Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dominion, Season 1, Episode 2: Godspeed

Flashback opener! To a young Alex and his now dead father, Jeep (are we really going with that as a name? Jeep? Was his brother Humvee and his sister Land Rover?) being all bondy when creepy skitter angels attack (8-Balls I guess. And they do a really good job with that creepy skitter crawl). Jeep looks all badass while the camera focuses on his improbably beautiful blue/green eyes (yes, I’m shallow, sue me). Alex runs inside to get a gun while Jeep continues to badass slaughter everything (we also learn 8 Balls can imitate voices). It ends with a super angsty “I’ll never leave you”.

Which of course he did so it’s to adult Alex, Jeep’s funeral and a metrick fuckton of angst. And they can’t even have a funeral ceremony without mentioning the chosen one. This sends Alex into even more angst, trying to rub off his tattoos and generally being sad.

The council of senators/consuls/it seems to change meets to discuss getting the power back on since half their defences are down without the main reactor. Whele’s little stunt with the 8-Ball has also kind of backfired, no-one’s impressed. Whele tries to spin it, not very successfully unfortunately, General Riesen is too damn noble and speaks up in Whele’s defence.

When they’re alone there seems to be some pragmatism to his decision – he’s not impressed by Whele but Whele pretty much keeps the whole city running. To more business – they fear religious fervour caused by the Chosen One so want to take steps to stop the news getting out. These steps include rounding up everyone who was there to see it and feeding them to Whele’s pet lion.

Alex decides to see Clare in the middle of the night, while drunk which is definitely questioned by Noma (a fellow soldier and his friend) who promptly puts him in an arm lock before Clare oks it. He wants to run off, Clare thinks everything is wonderful because he’s the Chosen One and can save them all. Yeah, Alex isn’t actually that much of a fan of saving Vega – a city that abandoned him to become a low class V1 when his dad left. And, no, he didn’t become a soldier out of any lofty ambition to protect the city as Clare thinks, he became a soldier so he could eat.

He calls her a spoiled princess, she throws back ugly drunk. I think the former is more powerful. She kicks him out.

Over to the bad guys – Gabriel is having a huge party with all his angels doing their own funeral thing which involves preserving the dead in goo. He’s distracted by something so leaves the 8-Balls to enjoy their bodies – and have an orgy. That distraction if Michael deploying the Archangel signal. Gabriel and Michael talk, basically expositioning the motives: Gabriel thinks god ran off because Earth was a failure and he didn’t want to destroy it himself while Michael thinks Gabriel is jealous that god loved mankind more than angels. Gabriel rants on about how terribad humanity is and maybe daddy will come back when they’re gone. Yes, this show needs more daddy issues. Gabriel also drops the knowledge that he knows about the Chosen One

The Helena embassy is all in prison and Arika is getting blamed for it all because she had sex with Whele. Vega has humiliated the women by taking their Hykas – long robes they wear.

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 2: In My Secret Life

We get a reminder that the stasis net (the forcefield) is up around Defiance again as the E-Rep soldiers record a nice little overdramatic propaganda video. Which is when Nolan and Irisa drive up, Nolan failing to convince her to stay away from the town. She’s still hallucinating Irzu and, following he demands, she charges the gate. Nolan manages to repair things somewhat with Captain Berlin who takes all their weapons – but Irisa loses it when Berlin takes her diary and starts a fight which gets her captured.

Irisa is dragged to the police station – where Tommy is waiting - with Berlin ignoring Nolan’s protests. Iris is left in Tommy’s custody while Nolan goes to see Niles

To the Tarr household where everyone is bathing together which makes Christie super uncomfortable (Alak tries to encourage Stahma to give Christie a little more space. Is it just me, or does Alak – or the actor – look super uncomfortable as well). Christie also isn’t a fool, she suspects that Alak is keeping up his dad’s criminal family business. Alak denies it and leaves – when she challenges him he calls her “such a human.”

In town, an unknown person plants some kind of insect based bomb.

In the market, Niles confronts Stahma and tells her to stop selling Adreno (a drug) since his men are getting hooked on it and doing bad, naughty things. But he may be craftier than he looks, when Stahma balks, he suggests releasing Datak; fully aware that she doesn’t want that. He demands she bring the rest of their Adreno to his office.

Niles, Stahma will eat you.

Niles goes back to his office and Amanda schools him on how to handle the Votans in the town, when Nolan arrives. Nolan and Amanda have a happy reunion. Niles greets Nolan with a little reference to his bloody war record which probably isn’t going to – and isn’t meant to – endear Niles to Nolan. Niles wants to know why Colonel Marsh has sealed Irisa’s file (Nolan claims ignorance) when an explosion interrupts them

It’s the bomb in the market – with the worms then burrowing in the flesh of the people injured in the explosion. Nasty. Nolan recognises it as a “shrill bomb” from the Pale Wars, used to terrorise. Niles supports Tommy, the new Lawkeeper (despite the E-Rep clearly walking all over him) but Amanda wants Nolan back in charge since Tommy didn’t even know what the bomb was. So the deal – Nolan finds the bomber in 24 hours and Irisa’s arrest disappears.

