Saturday, July 11, 2015

Under the Dome, Season 3, Episode 4: The Kinship

I’m sure somewhere someone is developing a calendar where each new week is heralded by my predictable quite despair every time another new episode of Under the Dome is perpetrated.

Jim is on his little island so he doesn’t inflict his awfulness on anyone else, and continues to watch the video of Christine and her egg. She also helpfully talks to James, trying to get him on side, within easy binocular view of his island. She may also be trying to seduce him

Then men in black kidnap Jim. I never thought I’d say it, but go Men In Black!!!

Alas they don’t kill him but they do hold him in strange quarantine (complete with plastic curtain walls and hazmat suites). The sinister figures inject him with stuff. I am still totally on the side of the sinister figures.

It seems Jim isn’t contagious, and Jim recognises one of his captors as Malik, a guard who was outside the Dome who has now got in. Alas, Malik is a terrible interrogator and quickly lets Jim gain control of the situation and warn them that yes, the egg is infectious but he isn’t the infected one (actually this is a great interrogation technique and far more effective than torture, letting the blowhard speak. But he could have tortured Jim a little).

Malik listened to me! He starts beating on Jim and preparing to torture him. Jim pretends to give in straight away – but attacks when he’s released and manages to hold Malik at knife point. What, seriously?!

He tries to hold Malik hostage and Malik’s boss just has him shot. He's not a valued employee. Jim runs 

In town Julia and Barbie are still neck deep in relationship issues. Julia is suspicious – and for once she’s actually right (I know, this is pretty cannon shattering, having Julia actually be right). She’s suspicious of Christine and her oh-so-convenient timing. And doesn’t get Barbie suddenly feeling like they should go to town (the pod people are summoned!)

Christine, who really doesn’t understand how you do the secret plotting thing, is gloating about how her mastery of the pod people is going wonderfully into a Dictaphone. In an open office. Which anyone can walk in – in fact Sam does.

Her slightly less nefarious plan involves finding places for everyone to sleep since houses have been destoyed. This involves recruiting James because he’s a builder – or was in the Dometrix and apparently they keep whatever skills they learned there (hey, in less than a week they all absorbed a year of knowledge? The Dometrix could be amazingly useful! We could send the writers in there for 50 years and they could learn, well, to write.) Starting with tearing down Jim’s office for sleeping space – and more gropy seduction.

Eva realises her terrible hiding place is terrible and the camera has been stolen. She tells Christine and further adds that Christine is super-duper freaky pretending to be a therapist because the Dometrix decided she was one. Christine throws back that Eva is still reeling from a completely fictional relationship so put down those stones and check your own glass house. But Eva isn’t following – she thinks they should be honest and has lots of conflicted feelings

Christine decides that either Jim or Julia took the camera and with a 50/50 chance she chooses the wrong one – curse your Murphy’s law (actually this shows how little she knows Julia. Stealing the camera would have been an act of competence so clearly not something Julia would do)

Julia and Barbie worry about the food shortage (again, can I point out the Dome has been down for 3 weeks. How teeny tiny is this town’s food reserves? It had FARMS for crying out loud!) when they run into Eva – Love Triangle Awkwardness strikes, proving that even this terrible show can actually get worse. Thankfully the Dome agrees with me and sets a tent on fire so they can play hero and point out how unsafe the camp is with all the tents together. Christine swoops in to tell them about her plan for dorms in the town hall – and Julia speaks up because she’s leading this town damn it. They need food

It backfires because Eva is an expert in finding food (for reasons) and therefore she and Barbie have to wander off alone to tour the town, gnawing on various things (or various parts of Barbie) to see if they’re edible (or tasty). Julia looks like someone run over her kitten.

Norrie and Hunter are being all sweety pod-peopley together (hey we just stood around like zombies last night! And this was a good thing!). Of course this romance simply needs to have more conflict so Joe finds them kissing. Oh love triangles, how I hate you so.

Dominion, Season 2, Episode 1: Heirs of Salvation

Michael is slaughtering people with brutal efficiency and a lot of humans are hiding and cowering from his wrath. Ok such a random non-sequiter is clearly another example of starting an episode half way through

Yup, we’re not spinning back to 2 days earlier. Have I mentioned how much I hate this prologue nonsense?

Alex is being held by/working with Gabriel who is getting irritated by the lack of Alex’s success in deciphering the god script all over him. Gabriel helpfully reminds us he’s getting Alex to co-operate by agreeing not to kill Claire who is pregnant with Alex’s baby. Alex actually makes me vaguely agree with him for once since he accuses Gabriel of having daddy issues (God agrees, since he sets the magic writing writhing on his arms visible only to Alex).

Noma, the undercover angel and now prisoner, is also there and would rather he didn’t share god’s secrets with the evil killy angel. Alex decides to taunt Gabriel instead. In punishment for their actions they ram steel spikes into Noma’s back

But now it’s the human’s turn – a plane flies over and drops a huge bomb on Michael’s fortress

In Vega, Claire and Arika (representative from the city-state, Helena) count their chickens long before they hatch and celebrate.

David (evil politician who is evil) disapproves of this and voices his complaints because a) he wasn’t informed because he’s so very important and b) if Gabriel isn’t dead he is now Pissed. Claire isn’t listening to his whining and to rub some salt into his wounds, she also plans to spread the wealth a bit more and help the V1s (poor people at the bottom of Vega’s very rigid and cruel class system). This is awesome, alas David has an Ace – if she’d worked with him she’d have his resources like knowing his people were watching Gabriel’s eerie and knew Alex was inside. Who she has no presumably killed

But Claire, despite a brief hesitation, stays firm – she controls the military, she already had this intel and chose to go ahead despite Alex’s death (also she probably knows about his epic plot armour). Having put David rather awesomely in his place she can now be all mopey about Alex. I’ll allows some mopeyness so long as it comes with nice dollops of putting David in his place

To the utter surprise of no-one, Alex is live. To my considerable surprise, so is Noma – and he help pull the iron spikes out of her back and tries to use them on Gabriel (also alive) but is stopped by Furiad (yet again, also alive – though that may change since Noma stabbed him). Alex tries again to stab Gabriel but many more not-dead and pretty much uninjured angels start getting up. Really this bomb was pretty damn awful. Was it set to property damage only or something? Noma instead encourages Alex to run before the legion of no-dead angels catch them.

