Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 12: Remember

To the walled community of Alexandria – and Daryl shoots a possum. He brought dinner.

It looks like the Alexandrians are not a fan of possum

Inside the walls they’re asked to disarm. Rick objects – and has Sasha snipe a zombie just to remind everyone how dangerous they are.

The leader of the community is Deana Monroe, ex-congresswoman who films interviews with several of Rick’s group. Alexandria was an eco-friendly gated community for the rich before the outbreak and Deana, along with several others, sheltered there pretty much from the beginning. It’s sustainable so it has electricity and running water. She wants Rick and his group to help their community survive – touching on how he has killed people to save his people, his family and how she wants that protection. He advises her to close the gates and not let people in – because people will use her.

Rick makes a decision to stay – though there’s a nice moment when Deana opens the possibility it isn’t his choice

Which means they give up their vast arsenal (albeit Carol getting a nod from Rick) to Olivia, the stores lady before being shown to two houses they can live in (Rick is amazed by the space). The house is like going back in time to back before the walkers – it even has running water

Rick has a shower, fully amazed by it, and shaves off the epic Beard. Newly shorn and shirtless he greets neighbour Jesse who is super happy to help cut Rick’s hair, completing the transformation. Rick is stunned and slightly horrified by how much she trusts him. She also mentions her sons she wants to introduce to Carl.

Trust doesn’t go both ways and Carol and Rick decide, despite having two houses, they’ll all stay in one so they’re not split up. Carl’s still on high alert, drawing a knife when he hears something in one of the rooms. Michonne and Rick have a cute moment (after she spends 20 minutes brushing her teeth) because she’s never seen Rick clean shaven before; she understands the caution but is still optimistic about Alexandria. Deana also drops round to marvel at how close knit Rick’s group is despite their very diverse backgrounds. She’s also handing out everyone jobs.

Michonne’s interview reflects her optimism while Glenn’s shows his almost desperate need to make Alexandria a home and fear of what the road is doing to them.

Daryl fits in far less – still carrying around the dead possum to the video interview. While everyone else cleans up, he skins and guts it. He lurks in corners and tries to avoid the Alexandrians. He refuses to clean up even when Carol scolds him (which is hilarious).

Rick goes to explore and nearly panics looking for Carl running through the streets and crashing into Jesse’s art work before she reassures him that Carl and Judith are visiting an elderly couple who lost their kids and grandchildren.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The 100, Season Two, Episode Fifteen: Blood Must Have Blood: Part 1

Bellamy has crawled through the tunnels to the containment area and starts releasing the prisoners, informing them that the joint forces are marching on Mt. Weather right now.  When the Grounders start to become agitated and loud, it's Echo's who silences them.  Bellamy starts to explain his plan, when he is interrupted by Cage, who decides to make an announcement to the populace about the ability of Mt. Weather people being able to leave the compound.  Cage even reveals the bone marrow cure which causes Bellamy to rush off in awareness that Cage is trying to get the Mt. Weather people to turn against the sky kids.  Cage makes it clear to the populace that the kids are keeping them from their dream, adding that the kids are responsible for the death of 15 members of the compound.  Cage then offers amnesty to the people who are hiding the sky kids, if they are turned in within an hour; however, he then threatens to turn the non compliant into enemies of the state.

In the war room, Cage watches the monitors and learns that without the fog they have no defenses. He is advised to allow the ground troops to engage but Cage is adamant that as long as they are behind the locked doors of Mt. Weather they are untouchable.  Cage instead gives the order for the sky kids to be rounded up.

Soldiers arrive at the home where Maya and Jasper are hiding.  When the soldiers threaten to kill the residents protecting Maya and Jasper, they come out of hiding begging the soldiers not to shoot.  Jasper and Maya are apprehended and the people who were protecting them are shot anyway.  At this point, how did Jasper not think that those people were not going to end up dead anyway?  He has seen time and time again that the people under Cage are ruthless.

At the compound, Lexa does the whole rally the groups speech.  Clarke clarifies and says that they are on a rescue mission and brings up the people inside the mountain who have helped them along with the defenseless children.  Clarke's plan is to free their people and kill the soldiers and leadership. Clarke then lays out her plan which includes splitting up into four teams, adding that inside the mountain, the Grounder forces are being freed.  Clarke's plan is to have Raven's team take out the damn to temporarily remove electricity to Mt. Weather, in order to be able to force the door open. The catch is that after the power goes out, the combined forces will only have 1 minute to get inside Mt.  Weather. The secondary part is for Indra's people to escort their people outside through the reaper tunnels while Clarke and Lexa distract the Mt. Weather people.  Lexa goes back to her rally the troops thing and finishes with the standard "Blood must have blood."

Outside the entrance to Mt. Weather, the forces gather and chant, "blood must have blood."  Inside Mt. Weather, Maya and Jasper are being escorted by soldiers, when Vincent, Maya's father, stands in front of the envoy to block them.  Maya begs for her father to stop but Vincent makes it clear that they will have to get through him to take his daughter away.  Paul draws his weapon prepared to fire but Bellamy and Miller save the day.  Bellamy instructs Jasper and the rest of the group to head to the harvest chamber.  When Bellamy moves to go after Monty, who is on level three, Jasper is insistent that he come as well, having promised to protect Monty.  Maya decides to accompany Jasper.

