Saturday, August 23, 2014

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 11: Doll Parts

Opening montage, Deidre is the DJ and Nolan is working on something electrical/mechanical/explosive/involving tools and stuff. Someone goes to visit Deidre on the arch (she greets them with “what took so long” – and the radio starts blurring, there’s blood on the record. Followed by Deidre being thrown out of the arch and falling to her death.

Amanda identifies the body – and has a flashback to Deidre giving her the courage and the motivation to take over the Need/Want, to keep the “family” together. She goes to Nolan who is still packing lots of bombs and weapons, to demand to know why he isn’t investigating the murder; Nolan is going after Irisa – he’s worried about his disturbed daughter carrying a terrosphere, the same weapon they used to destroy an army, and is rather concerned about that. Amanda understands but demands a deputy badge (since with Tommy working for E-Rep and Irisa out and about he’s out of deputies) – she’s not going to let Deidre’s murder go uninvestigated

She goes to the arch where E-Rep and Berlin are already looking at the evidence. Alak’s there, despite the platter of chocolate strawberries, he says he wasn’t due on the arch and he only came because he heard dead air on the radio. He says Deidre brought clients to the arch for sex. He also denies having sex with her. But in the arch, Berlin finds one of her old surveillance cameras, one she didn’t place – and Alak looks terrified; but the memory card is missing. Reprieve!

Berlin tells Amanda that she and Nolan aren’t a thing any more, with a hefty edge of “that’s all your fault.”

At the Tarr household, Christie is outraged that her brother turned in her father (so I imagine she’s going to be even less pleased when she learns he frames Rafe). Stahma points out Rafe is the murderer (as far as they know) and when Christie tries to come to terms with a  loved one being a murderer Stahma throws back some cold, sympathetic truth – people do what they have to to get what they want, they just have to hope what they want is worth it. Which is when Alak arrives to tell them about Deidre. Christie is too sensitive to hear it and hurries away – while Alak and Stahma exchange glances and “did you do it” undertones.

Berlin and Amanda search Deidre’s personal effects finding more humanising items, the memory card from the camera and a list of Deidre’s recent clients – including Datak. So it’s to search Datak’s next (and yes he snarks Amanda’s job change). Datak and Amanda snarl back and forth and Amanda asks why Datak visited her after not doing so for so long. With Amanda putting together a flashback of a previous conversation with Deidre, Amanda realises Alak was sleeping with her.

And at the Tarr household, one of Stahma’s handmaidens finds a bloodstained microphone under Alak’s bed – and shows it to Stahma who is shocked and horrified.

Amanda and berlin go to confront Alak – the memory card is of Deidre and Alak together; Amanda calls it a blackmail package. Alak is arrested and Amanda assures a raging Christie he’ll have his day in court. Given the way the E-Rep has treated the McCauly family, Christie isn’t reassured by that. Stahma gently takes her away; Christie tells Alak she knows he isn’t a murderer – but she does know he’s a cheater so he’s not in good books. Stahma also takes a moment to remind Alak his wife is not a Castithan and actually expected him to honour his fidelity oaths – and maybe some time behind bars will be good for him (Stahma is not amused by his shenanigans).  Alak accuses her of killing Deidre to teach him a lesson – she denies it. When he suggests his dad did it she calls it ridiculous – he shows his burned hand and makes it clear it’s not that ridiculous an assumption.

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 10: Bottom of the World

Irisa breaks into (very easily that’s really shoddy locks there – was it even locked?) the E-Rep field office (nice wanted poster of Yewl). She sets off an alarm but seems quite unconcerned about that because she finds a glowy thing. Oooooh glowy thing. E-Rep troops run around searching rather inefficiently the same small stretch of road and Irisa escapes…

Into Nolan’s hands. He takes her bag, pushes her aside and tells the E-Rep that the thief escaped but dropped their bag and he hands over the glowy thing. Awwww, it was shiny. Apparently it’s a Terrasphere. I think Glowy Thing is a much better name.

Nolan takes Irisa back to the Lawkeeper’s office and is monumentally pissed at her. He takes her badge – and her knives (using that parental “I’m not going to shout so you know how angry I am” voice). He’s also really not happy that while Kenya was kidnapped and he needed her help she disappeared. Irisa responds with attitude that doesn’t really fight the whole angry parent/stroppy teenager vibe. She explains that Sukar’s sick but not how a very non-healy terrasphere is supposed to actually fix that. It’s kind of like saying “Fred’s sick, so I need this uranium”. Nolan handcuffs her.

Meanwhile our old not!friend Ambassador Tennity is heading back (which strikes me as the worst possible idea for the E-Rep – they don’t have ambassadors who won’t be loathed in Defiance?) because Defiance has mined a whole load of Gulanite. This is reported by Alakk on the radio while Deidre writhes in his lap – after the broadcast he pushes her off and wants to end their affair, focused on their marriage and not “childish” sex games. Deidre is outraged that she’s just sex to him and when he offers her job security she demands money: “if you’re going to treat me like a whore you’re going to pay me like one.” I think she meant to call his bluff or something – but he hands over the money

Niles greets Tennity and she introduces her new two husbands, Sears and Germaine before she and Amanda starts growling at each other. Tennity also snarls are Berlin just in case anyone has any doubt that she is a Bad Person who we Do Not Like. She’s such a terrible person in her first 5 minutes of being there that Niles has to take her aside and tell her that he knows all about her terrible crimes and that she’s a terrible person and she needs to reign it in because no-one likes her here.

Quentin and Christie are all touching and nice together for two seconds when Rafe arrives and everyone remembers the dead and Quentin waves their dead mother in front of Rafe again. Then Alak arrives and he and Christie also have the icy moment. Oooh this family must have the BEST Sunday dinners.

