Saturday, June 6, 2015

Olympus, Season 1, Episode 9: Pandora's Tomb

Medea investigates Hero’s disappearance, finding the claw marks left by Kronos. They’re ancient symbols of the gods and she needs Xerxes to translate – to the prisoner caves! There she gets him to translate with the grim promise of a much less painful and horrible death. The symbols mean love, heritage and human soul.

Of course, Medea doesn’t even follow through on the grim bribe she offered. He resorts to base flattery.

Medea goes to Daedalus who is worried because he made a mistake – he told Hero where the door to Olympus was based on using big impressive buildings which they took to be god made as surrounding the door – except now he realises the buildings are actually petrified titans killed by the gods during the war – and at the centre isn’t a gateway, it’s a weapon. Oops. The doors to hell and bad stuff.

Medea insists she go to rescue Hero. This involves trudging about in the night, being attacked by wild men who have a theological argument, attempted rape before 1 kills the other and the living one runs away leaving her tied up with a corpse draped over her

Hero goes to his rendez-vous with Oracle – and finds Ariadne instead. She is obsessed with him and convinced he loves me. Best line goes to:
“tell me you feel nothing for me and I will leave you alone”
“I feel nothing for you.” Without even a beat of hesitation. Ouch. Unsurprisingly she doesn’t keep her word.

She also wants Hero to know that she and Oracle are totally besties now. She keeps up with the love thing which Hero doesn’t believe and drags her out at sword point, sure she has an army waiting to swoop in. She kisses him – she’s certainly stubborn. She also adds that Oracle doesn’t love Hero because she loves Ariadne and is a lesbian which is why she’s a virgin and Oracle is so in love with Ariadne but it’s all good because Ariadne loves Hero above all.

Yessss, she is not selling this well at all.

They set off and Ariadne collapses in tears because he doesn’t want her and now she can’t go back without daddy killing her and how she has rejected his father for Hero because she loves and adores him and is willing to do everything for him. Hero rejects her – pointing out the idyllic future she thinks of would be doomed because their son would be cursed just like him. He continues to beg for his love and they kiss

Friday, June 5, 2015

Death Blows (The Bloodhound Files #2) by D.D. Barant

Jace is from an alternate reality and she has been brought to a world were vampires, werewolves, and golems make up the majority of the population.  Jace is tasked with finding and arresting Stoker, a rogue human determined to end the domination of the supernaturals and get justice for the dwindling human population.  Jace is sidetracked from that mission when a superhero created by the government is murdered.  When magical artifacts start to go missing the case intensifies.  Can Jace follow the clues from the comic world to find the killer?

My biggest complaint with this book is that there is simply too much going on.  I am not a fan of comic books and too much of this book focuses on breaking down comics to microscopic levels for clues.  Barant, who is obviously a fan of comics, did some name dropping of famous comic artists, weighed DC and Marvel against each other, and went into the story lines and origin stories of many superheros.  I suppose on some level this is meant to remind us of the similarity between Jace's originating world and the world she inhabits today, and the fact that they are connected but for me, it plain and simple just dragged on and on.

In Dying Bites, Jace had several men seemingly vying for her attention.  I liked that it never really became a paranormal romance type thing but in Death Blows, all of that disappears altogether.  There is one awkward date with Cassius at a save the human event.  I suppose this was meant to build the will they or won't they vibe but the fact that Cassius has "a thing" for humans is just super creepy - particularly after meeting his ex girlfriend.

In terms of character growth, we learned all about Dr.Pete's background and some of Cassius's past as a superhero.  It became clear that Jace had developed a really good working relationship with Charlie, though I would like to see them on a more social level at some point. Jace also really cares deeply for Rachel but despite all of the concern, I have yet to see the work that went into building that relationship.  If Death Blows had spent more time working on the relationships and less on the comic books and weird magical world building, it would have been a far more interesting book.

iZombie and Playing with Identities

At Fangs for the Fantasy one problem we often come across is the Dreaded Fanpoodle. Some fans are unable to accept or tolerate any criticism of their precious. We have often railed against the fanpoodle. We have often fought the fandpoodle. We are not impressed by fanpoodly ways.

With this in mind I am going to criticise iZombie even though a not-insignificant part of me has just surged upwards screaming “HOW VERY DARE YOU?!” at the very idea. But I suppress my inner-fandpoodle and how much I absolutely adore this show to point out some problems.