Nolan doesn’t like the idea because of the less than wonderful time he had as lawkeeper last time and his general unpopularity among the Votans (and Tommy if that glare is something to go by). Just to rub salt in the wounds, while Nolan plans to investigate the mines (the spores grow underground), he sends Tommy to the office to guard Irisa and takes Tommy’s gun.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hotter than Helltown (Preternatural Affairs #3) by S.M. Reine

There’s a serial killer in town – their victims are horrendously mutilated and increasing in frequency. Worse, all signs point to something supernatural doing the killing – which makes it Cesar’s and Suzy’s job to catch the killer. And Cesar does not do bodies

Almost as intimidating, the boss is in town. She has an ultimatum – because Cesar accessed information he shouldn’t have in a crisis, he needs to become Aspis to Fritz’s Kopis. Shield to his Sword. The fighter’s witch guardian – and there’s a test involved. A complicated test that is rather beyond Cesar’s skill level

And if he fails… well, being fired from the agency may have consequences

I do like how Cesar has grown in this book, including his powers and abilities. This is somewhat odd for me because I can be quite scathing when we have protagonists who constantly level up every book, finding new depths of special powers. But with Cesar it worked because it was very subtle. Also because he’s very much behind the curve of his colleagues. Suzy has awesome power, his boss, Fritz, is a skilled Kopis who can clearly throw down and Isobel has some very specialised magical skills – Cesar often feels like the odd man. In some ways, it works because he’s the one who will think about the mundane before the magical but other times it’s a hindrance because he needs to be reminded of the magical.

It also fits really well with his past and development – Cesar is surrounded by major talents and has grown up around major talents. He has thoroughly absorbed the idea that he’s not very good simply because he’s been surrounded by people who are totally awesome and has internalised his own incapacity because of that. It’s really well done to see not his growing ability, but him being forced to look past his instinctive “I can’t do it” initial response to any challenge.

This fits really well with the ongoing theme of Cesar finding his feet in the new department and having to learn quickly as well as him stepping up to be Fritz’s Apis. Cesar has spent the whole series being thrown into situations well beyond his experience and comfort zone and having to rise to the challenge

I’m looking forward to seeing him and Fritz bounce off each other as well – they really do work together

Beyond the characters, I really love this world. Especially how it is connected with several other of the author’s series in the same world – allowing us to see everything through different lens. So we can see Elise viewing the Union as an imposing threat and demons as not-all-that-worrisome unless they’re higher up in the Descent Series and then here we have Cesar working for and closely with the Union while fearing even the most minor demons as terrifying enemies. The different series have also worked to make a really wide and rich world full of different denizens with different views of them all. This is built on a magic system that is both individual but also has a solid sense of rules and procedures that speaks to deeper world building that I always appreciate

The Last Ship, Season 1, Episode 1: Phase Six

We start with US helicopters flying over Egypt (we’re also told the population of Egypt is 85 million, since this is a dystopian, I’m guessing that number will drop rapidly). In one of the helicopters is Dr. Rachel Scott. She’s dropped off at a camp, wearing a full Haz Mat suite; the camp has 6,000 quarantined people, nearly 400 were dead and when they expected help they kind of expected more than one doctor, given there’s only 6 staff left.

Dr. Rachel gets to work, carrying her conspicuously labelled CDC box. She takes a blood sample and leaves – methinks the expectations in the camp were somewhat higher.

Having done the foreign climes thing, it’s off to a Naval base in Virginia and a big ship. The camera follows a lot of people around I assume are going to be relevant. Including Commander Tom Chandler. Rebecca is also on the ship setting up a lab.

Zoom forwards 4 months to the ship being on a top secret mission with complete radio silence in the arctic. In between Dr. Rachel and her cohort doing sciency things in the snow, Cmd Tom is doing a missile test which goes well so they intend to go home. Though Rachel isn’t ready yet and isn’t happy at being ordered back to the ship. On the ship she argues with the captain, surely the first of many such bickerings, chewing him out for getting in the way of her research. He cuts her rant to basically call her out on her attitude and deliver the news that they’re leaving before walking away.

More cameos of random side characters who I assume will be relevant, including Andy Chun who is studying for something and Kara and Danny who are having an illicit relationship.

Rachel contacts people who are very in charge to request more time (while her lackey, Quincy, experiments with mice looking all creepy). And when Cmd Tom calls his bosses to say they’re done and want to come home he learns that his mission has been extended – no explanation given.

Rachel gets to return to her icy island when they’re interrupted by helicopters – unknown helicopters that start firing on their guards. Rachel hurriedly grabs her samples as they try to escape the incredibly inaccurate helicopters (they hit nothing while the 4 guards around Rachel bring down two helicopters and several enemy soldiers – even their dog gets one). 3 other helicopters attack the destroyer and are quickly and easily destroyed.

On the ship we confirm that their attackers, some of whom they have taken captive, are Russian. One captive gasps that they want “the cure”. Tom demands answers from Dr. Rachel and refuses to give her her samples until she tells him and makes a big stampy demand for no more secrets and threatens to destroy her samples if he doesn’t answer her questions (which, frankly, strikes me as kind of ridiculous. He’s a commander in the US Navy, he must understand about secrecy and security clearance. With the little he knows now, he could surely face major consequences for his little tantrum).

Behind the Author Drama - Class Acts and Professionals

Book blogging on the internet has brought a lot of interesting elements to reading. We are connected to other readers and other fans on a scale we never have before. We have spawned a whole cottage industry of ordinary-person reviewing with little in the way of the usual gatekeeping we see and expect. We have discussions and critiques and social justice debates and analysis which would have been far narrower and harder before.

It’s also brought fans and authors together in whole new ways producing many wonderful new interactions and opportunities.

It’s also let us see more and more of that now infamous problem - the Outraged Author. The Author Who Wants To Tell You You Read the Book Wrong. The Author with the Fanpoodles of Raging Doom and, of course, the vicious trolls at Stop the Goodreads Bullies. Sometimes it seems a week doesn’t go past without hearing of an author who decides to show their scabby buttocks for all to see. We’ve certainly had some unfortunate experiences ourselves.

