Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nominations for the Urban Fantasy Awards 2015

The Fangs for the Fantasy Urban Fantasy Awards 2015 are gathering up nominations for this year’s Golden Fangs (and Dread Fanpoodles). So far we’ve had several suggestions that we’re compiling but there’s still time for you to nominate the deserving!

To ensure as many people can pass on their ideas as possible, we’re be listening to suggestions emailed to us (, sent to us through Tumblr, Goodreads, Librarything, Booklikes,Twitter, Facebook, the comments section and carrier pigeon.

Nominations for Golden Fangs!

Best New Series of the Year

Best Indie Book

Most Original Monster

Most Original Concept

Best Vampire

Best wereanimal

Best Fae

Best Magic-user

Funniest Series

Most Inclusive Series

Best Protagonist

Best book/series with a Female Protagonist

Best book/series with POC Protagonist

Best Book/series with LGBTQ protagonist

Best Book/Series with Disabled protagonist

Best non-western setting

Best Dystopian Series

Best Steampunk

Best Series that ended

Lifetime Achievement Award

Nominations for Dread Fanpoodles!

Most Blatant Token!

Most Awful Stereotype

Most Convoluted Romance

Most Ridiculous Erasure

Spunkiest Agent

Most Unintentionally Hilarious sex scene

Must Pungently Violet of Purple Prose

Series That Most Reduces Your Faith In the Human Race

Resurrection, Season Two, Episode Twelve: Steal Away

It's dawn in Arcadia and slowly, one by one, the Returned get out of bed and make their way down the street.  They end up gathering in front of  Twain's staring up at Rachel's apartment.  Maggie is the first to notice something is wrong, when she discovers that Bellamy and Jenny are missing.  At the government compound, Randy informs Angela that the Returned are not responsive.  When Angela heads into the common room, she finds that all of the Returned are standing in a group, silent, looking out the window - presumably in the direction of Twain's.

Fred arrives at the scene of the Arcadia Returned gathering and meets with Maggie.  Inside, Rachel is awakes after a restless sleep due to contractions.  Rachel heads to the window and looks at the gathering.  Finally, after being unable to get the attention of the Returned, Fred fires his service weapon in the air and they all come awake.  The Returned are shocked to find themselves in the middle of the street.

Preacher makes his way into the bar and Jacob stops him to ask how the Returned ended up in the middle of the street.  Preacher James promises that he is going to get answers.  Jacob wonders if his grandmother felt the pull in the institution and tells James that Margaret was sent there after she made his aunt Barbara go away.  James is shocked to hear this and Jacob confirms that Barbara was one of the Returned.  Preacher then makes his way upstairs to Rachel's room, where Rachel, Maggie, Fred, and Bellamy are gathered.  When Bellamy opens the door, James notices the flower at Rachel's bedside table. James is invited in and James questions what happened. Rachel explains that she was sleeping and woke up with a contraction, to see everyone standing outside the window.  Rachel adds that this has never happened before.  James puts on the southern charm and Rachel reveals that she Returned already pregnant.  When Rachel experiences another contraction, James tells her to stay strong and leaves.  Maggie tells Rachel that they should head to the clinic.

Downstairs, James points out to Bellamy that the flower in Rachel's room is the same as the one they saw in the field. Bellamy asks what James thinks is going on and James simply says that they are all connected and that everyone has a role to play. Bellamy responds that they need to figure out what Rachel's role is.

When next we see James, he is covered in sweat, praying at Tom's former church.  James begins to see visions in a flash. He  sees the flower again, locusts and Rachel in labour. Once the visions are done, he looks upwards, promising God that he will not fail him, adding that it is going to be difficult.  When James collapses, the tree on his back is clearly visible.

At the Langston's, Lucille and Henry watch and Jenny and Jacob playing on the porch through the window.  When James arrives, Jenny is quick to rush over and embrace the Preacher. Lucille and Fred welcome James into their home, where they talk about the gathering of the Returned.  James asks about Barbara's disappearance and why it happened.  Henry says that in Margaret's mind, she probably thought that she was protecting Fred.  James then suggests that since a son should not be estranged from his mother that he is willing to offer his services as a councilor.   Henry is not at all open to this idea and declares that he is finished with Margaret, before leaving the room.  James apologises for prying.

At the government institution,  Robin approaches Margaret and says that this morning was scary.  Robin reveals that the government is doing tests on the Returned.  Robin starts to break down and cry about her fear of needles.  Margaret tries to comfort Robin, saying that she is sure the government wouldn't hurt them.  Randy enters the room and calls out for Robin and Margaret intervenes to ask why Robin is needed.  Randy demands to be allowed to do his job but Margaret tells Randy that he doesn't have to worry about her but the rest of the Returned.  Margaret points out that the Returned are human beings and have rights.  Randy tries to assure Margaret that this is not what this is about and Margaret turns around and asks the Returned, if she is the only one who wants to know why they are being taken away.  This catches the attention of the Returned and they all mutter in support. Margaret advises Randy to find Angela and have her inform them what the tests are for.  When Margaret says that they Returned have a right to know, the Returned become even more agitated.  Randy turns on his heel and leaves and the room breaks out in applause.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 11: Woke the Monster

Due to the entire cast having the collective intelligence of a particularly stupid slime mold, Kai is now super-powerful. Let us hope he slaughters a considerable amount of the population and increases the collective intelligence of humanity.