And there are several problems (quiet inner fanpoodle, there are!), including the borrowing of major and severe issues and marginalised identities extremely shallowly and without a great deal of respect

One of the central premises of iZombie is that zombie Liv and her fellow undead eat brains and relive the experiences of their snack which is great for visions and murder investigation but it also temporarily changes their personalities - and allows them and the writers to play with certain life experiences as Liv finds herself absorbing, among others, a paranoid Asian gangster, an overweight agoraphobic, a possibly bisexual Latino man, an alcoholic, a man with PTSD and Lowell eats the brain of a gay man.

The problem with all of these depictions is how utterly shallowly they were treated. After all, Liv is trying on this identity for the space of a few days and the scope of a single episode, which has to be conveyed to us quickly and heavily to show a distinct personality change. The easiest and laziest way to do this is through blatant stereotyping…

So the Asian gangster gives Liv kung fu. The fat man makes Liv crave unhealthy food. The Latino man is overwhelmingly sensual. The mother makes Liv comically nurturing even the cheerleader is a classic stereotype (almost, amusingly, after Ravi rejects Liv’s stereotyping). They are reduced to one-note and often exaggerated caricatures of identity so the writers can clumsily and unsubtly hammer us over the heads with the personality changes they foist on Liv.

This is a repeated problem with any depictions of marginalised characters, too often they are underdeveloped tokens who are reduced to avatars of their marginalisation (or their marginalisation as perceived by people who don’t share it), with these stereotypes played on to remove the need for development and to really hammer home the “inclusion” to the audience. Liv almost serves as a token by proxy - not in an attempt to introduce minority characters but in the way she is used to try and sum up these characters with brief, broad tropes that is very similar to how tokens are characterised.

There is also a problem with this show being highly minimising with the issues it raises, especially in relation to mental illness. When Liv eats the brain of an agoraphobic who literally cannot leave his house (which, in turn, would have strong related themes for his diet and exercise) it is treated as an irritation and brief nuisance and used as part of her characterisation with Lowell, in that she can tell him why she can’t leave the house rather than having to come up with an excuse. It’s a minor quirk of the week, a brief annoyance that we know will pass by the end of the episode. The one time she has to leave she takes some pills and has some quirky, amusing side effects for us to laugh at. This is much the same as when she eats the paranoid man, the PTSD sufferer and the alcoholic.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Born to Bite (Argeneau #13) by Lynsay Sands

contains spoilers, you have been warned

Armand is an extremely unlucky immortal. To date, all three of the women he has married have been killed.  It's pretty difficult for an immortal to die but given a lack of suspects, Armand isn't sure if the deaths were accidents or murders. Armand's son Nicholas is under council arrest and the only way to prove Nicholas innocent of  the crime of killing a mortal woman and solve the connection to the death of Nicholas's life mate Annie, is to find out what really happened to Armand's wives.  Enter Esche - a council enforcer.  Esche is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, if she can somehow manage to stop being distracted by her desire to be alone with Armand.  Armand may potentially be a mass murderer but he is still her life mate.

Eshe is the third person of colour to appear in the Argeneau series. Armand is her second life mate having lost her first, Orion in battle.  Eshe is the mother of 8 children, of whom 6 are still living.  That's basically all we get to learn about her.  Eshe's main occupation seems to be mouthing off to Lucian.  Eshe's exchanges with Lucian are only mildly amusing and constitute the sole attempt at comedy in Born to Bite.  This story really could have done with a lot more of the trademark Sands humour.  I really feel that beyond the most basic details, we didn't really get to know Eshe.  Furthermore, given the scarcity of characters of colour in this series, it would have been nice if Eshe had been written with more cultural markers.  Eshe felt like a black girl painted white. 

The second character of colour is Anders.  Anders has dark skin, is an enforcer, is handsome, has developed a tight relationship with a dog and has yet to find a life mate.  Ander's is a little stand offish and as in other books, it's Brickers whose given some real characterisation.  So far all we know about Anders is a small connection of facts that barely make him a character.

Eshe and Armand don't declare insta-love and there isn't any real build up to their relationship since they are both immortals.  When Eshe and Nicholas learn that they cannot read each other and both experience a desire to eat food again, they hop into bed.  It all seems rather perfuntionary but given that they were destined to sleep together anyway, it makes sense. Why mess around when both Armand and Eshe are well aware the signs which indicate meeting a life mate?

Salem, Season 2, Episode 9: Wages of Sin

Mary and Wainwright are enjoying themselves immensely and can’t wait to get all cosy with the dark powers. Except first he has to burn all his work since it leads to Mary. He’s not a lover of that but he agrees since it does actually implicate her and she would be horribly murdered for it

He burns his work – and the Malum. I’m sure that’s going to back fire. Do not put evil artefacts in the fire! That’s worse than fireworks

Mary begins the day by being vile to Tituba and going to her kid – and finding evil kiddy John is missing, instead there’s a smug countess Marburg. Hey there’s an upside, every morning should begin with Lucy Lawless.

