Saturday, February 7, 2015

Grimm, Season Four, Episode Twelve: Maréchaussée

"Everyone sees what you
appear to be, few experience
what you really are."

A woman goes to a fortune teller to connect with her dead spouse.  Unfortunately for her, she ends up at Wesen fortune teller and Laslo of course woges in front of her, as proof that her spouse visited her.  The woman of course because that she has made contact with her husband because she saw the woge and hands over a wad of cash, as Laslo pretends to be weakened by the transformation.  The moment the woman leaves, a Maréchaussée enters and  woges into a manticore, killing Laslo and his partner Ava.  Back to his human self, the Manticore takes a picture of his victims.

Juliet talks with Henryetta about her desire to stop being a Hexenbiest.  Henryetta tries briefly to talk to Juliet into embracing who she is now but Juliet is only concerned with becoming her true self once again. Henryetta asks Juliet to woge, so that she can see what kind of Wesen Juliet is but Juliet is unsure of how to change.  Henryetta tells Juliet that she needs to learn to control her woge because Juliet now has access to a primal force of nature.  After Juliet admits that she hasn't told Nick, because she is afraid (okay Gimm, I am going to need some sort of context for this thus far unexplainable fear), Henryetta tells Juliet that she was wise not to because Grimms are not known to be fond of Henenbiests, adding that Nick's natural instinct would be to take Juliet's head off.  So Henryetta know this how exactly? Henryetta then takes a sample of Juliet's blood and mixes it with some herbs and potions, then advises Juliet that she will contact her when she has something to share with her.

Wu, Hank and Nick arrive at fortune tellers place, where Wu advises Nick that after learning that the victims had large chest wounds and scorpion venom in their system, he went to the trailer to investigate and now believes that they are dealing with a Manticore.  Nick affirms that they are indeed dealing with a Manticore, after looking at the bodies of Ava and Laslo. They find the fortune tellers appointment book and decide to visit the last person who they saw.

At the station, Reneard checks his email and gets notification that Adalind, Vikitor and Marus Rispoli have landed.

Nick and Hank go to visit the the woman that the fortune tellers spoke to the night before.  She reveals that Laslo channeled a spirit and changed in front of her. The woman is adamant that she communicated with her husband the night before and expresses shock that the couple was killed.

At the Beacon motel, the Manticore - Johnathon Wilde, looks at an image of his deadly work before sending it off via email. The image of the Kurlons and a payment for services rendered is authorized by the Wesen Council.  Apparently, along with the images of the Kurlongs, Johnathon also asked for permission to kill Casey Darwell, who has a bounty on him for 20,000 Euros.  Johnathon's request is granted.

Rosalie and Monroe are back from their honeymoon and of course, Monroe's first question is if he should call Nick to find out if something happened while they were gone. Why is he even curious about this given that he is a newlywed and just got back from an amazing trip? Can we have Rosalie and Monroe actually have something of a life not revolving around Nick and Wesen issues?  After Rosalie snarks but ultimately gives the go ahead because she is curious as well, Monroe hunts down his phone.

Back at the station, Wu reports that the widow whom the Kurlons spoke to is not a Wesen. Umm dudh. If she was a Wesen she would have not been fooled by a woge. Hank and Nick say that the widow was convinced because she saw Laslo woge, leading Hank to surmise that the Manticore had to show up just after the widow left.  The cops question if the Manticore was upset at being faked out because he would have recognized the Kurlons as fake fortune tellers.  It's Nick who wonders if this could potentially be a Wesen council thing.  When Wu asks what Nick is talking about, Hank explains that not everything is in the books.  They are interrupted when Nick gets a call from Monroe.  Nick immediately asks to stop by, saying that he needs Monroe's help.  When Monroe tells Rosalie that Nick and Hank are coming over, she snarks that it didn't take long. Good for Rosalie but the snark makes me wonder if she is taking over Wu's former role of the giver of snark on Grimm?

Viktor and Adalind check into their hotel room and Adalind's comes compete with a wardrobe filled with clothing which Viktor calls reconciliation but makes it clear that he has his own bedroom. Viktor affirms that they did not come this far to return to home empty handed.  Back in his room, Viktor opens the door to find Renard.  Renard asks about his brother's killer and Viktor says that he has not given up.  Renard then asks for Adalind and when Adalind enters the room, Viktor tells them that they need to discuss the future.  Viktor says that he underestimated Renard and Renard quickly declares that he does not have his daughter. When Adalind says that Renard gave the child to Nick's mother, Renard replies that he gave the baby to the one person he thought would protect her.  Viktor asks what the Resistance will say when they find out that Renard betrayed them and Renard affirms that the Resistance already knows and that he told them that he has no idea where is daughter is, or how to find her.  Adalind moves to attack but Viktor hold her off, saying that they are going to keep this civil at first.  Viktor makes it clear that neither he or Adalind is leaving without the baby. Viktor and Renard do the back and forth about the royal family and Viktor suggests that Renard think about his relationship with the family the way it is today because those who wanted Renard dead are dead.

Nick, Hank, and Wu, arrive at Rosalie and Monroe's and report that they are dealing with another Manticore.  Monroe quips that Matinticores are just about impossible to kill.  Rosalie suggests that the murder of Kurlons sounds like a hit from the Wesen council because the Kurlons were woging in front of people who are not Wesen. Rosalie and Monroe then bring up  a Maréchaussée (Wesen bounty hunter) and suggest that Nick stay out of this, if it is indeed Wesen Council. Nick however believes that he cannot do so because he is a cop, so Rosalie offers to see what she can find out from the council.