Plan B is to go to New Delphi: his logic is that he doesn’t want to lead Gabriel back to Claire. This assumes Gabriel doesn’t know where Vega is, a place he’s been, can’t figure out who bombed him AND doesn’t know that Alex is a damn fool who will do anything if you imperil Claire. In other words, it’s a terrible terrible plan. The real reason being that Michael expressly told them not to go to New Delphi so of course Alex has to go because he’s a whiny manchild. Noma is not a fan of Alex’s surrogate daddy issues and would really like to call Michael – but Alex refuses.

His vague plan is to actually use his tattoos to try and get an army from New Delphi. Of course, despite her misgivings, Noma is definitely going with him.

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Avalon by Neal F Litherland

This is a collection of short stories set in the mystical steam punk city of New Avalon. In each of these stories we meet two people who, through the vagaries of magic, weird science and high emotion, find love… and a great deal of tragedy.

And each one is pretty much beautiful. Whether it’s the old tinker who waited his whole life to meet the beloved whose life he saved (but waited just a bit too long), or the captain who’s new invention inspires the equally passionate enthusiasm of his lover… only for that same invention to bring them crashing tragically to earth. To the spy who unintentionally fell in love for her target – but now they must both feel the wrath of their employers. To the gentle kind man who knows the secrets of death who pays the ultimate price to bring his true love back only to find it go terribly terribly wrong or the frustrated woman continually performing atrocities in the desperate attempt to keep her love around…

Tragedy and love are in every story. Whether it’s love lost, a love dying or utter desperation and people pursue love to their own destruction or damnation.

And it is really beautiful, I say this again. Each story is elaborate, amazingly well written and well paced with perfectly chosen word use. It’s ornate without being excessive, evocative without being purple, emotional without being overwrought. It’s an excellently well crafted book full of very well written stories of love and grief in this city

The city (or cities… which I will get to) is also nicely presented, with each character we can picture where they are and the challenges they face and even the background on which their sagas are painted. The backdrop is very vibrant

I just… don’t really understand this book. I don’t understand it conceptually. Of course, I have to admit, again, that I do not like short stories except within a relatively narrow set of circumstances (usually when they’re an ongoing part of a series adding new light to that series or as a stand alone that tells a complete story). The short stories in this book didn’t fit either of these categories.

Each story is extremely short, telling a short complete story within a central theme. They are closed stories, none of them particularly needs developing further – but that’s because there’s not much more to tell. Not that these characters couldn’t have more development or more plots in their future, it’s just that none of it is developed sufficiently to make me invest in their stories above and beyond what is presented. More could be told about their experiences and what happens from here – but I’m happy that the story is closed because I don’t really care to go any further. This is not really an ideal way to achieve that “stand alone complete story” for me – just have one event with no suggestion that I’d be interested in anything else.

Portraying Prejudice Well - Avoiding the Perils and Pitfalls

When you produce media with marginalised characters at some point the thorny issue of prejudice and bigotry is going to raise its ugly head. Sadly, prejudice is an unyielding fact of existence for most marginalised people, it’s something that cannot be ignored or brushed over and a marginalised character who manages to live a charmed life avoiding all prejudice is not necessarily going to be a great reflection or portrayal of actual marginalised people and their experiences
Are these characters going to move through some kind of fictionalised utopia where prejudice doesn’t exist? It’s certainly tempting and a perfectly valid choice – especially for more fantastic settings. After all, if your quasi-medieval setting is going to have a completely original map, 10 year winters, dragons, super-cold-zombie-makers and a completely fictional polytheistic religion where half of the aspects of deity are female, then why shouldn’t it also have gender parity, for example? This isn’t our society, this isn’t our world – there’s absolutely no reason why our prejudices and bigotries need to be exported. If reality can change enough to allow elves and wizards, it can certainly change enough for people not to hate each other because of their race.
In fact, in some ways it’s offensive to assume these prejudices should be exported to a fantasy setting – especially if you’ve made no real effort in the new setting to explain it. If you’re willing to change so much to make this fantastic, alien world then not only refusing to remove bigotry but then not even trying to add to your world building why this bigotry still exists actually implies that said bigotry is inherent, expected and even natural. If you’re world is misogynist just because our world is (and was if we’re using historical settings) then you’re implying misogyny is inevitable – that we don’t need a reason why a society would become misogynist that misogyny is an inherent ground state of being for

Again this doesn’t mean your fantasy setting shouldn’t contain prejudices – but work in the sources, reasons and development of that prejudice; make your portrayal of prejudice fit the world rather than assuming that misogyny/racism/homophobia/ableism et al simply must always be present.
We have also seen that attempt at a prejudice-less utopia fall flat, especially when it is set in a world that is very close to our own, as most Urban Fantasy is. Teen Wolf, for example, often claims to be set in a world without homophobia – yet we still have homophobic jokes (and the whole concept of coming out and the closet) that can only exist in a world where homophobic prejudice exists; Scott could not have made the Coach back off from kicking him out from a school event by dancing with Danny if they did not live in a world where gay teens are banned from prom for being gay. This lack of follow through is not just lazy, but also implies that the whole concept of a “utopia” is less to present a world where gay characters don’t face bigotry, but more to create a world where gay characters don’t have to be developed or have storylines that may centre on them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dark Desire (Dark #2) by Lauren Dawes

After the events of the last book, several people are reeling from their losses but each deal with it in different ways

Eir, goddess, Valkyrie and healer may find a way to mend her inured heart with a new love

But Taer, dark elf, can only be sated with revenge.

