Friday, September 5, 2014

Heart to Heart (Angelica Brown #2) by Ifè Oshun

Angel’s music career is taking off. Their group has a television gig, their music is becoming popular, and they have a growing passionate fandom. Success is definitely striking and, as Angel moves to LA, she and her friends quickly have to navigate the often shark-filled shoals of show business and the music industry

And she has to do it without the support she previously had. Her mother has fallen to the Long Sleep, like any immortal she spends time in deep slumber during which Angel’s father has to tend to her and protect her. Angel is adrift –and it’s not just in the music business; she’s a new Shimshana, her hunger for blood is still raging almost out of control and her magic has unfortunate effects on the mortals around her

Including her magical boyfriend Sawyer and her band mates and best friend, Lala and Jules. It may not even be safe for them to be around Angel at all – as she becomes ever more isolated even as the crowds of fans grow.

This is one of those books I have difficulty reviewing because I feel the need to be more objective. A lot of the story involves Angel’s music career and it’s really well written. There’s glitz and glamour and a lot of excitement about the success – but it also excellently portrays the manoeuvring they have to go through. There’s a lot of forced socialisation, a lot of false hangers on and required entourages, a lot of mingling and being seen whether they want to or not, a lot of contacts, a lot of necessary parties and a lot of traps and pitfalls- even for a human, let alone a Shimshana. I like how all of the glitz and glamour isn’t fully glamourised, the underside is seen, the risks are seen, they get into trouble and have difficult situations – even little things like none of them being willing to eat Angel’s dad’s fattening food because they’re afraid of putting on weight for the cameras.

It’s really well written and an excellently involved story – my disconnect is it’s just not a subject that appeals; subjectively it didn’t draw me in, objectively it was an excellent piece of storytelling with a very good balance.

East-Asian Tropes in Urban Fantasy: Yakuza and Kitsune for everyone!

East-Asian people are some of the least commonly represented people in the shows we watched and the books we read. We’ve said repeatedly how damaging erasure is, and how important it is for marginalised people to be present in the media in general and in the genre, because of that it can be very very tempting to become extremely enthusiastic when we find a character that breaks the trend of erasure. Sadly, it can never be that simple, because like any marginalised portrayal, east-Asian characters come dogged with some nigh-mandatory tropes that can quickly send that enthusiasm crashing down.

With east-Asian people, the first trope we have to mention is martial arts. I do not know what Asian countries are like in these writer’s imagination - I can only picture a country where fare dodgers on the subway battle guards in dramatic taekwondo duels, a country where arguing neighbours engage in dramatic katana duels and where irate grandmothers deal with sassy grandkids with perfectly executed kung fu. Sometimes there are oddly bizarre explanations for why these characters can pull out the karate (on Teen Wolf Kira knows how to use a katana because magic. Basically) but often there’s not even that (Satome on the same show) - it’s assumed the character has learned it simply because. It doesn’t need explaining, any more than a western European character would have to explain why they can read.

Sometimes an Asian character will be dropped into a show simply to bring martial arts - Dark Angel had Max fighting through a ship of Korean navy personnel - must of which seemed to know martial arts. Magnificent Devices had a crewman called Yau - who knew martial arts (which was rather the extent of his character). Da Vinci’s Demons had Quon Shan who was there to impress with his martial arts moves (and be inscrutable, another essential Asian trope. All those martial arts battles in the writer’s imaginary east-asia? They’re call caused by communication break down because no-one can communicate with each other - they can only sit opposite each other and be mysterious, occasionally making the odd, cryptic comment),

Part of the problem of these random east-Asian martial artists inserted with little or no justification is that it establishes a trope that even pulls down characters who may have a conceivable reason to know martial arts: like Lily Yu in the World of the Lupi Series (though, really, should “urban fantasy protagonist” and “police woman” really be sufficient to justify a martial arts background?) and Mulan in Once Upon a Time (but even then - yes the original story of Mulan is martial - but the Asian character is the “princess” with martial arts while the non-Asian “princesses” definitely don’t - even Snow White has become less martial) or Catherine on Beauty and the Beast and Russel on The Tomorrow People (there it’s less justified and just part of EVERYONE randomly knowing martial arts for REASONS). The trope shines even when it fits - this is the damage a trope or stereotype causes, it’s so ubiquitous that even when it’s legitimately present it is pulled in as part of the stereotyped whole.