Following Lincoln's map, Octavia and Indra make their way through the tunnels.  When Octavia brings up that Lincoln should be here and that it meant a lot that Indra forgave him, Indra simply replies that Lincoln was not ready to re-enter the tunnels and that he earned his forgiveness. Indra makes it clear however that if Lincoln ever chooses sides against the clan again then his bravery won't save him.  Reapers make their appearance and Octavia has to stop the Grounders from killing them in a panic and instead uses the sound distrupter.  Indra stops over the comatose body of someone who was clearly close to her and Octavia assures Indra that the person will be okay.

Outside Mt. Weather, they have begun to drill through the door.  David Miller's hands shake as he inserts a bomb into the hole and it's Lincoln who calms him down. 

At the damn, Wick and Raven continue to work on blowing up the turbines.  This of course is the perfect time to talk about the fact that they had sex.  What's a war and violence when there is angst to talk about? Wick is suddenly attacked by one of the Mt. people, who manages to send off a message  before Wick can disable him.  Wick questions what happens if they only manage to blow up four turbines and is told by Raven that the door will remain closed and everyone they care about will die.

Cage goes to see Dante to talk about what is going on.  Dante makes it clear that their people are in a tenuous position and that it is all Cage's fault.  Cage admits to underestimating the commander but Dante corrects Cage and says that it was Clarke.  Dante lays the blame heavily at Cage's feet and so Cage asks his father how to stop what is going on.  When Dante does not answer, Cage makes it clear to Dante that his people need his help.  Cage moves to leave the holding area but is stopped by Dante.

The Blushing Bounder (Iron Seas #0.4) by Meljean Brook

Constable Edward Newberry has been a character in the series before – this is the story of how he first came to England, and the conflict between him and his new wife, Temperance.

I love so much about this short story and it’s amazing ability to pack so much into such a short space. And that includes the world setting which, as I have rhapsodised about before at great length and with fawning praise, is amazing and wonderful and wide and rich and complex.

Ok, I do think it helps that I know this world setting so, perhaps, I can read a lot more into the hints and suggestions than someone completely unfamiliar with the series. But still, I think you could read it cold - and it’s worth reading many of the books in the series anyway

In a short space this book covers a lot – the cultural differences between the Bounders (British aristocracy who fled England ahead of the Horde invasion now returning after the liberation) with their Victorian prudishness and ideas of propriety (and excessively over the top sense of the horrors that they left in their wake) and the people of Britain who remained under the horde – and in doing lost a lot of their inhibitions but, with it, a lot of their emotional control as they’re finally free from the Horde’s mind control

We see Mina being the awesome detective she is, brilliant and demanding brilliance from others, refusing to waste her precious time on foolishness and constantly testing those around her to make sure they reach her lofty standards. But at the same time having to deal – with weary resignation – with the prejudice and hatred of most of the populace who see her Asian face and assume she is a member of the Horde.

We have Edward and Teperance our main characters dealing with the culture shock of their new surroundings even as they have to re-examine their own relationship.

On top of that we have some wonderful little world building gems that makes this book essential reading for anyone reading the series – like the nature (or lack) of sickness (and doctors) in Britain or the class and economic pressures on people to force them to give themselves cybernetic enhancements.

It’s impressive just how much is here. unfortunately, there’s a downside to all this awesome

The underlying problem to this story I can’t get past, even with the wonderfulness that is Mina and the evident power of the love between Edward and Temperance is the complete lack of respect for Temperance‘s agency and an ending that just doubles down on that by upholding him as having made the right choice.

Regardless of Edward‘s motives for his actions, regardless of how well meaning they were and how much he loves her. In fact, I would go further and say that it would be more forgivable for him to claim he kissed Temperance without consent because he was in love, not thinking and generally being a fool. Not that that would be a good thing by any stretch. Instead we are presented with a scenario where he planned everything – kissing her, marrying her, moving her to a different continent all without her consent. Yes it’s for her “own good” but that’s irrelevant – in fact, it exacerbates things because it presents her as someone who needs looking after and decisions made for her. It’s sad because this unforgiveable scar on this short story really ruins something that is otherwise wonderful and sweet


In walks the manly, testosterone swelling, mighty male protagonist. Able to take down entire legions of enemies, possibly with only his chest hair (or, as is more often now, the glaring reflection from his waxed pectorals). His firm jaw and clenched teeth (naturally adorned with a light dusting of stubble – and yes, he doesn’t have time to shave but can still keep those pectorals gleaming) show a man with a grim purpose, surely nothing could crack his granite visage?
But he stops, looks down at the savaged remains of his wife/child/side-kick/pet marmot and that stony façade cracks. A single Mantear trickles down his rugged cheek and the music swells dramatically as everyone falls silent as the great hero is brought down by his greatest foe; Manpain.
Manpain is not a new phenomenon, but it seems to be growing more common. The manly-male heroes of yore who would never dream of shedding a tear or reacting with more than an angry eye squint in the face of the worst provocation are rapidly becoming extinct. Now, you cannot possibly be a hero without the ability to force out that Mantear and stare in agonised grief at the camera or possibly raising despairing fists to an uncaring sky. Even the most emotionless, removed and untouchable of heroes has to suggest some deep, painful currents running beneath his stoic façade.