Of course, one of the first things super-Kai did was kidnap Elena because everyone’s life must revolve around Elena. Kai babbles a while about how his gushing fonts of magic (not a euphemism) are worrisomely hard to control and may make the merge thing with Jo go all wrong and he needs to learn control using Elena because Elena is the centre of everything. It is known. He also likes cloaking corpses which I admit is a pretty hilarious prank (yes I’m laughing at a brutal murder; don’t try to moral outrage me, this is the Vampire Diaries, absolutely nothing Kai does even approaches Damon or Stefan or Enzo’s body counts).

Stefan wakes up to find that his house has been pretty much colonised. On the plus side, this means half-naked Jeremy in the morning, on the minus side it means Jo and Liv wrecking the place practicing magic. Anyway this is all happening because Damon has the guilt weasels (shit, Damon opens up his house when he feels guilty? That man is going to have to buy a housing estate!). This whole plan is for Liv to train Jo – who hasn’t used magic in decades – to be competent enough to defeat Kai

Damon is camped in Sheriff Liz’s hospital room making happy talk (she has been diagnosed with magical cure proof cancer). Caroline is, naturally, fussing and Liz is refusing vampire blood treatment. Damon agrees with Stefan that if vampire blood worked, they’d have heard of it

Taking Liz home there’s lots of pretty well done angst and emotion form Caroline about Liz and Stefan facing human mortality in a form other than randomly dead broken necked people. Stefan agrees to give Caroline a lift to a super-skilled oncologist and then ditches her so he can finally remember to care about his long lost niece Sarah Nelson (who was once Salvatore). And Enzo has joined him because Enzo literally has absolutely nothing else to do in his entire life other than obsess over Stefan. This also completely invalidates any point in Monique, fake-Sarah, dying.

While Stefan goes to join Caroline, Enzo stays at the gallery to creepily obsess over Sarah.

Caroline sees her expert and compels her to be completely honest… which means the truth she gets back is utterly brutal. She even violates a dying Black man’s privacy for more info. After checking he has no next of kin, she uses vampire blood on him (which Damon had earlier termed “experimental”)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Second Daughter (The Dharian Affairs Trilogy #2) by Susan Kaye Quinn

Aniri is back in Jungali with Prince Malik.  Now that things have settled down a little though the threat of war with Samir looms large, Aniri now has time to wonder if she has rushed into her engagement with the handsome prince.  Aniri has good reason to doubt given that her last affair with the courtesan Deevish ended in betrayal. Aniri barely has a change to deal with her jitters before she is notified that an assassination attempt has been made on her sister, the second daughter of Dahria, Selderi.  Though Malik desperately wants Aniri to marry him first to cement both their relationship and the treaty between their two nations, Aniri is compelled to rush to her sister's side.  Aniri's trip to Samaria will reveal a long standing family mystery but at the same time, push her country closer to war, even as it threatens her marriage to Malik.

The Dharian Affairs Trilogy is rare in that it is a steampunk series based outside of Europe, with a large cast of people of colour.  Quinn takes great care to fill her story with a strong sense of culture and India.  Her descriptive writing is vivid, thus making it easy to picture the surroundings and get swept away with them.  With the potential of war looming in the future it raises the tension in Second Daughter. I must however admit that I am not as enamored with Second Daughter, as I was with Third DaughterThird Daughter is very slow moving at the beginning and it feels very much like it is treading water.  While it is absolutely sensible for Aniri to doubt herself, in terms of her love for Malik, it took up far too much of the story given what was at stake.

Aniri continues to be filled with spunky agency.  She never thinks things through, or has a coherent plan; she simply moves from one bad situation to another, justifying her lack of forethought by the fact that those she loves are in danger.  Some of this can be justified by Aniri's youth but at the same time, I feel as though she should have grown more, given the events of Third Daughter, beyond the notion that rushing into an unbreakable marriage contract without forethought could have consequences. I do however like the fact that Aniri remains intellectually curious and is unafraid to face danger, even if common sense should at least cause her to pause momentarily.

The 100, Season Two, Episode Nine: Remember Me

Clarke cries tries to scrub Finn's blood off of her hands.  Abby enters and tries to comfort Clarke and Clarke says repeatedly that she had to.  Gustus enters the tent and says that the commander is ready to talk and he is quickly followed by Lexa and Indra.  Lexa makes it clear that though blood has answered blood, some on her side feel that this is not enough because Finn didn't suffer as their tradition demands.  Lexa says that she pacified her people by pointing out that Clarke's suffering will be more than enough because Clarke's actions will haunt her for the rest of her life.

The plan is for Finn's body to be delivered to the tribe of the 18 slaughtered.  Marcus feels that the Grounders have done enough and that Finn should be buried by his own people.  Of course, Indra has to jump in and say that the sky people have not done enough and that they deserve justice.  Abby tells Indra that what she wants is not justice but vengeance, causing Indra to snap that the Sky People have not seen what her vengeance looks like.   It's Clarke who stops the argument by agreeing to Lexa and Indra's demands, adding that when it's over, they have to discuss how to get all of their people out of Mt. Weather.  When Lexa and Indra leave, Abby tells Clarke that she doesn't have to do this but Clarke makes it clear that if the truce doesn't hold, then she killed Finn for nothing.

When Clarke leaves, Marcus tells Abby that Clarke is right because this is the only way they will ever achieve peace.  Abby asserts that the Grounders don't know what peace is and are being led by a child.  Marcus points out that they are being led by a child as well.