One common display of these martial arts is in the hands of the Yakuza. Yes, these Japanese organised crime syndicates have a presence just about everywhere. Teen Wolf and True Blood have both had them randomly drop in. The Sookie Stackhouse Series had Chow, a random Yakuza member as a bartender and Grimm had a Yakuza agent who may have been tied to the verrat… somehow.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Immortal Light: Wide Awake by John D Sperry

Lucy’s normal life is turned upside down when she casually meets Benjamin – a seemingly young man with an ancient secret who haunts her dreams with mystery and secrets she desperately wants to understand.

The new hot guy walking her dreams isn’t the only mystery in Lucy’s life – as her touch seems to be bringing life back to the dead, once or twice could have been odd misunderstandings but it’s becoming clear something supernatural is happening

She needs an explanation – but for that she needs her dreams of Benjamin to be real.

The plot is, sadly, held together with spit and wishful thinking. There’s a moment when Lucy goes to the beach to see Benjamin posing dramatically before the stormy waves. There’s no real explanation why Benjamin has decided to wander down the beach in the middle of a storm. As for Lucy driving around dangerous roads in the middle of the night?

“Her mind was defying all logic by insisting for some inexplicable cosmic reason that she had to go back and find him.”

Yes, really. And this is hardly the only time it happens. People do outright bizarre things because of random feelings that crop out of nowhere and, later in the book, because the Light (whatever that is – magic, god, a bit of both) wills it. This story is held together by a lot of these moments

Sometimes it’s not even explained that well. One of the main problems of this book is that it’s pacing is awful. The whole first half to two third of this book drags out terribly as Lucy is wilfully kept in the dark about her special powers, the whole plots history and everything else woo-woo. We get a huge amount of Lucy angst and worry and fretting and aborted love triangle and little of anything remotely interesting. Most of the book, Benjamin refuses to tell Lucy anything except in dreams where he has the option of plausible deniability; if she tries to talk about it in real life he pretends not to understand her. So she spends a huge amount of this book wailing and angsting about whether her dreams are really real or she just falls asleep and has a vivid imagination and all the creatures coming back to life around her are pure coincidence. Unsurprisingly her dreams are real. But why Benjamin decided to play this ridiculous secret game is never really explained – all it seems to do is be there to drag the story out for much much longer

Is this is a spoiler? No. Because any reader who is even a teeny tiny bit genre savvy is fully aware that her dreams are real.

I honestly can’t even say that the concept is original or draws me in. We have a pretty standard tale of a high school girl who has special woo-woo powers because REASONS and she’s under attack by bad guys because REASONS so she has to come to terms with her powers and the history and everything while she is repeatedly told how so very special she is.

Sadly, it’s also a classic kind of specialness because has no real special qualities beyond her woo-woo, which is so very special. She learns super fighty skills because woo-woo. She has powers because chosen one woo-woo. There is nothing really about her that stands out as special – and I can get the whole “every day person” sense of wanting to identify with the protagonist – but I’d then expect that every day person protagonist to stop up and be special not just be the bearer of the special.

This Week in Book Covers 25th August - 29th August

Merrick (Vampire Chronicles #7) by Anne Rice

Well, on the plus side, it’s not the over generic, could-be-anything-because-my-name-is-gold covers we see on a lot of the series. Of course it still looks like a story about a carnival so it’s not exactly informative. But then, if The Vampire Chronicles actually had covers that reflected their plots they’d be blank. Or show a poor, exhausted man buried in very very dull biographies,

However, this carnival attendant does seem to be rather extremely pale if it’s supposed to be Merrick - or even David for that matter - both of whom are POC.

Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Sadly boring - after all it’s a book of the TV series so we get the cast on the cover to make it clear that it’s official. Dull dull dull. Abbie does seem to be giving the cameraman some serious evil eye over something though. I reckon he spent hours getting them into that pose and she’s miffed that this is the best he could come up with

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Kraken King and the Greatest Adventure (Kraken King #8, Iron Seas #4.8) by Meljean Brook

Zenobia and Ariq must now move quickly and carefully. It’s not just the Rebellion against the Horde that are manoeuvring to claim the Skybreaker, but the Nipponese Empire as well. Both of them are powers that can wipe out Ariq’s home of Krakentown and all the people who have come to respect and rely on him.

