Saturday, March 21, 2015

Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 17, A Bird in a Gilded Cage

Caroline is cleaning, much to Enzo’s bemusement because she switched her humanity off – but Caroline again shows us that even with her humanity off she’s still more sensible than the rest of the cast combined. And she’s still joining the school musical (she’s a drama major. Yes it says a lot that she’s been in college for this long and this is the first time we’ve heard about her major).

Oh she also tells Enzo about her master plan last episode which seems to rather worry Enzo. Though whether that’s because he’s afraid of her evil awesomeness or that his own petty revenge plans would be scuppered with a humanity-less Stefan and a dead Sarah I don’t know

Sarah is in hospital with her mind all compelled and Jo feeding her some lies. She’s not very happy about this and lets her new fiancé Alaric know. They’re keeping her in hospital so she doesn’t die with vampire blood in her system – which says a lot about how dangerous they think the area is. Jo’s also running through baby names in full on mummy mode. This seems all kinds of pointless but it does allow Jo to say “anyone named Alaric should not be allowed to name another human.”

Domesticity is ruined by Enzo shaming Alaric into helping capture Caroline. This means lots of Alaric and Enzo snarking at each other and pretending to be relevant.

Damon tries to vervain Stefan so they can re-humanity him but gets his wrist broken in the process. Stefan’s out and about with a lot of weapons so this is likely to get messy. Damon decides to break things to deal with this; he explains his frustration to Elena that the more people Stefan kills while a Ripper, the more guilt and whining Damon has to deal with when Stefan is human again. I almost like how Vampire Diaries isn’t even trying to pretend with its morality any more.

Damon also tells Elena about his dangerous evil mother. Elena, being Elena, decides this is the best way to get Stefan back – unleash a THIRD murderous evil vampire on the town. Damon objects but then decides to go ahead despite already saying what a terribad idea this is. But they’re going to need witch help for it

Which means Bonnie, who has barely been back 5 minutes and has already been treated appallingly by her so-called friends, is now being pressed into service. Bonnie is not amused because not only is Damon asking her help, he’s asking her to work with Kai

Bonnie, just murder the whole town. All of them.

Of course she agrees and they go see Kai who makes this even worse and demands that Bonnie goes with him to the prison world because this show just wants to make Bonnie suffer. At least she keeps telling everyone how terrible they are

Elena also decides to join (because they want to make Bonnie suffer, remember and she always has to be involved).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez

Divine Misfortune is set in an alternate world where Gods make deals with humans;  in exchange for tribute, Gods provide humans the benefits of their area of specialty.  Phil and Terri live an average middle class existence but never really manage to move up the corporate ladder because unlike their coworkers, neither Phil or Terri have welcomed a God into their life.  When Phil is passed up for promotion yet again and his neighbour's lawn suddenly becomes perfect with the help of Demeter, Phil decides that it's time for him and Terri to pick a God.  With the multiple of Gods in human history -- this is not an easy task -- particularly when you have to pass a credit check to even look at Zeus's profile and Tyr demands the removal of a hand as proof of devotion.  After looking through the Gods on, Phil and Terri settle on Luka, the God of prosperity and good fortune.  Unlike the other Gods, Luka doesn't seem overly demanding and a safe bet to the risk adverse Terri and Phil but what they forgot, is that dealing with the divine is never as simple as it first seems.

Before they know it, Terri and Phil find themselves in the middle of a holy war between their personal deity Luka and Gorgoz "the ultimate embodiment of the chaos that birth the universe." And what are the two Gods fighting over? Well, a goddess of course.  There's nothing like a love triangle to keep immortality interesting.  If that isn't enough, Luka, who loves his Hawaiian shirts, decides to summarily move in and bring his friend Quetzalcoatl along for the ride. Getting though a typical day is hard enough but when you're dealing with God engaged in a holy war, a South American God filled with guilt for not dealing with the conquistadors, and a Goddess of love, now turned into the   Goddess of tragedy because centuries later, she's still not over being dumped, life can become complicated quickly.