There’s certainly some benefit to this – too often men are taught that the only acceptable emotions to express are lust or rage (or, more horrendously, lust and rage) and anything else is deemed a sign of weakness to be mocked and reviled. Allowing men to have a richer emotional palette, to present even the roughest, toughest, hardiest of manly-men to be able to express grief and sorrow and pain, to need help and support, to hurt and need healing are certainly useful things to add to our societal consciousness and media culture

Alas, as in so many things, the execution comes with its own set of problems.
At its most benign, Manpain replaces any real characterisation - and often results in some truly hilarious melodrama. A really good example of this is Will, from Lee Carroll and Carol Goodman’s Black Swan Rising Series. Will is so overcome with the thought of losing Garret he reacts by falling to his knees on the sandy beach, ripping his shirt open and instantly composing the most horrendously bad poetry I have read in a long time. It’s absolutely epic in its overly dramatic Manpain that it becomes hard to choose between rolling one's eyes and laughing out loud.

But not all are so benign (or hilarious). The most obvious we often see is, of course, Fridging. Fridging is a horrendously overused trope whereby a side-character (usually female and usually a love interest) is killed off for the sake of the main character’s story or character development. That (usually female) character is reduced to nothing more than a plot point in the main character’s story which is inherently dehumanising to her while centring his importance
In our quest for Manpain, we’ve filled a whole lot of fridges. Supernatural, perhaps the supreme master of Manpain, has filled an entire frozen food aisle full of fridges so Dean can hone his so-tortured look (Jensen Ackles must be worried his face is going to freeze like that one of these days).
Rick’s epic Manpain on The Walking Dead all relates back to the death of his wife Lori, a character largely lacking in much in the way of development except to be a millstone around Rick’s neck. The whole point of her existence was Rick’s development and Rick’s angst
Even when the women are allowed to live, a large number of these character’s Manpain can be traced back to a female “cause” (not all, certainly, the whole “I have a destiny I don’t want because being special is soooo hard” raises fairly regularly as well – as we see with Alex on Dominion and the massively melodramatic tortured past is a mainstay in paranormal romance series like Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Dark Hunter Series) – as we see on the Leftovers and Justin with his Guilty Remnant wife or Helix’s Alan Farragut stomping and moping around about Julia. These women are not dead, but one of the main roles they serve is as a source of angst and pain - at least in the first season.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (Charley Davidson #4) by Darynda Jones

Charley, the zany, reckless grim reaper is hurting. After being kidnapped and tortured last book, she is not doing well and the trauma has prevented her leaving her apartment in weeks. She has ongoing conflicts with both Reyes and her father for the terrible way they’ve both treated her – she’s at one of her lowest points

She still has good friends to help and support her but what really drags her out of her secure home is a new case; a young woman has been stalked and tormented for years and Charley cannot sit back and let it continue, forcing her to confront her own issues in the process

And issues inevitably lead to Reyes, the son of Satan whose plots led to Charley being tortured in the first place.

In the last book, Charley was badly traumatised after being captured and tortured. One of the things that had characterised Charlie until this point is that she’s pretty much fearless to the point of reckless. She plunges her way into any situation with the merry confidence that she will get out the other side unscathed (which makes sense given her Reaper nature) all the while making witticisms and snark.

And now that little bubble is gone. She isn’t fearless any more. She has night terrors, she has agoraphobia, she panics easily and she is hording things, filling her apartment with things she’s buying trying to reassert control. She covers the stain caused by her torture with boxes and cannot stand to have it touched. It’s a really good depiction and also contrasts well with another character also suffering PTSD as part of the case Charley is investigating. What I really like there is that their symptoms are quite different which really shows how two people with the same condition can manifest them in very different ways

It is difficult to have a character deal with something as severe as Charley did and still respectfully deal with the aftermath of that while at the same time maintain the hallmark lightness and fun that really makes this series a joy to read. And I have to say it does actually manage it without clashing. We have a lot of light and fun depictions of the underlying pain in Charley’s life. So Cookie will snark about all of the ridiculous things Charley has bought and it will be hilarious, but underneath she and Charlie’s sister will recognise there’s a problem and Charley’s hurting. Or Charley will be unable to sleep because of a horrifying nightmare and do one of her classic dropping in at 3:00am visits to poor Garrett. It mixes together surprisingly well though at times it does feel like Charley can turn off her symptoms when they’re in the way.

Forever, Season 1, Episode 17: Social Engineering

Theme setting – lots of people using mobile phones before we move to a news interview of a man, Lawrence Creef who is both CEO of a major company and a candidate for undersecretary of defence which sounds absolutely awful. The interview is hacked by someone who agrees with me exposing some of his corruption

Henry brings up this theme of the week – new modes of communication and how lies, wars and murders still happen. Before breakfast with Abraham who basically explains the concept of the Faceless (basically, Anonymous) to Henry along with Hactivism. Henry snarks at the idea of crusaders for the truth wearing masks which is ridiculously naïve for a man of his age and we get hints of Abraham’s own activist past (and mocking Henry’s technological ineptitude)

Anyway, murder time – the victim is Eric Shaw, dead from asphyxiation (which Henry annoyedly points out to Lucas who missed it – harsh Henry, or high expectations Henry?), Henry smells gas – and when the man’s alarm comes on not only does it turn on every electronic in the flat, but also the gas.

Personally I think this would be a bad way to commit murder – you turn on the gas just as he wakes up in time to smell it and do something about it?

The thermostat can be activated remotely so it’s possible that was just hacked and it wasn’t the worst trap ever. They also find a Faceless mask. Lucas is terrified and tries to leave, rather not having all his secrets leaked to the world.

Back at the station, two police from cybercrimes division get involved (and call Faceless “cyberterrorists”) and they’re super condescending towards Jo and Hanson and want the two to leave the investigation to them.