Outside, Clarke approaches Raven, who is kneeling by Finn's dead body.  Clarke tries to apologise but Raven tells her to go away.  Clarke acknoweldges that this must be hard for Raven but informs Raven that she is leaving with the Grounders and that Raven needs to continue her work on the communications.  While the backs of the two women are turned, the Grounders try to take Finn away, which causes Raven to get more upset.  Clarke explains that Finn is being taken to the village where the massacre took place because it's the only way to get their people out of Mt. Weather.  Raven tells Clarke that she is coming as well and promises to bring her damn radio.  Clarke watches, as Finn's body is picked up but as they take Finn away, he opens his eyes and appears to be staring directly at her.

At Mr. Weather, the Arc people are gathered and are discussing their failure to find Clarke. Nathan is not pleased with Maya's presence and when he objects, Jasper declares that Maya is risking more than any of them.  Nathan questions if Maya is going to end up in a kennel as well, if she gets caught.  Quick question, how does Miller know about the kennels? Monty reveals an antenna that he has found and suggests that if they can access it, they can send a message on the arc wide channel.  Maya tells them that the only radio is on the highly restricted area of level seven.  Monty adds that they don't need the radio but the wires which run into it.  As Monty starts to list what they will need, the task seems insurmountable. 

Clarke is leading people through the woods and she keeps getting visions of Finn.  Bellamy tells Clarke that she did the right thing.  They argue briefly about whether or not the truce is a good idea. Bellamy believes that what they need is an inside man and argues that if Clarke can make it out, he can make it in.  Clarke is adamant that this is not going to happen, so Bellamy tells Clarke that since he doesn't take orders from her, he is going to need a better reason.  Clarke tells Bellamy that she cannot lose him as well.

Gustus and Lexa talk about the alliance they formed with the sky people and Lexa's safety.  Lexa simply tells Gustus to do his job and protect her and that all alliances mean some sort of risk.

At Mt. Weather, Cage is looking at security footage. He learns that the Grounders didn't attack the Arc.  Cage questions if an alliance has been made.  It is suggested that the alliance should be broken, so that the Arc people and the Grounders will kill each other and forgo coming to Mt. Weather to take their people back.  Cage says that no matter how many men they have, no one is getting through their defenses, adding nothing is going to stop them from getting to the ground. 

The Grounders and the Arc people have made camp for the night.  When Clarke lies down near the Grounders, Bellamy suggests that it is safer on the Arc side of the camp, causing Clarke to say that there are no more sides. 

Marcus sits down with Abby saying that they need to talk about Jaha.  Abby snarks about shock lashing him Jaha and Marcus suggests a pardon.  Marcus looks at Clarke and says that she is a survivor.  

Lincoln walks through the camp and as Indra passes near, she calls him a traitor.  Lincoln makes his way to Olivia and tells her that he is being called a traitor and that people are afraid of him.  Olivia suggests that Lincoln can talk to her about what happened but Lincoln believes that he cannot.  The two kiss.

Clarke wakes suddenly from her sleep and we get a vision of Finn lying behind her.

The coalition of Grounders and Arc people have made their way to a Grounder camp.  The Grounders demand that everyone disarm themselves before they enter.  Gutus takes special care to disarm Raven who it seems is loaded for bear. There are cries of welcome back commander and death to the Sky people when they enter the tribe.  When one of the tribesman declares that the sky people killed his son and are not welcome in the village, Lexa nods at Gustus who then attacks the man. Clarke begs Lexa to stop the beating, citing that the sky people will be blamed for this as well.  Lexa calls off Gustus and tells the people that the sky people march with them now and that anyone who tries to stop that will pay with their life. 

The crew has started work on their plan.  Miller is still not impressed with Maya and she tells him that he doesn't have to like her but she is helping them.  When the alarm goes off, Miller hammers  the walls to get at the radio wire.

American Horror Story, Season 4, Episode 13: Curtain Call

The performers aren’t exactly thrilled with Dandy’s take over of the show but, as Paul says, they don’t have many options and Dandy is rich. Dandy is, predictably, awful, entitled and insulting to everyone because he’s Dandy. Which gets him smacked to the floor and a solid dose of reality dropped on him. Paul announces that they quit.

And Dandy gets a gun and massacres the majority of the cast except Desiree (who hides) and Jimmy (who wasn’t there) and Bette and Dot (who he kidnaps). Well that was dramatic and abrupt. Jimmy returns to find all the bodies and does what he’s done the entire season – despair. I can’t even feel sad for him any more, even he must be getting bored of dramatic despair moments.

He and Desiree cry together (she is much better at selling grief).

Bette and Dot marry Dandy and it’s all pretty and twee as the twins tell him everything he wants to hear. Dandy is very very terrible, but that’s ok because his wine is poisonous – Desiree is hiding as the maid (awww c’mon, what is this compulsion to put Black women in maid outfits?). With him all woozy (and shot in the arm). Jimmy joins them as the butler.

They take the drugged Dandy and put him in  big glass box (an escape artists box) while he continues to try and excuse himself and the twins, Desiree and Jimmy say what a terrible person he is. We get the usual unsubtle message that Dandy, for all his prettiness, is the biggest freak of them all. They watch as Dandy drowns

Elsa, meanwhile, is trying to get in to see a big television bigwig and after a week of solidly waiting in the waiting room and not getting past the secretary she ends up being accosted by a security guard and collapsing in tears. An important bigwig, Michael Beck, takes pity on her.

Forward to 1960 and Elsa Mars is now a super star who married Michael Beck. Of course, she’s still very difficult to work with – even when shooting an advert for coffee. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of love between her and hubby either – she has kept one rule from her Freak Show days; she will not perform on Halowe’en.