You can probably tell from the description that there is a lot going on in Divine Misfortune, yet despite the twists and turns and the appearance of various Gods from assorted pantheons, the story never once feels confused.  Divine Misfortune is also infused with Martinez's great sense of humor and this makes the book at times laugh out loud funny.  After all, who wouldn't want to offer tribute to a God for some luck when informed that the in laws are coming for a visit, along with their multitude of children, particularly when one of the kids is going through a pyromaniac stage? With incidents like having an entire city's water supply being turned into grape soda as the result of an epic God showdown, all the world's pregnant dogs giving birth at once to winged puppies, Zeus and Mog giving out signed autographed photos and the Goddess of revenge giving boils to spurned lovers, Divine Misfortune is written to make you giggle, then laugh out loud until you have tears rolling down your face.  

In terms of gender, Divine Misfortune had three very strong characters female characters but Terri was by far my favourite, Terri, was so feminist, she refused to be saved by a man.  When Phil, Terri and  Bonnie, (who is forced to deal with the result of unwittingly becoming Syph, the goddess of tragedy number one sycophant), are confronted by gun men, who want to kill them as a tribute to Gorgoz, Phil decides to offer his life in trade for the two women.  Terri however is not at all impressed.
Phil stood and stepped between Eugene and his wife. “Kill me. But don’t shoot the women.”

“That’s some misogynistic bullshit.” Teri pushed him aside. “Kill me but let them go.”

“This isn’t a good time for feminism,” he replied.

“Says you.” She turned her eyes away from the guns trained on them. “You know how I feel about women and children first. It puts women in the same category as children. And I am not a child.”

“I wasn’t saying that. I was just trying to be noble.”

“Because it’s the man’s job to be noble,” she said, “and the woman’s job to—”

“Dammit, this is not the time to be having this discussion!”

Bonnie stood. “Shoot me. I’m the one who is going to die anyway. Might as well get it out of the way.”

“Excuse me,” said Eugene. “But this is an assassination, not a negotiation. You’re all going to get shot. There’s no way around that.”     

“Although, for the record, miss,” said Rick, “I agree with you that it’s chauvinistic nonsense." (pg117) 
When Phil later decides to trade himself Gorgoz to keep Terri safe, does not at all see the gesture as loving and supportive.

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 15: The Things They Carried

Ok that was a very random series of flashbacks.

And now we have a kidnapped woman hanging from her feet with some dripping water because we’re really pushing the horror movie vibe. A man cuts her throat and gathers the blood in a bucket

Now can we calm down the camera angles please? The obligatory deaths is over

To the Winchester cave where Sam I still illicitly researching ways to cure the Mark of Cain despite Dean telling him to stop. Dean assumes he’s looking at porn (his only comment on that is “not where we eat”). Dean has a case – that woman was eaten and had her bone marrow drained and she was an excellent martial artist. Dean calls case, Sam tries to distract him (still all Cain worried) but fails. Sam keeps unsubtly studying even while they’re travelling and Dean, again, calls him on trying to fix the unfixable. Dean wants to move on and do what they can until he can’t do it anymore – and he’d kind of like Sam to keep going with him, not be lost in research

Time to imitate federal agents as they do on a regular basis and get away with it because absolutely no-one ever checks (they don’t even bother with the fake badges this time, the suits are enough. I have this idea that somewhere in America there are several confused lawyers, accountants and undertakers being drafted into police investigations because local law enforcement has assumed they’re FBI). The local police think they’ve found who did it – a guy who conveniently suicided soon afterwards; one of several suicides which the sheriff puts down to it being a military town. Also no bite marks on the body so probably not cannibalism

Still not convinced it’s not supernatural given the gruesome nature of the suicide, Sam and Dean interview the widow of Rick, the suspected murderer. She knows he was deployed, but not where, and that he had a raging thirst

They also learn that another soldier, Kit, is showing similar symptoms. To make things more complicated because Cole is back, yes the guy who wanted to kill Dean but then was beaten up then talked out of it and generally hasn’t been that effective. He wants to team up with the Winchesters to make sure they help his friend Kit rather than just yell “monster” and stab him a few times

Speaking of, Kit kills a shop assistant over bottled water then drinks the blood.

The gang gets news about this just as Cole’s contacts reveal Rick and Kit were in Iraq in a cemetery with an odd, raging POW on their last deployment.