Juliet is cooking dinner and she decides to practice telekinesis but has to stop suddenly when Nick arrives home.  Juliet has to give Nick a ridiculous explanation for how she hurt head.

Casey is walking down the street, arguing with what appears to be a prostitute. To settle the argument, Casey woges and threatens the woman, who quickly agrees to do whatever he wants. When the woman walks off, Johnathon confronts Casey, woges and quickly kills him.  Johnathon then takes a picture of his handy work. 

The Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 13: Stay

Bonnie still exists! This is shocking news since everyone else seems to not only have forgotten this, but even forgotten that she ever existed at all

But no, she’s still there in the alternate dimension – and it’s now her birthday.

Over to Jeremy and Elena – and Elena has also belatedly remembered Bonnie’s existence and wants to have a birthday party for her! Yes, she wants to have a party for the woman who is incapable of attending or even knowing one is happening. But Elena knows Bonnie would have wanted her to have a party without her.



Do I even have to say anything about this? I mean, really? Really really? (Oh hey, how about invite Caroline-who-nearly-watched-her-mother-die to the party as well!?)

Jeremy points out how terrible this is. And they also talk about whether Jeremy can get into art school because he has talent but a terrible academic record; this actually implies Elena had a decent academic record to get into college despite never ever attending school. (Hey, these guys are talking about art school while a magically charged serial killer runs around, just reminding everyone. Oh, and Bonnie’s still stuck. Maybe we could free her rather than talk school?). Jeremy does remember Bonnie and says he doesn’t actually want to leave the area until they actually save her because she does actually matter and not just as an excuse to party.

Of course, the word party has been uttered so Caroline is all over that. She does share a childhood story with Stefan (who is just there to keep their romantic tension at a permanent slow simmer; kind of like my nana’s vegetables that have been boiled for hours and hours and hours until every hint of flavour and nutrients have been ruthlessly annihilated) about how she once hid Bonnie’s teddy bear. She decides to go find it. They flirt over each other’s coping mechanisms. Which is kind of disturbing.

In between Caroline digging random holes since she doesn’t actually know where she buried the bear, Stefan decides to taunt her in her pain because she needs to vent. Y’know not every emotional pain needs expressing through violent rage – maybe Caroline has her own way of dealing Stefan? Also, when Liz asked you to look after Caroline and help her move on, I think that was meant to be AFTER she died. They do find the bear and Caroline cries.

Time for Elena and Damon to be romantic. And Kai drops in. I’m sorry why is this character not already dead by vampire? Anyway, he wants to give a letter to his sister Jo who he can’t find. He also tells them how his usual sociopath self seems to have developed some kind of conscience after absorbing Luke; he has guilt weasels and has no idea how to deal with it. Hilariously, he also points out Elena should look past his bad deeds because this is the Vampire Diaries and this is what they do (even mentioning Damon). Elena realises they can exchange services – and get Kai to bring Bonnie back.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The 100, Season Two, Episode Eleven: Coup de Grâce

Bellamy awakes to find himself in manacles in the quarantine intake area, where he and the other men captured with him, are deloused, inspected and injected with some sort of drug. 

Inside the mountain, Jasper and Maya talk about the missing Monty. Jasper is distraught that his best friend is missing and Maya promises that they can check the harvest chamber again but warns Jasper that he has to look like everything is okay.

Clarke rides through the forest with a group of Grounders and they have been sighted by the Mountain People through the scope of a gun.  Clarke and Abby talk about the fact that the Grounders listen to her and Clarke reveals that Lexa ordered the Grounders to.  Clarke is insistent that they return quickly to the radio to find out if Bellamy has made contact.  Instead of focusing on the mission, Abby does her maternal routine, telling Clarke that she still needs protection and that she knows what is right for them.  The Mountain men fire off a shot and hit a Grounder, instead of Clarke.  Indra, Octavia and two Grounders come bounding out of the woods but Indra holds off the Grounders, announcing that this is Octavia's kill.  Octavia slashes Emerson's suit open and holds a cutlass to the Emerson's neck, as Indra calls for her to finish it.  Before Octavia can act, Clarke stops Octavia, saying that they need to question Emerson, before asking Octavia to look and see if Emerson has a patch kit.  When Octavia looks through the Emerson's things, she finds pictures of both Lexa and Clarke, indicating that they were the targets.  Indra sends warriors off to warn Lexa.

Bellamy comes to full consciousness and finds himself inside a small cage.  Bellamy rattles the door trying to get it open and Echo warns him to be quiet because the Mountain people take the strongest.  When Bellamy says that he cannot understand Echo, and admits that he is a sky person, he is spit on for his trouble.  Bellamy asserts that the Grounders and the Sky People are not enemies anymore, adding that once he gets out of this cage, he is going to kill everyone in this mountain.

Jasper makes his way into Wallace's office to report that not only are two of his friends missing but one of them is Monty.  Wallace begins to say that he has no idea what Jasper is talking about but Jasper calls Wallace a liar, pointing out that Wallace lied about there not being any survivors from the Arc.  Wallace asks Jasper to sit down but Jasper instead grabs a sword, demanding that he be told the truth. When Wallace continues to deny any knowledge of what happened to Jasper's friends, Jasper asks if he looks desperate, causing Wallace to finally admit that he lied about the Arc and Clarke.  When Jasper becomes overcome with emotion, Wallace manages to seize the weapon, telling Jasper that the sword is not a toy.  Wallace calls for a guard and requests that Dr. Tsing and Cage be located.  When the guard leaves, Wallace tells Jasper that they should go for a walk and find his friends.