Tennity is taken to the mines were they finally address the fact that she isn’t actually in prison, well allude to it anyway. Nolan is going to guide her around (a kind of gentle “screw you and the horse you road in on” from Amanda) with Irisa who is ridiculously draped in a flag to hide the fact she’s handcuffed. In the mine we have a brief moment describing how the molten gulanite is super dangerous (did this mine have that stuff before?) while Tennity continues to be the worse person ever and she and Amanda snipe at each other (I’m not on board with Amanda insulting Tennity by implying she’s a prostitute. One of the whole points of Defiance and the Need/Want was that the sex-workers were respected, especially by the Rosewater sisters).

Sniping is interrupted by a quake or cave in or other random geological event of badness. Berlin, Nolan and Irisa get out – but the others are trapped behind a collapsed tunnel.

Inside the mine, Niles and Amanda are alive but Tennity isn’t breathing (yay!) Amanda decides to resuscitate her (whyyy?) Shocking, unlike every other television show, CPR doesn’t actually cure internal injuries caused by giant rocks falling on you and she’s dead. Amanda does call Nolan to let him know they’re alive – though Niles rightly points out Nolan could have been dead and he was a really stupid person to call.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dirty Little Misery (Miss Misery #2) by Tracey Martin

After her rather public exposure last book, Jessica receives an offer from the Gryphons – they want her to work with them as a consultant, using her unique gifts to catch criminals. For which she will be paid a generous salary – and not go to prison. It’s less an offer and more a demand with menaces.

And part of her “unique gifts” involve exploiting her friendship and connections with the satyrs – who are currently prime suspects in a series of grizzly, sex related murders.

The satyrs are not happy about this, nor overly happy with Jessica. And Jessica may finally be getting her dream job – but can she live with the strings attached? And is that her dream any more, especially as she learns more and more about what she is and the source of those oh-so-mysterious powers.

When reviewing a series that continues good elements it can be hard to write reviews of second and later books. I mean, how often can you write about the same world that continues to be compelling, unique and interesting? Ultimately it’s repetitive – but if the goodness keeps on going from book to book to book, then shouldn’t it continue to be mentioned? If you take the “good” as a given and only mention any new badness then your review looks negative undeservedly

This is my long winded way of trying to excuse being repetitive – because what I have to say about world building and story for this book are the same as for the first book. They’re unique, deep and fascinating. The pacing is excellent, the mystery very well drawn out and balanced; action scenes blend well with character building and exploration. Mental monologues provide enough information to both feel the world and the characters’ place within it without swamping out the actual activity. The plot is twisty without being twisted and complex without being convoluted

All of this is wonderfully shot through with some really good complexity that adds so much depth to the world building. Yes there are sexy satyrs – but the consequences and realities of sexy satyrs are considered. We’re not supposed to lust over them, we’re supposed to see their moral ambiguity in their powers, the exploitation and the fearsome control they have over people

We see a police force that is intrusive and gets in the way and we’re not just thinking of ways to cover it up – but asking questions about what’s being covered up, how to negotiate around the Gryphons and not just falling into the trap of demonising them

The whole thing has layers and complexities all with an exciting story with lots of twists back and forth to sell the whole thing. There’s a lot of good here

Jessica is a very real character to me and one that is surprisingly lacking in tropes – she has good friends (and female friends at that!), a supportive family (even if she isn’t as close as she’d like). She has a lot of moral conflicts, a lot of growth and some very reasonable flaws – even flaws that make me kind of not like her at times, but are very real to her character: Like the Satyrs

The Last Ship, Season 1, Episode 9: Trials

We’re on land with a man who has been out hunting (in a non hunting area, the bad man) to bring back food to a cabin – only to hear the man inside yell that he needs to stay away because Jenny, who is in there with him, has the plague. The hunter leaves them the deer so they won’t starve – and paints a cross on the cabin.

The old man then goes home to his grandchildren and daughter-in-law, Darien Chandler, Tom’s wife. Yes, captain Tom Big Damn Hero. It’s apparent that there’s some tension between Darien and her father-in-law, and he doesn’t like her going too far foraging in the empty cities. She’s more concerned with getting the parts needed to fix their radio and call Tom.

On the ship, Tom and Master Chief are preparing a heroic funeral for Cosetti (I think Tom has the Heroic Guilts) and Rachel is setting up stage 2 of her vaccine testing – human subjects. Tex thinks they may have trouble getting volunteers for that one.

Bertrise spends more time with Mason (one of the comms officer) to listen to the last recording of her family to hear their voices – but hearing them calling for help isn’t very reassuring. She realises how hard it must be for Mason to listen to all the distress calls.

After the funeral, Tom is told about the human testing and the need for 6 volunteers. Of course he decides he has to be one of them. Of course he does. At least then the plot armour will keep him alive when it goes wrong (yes, when). Mike protests how ridiculous that is but Master Chief agrees because he agrees with everything Tom says in between thinking up new cheers and trying to plaster Tom’s face on his pom-poms. But Master Chief has volunteered instead because a) Rachel needs a cross-section of age, gender and race and b) that means Tom isn’t at risk WHEN it goes wrong. Tom puts out the word for more confidential volunteers (so no-one feels pressured). Personally I’d like Mike to be volunteered.

Anyway, after that moment where someone other than Tom may be inching into the limelight we have a scene where Quincy thanks Tom for saving his family. They then go onto the volunteer bit which has a whole crew of people lining up (I think everyone is just really really really bored). Among them is Danny (who only just survived Dengue fever and Rachel has to gently tell him not to be a bloody fool) and Tex (who is loud).

Kara is one of the ones picked so she and Danny have an awww moment. But it is good that he doesn’t try and talk her out of it. Others picked are Master Chief, Tex (I reckon she’s tired of him), Garnett (yes the chief engineer. Seriously? Did no-one think that the chief engineer may be essential personnel?) and the red haired woobie whose name I never remember but seems to get injured and in trouble a lot (hasn’t fate already made it clear he’s gunning for you?) and another WOC I don’t know. Also all of these people are going to be stuck in the same room as Tex for several days and be unable to get away. That’s just cruel.