Cole does have a lead on where Kit is but, fearing Winchester wrath, he decides to go alone. He nearly gets himself killed before the Winchesters save him – yes they followed him, they’re not that big a fool, and the raging Kit spits out a nasty wormy thing that the Winchesters kill; but not before something goes down Cole’s throat

Urban Fantasy Awards 2015 - polls closing!

Today is your last chance to get in your votes for the Urban Fantasy Awards

It hasn't been the smoothest journey for our first awards, technical issues, illness and possible invasions of undead marmots have caused more delay and disruption than we'd like and certainly dragged it out for longer than expected. Still lessons learned for next year!

Get your votes in now - who deserves the blessing of a Golden Fang or the shame of a Dread Fanpoodle

VOTE for Golden Fangs here

VOTE for Dread Fanpoodles here

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blue Rhapsody (Require Cookie Short) by Grace McDermott

Michael Hu Luk, or Raz as he prefers to be called, is struggling to live day by day with his mental illness, the little support he gets from hat and the long suffering tolerance of his dutiful older sister

Until a chance encounter brings him to the attention of Agent Ryan from the Agency, the enforcers and facilitators of the supernatural world. And Agent Ryan can see the potential in Michael

The diversity of this book is excellent and really emphasises what the Agency is about. They don’t tolerate diversity. They don’t tolerate minorities – they celebrate them, embrace them, are empowered and enabled by the different elements they bring to the organisation and are stronger because of it.

This is especially true with mental illness as we take Michael (or Raz as he prefers to be called) who is considered completely and utterly unemployable because of his mental illness. His sister regards him as a burden, he himself has fully absorbed the idea that he’s completely useless. But he thrives at the Agency. He’s useful and capable at the Agency. And it’s not because he develops super powers, nor is it because he is magically cured by his mental illness – but he is given a place, a work environment and colleagues who are willing to make the necessary accommodations for him to succeed.

It’s wonderful – and also excellently added to by his sister’s contempt of him. Because she does support him; she is constantly giving him financial support. But it’s clear she doesn’t respect him; it shows that you can actually HELP a marginalised person while hurting them and regarding them with contempt.

We also see racial and LGBTQ diversity. Michael is Asian and gay both of which inform his character, both his family history and, again, with how his sister relates to him (apparently supportive but, again, not wanting his “not normal” gayness being discussed. And her patented “I’m totally not a bigot but I’m disgusted” expression) we have characters who are bisexual and genderqueer, South Asian characters, Black characters – even with the relatively large cast this short story has an amazingly diverse array of characters and some excellent messages about marginalised people in life and the work place.

iZombie, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

Introducing Olivia (Liv) awesome medical resident who just saves someone’s life and earns the snarky respect of fellow resident, Marcy and her really enthusiastic fiancé. The perfect night ends with a party on a boat

A boat that then burns while being attacked by zombies. Personally, I blame the fiancé, he said “what’s the worst that can happen?” He’s lucky Nazis with lasers riding velociraptors didn’t attack.

Liv wakes up in a body bag with a sudden hunger for brains. And the surprise of the EMT

Move forward 5 months and a much much paler Liv buys a whole lot of bronzer and Night of the Living Dead. And her mother, her little brother, her room mate, her now ex-fiance and others are staging an intervention over the whole dumping her fiancé, quitting her job and working in a morgue turn her life has taken. They think she has PTSD after the party gone wrong and she needs help

Liv opts for no. Though she admits she has change, and not just because she’s a zombie – she is also very very jaded.

To work, her chatty colleague (possibly boss) Dr. Ravi and a dead Jane Doe; he gives her a quick run down before being called out. We have a monologue about how she’s lost all her ambition drive and planning and is now hungry – as she prepares and eats some brains.  It manages not to be quite as disgusting as it sounds. But only because it sounds so very very disgusting. Except she’s not nearly as alone as she thinks – Ravi has been watching her and knows she’s a zombie

Thankfully he’s more curious than anything

He was the medical examiner for the party massacre she survived and after discovering she had removed a brain he started checking up on other autopsies she finished finding lots of missing brains. He’s rather hilariously amused, eager and generally excited about the zombie to examine while poor Liv tries to grasp his complete lack of fear, revulsion or even shock.