At home she meets with Massimo who she looks upon with far more affection; he notes she has everything she ever wanted but she says she’s bored and alone. She has no true friends, just sycophants and no love for her husband. She suggests running off with him – even begs – but he is now terminally ill.

Later and after much drinking, Michael brings in uber big-wig Gable who has disturbing news. Firstly, that a paper has the footage of Elsa losing her legs in the attempted snuff film – which causes Michael to pack and leave and Elsa to declare she will be ruined (for being a victim – but absolutely no-one points out the injustice of this). They also traced her back to the Freak Show – and tell her everyone there is dead in a massacre. And their dropping her using the “morals” clause of the contract (again, her victimisation and associating with the “freaks” is considered “immortal” but not challaenged.) Elsa changes her mind – and agrees to do the Halowe’en show.

The Problems with LGBT Characters on American Horror Story: Freak Show

American Horror Story: Freak Show has a large number of LGBT characters, probably more than any show we’re watching at the moment (Lost Girl is the only show that matches it in terms of raw numbers).

And they all die. Pretty much all of them are brutally murdered. Not only were each of these characters killed, but their deaths are nearly always linked or related to their sexuality. In addition, any character who lasts more than a few episodes is so cringe-inducingly awful, so utterly and completely evil beyond any kind of development or redemption that we’re positively cheering their demise. It’s a relief - a celebration even - when each of these gay characters were murdered.

This portrayal is, frankly, awful.

This is usually the point where the history excuse will be trotted out. These were different times, homophobia was more overt, tolerance far lower, etc etc.  Indeed, the press for the show itself has suggested it provided a level of insight into what it was like to be gay in the 1950s and living in this toxic homophobic atmosphere.

I never knew being closeted would force gay men to strangle 2 foot tall Indian women and sell their bodies for display.

Needless to say, I’m not impressed with this excuse. Of course, we shouldn’t gloss over homophobia or any prejudice - both historical and present. It would be insulting and offensive to pretend this period wasn’t even more saturated in toxic homophobia than today and highly disrespectful to discount the persecution of the time period.

But nor should we revel in it or perpetuate it. It is possible to depict homophobia (or any prejudice) harshly, starkly and in all of it’s full awfulness while equally depicting it as wrong. Showing unacceptable injustices of the past is not only understandable, it is desirable - but we must also make it clear that they ARE unacceptable and they ARE injustices. Mere depiction with a hand wave of “history” ignores the toll these prejudices took (and take) on their victims; they rob these atrocities of their horror and add to the depiction of them as acceptable; especially since these prejudices and attitudes are far from dead. Many viewers may think that merely seeing homophobic prejudice is an inherent depiction of how wrong homophobia is - but they have lived charmed lives not to have seen the same attitudes parroted and the same abuse championed around us to this day.

Prejudice cannot be merely depicted, it must be challenged.

Ironically, a good example of how this can be done is shown by American Horror Story: Asylum. The treatment of Lana in the asylum was agonisingly painful to watch - so painful and real that I often couldn’t stand to watch an entire episode at a time. But it was equally clear that the treatment was wrong, that the torturous conversion therapy was a sickening, gross act of abuse and that Lana was being victimised. More, Lana herself was highly sympathetic, developed and clearly someone we were meant to be championing - in many ways she was the protagonist of the season, as much as Kit, or Sister Jude (insofar as this show has protagonists). The depiction wasn’t perfect but it was an excellent presentation of historical homophobia - and an excellent challenge of it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Astounding Antagonists by Rafael Chandler

At the urging of his alien partner in crime, Helen Damnation, Dr. Argon is putting together a supervillain team to pull off the ultimate crime – the destruction of Helen’s space station to keep it out of the hands of super heroes.

If they pull it off, the world will be free – if not, the heroes will have unprecedented power to impose their vision on the world – a vision garnered from their ivory towers that cares little for the people who are disposed of out of their view.

This book hit all the right notes for me and it’s actually taken me a while to try and find the way to explain just how excellent this book was. I’m struggling because I really don’t know how to truly explain this book without spoiling it.

While there are certainly many elements of the Superhero genre that are willing to go dark, to espouse an anti-hero and even flirt with the ideas of oppression and superheroes being on the wrong side, I don’t think any book I’ve come across has gone as far, as dark or as brutally critical as this one

Rather than aiming for typical castings of good and evil, this book is cruelly scathing on what we ACTUALLY consider good and how that would reflect on superheroes in our world. So we have superheroes with their millionaire secret identities (playboy, genius, scientists) and they have vast, multi-national companies… But vast, multinational companies are responsible for all kinds of abuses – employee rights, pollution, raiding developing nations, having vast influence over governments – how much more so would this be if they were headed by beings with super-powers and the unquestionable support of the populace.

Historic heroes from the US’s Cold War past are still around, champions of the American Way – but super hero comics have used heroes to combat all kinds of real world issues – especially during World War 2 and the Cold War. What is the actual implication of super-powerful beings being involved in a lot of proxy cold-wars, regime changes and a myriad of other actions in the name of fighting communism and/or terrorism? There’s even a superhero slaughtering undocumented migrants along the US/Mexico border.

And, of course, in a world with actual super-villains issues like “due process” and “enhanced interrogation” are much more dire – if “terrorism” has us excusing torture and detention without trial, what would be our reaction to super-powered villains?