Jo isn’t impressed. But when she goes to see Henry he doesn’t have much to add (beyond Eric’s last meal) but they decide to experiment with gas for fun and while waiting for that they discuss worst way to die. A subject that Henry is an expert in which is a little disturbing of course. Jo wants to know why Henry is so obsessed with death – and he gives the answer that he likes solving puzzles which is plausible. She asks if he wants to live forever.

They do find that there is no way that the gas would have killed him in the time frame discovered.

Back to the morgue where Henry shaves Eric – where it looks like someone held a hand over his mouth (marks hidden by the beard).

At the same time Hanson lurks around the computer experts find the computer that released the gas and arrest Lawrence Creef. Of course, being with a remote computer is actually an alibi since it proves he wasn’t on hand to suffocate Eric.

Cover Review: 23rd February to 27th February

Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4) by Patricia Briggs

One thing I’ve always liked about Anna, and, in some ways, why I prefer this series to the Mercy Thompson Series, is that she’s a character whose woo-woo is almost the anti-woo-woo. She’s the least werewolf-y werewolf there is; and that defines her. She’s not constantly worried about control or anger, she’s not always stalking around dominance games or hierarchy or hatred of witches or any such supernatural issues. She’s often effective simply because she comes in and dumps very-human normality over everything and forces her fellows wolves to do the same

Which is why I can’t even begin to agree with a cover which makes her look all feral and ominous. Charles, yes - walking slab of angsty sexy wolfy muscle, certainly. But I feel this cover kind of misses the entire point of who and what Anna is.

Change Anna’s clothes and her facial expression and I think it would work - the wolf, the lack of white-washing Charles, it would have been a lot better

Armageddon Rules (Grimm Agency #2) by J.C. Nelson

Ok… what… is happening here? Is it just me, or is that her butt and BACK below the breasts and then her chest above? Because that exposed “stomach” looks like a back. Her hips definite have her arse facing us. But she’s definitely facing us from the chest upwards. Is this the most extreme spine twist we’ve ever seen? Was the artist drunk? Is it an attempt to snark at spine twisty covers? Am I just hallucinating? Perhaps I am drunk? Perhaps I should be?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Night Shift Anthology

Secrets at Midnight by Nalini Singh

This is a classic romance from the Psy/Changeling world of Nalini Singh. Which has both good and bad points. On the good side we have a lot of racial diversity, the fascinating world playing a backdrop, some pretty awesome side characters and a romance that was generally very sweet

On the minus side, it was so classic that it was faintly predictable. Bastien meets Kirby and ZOMG SHE SMELLS OF WIFEY! And lo, the romance is now written in stone as soon as he human brain catches up with Bastien’s relationship planning wereleopard nose. To be fair to the story, while Bastien is very eager to be with Kirby (because of the WIFEY SMELL!) he is also very careful not to pressure her – even refusing to have sex with her when she instigates it because he recognises what vast changes have suddenly rocked her life and he’s very conscious about not taking advantage of her. He is very respectful of her agency and, if you must have the “I smell true love with this complete stranger we are destined to be together” storyline then this is one of the best you will read out there. I’m still not a fan, but this was one of the best I’d read. Especially since, while Bastien had all the classic “MAH WIFEY!” possessiveness, he also kept that to the internal monologue.

There’s also some clear story beyond the “I SMELL WIFEY TWU LUB!” storyline with nice appearances from Bastien’s family and Kirby’s past.

Magic Steals by Ilona Andrews

It’s Jim and Dali’s story! For a long time fan of this world, this is perfect and I couldn’t wait. But beyond my love of these two characters, this story is awesome as well because of how Dali grows in it. Jim has always been confident, powerful and a leader of his people; he’s the chief enforcer and security head of the Pack, he’s the head of Clan Cat, made up of some of the most dangerous and powerful and independent of the shapeshifters. He has always, from the very beginning of the book, been an immense power and worthy of respect. Dali, on the other hand, has always been plagued by insecurities which is clear here – she considers herself scrawny, she has very poor eyesight, she’s a vegetarian, she’s not dangerous and generally considers herself inept – and has no idea why Jim wants to be with her. Her lack of self-worth is painful to see

But through this book Dali really shows off her own strength – and not through Jim holding her hand and convincing her she’s special (though he is instrumental in pointing out that it doesn’t matter how limited her vision or averse to blood she is, she’s still a massive White Tiger and the biggest werecat in the city not to mention absolutely awe inspiring in appearance), but through her going through her life as someone who defeats evil magic in her Indonesian community. We see a side to her life we’ve never seen before – which Jim has never seen before – in which she is casually competent and incredibly, awesomely powerful – and Jim is willing to support her in that, play second to her and let her guide the action because this is her territory and her expertise. We get to see Dali in all her amazing glory and the immensely powerful Jim continues to show his strength AND isn’t lessened by allowing Dali to take point.

Throw in Dali being Indonesian, Jim being Black and a whole lot of racially diverse side cast and this was awesome all through. There’s also a wonderful sense of Indonesian culture – I can’t say I’m an expert but there was some clear research involved from cuisine, to mythology. There’s also some definite sharp commentary on the habit of fetishising Asian women. And Dali’s family is hilarious.

Lucky Charms by Lisa Shearin

I don’t know if it’s because I am not familiar with this world – but this felt like a lot was packed into a small space. On the plus side, that lot was wonderfully zany and excellent whacky fun and I’d definitely want to pick up the whole series attached to it – but it definitely felt like a small part of a whole rather than a story that could stand on its own. But, then, since it left me wanting to find the rest of that whole, then I think that’s a definite result.