She recites her experience and adds why she needs brains – she tries to keep it to minimum but if she doesn’t eat brains she becomes less intelligent and more mean suggesting that a hungry Liv may be a zombie-apocalypse Liv. Also she likes hot sauce because her sense of taste is fried.

Curiosity is interrupted by police detective Clive who wants an ID on Jane Doe – Ravi has nothing but when Clive shows some handcuffs (non standard issue) found by the body, Liv has a memory flash of the victim’s and announces that the victim was arrested for shop lifting in Canada in 2008. Something Ravi confirms. Of course Clive would like an explanation for this – so Ravi goes with her being psychic which Clive, naturally, doesn’t believe

Cover Review: 9th March - 13th March

Fury's Kiss (Dorina Basarab #3) by Karen Chance

Let it be known that no matter what threats lurk out there, no matter how mysterious the fae, how cunning the vampire or powerful the mage, Dorina is ready to stand up and face it. Well face away from it, anyway.

Yes, arses ahoy - there’s nothing like a lethal action heroine deciding her best side is her rump - accentuated, of course, with sexy leather. No no it’s armour, honest (ignore the gap).

The Baskerville Tales (Short Stories): The Adventure of the Wollaston Ritual, The Strange and Alarming Courtship of Miss Imogen Roth, The Steamspinner Mutiny: Emma Jane Holloway

I like this. It’s understated, suggestive, pretty without being overtly sexual with clothes that excellently show off the era without the need to drown us in lashings of victoriana at every turn. I also quite like her withdrawn, hidden facial expression, is that a hidden smile? A demure look down? A secret being held? I like it

The only issue is that it’s very very vague as to what the book is about beyond “historical”

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Chameleon (Cage Punks #1) by Kenya Wright

Living in the walled city of Santeria, one of the caged Supernatural denizens within, Cameo scratches a living as a reviled mixed-breed, but one with a unique power: she can change her shape to look like anyone.

Working with Wiz, her partner and long term crush, she manages to make considerable cash with this skill, especially for a homeless street kid; but as her reputation becomes known, the risks grow ever harder

Especially when a person from Wiz’s past appears – old debts become due and there’s far more to their history than ever Cameo guessed.

This is set in the same world setting as the Santeria Habitat series and I love that series. I love the world building. I love the concept of the various kind of supernaturals living in their caged cities and the different societies and cultures they have had to bring together and build. It’s intriguing to see a word where everyone is a supernatural of one kind or other and what that means, as well as the closed in setting caused by the closed city. It’s a really excellent and truly original world setting that I have never see anything close to it anywhere else.

I also love that the foundation of this book is Santeria. Each of the Habitat walled cites are designed around a particular faith and the supernaturals within are either adherents or sympathetic to that fait (or recognise that their particular supernatural nature will be tolerated within that faith). So the buildings, the districts the rituals, the expressions and the customs of this city all evolved around Santeria. It’s a rich and diverse element of the story and world that I love.

The plot itself is gloriously twisty but not that focused on the Habitat as much as the main series is. This draws on a lot of the history and believe of the fae

Cameo’s shapeshifting powers are also excellent as there’s a lot of imagination gone into exploring how this would be marketable and useful beyond the obvious. But this also mixes into this series’ excellent class analysis and the treatment of Mixedbreed supernaturals like Cameo. Exploited and shunned, her useful talents make her in demand, but being mixedbreed also makes her vulnerable. She can be easily used or scapegoated with little consequence which makes accepting jobs fraught

Cameo herself is a very fragile character. Her nature has left her physically very different and her abusive mother filled her with a vast amount of self-loathing. Her body image issues re interestingly confused still further with her ability to change her appearance so completely. It’s hard to tell her appearance doesn’t matter when her whole livelihood centres aound imitating other’s. It’s hard when she can assume the form of beautiful people for her not to notice how people treat he differently and how they react to her real form. It’s hard to tell her to love herself when she can change her appearance and set change as some kind of permanent goal. Why learn to see the beauty in herself when she can imitate the beauty in others?