Emerson and Grounder are brought into camp Jaha and Abby and Clarke begin medical treatment.  Raven enters and when she informs Clarke that there is no news from Bellamy, Clarke snaps at her, causing Raven to say that Octavia is currently manning the radio.  The issue with Emerson is that he needs medical treatment but they cannot touch him.  Raven offers to go and rig something up, as Abby loses her fight to keep the Grounder alive.  Indra does the death ceremony for the fallen Grounder and confronts Clarke about the fact that a killer is still alive, while a warrior is dead.  Clarke says that they need information, so Indra requests the opportunity to make Emerson talk.  Clarke makes it clear that they are not going to torture Emerson and is backed up by Abby, adding that Emerson might talk because they saved his life.  Indra calls the mother and daughter pair weak and leaves the area.  Abby takes the time to check in on Clarke to offer motherly comfort but Clarke calls it another day on the ground, before leaving for engineering. 

The Mountain Men enter the containment area and start to open Echo's cage and so to distract them, Bellamy kicks at his cage door.  The moment Bellamy's  cage door is opened, despite being poised to attack, Bellamy is electrocuted and then injected, only later to be hung by his ankles.

Maya is making her way through sickbay, looking through files, when Lovejoy comes in, looking for Thorpe to determine how many cages to clear.  Lovejoy is shocked to see that the Mountain woman is having a 25 minute treatment, calling it a record.  Maya tells Lovejoy that Thrope may be at the mess hall. The moment Thorpe leaves, Maya looks to see where the tubes connected to the patient lead.  Moments later, Maya finds Bellamy hanging from his feet, having the blood drained out of him.  Maya injects Bellamy in the thigh, which causes him to regain consciousness.  Maya questions Bellamy about being from the Arc and asks if he knows Jasper.  Jasper asks Maya to release him and she agrees but before that can be accomplished, Lovejoy enters the room, questioning what she is doing there. Maya explains that she wanted to see what made Bellamy so special and claims that he is dead.  Catching the drift, Bellamy plays possum and is released by Lovejoy.  A fight breaks out between Lovejoy and Bellamy.  Echo manages to reach through her cage and grab Lovejoy's hand, stopping him from stabbing Bellamy and Bellamy strangles Lovejoy, as a stunned Maya watches, pointing a weapon.  Bellamy rises and thanks Echo before asks Maya if she is alright. Maya assures Bellamy that she is fine and then heads over to Lovejoy, saying that they need to get rid of his body. 

Clarke and Abby look at the Emerson who is now secure inside a radiation free airlock.   Abby says that she thinks that Emerson will  wake up soon and that their blood heals the Mountain people.  Marcus points out that this is why the kids in Mt. Weather are in trouble but Abby is only concerned about the fact that the Mountain People tried to kill Clarke. Kane reassures Abby that Clarke is strong but Abby is not convinced, pointing out that The Grounders look at Clarke like she is their leader and now Mt. Weather does as well.  Kane points out that Clarke is holding the alliance together but Abby complains that she didn't realise that she would lose her daughter becuase of it.

Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk #1) by Bec McMaster

After her father's death, Honoria has fallen on hard times.  Struggling to survive and escape the bounty on their heads, the family moves to Whitechapel district.  Gone are the extravagances and each day is a struggle to survive, as Honoria starves herself in order to ensure that her younger siblings have enough to eat and walks hours to and from work.  Honoria uses her education to teach at a girls finishing school but when she loses her job and her hope, Honoria is forced to turn to the one person she never thought she would ask for help, Blade - the master of the rookeries.  Unfortunately for Honoria the price of his aid is to become a thrall.  Though no one in the rookeries will challenge Blade's authority that will not keep Honoria safe from the Blue Bloods who seek her death.  Even Blade is finding himself having difficult keeping his control around Honeria.

Though this book is advertised as a steampunk, it is far more of a historical romance than a steampunk.  There are small elements like metaljackets and little robots who served tea but beyond that, Kiss of Steel is devoid of steampunk elements.  McMaster did however include an interesting origin story for vampires and the world also included a werewolf.  Kiss of Steel essentially focused on the budding romance between Blade and Honoria, while squeezing in some political intrigue to claim a plot. 

As protagonists go, Honoria is strong and never takes the opportunity to run away when those she cares about are facing danger.  She is well educated and stubborn to a fault.  Blade does use his physical strength and superior speed to bully Honoria; however, not to be outdone, Honoria does drug Blade and even pulls a gun on him.  These should be moments to celebrate but they only lead to Blade once again getting the upper hand forcing Honoria to comply to situations that she is not comfortable with.  

There were several other female side characters of note.  The Duchess of Casavian was made a blue blood simply because there were no male heirs and her ascension dropped her family's rank.  Clearly aware of this The Duchess has to be a strong character and seems to be playing the long game.  Unfortunately, we don't really get to know a lot about her.  Then we have the Queen who plays second to the Queen Consort.  Throughout the novel we are told that she has been reduced to a figure head status.  When she is finally introduced, her one act is to defy her husband publicly.  It's clear however that the queen lives in fear of her consort. Then there is Esme, who is one of Blade's thralls. Blade clearly sees her as family and the feeling is returned. Esme runs the house and is not afraid to put Blade in his place, or advise him.  Finally, we come to Lena who is just fourteen and yet somehow manages to advise Honoria on her love life.  Lena is a realist and like her sister is quite bullheaded.  

For all of the strong female characters we still had the problem of Blade's dead sister.  She doesn't really have a role in the book except to give Blade something to angst about.  It's yet another trope (think Supernatural).  A dead woman to build the character of a male character as well of course as to establish the villainous nature of another. 