The sad thing is that these unfortunate events are miniscule compared to our normal author interractions. There are some authors we love to talk to, tweet, email back and forth and interview (also, I’ll take the time here to appreciate those authors who we have questioned in our interviews and listened to us). Ones we talk to and, of course, fanpoodle (or fanchicken as the case may be). for every author who flounces in to tell us how terribad wrong our criticism is, there’s 4 or 5 more who we talk to and have fun with and love that complete shatter this whole authors vs reviewers false war that often feels to unreasonably dominate the blogosphere (as much as drama can be immense fun).

Those authors who we love and talk to know who they are, and there are a number of other authors who we don’t talk to regularly but still drop us a nice note after a good review.

But I think there’s another group of authors who really deserve a mention as well. These are not authors we spend a lot of time talking to nor, it has to be said, are they author’s whose books we particularly enjoyed. In fact, our reviews of their books were not positive, in some cases, our reviews were quite brutally honest.

And they contacted us and said “thank you.” Not “oh how very dare you!” or “how could you, that’s my baby!” or even “well clearly you are reading it wrong!” They thanked us. And, in some cases, even put forward another book to review. These authors are not just professional, but classy and while every week we hear a new story of an author losing their ever loving mind over a review, we rarely hear of these professionals acting with dignity and class.

So, a shout to you all:

Kip Manley, Angela Roquet, Angelia Sparrow, Kim Faulks, Allison Moon, Georgiana Derwent, Laura Kentowski, Ezra Holiday, Hal Goodman, Bill Blais, Roh Morgan, Wol-vriey, Tiger Gray, Sherry Soule,

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In My Time of Dying (Salt Lake After Dark #2.5) by J.K Walker

David died when a serial killer came to his home. His pregnant wife survived the attack

Now he’s a ghost and driven by his desperate devotion to her to follow her, watch her and do whatever he can to protect her. It’s a compulsion that grows the longer he is dead

A compulsion that is not only unhealthy – but can lead a ghost down a very dark path.

He was a werewolf and he pretty much defeated most of the werewolf tropes we’ve come to know and loathe. He was kind, he was patient, he was funny, he was wonderfully loving to his wife, Angel, and generally had all the hallmarks of being a pretty decent character and an excellent counterpoint to the werewolf Alpha who was a much more “traditional” werewolf depiction.

He was also one of Jasmine’s friends – one of the things these books have been so good at showing is Jasmine’s friendship with the other characters, actually spending social time together and doing silly things like bad movie nights. It’s one thing I’ve always liked

And he died.

Salem, Season 1, Episode 10: The House of Pain

Setting the theme for the episode – Increase prays by torturing himself and telling god what a terrible, wretched person he is

Well, Increase finally said something I agree with.

Mercy’s little coven disposes of the body of the town drunk they killed, they’ve turned Mercy into an almost deified figure. Mary is also focused on finding Mercy after she threw Tituba to the wolves last episode – and finds Mercy cowering under her dining room table. While telling Mercy it wasn’t her decision to make, she crushes a tarantula lurking under the table as well.

At the Hale household, Anne decides to explore her dad’s creepy office and finds a creepy mask. She looks through the eyeholes and sees the forest – and then it latches on to her face. She struggles with it and it teleports her to that forest. Well, there’s one form of transport- creepy mask wrestling.

Hale himself is not bothered by Tituba being captured, he’s sure the awful life she’s lead will ensure she can handle torture and use the situation to their advantage – Mary is outraged that he is looking for a bright side to Tituba being tortured.

Increase has turned the brothel into his torture chamber (the house of pain). Mary speaks up on behalf of Tituba and how she’s not just a slave, but a friend which Increase takes as further evidence of a bad thing and considers Mary herself in his chamber – something even Cotton feels the need to object to. Increase makes it clear he is very suspicious of Mary and refuses to release George or Tituba. He makes a further comment of Mary living in George’s house.

In the torture chamber, Increase shows all his evil toys to Tituba while Cotton, reflecting on how he once pressed a man to death, begs for a different method also adding just how pointless torture is for getting the truth. Unsurprisingly, Increase doesn’t care, not even when Cotton points out he’s using the tools the Inquisition used against Puritans. He tortures Tituba and Cotton runs, holding his hands over his ears to try and block her screaming. The torture continues even as Tituba gives up names because Increase discounts them, basically until he gets the ones he wants, now turning to a choke-pear, an implement of dubious historical record.

Tituba demands to at least give the reason for why she serves her masters: Justice. she denies being a witch or a puritan. She says she’s of the Arawak tribe and describes the horrors and abuses the slavers brought to her and her people but rather than add any kind of drive of vengeance of freedom, she adds glowing red eyes that claimed her which Increase naturally calls Satan.

Increase asks when she sold her soul – and she talks about all the times she has been sold as a slave. And even if Mary treats her as a sister (since when?) she was still a slave. It was only in the woods around Salem when she met a blood stained man who was there to “save her, save all of us.” He gathers all those who hurt. Tituba lashes out with Biblical quotes, people who were slaves calling out in the wilderness to a god that answers.

This Week in Book Covers 16th June - 20th June

This week we have a string of the generic. some are ugly. Some are beautiful. Some are vague, some are typical and some of them are down right bemusing - but together they all do a relatively poor job of conveying the stories they’re pasted on.

It’s pretty - all of the covers of these books are pretty. the beautiful face paint, the costume elements we can see - it’s definitely pretty. And I want to praise it on that alone…

But… it’s pretty but non-descriptive. From this I know we have a female character. The glowy thing could be anything from a light bulb, to a space aged weapon to a fire-fly in a glass. there’s not even anything about the cover that particularly screams Steampunk or Victoriana to me. It’s beautiful, but it could also be anything.