I have a couple of stand out criticisms about this book

First of all the mystery goes on for far too long. There is a lot of investigating which I appreciate because too many urban fantasy protagonists interpret “investigation” as hanging around and doing nothing until someone hands them all the answers they want on a platter. So I do appreciate that Cameo always investigated, kept hammering at the answers, kept trying to find the answer. And she’s creative ad intelligent and capable in finding those answers

The Returned Season 1, Episode 2: Simon

Flashback opener – to 6 years ago. Rowan is a waitress and Simon a much less mopey musician in the bar. And it’s the night before Rowan and Simon get married. Simon also teaches the much younger Lena how to play the drums and Rowena takes a picture

Rowan also tells Simon she’s pregnant – he says he’s happy about it but doesn’t look convincing and when she can’t see him, he cries.

At the wedding he’s a no-show – instead they get the sheriff telling Rowan about his death. Now that’s a pretty awful wedding day.

In the present Rowan is preparing to marry again (to sheriff Thomas who told her about Simon’s death at that), same church, same preacher. They’re all wedding planning when the sheriff is interrupted with news of Lucy’s attack.

We also get a little ominous with Rowan’s daughter Chloe turning on a tap and getting ominous black sludge.

When they’re alone Rowan can talk to the pastor about her misgivings and concerns about the wedding – not that she doesn’t want to be with Tommy, but because she’s still hallucinating Simon and feels too disturbed for it all. That pastor gives great advice which would totally be relevant in a world where the dead hadn’t come back to life.

Meanwhile Camille is realising she actually died and Lena is more than a little freaked out by her back-from-the-dead-and-unaged twin. Especially since their parents are desperately trying to pretend all is normal and that Jack has moved back in for the night. She storms out and Jack tries to stop her (and make sure she doesn’t loudly talk about their resurrected daughter where everyone can hear), grabbing her arm. Lena asks “are you going to hit me again?”

Lena ends up at the bar where Simon is eating and she calls him out on just ditching her on his quest for Rowan. He decides to ditch her again (and walk out on the bill for his meal). Coupled with his general less than fun demeanour means the patrons (Hunter) tell the police about him when they come asking questions about Lucy’s murder. But a drum kit stirs Lena’s memory – she searches the wall collage and finds a picture of young her and an unaged Simon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Vampire, Interrupted (Argeneau #9) by Lynsay Sands

Spoilers Ahead

In this ninth installment of the Argeneau series, it's time for Marguerite Argeneau to find her happily ever after.  Now that Marguerite's abusive ex husband Jean Claude is dead, Marguerite has decided that it's time to start a career.  After partnering with Tiny, Marguerite heads to London to track down Christian's long lost mother.  Marguerite wants a change of pace and a little excitement but she never imagined that it would mean risking her seven hundred year old head and having to delve into her abusive marriage.

By now, it's clear that the Argeneau series is the typical generic paranormal romance series.  Vampire Interrupted however did have a little more substance because it involved a conspiracy and several attempted beheadings.  For the first time, Sands delved into Marguerite's back story and we learned more about her abusive marriage to Jean Claude, who turned Marguerite because she closely resembled his wife from Atlantis.  Marguerite is absolutely a survivor in every sense of the word.  She survived being controlled, having her thoughts read and marital rape during her 700 year marriage to Jean Claude.  Because of this, Marguerite is absolutely reluctant to get into any kind of relationship, even when she discovers that Julius is her lifemate.  It makes sense to me that Marguerite would have issues after everything she survived for 700 years but what does not make sense is that other than a fear of a long term commitment, she doesn't seem to have any other longstanding issues.  To be clear, Marguerite was raped repeatedly and yet seemed to be more emotional about the fact that Jean Claude had sex with other women.  No rape victim gives a damn who her rapist has consensual sex with.