Kiss of Steel is not a book a reader can enjoy unless there is a significant investment in the romance between Blade and Honoria.  Unfortunately, the relationship has problems from the very start.  Honoria lives in Blade's territory and she does not pay for protection or pay any sort of tribute and so Blade sends someone to demand her presence.  He is of course immediately attracted to her and seeks to weasel his way into her life, forcing himself upon her.
His firm, callused hands found her breasts, cupping them through the scratchy wool. Her eyes nearly rolled back in her head.
“Stop,” she whispered. But his hand was sliding down over the flat of her stomach, lower, bunching through the folds of material at her waist and lower…She caught it, her nipples aching through the constricting wool. “We can’t do this. Please stop.”

“You want it. I want it—”

“I don’t want it,” she shot back, then gasped as his fingers brushed teasingly against the juncture of her thighs.

“Don’t you?” His other hand cupped the full weight of her breast. “There’s no one here to see,” he said in that dark, compelling voice. “I’d hear them coming.” His fingers bunched in the folds of her skirt. “Honor. My Honor.” It came out with his breath. “I want to taste you. I want to drink you all up.”

Honoria shot a helpless look toward the building. She had to find some way to placate the hunger ruling him (page 133)
Every time Honoria says no to a sexual interaction, Blade continues to force himself on her.  Possibly to avoid the appearance of rape, McMaster has Honoria inform the reader how aroused she is becoming and how she really doesn't want Blade to stop even as she tells him no.  This is a ridiculous writers device to get around the fact that consent is something the male protagonist is willing to ignore because he somehow magically know that the female love interest's no doesn't really mean no.  It's a classic example of the overly permissive rape culture that we live in.  Kiss of Steel is filled with multiple instances of Honoria saying no and Blade pushing past her boundaries.

Race on The 100

At first glance, The 100 is a very inclusive series, at least racially. The 100 currently has or has had: Monty, Chancellor Thelonious Jaha, Raven Reyes, Lincoln, Jackson, Nathan Miller, Indra, Sinclair, Dr. Tsing, Wells Jaha, Anya, Commander Shumway, John Mbege, Connor, Rivo and Callie 'Cece' Cartwig. That is an impressive list and it would be easy to sit back and accept The 100 as being a racially progressive show, particularly in a world in which it is still acceptable to set a show in New York City and have an all White cast (yes, I’m looking at you Girls)  Let’s face it, Shonda Rhimes is making waves in television with her routinely diverse casts, tossing out the challenge to others to follow suit. If, and only if, you don’t look closely at the characterisation of The 100, it would seem that the CW dystopian futuristic fantasy is meeting the challenge.

The first thing to note is that though the characters of colour are plentiful, anyone would be hard pressed to say that most of them represent leading characters (we would also challenge anyone to actually remember all of the characters listed above). In fact, when they don’t fall into the sidekick role, these characters spend limited time on screen and/or disappear entirely from The 100 cast. Even the short lived characters or minor characters fall into heavily trope laden roles. For example, Monty is the resident East-Asian computer geek and plays sidekick to Jasper. Dr. Tsing exists solely to take orders from Cage, even though she believes in the medical experiments on the Grounders and the Sky People, it’s clear who is really leading the charge. Wells died simply to add angst to Clarke’s backstory, though that was clearly already established with the often used writer’s device of the death of a parent. Commander Shumway appeared long enough to be the fall guy for Kane but I suppose every wrongly rehabilitated character needs a POC to take the blame for their bad actions.
Other characters didn’t begin as secondary characters but have been slowly sidelined as such. The classic example is Chancellor Thelonious Jaha who began as such a central character in the first season - but with the Arc crash he was separated from the main group for a long time, lost his position and now can barely be considered influential among the “Sky People”. An outcast who is now affiliated with Murphy of all people. His storyline has certainly not been dull and his character hasn’t disappeared - but it has been eclipsed and his storyline has been separate. From one of the predominant forces among the “Sky People” he has been relegated to often ignored agitator who occasionally talks about some unknown promised land on the flimsy basis of vague assurances of the people he met in the desert. The power he had in the first season which often made him such a powerful and conflicted character has now been usurped by Clarke, Abbie and Kane which, while progressive in terms of gender, is not in terms of race

Raven is clearly a highly valued character. We have seen The 100 turn to her repeatedly to deal with technical issues. Despite all of the good that Raven has done for the Sky People, she is clearly secondary to Clarke and certainly far less desirable. On the Arc, Raven and Finn were in a romantic relationship and it was clear that they were important to each other. When Finn was sent to earth, Raven risked her life to join him. This should have been a joyous reunion but it was complicated by the fact that after being on earth a N.Y. minute, Finn was diving into Clarke’s pants. The 100 placed Raven and the ever so blonde Clarke in competition for Finn’s affections. Clearly, Raven could not win. How could she, when Clarke was perceived as a precious princess (a name which Finn called her affectionately)? It would have been nice if Finn had even hesitated in his choice, though! Yes, there is certainly a class issue at play because Clark's parents were in a position of power on the Arc, while Raven’s parents were not but that again highlights the racial disparity between the two women, because it was clear from the members of the council, that the numbers of POC in positions of power was relatively small compared to the White characters. We keep hearing about all of Raven’s skill but it is very clear that she will not be groomed as part of the leadership for the next generation. Raven will be in a supporting role while the White characters around her make the decisions.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Angel's Awakening by Akaria Gale

Charouth is trying to redeem herself after a 2,000 year old love affair got her demoted from Heaven’s elite. She is now poised to reclaim her position as she searches for Artefacts that could be the keys to Satan’s prison

Only Hell has their own agents searching for these relics – including Azazel, her old, long missing lover.