She points out that evil child is evil and intended to be an epic sacrifice to the dark lord and how wonderfully honoured Mary should be to kill her kid for the greater bad. Marburg totally wanted to kill Sebastien but, alas, it wasn’t to be. She gives the tearful Mary a choice – sacrifice her kid (tomorrow on sacrifice day) or Marburg will kill him, bathe in his blood and wait for the next time round

Marburg is not impressed by Mary’s reluctance towards this honour

Cotton is drunk (how very shocking) and gets a visit from the endlessly annoying and amazingly not dead Hawthorn who, having heard that the powers that be have banished Cotton from Salem, has Cotton kicked out. He quickly talks about the witches and hell and having proof – and insists that Hawthorne speak to Wainwright and be told they need Cotton to stop hellish witches killing them all. Because Hawthorne respects Wainwright’s opinion now?

Of course Wainwright has been nobbled and hangs Cotton out to dry. Cotton is not a happy preacher. Cotton does manage to demand they all go to the Crags to see the hell tar and Hawthorne agrees. Of course while the dead birds are still there, the crags are just a pit full of bodies, not a hell portal. They witches have been covering up – Cotton now doubts his own senses and looks a lot like a drunken fool. Even Wainwright is a little surprised. Hawthorne is not impressed and Wainwright is nicely condescending in trying to defend him. Cotton rages at Wainwright and is dragged away

Sebastien goes to Mary with lots of creepy talk of how he wants her – Mary clearly sees this as a deal, she sleeps with him and he returns her son. When Wainwright arrives, Sebastian presents himself as Mary’s utterly trusted confidante and telepathically tells Mary to play along – for the sake of her son. He also presents himself as Wainwright’s mentor (Wainwright is utterly awed by the glamour that hid the hellgate) since Mary can hardly be seen spending lots of time alone with Wainwright. Mary goes along with it – seeing it as a trade, Wainwright for her son.

iZombie, Season 1, Episode 12: Live Rat, Dead Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat

Assassin and new zombie Sebastien makes his way to the road – where he is run over by a group of stoned kids who have stolen a car. They freak out at the corpse they now have on their hands and worry about what to do – they decide to bury him. And then swear not to tell anyone about it – ever again. I’m sure this is a Horror movie plot.

Sebastian, of course, isn’t dead (or not entirely) and he rises up and eats one of them – the blonde girl. Yup, definitely a horror movie trope. Actually I take back the sarcasm, this was a pure homage.

Two weeks later her body is found by a man walking a dog (honestly between crime drama and true crime shows I am convinced never ever to own a dog. You take it out walking and you find bodies. EVERYWHERE. It’s almost as bad as being an early morning jogger! Can you even complete a lap without finding bodies everywhere?)

The dead girl was called Kimber and has been scattered about in little pieces when the crime solving gang arrive. Ravi quickly derails Liv’s examination and explanation to Clive when he realises a cracked skull points to a zombie murder. This is when Liv decides to tell Ravi about Major stealing brains and swearing death on all zombies. In addition to not volunteering to be number one on the killing spree – it gives Liv a new motive to kill Blaine before Major gets himself killed hunting him

To the morgue with Ravi having some creepy high school reminiscences and Liv giving him the due suspicious gaze in between contemplating her next brainy meal. Liv I also pretty dubious about how drinking “cheerleader brains” will help her tackle Blaine – which Ravi rightly calls her on, just because Kimber was a cheerleader doesn’t mean she wasn’t serious or intelligent.

Also cured zombie rat is now called Hope and Ravi bought her a toy (aww). And she’s dead (aww poor Ravi’s sad face). And, of course, bitter disappointment over the cure. Still Liv doesn’t let it get her down because she is riding on perky cheerbrains – and Ravi is enjoying this far too much

And on those brains she joins Clive in interviewing Kimber’s friend and Clive has to endure perky Liv. But it does work very well on Kimber’s friend Tate. Clive finds it all quite bemusing and Liv desperately reaches for an excuse for why she’s acting so odd. Still they follow a lead to a highschool band that was playing in a message Kimber left

The band are the three other teenagers in the car that day. Through the sarcasm and excuses they manage to be super suspicious with their rehearsed alibis – and Liv has a vision of Kimber in the car with them and Kimber and Nate (one of the band) were “fooling around”.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Devil's Paw (Imp #4) by Debra Dunbar

Having defeated her nemesis in hell, Sam is hoping to settle into a normal life (well normal of an imp living on earth anyway) by throwing her boyfriend Wyatt a birthday party.  Sam doesn't get to enjoy the good life for long because Gregory shows up with the head of yet another demon which has been drained of its energy.  The situation escalates when an angel is also found drained.  Sam is a devouring demon and therefore not only very rare but potentially a suspect.  In order to avoid being blamed for the death of an angel, Sam and Gregory must hunt down the real killer quickly.