They need to stop this conflict before it even begins – because against such powers even if they win the fight, the cost will be impossibly high to pay

This finally concludes the whole saga of the Kraken King. On the whole I’ve loved it, but I think in future I will wait for all the individual “episodes” to be released on one book – the short story format doesn’t work well for me, though this series has done a very good job of resisting the urge to recap excessively with each instalment and has assumed that we remember the last book and didn’t need it regurgitating all over again.

The writing is also excellent. We’ve got the perfect pacing without either the rush which leaves emotions flat and the world unexplained, or the vast rambly lines of someone who loves their angst monologues or who is desperate to give me a lecture on their world and how much they love it. We have humour, we have action, we have plotting and thinking and rich worlds and snark and good emotion – we have it all and I love it, yes yes I do. And as an ending book in a mini-series this is the ending and it ends it well – it’s satisfying, it’s triumphant, it leaves you feeling vindicated and victorious and doesn’t leave any ends left loose – while still leaving everything in place in case the author wants to come back.

The writing has always made me like this series. But what has made me love this series throughout are the characters

Perhaps my greatest love has been how practical they are. I read a lot of books and watch a lot of shows where people lose their ever loving minds on a regular basis. They constantly do things that make little sense – or which require them to act in a grossly excessive, self-absorbed or emotionally extreme manner. Zenobia and Ariq are not those people. They are sensible – when they’re hurt or upset or angry, they feel it, they feel it deeply – but they also factor in common sense. They don’t leap off without thinking (or are at least aware when they do), they maintain perspective and they maintain their priorities. Zenobia in always keeping herself safe and not letting love overwhelm caution and Ariq by always remembering his people who rely on him and he has a duty to. Zenobia is no coward but fully recognises what she can and cannot do and when her presence adds nothing. Ariq is protective but fully recognises that this can be stifling and smothering. He’s huge and dangerous and capable of massive violence both personally and with the weapons at his command – and he doesn’t use them because he recognises the long term consequences.

Under the Dome, Season 2, Episode 10: The Fall

Jim has just seen Pauline – drama and ructions. Pauline convinces him she’s real and not just a Dome illusion to which Jim accuses her of destroying Junior by faking her death

More angst in her painting shack that Jim has kept unchanged as a kind of shrine to her. She tells him everything from Zenith and he declares that the Dome has made him into a new, better man and now the Dome has brought her back to him. Praise the Dome and Jim it’s messiah!

Rebecca is trying to get Julia to pay attention to the latest Dome drama (the leaves on the trees are turning and it’s cold – but it’s supposed to be the middle of summer) when Julia sees Barbie, alive, well and inside the Dome. Barbie gives them a quick recap of his many adventures. Everyone seems… oddly wary about GETTING OUT!

Julia declares how she’s always believed the Dome is there to protect them while Barbie has doubts – pointing out that nothing the Dome has ever done has been remotely positive. Julia still has doubts about leaving since Lyle didn’t make it back. Barbie sees no reason not to give up the egg and they hammer out a plan – Julia goes first, making them agree to let the whole town go. The town leaves, then Barbie comes through with the egg.

Norrie and Joe realise the egg is gone and naturally – and correctly – suspect Melanie.

Melanie and Junior are all bonding and she makes a silly joke about Junior locking her in the bomb shelter. Under the Dome you’re not cute, you’re not clever. Angie’s bloodstained ghost drops in to warn Junior not to follow his heart. Ooookay then

Sam catches up with Melanie and assures her that he totally didn’t kill her the first time, it was Lyle (the conveniently missing scapegoat) and he totally wish they hadn’t dumped her body in a shallow grave. Bygones?

She then joins Barbie and Julia – but refuses to give up the egg to their dubious plan to get everyone out. Barbie does ask her about her memories though – if she remembers him as a small child. Putting together memories they realise that Barbie’s dad was with Melanie’s mother before meeting Barbie’s mother. Yes, Melanie and Barbie are half-siblings.