In short, the superheroes, the paragons of law and order pretty much do exactly what I would cynically expect paragons of “law and order” to actually do. It’s corrupt, it’s brutal and it’s all the abuses that the powerful can inflict to maintain that power and the system writ large. Especially since the most common way of becoming super heroes, the Prisms, are tightly policed by the superheroes and American government themselves furthering their power and control by controlling this vital new resource. Many of these superheroes are obvious excellent parallels with major DC or Marvel characters

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 10: The Hunter Games

Crowley has a nasty stabby nightmare and is comforted by his mother, Rowena. Crowley seems to have become a puddle this season – remember when he was the big bad? She tries to be super saccharine and Crowley rejects her (with an unnecessary “bitch” thrown in). It seems it’s probably her magic driving him to nightmares.

She keeps trying to play the doting mother to Crowley and he continues to not buy it (though we do see Crowley rather foolishly willing to sign anything his lackey Guthrie tells him to) since she’d abandoned him for 300 years.

At the Winchester cave, Dean is staring into space and having major demon issues since the Mark took over again last episode.

Castiel has joined them at the cave though he’s concerned about the ongoing problems with his host’s daughter, Claire. They both also think Dean was way out of line last episode but hurriedly fall silent when he arrives- but he agrees with them. It was a completely unnecessary massacre (personally, I’m of the belief that it was a quite acceptable massacre given the givens, but also that Dean being one trigger away from random massacres is a bad thing) and he wants rid of the Mark.

Which is easier said than done – the only source that may contain the information to remove it is the Demon Tablet. Which they don’t have.

What Heaven has is the one who transcribed the tablets. Oh this is a bad idea – yes, Castiel gets fellow angel Ingrid to bring him Metatron who they lock up in the Winchester cave and catch up on Dean being all marky and dangerous.

Metatron is immensely smug and very annoying and Dean threatens lots of brutal violence. But he does promise to help-  but they’ll need the First Blade.

Sam is not a fan of bringing the blade anywhere remotely close to Dean since he just unleashed a massacre without it. He argues with Dean who, both worryingly and sensibly, points out that if they weren’t going to try what Metratron suggests, why bother? So they call Crowley (which means he leaves Rowena unattended to work magical mayhem to spy on the whole conversation)

Crowley does not want to bring the blade back because Dean + first Blade = dead demons and dead him. Sam and Dean, for some reason, argue for a lower bodycount (is Crowley supposed to care?) and that removing the Mark forever means that threat is gone forever (better excuse) and he reveals where the blade is – stashed with his bones, in Guam.

Rowena plots to use this knowledge in ways that will not end well. When Crowley goes to get the Blade, it has already been taken.

Cover review 12th January - 16th January

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel #1) by Jacqueline Carey

Behold the patented Crouch into Battle. The classic female action pose involves kneeling. I have no idea why, there is no way this can be useful; but the crouch comes up again and again

Other than that I like it - in a generic “let’s use woo-woo lines instead of background” sense. It’s pretty, it’s pretty clear about what it is - and I like it even if it’s not especially distinctive.

Strange Magic (Yancy Lazarus #1) by James A Hunter

I’m going to have a completely shallow moment and just pause and say “yummy” and maybe “unf…”

Having put my shallowness aside and I have to say the clothing and smoking gives just the nicest sense of bad-boy without TRYING too hard. It isn’t over the top, it’s just nicely conveyed and hinted at.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sleepy Hollow, Season Two, Episode Thirteen: Pittura Infamante

Grant Hollister is restoring a painting and when he turns his head, the painting starts to bleed blood.  Grant frantically tries to stop the bleeding and as suddenly as it began, the bleeding stops, leaving no trace at all that it happened.

A nervous Ichabod is getting ready for a date with Katrina (yes, roll your eyes) and he complains about not understanding the modern business casual look.  Abbie suggests staying in, pointing out that a night out isn't going to fix what happened and that Katrina has done things to effect their team.  However, Sleepy Hollow is #Cranewrecked so the date must go on. Ichabod however believes that he and Katrina owe it to each other to see who they are to each other in these modern times and says that tonight isn't about the team.  When it is ever about the team? All he has done is continually make excuses for Katrina's inexcusable decisions and action.  It seems that Crane plans to take Katrina to an event at the historical society featuring the Adams family.  Ichabod reveals that the Adams' were more Katrina's friends than his and that Katrina delivered all five of their children. Is there anyone in pre-revolutionary America that Ichabod didn't know.

At the event, Ichabod and Katrina look at the painting that Hollister was working on and Katrina says that she has no memory of it in the Adams home.  They start to move on with the tour of the Adams' affects when they are joined by Hollister, whose fingertips are still red.  Hollister asks for a moment to speak with Ichabod. Hollister asks if Ichabod believes in spirits and brings up Sleepy Hollow's unusual history.  Before Ichabod can answer, Hollister is pulled away by Miller, who wants to know about the cracks in the frame of the painting.

In the meantime, Katrina has a recollection of Abagail Adams.  When someone touches the painting, Katrina has a dizzy spell.  Ichabod quickly rushes to steady Katrina, who says that she felt an evil presence.  Ichabod suggests that they both keep their eyes open, because Grant has also felt the presence of evil.

Abbie is at work at the station looking through her family journal, when Irving arrives at the station.  Frank is immediately placed in handcuffs and taken away, as a stunned Abbie looks on.

Ichabod and Katrina are now seated at the Adams' table and Katrina expresses sadness for not getting the chance to say goodbye to her friend Abagail Adams. Ichabod comforts Katrina by saying that he experienced this sense of loss himself, adding that they must try to make their way in the present once again.  Katrina says that she feels that these memories have a purpose.  Suddenly, there's a scream and when the tour group check it out, they find Grant dead and hanging by his feet.