I have a lot of the same frustrations about this book as I had for the first book. Some of the core characters of this book are Valkyries and/or Norse goddesses and they are treated as the daintiest most delicate porcelain figures you could imagine. Korvain even refers to the Valkyries as “Bryn’s girls”.

I really dislike Eir’s storyline. She’s a Valkyrie, she’s a goddess and she is treated like a delicate fragile toy to be sheltered and protected – or an errant child because she is scolded and chided if she doesn’t do as she’s told for her own safety. She has to go everywhere with a man protecting her (even a human is deemed sufficient to keep the frail goddess and Valkyrie safe) and she has to check in at all times. Korvain in particular constantly orders her around, scolds her like a child – and decides who she can and cannot meet. She’s a thousand year old goddess – she can choose her own lovers! Except she never has, of course, because like all the “good women” in this book/series she has ensured her precious hymen remain unruptured through the centuries for REASONS.

Even her trauma after the last book is used more as a purpose to keep her vulnerable and, therefore, subject to control.

This also leads on to Korvain – who has pretty much assumed leadership and constantly dishes out orders to pretty much everyone. Brynn has faded entirely into the background after the first book and Korvain just feels like he has taken everything over. She was the protagonist, now it’s Korvain. She was the leader, now it’s Korvain. She used to protect her sisters and rule them – but Korvain has, effectively, completely taken over. But he isn’t their sibling, he isn’t the leader of the Valkyries – he’s just taken over with very little in the way of reason for that other than him being so big and strong and dangerous.

In some ways Taer‘s story is better because she actively pursuing something, she is actually doing something, she is seeking power and agency and revenge. But I’m still not a huge fan of it. Firstly, it’s all defined by Taer seeking permission and training from Korvain – another woman under his control. When he refuses her, she turns to another trainer so we can also have lots of sexy-time drooling

Atlantis, season 2, episode 9: The Gorgon's Gaze

Oracle #2 is now restored to her role – where she instantly condemns everyone with her new holy authority. Hah, no.  Absolutely no-one comments on the fact she just disappeared for several days and how having an Oracle around would have been quite useful when trying to find the truth of who killed the last one (actually, that’s a lie, Oracle #1’s predications have always been so supremely useless).

She gets a vision – or maybe she’s just slightly more adept than… well… anyone on this show. She says that the gods are furious and are going to rage righteous destruction down on them because the rightful heir

Oh Pasiphae, someone wasn’t worthy.

Pasiphae decides to have the Oracle taken away by the guards.  Cilix desperately tries to spin the result and decides that Ariadne must renounce her throne in favour of Pasiphae which will make her the rightful heir.

Y’know, gaming prophecy is all well and good when Melas is your mouthpiece. But if you keep looking for loopholes, Oracle #2 can keep “clarifying”

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Reluctant Vampire (Argeneau #15) by Lynsay Sands

Now that so many immortals have been paired with their lifemates, they need time off from their roles as enforcers to take their honeymoons.  That means that the enforcers will be down a few hunters.  Cue Aunt Marguerite, who never seems to miss an opportunity to set immortals up with their  lifemates.  Marguerite decides to arrange to send Drina Argenis (from the Spanish side of the Argeneau family) to help guard the young edentate Stephanie.  Drina is eager to meet Harper but nervous because he is in still deep mourning after losing his last lifemate less than two years ago.  Somehow, Drina has to convince Harper that they are meant to be together while protecting Stephanie from the evil no fanger Leonius.

If I had to use only one word to describe The Reluctant Vampire it would be forced.  The whole thing just felt crammed together and at times awkward and uncomfortable.  Stephanie and Drina decide to trick Harper into a little shopping trip to Walmart.  There they set about tempting Harper by showing him the bra and panties Drina is buying and naturally picturing his lifemate in these things causes him to have to take deep breathes and gulp.  Then there's his whole astonishment regarding FM shoes. Really?  No, really?  It all just felt forced. Considering how young Stephanie is, I can understand that this is her version of helping the two lovers get it on, but it does not make sense that Trina played along.  

Trina has had a long interesting history which completely captivated me.  She is quite different than the modern working women who have been featured as lifemates for the Argeneau men.  Trina has been a gladiator, a pirate, a madam and even controlled a small country by controlling its leader for a time.  Trina has spent all of her life pushing back against the limitations women have faced throughout history, determined to live her life freely.  The problem however ensues when she meets Harper.  I learned about what kind of woman Trina is from her backstory but somehow it all got lost in her relationship with Harper.  Instead, Trina is decidedly motherly towards Stephanie with no hint of the hardness it must have taken to dress as a man and become a pirate.  

Teen Wolf, Season 5, Episode 3: Dreamcatcher

Random guy, Donovan who was arrested is being all ominously led around in chains which is apparently relevant. He’s all upset because he’s facing prison and blaming it all on the Sherriff because he has a shaky idea of how the legal system works. Can someone eat him already? His lawyer is so not impressed by his elaborate death threats (every lawyer at some point wishes to file for permission to beat their client about the head and shoulders with a rusty club for being too stupid to live). Stiles also fines it quite amusing

Far more relevant is Sheriff Stilinski going on a date with a woman he will not discuss with Stiles or Scott

Oh please, like there’s any choice but Melissa. (we also get a tease of stiles saying he can date men or women, oh Stiles, Sherriff Stilinski is far too important for him to be LGBT on this show, they could hardly keep him in the plot box all season)

No Back to Donavon and the driver of the prison transport he’s in has a sudden painful seizure which causes them to speed and careen out of control before the driver dies. There’s something on the roof that hisses and snarls and drops ooze – it’s wolfy!Tracy (the lawyer’s daughter). She slaughters lots of people including her dad – alas, Donavon is not eaten. He’s captured by the Bioshock guys who drill into his ear and install nifty contacts.