Norrie and Joe, hunting Melanie, run into Hunter who tells them all about following their story and shows them his webpage. Hunter has a lot of geeky enthusiasm for the Dome while Norrie and Joe are more interested in the food he had from the outside (unhealthy food! YAY!). They have a geeky plan to track the egg. They make their egg tracker then poor geeky Hunter is dumped so they can keep the egg secret. Of course, they have this whole discussion where Phil, imprisoned below, can overhear

Junior goes home to find Pauline being all emotional over the photo albums of all of Junior’s life she missed and Jim all happy to be a family again. Though when she and Junior are alone, Pauline’s clear while she wants to get out with Junior, she doesn’t see her and Jim getting back together again. Junior’s also not nearly as forgiving as Pauline about Sam murdering Angie. Pauline’s willingness to do so seems to drive Junior towards Big Jim. When Pauline’s alone, the egg starts glowing and giving her a massive migraine.

Julia and Barbie start telling people about leaving Chester’s Mill with Rebecca adding that Winter is Coming to encourage people to leave. One agrees, the other decides to consult Jim because the guy who wanted to kill them all with a plague is a much better source. For added fun Jim decides to join because he wants to be part of the plan.

They argue, Jim doesn’t think that people will detain the 2,000 residents of Chester’s Mill (for once I agree with Jim – not because I don’t think such a detention couldn’t happen, but because this private company is doing this AGAINST the government knowing, not with their consent). Jim also insists on being the one to negotiate because he was elected (uh, not under these terms he wasn’t). Barbie’s willing to go with this because they can use Pauline and Junior against him

I think they’re trusting Barbie to care about other people which is never ever a good thing.

Junior has decided to hunt down Sam for killing Angie – and then letting Junior think he’d blacked out and done it. Yeah an apology does seem a little lacking next to that. Rather than simply killing Sam and removing an excess character Junior decides to punch him repeatedly while demanding he fight back.

Angie – hallucination, resurrection, vampire, zombie, I don’t know – shows up to stop Junior killing him. Sam has to live for REASONS. Junior is devastated because he killed his precious! Sorta!Dead!Angie is not impressed that her depraved stalker and kidnapper is claiming undying love. Non-murder message delivered, Angie vanishes.

Jim goes to tell the good news to Pauline, but she has a vision about a screaming egg and the end of everything which doesn’t bode well. He tries to calm her down and she threatens him with a knife – before the vision pain stops her. Jim decides to lock her in to “keep her safe” even as she begs him not to.

And Jim hears the egg – and goes to find it, glowing away in his bunker. When he tries to touch it, it slams him against a wall. There’s no way he’s dead alas.

Barbie and Julia angst about their plan – and Melanie is still on the fence about giving up the egg. But at least Julia’s happy with Jim going first and being nabbed by Acteon. And she already borrows angst about the future of the pair of them on the outside.

Joe and Norrie find the egg, screaming away. It calms down as soon as Norrie picks it up. Which is when Jim wakes up and kidnaps them and the egg at gun point. Off to the school where Hunter is lurking around trying to conjure a wifi signal with sheer force of will.

They go to the great big chasm of doom – and throw the egg in.

Earthquake – the Dome is pissed. Lots of chaos. Melanie collapses, Phil escapes, lots of people are scared, Pauline is creepy. They get Melanie to Sam for some quick emergency first aid and leave her with Sam and Junior.

Jim goes to Pauline who tells him that her visions stopped when the earthquake started. She’s really not happy about this or what Jim did to the egg.

At the school where Phil was locked up (for reasons), Phil makes a dash for freedom. Barbie and Julia chase him but he jumps down the cavern. The cavern that now has a bottom – a spiky bottom. Phil is dead. Without the egg there’s no way out.

Hey Rebecca gets to read the “stay tuned for next episode” spiel – did they realise how few lines she had?

They’ve found a way out of the Dome “we can only tell people we trust”. Seriously? Why not tell everyone, form an orderly queue and get the hell out. What do you think the nefarious will do with this information? Except, maybe, KEEP IT A SECRET?

Could people die going back? Maybe, maybe – but how is that on Julia and Barbie? I haven’t seen many children in this town (oddly) all these grown adults can make their own decisions.