This book has a lot of intriguing elements. We have a lot of angelic politics with the Archangels clearly following their own agendas and Charouth being caught in the political machinations of her superiors. We have a world that has a number of mythologies and something clearly epic beginning with the Norse and the Titans at war – a conflict that catches Charouth in the cross fire.

We have a fanatical cult who both revere angels – then judge Charouth for not meeting their angelic ideal which is another fascinating element that begs for development

And we have a world where the supernatural rubs elbows – up to and including the Angels and the Fallen interacting. They’re not exactly friendly, but the overt antagonism that you’d expect is definitely lacking. There’s a lot here that could be developed and I was really looking forward to discovering it all as Charouth and Azazel competed to find an important artefact

This potential is just lost, however. Because 80% of everything Charouth and Azazel think about is each other. Over and over and over and over again we’re “treated” to lined, paragraphs, entire pages of how hot/sexy/yummy the other was, how good they were together, how much they missed each other, how important the relationship was to them, how it was Charouth’s first relationship (because of course he had to be more experienced than her) and generally the many many ways and times they want to have lots of hot sex.

This is then mixed with lots and lots of Azazel being super jealous because in the TWO THOUSAND YEARS they’ve been apart Charouth has allowed another man to touch her. The very idea, how could she not just wait for him forever and ever and ever! No, really, he expected her to wait. He’s amazingly jealous with lots of planned vengeance against another angel for sleeping with Charouth and even having an epic temper tantrum because she is wearing a leather bracelet he assumes her lover bought it for her and how very dare he!

On top of this Azazel devotes a ridiculous amount of time to planning how to avenge Charouth when anyone wrongs her. Or how to protect her. Charouth is an angel. Charouth is one of the elite – that means she’s second only to the Archangels in terms of angelic important. She does not need Azazel to protect her avenge her or otherwise be the big strong man for her. Stop this.

Forever Season 1, Episode 14: Hitler on the Half-Shell

Abe is getting a medical for his life insurance – and the nice doctor offers Henry a deal as well. Henry is not really in the market for life insurance (Abe finds it immensely amusing). More poignantly, she asks about Henry’s family’s medical history and he tells her his parents died when he was born and she sees the numbers tattooed on his arm in the Nazi concentration camp. This leads to a classic Henry monologue, this about apologies and old wounds, some of which never heal.

Henry offers again to search to see if there are any records of Abe’s biological parents, but without a last name there’s little they can do.

Murder scene time! And Henry is captivated by art much to Hanson and Jo’s wry amusement. The murder victim is a Karl Hass, an art dealer who has had several paintings stolen as well. He was bludgeoned by a heavy object marked with a swastika. The same swastika as is on the bottom of the statue Henry was admiring – the murder weapon.  And it’s a genuine, precious piece of art stolen by the Nazis.

To the morgue and Lucas realises in horror, by means of a quip, that the brilliant Henry has never heard of Indiana Jones. Hanson and Jo find that Hass’s father was Otto Heidrich, a high ranking Nazi in charge of stealing art across Europe. Hence the art collection which Otto managed to flee Europe with.

They interview Karl’s son – who is apparently completely ignorant of his family history (and not very close to his dad, either). Which makes for an awkward revelation – and Karl’s desperate protest that his dad and granddad were good men.

Which segues into a flashback of Henry back in 1812 confronted in a very posh gentleman’s club about his family’s participant in the slave trade. Henry protests that his family would never do such a thing! But it’s clear that everyone there knows his family is involved.

Which moves onto the present where Henry says how hard it is to accept your family has profited from the death of millions of innocents.

They follow some clues to a jeweller who tells them that Karl gave him a painting – a Monet, Waterlillies. The priceless painting belonged to the jeweller, Spehr’s, family before the war and Karl, a complete stranger, gave him the painting for free. Karl wanted to return all of his father’s stolen art to the rightful owners. He recites a quote “a good man apologises for the mistakes of the past, a great man corrects them.”

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 12: About a Boy

Opening credit’s death! A guy gets zapped with bright light after being kicked out of a bar by a guy who says the dead man owes him money, leaving behind only a smoking pile of clothes. Now he’s never going to pay the debt back. Also, very lacking in gore for supernatural.

To the Winchester Bunker, where Dean is having a long angsty research fest trying to find some way to remove the Mark of Cain. He is doing his very best angst face (he has so much practice) when Sam comes in with a case of the vanishing-smoking-clothes people which Dean thinks Sam should check out… alone. He hasn’t left the bunker in a week and he doesn’t intend to change that while he’s still wallowing in Charlie guilt. Their argument does let Dean taunt Sam about his prolonged Easter Bunny belief (hey, I like these brother moments).

Anyway he convinces Dean (I’m not quite sure when that happened) and they go play FBI agents and question witnesses – who, alas, is all about probing aliens (dean would still prefer the little green dudes to angels). Sam is worried about Dean questioning people alone in a dive bar, but Dean calls it “his comfort zone.” Though Dean himself doesn’t seem sure. He orders a drink – despite his obvious ongoing worry.

He questions the bar tender - the man who kicked the vanished guy out of the bar and he doesn’t have nice things to say about the victim. All of this is overheard by a pensive woman sat at the bar. When the bar tender moves on she, Tina, speaks up in the victim, JP’s defence – he wasn’t trustworthy but he wasn’t all bad. And this conversation is overheard by a grizzled looking man in the corner. Everyone in this bar is very bored and waaay too interested in other people. Tina and Dean get to drinking and reminiscing about sad childhoods.