It's clear that the Argeneau world is not free of patriarchy.  Vitta Notte is the antagonist of this story and she inspired to do so because of the sexism in the Notte family.  Vitta, being the eldest child, was heir apparent until Julius was born and then she was supplanted because of her gender.  This is more than a reason for her to be angry.  Vitta however decided to try and kill her brother and when that failed, set about ruining his life by attempting to kill his child and severing his relationship with Marguerite.  Vita even went as far as to murder Jean Claude's pregnant life mate to insure his help with her plan of revenge on Julius.  Vita gives Marguerite a Perry Mason like confession in the end (which I could have done with it) to explain her actions.  Of course, Vitta must be punished for her actions but this does not open up a wider conversation about the mistreatment of women and instead leads to a discussion about Vitta having gone insane as a result of not finding her life mate.  It's complete and utter horse shit. People don't become mentally ill because of not having romantic love and it's an absolute trope to then have the mentally ill character be a violent murderer.  Yes, we can add ableism to the ills of this book.

To add fuel to the fire of steaming horse shit, the murder of Jean Claude's pregnant life mate is meant to have the reader experience sympathy for this alcoholic, abusive, rapist. Thanks for that Sands.  Vitta was absolutely entitled to her rage and to turn her into the antagonist is untenable.  

The Last Man on Earth, Season 1, Episode 4: Melissa

Let me get a big drink, this trainwreck is about to get much wrecker

Carol is super excited to see another person in the world. And Phil is super excited and enthralled to see a conventionally attractive woman in the world. I am super excited that this show is only 30 minutes long and my pain will be brief.

The woman is Melissa and she’s come to Tucson because of Phil’s signs (Phil is staring at her in a maximum creepy way). Carol is happy to tell Melissa all about their marriage while Phil see more willing to let the subject drop. Though I can understand that when the unnecessary sex talk comes up

To Phil’s house and Melissa is impressed with his art – and agrees with him that it’s hardly stealing if there’s no-one left.

Lots more creepy leering from Phil, obliviousness from Carol – and Phil actually shaves and puts on clothes. Though both women prefer the beard.

They all have dinner together (Carol’s awful awful food) with more creepiness, more fawning and even more creepiness from Phil constantly trying to force some kind of commonality. C’mon Melissa, nows the time to move as far away from these people as possible. An extra side message is how awful cheating is. Just in case we missed it

When Melissa escapes, Phil is not eager to go to bed with Carol.

We then have diarrhoea and sex dreams. I am not drunk enough for this. I don’t think it’s actually possible to be drunk enough for this. Not even with tequila

Phil continues to fawn and creep – taking up exercise and getting Melissa a car while arguing with Carol about their broken door (or possibly ruin of a marriage)

Melissa an Carol come close to having a normal moment – Carol still trying to see the good in Phil and his tolerating her eccentricities while Melissa came very very close to actual pathos with the way she’s managed through the year

Melissa invites them both for drinks – telling Phil and expecting him to pass it on. Of course he doesn’t and he goes alone. After a few drinks she tells him how terribly, overwhelmingly horny she is and how sad it is that Phil is married

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 15: Enter the Dragon

Evil Regina heads to the Villains to go undercover and…

We pause this recap to spend a moment to simply bask in the awesomeness of Maleficent’s outfit. BASK I say.

…*ahem* Regina makes her case for being big and bad and wanting to destroy some happiness (personally I would have gone with “go speak to Mary Margaret and David. Just have one conversation. Then ask me why I want to turn evil.”) This involves proving she’s evil which seems to involve taking a shot.

Time for a flashback to the Enchanted Forest back to the days when Regina was slowly sliding into evil with lots of bitter hatred for step-daughter Snow White, all fanned by Rumplestiltskin. This is before Regina has magic and she begs Rumple to help – all the while positively hero worshipping Maleficent and her super evil powerful magic of ubervengeance. Since Rumple is taking too long to teach her, she wants to learn from Maleficent.

Dumped on Maleficent’s doorstep, young Regina tries to impress her mentor; and finds Maleficent rather washed out and apparently drunk (or drugged, since it’s woo-woo). She’s all bitter about Sleeping Beauty and kicks Regina out with her pep talks. But she returns with news that Briar Rose’s daughter is getting married – so more vengeance needed! Maleficent is bemused as to why Regina is so invested in her revenge when she realises Regina is on her own bitter vengeance quest. But Maleficent has gone of vengeance- and lost her fire.

Regina tries to get her all fired up – which ends up with them being captured by prince Stefan, Aurora’s father. Maleficent’s magic fizzles embarrassingly. Thankfully, young Regina being the plucky villain that could inspires Maleficent to go all dragony again. She’s back in the vengeance game – and it’s time for Aurora to get the spinning wheel.