DRAMATIC MUSIC TIME. The testing begins

Let us now turn to Darien Chandler, maybe so they can dig up some reason for me to care about this random woman compared to all the other desperate survivors out there. She’s searching for the electric part when outside the shop she sees a man shoot an infected woman to stop her approaching him. She quickly hides from the gun toting man who is part of a whole gun toting group. In her rush to avoid him and escape unseen, she doesn’t see the infected body she was near. The gun toting guys paint more red crosses about.

Race on Falling Skies: Part 2. White Heroes, POC Sabotage

We have previously written about Race on Falling Skies back in 2012. Since then, Falling Skies has had several more seasons and the plot has, well, I’ll use the word “advanced” though possibly “drunkenly blundered around stomping all over it’s past canon” may be more accurate.

Among the many things on this show that have not got better, the depiction of POC is certainly one of them. In fact, the latest season of Falling Skies should probably have the subtitle: The Heroics of White Men and How People of Colour Screw Them Up. It’s a sadly prevailing theme that has permeated the season as the heroic leadership of the Masons keeps tripping over POC getting in their way, being helpless, being problems and making bad decisions - and paying for those bad decisions. After all, the Masons constantly make bad decisions but rarely do they face any repercussions for that and their foolishness is often presented as heroism (I bring up, again, Tom Mason’s little trip on alien ships which he has now repeated). The POC on the show don’t benefit from his plot warping

Take Anne Glass. Anne is the most prominent POC on the show and she’s certainly stepped beyond her role of lurking in the background, bandaging the wounded. But her new role as semi-leader (at least until Tom returned) has not been good for her. Her overwhelming obsession has been towards finding, protecting and saving Lexi, her daughter. That’s not necessarily a bad thing or an unrealistic motivation - but it is used as an excuse to remove all common sense from her character. When looking for Lexi her followers beg her to slow down as she’s driving them all to exhaustion - she even pushes herself so constantly that she forgets to eat and sleep and actually collapses. She’s emotional and out of control - attacking and killinga  Skitter and nearly killing Deni in the process (despite, as a doctor, probably having a better idea of the consequences of that than anyone else). She repeats that and badly hurts Ben when she attacks the Overlord - repeating exactly the same mistake a second time with other people being hurt because of it.. She isn’t effective, she’s driven and determined - but she isn’t sensible, she doesn’t really achieve anything and she puts herself and others in danger while she pursues her drive.

When they find Lexi, she is one of the most ardent defenders and champions of her, ignoring all evidence that Lexi may actually be a problem. Yes, this is something every Mason but Hal are also in on, but Anne is the most determined and the least willing to listen to reason. In fact, after Lexi comes out of the cocoon and kills Lourdes and after Ben follows Lexi and discovers she’s actually performing vicious, mutating experiments on humans, he and Tom both come to realise that Lexi is a dangerous threat. Anne does not. Anne continues to be focused on Lexi - and demands everyone else be as well, actually being angry with Tom because he’s not willing to throw away the lives of all of the survivors to chase after their daughter who they have overwhelming evidence is dangerous and a threat.

Tom supports Lexi but sees the truth and has the chance to change his mind, be cautious and be sensible. Anne does not - in fact, her continued blinkered faith in Lexi is an opportunity for Tom to show how sensible he is, to redeem his past mistake and do it by talking Anne down. Anne’s stubborn refusal to deal with reality is an opportunity for Tom to reassert why he’s a leader.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Kraken King and the Crumbling Walls (Kraken King #6, Iron Seas #4.6) by Meljean Brook

Zenobia and Ariq are stuck in the Red City as Ariq tries to negotiate Nipponese politics to try and gain access to the Empress and stop the devastation wrought by her war fleet; all used to try and force Ariq’s hand

While they are in the city the two become close, their relationship becomes public and Zenobia begins to understand what marriage to Ariq means

This is the first book of this episodic series that disappointed me and I wasn’t a big fan of. And it’s entirely down to that episodic nature. This is the book where Zenobia and Ariq get a lot closer, have sex and reaffirm their love a lot. And, as part of the main book if all these episodes are lined up it would work. As it is, this episode is overwhelmed by it, it takes up most of the book and doesn’t leave a lot of room for much else. There’s a lot of anticipation of sex, having sex, wondering about sex and generally drooling over Ariq’s super duper sexiness – and none of this would be out of place in the full novel. In the episode, it left me tempted to skip ahead to the actual story.

That’s not to say it doesn’t continue the excellent elements of the previous parts. Zenobia is still smart and snarky and funny. She doesn’t lose every ounce of common sense because she happens to be in love and nor does he. Even though they’re in love and overwhelmed by the sexy and even married under Ariq’s customs, she’s clear that they need to spend more time together before he commits to long term marriage. She knows they hardly know each other, she knows it’s too soon. She has that wonderful common sense about her. They both still have their causes and their passions. Zenobia is clear that if Ariq wanted her to stop writing she wouldn’t consider him a possible husband – there’s no sense of either of them epicly sacrificing their lives to ensure their love is proven to be true – if they love each other they love the whole of each other.

And I love what writing means to Zenobia, how it is a rebellion over her father, how not just the act of writing but what she writes is a sign of her victory over him, her triumph and a symbol of her freedome.

Zenobia is pleased to keep her own name because she wants to assert herself as a separate person and a separate professional. Zenobia is very happy that there’s no question of her losing her money or the independence and freedom and security that having her one money brings. She even says it’s not the money that interests her, it’s having control of the money. Especially in the patriarchal, sexist culture she grew up in, compounded by her abusive father, Zenobia recognises the importance of having that power, of keeping those options over.

Witches of East End, Season 2, Episode 6: When a Mandragora Loves a Woman

In the library, Hudson (one of Ingrid’s random colleagues who breeze in now and again) goes to work very late at night because it’s convenient for the plot to find a blissed out Ingrid and a tentacly Mandragora which seems to inject his brain with the nasty venom, as these creatures do. Ingrid blissfully murmurs how glad she is it’s him, so then they can stop pretending he even counts as an extra.