I don’t know… it’s a man, with an old sword. An old Greek sword, admittedly, but it’s still a man with a sword. And power lines. I’m not sure what the power lines have to do with anything. Like the title, it’s just so very vague. We have a man with sword and lens-flare. We have a title that either means weather or the centre of some kind of chaos - either of which could apply to any number of books in a range of different genres with a range of different themes. It’s too nondescript to intrigue me

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Plagued: The Rock Island Zombie Counteractant Experiment (Plagued States of America #2) by Better Hero Army

Mason is a soldier with a new posting – to one of the remaining settlements in the plague states, one of only two places left where zombie slaves are captured and sold into the US. It’s not a reward – this is where the screw ups go, those who need to be shuffled out of view and Mason, with his record in Egypt and his PTSD, is a prime candidate

Someone else also thought so – but not to guard zombies in cells, but to be part of a plot to change how zombies are treated and finally reclaim the plagued states. Mason is an essential cog in that plan

And, possibly, a disposable one.

This book, like the first book in the series, is short – very short. But it isn’t written like a short story.

So we have a long introduction, a recap to the world, some excellent characterisation, some great world building, lots of slowly built foreshadowing, some devious hints to the world… all of it is building at a nice steady and ominous rate. It’s really well done…

…then the REST of the plot and the action and actual stuff happening is rammed in with a crowbar, fastforwarded to 20x speed and is a blur of barely understood, slightly incomprehensible splurge. It’s one of those books where I wonder if a deadline was looming because it was all nice and steady then it was zomg finish it! Finish it! No, I don’t have time to explain that it, just happened – characterisation? Gah, just throw in a random doctor, she’ll do – explosions! More explosions! MOAR EXPLOSIONS! And half-breeds and escape through doors which are open and throw in a flashback and memory loss – there, done!

Those last two also didn’t help. The protagonist has had a traumatic experience as a soldier in Egypt and many references are made throughout the book. He also speculates a lot on why other soldiers are dispatched to this posting and what they could have done wrong. Then, because of the plot, he suffers an injury that shakes his memory and causes confusion and makes him mistake the other soldiers for people from his past which adds to an odd moment which seems to be telling the current plot as a flashback from the future (I didn’t quite get it. It could have been talking about events from the previous book and have been a memory?).  It’s probably pretty clear that I had trouble following – confused memories and fast pacing combine to completely lose me.

At the end, I kind of get what happened by piecing everything together. And the plot is a fascinating and a crafty one. We get to hear a lot more of the world and how the US has suffered by having so many states given over to zombies as well as the attempt to restore those areas – which means clearing out the zombies. And part of that will inevitably mean stopping the new slave trade that depends on the zombies both as a plain moral imperative (which is clearly seen) but also to gather sufficient impetus to actually seeking and implementing a mass cure for zombiedom.  But on top of that is the conflict of chosen methods – and how much does the end justify the means even when ending such a vile practice? Especially when the “good guys” feel like a nefarious cabal.

Continuum, Season 3, Episode 13: Last Minute

Start with a flashback into Brad’s time period – a war torn city, ruined and full of chaos. He’s part of a special mission for his clan, an all-or-nothing fight – and he’s given the special object that he managed to take with him to the past, only now it’s covered in glowing red lines. He’s sent off on his super important, possibly suicidal mission, by Kellog.

To the present and Kiera and Brad are being all couply (I still want to know when this happened) in their cabin. They both acknowledge their flawed pasts – Brad worked for a half-mad warlord and Kiera worked for Big Brother (this is actually a major shift – Kiera has finally openly acknowledge the corruption and evil of her time. Please don’t turn it into a single one off jokey line). He has some thoughts about her son and how everything feels right even if he feels so far away. It’s romantic and sweet, it doesn’t have to make sense.

Emily and Free Alec are making their own plans for escape when someone shoots up their hotel room.

To Corporate Alec who is preparing for a big speech about Halo, coached by Kellog and getting all nervous (apparently Halo is now dropping in stock prices so they need a good speech, no I don’t know why, random tension). Jacqueline delivers a rather ominous “the package has been delivered” message which I assume means the drive by on Free Alec – Jacqueline is really not happy to be used to deliver cloak and dagger messages.  Yes, it looks like Corporate Alec has reached the level of calling hits on people.

Kellog shows up at the police station to ask for more policing at Corporate Alec’s speech and has hostile Carlos be very unwilling. There’s some ominous threats about Piron withdrawing funding and Carlos calls the whole partnership with the police “under review.”

Time for a meeting of the time travellers, Emily, Free Alec, Jason, Kira and Brad and Free Alec expositions what’s happening – Corporate Alec is trying to cement control of the time line by removing the other Alec, which will leave Piron/Sadtech and complete surveillance in control of everything and create even more of a dystopian nightmare than Kira’s future. And Corporate Alec is rebuilding the lab to get the time machine working again, which he may have done as Jason reveals. Kellog and Corporate Alec with time travel sounds like a bad idea to everyone; so much so that Travis has also joined them.

Travis and Kiera go recruiting, bringing in Jasmine, Lucas (I love that Jasmine is worried, but when Lucas sees the 4 of them working together he just declares himself in no matter what it is).

At Alec’s lab, Kiera begins with a full confession to Liber8 –they were right. She was asleep. She was on the wrong side. She doesn’t agree with their tactics still, nor is she declaring alliance and friendship but she knows she was wrong and she will fight to make sure their future doesn’t happen

About damn time! Liber8 now finally wins through

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 1: The Dark of the Moon

Is it just me, or is this show back on the air awfully quickly? Season 3 only ended at the end of March. Not that I’m complaining, of course.