After catching up with Sam who has found nothing, Dean sees grizzled guy leave after Tina and runs to see what’s happening – just to hear a scream, see a flash of light and find her empty, smoking clothes. Right before the same thing happens to him.

The bright flash of light transports Dean into a ragged, locked room – and turns him into a teenager. (Can I second this “seriously”? Oh Supernatural, it’s a gimmick episode.) In a neighbouring room, through a hole in the wall, is teen Tina and Teen JP as well. Grizzled guy grunts his way into the room and drags JP off. At least he brings them cake (Tina naturally fears poison, Teen!Dean is on my side when it comes to cake – it will be eaten!)

Sam follows Dean’s disappearance trail while Teen!Dean escapes (helped by Tina’s fake screaming to cover his exit) and returns to a rather stunned Sam. And Dean being taken as Sam’s son. Dean has to adapt to the horror of being a teenager including the unimaginable – liking Taylor Swift. While Dean rants about puberty Sam reveals he found yarrow at the scene so the person who used magic on Dean is probably a witch

Yes, I did word it that way on purpose.

Cover Review 26th January - 30th January

I’m going to be seriously contrary this week - for we have a string of book covers I love; but I am dissatisfied with in some way. Largely because all of them scream “that’s not in the book” to me. Even when I really like them

Unbound (Magic Ex Libris #3) by Jim C Hines

Take this cover. I love it, it’s beautiful (and more than a little sexy). I love the background, the colours, the cover mode. What’s not to love? Well, I just don’t see Isaac here. I see someone who is very cool and badass. Not that Isaac isn’t cool and badass - but he’s also geeky. Where’s the geeky? Needs more nerd!

The Way of All Flesh by Tim Waggoner

And this cover - an excellent depiction of a zombie. It’s gruesome and gross and scary and nasty. Zombie book ahoy, can there be any doubt?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Originals, Season Two, Episode Twelve: Sanctuary

Rebekah dreams of Freya and sees Freya being taken away by her aunt.  Freya now stands beside Rebekah's bed looking down on her.

The wolves are gathered in the woods and Klaus announces that he is looking for Hayley and reminds them all that there are children present.  Deep in Bayou, Hayley is again saying that she cannot tell her secrets and once again, Jackson is incredulous that there is a secret which is so bad that Hayley cannot tell him.  Hayley points out that its not safe but Jackson counters that it has never been safe and that their people have been hunted and exiled.   Jackson argues that the wedding will change all of that by creating a new pack.  Jackson does however add that if Hayley doesn't tell her secrets, they are back to square one.  Jackson then reveals that even if they call off the wedding, there is something he has to tell her. Jackson, it seems, knows how Hayley's parents died.

Rebekah is up and moving around the house and she takes a seat next to Cassie.  Rebekah hands Cassie an apple, saying that she doesn't care about rules.  Cassie tells Rebekah that she is out of her mind but Rebekah declares that she is not spending another night in this dungeon.  Rebekah it seems has figured out that any spell can work if enough power is channeled. Rebekah reveals that she went to the room with the lock door and that there is a woman in there (yep, that's her big sister Freya) and that she is strong.  Rebekah suggests that they can channel Freya and break out.  Cassie takes the apple and as they walk around, they discover a new watch (yep, that's Freya).  Rebekah is wonders if she knows the witch and gifts her with an apple before taking off.

Davina wakes to find Kol prepared to work on a dagger for Klaus.  Davina pauses and Kol questions if Davina is having second thoughts, reminding her that she wanted to get rid of Klaus without hurting her friends.  Davina checks her phone and realises that Josh and Marcel are still missing.

The vampires are now being channeled by Finn, who tells an unconscious Marcel that he led the vampires to this. Finn wonders about the secrets Klaus has shared with Marcel and questions what he has to do to tear the secrets free.

Klaus has arrived at Mary's home in Bayou and asks to be invited in.  Mary calls Klaus a vampire and says that it's not likely.  Klaus points out that he is a hybrid and could potentially be a distant relative of Mary's.  Klaus then asks about Hayley, adding that he wants to remind her of the importance of family.  Mary reveals that Jackson is with Hayley now and adds that the two of them can look out for themselves. Klaus snarks about what Jackson will gain from marrying Hayley and then leaves to hunt them down himself because of Mary's refusal to help.

Jackson and Hayley walk through an area where wolves bury those who walk away form the pack. They stop at Jackson's grandfather's grave, where Jackson reveals that it was his grandfather who killed Hayley's parents, in order to stop an alliance with Marcel. It seems that Jackson didn't know until Mary told him and he decided that he had to be the one to tell Hayley, though he didn't know if he could. It turns out that this was Jackson's secret and he tells Hayley that she doesn't have to tell him hers, adding that it won't change how he feels about her.  Klaus interrupts and asks for a moment with Hayley.  Hayley tells Jackson that it's fine and promises to meet him back at Mary's.

Back in witch prison, the young woman (read: Freya) has been discovered with the contraband apple.  When Freya is confronted by the matron, though Cassie begs her not to, Rebekah intervenes, only to have her hand broken by a tire iron.  When Freya asks why Rebekah helped, Rebekah responds that maybe, she just likes the idea of the girls sticking together.