Stiles has also been investigating the Desert Wolf (Malia’s father), and by investigating we mean Braeden has been sending him text messages from distant lands keeping her off screen

Malia is being taught to drive by Kira and Lydia – though she’s not very good at it – and she’s still afraid of cars because of her past history of a car crash. Then Lydia’s banshee instincts kick in and she gives new directions –leading them to the van wreck where Tracy slaughtered everyone

Crime scene – Stiles and Scott show up and absolutely no-one questions it any more, though the Sherriff does check if Donavan is a werewolf. Scott says no – unless he can hide his scent. He wants Scott to hunt Donovan down all wolfy style. Stiles is still suspicious of Theo (who is in the background watching) but since Donovan isn’t a werewolf it takes Scott 5 seconds to track him down and subdue him – where he keeps saying “Tracy” over and over again. Lydia knows who that is.

They have a conflab the next day at school and Mason actually joins in (dare I get my hopes up?! Will he live to see the end of the season?) and fanpoodles at all the woo-woo. Anyway they’re planning to hunt down Tracy.

Donovan is in prison and would quite like a lawyer though the Sherriff ignores this and, instead, wants to question him about what happened. Donovan insists on a new lawyer and gets nasty headaches. Parrish also has more news – Tracy just mauled her psychiatrist which also needs passing on to Scott. Parrish snarks about putting Scott on the payroll which I like so much (it’s a good lampshade – how often in this genre do we have civilians in police cases who have no place there but no-one talks about it?)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fireborn (Souls of Fire #1) by Keri Arthur

Emberly is a phoenix and has spent several lifetimes living under their curse – to never know love and to have their heart broken each lifetime. She’s also seen no end of bad results come from her attempting to save lives

But when Sam, the lover who broke her life this incarnation, is imperiled she can’t help but act despite all the bitter memories.

Now she finds herself facing something new even after all her lifetimes – humans infected with a whole new condition due to unwise human tinkering into vampires. They’re dangerous, contagious and must be stopped. And they’re gunning for her.

This book ticks a lot of boxes – a rich original mythology. A protagonist who is clever, capable and determined as well as sexual without shame. Throw in a setting we don’t see often and a storyline that is nicely paced and full of fun and it’s definitely pulling me in.

One element that really intrigues me is romantic and sexual nature of the phoenixes. They are paired together, sexually. They must have sex with their soul-mate – but at the same time they’re cursed never to love that soul mate. Inherently, if they want any romantic connection, they must seek romance outside of their partnership while also continuing to have sex with their soul-mate. They are inherently polygamous beings – but there’s no shame or angst about that. They know what they are, they are happy in the sex lives they have and even when Sam accuses her of cheating she doesn’t feel slightly guilty; she’s clear that he only accuses her of that because he is utterly ignorant of her nature.

It’s nice to have a female protagonist who is sexual, has multiple partners and doesn’t even have a moment of angst about this.

I will say that her relationship with Jackson is distracting. I can get they find each other hot and love that she’s eager to explore that – but their timing is far too often ill-advised when they’re already neck deep in other things going on

The whole nature of phoenixes in this is quite original, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it in any other book: the reincarnation, the many lives and lifetimes, the connected souls. It’s all very new – and that’s rare considering how much of the genre I’ve read.

This couples with things like the fae connected to their elements and a whole lot of creepy difference with some vampires that brings a lot of unique aspects to the story. I say again, I’ve read a lot in this genre which makes me really value the original. I love to read something completely new and this book definitely brought the new

Falling Skies, Season 5, Episode 2: Hunger Pains

We have more rabid, feral skitters running around fighting and eating each other and completely shredding every pretence of canon this show has ever had. Now a horde of feral skitters is trying to attack the human base. Firefight time and, for some damn reason, Anthiny almost climbs over the barricade to fight them in close combat (SERIOUSLY?!) This is a belated attempt to make someone care for Denny (did Anthony even speak to Denny before this?)

In the fight they lose all their food supplies which they decided to store in one place. Next to some explosives. Of course they do.

A quick strategy meeting confirms that all the militia groups (which randomly appeared last week) are all facing lots of resistance and feral Skitters, the odd annoying Overlord and a complete break down of anything resembling canon or coherence.

They need more supplies which means they need transport – which they don’t have which has Tom yelling at Weaver for not being able to pull working cars out of thin air. Tom focuses on what he wants to do while Weaver focuses on what they have and need.

Meanwhile Anne has find an insect which bit Tom which they suspect is an evil Espheni bug. Tom continues to ask for things they don’t have and throws in a hallucination of his dead wife for good measure who informs him people need to eat. Well, that’s helpful.

We move forwards 8 days where everyone is still disposing of skitter bodies (and skitter attacks are happening constantly) and all exhausted. Dingaan is also trying to reverse engineer Espheni technology to create a weapon which Tom is pushing for (and demanding miracles). We’re also introduced to Evelyn who tries to make friends with Mat and is the next step in Denny’s T-dog chain. Matt doesn’t trust her so she’s clearly Matt’s love interest. She’s also used to exposition Matt’s angst because he’s afraid to make any friends because everyone is going to die. Dingaan decides to tell him about fishing for some reason but the end line seems to be “take a chance.”

Food is desperately rationed and people are very hungry. Pope and Sara decide to cook skitter. Random extra eats it and, unsurprisingly, dies. REALLY horribly. Skitters are not edible (creatures evolved on a different planet are not a good food source).

Tom doesn’t actually blame it on Pope even though it’s actually his fault.

Evelyn ends up in the medical bay as one of those suffering from hunger-related lurginess. Matt denies being her friend. Definitely love interest. Tom continues to tell Anne about the message from his hallucinations, she seems to be ok with that and wants to discuss having another baby.

Penny Dreadful, Season 2, Episode 10: And They Were Enemies

We open with wolfy Ethan – and dead Sembene and my eternal disgust.