Stiles and Lydia are in Mexico (I think it’s Mexico – it looks very very stereotypically Mexico) apparently pursuing  a plan Lydia considers suicidal. They go to a party – a very crowded party – that requires a card with a skull on it to get in. They’re given free drinks but Lydia drops a bullet casing with the same skull carving into hers

It gets them into a meeting with Araya, the hunter who lurked around the edges of last season not doing an awful lot. Lydia and stiles think the hunters have kidnapped Derek and they’ve brought $50,000 for his released. She mocks the for coming alone – and out in the party we see Malia and Kira and Scott (Stiles dramatically says they brought and Alpha, personally I think Kira is more intimidating but they all get to do their shiny eye glow). Kira also fails at blending in and fails far far more at dancing. Malia helps by pulling her close which also adds some suggestiveness to their dancing.

It also goes on for way too damn long. C’mon Teen Wolf start of a new season, we need plot, not dancing.

So back to Araya who expositions on the Dark of the Moon being a time for grief and reflection (does this mean something or was it shoe horned in for the sake of a nifty title?), when Scott takes down one of the guard and Stiles removes $10,000 from their offer. Two goons attack Malia and Kira and they’re taken down very quickly. Scott takes out another (leaving an indent in the wall)

The hunters, the Calaveras, respond by gassing the whole place with wolfsbain, rendering Malia and Scott helpless. Araya mocks their inexperience but in the confrontation, Scott realises Araya also doesn’t know where Derek is. She tases him

Flashback! Scott tells Lydia and Stiles about Derek’s disappearance and that he found the Calaveras’ bullet casings in his loft. Using her banshee abilities, Lydia confirms he’s not dead – but she’s not sure if he’s alive. Which is helpful. Zombie wolf? Vampire Derek?

Back to the present to Scott waking up in a bathroom, locked in with Malia, Stiles and Kira and discovering that Araya has taken Lydia. Malia is bemused why they would find Lydia (she’s quite happy to say, as a coyote, she would have no problem leaving the weak or injured for dead – or cannibalism for that matter. Stiles points out this is actually progress with Malia.)

Araya’s all curious about banshee powers, mainly so she can be super duper creepy and then ask questions about Scott. Which means more tasing Scott and chaining him up and lots of electroshock in a rather convoluted fashion to make Scott tell them where Derek is. Yes, he doesn’t know so Araya keeps asking leading questions about shepshifters, people who could have been turned they didn’t know about – maybe not by a bite. The electroshocks trigger memory (Alpha memory?) and Scott remembers Kate Argent asking if she could be turned by a scratch – and yes, she was clawed.

Stiles tries to get Malia to concentrate on listening by staring into his eyes. She kisses him. This is understandable – why Stiles thought staring into his eyes would allow her to focus is beyond me

I have to say this is one of the most inefficient information retrieval systems ever. I mean, if you’d talked him through it and dispensed with the whole electroshock thing you probably would have reached the same answer.

Of course, being Alpha, Scott also breaks his chains before revealing Kate Argent. Quick flash to her where she has imprisoned Derek wrapped in vines.

Araya lets them go – she’d already sent 4 men to where she thought Kate had been seen. Yes, Araya ALREADY FREAKING KNEW ABOUT KATE! We had that whole scene just so Scott could remember for himself? She wants them to go see if they can do better than her missing Calaveras hunters. She adds that she will hunt Scott when he turns someone

She sends a guide with them, Braeden. On the drive, Scott and Stiles do a quick recap and exposition of who Kate Argent is. The Calaveras checked to make sure that Kate wasn’t changing since she died by the Alpha claws and checked the body. Seeing her growing claws they swapped the bodies and took her somewhere so Kate could commit suicide like a good hunter (not bothering to tell Chris Argent, apparently. Because REASONS) since the Calaveras are REALLY inflexible when it comes to the hunters code. Kate decided she wants to live and is happy for lots of Calaveras to die to make that happen. She’s also got glowy green eyes.

Blue is grief, yellow is normal werewolf, red is alpha. What’s green? As they know from the Kanima, just because you’re bitten by a werewolf doesn’t mean you become one. Car trouble means Scott and Braeden have to go off alone (After a reminder that Kira is Scott’s love interest)

The car trouble turns out to be a giant bone claw jammed into the engine.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano

Long ago, a woman found the key to immortality, one she passed on in a tiny vial. The vial has passed through six different women now, each of which lost their identities to the ever passing time to become Rebecca Hatfield

Now the Sixth Miss Hatfield has chosen a Seventh for the gift – and curse – of immortality. To never age, but to never belong in any time, to live untold centuries, but to never know family or home or sense of belonging, to even lose everything about yourself that made you other than Miss Hatfield.

She has a mission for the Seventh Miss Hatfield – to retrieve a painting that belongs to her. But as Miss Hatfield tries to infiltrate the household that owns the painting, she quickly becomes connected to the people there, especially Henley, the owner’s son. She risks developing the very thing that can make immortality unbearable – love.

I really liked the premise of this book - the idea of immortality and time travel together makes a wonderful kind of sense and has some really vast potential. The child who became an adult so quickly, the idea that they are all Miss. Hatfield because their original identities all become so meaningless is a really powerful one

I’ve also never seen a book that did so well in conveying the tragedy and loss of humanity. Oh the genre is full of immortal being angsting in corners and dealing out impressively overdramatic monologues about how terribly sad it is to live for ever, but few managed to convey the full grief and loss that comes with outliving everyone you love. The combination of being immortal and being lost in time is a beautiful and deeply sad tragedy. As we go along, we even see the slow loss of identity, exacerbated by her being a child until recently, we see how the Miss Hatfields are created as the 7th Miss Hatfield grows and learns – and forgets.

The book also does a really good job of establishing the connections between the characters, creating a sense of realness to them and the way they interact so the loss is all the more poignant.