In the bayou, Klaus demands that Hayley refrain from divulging any family secrets, especially those which involving Hope.  Hayley however is worried about the continuing threat of Finn and his growing powers, adding that it is not a risk if Jackson can be trusted. Hayley says that they could in fact have a werewolf family to protect Hope but Klaus is not convinced and argues that he can protect Hope.  Hayley believes that they need to consider this because this means that Hope could be brought home.  Klaus makes it clear that he has made his decision and in this case, there is no one above his decree, not even Hayley. Klaus demands that Hayley call off the wedding but Hayley makes it clear that she doesn't take orders from anyone.

Sleepy Hollow, Season Two, Episode Fifteen: Spellcaster

At an auction house, they are unpacking an Elizabethan Collection, when the workers come across the journal of John D, the royal sorcerer supreme.  Who should arrive but Solomon Kent?  He of course takes the journal, though the security guard and auction house employee try to stop him. For their troubles, they end up dead for their troubles.

In the meantime, Abby gets an urgent text to meet Ichabod.  Upon arrival, Abby learns that Ichabod is house hunting.  Ichabod is not at all pleased by the so-called huxterism i.e. fake fruit and other dressing employed to attempt to sell the house.  When they leave, Abby points out that to buy a home, Ichabod will need credit rating, bank approval and yes, an income. Speaking of which, how long is Abby going to continue to support both Crane and that wretched wife of his?  Crane admits that Abby has been generous but adds that he is going to need a place of his own.  Abby hands Crane the file from the robbery of the auction house and Crane takes notice of the missing journal.  When Crane admits he is no expert, Abby says that there is a specialist in this department.

Abby and Crane head to see Katrina, who is working on her magic, saying that she is recovering from 200 years in purgatory. Does this mean Katrina is finally going to do something useful for a change? We keep hearing that she is a powerful witch but haven't seen her actually do anything to prove it thus far. Abby hands over a picture of the grimoire which Katrina calls powerful and dangerous.  Katrina thinks that someone drew it to this place and Ichabod suggests that it might be another tormented soul set loose. Of course, the Cranes take time to talk about their baby the freaking horseman of war.

Speaking of  baby Crane the horseman of freaking war, he is holed up in a motel watching infomercials of all things.  The station then shows the Auction House theft.  It seems that Parish is experiencing some regret for his action.  If they rehabilitate his character to make Katrina right, I swear, I will spit my damn dummy out. 

Back at the archives, Abby and Crane discuss the forensics at the scene.  Crane says that the sorcerer uses blood magic and it is one of the dark arts which taps into evil sources. They then look at the security camera footage from the Auction House and Katrina instantly recognizes Solomon Cant - the warlock all witches fear.  Katrina surmises that Moloch's death must have freed him from purgatory and now he is in their world.

Solomon in the meantime has not wasted any time opening the grimoire and starting a spell.

At the archives, Katrina reveals that Solomon was one of the leaders of the town of Salem - yes, that Salem.  It's flashback time and we see Solomon amongst the Puritans, smiling an interacting with them, in particular Katrina's grandmother.  Apparently, Kent became infatuated with Sarah Oswald and healed her hand after she cut it.  Unfortunately for Solomon, Sarah had an eye for someone else.  Solomon accidentally kills Sarah and rather than face the punishment, Solomon changes Sarah's face to make it appear evil.  Once discovered, Solomon tells the people that he acted in self defense and that there are witches amongst them. Katrina's grandmother begs Solomon to stop but instead he turns on her and labels her a witch in front of the people. Ichabod questions how Kent survived the witch trials unscathed but it seems that eventually the coven hunted him down and put him into purgatory.

At the Auction House, Ichabod questions why Kent drew the grimoire to him.   Katrina does her thing and says that she cannot locate the grimoire but John D bound the grimoire with a spell, blocking anyone from using it unless the book was whole. Once again, Katrina's magic cannot help Crane and Abby.  Katrina believes that whoever handled the book must have the missing pages.  Abby declares that they have to find the person who handled the book before Kent.

Abby is walking down the street and pulls her gun when she senses someone following her.  Irving says that Abby is losing her edge because he has been following her for awhile but adds that he wasn't trying to sneak up on her when Abby does not lower her gun. Frank admits being angry with Abby for not trusting him, after all he has done but Abby points out that his soul was stolen by a horseman of the apocalypse.  Frank reveals that Katrina has declared his soul clean and adds that she doesn't blame Abby for not trusting him.  Frank tells Abby that things are good between them and starts to walk away.

The Originals: The Rise (The Originals #1) by Julie Plec

The Original family, Rebekah, Elijah and Klaus, have arrived in the new colony of New Orleans and plan to make it their home. They’ve been in the city for 9 years but are being kept out of the city thanks to Klaus’s little… problem with the local werewolves.

Elijah has been working on a slow plan for acceptance and hopes that they will have more opportunity now a wedding between the witches and the werewolves may ally the two factions. Except little brother Klaus is now enthralled with the fiancée – this cannot end well.

Rebekah and Klaus pursue their own agendas and all of Elijah’s plans may be headed towards the predictable rocks of his sibling’s machinations.

The funnest thing about this book is how the very essence of the Original family from The Originals is so very clear in this flashback to their early history in the city.

There’s Elijah, moving slowly and diplomatically, obsessing over keeping his family together and trying to slowly build themselves a place of respect and presence in the city through the most civilised of means (all the while frustrated by his siblings, especially Klaus). Up unto a point… and then you cross the line and Elijah is DONE and he reminds us all that he’s an Original vampire and he is not tolerating any more of this

And then there’s Rebekah who tries to be sensible and follow Elijah’s lead – she’s also cunning and, in some ways more crafty than Elijah because she’s far more underhand. But she’s also a romantic and easily derailed by her heart which puts all her plans awry.