And, again, I have to demand why anyone would think the Dome is benevolent. Julia has always believed the dome was there to protect them… why? No, really, why? Give me one reason, one single reason, why we should believe any kind of benevolence on the dome’s part? Why should we even think it is neutral? It is holding you prisoner and occasionally throwing random events that try to kill people at you – WHY IS THIS PROTECTION?

Do we have any reason why Acteon energy would care about the townsfolk? Or any reason why, when they had the egg, they wouldn’t be able to imprison everyone in town if they wanted to? Why not just lead the whole town out, have them all appear in the playground and see how they manage to keep that secret!

I do admit I love that Hunter called his anti-Acteon group “hounds of Diana”. Nifty mythology shout out

Even dead, Angie is a constant plot device for men who abused her – Sam, Junior and Jim. But I do love that Angie did call out Junior’s claims of love. I was getting so very tired of Junior being presented as the wounded party when Angie died, of Junior being her champion, her avenger, her principle mourner – nice to see the show at last remember what Junior did to her.

Phil is dead. Y’know, POC and women don’t do well in Chester’s Mill….

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 11: A Promise to the Dead

We have a man-eating supernatural, his larder full of dead people – and a girl he’s kidnapped called Clarissa who seems to be next on the menu. Until Dr. Deaton shows up (they let him out of his plot box!). After Deaton is clearly winning Patrick protests the Deadpool’s over – oh Patrick, Deaton isn’t going to kill you – he’s going to drag you back to Eichen House where they know all about his special diet

Eichen house? It turns out the place has a whole secret floor where supernaturals (presumably dangerous ones) are contained – and Deaton knows the guy who runs it. In exchange for bringing back their runaway, Deaton wants to speak to one of the inmates – a Dr. Valek who apparently can drive people insane just by talking to them

Dr. Valek quickly guesses that Deaton wants to know about Kate and La Loba, The Bone Woman. She’s connected to whatever was done to Derek and for extra mystery, Deaton is involved because of a promise he made to a woman he loved. Valek wants to use some kind of woo-woo involving the hole in his forehead – the hole he drilled there. Deaton is… duly sceptical of the value of such a treatment but as he gets closer he seems to be hypnotised by it – and in the horrible hole, a third eye opens.

Deaton’s body becomes comatose in an Eichen House bed while he goes wandering in a strange dreamscape.

At the McCall household, Melissa has found Scott’s big stash of money – Scott tells her where it came from (deadpool money from assassins) and, yes, he kept it because they have (in Melissa’s super-downplayed words) been “struggling a little.” Scott starkly lays out what the money can do for them, and Melissa who is always awesome, pulls out a blood stained stash and asks “what about this one.” Blood money. Nice point

Over to Liam, who is having all kinds of horrible stress reactions- not wanting Mason to leave, afraid to turn out the light, being terrified of non-existent berserkers in his room.

Also not sleeping well are Braeden and Derek because an alarm goes off – patrolling around with guns in their sleepwear (and why does sleepwear for her involve lingerie that in no way can be comfortable to sleep in, but for him involves full length baggy trousers?) reveals a bedraggled Lydia – who screams. Oh, that’s not good.

Stiles is sleeping well – but he has a Malia alarm clock.

Scott takes the money back to Derek looking all guilty because he kept it so long. Derek completely understands – Scott makes minimum wage, why wouldn’t he be tempted? Anyway it’s Peter’s money, Derek’s money’s tied up in his house and in his own accounts. The vault money is Peter’s and it’s probably be better if Peter didn’t get the rest of it back.

School time – and Malia passes one class (Lydia tries to be happy for her friend’s C-) and Lydia is having banshee issues – it’s not over

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Falling Skies, Season 4, Episode 12: Shoot the Moon

This episode has a strange dramatic opening, everyone on the ground posing with various weapons, something happening on the moon base – and a man begging Botha for help with some kind of alien thing on his chest (all with the background sound of ragged breathing and a loud heartbeat). He’s just one of many suffering horribly in an odd, foggy swamp place.

Everyone else is all tense and looking at the moon and hearing some very very loud wolves. Botha had left with a scouting team and returns alone and late – and not looking so good. He describes what he saw and Ben realises it’s a mobile mutation plant – a way for the Espheni to mutate people without dragging them to a factory first.