To Wendy and Joana cooking up some anti-Mandragora potion and Joanna is willing to use some on her – not to kill her and take advantage of that convenient resurrection thing, but as a way to break her out of the Mandragora trance. Wendy points out that it is actually a poison. I.e. not healthy (have you tried a bucket of ice water? I find that’s great at getting people out of all kinds of trances. Smelling salts? Kat Perry songs?) Alex throws in the need to then find a way to cut the connection between the Mandragora and Ingrid so they can kill the monster. And lo, we are now fully recapped.

Meanwhile the twins Freya and Puppy-dog-eyes-Frederick are arguing – Freya is angry that Freddie was friends with the guys who murdered their dad and Freddie is all puppy-dog-eyes about it. But then he’s puppy-dog-eyes about everything. He punches a wall to try and convince us anger is his response to upset rather than his woeful puppy-eyes.

Extra fun news – the poison needs to be injected into Ingrid’s brain. Also they need to avoid or incapacitate the Mandragora without doing too much harm to Ingrid. As an added bonus they don’t actually know how to break the link between Ingrid and the Mandragora but Alex thinks she knows of a grimoire that may help – the grimoire Killian and Dash have. Freya volunteers to go, despite her being the worst choice ever.

While she does that everyone else goes to the library looking for Ingrid and find Hudson, not doing so well with the mark of Odin carved into his flesh. Hudson wasn’t worthy, apparently. At least this confirms that the skin carving is definitely the Mandragora and not Puppy Frederick. Anyway, Wendy and Frederick take Hudson away, leaving Alex and Joanna to find a tranced Ingrid and Joanna to get a little squeamish about the skull stabbing. When she does it, it does actually work. I think it’s less to do with the poison and more to do with the huge needle being rammed into her head.

Back at the house, Frederick tries to use healing magic on Hudson and Wendy stops him because she has so much suspicion of Frederick. Frederick protests the many things he’s tried to do to help the family but Wendy succinctly says “I want you gone.” MAXIMUM PUPPY EYES! Sorry, Freddie, epic betrayal needs quite a lot of epic redemption.

At the library Wendy and Joanna continue to hunt the Mandragora – which seems like a bad idea since they can’t kill it, seriously hurt it or really stop it. I prove to be right when they both get tentacled. This apparently sticks them both in an endless library. This venom is very… flexible. It also means Alex can confront Joanna about being emotionless and, for some reason, not talking about her dead husband.  They have a huge argument of Joanna being afraid to feel anything and be happy because she’d rather be numb than feel pain; which lets Joanna open up about the endless grief she lives under, watching her children die over and over again. She claims she pushed Alex away not because she was afraid to be happy – but because she loved her and didn’t want her to share the grief of her daughters dying. Alex doesn’t consider this a great excuse.

This Week in Book Covers 11th August - 15th August

This week’s theme is VAGUE! Covers which aren’t necessarily bad, but looking at them gives you absolutely no clue as to what actually lurks between the covers. These are the kind of covers that will make me check the blurb - but unless that blurb is very good, I’ll put it back on the shelf. I’m intrigued, but not engaged.

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

The Eye of Sauron is trying a new look. Hey, the city has upgraded, time to get a new look for the big fiery eye.

Anything else? Random city scape is random. This book cover is just too vague to convey anything about what’s inside. It doesn’t even say dystopian to me.

Win the Rings by K.D. Van Brunt

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between (Rhiannon's Law #1) by J.A. Saare

Rhiannon is trying to live her life as quietly as she can – alone, without attracting attention – at least no more than her hair trigger temper and quick mouth get her – and normal. She certainly doesn’t want to think about her ability to see ghosts – especially the ones that died violently, like her parents

Then the vampires find her and suddenly she’s in demand. There’s a murder to solve, a vampire killer to track down – and her own safety to find her. Because if a vampire will claim her now she is known –it’s just a matter of who

We have a spiky, anti-social protagonist. She curses a lot (and people complain about it to draw attention to it and because, hey, you may drink blood and be investigating a murder, but damn those bad words) and has lots of sarcastic little snits at people around her and generally makes her as loveable as a porcupine. I especially like the moment she asks a really personal, outrageous question (whether the vampires have sex while drinking blood) and then gets all huffy because Disco is short with his response. Shockingly, despite being touchier than a rabid rhino, she’s surprisingly mellow about vampires who basically blackmail her into serving.

She has a psychic power (Necromancy) that makes her super desirable to the vampires. There’s also lots of hints that one day this will make her uber powerful (since she already has more power than any of the other necromancers around even without any training at all, because she’s just that special). This power also puts her at risk to vampires so she must join with Disco or face doom and horror. Amazingly, she’s actually lived her whole life being ignored by vampires until Disco then suddenly that’s it she has days to decide to pledge herself to him or it’s open season. The minute she meets him another vampire appears to scare her and basically force her into Disco’s arms. Personally I’d be suspicious about that if I were her, but I think it’s just convenient, clumsy writing. So he has to mark her, binding her as his (making her his bound human servant) through a mark which creates a super erogenous zone, because of course it does.

She uses this nifty little convenient power to help solve a series of murders the vampires are investigating. That investigation is actually pretty terrible – they go to a party where rich people are tasting vampire blood (because it’s a drug, yes, yet another original concept here) to try and find out who is kidnapping and killing vampires for their organs… I just… why? I mean, they get invited to this rich, exclusive party THROUGH THEIR DEALER! Why these people would be involved in organ shenanigans I don’t know. It’d be like going to a rich shindig with cocaine and asking people if they happen to had a sideline in harvesting kidneys! YET IT WORKS! Aaaaargh. Well, kind of, actually the mystery is more solve when Rhiannon is kidnapped by the bad guys. No that’s not a spoiler, that’s how EVERY MURDER INVESTIGATION IN URBAN FANTASY IS SOLVED. Hell, Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, a handful of Kelly Armstrong’s protags – if they didn’t get kidnapped by the big bad there’s absolutely no way they’d ever solve the crimes they’re investigating.