I love the Imp series but Devil's Paw did have a problem with over description.  At times it did effect the pacing of the book.  Dunbar really went over the top describing the interior of a home which Sam was investigating and I found my eyes sliding from the page.  It's the first time that I have been forced to skim read any section of this series.   Though Sam and Gregory were working together to solve the mystery of drained and dead demons and an angel, it really didn't make sense to me that Sam continued to withhold information from Gregory.  Sam is a smart protagonist and she essentially fridged her largest weapon, by not informing Gregory,  given that the Iblis sword isn't the most reliable weapon.  Clearly this is a set up to have Sam get captured and forced into a position of asking Gregory to sever the bond.  I can see that it makes sense from a big picture scenario but felt that in context of the story, it didn't work.

In many ways, Sam has changed so much from the demon we met in A Demon Bound. Sure, Sam is not above creating interesting piercings to disturb the TSA, provoking Gregory every chance she gets, or eating raw seal, but when it really counts, Sam cares deeply about those she claims as hers.  Wyatt's sister was changed with a channgling at birth and for his birthday, Sam decides to rectify the situation by arranging to buy Nyalla, his biological sister from the elves.  Sam even advises Amber, the demon/elf hybrid to wait to have sex which is totally against her imp instincts but in the best interests of Amber.

Perhaps one of the largest indicators of how Sam has changed, is her willingness to add demons to her household when Baphomet and Raim are killed.  When Sam is captured, she struggles desperately to try and save Stab, a low level demon.   The scenes between these two are absolutely touching. In her attempt to save Stab, Sam becomes so much more than the trouble loving Imp - she becomes a hero.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Season 1, Episode 3: The Education of a Magician

Arabella handles business while missing her husband – and being spied on by Childermas, Mr. Norrell’s servant who even intercepts messages to and from her house. She also visits Lady Pole who is still not doing well after dancing every night with The Gentleman and it isn’t helped by one of Norrell’s fanclub, Mr. Drawlight, latching on to her for gossip about Lady Pole. As she rightly describes him, he’s an odious odious little man.

Lady Pole has taken up sewing – and cutting up her dresses to do so. She’s sewing “lost hope” for Arabella. Not ominous at all. She creates a tapestry of what happens to her in the hope of explaining to Arabella while reflecting how miserable she is and Arabella tries to cheer her up and promises to pass her message to her husband “the King of Lost Hope.” Lady Pole is increasingly frustrated by Arabella’s inability to understand. Stephen tries to calm her down.

Arabella appeals to Lord Walter but he tells her how hard it is to let her out of her room, how Lady Pole hurts herself and is distressed by people and bells and mirrors. And how Norrell can’t help. He also expects Arabella not to tell Jonathan anything since she promised to keep Lady Pole’s condition secret

Drawlight was dispatched by Norrell who is curious as to what is happening to Lady Pole after his less-than-wise resurrection. He also reads their post which even Childermass seems to disapprove of. He confronts Norrell and doesn’t understand why he is dredging into the Stranges’ personal lives which is far too invasive for him. Norrell seems to tell Childermass his secret – because he breaks into Lady Pole’s rooms and slashes her rather excellent tapestry.

Arabella is also visited by The Gentleman who enquires after Jonathan – last episode he seemed almost enthralled by Arabella which is probably a very bad thing. He and Stephen go to Arabella’s house looking for a key to taking her as well even as Stephen protests. But the Gentleman has an excuse for why everyone should come to his house – in Stephen’s case because no-one will recognise his “kingly birth” in the real world – and because in the world of the fae no-one cares that he is Black. He ignores Stephen’s plea of how utterly exhausted he is.

Lady Pole is devastated with the destruction of her tapestry – and Stephen advises Arabella to stop visiting out of fear of The Gentleman’s interest in Arabella. They find Lady Pole among her tapestry having slit her wrists. They bandage her and call help and doctors.