That foreshadowed (and some brief hints at Maggie/Hal breaking up and being friends thrown in with some Pope angst) a Beamer drops an ominous, fog producing thing. When the fog touches people’s feet they become glued to the floor – and then it releases chest sucking creatures into the fog. An extra is caught and gets a chest sucker on her and becomes all feral and evil. E

Everyone gets caught and glued by the fog. Matt manages to kill the chest sucker after him with a throwing knife. He and Weaver are stuck together

Maggie frees Ben and they both work to help Hal showing he has to truth them (despite his snark)and how well they work together.

Botha chews out Pope for his endless, ridiculous charging into danger (which got them both stuck. And yes, Pope has been needed this lecture for some time) but then Botha gets a chest sucker but Pope manages to kill it by chewing through the tube that connects it to the foggy thing. And yes that’s disgusting. Sarah then returns from parts unknown to help kill the chest suckers going for Pope – awww she foes care. Unlike me. Damn it Sarah, I thought Pope was finally going to be killed off.

Anne discovers the fog doesn’t like flares. Conveniently, she happens to have a flamethrower. Which runs out of fuel as she gets to Matt and Weaver, making it a pretty awful rescue attempt as she, too, is trapped. Weaver begins despairing so now there’s more “don’t give up” speeches.

On the ship to the moon, the broken technology we saw last episode turns out to be the bomb – bombs don’t like cold it seems. Lexi still upset that one guilt dream doesn’t make Tom trust her implicitly and Tom actually reassures her. He wants to use her super powers to destroy the power plant but she can’t – her powers rely on twisting natural forces all of which are absent or weaker on the moon.

We get some science as to what the power plant actually is (using a form of Helium the moon has lots of apparently) and why this made the Earth an ideal target. Exposition interrupted by a bigger ship rumbling them and pulling them to it.

They go onto the big ship and find that Mira is now fully harnessed (seriously, they brainwash the kids THEN harness them. Really?)  as a mouthpiece of an Overlord (the scorched one who hates Tom so much) who smacks Tom across the room – and uses Lexie’s necklace to strangle her, he just points at her and it contracts. A safeguard to control her. She tries to convince the Overlord she’s on their side.

Falling Skies, Season 4, Episode 11: Space Oddity

Lexi has arrived and naturally Tom wants to talk to her and Weaver backs him despite Pope, very reasonably (argh I hate agreeing with him), pointing out that the question  of whether or not Lexi is a threat has already been very very very convincingly settled!

Lexi tells her parents that yes she’s sorry and trusting the genocidal aliens and their mutant factories was actually a bad idea. Tom at least doesn’t accept her with open arms and points out the attack she was part of, Lourdes and all the nastiness.

While they talk, Pope argues with Weaver about killing Lexi. While Tom says how he cannot trust Lexi, not again – Pope fires a rifle at her. Lexi woo-woo means she just catches the bullet. Still, even though Tom agrees they have no reason to fear Lexi, he does say they have reason to hate her – and there’s no place for her there.

Of course, Anne speaks up in favour of Lexi and accepting her, quite willing to risk an Espheni plot – she wants time to try and promises to keep her away from the others. Tom adds she needs to keep Lexi away from him too. Tom does dispatch Weaver to play bodyguard

Tom goes to lecture Pope – but Pope is shaking and half crying, he can’t face more death – he’s haunted and very much in PTSD from the devastation of the attack. Tom still declares “my family, my problem”. Um, when your family kills people and sides with the Espheni genocide aliens then, no, no no not “your problem.”

The Mason sons also have doubts about their sister the evil genocide fan, but Tom does not hear the words of others, he is Tom and he doesn’t not have to listen to such petty concerns of lesser people.

Tom is still going ahead with the mission to the moon. Cochise begs Tom to wait until he has contacted his father and have him provide Volm support (though he reveals that he and his dad are at odds over whether Earth is a lost cause) but since this is a plan that would leave Tom not being a Big Damn Hero there’s no way that’ll fly.