But… yes, there’s a but… the whole premise feels completely irrelevant for most of the book. We begin with Miss Hatfield as a child and becoming Miss Hatfield. She’s then quickly dispatched on a mission to retrieve a painting and to do so she joins a family. The family accepts her quickly through some pretty damn huge coincidences and some rather odd behaviour

Then we have the rather nice and pleasant story of this family, of Miss Hatfield among the family, getting to know them, growing to like them, growing to love them

At this point and for a huge amount of the book the fact that Miss Hatfield is immortal, a time traveller or, chronologically, only a child just doesn’t seem to be relevant. She could be any young woman in a period romance rather than an immortal being in speculative fiction

It was a very nice romance. The characters were nicely realised, the relationships very real once we got past the convoluted beginnings. The emotion was strong and genuine. We had some lovely class issues that were addressed with the servants (including a beautiful moment when a servant questioned just how troubled and worried a wealthy lady can be considering how much peace and security she has in life) which was largely really well done and humanising (though it was shaky in places. Like one character is annoyed that they remember the names of their servants, including her personal maid and the butler. They may commonly be referred to by their surname, but it’s an absurdity that people in a house would not know the name of their butler or personal servant. Maybe the scullery maid, but not the upper servants).

Falling Skies, Season 4, Episode 1: Ghost in the Machine

Alien babies and endless bad decisions – where will Falling Skies take us this season?

The whole gang are travelling and have been for 20 days and there’s apparently a rift between Hal and Maggie after Maggie executed Karen (Maggie being odd though, not Hal). Everyone’s all happy and light hearted as they return “home” – to Charleston.

Which is all shattered when creepy Lexie declares “you don’t all have to die here” and Espheni ships fly in. they drop pylons that form walls of light to stop their retreat – and mega-mechs move in. They fight, the Volm weapons giving them some advantages, but several are killed, others wounded and many separated by the fighting and the fence pylons.

Some months pass

Several people are captured, including Tom and Weaver (apparently some time passes – Tom spends it writing political speeches on the walls of his cell, of course). Weaver thinks the Volm abandoned them. Weaver also talks about not letting “those things” get you

Those things may be a new type of alien under Espheni control – ugly flying things like big green wasps. They’re in a new giant ship

Those who aren’t captured struggle among the ruins surrounded by the light fence, with the buzzy aliens occasionally dropping in to grab someone. Hal and Tector work together among the ruins, dodging the Skitter patrols and trying to break the light fence with electricity. It doesn’t work.

Outside the fence, Anne has taken command of a group of soldiers and is pushing them hard, something Anthony tries to get her to loosen up on. They also drop some exposition because of this show’s habit of leaping months forwards at a time. The Volm have, apparently, left (probably sick of the humans constantly seeing them as the enemy despite doing so much to help humanity) and Anne is driven to find her daughter.

They are doing some damage hitting supply lines and Deni brings her news of a new target. Which they hit – and Anne is awesome and badass.  But the truck isn’t full of ammo – it’s full of children, packed in and cowering. None of them are harnessed; after getting them to safety, Anne decides to go wherever they were going in the hope of finding Lexie.

Ben wakes up from a coma, he’s with Maggie and Lourdes (who managed to keep him alive). They’re in Chinatown and, for some reason, it’s an Oasis. People are behaving as if there is no war and, for some reason, the Espheni leave it alone despite wiping out or capturing humanity everywhere else, this is safe. He’s taken to Lexie – who is now an adult (and blonde). Everyone’s all wearing these little 3-circle necklaces that feels vaguely cult-like; it means “unity” for “all three of us.” Everyone is all blissed out and safe in their hippy commune, though Ben is having problems, fading out – which Lexie puts down to him being unwell (I put it down to resisting brain woo-woo).

Penny Dreadful, Season 1, Episode 7: Possession

The disturbing and possessed Vanessa waxes lyrically (and insightfully) about the Victorian ideal of the passive woman and compares it to being almost dead or actually dead. Sir Malcolm tries to gently talk to her, to see what she remembers – but she focuses on the fact he dressed her and seems almost childishly gleeful. She speaks as Mina, Malcolm’s daughter

Let the scenery chewing commence! And no-one scenery chews like Vanessa (Eva Green should have “Best Scenery Chewer ever!” on her CV). Hang on for the ride – she talks as Mina, of her dad always been away, of her mother crying, of Malcolm’s affairs and disdain for her mother because her mother was fat all the while giggling away. Then turning demonic and demanding to know about the other women – and lashing out at Malcolm for not going to Vanessa’s mother’s funeral.

There then follows a racist tirade of Malcolm’s women, though the slur is used to describe how Malcolm treats the various native peoples he commanded and used while an explorer, it’s still grossly unnecessary. She continues to rant about the women he had sex with throughout his travels, the prostitutes he visited, forcing Peter to visit the same to “prove” his manhood – and things start flying, papers, books, cabinet doors… until Sembene runs in and knocks her out

While the rest of the cast stand around looking shocked and stunned, Sembene tends to act.

Vanessa is taken to her room and is examined by a adorkably awkward Victor (who isn’t used to treating the living) with fun moments like “I fear I do not look my best” “your visual responses are perfectly adequate” “no wonder you’re not married.”

She has a brief moment of sanity when she worries about Victor bringing in an alienist, before the scenery chewing begins anew! Speculating about Victor’s virginity and quoting Shelley  - the same quote Victor always uses “No more let life divide what death can join together.” Victor is duly shaken

Malcolm and Victor consult, thinking that it’s a psychological problem. And since this is Victorian, that means “evil lady sexing is evil”. After asking a series of questions (Malcolm doesn’t think Vanessa is a virgin and doesn’t care), Victor comes up with the idea that Vanessa is suffering from huge sexual guilt, probably triggered by having sex with Dorian.