Vanessa is being taunted by a ventriloquist dummy, possessed by the Fallen Angel, about being a murderer (and calling her Amaunet). But Vanessa must give her soul willingly. With Evelyn they both accuse her about the darkness she embraced and the black magic she’s used. They try to tempt her and challenge her to a staring contest (well knowing herself, but I’m amused that anyone thinks they could win a staring contest with Vanessa). They tempt her with her ultimate wish – to be normal which leads to a vision of life, married to Ethan and with two kids. Vanessa calls the vision cruel while they described what a wonderful peaceful life she would have (and, in classic Victorian gothic, that includes a beautiful death) with her friends free

Vanessa pulls back. She knows what she is – and a normal life isn’t in her dreams any more. And she growls and it is perhaps the most terrifying thing this show has ever had. She has a Verbis Diablo duel with her possessed puppet, the whole building shaking from it and Evelyn cowering from the noise. The puppet is destroyed and a wave of scorpions (Vanessa’s symbol) crawl from within.

“Beloved know your master”, the puppet shatters. Along with the epic scale. Evelyn, her master defeated, ages rapidly – and Hecate releases Ethan who runs free and slices out her throat with his claws

He then confronts Vanessa and calms. He runs from her. Sensible man. Vanessa absorbs a scorpion into her hand – where it leaves its image as a scar in the palm before fading because she clearly hasn’t maximised the creepy yet

Victor is confronted by his ghostly “kids”, all his creations – they all accuse him of the terrible ways he’s treated them (including Lily outright calling his touching her abuse). Malcolm is confronted by his ghostly dead kids. With all the guilt they push them to “atone” – suicide.

As Evelyn dies, the visions tormenting Victor and Malcolm fade. Leaving them both a little shaken in the aftermath.

And Lyle manages to shoot the witch holding him. His parting lines are: “never underestimate the power of a queen with lovely hair, my dear.” Oh… Lyle.

They reunite and Malcolm shoots and kills another naked witch. They unite with Vanessa and find Sembene’s dead body.

Hecate is left along among the destruction, singing merrily and leaving it to burn behind her.

Monday, July 6, 2015

End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3) by Susan Ee

Penryn, Raffe and Paige are on the run after an epic showdown with angels.  Penryn is so tired and confused.  As an archangel Raffe is a member of the invading army, yet Penryn is drawn to him.  For his part, Raffe knows he is forbidden from the daughter of man and with an impending fake apocalypse in the works by Uriel.  Pookie Bear the ancient sword is determined to through it's own issues into the mix by delving into Raffe's past.  Penryn has fallen deeply for Raffe but after seeing that he hasn't always been faithful to his friends, Penryn must decide if she can trust him not with her heart but with the fate of all humanity.  Which side will the archangel choose?

I really went into End of Days hopeful but alas it seems that my hope is sadly misplaced.  I wanted End of Days to be absolutely epic, particularly given that World After (book 2 in the series) felt like a placeholder.  End of Days ended abruptly after a large battle scene and Ee swiftly brought about the HEA as though there was always one way for this book to end - Penryn and Raffe becoming a couple. There are plenty of instances where the typical YA HEA just doesn't make sense and End of Days is certainly an example of this.

It made absolute sense to me that Raff is resistant to a relationship with Penryn for much of the book. To be clear, Penryn is a 17 year old girl and Raff is not only immortal but has been alive since before Lucifer was cast out of heaven.  What could he possibly have to talk with Penryn about? Other than the circumstances which brought them together and keep forcing them together, there is no basis for a romantic relationship.  Affection between Raffe and Penryn make sense considering all they have been together but romantic love?  The very idea is ridiculous.  

Penryn's idea of dealing with Raffe's reaction is to ask him repeatedly if she's his daughter of man.  When that doesn't get her the answer she wants, Penryn takes the opportunity while Raffe is sleeping to place his hand on her breast.  Ummm that's assault.  It doesn't matter that Raffe awoke and caressed and squeezed Penryn's breast of his volition.   This incident really moved Penryn into just an annoying, lovestruck teen into someone who doesn't believe in consent and is absolutely selfish.  Her continual mooning over Raffe, often at the most inopportune moments couldn't erase reading about Penryn assaulting him.  

When the HEA does finally happen, it doesn't feel joyous or wonderful, it feels like Raffe capitulated because he couldn't take Penryn's badgering him anymore.  The cynical side of me pictures Raffe realising that Penryn, while only 17, is still human and destined to die and therefore; whatever commitment they have to each other will be short lived.  The fact that Penryn is mortal and Raffe is immortal and ageless is more than enough reason for them to never ever be a couple.  Ee softens tries to make Raffe's declaration of love makes sense but even Ee cannot hide the capitulation despite the pretty words she has Raffe say.
‘Don’t you know a heartfelt declaration of love when you hear one?’ 
I blink dumbly at him with my heart pounding.

 He caresses a lock of my hair out of my face. ‘Look, I know that we’re from different worlds and different people. But I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter.’

‘You don’t care about the angelic rules anymore?’

‘My Watchers have helped me realize that angelic rules are for angels. Without our wings, we can never be fully accepted back into the fold. There will always be talk of taking a newly Fallen’s wings and transplanting them onto us. Angels are perfect. Even with transplanted wings, we’ll never again be perfect. You accept me just the way I am, regardless of whether or not I even have wings. Even when I had my demon wings, you’ve never looked at me with pity. You’ve never wavered in your loyalty. That’s who you are – my brave, loyal, lovable Daughter of Man. (pg 262)
Even if Raffe goes home, he will never quite fit in again after all that's transpired and he most certainly cannot become a Messenger.  What options does he have left at this point but to decide to be with Penryn while she lives out her mortal life?   It would have made sense of Raffe left with the angels and little overly persistent Penryn learned you can't always get what you want.  Putting Raffe and Penryn together was always going to be coarse and ridiculous because as a romantic couple, they are absurd at best.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Last Ship, Season Two, Episode Three: It's Not a Rumor

Thirteen days ago at Biscayne Bay Florida, Niels Sørensen aka patient zero, sits with a young boy named Johnny. People questions where Niels came from because he apparently washed up on the beach in the morning.  On the beach a Russian boat sits.

At the White house, Tom looks at a destroyed picture of Lincoln.  Green reports that compound is clear with no sign of life and the bunker is impenetrable and no sign of answer.