And Regina returns to Rumple, freshly eager for super vengeance.

In Storybrooke, Mary Margret and David explain that Regina is going undercover to Emma who does not think this is a good idea. At. All. And Regina is now late to check in. Because they’re playing villain games- which involves parking on train tracks and seeing who I “soft” enough to save them from inevitable doom first. Regina cracks. Personally I think this is less “gone soft” and more not being suicidal. Since when is self-preservation and being smart enough not to play on train tracks heroic? Have they not seen the Charmings?

Emma is all panicky the next day looking for Regina. I would love this a lot more if I weren’t slightly concerned that her worry is “zomg Regina is evil again!”. Even more worrying, the 4 villains hit Granny’s and drank all the booze and I didn’t get to see it?! Seriously that would have been the best night out ever!

Mary Margaret waffles and whimpers when she and David find a burnt out police car. Regina is there and explains she has had to unleash some minor mayhem to convince the villains she’s on their side. The Charmings are, of course, terrible and disapprove of the fact Regina didn’t gain all the villain’s secrets in one night.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ash by Malinda Lo

With the death of her parents, Ash is left to the cruel care of her stepmother, a woman only concerned with what labour Ash can provide while she tries to groom her eldest daughter to an advantageous marriage

Ash finds what comfort she can from the old ways and fairy tales of her childhood, walking the hidden pathways of the wood where the fae reside; considering possibly abduction by fairies only to be a release from her current life

Until she meets Kasia, the king’s huntress – and is given someone else to find and a reason to keep living. But is she already in too deep with the fae? And even without them, can she, a lowly servant, be with the king’s huntress?

I wanted to like this book. I actually tried really hard to like this book. I sat down and argued with myself about this book. I tried to talk myself into liking this book. I desperately tried to convince myself I liked my book. I even tried lying to myself and insisted I liked this book

But I didn’t

The problem is I have trouble putting my finger on exactly why I didn’t enjoy it.

The writing of the book is elaborate and very thematic. It feels like an old fashioned fairy tale, it has the same sense of time and place and setting, the same slight surreal elements. And previous books I have praised for a similar attempt when done well. But a voice at the back of my head does counter that it’s kind of long winded and overly ornate

The book is also a very slow burn, it takes a long time to set the theme, to let us get to know the world and Ash’s circumstances and how she got to where she was. We saw her history

It was deep and nuanced and meaningful and really built Ash as a character. And boring, yes, sorry, kinda boring. There’s comes a point when a character can poignantly visit her mother’s grave in the woods in the middle of the night when you kind of want to just stamp “mummy issues” and press the fast forward button. And, yes, again I do cringe because I can pull back and say how well it was done, how well chosen the writing, how much this did fully bring to life Ash’s grief and loss and her despair without her having to be melodramatic. Little things like the favourite stories she had being of people who got lost in the land of the fairies never to return – because to her, with nothing to live for, they felt like happy endings. It was wonderfully poignant without having to get truly melodramatically monologue-y about it all; her pain was clear and powerful without ever having to hit us over the head of with it.

Bitten,Season 2, Episode 6, Nine Circles

Time for a flash back – 30 years ago in Connecticut. And a woman with a wadge of cash, some booze and tragic period fashion choices. Pregnant young Ruth arrives for help from the fashion victim – and she has a baby in the bathtub.

Afterwards fashion victim has to explain the little problem – she’s got an Apocalypse Son! And you thought the terrible twos were bad? Ruth blackmails the woman to “get rid of my mistake.” She clearly expects the woman, Clara, to kill the baby. Instead she dumps the baby on the steps of  church

Did we just have a flashback to repeat everything they said last episode?

At the compound, Rachel is put in the same cell as Logan to share her newfound knowledge that Elena is a werewolf. She is not even happy that Logan has been keeping this from her – or that her baby is a werewolf as well.

Savannah is learning with Alestair and we get a little more exposition from this and the flashback – of witches using talismans and the implication they can’t use magic without it. Something Alestair disagrees with. He also continues to mind control Savannah into obedience but it seems to be getting more difficult.