Abbie calls Crane to inform him that Frank is alive.  Crane is shocked, pointing out that they saw Frank die on the battlefield and Abbie responds that they saw Frank die but no one else did. Now everyone thinks that Frank is a cop killer who has been in hiding. Crane believes that this is Henry's work and that Frank has been brought back in a fashion similar to Andy Brooks.  They then talk about Grant and Abby believes that there is a connection between Frank returning and Grant dying.  Abbie warns that Reyes is going to arrive shortly to start investigating and so, she suggests that Crane start investigating fast. Crane reveals that Katrina felt a dark presence at the dinner.

Katrina stares at the body and gets a vision of a tarot card with a figure in the same position as which Grant's body is hanging.  Reyes makes her way over to Katrina and is surprised to learn Katrina is Ichabod's wife, commenting that Crane never mentioned Katrina. Reyes asks Katrina and Ichabod to stick around until they wrap things up because Ichabod's aid could be valuable. When Reyes leaves, Ichabod approaches, telling Katrina that what happened to Grant is a specific ritual meant to invoke the hanged man.  Once again, we get an image of the tarot card. Katrina is surprised to learn that Ichabod has been reading the tarot and reveals that the hanged man represents trouble.  Katrina says that Grant's death is similar to a series of deaths which happened in 1781. Why am I not surprised?

Katrina reveals that she learned the secrets of the case from Abigail Adams.  It seems that the carotid artery had been targeted and Abigail believed that the culprit had a medical background. When Crane suggests that they are dealing with the same sort of threat, unsurprisingly, Katrina says it's a threat she was powerless to stop back then, suggesting that Crane should call on  Abbie for assistance.  Crane declares instead that they should work together on this because of the usefulness of Katrina's memories. Crane should call back up right now because Katrina does not have a history of being good at anything besides tipping off the enemy.

Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

Trigger Warning for discussions of child abuse, IPV, and rape.

Claire and Frank Randall head to Scotland to reacquaint themselves with each other after a six year separation, due to Claire's work as a combat nurse during WWII.  Frank uses this time to research his family history and though Claire is supportive, she's not necessarily interested in the role that Frank's ancestor played in the Jackobite uprising.  Clarie finds herself at the stone circle at Craigh na Dun and when she touches the cleft rock, Claire's life takes a turn she could never have imagined.

When Claire regains consciousness, she finds herself 200 years in the past but before she can make sense of what happened, Claire finds herself in a confrontation is Black Jack Randall, the 6x grandfather of her husband.  Thankfully for Claire, a group of highlanders come along and rescue her before she can be raped.  The problem is that the highlanders take Claire away from the stones she needs to stay near to, in order to return to her own time.  Caught up in the upcoming uprising, clan politics and the tyranny of Black Jack Randall, Claire has only her wits to protect herself with.

Essentially, Outlander is a historical fantasy/romance novel.  As much as the novel concerns itself with Claire learning how to live 200 years in the past, it is also about her relationship with Jamie Fraser, the man she is forced into marrying.  Claire is a really strong protagonist, who never fears saying exactly what she is thinking or feeling for that matter.  This gets her into some trouble at times, as of course, gender dynamics in the 1700's, are extremely patriarchal and rigid.  The highlanders are highly suspicious of Claire, who they fear to be an English spy and Claire must spend her time trying to convince them that she is not working for the crown, even as she hides the truth of her identity from them.

As the story continues, Claire's marriage of convenience to Jamie, turns into love and is she troubled by the fact that she has a husband - Frank Randall waiting and worrying about her 1945.   Many of the other female characters in this novel are very strong and outspoken, particularly Jenny, Jamie's sister.  Jenny refuses to be bullied by anyone and stands toe to toe with her older brother when he tries to shame her because he believes that she is a rape victim. Instead, Jenny laughs at her would be rapist and fights back to the best of her ability.
“I laughed. I mean—” Her eyes met her brother’s with some defiance. “I kent well enough how a man’s made. I’d seen you naked often enough, and Willy and Ian as well. But he—” A tiny smile appeared on her lips, despite her apparent efforts to suppress it. He looked so funny, all red in the face, and rubbing himself so frantic, and yet still only half—”

There was a choked sound from Ian, and she bit her lip, but went on bravely.

“He didna like it when I laughed, and I could see it, so I laughed some more. That’s when he lunged at me and tore my dress half off me. I smacked him in the face, and he struck me across the jaw, hard enough to make me see stars. Then he grunted a bit, as though that pleased him, and started to climb onto the bed wi’ me. I had just about sense enough left to laugh again. I struggled up onto my knees, and I—I taunted him. I told him I kent he was no a real man, and couldna manage wi’ a woman. I—”

She bent her head still further, so the dark curls swung down past her flaming cheeks. Her words were very low, almost a whisper.“I…spread the pieces of my gown apart, and I…taunted him wi’ my breasts. I told him I knew he was afraid o’ me, because he wasna fit to touch a woman, but only to sport wi’ beasts and young lads…”

“Jenny,” said Jamie, shaking his head helplessly.

Her head came up to look at him. “Weel, I did then,” she said. “It was all I could think of, and I could see that he was fair off his head, but it was plain too that he…couldn’t. And I stared right at his breeches and I laughed again. And then he got his hands round my throat, throttling me, and I cracked my head against the bedpost, and…and when I woke he’d gone, and you wi’ him.” (pg 540- 541)
When Jamie is kidnapped, even after just giving birth to a baby, Jenny is not afraid to go on a rescue mission to save her brother.  Then you have Mrs. Fitz who runs her kitchen with an iron hand and shows Claire the ropes somewhat.  Mrs.Fitz is unafraid to stand up to himself (the Laird), when she believes that Claire is in danger after a report of a witch trial in town.  The women of Outlander are not above scheming if they must, or even playing on the gender roles that they have been given in order to get their way. Even Geille whose life ends horribly manages to outsmart her husband and murder him.

