he had a sci-fi book about 2071 (I smell time traveller). He also has some random digits tattooed on his wrist. And yes, he looks around and realises he knows the city – but not the time.

The future-tech enabled parkour thief hits Piron and steals a Halo bracelet.

Penny Dreadful, Season 1, Episode 3: Resurrection.

Sunlight! Actual bright sunlight! Am I watching the right show? A boy walking through a sunlit field, quoting Wordsworth until he reaches the decomposed body of a dog, seething with maggots. It’s a young Victor Frankenstein. That night, a feverish and sickly Victor and his mother talk about death, right before his loving mother coughs up blood. She’s tended to by doctors and servants, but ultimately dies and is buried while Victor realises that, contrary to all the poetry, “death is not serene.”

This is when child Victor sets off on his voracious study of anatomy, of life and death.

To the present where a cowering Victor is facing his “first born”. The first monster demands Victor face him and dramatically confronts him (with beautiful, flowery language to prove his facility of speech). He recounts his own creation and we flashback – he didn’t peacefully wake, he work in terrified agony and how horrifying it was to Victor. Victor fled in terror – the Monster’s first human interaction was of rejection. He was abandoned to a small room, experiencing the world through a window where he saw humanity, its cruelty; he studied Victor’s books, his poetry. He points out the irony of Victor doing something so cutting edge that it was the very pinnacle of modern progress while still holding to the romantic, pastoral words of Keats and Wordsworth.

Victor tries to run but the Monster stops him, when Victor asks about the murder of Proteus, the Monster calls it a mercy – to abort him before he knows pain. He recounts coming to London to find Victor – being attacked but also being shown kindness by a wonderfully dramatic actor (Vincent) who introduced him to the theatre. Not the Shakespearean theatre he prefers – but a penny dreadful, gory spectacle theatre – the Grand Guignol. The wonderfully verbose Vincent dubs the Monster Caliban and gives him a job running things backstage.

We have a nod at the irony of him supporting actors who died every night on stage, then to be reborn; though he kept to the shadows because not everyone was welcoming of his disfigured face. His tale finished, Victor finally asks what he wants – and Caliban tells him to walk with him and see

As they walk, Caliban notes that Victor has learned and his “younger brother” was better made than him – prettier, faster learning, gentler – though he’s taken aback to learn Victor named his brother; even more when Victor calls Caliban “Demon”. Caliban wants love (not Victor’s and is quite angry when Victor rejects him again because Caliban doesn’t seek his acceptance), he wants a companion. And Victor will make him an immortal woman or Caliban will kill all Victor loves; Victor isn’t intimidated by death threats. It is life that hurts him, not death.

 At Sir Malcolm’s, Vanessa has a vision of Mina, begging her for help. And she goes to see him (interrupting his masterful performance of endurance and pain).

In their dockside pub, Brona and Ethan have sex. Afterwards she continues to struggle with her tuberculosis; he asks if she had medicine, but she can’t afford any.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Banishing the Dark (Arcadia Bell #4) by Jenn Bennett

Cady’s mother is alive and in the Aether and looking for a way to cross over and fulfil her lifelong ambition – possessing her daughter and claiming her Moonchild magic for herself.

Cady can find only one solution to saving herself and her unborn child – stop being the Moonchild. Which means finding out exactly how her mother completed the Moonchild ritual in the first place and what exactly that means. Unfortunately, they begin this investigation with a memory spell that backfires unpleasantly.

The plot of this book I was actually really eager for. Cady and Lon, after 3 books of ignoring Cady’s powers, using Cady’s powers grudgingly and generally sitting around and doing very little about the whole Moonchild thing have finally decided to get up and track down exactly what the Moonchild means, what it can do and how it was created and what the implications are of that.

Excellent! And the plot and development was fairly well done – if a little late in the day. The investigation was fairly decent (even if Cady had a few moments of “Moonchild means I can pull out useful powers at random”) and tracked down information in a logical manner. It revealed a lot of the back story and the real truth behind Cady’s mother’s machinations.

I really liked the revelations – because it worked so well with Cady’s progression in learning about her parents, having her illusions scattered, fearing them and now, finally turning round and confronting her mother once and for all. It brought her arc round – it was, perhaps, a little abrupt and fast, but it brought it round full circle.

If I had any complaint about Cady’s story it would be that after 3 books of ignoring the Moonchild, we now get it all at once and not enough time to explore or expand on it. We get a lot of quick answer, satisfactory answers, but answers that only begin to explore the whole issue. I feel much the same about the world building in general –the different demons, the whole “Mother of Ahriman” thing, the different magical societies – all have been touched on but this is the last book and none of them have been expanded.

Jupe had his own little storyline this time as well, and it did add to the main and wasn’t too consumed by drama – but it was consumed by breasts and naked women; which I’m guessing is the author writing a 14 year old boy. It wasn’t an awful segment to read but ran straight into that whole last book problem – here’s Jupe introducing me to Leticia, a whole new character with an interesting back story and family and potential for a great deal – but this is the last book. Unless there’s a spin off none of this is going to go anywhere and it ends up being quite a long segment for a small amount of information. It was interesting and it’s nice to see things from Jupe’s point of view and experience (including dealing with racism) but it added up to some other elements of the book to make me want to get back on topic

Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast Moved

It's another Monday - and our battles with the moose continue. However, the podcast is back this week! But it's moving to Wednesday

That's Wednesday 28th May at 12:00am EST

Hope to see you all there where will will begin discussing all the season finales we've been seeing lately for lots of analysis and, of course, our book of the week.