The Gentleman is bemused by Arabella’s grief and the very idea that Lady Pole experiences horrors that she needs to be pitied over – he also offers to cure Lady Pole’s “madness” but he will need her help and consent. Arabella is made of sterner stuff – if he can help he should do it but to make a bargain of Arabella’s friend is unconscionable. She storms off refusing to see him again without her husband present (clearly she thinks he propositioned her).

The Whispers, Season 1, Episode 1: X Marks the Spot

We open to kids playing all innocently except one girl, Harper, who is in trouble with her mother and telling someone all about it – and by “somebody” I mean completely empty space. I would point out that this is sinister woo-woo but I think small children have a special talent for being creepy.

Her mother certainly puts it down to creepy child being creepy – even when she gets odd interference on the phone when “Drill”, her child’s friend possibly comes close. And even when it feeds her small child the word “amenable”. I think the “that’s it, I’m moving to a different continent” moment is when the door opens… sure, it could be the wind…

A creepy guy with waaay too much beard also watches the house, creepily.

Harper then plays a little game with Drill involving tools that small children shouldn’t have, a really unsafe-looking treehouse and luring her mother onto a weakened floorboard so she falls onto the stones below (ridiculously high treehouse over stone paths? Bad parents! Bad!). Well, if there was any doubt it’s not clear the creepy imaginary friends are not a force for good. Having finished his murder mission, Drill disappears (even to Harper now).

To Agent Claire Brennegan is watching her son Henry’s baseball match when she gets a call about the case  because Harper’s dad works in the nuclear regulation of some kind it’s an FBI case and the premeditated murder of a mother by a 6 year old makes it Claire’s case.

She takes the time to celebrate with her child over his home run, communicating in sign language because he’s deaf. There’s also an implication that her partner and son’s father has recently died/disappeared/turned into a weremoose.

More evidence of that when she’s greeted at work with a hug from her boss. I’m sure the FBI isn’t a very huggy workplace. Agent Rollings is there to fill her in and she is very dubious, looking at the evidence, that a kid did this alone (nor does she buy Rollings’s “kids can learn anything on the internet” explanation). Before they go boss man takes a chance to give Rollings a warning not to give Claire any hassle because she’s recently lost her husband (I actually wish someone would just turn round and say “he’s dead” because in speculative fiction “lost” can mean so many things).

Off to interview Harper who talks about Drill and again uses surprisingly complex words that suggest this friend who talks through the lights may be real. And Drill is now looking for a new friend. Rollings, of course doesn’t think there’s any case (because the show’s going to run with plucky-detective-stands-up-to-the-ignorant-trope) though Claire thinks there’s lots of red flags to investigate – she runs to ask Harper more questions despite her dad saying the questioning is over (then falling silent so Claire can keep questioning, as you do.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Penny Dreadful, Season 2, Episode 5: Above the Vaulted Sky

Evelyn has finished her creepy baby hearted Vanessa doll and now turns her attention to another doll she has, cracking open its head to reveal the very real and very icky brains inside. This seems to worry her somewhat

But she gets over it when Hecate returns with Vanessa’s hair. Hecate threads the hair into the Vanessa doll while Evelyn stabs a hot needle into the exposed brain of the other doll. Elsewhere a woman wakes from sleep clutching her head and screaming in agony

At Malcolm’s house, Ethan describes them as being under siege, drawing on his own experience in the Indian wars (in a battle he says was to exterminate the Apache, something he seems to regard with disgust and in frank terms)… He describes how ruthless, how they betrayed them and how they massacred the Apaches.

Vanessa also knows what they’re doing, making a fetish with her hair, something Sembene also knows about. They prepare to defend the house with weapons, rituals and every superstition they can muster. Sembene draws on his traditions, Ethan on Native American traditions smudging away with sage and Lyle hides from the others to pull out a Torah and a Tallit, drawing upon his Jewish traditions. Vanessa bleeds everywhere. Lyle covers the mirrors and Vanessa prays.

It’s all very very ominous – and then the naked nightcomers surround Vanessa. She falls, panicked then runs to a praying Ethan. She panics, fearful for her inability to tell if the nightcomers are there or just in her heard. She despairs of ever feeling safe and refers to suicide as the only path to freedom though she clings to her faith. She asks to sleep in Ethan’s room and he agrees.

She also talks to him about faith, confronting him about his praying but he has some very deep thoughts about god and responsibility and how killing someone (“deciding my life is more important than anyone else’s”) changed him. Vanessa offers her acceptance regardless of what he has “made of himself.”

Evelyn keeps tormenting the woman with her magic pins – I think she’s Malcolm’s wife.