Then, of course, there’s Klaus. Unsubtle, uncaring, reckless, impetuous and completely uncaring of consequences. But this book adds an interesting nuance to that by having Klaus basically embrace what it is to be an Original; there’s an awesome line:

“Vivianne would be angry – Elijah would be livid – but eventually everyone would agree that the world had not come to an end because of one dead werewolf. Time would prove Klaus right; it always did.”

When you live forever, there’s a lack of long term consequences. Eventually you outlive the consequences of your action – nothing is a problem if you take a long enough view.

Of course, all of that is derailed by Klaus sharing the same weakness as Rebekah (even though he is immensely contemptuous of Rebekah’s loves) – he’s passionate and obsesses with Vivianne. Much to Elijah’s immense frustration (poor Elijah).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Urban Fantasy Award Nominations

The first nominations are in for the Urban Fantasy Awards! These are the contenders for the GOLDEN FANGS awards - and the the DREAD FANPOODLE condemnation

You still have two weeks, until Friday 13th, to nominate potential candidates! After which, voting will begin

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.

Categories for Golden Fangs!

Best New Series of the Year
Penny Dreadful

Best Indie Book
Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight by Che Gilson
The Golem and the Djinni by Helen Wecker
Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina

Most Original Monster
Mummy: the Curse from Onyx Path Publishing

Most Original concept
13 by Kelley Armstrong

Best Vampire
Penny Dreadful
Elijah from Originals

Best wereanimal
Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight  by Che Gilson
Kitty Norville Series by Carrie Vaughn

Best Fae
October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire

Best Magic-user

Funniest Series
Orphan Black
Fairy Tale Crimes by Jasper Fforde
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Most Inclusive Series
Stranger by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown
The Three Musketeers
Libriomancer Series by Jim C Hines
The Astounding Antagonists by Rafael Chandler

Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon

 Trigger warning for sexual abuse, child abuse and rape.

When last we left Claire and Jamie, the battle of Culloden was about to begin and fearing for the safety of Claire and the child Jamie encourages Claire to pass through the stones for a second time. It will be twenty years before the two star crossed lovers see each other again and of course, the path of true love most certainly cannot run smoothly.

I don't even know where to being with this review because having read Dragonfly in Amber, I sincerely thought this series couldn't get in any worse but more fool me. The Outlander series has always necessitated suspending belief, otherwise the very premise - a woman traveling through the stones and ending up 200 years in the past would be a non starter.  There is only so far an author can ask a reader to do this and Gabaldon moves well beyond this point with Voyager.  Too many improbable incidents happen throughout the novel which of course, Jamie and Claire just magically manage to escape from, along with far too many ridiculous interactions with characters from the past. The number of coincidences and repeat meetings are outright ridiculous: 
  • Jamie and Claire just happen to run into a minister who is a serial killer of prostitutes 
  • Claire gets shipwrecked and just happens to run into a scientist Jamie met in Scotland. 
  • Jamie marries the woman who tried to have Claire killed
  • Geillies Duncan isn't really dead and shows up long enough to be evil and inspire a slave rebellion
  • Lord Grey who is still in love with Jamie, first works as the warden of the prison Jamie is kept in and then just happens to be posted to Jamaica, as governor, at the moment that Claire and Jamie really need official help.
  • The hurricane which sinks the man-o-war which is chasing Jamie and Claire's boat and just happens to carry them 600 miles across the ocean to America
  I could have taken the journey had any of these leaps made any kind of logical sense but it all came down to believe this shite because Gabaldon wrote it.

One of the things I learned reading Voyager, is that one of the worst things a woman can do as she ages is get fat.  The requirement of thinness of course makes Claire (oh she of the perfect, ever so white skin) stand out and in case you are in any doubt at all, Jamie makes sure to tell Claire so repeatedly.  A little thing like medicine and the proper nutrition of the twentieth century didn't give Claire the advantage did it? Women pale in Claire's shadow and most certainly, Laoghaire and Geillis Duncan.

First, it's worth mentioning that the fact that Jamie just happened to marry Laoghaire, who tried to have Claire murdered, is ridiculous but I suppose that Gabaldon felt that all ties with Scotland had to be neatly bound.  Did anyone even care about this character to begin with?  It's perfectly understandable that Jamie would try to move on with his life after Claire left and so I fail to understand why he wouldn't just tell her about his marriage, rather than have Claire, find out by having Laoghaire burst into their bedroom.  Did this story really need more angst and drama?  From the beginning, Laoghaire didn't hold a candle to Claire but this had to be reasserted for some reason.  Then we have Geillies, who we were lead to believe had died.  Her reappearance comes down to a lack of imagination.  Did Gabaldon think that readers simply couldn't handle a new character as evil. Of course, the once bonnie Geillies is now hideously fat and unhealthy, with her size increasing in direct proportion to the evil that she does.  Gabaldon is none to subtle with her fat hatred here.

We also know that Geillies is evil because she is a rapist.  For some reason, Gabaldon seems absolutely fascinated with rape and so far, each of the books in the series has either had a rape scene or very much implied it.  In this case, Geillies has young boys kidnapped and then she drugs them and rapes them.  We do have a scene in which Young Ian talks about how his body reacted to the sexual stimulation, though he didn't want to be touched.  It was good to have Jamie empathising with Ian, having been through this situation himself but it still begs the question of why  Gabaldon felt the need to include the rape in the first place?  It's as though a story for her isn't complete unless it includes some gratuitous rape.