Under the Dome, Season 2, Episode 8: Awakening

Jim is looking all menacingly and alternately caresses a Bible and a gun which is probably a very bad sign. He’s also declared himself the new sheriff.  He drives over to Rebecca to give her a radio and play “I’m the nice sheriff keeping everyone safe.” After his behaviour last episode, she’s not buying it. So goes for apologetic and claiming he’s changed (again) with more “the Dome has chosen me!” rhetoric. And for some unknown reason Rebecca actually seems to be falling for it.

Barbie is outside the Dome and poking his wealthy and powerful father to try and get him back to it. But apparently they can get a signal into the Dome – that elusive email contact Joe etc found. It’s still there, only the military has firewalled it… rather than trying to establish any kind of contact with the people inside at all to try and find out what’s going on. Apparently. Anyway, Barbie’s dad Don, being the rich and powerful man he is, can get that firewall dropped if Barbie wants to email Julia (of course, chances are she won’t think to check). So Barbie writes a message to Julia via Joe’s email – and includes a coded message about how to get out of the Dome…

Why the code? “All you need is a leap of faith”? Why not “just jump down the chasm!”?

Under the Dome, and in a totally unrelated and fortuitous coincidence, Joe and Norrie are making a video blog hoping that the signal will one day return and/or one day people will find the videos off their long dead corpses (not something Norrie is a fan of). And he does get the email on his phone (they haven’t used the phone on the show before but why not? And he keeps his wifi on even without a signal).

They get the email and run to Julia who is suddenly all suspicious – they don’t even know it’s Barbie (sure he knows about the egg which… 5 people know? But now she’s suspicious? The woman who was all “the Dome wants me to do this!” and “how can you be suspicious of zombie girl!” is cynical NOW?! Really? Really really?)

Anyway, they go back to the school and the signal is gone. They all debate whether or not they should jump off a cliff (I’m all for these characters plummeting off a cliff. Any cliff, I’m not fussy) but Julia is super suspicious without further confirmation. So they decide to send a message down the cliff (they suggest a message in a bottle which gives me an inappropriate mental image of some kiddie in Zenith being taken out by a flying bottle to the head).

Back in Zenith, Lyle has stopped chanting “Melanie” over and over and is now chanting “in the cards” over and over. Sam doesn’t care –he’s out of Chester’s Mill and happy to restart his life, Pauline’s not agreeing with that since she’s worried about Junior. And to get to junior and save him she’s decided that Sam has to give a new, experimental drug to Lyle who she thinks may know something (for reasons) even though the doctors say that it’s not appropriate for Lyle. I… can’t even begin to unpack the wrong here.

Barbie, meanwhile, is lurking in the playground hoping Julia will launch herself into the abyss and join him (also talking to children who have not been told not to talk to strangers and somehow not being mistaken for a paedophile by wary parents). He is seen on CCTV though and the shocked CCTV operator runs his face through facial recognition software (Zenith has facial recognition software on their CCTV?) to confirm, to his shock, that Barbie is, well, Barbie.

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 9: Perishable

Parrish wakes up, tied to his steering wheel with his fellow deputy, Hague, covering his car in petrol and explaining that the list says Parrish is worth $5,000,000 dead. So we have another assassin. Hague throws a lighter into the car and sets Parrish and the car on fire.

Lydia and Stiles do that most fun of activities – try to convince poor Sheriff Stilinski some new plan/scheme/revelation/idea. This time that Lydia’s grandmother faked her own death and is actually the Banshee Benefactor arranging to kill all the supernaturals in town. Hague’s also in the police station, playing innocent and using police computers to contact the Benefactor about his payment

He probably won’t be getting paid though because whatever Parrish is, it’s fireproof. He walks into the police station, covered in soot (and no clothes) but unmarked. He’s not happy with Hague and leaps on him, wrestling with his gun. The shots are hard by the Sheriff in his meeting; Parrish, rather justifiably beats Hague brutally, but Sheriff Stilinski takes a bullet in the shoulder during the struggle (TV shoulders are bullet magnets.)

Afterwards, Scott, Derek and Lydia check out a fully dressed Parrish and confirm the lack of any kind of injury. They confirm he’s supernatural (wow that took some deducing), not a werewolf but even he doesn’t know what he is. Or what they are – Parrish even thinks Lydia’s a psychic and they may be as well. Scott shows off his alpha eyes.

That established they warn Parrish about the assassins (personally I want to know how the Benefactor knew that Parrish was supernatural when even Parrish doesn’t know he’s supernatural). But they also realise Hague isn’t a professional assassin – he’s just an opportunist. The list has now become more readily available to anyone willing to take a pot shot.

Cut to Liam being woken in the middle of the night by his printer just randomly spewing out the deadpool list – with names crossed off. Wait, is every printer in Beacon Hills randomly firing off the deadpool list now? So much for all the complex cracking the code in the first half of the season!

At the hospital, Sherriff Stilinski (who still doesn’t have a first name) goes through the paperwork before surgery – he’s worried about medical bills again (ok, I admit to knowing little about the US system, but a police officer can be bankrupt by bills from an operation to treat a bullet wound he got while on duty? Is this actually a thing?), since they’re already having trouble with Stiles’s bills. Stiles also frets and tells his dad he knows about all the money troubles and they have a deeply sad and powerful argument about Stiles’s urge to look after his dad and the Sheriff angry and upset that his son feels the need to look after him when it should be the other way round. These two have some of the best scenes.