Back at the Nathan James, Scott reports that the lab in Baltimore have been more successful than hoped for.  Apparently 10,000 doses have been created thus far.  Michael Neustadther enters the room and smiles at Dr. Scott. Scott says that they are transporting 12 other scientists to the naval base in Norfolk Virginia but hope to find other boats and planes to transport the cure.

Tom is back on the ship and learns that the crew is holding up well. Foster offers her condolences to Tom on the loss of his wife.  In return Tom promotes Kara and questions how she is feeling, reminding her that the old rules don't allow women at sea after being 20 weeks pregnant.  Kara promises to keep that in mind.  Why is Tom even bringing that up?  Where is Kara supposed to go? Kara suggests that Kirkland can do the job and Tom says that Kara is more qualified.

Tom then heads to sick bay where he meets with Russ to discuss Alisha.  Physically Alisha is doing fine but has been keeping to herself.

On the deck, Slattery reports that the are short on everything, including crew.  Tom agrees that they cannot keep sending Greene and Burke out on missions because the two men are fried.  Tom says as the only one with his family here he is doing fine.  Slattery get contacted and informed  that they have broken down the decryption from the White House.

Slattery, Garret, Scott and Tom meet to discuss the infection rate.  Kara pulls up a video file from teh Secretary of the Navy.  The secretary says that there's a network which has been chosen to produce and distribute the vaccine but the location of the labs has been kept secret. The secretary has embeded a code in the file so that the labs can be contacted.  Tom orders Kara to find the labs. Later, Tom learns that several labs are operational.  Scott gets a message that Dr. Hamilton wants to speak with Scott.  An emotional Scott talks with her mentor and reveals that they ahve a cure.

At Biscayne Bay Florida, Niels Sørensen walks amongst the dead.  It seems that he infected everyone who had gathered there since he is the carrier of the disease.  Niels picks the pockets of the dead before walking away.

Tex is helping a member of the crew work out.  Scott enters the room and Tex says that when he heard The Nathan James was headed south, he chose to hitch a ride.  Scott believes that Tex stayed around because he likes the people of the Nathan James and asks why he left in the first place. Tex explains that he went after his daughter who he heard was in Jackson.  Tex hasn't actually seen his 14 year old daughter in three years.  Scott says that they will be in Jackson soon enough and thanks Tex for sharing.

The crew is meeting because they are going to be landing in Norfolk soon and hope for real distribution of cure.  Those with loved ones in Norfolk will be assigned sectors to search where they can find their families.  Slattery promises that everyone else will have their turn soon enough.

Later, on deck, Slattery notices that the Nathan James is being messaged by a seal.  The Nathan James makes it to port and Tom speaks with a member of the military about what is going on in Norfolk.  They learn that people are being held up in different safe zones and the city is in the process of being cleared.

Russ reports to Garret that the seals didn't recognize any names on the list of missing loved ones. Garrett stops to talk to Kara about what they will find on land.

Tom talks to military personnel about turning the tide through the distribution of the cure. The airforce pilots hope in their planes and take off. Michael Neustadther shakes Dr. Scott's hand saying that he will never be able to thank her enough. Scott reminds Michael Neustadther that he must do his part. The crew of the Nathan James watches the planes fly overhead with a smile on their faces.

Slattery leaves to find his family and Tom wishes him good luck.  On board the ship, Alisha tells Russ that she already found her family and all that's left is what she became.  Russ says that desperation brings out the best and worst of people. It seems that Alisha thought about staying in Baltimore to help repair the damage her mother had created. Russ however is certain that Alisha's place is aboard the Nathan James. Alisha cries and says that her own bunkmate won't look at her. Russ tells Alisha that no one blames her but Alisha is certain that they walked into the mess in Baltimore because Tom placed his faith in her. Russ assures Alisha that not everything is just on her.

Tom watches his family as they fish.  Kelly stands with Tom and they discuss how his children are holding up given what they have seen or done.  Kelly assures Tom that what's important is that the kids are with their father now.

Kara and Green have arrived at her mother's house.  Similarly, Garrett has arrived at her home, to find her husband's car gone. The vulture team lead by Slattery and Tex have arrived at one of the safe zones.  Inside her home, Kara finds her mother's home abandoned as though the woman hasn't been there in months.  Kara  snarks about her mother finishing all of the booze, before finding a note from six months ago saying that she is at the bowling alley. When they arrive at the bowling ally, Kara snarks about her mother chasing men around.  That's some nice slut shaming right there.

Killjoys, Season 1, Episode 3: The Harvest

It’s time for the results of D’avin’s killjoy exam – with lots of nerves and John expecting to be his brother’s co-boss. He’s interviewed by a woman is kind of awesome in pushing him into telling him exactly why he wants to be a Killjoy. He passes – and renounces all loyalties to become a Killjoy

And he’s cleared for level 4. That’s one level higher than John. Poor John is not happy – but first D’avin has to pass a psych eval. Oh course, like any good brother, D’avin rubs this in most cruelly. Of course, there’s still the psych eval.

Over to Dutch and she’s been busy torturing the guy she was sent to kill to try and find out why Khylen wants him dead. He convinces her that he honestly doesn’t know why Khylen wants him dead – and she releases him.

Baxck to the brothers we get some more dystopian background scenes and learn it’s “Harvest week” which means lots of flush folks getting drunk and causing problems which also means D’avin and John have to break up a fight in Pree’s bar in exchange for all those free drinks they get.

No allegiances, no loyalties, but you do not mess with my local. ‘kay?