Then her tarot cards spawn a wave of 8 bajillion spiders  and Vanessa screams/roars all demonically. I believe the demon just disagreed with Victor’s diagnosis.

Ethan arrives (Malcolm makes sure he’s armed) and they all pile into Vanessa’s room. Vanessa… does not look good. She looks all pitiable and Ethan goes to her – and she asks about him having sex with Dorian, demon’s back in charge who also knows Brona slept with Dorian. She completely loses it and lashes out at everyone until Victor sedates her while she babbles in Arabic.

True Blood, Season 7, Episode 1: Just Gonna Be Here

Continuing right where we left off with a horde of infected vampires attacking the little party between humans and prospective uninfected vampire guards.

Lots of fighting, some brief reminders of Sookie’s oh-so-special fae blood. Lots of blood, lots of death. In the battle Nicole is kidnapped and Sam in dog form chases after her. Holly and Arlene are also kidnapped. A whistle calls all the infected vampires away mid carnage.

Lettie May cradles the remains of a vampire gasping that they killed Tara. Tara is dead…

Andy leaves Adilyn under Jessica’s protection (and under strict instructions not to invite Jessica in). She calls the newly recast James to check on him but he’s worried she’s not eating. Sookie reels around the aftermath at the bar, hearing everyone’s thoughts including everyone deciding to mentally call Sookie a slut while cradling their dead and dying loved ones. Really? Because Sookie would really be the top of everyone’s priority list right now? Even Alcide gets in a round of “evil vampire sexing” aimed at Sookie.

Sookie decides to storm off alone (right after Bill told Andy he couldn’t go off without a vampire bodyguard to keep him safe, so Sookie is still making good decisions here).

One of the many people, his opposition candidate for mayor no less, sees Sam return to the bar – and sees him shift. He, Vince, confronts Sam about it but Sam says now is really not the time for the exposition about shapeshifters. Every human is assigned a vampire to get him home safe (James goes with Lafayette). Including Sam because he can hardly duck out of his own plan

Back to Sookie and her damn plot armour – she refuses to answer her phone from Alcide and has a tantrum and throws it away. So she’s walking alone in the vampire haunted night, on a forested road and now she doesn’t have a phone either. She also trips over a body.

…and yet it’s TARA who dies?!

To Pam who is in Marrakesh playing Russian Roulette for… reasons. She’s all angsty and full of pain. She’s chasing clues to find Eric. One of her contacts offers his daughter to feed on because only kids have clean blood in North Africa, for REASONS. Pam declines.

Back in Bon Temps, Adilyn opens a window to talk to Jessica about her whole sister slaughter and her addictive blood and Jessica’s boyfriend James (and Adilyn has a crush on her step-brother because why not). An infected vampire arrives looking to nom on the tasty Adilyn so Jessica decides to take a break and have Adilyn drink her blood so Jessica can always find her. Which is a great idea I’m sure.

To Sookie (awww, do we have to) who managed to make it home alive (whyyyyy?) and argues with Alcide about his blamey-thoughts which goes round in circles because she knows it’s unfair to judge people for every random thought but that doesn’t make it any less painful. Anyway, they make up when they go to bed

Monday, June 23, 2014

Shattered (Iron Druid Chronicles #7) by Kevin Hearne

Atticus has brought his old Archdruid to the 21st century. Owen faces a near impossible task – adapting to the last 2,000 years of history, not least of which the various shenanigans his apprentice has got up to (and, perhaps, questioning his own teaching style with him, looking at what Atticus as become).

Granuaile is clear of Owen – but Laksha calls for help. Granuaile’s father is in India on an archaeological dig and has been possessed by a very dangerous, worrisome creature. With Atticus busy, new druid Granuaile is ready and able to set off and handle this herself.

While Atticus, in between helping Owen, is still facing Ragnarok and Loki’s ongoing plotting. He has the support of a number of deities from different pantheons, but he needs to know what help they can give, what is motivating them and, basically, what is going on and what his next move should be. He’d also quite like to know which of the Tuatha de Danann is trying to kill him – that would be helpful, but he ends up uncovering something far larger than expected

Set the Fanpoodles to drool!

Honestly, I’ve started writing the review 3 or 4 times because I didn’t even know where to start. There was so much I loved so I’m just going to throw gushing praise at a page.

I loved the three characters with the different voices. Atticus, Granuaile and Owen all have their own separate but connected storylines and they all sound very different. Atticus’s style is something I always love – his age peaking through his general fun and light hearted exterior. Granuaile has a much more formal, even poetic way of thinking and speaking and I think it still resonates with how she approaches druidism, her deep and abiding reverence for the Earth that led her to choose druidry over witch magic. And then there’s Owen – crotchety, ornery but with bits of wisdom poking through his general rough and readiness. He’s dealing with a major case of culture shock but he’s dealing with it in a way that is both very druidic (with its focus on learning) and shows just how tough he is. I also like the byplay between Owen and Atticus – he still sees Atticus as his young apprentice but every now and then realises that Atticus is literally 2 thousand years older than him

It’s interesting to see a book from multiple points of view because it not only lets you see the different characters through different lenses but if the author can pull off the different voices and make them authentic it really carries so much to the characterisation.

I also loved that they were doing their own thing. It’s not just the Atticus show – Granuaile is a grown woman, a full druid and fully capable of doing things by herself. She doesn’t need to check in with Atticus all the time, she doesn’t need his permission or his guidance. He’s definitely the better druid – 2,000 years experience and all that – but she still has skills and talents he doesn’t and she doesn’t need a babysitter. I love that, now her training is finished, she is definitely more than a sidekick; she’s a character in her own right. And she will do her own thing. No, she’s not always successful, yes she faces tragedy and set back – but she also gets to be the hero and save Atticus and a considerable amount of the day as well – so her set backs are not even remotely  linked to her being lesser.