When Anne gets Lexi alone she at least shows she’s not entirely on the “yay Lexi camp” and is still very very very suspicious of her daughter. Lexi has to do a lot of work to regain their trust. She shows off her super powers which doesn’t really fill Anne with faith; but Lexi is sure her super powers can help them get the Beamer to the moon to destroy the Espheni power core. But Anne refuses – Lexi can’t be trusted and can’t stay with them. Lexi cries and Weaver decides he needs to intervene and call Tom and Anne into a meeting

Weaver convinces Anne that Lexi’s super powers could actually be super useful. Tom finally relents after much nagging and every named character lines up to tell Lexi how awful she is. Hal also slips Tom some super dangerous Volm poison just in case (hey, I hope the ship with the anti-volm features doesn’t notice that!)

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 8: Creatures of the Night

In the aftermath of the truly awful plan last week, Abraham decides now is the time to tell them that vampires that aren’t brand new are actually super fast and nearly impossible to hurt. This is probably information that would have been better delivered before hunting Eichorst, in my humble opinion. Anyway at least by hurting Eichorst (and they have since he limps away looking not happy) they’ve provoked the Master so… yay? We also have a SCIENCE reason why the vampires hate sunlight

Time for some breaking and entering in a medical supply warehouse (Nora has a brief moral quandary about burglary but hey, vampire hunters) and they run into Vasiliy. Vasiliy is the reason the alarms aren’t working, he’s also there for the UVC lights to burn vampires and briefly checks if there’s a reward for turning Ephraim in (there isn’t). Nora isn’t amused by Vasiliy’s taking all the lamps in case he needs spare; she negotiates out half and then she, Jim and Ephraim stock up on food and phones (having problems because the networks being down because MAGIC HACKERS stop the credit card machines working. Dutch, the Magic Hacker in question happens to be passing by and gives Nora money).

Nora also warns Ephraim about the trouble which will follow shortages which are surely on the way as the vampire problem gets worse – revealing some more of her past when she describes similar shortages in her youth.

Some vampires show up and Abraham reminds everyone that he’s lethal – and Vasiliy also gets in on the vampire killy action. A whole horde shows up, some random passers by get eaten and everyone tries to hold them off (why does Nora have to be told what to aim for? Whyy? Why does Ephraim know more than her?)  Thankfully the vampires are content to slowly shuffle towards them and not use their super-long tentacle tongues so it’s less a grand fight and more a shooting gallery. They very kindly only start moving quickly once everyone is barricaded in the shop. They then decide to just lurk outside the shop for “reinforcements” which means we can have a tense stand off for a rather implausible amount of time while the gang pretends to be fortified in a building with vast plate glass windows.

Jim is cut with a tentacle though so he’s probably turning, and Dutch the Magic Hacker is now hanging around with the group (of all the shops in New York…). Stereotype South Asian/Middle Eastern shop keeper is a stereotype, Dutch can’t seem to keep her hackiness a secret and Vasiliy and Abraham make friends. When one of the extras manages to run and isn’t chased they realise the vampires are not just hunting random victims. The Master is hunting them (what a surprise). The next extra to run gets eaten so Dutch decides to hang around.

Ephraim keeps doubting Abraham about the idea of the Master controlling the vampires. Abraham rests on his record of not being wrong. Ephraim’s also still pouty with Jim (Ephraim is a terrible manchild) but a UV lamp reveals Jim has a work from his cut – so it’s makeshift surgery with stuff they found in a shop time! And I thought Jimmy was as good as vampired!

The vampires, having politely left them alone for some time, now decide to cut the power to the shop (Abraham awesomely shoot son but is too late to stop the power going out).

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Witch with No Name (Hollows #13) by Kim Harrison

Cormel, Undead Master vampire, is finally tired of waiting for Rachel to discover how to preserve their souls after death. He wants results and he wants them now – or Ivy dies.

You’d think angry Master vampires would be enough for anyone to deal with – but the Dewar of the elves is forming their own plans – machinations that could have dire consequences not just for the vampires caught in their manipulations – but the future of magic itself.

Throw in Earthbound demons, pixies that can’t fly and the elven goddess coming back and gunning for Rachel and it feels like everything is collapsing at once – and only Rachel can put it together again.

This is the last of the Hollows Series and I’m not sure how to react to that

Actually, that’s a lie. I react to that by weeping inconsolably, running around the house babbling incomprehensibly in between screaming “WHYYYYYYYYYY?! at an uncaring sky before huddling in a corner, clutching my tablet and rocking back and forth, occasionally pleading with the universe for just one more book.