When Ethan wakes, Vanessa is gone leaving a book behind. When he leaves the house Inspector Rusk “asks” to speak to him. He goes to the Inspector’s office and is massively unco-operative though they do establish several reasons why he is suspicious. Not least of which because Ethan Chandler doesn’t appear to be his real name. Inspector keeps pushing him and Chandler keeps dodging him – the Inspector seems especially interested in pushing Ethan to admit he knows about Native Americans. They part company and Ethan quickly loses the man the inspector sets to follow him.

Dance of the Pink Mist (Cracked Chronicles #2) by K.D. Van Brunt

Gray has been captured by Cracked and is under Jace’s command. He must quickly adapt to the high standards of his new prison – or he will be disposed of as any shapeshifter is if they don’t fit into Cracked.

Jace quickly turns from an enemy to an essential ally in helping Gray fit into the prison life – and he grows closer to her team and their ongoing mission

He also grows closer to her – as their telepathy and relationship come together into something new and completely outside both their experiences.

I was pleasantly surprised how this book worked – I expected a lot of resentment and angst and snarling between Gray and Jace. Their epic hostility would continue for most of the book until eventually the inevitable romance developed

Well, I was partly right

Instead of going down that clichéd route, Jace and Gray seem to mesh quite well from the beginning. A lot of this stems from Gray’s excellent personality. He’s easy going, he’s gentle, he’s not going to blame Jace for being an enslaved part of the system any more than he blames himself. He’s not going to rebel for the sake of it, nor is he going to fight a battle he can’t win. He’s going to do the very best he can in a bad situation, make sure he survives and then see how he can manage for freedom and existence from there. He also quickly recognises that people around him are trying to help him survive and he buries any resentment.

It’s a refreshingly mature attitude. And if I have any criticism of it it’s that it’s just a little… too perfect? Gray’s assimilation into Cracked, his adaptation, the difficulties he faces et all are all just… kind of easy. There’s little depiction of any real struggles over this new life he’s living, there’s no anger or grief or frustration over becoming a prisoner and effective slave. It’s freakishly smooth and probably too smooth. This is even more obvious when we see how quickly he makes friends and gets by with the other inmates – sure part of this can be explained by the fact he is Jace’s protégé and she is top of the pile, but in the last book it really emphasised how brutal and cut throat Cracked was with lots of violent competition between the inmates.

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 8: Hardhome


Tyrion and Jorah stand before Daenerys in her throne room. Jorah doesn’t get to speak – Tyrion does and, as ever, he’s very good at it. He sums up Daenerys’s achievements which do sound very impressive when he summarises how much she’s achieved and how quickly but he also lays the trump card for why Daenerys needs him – she’s not Westerosi. No-one around her is Westerosi, certainly not informed Westerosi (now that Baristan is dead). She knows nothing about the land she actually wants to rule. While Daenerys’s points out she has armies and dragons Tyrion makes the case that killing and politics aren’t the same thing and he was a pretty awesome Hand of the King even when said King was Joffrey and a complete failure at humanity

She asks Tyrion’s opinion on Jorah and, with a series of well reasoned thoughts, he proposes banishing him. Of course Jorah is the saddest of sad pandas.

Later, Tyrion and Daenerys discuss fathers (a fraught topic for both of them) and being terrible people (Tyrion’s words – and something he admires). He compliments Daenerys on opening the fighting pits and agreeing to marry someone she hates. After some brief contemplation of execution due to Tyrion’s trust of Varys and his brother Jaime (the kingslayer – the king he killed was Daenerys’s dad) before she decides to take him as an advisor. Preferably sober. So he advises her – and asks why she wants to go to Westeros anyway since she’s apparently settling in and doing good in Slavers Bay. Why go “home”? And who does she have to support her? Tyrion doubts the common people do – or whether they will be enough – and throws in that Targaryen is, effectively, a dead House (as is House Stark) and the only chance she has to win any house is Tyrell (dubious – though I want to know why he never mentions Martel, traditional Targaryen ally).

But Daenerys has different plans – the great houses constantly vying for position and crushing the common people in their squabbles: she’s going to stop it, she’s going to break them

Jorah the truly desperate, returns to the fighting pits, wanting to fight and win.