The world is incredibly diverse with a lot of interesting political machinations between the different mystical factions which just makes me want to delve through it all. I also like the snarky mundanity brought in – like the supernatural loving our world because of indoor plumbing. Makenna is an interesting character – she has a useful ability without being superwoman, she seems pretty alert and fun and capable and generally will be a decent protagonist to follow around and definitely one I’d like to see more of – she also has a sense of needing employment, but not seeming to be drowning in devotional loyalty to an employer because of that – which will be interesting to see develop. There is a budding romance but thankfully they resist the urge to pursue it. Some of the humour about the male leprechauns shifting into female strippers to humiliate male agents borders on the transphobic and homophobic, though

The Beast of Blackmoor by Milla Vane

Why is this story even here? There’s a Grimdark High Fantasy story clinging to the end of an Urban Fantasy anthology? It feels so very out of place compared to the other three stories in the book

And why, when going for a Grimdark setting, do we really need to have wall-to-wall rape? A tyrannical dictator enslaving his populace who are starving because of demonic tainted water is already pretty grim, we don’t need the man who was raped in the stocks and the hero who was gang raped as a teenager and the king who wants to enslave him for more rape in the future to extra grimmify everything. Nor do we really need all the angry sex between Kavik and Mala, the woman he thinks is going to enslave him and return him to a life of being raped. I equally dislike that Kavik and Mala saw each other and it’s twu lub forever, each of them willing to sacrifice everything for the other. Which sounds kind of romantic – until you remember that they’re both heirs to separate thrones on which much of the hope of their people’s rest.

Once we move past the rape and the fastforward romance, we actually have a great story and world here. The pantheon seems rich and researched, the world is so well described you can almost see the landscape. The politics has layers and has clearly been well put together and I’m sure all of these lands have a lot of research in the author’s notes and head. The action scenes are gloriously written and I can see the chainmail and the flying blood. The story has all the epic fantasy elements and if I were ever to get back into high fantasy I would have considered this author and this series because it ticks a lot of boxes – but not the pointless grimdark rape or the falling in love while still reeking of the entrails of the monsters they just slew.

It’s an anthology with a lot more ups than down, a lot of excellent stories, some brilliant characters and, in at least 2 of the stories, some good racial diversity and development. The first two stories are the strongest but all of them have strong elements in their favour.

The Last Man on Earth, Season 1, Episode 1: Alive in Tucson & Episode 2: The Elephant in the Room

Year 2020: 1 year after the virus

Our protagonist, Phil, drives around in a bus with a megaphone on it, crossing through state to state trying to find another human being. He doesn’t have much luck, crossing off all 50 states.

He decides to enter Tucson and paint the signs to say there’s a living person there. Hey, if everyone’s dead from the virus at least there’s a considerable lack of corpses!

Time to set up home – of course the most expensive one around, who wouldn’t? Which he then redecorates with all the National Treasures he’s looted from across the country (again, who wouldn’t?)

He reflects on his situation through prayer and that inevitably turns to begging god for a woman.

On to him doing all the things he can because he’s the last person on Earth – causing random chaos, walking around in his underwear and leaving a small amount of destruction in his wake and loading up on junk food, porn and booze.

And gets weirdly fixated on a female mannekin. We get it, he’s desperate for sex.

More antics until his sad and lonely birthday and sad memories. And more ranting about god for being alone.

5 months later

His continued antics have reduced the entire house, and its treasures, to a rubbish dump. Those antics involve more and more booze. I don’t even want to think of his toilet arrangements

He continues to be obsessed with women. And contrary to his ranting at the TV he is reduced to talking to balls with faces painted on them. More obsessing about women, kissing a manikin and more booze.

He finally contemplates suicide by ramming his truck into a boulder but stops just before impact – because he sees smoke.

He hurries there and finds a camp site and, far more meaningful to him, women’s underwear. He faints when he hears a woman cough when she catches him fondling her underwear.

He wakes and they’re both overjoyed to see another human being; well in his dream anyway. When he actually wakes up the woman is less perfectly made up and she thought he was dying (and wetting himself). It’s a lot less dreamy. And when he gets close to her she, wisely, points a gun at him and, for some reason, critiques his grammar.

Eventually she puts her gun away and introduces herself as Carol, last woman on Earth.

Episode 2 The Elephant in the Room

Awkward conversation, Carol’s annoying habit of correcting grammar badly and Phil realising being all alone may actually be preferable. She also would rather he follow traffic laws – like stop signs. Honestly, last person on Earth looks preferable now.

He also takes her to the cess pool he lives in and she has reservations about him stealing priceless art. She’s also not keen on his extensive porn collection. He takes her back to her camp site while she announces her intention to put his life back together

Which involves cleaning (just move into a different house), shopping and following rules like disabled parking which don’t really apply when there’s no other humans around.  They continue to annoy each other until she moves in next door

And brings up the elephant in the room – repopulating the planet. Both make it clear that they would really really really rather not; but she’s determined to fix him until it becomes tolerable. She tries to seduce him with fresh vegetables to encourage him to help.

He steals tomatoes instead and, given the paucity of suspects and his tomato stained clothes, is obviously the culprit. She calls him a terrorist. She continues to ineffectually try and obtain running water.

After a long time trying Carol seems to give up and become as much as a slob as Phil having realised she’s pretty ineffective.

Guilt makes Phil try to get running water instead (he’s not much more effective) but he does succeed in getting water to Carol’s tomato patch. Reconciliation is in the air and he is utterly graceless about it. Oh but she also wants to get married before they have sex.