Except D’avin goes from “bar fight” to “strangling to death” which is a little excessive, thankfully Dutch arrives and quells the entire room with her aura of awesomeness. Dutch also brings up D’avin’s psych eval and throws him to Sarah Power who has a room upstairs running a clinic (she’s the drunk woman D’avin helped in the bar fight). She agrees to sign his eval if he will get her to get Dutch to give her a ride to Leith (Dutch doesn’t like her) so she can go to the bazaar. He also tries for some sleeping tablets which she refuses

John’s own dealing is spilling all his brother issues to a woman he is having sex with who massively Does Not Care. But hey if he’s talking she’d love to talk about her husband Vincent who hasn’t come back for Harvest. He’s vanished and if he isn’t back in 2 days his visa expires – which means 10 years hard labour and since she signed it, that will apply to her. Damn, this place is run by UKIP (well the moderate wing of UKIP anyway). She’s going to put out a warrant to find him and she wants John to take it

Never ever make business deals when you’re naked in bed with someone. It’s so damn awkward to say no. He tells Dutch this and she says no and also adds he needs to stop being friends with everyone he sleeps with, it’s “weird.” He throws more not-subtle and very fun guilt at her (I love how these two interact. He’d also quite like a fun run with the two of them without D’avin (me too) and he’s noticed she’s stressed

The Last Ship, Season Two, Episode Two: Fight the Ship

Kara is having an ultra sound performed on her by Dr. Hammada, as Tex and Scott race through the facility, terrified that if Amy gets what she needs from Kara, there won't be any reason not to kill everyone on The Nathan James.

In the meantime, Green shuts down the power before the amniocentesis can be performed on Kara. Amy orders a direct attack on the power plant and that Alisha be secured. In the tunnels, Tom and Throwald learn that Granderson has sent men out and they prepare to breach the facility.

In the surgery room, the nurse takes the opportunity to release one of Kara's hands when Dr. Hammada has his back turned. When Hammada returns to Kara, she stabs him in the chest with the needle he has prepared for her amniocentesis.  Tex and Scott burst through the door and they save Kara but leave the nurse who helped her behind.

Slattery continues to make his way through the ship.  In another area, members of the crew approach the armory which has conveniently been left unguarded.

Kelly and Ava huddle together in mourning for Quincy.  Garnett is approached about the crew making their move against the invaders.

Now that they are inside the facility, Tom splits off from Thorwald on his mission to find and secure Dr. Scott but is accompanied by some of Thorwald's men.

Slattery has made his way to some kind of surveillance area on the ship and immediately looks to locate Granderson's men.  In the process, he discovers crew members in the armory.

Granderson is informed that Dr. Scott, Alisha and Kara are missing.  When Amy hears gunfire, she orders all exits to be sealed and gives the order for Alisha to be found.

Tex tries to lead Scott and Alisha and is forced to change his plans when he sees Granderson's men.In the meantime, Amy's men have arrived at the electricity plant. Green fires his weapon but is clearly outnumbered.

The armed members of the crew begin to make their way through the ship, as Slattery watches.  Slattery turns the lights off and on to signal his men.

Passing a butter knife person to person, the crew of the Nathan James cuts away the zip ties and frees their hands. They don't get to act because the free crew men burst in and free them. Garnett once freed, orders everyone to their battle stations, announcing that it's time to take back their ship.

The master chief has returned to the Chandlers.  When someone pulls up in front of the house, they move quickly to blow out the candles.  It seems that the girl who was watching Russ has lead one of Ganderson's people to the house in exchange for food.  Amy's men attempt to take the house and Jed and Russ fight them back but decide to move in case more men come.

Tex meets up with Tom and explains Kara's presence in the facility. A near emotionless Kara admits to killing Hammada. Scott reveals that Quincy is dead.  Tom confirms that Thorwald's men will get Kara, Scott and Tex out and continues through the ship.

In her office Amy listens to a report on the attack, as Throwald makes his way through the facility. Amy is told that she should evacuate but she stubbornly refuses to leave and instead contacts the power plant, not aware of how close Throwald is to her office.

Kara and  Scott continue their escape, after Tex hands them a gun and instructs them to leave without him.

The lab is secure now but Green reports in that he cannot hold back the people at the powerplant any longer. Tom gives the order for Green to retreat and Green rushes quickly to comply.

The crew of the Nathan James is steadily capturing Ganderson's men as Slattery watches.

Russ and Jed take the kids to the Avocet van when they hear a report from Green that he is on foot and has at least six people following him. Greene says that he is going to go to Sartoga and Fremont. Jed suggests that Russ and he split up, so that Russ can help his shipmate.  Russ gets on the radio and tells Green that he will be there in less than five.

Ganderson's men get the electricty up and running.  In her office, Amy uses the intercom to tell the people that they are under attack my rogue members of the navy. Amy warns her people that if they see a navy uniform, they are to run.

At another area of the building, Alicia is trying to free the people but when someone sees her navy uniform, the people begin to turn on her.  Alicia is forced to make a run for it but she doesn't get far before being stopped by one of Ganderson's people. Alicia begs, saying that there are a lot of innocent people who need their help.  When Alica grabs for the run, she is shot in the abdomen.

Green and Russ have now arrived at Avocet.  Throwald continues to try and make his way to Ganderson's office.  Amy orders the building sealed when she realises that her people aren't actively fighting the incursion.

Defiance, Season 3, Episode 5: History Rhymes

Opening flashback – that’s rare – back to before the Votan dystopia. It’s the day the alien fleet arrives with a girl and a boy. Irisa watches – and Nolan joins her, the boy is him as a child and the girl his sister Rebecca.

In the real world and present Amanda has got Nolan to Yewl (who doesn’t just leave him to die) and is happy to take the help of vet Samir to try and save him. He ends up only alive because of machines – and Amanda asks Samir for a second opinion which does not amuse Yewl. Though Yewl rather graphically reports why she has a very very good reason to kill Amanda and Nolan. They do find Arctech in Nolan’s brain – under the same scar that was on Irisa’s head. Yewl demands Irisa be brought in

Which means Amanda has to find her to save Nolan – as she tells Berlin. Oopsie Berlin. She goes looking for where she left Irisa, pretending to follow a trail of blood to find her.

Bringing her to the clinic they identify the same tech in both of their heads – and they do better when they’re actually together because their brains are inter-dependent, which happened in the pods to help human Nolan survive in a Votan pod. Yewl is gloriously snarky and presents the only answer – cut open their heads and remove the tech.