Lydia gives us an info-dump. Meredith did go to her grandmother’s lakehouse – and her grandmother knew her through Maddy, who was apparently her grandmother’s partner. Lydia’s grandmother, Lorraine, discovered her banshee powers when she had a premonition of Maddy’s death – and she didn’t warn Maddy about it because she didn’t believe it. Afterwards, Lorraine obsessed about how she knew Maddy would die. She put a team together and that team, after much frustration, found Meredith and used her – and nearly killed her in the testing. The damage they caused is part of the reason Meredith was mentally ill. Lydia concludes that her grandmother drove her insane and she drove Meredith to suicide.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Falling Skies, Season 4, Episode 9: Till Death Do Us Part

So lunar panels. Yes, lunar panels, the gang has found panels that glow in moonlight. Though not actually moonlight (because that would be a stretch even for Falling Skies) but from a power sourc being beamed from the moon – the little green light they keep seeing.

Clearly this was a recent development because a whole lot of storylines in past episodes would become dubious and… gah, I’m expecting consistency from Falling Skies again aren’t I?

Anyway, this explains why the Volm can’t find the elusive power source, because they’re looking on the wrong celestial body. Cochise sneezes over this, or possibly curses in volmian. Anyway, the power core on the moon powers everything on the whole world – so we assume it works even when the moon is on the other side of the planet. We know this because Tom et al have decided it does. Though for all they know the Espheni in Australia could be burning koalas in giant koala power plants. (Hey, don’t mock, it makes as much sense as your average Falling Skies storyline)

Tom decides the solution to this is to go to the moon and blow it up. As you do. Naturally other people sensibly point out the rather blatant impossibility of that task but he’s sure they can

Personally I think the Volm can. C’mon, they don’t have the tech and vehicles to get to the moon? Or have they been abandoned without one single ship?

Apparently the Volm are all out of ships so they’re going to use the beamer they have – that would be the one they SHOT DOWN (therefore not flyable, because if it where it would still be flying and not, y’know, SHOT DOWN) and is now buried and made of alien tech which they have to learn how to repair, programme and steer – and they don’t even know if it is actually space going or just an atmospheric craft

This is their plan.

No, really.

It’s Falling Skies.

The next day Maggie joins clearing the rubble, transitioning over her alien spikiness but seeming to have no hostility for Hal. She has to adapt to her sudden alien super strength though – and nearly hitting Sarah with rubble. Pope is, predictably, an arsehole. Ben arrives to offer Maggie superspike training and to add to the sexual tension.

Pope follows Sarah where she’s wandered off to find something for her wrist and finds her with a box of pills, something she had said she was going to stop in her big dramatic “hey this funeral needs to be more about me” speech last episode. So, relationship drama!

Anne is helping, she doesn’t agree with Tom but she’s willing to go ahead since everyone else is willing to go with it and it’s giving them some level of hope. There’s also Lexi angst – Anne is mad at Tom because he’s doing something other than search for Lexi (not reasonable) and because he has an idea and everyone is expected to step into line (much more reasonable). They have an argument about faith vs hope (and Anne upset that Tom doesn’t have faith that their evil daughter isn’t evil despite all the evil she’s evilling).

To help with the digging, Cochise has a hidden supply cache that may help (hiding supply caches is something he picked up from human history, apparently, and not a rather basic military tactic of a warrior race…)

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 6: Occultation

An eclipse is coming up and people are getting rather excitable about it.

We see a fully vampiric Eichorst have a snack, just to remind us of what he is. The FBI pay Kelly a visit looking for Ephraim since he’s now wanted for all kinds of naughty bad things, including murder and corpse desecration. Ephraim is hiding and overhearing the agents questions his ex-wife and her new boyfriend.

Ephraim, who is surprisingly not smart for a CDC doctor, goes to see Kelly and his son once the FBI are gone. It’s a good thing the police don’t do things like watch the families of fugitives. Ephraim warns Kelly and Zack to get out of the city. Of course new boyfriend accuses him of drinking and Kelly is rather doubtful as well – I can understand not listening to the ranting man, but when said ranting man is a CDC doctor – yeah, better safe than sorry. And Kelly’s boyfriend has called the FBI. Ephraim is arrested, but still warns Kelly to run.

Afterwards, Kelly is not happy with Matt and suggests that maybe they should listen to the CDC doctor telling them to head for the hills and considers rethinking the whole relationship if Matt would step in and decide how to deal with things without her (I think the whole “guest” is harsh). Everyone gets their passive aggressive award.

Abraham continues his work – moving down the list to a house that was clearly in the middle of a wake for the dead passenger. He walks past the abandoned food, wine and tributes and goes to the basement – where the walls have blood stains. He finds a small pack of vampires but after killing the first one, he staggers back – his heart beating out of control. He struggles and drops his pills and has to retreat back into the sunlight while he catches his breath and calms down. He leaves, turning on the gas before he goes, leaving the lit candles to ignite it.

He gets a cab back to his shop, we have some more eclipse ominous foreshadowing, and he rather clumsily (and desperately, since he’s just seen that Ephraim has been arrested) tries to recruit the taxi driver.

Nora is in her house with her mother (who has completely forgotten the shenanigans of the night before) when Jim calls her with the news of Ephraim’s arrest. Which is when two suited men ring her bell – Nora stops her mother answering it and hurriedly packs a bag. They wander the streets with Nora worrying about the early darkness coming with the eclipse – she looks up Abraham’s number.

Rat catcher Vasiliy tells his fellow rat catchers, all of whom are commenting on the scary exodus of rats, about the vampires in the tunnels. He is not believed. He goes back to his office and finds it oddly deserted, the phones ringing unanswered. He checks the closet – where the lights do not work. He’s looking for poisons and finds his boss in mid-vampire transformation.  They struggle and fight and Vasiliy manages to open the blinds, frying the vampire. He also finds the secretary mid transformation and grimly opens the blinds on her before she can attack.

Vasiliy goes to see his Ukranian parents – and there’s a whole lot of tension between him and his dad. He tries to warn him to leave the city and that tension is overwhelming – he won’t listen. Vasiliy leaves, saying “I tried.”