Dear gods.

I’m not going to poke at how neat and clean everything is for a world destroyed by a virus because this clearly isn’t the kind of show that expects you to look to closely nor does it care if you find the holes. The setting is a backdrop for shenangians, to poke it would be like going to the theatre and complaining that the buildings in the background aren’t real.

But I can’t say I’m a fan of the foreground. Does this make people laugh? Guy breaks stuff and obsesses about women… ok… and… funny? Ok the bowling balls and the fishtanks amused me. But that’s about it. Honestly I didn’t crack a smile the whole time.

And I can’t say I can even think “hey I’d do that”, maybe collect the art but randomly break stuff because? I don’t see the appeal.

Followed up with the slob-man-nagging-woman mind numbingly dull and repeated trope – this one dystopian style and taken to the umpteenth degree, and I’m not a fan.

I’m going to have to say this whole show is about as appealing to me as root canal surgery without anaesthetic and with very shaky hands-  but I rather think I’m not remotely the target audience.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Poisoned by Deceit (The One Rises #4) by Anna Wolfe

Silas receives a message – a summons even – from the witches of San Francisco demanding his help. Witches are going missing, young witches, and one of them is very close to Edie’s ex-husband and ex-mother-in-law.

As they head to San Francisco they have to uncover a plot that risks the Covenant and save young lives before they get in too deep. But just as frightening, Edie has to confront the shadows of her past, people she hurt long ago and an extremely powerful witch who has every reason to hate her.

As is common with this series, this book is far more about the characters than the story. The book is split into multiple point of view sections – Edie, Mark, Silas and Callie and, again, it does it really well. I know I’ve said it every book, but I don’t think I should stop praising it just because I expect it – it really does work. Usually this would be jarring but seeing it from several viewpoints really helps see every character to their fullest. Without this insight into everyone’s head, Edie would seem quite emotionless and cold, Silas would seem uncaring and distant, Callie withdrawn and impulsive and Mark just an arsehole. Because we see inside their heads we see far more of the motives behind each character and it makes for both excellent development and complexity – especially when two characters are at odds and you can see both sides have a point.

One good example of this is the trust issues that permeate this book. Because of various woo-woo Silas has secrets that he simply cannot share with the others. Not doesn’t want to, but absolutely cannot. But at the same time the very nature of his training means he requires complete and unflinching trust from the others, without a shred of thought for privacy. This makes for some excellent development and conflict as Callie repeatedly holds back and even Edie has reservations, tempered by her much longer association with Silas.

There’s a lot of complexities and motives among the group with no-one really wrong because everyone has a point and a good reason for thinking what they think and doing what they do.

This book and series continues to be a wonderful subversion of many annoying elements of Urban Fantasy – especially in relation to feeding and control. The bitten in this world hunger, they need to feed. What they feed on differs from bitten to bitten, but common examples are pain, sex, fear, blood, anger – even devotion. Usually if they can feed on it, they have powers relating to it – and a hunger or drive towards causing it

In any other Urban Fantasy, this would be the cue for lots and lots of sexy times as the sex hunger-ers had lots and lots of sex with very little consent and excused it all with woo-woo, lots of guilt or guilt and woo-woo. They may occasionally complain about it, but generally a wonderful time is had by all

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 13: Darkness on the Edge of Town

The Forbidden Fortress, Many years ago

Wait, we have a Forbidden Fortress? And am I the only one who finds ominous castles with names like that really unimpressive? It’s the very definition of trying too hard, dare I say, overcompensating for something?

Ursula enters Maleficent castle (taking down a guard - or, as Not!Pam says “knocked out, strangled or tried to impregnate” since she doesn’t know what the tentacles are for) and Maleficent objects to this. Someone invited Ursula and it wasn’t Maleficent (which is just rude). They’re interrupted by two large dogs which Cruella seems to control with her halitosis.  She was also invited. Maleficent is also not impressed.

Rumplestiltskin, the one who invited them all, arrives before they start fighting. He’s pitching his plan of the villains getting the happy endings. Time for his pitch (in which he reveals he knows what they all secretly want), they need a Dark Curse that will get them all their Happily Ever After.

This involves going through a series of traps each tailored to a villain’s talent to gain the curse. Of course, Rumple double crosses them and leaves them to die at the hands of the Chernobog, a demon that feeds on evil (actually a Slavic god as I recall). That leaves the 3 villains to fight it – and co-operate (it goes for the most evil which is apparently Maleficent).

To the present and Storybrooke and everything is idyllic (and yes, that includes Regina, now mayor again, burning Mary Margaret’s sappy artwork cluttering up her gloriously stylish office).

But there is something sinister underneath – the Blue Fairy and all her Fairy-Nuns are still missing (thanks to Rumple) and Killian and Belle are working on trying to release them, which means investigation. Which isn’t going to go well if Killian remains contemptuous of computers (and, Killian, that computer is way too out dated to be a magic box). Of course Killian is tortured by the guilt weasels because any attractive man who looks good in black leather and eyeliner simply has to have some darkly tortured angst to go with it. It’s a  rule. Bella has similar guilt weasels but softer – Rumple tricked them both, it happens. Belle is also sad because she did love Rumple, despite how it ended between them.