Our next books of the week are listed below for reference purposes

19th May - 26th May: Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennet
26th May - 2nd June: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
2nd June - 9th June: The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
9th June - 16th June: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
16th June - 23rd June: Shattered by Kevin Hearne
30th June - 7th July: Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice
7th July - 14th July: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

14th July - 21st July: Grave visions by Kalayna Price

Orphan Black, Season 2, Episode 6: To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings

Sarah and Helena are having a sister camping trip! Such fun! Helena may be very much leaping on the “I have a sister! YAY!” train but she’s not a fool and keeps her clues to finding “Swan Man” (Rachel’s dad, Ethan Duncan, quite possibly the guy behind the clones) cryptic so Sarah doesn’t leave her behind. Also she likes Cryptic. She also wants to have kids (and says that Sarah is a good mother which, given that she’s dumped Kira on a guy she hasn’t known for years and who has convenient getaway stuff stashed, I’m going to put a big question mark over that) – which leads to Sarah asking about what the Proletheans did to her and Helena changing the topic and being super cute with shadow puppets.

And creepy. Because she’s Helena. They’re also being followed and their car searched – by Paul.

Helena is even cuter (still creepy) on the road trip, singing along to the radio and Sarah trying really hard not to smile. Helena leads Sarah to the church where Maggie Chen tracked Ethan and she leaves Helena in the car (without the radio – awwww that’s just mean) while she goes and checks out the trail. Inside she finds a picture of the Cold River institute (Helena mentioned “Cold River”) and she learn’s Ethan’s new name – Mr. Peckham and that he’s been rooting around in the Institute’s archives which are stored in the church. Helpful lady shows them to Sarah while warning her that the contents are very very disturbing – and they are, Eugenics experiments from the early 20th century.

Sarah calls Cosima to check in and notices Cosima is definitely worried and bother. Sarah tells her hoe important she is, seeing through Cosima’s quiet reassurance. They plan to spring Allison when Sarah returns to town – they’re much better together.

Some files are missing though, Helpful lady says they’ve probably been stolen by Maggie Chen.

Helena, meanwhile, does not stay in the car (did anyone expect her too?) She sees a bar and is interested in exploring the many types of alcohol inside. Some guy makes a nuisance of himself so she sprains his finger (“don’t be baby, only sprain. Next one I break”.) Another guy wins her other with pork rinds, a food suitably awful enough to appeal to Helena. While that’s going on, Mark from the Proletheans appears in the doorway AND Paul is still following them (they both size each other up and make a deal that Mark gets Helena, Paul gets Sarah. Sensible Paul, very very sensible). Guy with pork rinds (who is definitely nefarious) flirts heavily with Helena while she tells some outrageous lies about her past before she beats him at arm wrestling (hey he got to keep his arm, step up!). He even manages to get Helena on the dance floor where they dance and kiss and are getting into it – when sprained finger guy decides to get involved.

Oh this will not end well. Helena does terrible things to him, leaving Pork Rinds guy kind of shocked. Paul decides to leave – Helena is Mark’s problem. She ends up getting arrested even while Pork Rinds guy tries to intervene with the police for her.

Which is when Sarah leaves the church to see Helena being put in a police car. At the police station, the guys she beat up aren’t pressing charges so she’s free to go – with her sister. Not Sarah – Prolethean Grace with the healing mouth. Something that was done to Helena once as well. Grace tells Helena about the eggs they took from her and Helena tells them to take her to her babies.

New Releases 25st May - 31st May

What follows is a list of books which will be released between May 25 - May 31.  It can be tough  keeping up with ongoing stories and often, we miss the latest new release, unless the book/series is the beneficiary of a big round of publicity . That is why we are committed to sharing with you books that are the first in their series every week.  Please check out the list and let us know what books you are interested in checking out and why.

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

In a steel-and-lead-encased bunker 40 feet below the basement level of his house, Captain Lee Harden of the United States Army waits. On the surface, a plague ravages the planet, infecting over 90% of the populace. The bacterium burrows through the brain, destroying all signs of humanity and leaving behind little more than base, prehistoric instincts. The infected turn into hyper-aggressive predators, with an insatiable desire to kill and feed. Some day soon, Captain Harden will have to open the hatch to his bunker, and step out into this new wasteland, to complete his very simple mission: Subvenire Refectus.

Our review of The Remaining

Night Terrors (Shadow Watch #1) by Tim Waggoner

Meet the fine men and women of the NightWatch: a supernatural agency dedicated to hunting down rogue nightmares that escape from other realms when people dream about them, while ensuring that other dream-folk are allowed to live among the regular, human population, as long as they play by the rules.

Our review of Night Terrors

Born of Stone (Gargoyle Masters #1) by Missy Jane

Within a body strong as stone beats a heart ready for love.

Gargoyle Masters, Book 1

For seventy years, Orestes and his twelve gargoyle brothers have done their duty to protect King Kadmos’s realm. There’s only one annoyance in his life—humans.

He’s content to leave them to their idol worship. Until he notices a small, frail woman serving at his table, doing her best to remain invisible. Something about her calls to him like no human before.

Astrid is terrified. Not only of the powerful magical creature with inhuman strength, but of the staff overseer’s lash for calling attention to herself. Instead she is whisked away to paradise, bathed, fed, and made love to by Orestes as if she is his reason to live. But she isn’t naïve enough to believe she is anything more than a temporary diversion.