True Blood, Season 7, Episode 9: Love is to Die

Bill’s excuse for not drinking the cure is that he has accepted his fate – even though it now doesn’t have to be his fate and is now a form of chosen suicide as Sookie of all people points out. And when Sookie is the one speaking sense you know how bad things have got. So he chooses – the True death. Jessica curses him and storms off and Bill turns his angsty eyes to Sookie who promptly slaps him. He can’t explain himself so Sookie keeps slapping him until Eric intervenes. Eric tells him to leave but, before he does, Jessica demands Bill release her. He does.

Bill leaves, leaving Jessica and Sookie to cry on Eric and Pam’s shoulders (“cry on my jacket and you’re paying for it sweetheart”. Yes, Pam).

Jessica and Sookie go to Sam’s trailer (for reasons) and, laughably, Jessica checks if it’s safe for Sookie to be out at night alone. Yes, Sookie has spent the whole season running around at night with her fairy blood and throwing away her phone but now we check if it’s safe. Anyway, the trailer is empty – as in completely stripped bare – there’s just a letter from Sam saying he’s off to Chicago with Nicole (and how understanding she is that he writes letters to other women saying how he loves them). Personally I think Sam considered Tara and Alcide, realised he was a loose end and got out of town before he was conveniently killed off.

They go to Bellefleurs (since Sam’s trailer’s in the parking lot which made more sense when he owned the place) which is opening for business despite there being zero customers because Arlene’s putting on her positive face. Sookie realises everyone may actually be having fun so tells them all that Sam is gone. That’ll teach them to be happy in her presence.  She gives Andy his letter from Sam which is basically his resignation.

James takes a moment to say sorry to Jessica who gives him her blessing to be with Lafayette- and leaves her nice and blame free to go pursue Hoyt. Speaking of, he and Bridget are arguing because she’s outraged that he doesn’t want kids. He says he doesn’t want to have kids- at least not yet (or so I interpret the whole “that’s not where I’m at” line). She’s also super jealous because of Jessica which is when Jessica decides to knock on the door.

Jessica is there with her remarkably good timing to tell Hoyt they used to be together. Bridget gives him an ultimatum – stay inside and ignore Jessica or go out to her and then she and him are through. Hoyt chooses option two – speak to a near stranger rather than stay with the woman he’s supposed to love – but the fact SHE gave him the ultimatum will make her the bad guy of the piece.

Bridget decides to call Jason because, why not. He rushes over and Hoyt decides to knock him unconscious for some reason (no, Hoyt hasn’t got his memories back). Bridget decides to pack up the unconscious Jason into his car and take him for a drive (she says to go to the hospital so it’s not quite as creepy as it sounds). They go to his house instead where he gets her a flight back to Alaska using his magic sexiness over the phone. Jason then applies frozen vegetables to his crotch to try and restrain his libido, no, really. And Bridget declares girls like Jason because he’s sweet and kind (uh-huh, the fact he has the body that would make a Greek god weep with envy is totally not part of it). Jason tells Bridget the story of him, Jessica and Hoyt and the memory erasure – and we get a cut of Hoyt and Jessica having sex. Bridget decides to take Jason to bed to teach him how not to have sex with someone.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Podcast - moved to Wed 20th August

We thought we were out of the woods, but a rally by the weremoose has again called us to action. As soon as we've dealt with them and their terrible Maple Vampires, we'll be back in action.

Which we hope should be this Wednesday, 20th August, same time - 7:00pm EST, 12:00am GMT

And have a reminder of our books of the week:

11th August - 20th August: Blood Games by Chloe Neill
20th August - 25th August: Merrick by Anne Rice
25th August - 1st September: The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison
1st September - 8th September: Blood and Gold by Anne Rice
8th September - 15th September: Blood Passage by Connie Suttle
15th September - 22nd September: Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice

Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires #10) by Chloe Neill

Someone has been murdered – and the police think vampires are involved. The vampire houses are only just enjoying a surge of popularity, the last thing they need is bad press now…

Especially since Ethan has made a play to take over the Greenwich Prisidium. After so long of them being a constant threat to Cadogan house, he’s determined to replace that corrupt leadership – but the testing is difficult, dangerous and gruelling and highly competitive. And some of those competitors are willing to use Ethan’s past to make him bow out – and drive a wedge between him and Merit

And speaking of that GP leadership – Darius, king of the GP, is in town. And he’s acting… oddly.

There were two or three storylines in this book (Darius wandering around up to shenanigans and the creation of a new leader for GP may be seen as one following the other or the same storyline) – and I’m kind of torn over them. They’re all pretty independent of one another, there’s a vague link, but they’re tangentially connected at best – and I’m not sure about any of them

Take the murder mystery – now that’s actually the most interesting and meaty storyline which takes the most effort to solve and the most room in the book. But it’s also the one with the least  impact – it’s a murder mystery, it involves the relative of someone who is somewhat friendly with Cadogan House (I didn’t recognise his name, but we’re assured he said nice things about vampires once) and it’s… mundane. Honestly, when merit and Ethan are called in on the first murder and they declare “actually, it’s nothing to do with vampires because X” I don’t see why they were called in again. Why call in an expert who has already ruled out their expertise? Especially when they have other things to worry about? Merit isn’t police –in fact, since they and Catcher ruled out any kind of woo-woo at all I don’t even get why the Ombudsman’s involved, let alone the vampires. What were they doing at these crime scenes? Why did the police keep calling them in? What was Merit supposed to add to the investigation? Why was this plot line even here?

The problem is that without that plot line we don’t have much else. We have Darius, head of the GP in town doing odd things of oddness. Which Ethan, Merit & co investigate, work on and solve very very quickly. Even the end resolve turns out to be super neat, super easy and not require them to do anything. This could have been a meaty storyline, instead it wasn’t – it was a brief throwaway to prove the point that Ethan and Cadogan House get involved helping people even when they have no obligation to do so – which we kind of already knew. If it had been more involved, the solution required more work etc then maybe – but it didn’t. It was a couple of chapters of distraction

Which lead us to Ethan’s bid to become leader of the Greenwich Prisidium. This should have been the meat of the story but, again, wasn’t. The tests were dramatic and important – but involved Ethan far more than Merit which meant she – and we – weren’t even spectators for the first one – we just knew it happened. The second test, the grand physical challenge, was something we were there for – but it was so simple and quick. I actually blinked and skipped back to make sure my book wasn’t missing, say, 50 pages where the actual test was. I was amazed how brief it was and how quickly addressed.