In New York, Rumple is living a far less idyllic life with the aquarium loving Ursula – both of them without magic outside of Storybrooke. And there is something deeply disturbing watching Rumple microwave ramen. Ursula’s also getting tired of him freeloading on her. But Rumple has plans

Plans which lead them to a fancy house in Long Island where Cruella lives – only her stuff is being repossessed and her husband just got arrested. He launches his recruitment pitch though she doubts both his lack of magic and his physical infirmity (Rumple walks with a cane). They’re off to track down the storybook’s author who is responsible for all their misfortune (as opposed to, as Cruella puts it, “bad judgement and gin.”) And they go for drive through

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) by Chloe Neill

Ethan and Merit have been on edge waiting for Balthasar, Ethan’s creator, to show himself. Finally the ancient vampire makes an appearance – and he’s as terrifying and powerful as they feared; he also feels entitled to his progeny’s achievements, including his house

But it’s not the only threat looking. The problems besetting Navarre house have finally been revealed as two of their vampires become attempted assassins in a very public attack. While Navarre has never been a friend to Cadogan, Ethan and Merit can’t stand aside while the vampire house is acting so strangely and has to investigate, even with Balthasar stalking them.

This is one of those hard reviews to write. It’s hard because I find myself with a feeling of, well, vaguely positive indifference towards the book. I didn’t dislike it, there were few things about it that I had issue with (though there are some which I’ll get to). The writing was well paced, the action seems nicely described. The two main plots were nicely interwoven, related and each got sufficient time and attention to be properly developed and come to a natural conclusion.

Merit continues to be a relatively fun character, active and in control without being overwhelming and eclipsing everyone else. There was also more presence from the other women around her, the other female guards, Helen who runs the house, Margot the cook, Mallory her best friend. They’re not present in huge amounts but this is a very Ethan and Merit focused book. I also like that Mallory is finally coming from beneath the shadow of her past misdeeds to be a less controversial and dubious presence in the book always haunted by her own guilt

I also appreciated that Merit managed to be intelligent and insightful in this book without the need for everyone else to suddenly lose half of their brain cells. It has been an unfortunate habit of the series to make Merit seem extremely intelligent by making everyone else… somewhat limited in their comprehension.

I love Merit’s adoration of all things edible and unhealthy and she almost makes me hungry reading
the book (or, in her case, hangry – her hungry anger has no caused emergency lunches to be ready at all times) though there’s a dubious element of this unhealthy eating without any side issues.

We had some touching on the Sorcerers with Catcher and Mallory’s upcoming wedding – and a lot of interest debate around it. I loved how they chewed over the idea that even with someone you love, getting married for “practical purposes” rather takes the wind out of things. But equally there’s the counter debate that people grow up, what they once dreamed of isn’t what they want and love and practicality can mean that a big romantic moment is less important – it’s a nice back and forth with the added good input from Ethan that her friends are adults who don’t need Merit to police their relationship.

Fangs for the Fantasy Book of the Week

It's another Monday and usually time for another episode of the Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast

Sadly, because we've been hit with the dreaded moose plague, we're not up to doing the podcast this week. However, we will continue our books of the week for the Monday review ans because we do intend to talk about them when we're back on the air and the mooses (meese?) have been banished

We will be covering everything when we come back!

9th February - 16th February: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
16th February - 23rd February: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
23rd February - 2nd March: Dark Debt by Chloe Neil
2nd March - 9th March: Fury’s Kiss by Karen Chance
9th March - 16th March: Ash by Malinda Lo
16th March - 23rd March: Grave Visions by Kalayna Price
23rd March - 30th March: Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger
30th March - 6th April: The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich
6th April – 13th April: Vengeance of the Demon by Diana Rowland

If you have missed any of our previous shows, all our archives can be found here

Bitten: Season 2, Episode 4: Dead Meat

Elena is strapped to a gurney with random people silently taking samples from her (90% of the POC on this show are sinister agents of Alistair’s, I’d like to point out) while a woman assures the drugged Elena that everything will be fine, they’re just examining her. Oh well that’s perfectly acceptable! They also strip her down to her bra for Reasons.

There’s lots of sinister sample jars all around her. Alistair arrives to declare her blood is the answer to allow them to achieve the “undoing”

I’m going to take a wild guess and assume we don’t want him to achieve the undoing. The undoing sounds like a bad thing.

He touches her and burns his symbol into her neck with the palm of his hand.

Next time she wakes up, she’s in a cell. After looking all around for a route of escape she manages to tear a small hole in the wall, but it’s braced with metal and there’s no way she could fit through it. But it does allow her to speak to Savannah in the next cell. Before they can have a conversation, guards with tasers and a catch pole come to collect her.

Back at Stonehaven, Jeremy, Clay, Ruth and Paige are all looking for Elena and Savannah (and, hope, reflecting on their terrible performance last episode). They manage to get in touch with Savannah through Paige and trying to convince Savannah that Alistair is a bad guy. Despite the kidnapping and being put in a cell, Savannah is having trouble remembering this. They also learn that Elena is there

Back to Elena and the female doctor trying to be all friendly and enthusiastic about her experiments. Elena tries to reason with her but she’s all gung ho for the undoing as well

Savannah has another chit chat with Alistair in which he uses his “I am the lock,” “I am the key” mantra to bring her back into acquiescence when she refuses to go along with the idea that the witches just want to control her and how being locked up is a totally good thing. He’s also using his faked hypnotically induced rage to try and focus Savannah’s growing magic

Alistair considers this good news and tells the sinister doctor lady who doesn’t understand why he doesn’t just brand her and bring her to the “inside mind” whatever that means. Woo-woo means this is a bad idea, apparently. Also the blood tests the doctor’s doing haven’t don’t what they want them to. They haven’t used Elena’s blood because she hasn’t turned yet – all the ways they used to turn the other wolves  haven’t worked on Elena –which the doctor takes to mean Elena is super special. The doctor, Sonja, gets super duper excited by all the potential of experimentation but Alistair gets all sinister – they need Elena’s wolf blood, science isn’t his goal. Sonja professes her devotion.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

12 Monkeys, Season 1, Episode 7: The Keys

Surreal and spooky beginning, flash images, darkness and Cole talking to someone about keys and he seems to be saying goodbye.