The Originals, Season Two, Episode Ten: Gonna Set Your Flag on Fire

The Originals starts with an opening montage reminding the viewers of where the series left off at the Xmas break.  Elijah and Hayley share a moment of domestic bliss, until it becomes infused with their sexual attraction.  Rebekah is trapped in the body of a witch inside a house. Finn/Vincent is caring for his wounds before being discovered by Michael.  Esther is in the cellar struggling to resist the temptation of a bag of blood, after being turned into a vampire and Kol kisses Davina in celebration for imprisoning Rebekah.

Klaus delivers Cami to the house where Elijah and Hayley are staying because she is worried that having back stabbed Finn, he will want to seek his revenge. Hayley exits the house holding onto Hope and Cami is in a complete state of shock.  Klaus makes it clear that Cami must keep the secret that Hope is alive. Inside the house, Cami, Elijah, and Klaus, plot a plan to move forward.  Since Elijah is still dealing with the guilt that Esther released, he will stay at the house with Cami, while Klaus and Hayley return to the city to deal with Finn. Elijah is not at all thrilled at being sidelined and so Klaus snarks that Cami has a talent for helping people dealing with issues and that perhaps, Elijah should seek counseling.  Klaus stands, and suggests that Rebekah should be arriving at the house shortly because she should have woken up in the body of Angelica already. Rebekah is in fact strapped to a bed and is being force fed medication by a warlock.

An angry Finn is working on a spell and Michael informs him that Esther's mistake was her belief that there was anything left in the Mikaelson siblings worth saving. Michael suggests to Finn that together they can both defeat Finn's siblings.  Michael lays it on thick by putting his hand on Finn's shoulder and referring to him as his son. Finn says that he is happy to hear Michael say this because Michael is a powerful man.  Does anyone else get the feeling that this is not going to end well?

Hayley has arrived at the vampire compound in the city and finds Jackson waiting for her.  Jackson snarks about not being insecure because after his proposal of marriage to Hayley, she accepted, then promptly disappeared for three days.  Hayley is ready to get things underway, so Jackson says that they have to do the ceremony by the book, which includes trials and a devotion ceremony.  Hayley is disturbed by the intimacy and Jackson reminds her that this is about a marriage and says that he is looking forward to getting to know Hayley.  They are interrupted by the arrival of Marcel, Aidan and the rest of the other influential wolves. However, Marcel also bring along his vampires.

Rebekah wakes and meets Cassie, who is the only who believes that Rebekah is who she says she is because Esther at one time had taken over her body.  Rebekah asks how to break out of the house and Cassie says that once you're in, there's no getting out, unless of course you are dead.

Kol is still gloating when Klaus makes his appearance.  Klaus presents Kol with a bottle of booze in celebration but Kol doesn't get to open it because it explodes when Finn enters the room looking for Esther. The two brothers snark about how Finn looks ill and tell Finn not to worry because Esther is tucked away safely.  Finn suggests that Klaus's arrogance will not last because he has not won.

Marcel announces that he is willing to stand with the werewolves against the witches and in return, he asks that there be peace between them after the wedding.  The wolves are not immediately receptive because Marcel is the one who spent the last 100 years oppressing them.  Marcel suggests that this is precisely why the wolves should listen to him.  Finn makes his appearance, cutting short negotiations suggesting that the only things which can exist between the vampires and the werewolves are hatred, war and death.  Finn then touches the walls and sets off a spell causing the room to shake.  Hayley reaches forward trying to grab Finn but her hand is burnt by some sort of forcefield. Finn makes his exit, saying that when the two sides spend time confined together, they will see things as he does.

Klaus and Kol realise that they are all trapped inside the compound.  Klaus tells Kol that this is his job to handle since he is a witch.  Klaus reminds Kol that he can handle the wait but Kol on the other hand might suddenly appear to be appetizing to some of their fellow prisoners. Kol says that he is going to need some help.

Gia and Marcel meet and he says that the wolves are checking the house to see if Finn possibly left an opening for escape.  Gia asks Marcel if he can control Jerrick's attitude but Marcel says that Gia is to stop her tough girl routine because the wolves have a long list of reasons to hate the vampires. Gia apologises and Marcel asks her to make sure none of the other vampires start looking for trouble.  When Gia leaves, Hayley enters.  Marcel pulls out a bottle of booze and suggests that they all drink and blow off a little steam.

Elijah keeps trying to get a hold of Rebekah.  Cami pulls out a bottle of booze and Elijah snarks about her wanting to get him drunk so that he will bare his damaged soul.  I gotta say, I like this snarky Elijah.  Cami suggests that Esther really ran a number on the brothers and adds that Elijah didn't consider for one moment that she is interested in forgetting her problems and not fixing his.  Cami tries to initiate a board game but Elijah is still not interested. Elijah then asks how Hayley is doing and brings up the fact that Elijah and Hayley seemed close. Instead of answering Cami's question about Hayley, he answers her trivia question about Don Quixote.

Klaus is now questioning Hayley about Elijah and correctly surmises that the two got it on.  Hayley asks him to stop, saying that the family is weird enough already while Klaus laughs. They watch as Jackson takes a seat and Klaus questions if Hayley is feeling guilty and wondering about telling Jackson things he doesn't need to know. Klaus tells Hayley that love is the decency of merciful lies.