Fangs for the Fantasy Book of the Week

It's Monday so time for another episode of Fangs for the Fantasy podcast - our weekly podcast where we discuss all our shows and our book of the week through our social justice lens.

The podcast will be 7:00pm EST tonight! We hope to see you there

If you need to catch up on any of our previous podcasts, you can find them here

And those reading along can see our next books of the week:

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

11th August - 18th August: Blood Games by Chloe Neill
18th August - 25th August: Merrick by Anne Rice
25th August - 1st September: The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison
1st September - 8th September: Blood and Gold by Anne Rice
8th September - 15th September: Blood Passage by Connie Suttle
15th September - 22nd September: Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dominion, Season 1, Episode 8: Beware Those Closest To You

Alex, with all the revelations of last week, decides he has to go tell the senate about Michael keeping the higher angels secret. He also brings up Michael’s ancient past killing humans, because Gabriel hearsay is such a good idea. He even exposes Noma

That’s it, the chosen one needs dropping off a cliff somewhere.

Becca goes to see Michael to be all sad about his secrets and that the Senate plans to exile him. Michael, rather huffily (but not without reason) decides to save them the trouble and, presumably, leave on his own. He does ask her to keep Lewis’s secret since the higher angel doesn’t deserve execution. Throw in some lovey stuff and he flies off.

Well not out the city – just to throw Alex around the market for betraying him after “all I’ve done for you.” See, this is where your “let the orphan be brought up as an outcast, showing him no emotion and occasionally whipping him” comes back to bite you on the arse, Mikey.  Dramatic gesture made, he then flies off.

Meanwhile, Baby Whele is leading his cult and now Daddy Whele is a happy adherent. Well an adherent anyway.

Claire invites Alex to see her in her wedding dress so they can angst and argue about, well everything rather randomly. It ends when he storms out after saying she’s marrying William Whele because she wants the power.

Arika and Riesen greet an entourage from Helena – bringing Queen Evelyn’s head. This seems to be one of Helena’s customs – gift wrapping body parts. It’s clear that Arika is behind the death of her former wife. Arika does have some praise for Evelyn – creating a female led city in a male world, a female focused faith in a world that had lost all reason for faith. Which would be nicer platitudes if her severed head wasn’t right there.

When Arika is alone she’s joined by her lover – Uriel. They have more plots for Vega, including Claire somehow – also Arika is actually Evelyn. The head on the pillow is someone else, Helena seems to have quite a stash.

William and Claire are married (“nourish his every breath”? Ok, I’ve heard worse vows. And they’re marrying in the name of the Saviour which is hilarious when you remember that Alex is Claire’s ex)

Alex is driving out the city and I joined by Michael – it seems the whole denunciation and flounce was actually an act. It was very convincing –mainly because flouncing is actually how Alex communicates. I don’t think he can leave a room if he isn’t storming out in an emotional tantrum (or anyone else for that matter. It must cause quite a lot of queues).  The plan is for Alex to earn Gabriel’s trust then stab him until he stops moving. They go to the chosen location where Michael admitted that actually he did go out massacring humans at god’s command and it was a whole lot of fun. Well, everyone has a hobby.

It took Gabriel and Uriel giving him a thorough beating and the mercy of a child to make him a decent angel. This allowed Michael to realise that his dad’s command were sometimes pointless twisted mind games and not to actually be obeyed (aka his god’s a bit of a bastard). Anyway the point of this is that Alex is supposed to be redeeming Michael for obeying the orders of god that he didn’t really mean (it’s not even theologically sound. Isn’t there a whole parable about sacrificing one’s own son as a proof of loyalty?)

They’re joined by Angel Noma (it’s a good thing she flies because there’s no way she can run in those shoes, that should have been a hint right there). She’s lured Furiad – and was able to do so because they have been lovers. Yay, more Alex angst! Just what we need! We also have the standard “waaah you lied to me” because Noma was totally supposed to say “hey, I’m an angel!” in the angel killing city – while Noma assures him that while Michael wanted her to keep tabs on Alex, sleeping with Alex wasn’t part of the command. Alex is willing to work with her, but not pretend that nothing has changed.

Michael finds Furiad and quickly puts a knife to his throat – throw in blackmail over Noma and I think we can safely say Furiad has been co-opted. Through that Noma gets a wing call from Gabriel – she warns Alex it’s dangerous and she may not come back; Alex seems to take back all that “we’re not friends!” pouting while she forces him to promise to take Gabriel down no matter what – including no matter happens to her

Back in Vega, Becca presents her findings from the angel autopsies and finds several weaknesses, including the fact that electricity can paralyse and angel. Riesen, rather belatedly, realises that Michael did a lot of humanity and saved Vega and they haven’t exactly been nice or fair to him. he also tells Becca of his plans to retire – and leave Vega.

Claire visits Arika and is introduced to Uriel – who is posing as a priest who uses the excuse of a prayer to confirm that Claire is pregnant with Alex’s child. The plan is to get Claire to Helena which will force Alex to follow because DAMSEL and then she can read the markings, defeat Gabriel and Michael and bring peace on Earth. Which she decides is her father’s plan.

Noma and Furiad go to see Gabriel and Noma uses the excuse of Michael smacking Alex as proof that Michael has gone back to his deep dark ways (would these be his human killing ways? The ways that Gabriel is now emulating? I… I can’t see how Gabriel is expected to buy this). Gabriel agrees to meet with Alex but it’s clear he expects a trap.

Alex has a dream about fighting and killing his dad because the Chosen One must be able to sacrifice everything to save humanity – also because Alex needs MAXIMUM MANPAIN at all times. He’s woken by Michael who has realised that their truly awful plan isn’t actually working.