Kings Landing

Cersei is imprisoned in a filthy cell with an abusive Septa demanding she confess. Her pet Maester visits to sum up the charges – incest, fornication, treason and the murder of King Robert (she’s guilty of all) and worries that the Sept won’t have the same standards of proof as the crown (which is kind of laughable when we consider king’s justice). As for her family – Kevin, her uncle and de-facto controller of House Lannister is now Hand of the King and happy for her to rot there, her brother Jaime is in Dorne and Tommen, so naïve, has completely fallen apart and is hiding in his room

The way out is for Cersei to confess – but she is outraged at the idea of confessing to a commoner she raised up (in a monumental moment of utter ridiculous decision making). Evil Septa also wants her to confess, withholding water until she does. Cersei is reduces to licking water off the floor.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.

It did not end well.”

Karou is a young orphan who has been adopted by demons and lives in Prague.  Her days are spent in art school, interspersed with missions from her adopted demon father Brimstone to collect teeth.  These missions take her around the world using magical doors.  Brimstone is abrupt and distant in many ways and this troubles Karou, but she loves him none the less.  It hurts Karou to see the results of her teeth gathering missions because not all teeth come from dead bodies.  As a reward for her actions, Brimstone grants her the ability to make her minor wishes come true.  This is why blue hair naturally grows out of her head.

Even though Karou has her adopted family the chimera and her best friend Zuzana, much of the time she feels isolated.  Karou knows that Brimstone keeps secrets from her and she cannot share the little she knows with Zuzana, out of fear of not being believed and risking the only friendship she has managed to maintain.  There are two tattoos on her palms that she is constantly asked about and she has no answers, wondering if she has been born with them.

Enter Akivia - the angel who has lost his soul and humanity.  He is determined to bring an end to the chimera.  When handprints start appearing on all of the portal doors around the world, Karou quickly finds herself caught up in a war that she didn't even know what going on.  Karou must solve the mystery of who she is and try to find a way to save her adopted family.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone started off extremely strong. For seventeen, Karou proved to be a smart and capable protagonist.  She survived being shot by criminals in her teeth collection missions and absolutely refuses to be used as a tool by her ex boyfriend.  Karou is even inventive in her response to her ex cheating on her and trying to woo her back. At times, Karou has a strain of aloofness but that's quite normal for age.  For the most part I really enjoyed her.

Just like Karou, I desperately wanted to know the importance of the teeth that Brmstone collected. I had very much hoped that this is where the story would center but alas, it was not to be.  What started off as a great mystery to be solved, quickly turned into a Romeo & Juliet type love affair that I really could have done with out.  Instead of really getting to know each other, Karou and Akiva spend so much time waxing on about their love.   Akiva is the typical Y.A. male love interest: tortured.  Of course, it's Karou's love which teaches him how to hope again and makes him smile.  There is also the issue that Akiva actively stalks Karou and watches her sleep (yes, shades of Twilight)

Once Karou meets Akiva which I suppose is inevitable, all of her good sense goes out the window.  Why does she invite this angel who tried to kill her into her home?  Why does she introduce Akvia to her best friend in the world?  Yes, Karou has her doubts but the fact is that she still allows an intimacy to develop with someone who clearly is keeping secrets and has tried to kill her on at least one occasion.  The only reason I can fathom for this absolute breach of common sense is that Karou finds Akiva attractive.  How do I know this?  Well, for starters, I began to roll my eyes and struggle not to stop reading because of the copious descriptions of how beautiful Akiva is and Karou's desperation to capture his image.  Then there is Zuzana, who repeatedly chants that Karou needs to mate with him and childish comments about Akiva's seed.

The Messengers, Season 1, Episode 7: Deus Ex Machina

Koa is taking her taxi ride with the devil, easily seeing through his awful disguise, but not caring.

The guy he’s heading towards, Leland, is having an increasingly over-the-top rant as his Abaddon persona online, just in case we missed the fact he’s going to do naughty bad things (apparently to hospitals linking life support to the internet).

Meanwhile Vera has told Alan everything. He thinks it’s awesome and exciting and amazing and – my gods man did you seriously just believe all that? Really? Because she fainted and a rock glowed? Hey, I’ve got a bridge to sell you, lovely view over the Thames, nice stone work…

Raul and Rose continue to argue over Koa (Raul thinks she’s terribad awful, Rose thinks she’s one of them. I think both of these positions are not mutually exclusive) when Vera introduces Alan to the group. Rose is furious at her endangering Alan by revealing the secret but Vera has an excellent come back: he’s a brilliant scientist, thinks fast and he actually wants to be part of the crew – unlike Koa. Ouch, but accurate. Rose adamantly refuses, only angels need apply

Raul decides to give Alan a death stare because he just doesn’t like people

And on to Erin who gets a call from the doctor from the clinic warning her that her heart is bleeding and reminding us that she really really should have gone to a hospital. Erin continues to hide from the problem

Meanwhile, Peter and Nadia actually focus on the issue at hand, the soon-to-be-second horseman of the apocalypse. Nadia shows off her much more advanced computer skills and then they also jump off mission to talk about how Nadia has tracked down Peter’s birth parents.