But that rather lacks dignity, it has to be said.

This book, the last book (NOOOOO), just makes all of that even worse! Because it is pretty much the perfect ending to the Hollows Saga, it draws upon so much that has made this series awesome ; it manages to both perfectly cap this awesome series and remind me how awesome this series is and how it CANNOT END! NOOOOO!

Ok, I’m trying to write a coherent review, I really am – but all I keep hearing is “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” repeating over and over in my head.

This story brings together this awesome world, bringing it back to its core and underscoring everything we’ve already learned – that basically nearly everything out there is a result of the Elves vs Demon conflict – the vampires and their lack of souls and their whole toxic society and culture, the weres, the witches, the curses on the elves and the demons, the ever-after, ley lines etc. I love how the power of this is shown through the eyes of those around Rachel – especially Trent and Al – we see that hatred that is saturated in their cultures but we also see the guilt; the awareness of the sheer atrocities both species have inflicted not just on each other but also on the world in general is really prevalent throughout the book.

Another constant reminder is just how broken their world actually is – how everything is pretty much wrong; like the undead vampires and their constant, normalised abuse, the FIB and their inability to enforce the law and the IS and their unwillingness to do so and so many other little hints.

Intruders, Season 1, Episode 2: Time Has Come Today

After Madison, apparently possessed by an adult man called Marcus, went wandering her mother is obviously distraught. Madison returns to herself in the middle of a Portland bus station, checking her pockets as memories of what she did while possessed come back – her reaching Portland, meeting a woman who welcomed her back and gave her a book (which has the cryptic forward “in the beginning there was death), a wadge of cash, a key and a ticket to Seattle.

She reads the book and it talks about living other lives, of her getting used to odd memories and the Cuiera Verde (very likely spelt wrong) and very cryptic and awesomely ominous lines about death –a and there being no such thing. Ominous crypticness interrupted by the attendant telling her she can’t get on the train without an accompanying adult. Marcus rises to the surface and snarls and threatens

Naturally Madison’s mother calls the police and her husband, Simon Madison’s father (the police, naturally, suspect him but she collapses in his arms). Their crying in each other’s arms is interrupted by the Nefarious Shepherd’s arrival, assuring them he will find their daughter. He asks lots of questions that make sense if you know she’s been possessed but otherwise sound deeply creepy and Madison’s parents quickly become suspicious. Rather than be kicked out he tells Simon about Alison cheating on him – for some bizarre reason he decides to believe Shepherd, a complete stranger he met seconds ago and storms out the house and she runs out after him. This didn’t actually further his investigation at all, I think Shepherd just likes being a bastard.

Alone in the house he searches it and finds a notebook with pages torn out, when he does a pencil rub on the indents he sees Marcus’s ominous warning “what goes around comes around.”

Shepherd goes to an address in Chinatown he asked the parents about – and which Madison visited. He breaks in and knocks aside a guy in his way to ask a woman where Madison went. Complete with violent threat – while she wants to know what Shepherd he’s done (9 year olds are unprecedented apparently) in and that the book was not prepared for Marcus Fox. She says “they” will kill them and Shepherd threatens to kill her anyway – and we have a fight scene with some random Asian man (martial arts, of course). Shepherd wins and kills the man – then the woman as she begs him not to.

He goes to the station to try and find Madison, but she runs out when he appears and hides from him (managing to look very ominous). Madison pays a bystander to take her to Seattle and reads the book – which talks about dying and returning

In Seattle, Jack is still looking for his wife, Amy, has gone to the office of Kerry, Crane and Hardy, the name of the company he found in her phone. He’s taken to see Todd Crane who clearly knows Jack but it looks like Jack doesn’t remember him (obviously pretending he does in one of those horrible awkward social moments); Todd claims that Amy hasn’t actually been in the office all week and more awkward with-each-seeming-to-suspect-the-other follows.

Cut to – flashback, flashforward? I’m not even sure. Anyway Jack wakes up next to Amy who has an odd dream that involves lots of fondling her own arms before waking up and speaking another language - Russian? She wakes up – but refers to herself in the third person and says that line that keeps coming up “in the beginning there was death.”