Fangs for the Fantasy Book of the Week

As has been probably very apparent the last few weeks, we've been having some difficulties with the podcast. After a few attempts of thinking we had defeated the problem it ends up sneaking round and biting us

As soon as we're more sure about what's happening, we'll post a new time and schedule it - but scheduling and cancelling is messy so for now it's on hold until I have more surety

In the meantime, we will continue with the books of the week - because they're already scheduled and it will ruin my precious lists to have them all disrupted - and it gives people chance to read a long and comment on our Monday book review.

(Our list is always subject to change should we need to squeeze something in or something random happens)

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: Bloodshifted by Cassie Alexander
9th June - 16th June: A Lady of Spirit by Shelly Adina
16th June - 23rd June: Shattered by Kevin Hearne
23rd June - 30th June: The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
30th June - 7th July: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
7th July - 14th July: Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice
14th July - 21st July: Grave Visions by Kalayna Price
21st July - 28th July: The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice
28th July - 4th August: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
4th August-11th August: Blood Games by Chloe Neil
11th August - 18th August: Merrick by Anne Rice
18th August - 25th August: Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein

Orphan Black, Season 2, Episode 10: By Mean Which Have Never Yet Been Tried

In an extremely traumatic, powerful scene, Felix breaks down over losing Kira while Mrs. S and Sarah argue about what to do until Sarah hugs Mrs. S. This is all cut with Sarah undergoing an invasive set of questions and examinations. She cries as the questions are really invasive –whether she’s had an abortion (yes), when she first had sex (14-15) and lots of details of her sex life. For Kira, Sarah has given herself up to Dyad.

Afterwards she meets Dr. Nealon, the doctor who does all the creepy nocturnal examinations on Beth and Allison. Using Kira, they coerce Sarah into signing a consent form to harvest her eggs.

Sarah is allowed to see Kira –but only on camera, watching Rachel trying to turn Kira against Sarah with very obvious threats if Sarah doesn’t do as she’s told.

Kira is getting her own examination – but she’s a clever clever child and steals the nurse’s mobile phone. She uses it to call Cal.

In Cosima’s lab, Dr. Nealon is moving in there as well, having all his goons taking away their samples and research (and the bone marrow) and informing Cosima that he is her new doctor. Delphine is not – she is being separated from the clones, as Rachel informs her and Rachel won’t even let her say goodbye to Cosima. Rachel tries to play the “it’s not personal” and Delphine strikes back “I love her and if you let her die without me, it’s personal.”

Delphine isn’t taking this lying down – she emails Cosima Rachel’s itinerary and Cosima pretends to co-operate with Dr. Nealon so she can help Sarah.

Further in the “oh Dyad you made far too many clever enemies” category, Mrs. S talks to someone about making a car bomb and she’s joined by Cal. Felix vouches for him (Mrs. S is ready to lecture about keeping secrets, Felix is ready to take that mammoth hypocrisy and send it back).  Cal has done loads of digging into Dyad and he’s really really really good at it. He’s found a contact on the inside of Dyad still digging for information. Mrs. S gives him permission to use her name to encourage him – Siobhan Sadler (I have a little silly moment over her having to correct his spelling) and the insider tells him to ask her about Castor; she says Cal’s not the only person with an inside man. (Whoever designed Project Leda loved their mythology – Leda has twin boys, one human – Castor).

And then Felix gets a call from Arthur – Helena has showed up at his flat (and is eating everything). Felx is despatched to Helena sit and they ask her if she’s responsible for burning down the Prolethean ranch (no, of course not she declares with a really really really awesome evil grin). We get a brief cameo of Grace and Mark running off together deciding that if they are sinners god can deal with it.

Sarah runs into Ethan, clearly also a prisoner at Dyad, who tells her not to despair. Despair, Ethan? I’ve seen the people teaming up against Dyad, I’m rubbing my hands with evil glee.

Mrs. S goes to meet someone in a military Humvee (did I mention the rubbing my hands with evil glee?) She’s searched for weapons and then gets to meet Paul – that is Major Paul – who is willing to play double agent. Since we learned he was involved with Tony’s minder a few weeks ago and is up to more shenanigans. Mrs. S brings her insider (Paul) to meet Cal’s insider – Marion. As Mrs. S says, there are good people in even the most  corrupt places. Paul passes Marion a file.

Rachel, who doesn’t realise just what is arrayed against her, is trying to use tea and childhood video to convince Ethan to give up all his codes to Dyad. He’s already given them the sequence to heal Cosima, until they cure her he’s giving up nothing else. When Rachel refuses – offering only to “talk about” curing Cosima if Ethan gives up more info which doesn’t sit well with him. Ethan points out how very very VERY complicated his code is that he’s memorised the key to breaking it (he can recite pi to 6,000 places apparently. He has the memory for it), there’s no hard copy. He tries to crack into not just the memories she’s showing him, but the emotion behind them. She denies remembering the emotion – and then notices that Ethan isn’t doing so well. He’s drunk poison. Rachel’s icy reserve shatters – she emotionally and powerfully demands he not leave her again. She cries and wails while he tells her she doesn’t deserve him any more.

Ouch. Wow, if she didn’t have issues before that emotional bomb shell should shatter her.

Cosima visits Kira, neither of them interested in dolls – instead they enjoy SCIENCE (which gets all of Kira’s adorable enthusiasm). This is cut by her and Scott doing something nefarious with their own science brains – but Cosima is weakening and can’t go on (despite determination because Sarah and Kira need her). Scott offers to do it – with a security card he’s stolen.