Part of that is blamed on Elena so Alestair goes to her cell to be very creepy, all about how they’e both special since he’s the only male witch and she’s the only female werewolf before casting a spell on her.

She manages to drag herself through the hole in her cell wall into the next cell – and a hole in the wall finally let’s werewolf Elena who can throw people several feet be able to defeat one of her guards.  She’s out – but she’s also being plagued by a scary hallucination curse. Lots of random scary images though Elena still manages to mangle a few guards until she finds Savannah

Who may not be real because Savanah is being all dressed up for the ominous Undoing. Yes another hallucination more angst and screaming. This also includes some clumsy out of place messages about love from Clay hallucination (to mirror what the real Clay is telling Paige, just in case we forgot that they’re a couple).

She finally makes it outside where she finds Alistair, Savannah and his cult going through the Undoing ritual complete with ominous chanting. She puts a fuse in some flammable liquid which will, no doubt, lead to some impressive pyrotechnics later before demanding he cult give up Savannah. Then we get the explosion

Really, she delayed her dramatic demand so she could set up a suitably dramatic backdrop? That was what the explosion was for?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Helix, Season 2, Episode 9: Ectogenesis

Bizarre opening – two mycotics living in stoneage domestic very-much-not-bliss fighting and arguing (though he did completely deserve to have the stew dumped on him). The stew also has an eyeball in it. Good source of protein

Day 9

Alas, Alan hasn’t been turned to stew – he’s camping out in the woods and hallucinating Doreen. Yes, Doreen’s back! It’s good to know on Helix you never have to say goodbye to a character because it’s only a matter of time before people start seeing things. She’s there to mock his complete lack of coherent goal or plan

Later she’s going to drop in on the writer’s room and do the same thing

He then wakes up and they learn that one of Winger’s men has gone missing. They find him strung up by his ankles with his eyes removed. Nasty – and seems oddly intelligent for raging mycotics. Winger tells everyone to stick together so, when someone screams, Kyle naturally stays behind. He also sees long missing child Soren, apparently missing an eye, and allows himself to be even more separated from the main group and, predictably, kidnapped.

He wakes up tied to the table in the Stoneage Mycotic house where the cook laments the lack of salt to cook with. She tries to feed him eyeball stew and when he refuses plans to cut his out but is stopped by caveman mycotic. Kyle needs fattening up first – and if there’s any doubt the remains of Leila’s body is hanging from the ceiling.

While he’s tied up Soren conveniently tells him about the “bleeding tree” that they all eat from so they don’t get sick and that the cave-mycotics ate his eye. Kyle also learns that the Mycotics eat the honey which he finds curious which rather bemuses me- I doubt they’re making health choices and they are already infected. This tidbit goes with the news Mycotics don’t eat each other because they taste bad

Winger is all for not running around the woods with killing ambushers but Alan insists because Alan. He runs into another booby trap which, alas, doesn’t kill him but does have another round of relatively pointless Doreen hallucinations.

Over to Kyle who escapes by outwitting the not-especially-witty caveman mycotics and runs, taking a jar of sap and a jar of honey with him. He doesn’t get far and is chased by the others (with bizarre music choice) so rather than run (seriously they’re a long way from him) or fight (he’s physically fit) he decides to eat the infected honey

Sweeet sweet death honey

Of course the Mycotics want to kill him anyway – but he’ rescued by Winger and her men. This makes eating the Death Honey ridiculously pointless on several levels.

At the Abbey Anne tries – and fails – to win over and reassure the broken remnant of the cult (including, alas, Olivia). Amy comes in with a much more dramatic (and inaccurate speech – including accusing Anne of sleeping with Peter) speech that wins everyone to her side, throwing away the old traditions and scapegoating Anne and anyone not from the island.

That leaves Anne alone with Peter and she reflects on how she has never had her own opinion – on how Michael just shouted her down if she ever expressed one. And so did Peter – but she shouted back and he listened to her; she felt safe enough to express her own opinion with him. She intends to fight for the Abbey. While she’s making this dramatic speech, Peter checks his phone (don’t you just hate people who do that?) and find he has a gazillion messages from Ilaria (Oubliette does not have good phone signal) who are now on the island.