Cassie and Rebekah walk through the house and Cassie tells Rebekah that the witches started imprisoning broken witches here, after her bother locked the first set of witches up.  Rebekah then notices that some witches have scars on their faces and Cassie explains that they are the kindred, who years ago got obsessed with dark magic like necromancy. Rebekah asks about their magic because they are still witches and suggests sending a distress signal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Librarians, Season 1, Episode 10: And the Loom of Fate

Eve slowly wakes up and raises a blood covered hand. She seems quite happy to see it.

And now we’re in an Egyptian tomb fighting monsters and doing Librarian things. And Flynn has joined them as well. They’re in the tomb because Flynn asked them there and so he and Eve can flirt.

As they return to the Annex Flynn explains he thinks pyramids can create a doorway to the void where the Library disappeared to (and Cassandra has a migraine maths nosebleed moment). To get everything done though he needs a series of impossible objects…

Objects that the librarians have been acquiring all season. Nice (Jenkins rather awesomely avoids any conversation about Morgan Le Fay). They construct their device and it works very well – and Flynn praises Jenkins for his perfect notes… but Jenkins didn’t send any notes.

Yes, in comes Dulaque and Lamia in a wave of toxic smoke. He has another world shattering plan – but to get more power he says he needs blood sacrifice. Lamia turns to sacrifice Flynn – and Dulaque stabs her. (Why even do that? Why kill a minion when you have 6 helpless enemies right there? His excuse is that her loving him was required). Dulaque opens the door and Eve and Flynn chase after him

They arrive at a river – the River of Time – and a Loom of Fate with Dulaque preparing to cut the cloth that was woven where he thinks it all went wrong. He cuts the cloth to a blinding flash of light and a shockwave. He says that history now ends there

More shaking and Eve and Flynn land near some standing stones. Their clothes have changed – and a man holds them both at gunpoint. Flynn doesn’t recognise Eve. When questioned he thinks he’s the professor of an archaeological dig (and they’re in an area with a border conflict). Of course, Eve, with her NATO credentials doesn’t go down well

But they’re rescued by… The Librarian! Jake to be precise, who also greets Eve with a kiss. Eve walks off yelling “no no no no no”, yes I laughed.

Jake has been Librarian for a year and he is convinced he saw Eve die; turns out in this reality Flynn never showed up to the Library job interview. Eve tries to explain things to them and Jake is all confused and hurt – because she was his Guardian, 10 years ago. In Jake’s world, Eve died when she was stabbed. And the Library was pretty much destroyed – it’s not in the Serpent Brotherhood’s hands, but it’s all over the place and wars and monsters are rising everywhere.

Professor Flynn also has some useful knowledge and observations and Jake uses some magic stones to send them to another alternate world.

This new world is more technological, but Flynn is still professor Flynn – and Ezekiel is this world’s Librarian. And he considered Eve a mother figure (which may actually be worse for her than being involved) – and she’s dead as well in the same stabbing Library thieving incident. This world is overcome by ghosts because the evil house kind of went all wrong.

The Librarians, Season 1, Episode 9: And the City of Light

We have a ufologist in some woods looking for some strange lights – and completely missing them as they shine all around him. Through his goggles he sees some ghostly figures made of light and he runs screaming at everyone else to run as well

This doesn’t seem like a sensible method of scientific enquiry.

The creepy townspeople object and do something unpleasant and glowy to him

To the gang and lots of debate as to whether aliens exist and Eve meanly ruining all our fun and derailing Jenkin’s snark. Eve, Jenkin’s snark is the reason why this show exists. It also turns out that Ezekiel is a UFO geek (and is fully prepared to sell out the human race to our new alien overlords).

To the town and splitting up – Cassandra and Jake checking out the town’s history since the architecture seems hinky to him (Eve doesn’t get it but encourages them to follow their instincts). Jake introduces them to a local called Mable who pretty much runs everything and again uses his Librarians non-cover story in between French flirting.

Ezekiel and Eve go exploring into the woods and Eve senses they are being followed and does lots of military signalling that Ezekiel doesn’t understand. They find a gaslight – and the ufologist from the beginning who makes distressing noises and advances on Ezekiel. Eve knocks him out and is vanished by the gas light.

With a vanishing Guardian it’s time to return to the Annex to be scolded by Jenkins and having confirm Eve is still on the planet (“Magic is not an exact science. If it were, it would be science”. I love Jenkins).

At Cassandra’s suggestion they question the recovered ufologist, Victor, who unhelpfully remembers nothing and has lost time. They do use his equipment to see the lights he recorded

Jake decides to go flirt with/question Mable some more with lots of cute stories of living in very small towns and never having left them. Because of flirting he ends up bringing Mable to the gas lamp in the woods where the other Librarians and Jenkins the awesome are waiting. Ezekiel and Cassandra are not impressed

When Eve briefly appears before vanishing again they all try to pretend it’s an optical illusion – Mabel doesn’t buy it (and she and them are all kind of amazed that it has worked in the past). She is willing to delay her questions because Jake asks her to trust him.

Onwards, Jenkins adjusts some goggles to give better magic-light-seeing to Ezekiel and Cassandra- they follow the light and Cassandra does her brain thing. Ghost light Eve appears and insists Cassandra goes to the source while Ezekiel follows her with the goggles into town – where he sees lots of ghostly glowy people. And that some of them are possessing current people; right before he’s chased by several of those bodysnatchers. He learns he can stun the possessors by smacking one of the gas lamps.