CIA headquarters and a speaker discusses a viral strain being extracted from the body that was in the Night room, (which is probably Cole’s. And was destroyed by fire, or will be destroyed by fire). The body was found in the Himalayas, the virus extracted and then the CIA scientists messed with it. This virus is what they want to unleash in Chechnya in Operation Troy. And that the virus is “safe” because it kills so quickly so that it can be used in isolated areas the infected won’t be able to reach new targets to infect

Why are the CIA doing this foolish thing? Well, Wexler, the computer hacker/wikileaks person keeps revealing America’s big bad secrets and at least one of those secrets involving this area of Chechnya is big enough to bring down the CIA and see them all imprisoned. They, unsurprisingly, want Wexler dead

Over to Cassie with the news reporting on Wexler. She’s still having Red Forest hallucinations. She’s so lost in it she doesn’t even realise she’s pouring hot water from the kettle over her hand until Cole stops her. They didn’t get much from last week, but they did find a picture of a possible monkey which they connect to an Edward Garret – a professor of Middle Eastern antiquity (yes this connection seems awfully tenuous)

And how do they meet him? By going to a fancy party in a museum that, somehow, Cassie has managed to score. Cole is rather delightfully out of his element but is happy to eat all the things. He’s also awed by the art – since the museums were quickly raided or destroyed during the outbreak. Cole also wants to slow down and relax a little, enjoy the moment while Cassie wants him to focus on the mission and is bewildered by his distraction, especially when he pulls her to dance (he can’t dance but she shows him). It’s actually really sweetly awkward but, much to Cole’s sad eyes, Cassie gets back on the mission

She talks to Prof. Garret and he reveals the symbol is Druze, in particular an offshoot of the Druze faith that moved to Chechnya. It references a pact to be the guardians of time. He can’t tell her more because the Druze are super-duper secretive. She asks about the army of the 12 monkeys and his face falls – and he says “you’re a beautiful woman, you should have stuck with that.” Ok, let us hope something stabs him

Cassie passes on to Cole who is still have strange milk-glass-smashing visions. So Cole kidnaps him. He also ends up with a bloody nose – which he passes off as Garrett grazing him to Cassie, but is probably down to lethal time travel. All he reveals though is that the 12 monkeys have been asking about his time in Chechnya. Aaron joins them for this little get together with a lot of closeness with Cassie (which she doesn’t seem that comfortable with) and noticing Cole in his tux (which Aaron certainly isn’t happy about).

Helix, Season 2, Episode 7: Cross Polination

Alan wakes up and sees his bloodied fingernails for a brief flashy recap of everything that just happened. Frankly, just about anything he did could have cause the damage but I’ll go with climbing out of the oubliette


Wait, 1601? Yes, it’s flashback to Michael in the distant past, narrated by the immortal French girl to Julia. Michael fell in love with and married a peasant girl – though she loved someone else, cheated on him and had an illegitimate child, much to the mockery of the people around. Michael decided the appropriate response was to burn his wife and her lover’s house down – with them in it.

Day 7

In Paris the girl finishes the story to Julia who is duly suspicious of the idea that this man will stop Ilaria. I kind of wonder why the girl thought this was relevant information on how Michael will stop Ilaria. Finished with the prologue, she now explains how Michael can help – he has perfected the science of causing infertility (hi there Utopia!) which only effects mortal men (which confirms that Michael is the father of all the children in his cult). A way to reduce the mortal population without genocide (well… depending on your definition of genocide. Forcible sterilisation of a group is generally considered an act of genocide). Julia decides to find Michael

To that island where Amy reports to a rather frazzled looking Michael that most of the infected who were released last episode are being hidden. Michael is all stressed because Agnes isn’t around to put everything just as he likes it – so he turns to Amy, her granddaughter (and his daughter/granddaughter/great-granddaughter) to do it. She warns him that people are scared and “people” are talking about leaving the island. (And by people she means she is).

The missing infected also worries Kyle; they’ve found 4 “Mycotics” which leaves 79 out there and the sedative is wearing off. Michael arrives to address the crowd in the makeshift infirmary and he says, for their own protection, none of them should leave the room. One of the followers, Malcolm, questions leaving their family outside – and Michael calmly says the health will be directed back to them while the infected will, basically, be left to die.

The crowd does not react well – one of them throws an egg at him. Michael has Landrey lock the room. He goes to his office to talk to his paintings of generations of daughters/sexual partners. Amy arrives to ask if Malcolm should be imprisoned in a “contemplation cell” (which, frankly, sounds more ominous than “death hole”) but no, Michael is all for hearty dissent which is a complete u-turn and something he contradicts 10 seconds later by shushing Amy and telling her about all her peacefully, obedient predecessors. He then starts grabbing her neck in a very threatening manner

Kyle and Alan go looking for Sarah and find a shoe in the lab – Alan picks it up and has a psychic vision flash. What? The psychic vision tells him where Sarah is. I’m going to assume this is a memory coming back from being under the drug since he kidnapped Sarah