They finally find 2 possible addresses for Margaret, Leland’s mother, with 46 minutes left on the clock (oh if only everyone had been focused on mission instead of indulging in arguments). There’s another scene with Raul trying to get Erin to stay behind (or go to a hospital!) but Erin insists on coming – and Rose continues to argue against Alan right up to a car crashing in front of them

Out of which staggers Joshua’s heavily pregnant wife, Charlotte. Joshua isn’t exactly thrilled to see her but she wants to get away from his dad. She also taking pills – she’s a recovering drug addict – as is Josh. They met in rehab. He’s angry at her taking pills while pregnant – though she hits back it’s not his and drops another bombshell. His used her guilt to push her into agreeing to giving him sole custody of the baby – and he turned violent when she tried to resist what he wanted.

Orphan Black, Season 3, Episode 7: Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate

To Mexico where Helena and Sarah are on the run from the Castor base and Helena is… Helena. It’s a Sestra holiday trip, though Helena realises that Sarah is upset about Paul. They’re also relying on S’s people to get them out which is going to be a problem because Helena intends to kill S. The bar tender also brings Helena water not beer because she knows she’s pregnant – though Helena doesn’t know how. Wondering can wait because S arrives which means Helena goes to killing mode.

Killing is delayed for talking (explanations and threats anyway, sort of talking). Creepy bar tender also knows enough to take sharp objects off Helena. Can someone please pay attention to/explain this woman? Bar tender tells Sarah to leave Helena and S to talk it out (Helena will eat first, then they fight. Because Helena) being cryptic and wise and definitely creepy.

Having eaten, Helena wants to fight. S refuses (citing Helena’s pregnancy with a brief diversion as to what Helena’s plans are) and Helena hits her. S responds that Helena can’t have Sarah without the rest of her family – and Helena hits her again. S appeals that they’re family. And Helena hits her again – this time S hits back then instantly regrets it, and hugs Helena. Helena struggles but S hugs her into submission while apologising.
Shay and Cosima are enjoying some quality naked time when Delphine arrives. Awkward. Delphine and Shay are icy, Cosima and Delphine are snarly with a side of icy and Delphine tries to be uber professional (while Shay doesn’t reassure me that she’s not evil by eaves dropping from the shower). She wants to do more testing of Cosima because of the Leda/Castor defect/disease/nastiness and her last results which suggest Cosima is not yet out of the woods.

Cosima also calls Scott so she can arrive late for work – despite him being worried about her illness as well, and wanting her to see if she can get Rachel to decode Ethan’s book (Rachel scares him. And rightly so) – and just to confirm the rift, Cosima insists Scott not show Delphine the book.

Over to Allison, her plot lurking in the outer reaches of this show and still barely connected to everything – but this week free from underwear clad dancing. Allison is preparing her campaign, while doing so Donnie is still monitoring Allison for Dyad which is peculiar but at least with her knowledge. She’s as ever, super busy with campaigning and drug dealing and organising their legitimate front for the business.

Step 1 of this is to see Connie, Allison’s mother, and convince her to sign over her shop. She wants to retire, she also makes several arch little knife-digs at both of them – she even has a campaign poster for Marci, Allison’s competition. Allison becomes much more understandable.

Still mummy delays which means a minor wrench in the drug dealing plans when they meet Jason (jealous Donnie pulls a “MAH WOMAN!” move which is rapidly getting old). Scott goes with Jason with money while Allison goes to the school to campaign

And Felix joins her. Of course he does. The chances of Felix remotely caring about this election are less than none, but while Sarah’s in Mexico and Cosima’s got a date and Grace seems to be holding her own, it’s Allison’s turn with the Gay Best Friend. The set up the booth, Felix on side to be a good little servant and Marci drops in to be nasty in that oh-so-polite way. Then not-so-polite homophobia.

There’s other dramas –like Cosima wanting Allison’s urine (add it to the to-do list) and Connie calling saying she’s having heart attack. Allison is unconcerned, apparently this is a habit of her mother’s but she still has to leave Felix in charge of her stall while she goes to sort her mother out.

When she arrives at her mother’s she’s recovered from her panic attack – but she can’t sell the soap shop. After a big airing of a whole load of issues, Allison leaves.