To do this she needs Omec technology which means talking to Kenzi – who agrees but only if it means they don’t owe them anything. She threatens Yewl, Yewl is way better at word games because she’s awesome like that.

While the doctor keep them alive, Irisa and Nolan continue to get flashbacks of Nolan’s memories: of him and his sister fighting in the war – and young!Nolan refusing to kill an Irathient pretending to surrender who then killed his sister. Irisa tries to talk to Nolan about it who refuses before angsting about how it was his fault they were both enlisted in the first place and how she loathed the war. They have another flashback to 1 year after Arkfall and the end of the war. Nolan has little child!Irisa with him and this is when they become Archunters, making money off selling Arc wreckage; and how Nolan back then denied being Irisa’s dad. And how he was still violently into killing, torturing and mangling Irathients.

Irisa is not impressed by this memory – and child!Irisa looks at her. It leads to Irisa asking just why Nolan would keep her around when he loathed Votans –ultimately because Nolan saw a child. And her being born on Earth made her different to him which Irisa is excellent at countering and makes it very clear she is a Votan, just like the others. But he also considered her untouched by the atrocities of the Pale Wars. There’s a lot of complex there

More memories, including teaching child Irisa to be ruthless – and make her kill a helpless Castithan. Which kind of puts the lie to the whole idea that she was untouched by horror. Which leads to more debate between the two – Nolan upset that it hurt Irisa more than she knew, but still standing by the importance of the lesson. Which leads to another flashback with child!Irisa nearly stabbing Nolan while he slept – oops, Nolan didn’t remember that one. Nolan is aghast that it happened but Irisa tells him she was scared of him.                           

The Last Ship, Season Two, Episode One: Unreal City

When last we left the Last Ship, the Nathan Lane had been taken over by Amy Granderson's people. The crew finds themselves surrounded by armed people.  Garnett assures the crew that there will be a time for them to fight back but warns that they are to wait, otherwise they will be mowed down by a hail of bullets. Garnett tells the Quincy's family to lie about how they came to be on the ship because they have been captured by people who want to steal the cure.

On the bridge, Quicy is bleeding out. Slattery warns that Quincy is the insurance policy in case something happens to Dr. Scott and demands that the ships doctor report to the bridge immediately.  On deck, the seamen continue to talk about what they are going to do.  O'Connor suggests that they rally at a particular locker and manages to jump overboard.

Tom is escorting his family to safety with the help of Russ.  The two men manage to steal a van and Chandler's family hop in. 

In her office, Granderson gives the order that nothing is to slow down at Olympia and snarks about Tom's men being easy to find because they are wearing navy uniforms.

The Doc Rios arrives to take a look at Quincy and says that he needs to be taken to medical bay right now.  Rios is informed that this is not possible and starts to work on Quincy's wounds.  It's Slattery who notices that the doctor is the one who has the cure hidden in his medical supplies.

Tom discusses with his men what they're next action is going to be and he decides to go after Scott.  Tom then goes to see his family and says that Russ is going to stay with them while he gets a few things done.  Even in the navy, it seems that the Black guy gets the role of baby sitter.

Ganderson informs Dr. Scott that her team has successfully taken down the Nathan James and that with Scott's research, Dr. Hamada will learn to make the cure.  Ganderson suggests that Scott join her efforts but Scott is unwilling to only save a selective few. Ganderson lists all of the horrors that she has seen, adding that the apocalypse is here. In concession, Ganderson agrees to adjust some of her sensibilities, if Dr. Scott will help. Dr. Scott decides to test Ganderson's resolve and asks to save people who are already sick because right now, the cure is being given to healthy people.  Ganderson finds Dr. Scott's suggestion ridiculous and indulgent given the state of the world but agrees to her proposal.

Russ leads the Chandlers to a house and after ensuring that the home is indeed abandoned, the Chandler's rush in.

O'Connor has snuck back onto the ship and turns up the heat to let his people know he is there.

Ganderson's people are freaking out because they have yet to find the primordial that Scott used to create the cure.

An armed Tex walks on the street only to be shot at by a young kid.  Tex is questioned about being sick and says that he just needed a place to crash.  Tex tries to offer food but is rejected.  The kid refuses to deal with Tex, secure in the belief that Tex is with Ganderson's people. The kid is shocked to learn that Tex doesn't know anything about what Ganderson has been up to.

Alisha Ganderson is being escorted to nicer quarters on the order of her mother. On the way, they pass a room where school is being taught.  Ganderson wonders if all of the people know what her mother has doing and is told that people are grateful and all chip in.

Back on the ship, Ganderson's people are still upset about the missing Primordial.  Quincy is warned not to move otherwise he will bleed out in minutes. The doctor is ordered to give Quincy a shot of adrenalin to perk Quincy up and so informs Ganderson's people that adrenalin would kill Quincy.

Bodies are being placed on a conveyor belt to be burnt for energy.  Tom lies amongst the bodies, pretending to be dead and his men are dressed in the uniform of the facility. Unfortunately for Tom's men, it quickly becomes apparent that they have not been seen before.  A gun fight breaks out between Gunderson's people and  Tom's men.  It doesn't take long for Tom's men to corral Ganderson's.

Scott pulls up to a street corner where she finds someone selling fake cures.  Scott rushes forward and tells the people that she has the real cure.  Neustader tells Scott that he had no idea what Ganderson was doing and thought he was helping.  Scott replies that Neustader can redeem himself when Tom comes for her.

Tom and his men continue to make their way through the facility, shooting and killing anyone they run into.  Tom then runs into a man who claims to be a rebel and offers to take Tom to their leader.

Ashley looks out the window in a panic because her father has not returned.  The kids are given some soup to distract them while Jed worries about the fact that he may have let Tom down.  Naturally, Russ assures Jed that he is a hero for surviving as long as he is.  Sam puts down his bowl of soup, saying that he doesn't feel so good.