Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dominion, Season 2, Episode 2: Mouth of the Damned

Alex the-petulant, Noma and their dispossessed buddy Pete are all captured by the forces of New Delphi. Or possibly 8 Balls. Or maybe the forces of New Delphi ARE 8 Balls since they all speak with creaking demon voices

They’re taken to New Delphi and all marvel at the apparently civilised, human 8 Balls. Maybe Alex could organise a mass exorcism hug event?

They’re taken through what looks like a thriving dystopian city to meet boss guy who is not happy about them killing one of his men. He wants a life in exchange. Alex tries to excuse himself by pointing out the guy was an 8 Ball (a term the city of New Delphi – of humans and 8 balls – doesn’t use). They live in peace in New Delphi, apparently – and everything is bartered (which still means Alex owes a life – bye Pete). Alex invokes Gabriel; sure New Delphi is all about trade but they also hate higher angels: Enemy of my Enemy and all that

Alex is split off from the rest to speak to the boss. Boss man is suspicious but Alex gives him some info about the bomb and gets a reprieve. New Delphi also has empyrean steel – special anti-angel weapons.

Which he’ll need because Gabriel is already killing New Delphi’s patrols. In the tradition of super-villains everywhere, he wants Alex alive so he can kill the man himself. So many shows would end quickly if the big bads would just say “for fuck’s sake, kill him!”. But the steel means his minions must hide who they are in the city.

Noma still spots them even as the guards find the dead patrol. Seeing Noma, the angel attacks, Noma calmly evades the attack as pandemonium rages leaving Noma and the new angel facing off against each other.

Meanwhile Alex decides to the fight the man guarding him to try and get a weapon to fight Gabriel – and because beating on wannabe allies is helpful. The guards ends up dead when the second angel reaches the room but Alex gets his hands on Empyrean Steel which is really really bad for angels when you stab them repeatedly.

Noma, alas, doesn’t win her fight and is rescued by Boss man Julian, who shoots the angel with Empyrean steel bullets (couldn’t she have just won?). And Gabriel arrives – offering trade. Julian loathes higher angels so much he refuses to negotiate despite all his talk of trade. Gabriel also kills one of his injured angels so he doesn’t have to leave him behind.

Under the Dome, Season 3 episode 5: Alaska

James finds that sexy while using the pod goo is super-awesome – but Christine becomes more worried by the purple crystals in the tunnels are going out. She asks for James’s unquestioning loyalty and, of course, the man who has so many issues about never being his own person and constantly being dominated by his father agrees. Why wouldn’t he?

In the worst character pairing of all time (I will call this Team JUST DIE ALREADY) Jim is telling Julia all about the infection and trying to convince Julia about the camera with the damning evidence about Christine on it. Except it’s missing and Julia, actually showing sense, isn’t willing to take his word. I think this is because she psychically knows that trusting him would be the right decision so does the opposite (looking back on the last three seasons this explanation makes way more sense than Julia actually making an actual reasonable decision).

She still goes along with his plan involving traps and diversions. This allows Julia to snoop and steal a file called “Alaska”. Well try to. She gets captured until Jim rescues her. With a gun to evil guy’s head she makes him show the camera footage (now all fuzzy).

They question the guy and find that his company has found a broken egg before – one with a vast amount of clean, safe energy. Well clean – except for it infecting the scientists with pod-people alien cells making them act as a group and commit suicide together all at the behest of the leader. They need to find that leader who will be chief podperson

Julia points out pod-person in chief is their employee, Christine, and they learn she’s an anthropologist and she and Eva just disappeared. Evil guy also claims he wants to help her. Uh-huh. But he claims they are working on a treatment, a cure. Nor does he know what the leader will do or whether it’s even safer to split them up.

All this gun pointing seems to have put them all on the same team. Well, sort of – gun pointing still happens and they still want to know where the egg is.

Barbie and Eva, meanwhile are all couply and Barbie tells Eva that silly paranoid Julia thinks Eva and Christine are lying. Eva, however, would utterly fail as a professional poker player though and completely fails to reassure him. Instead saying she just can’t answer that. Romance tip – if your lover asks you “are you lying about who you are?” and you answer “I can’t answer that” then you’re going to need way more than an Agony Aunt to fix that

 In town Hunter is all happy and chipper about the food supply they’ve processed but becomes grim when he realises Happy Sunny Norrie is back to Snarky Norrie. Hunter is super suspicious but they try to put him off the scent by claiming to be on a mission from Christine the Great Leader

It’s nice to see them free but I have to say them lazing around and being all couply feels sweet but also hella lazy. I mean people are struggling to survive and patch things together and they taking a time out? I do like their loyalty oath to each other – Norrie takes it a bit far by throwing in that she’d rather be die than become a “glazed-eye freak!”

 Sam and Abbie are also happily couply and sexual though Sam still has a whole lot of loyalty to Christine which means he’ s not quite ready to dive into sex and booze 24/7

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Gentleman of Means (Magnificent Devices #8) by Shelley Adina

Claire is settling into life as an Engineer for Count Von Zepplin and planning for marriage to Andrew 
(or avoiding planning) though neither is going quite so ideally or quite so well as she would have hoped. But still, is she really willing to abandon her career, this opportunity and even the man she loves for the sake of a friend who, it has to be said, she doesn’t know that well

Gloria Astor-Merriweather has been kidnaped – but is Claire willing to throw everything away to get her back?

I love Gloria. Not so much her character (which is still very good) but the whole concept of her. Gloria Merriweather-Astor was introduced as a very opposite to Claire. While Claire was newly desperately impoverished. Claire was academic and scientific, Gloria was more interested and fashion, society et al. And Gloria is the daughter of her arch-enemy and the major antagonist in the series.

In any other book, Gloria would be evil. She would be the spiteful, vapid mean girl who we were supposed to hate and loathe from the very beginning. She could so easily have been a hollow demonised character.

But she isn’t – she’s clever and moral and capable. She has her own life and her own problems even though her context and experience is very different from Claire’s – and she’s a very loyal and caring friend who regrets deeply any idea that she may have failed Claire in the last book. Even more than her own freedom she worries that Claire may think she abandoned her -  even if they’re not such close friends, it mattered to her that she was thought of hat way (of course, Claire, marvellously free of the girl-hate that is so annoyingly pervasive, doesn’t assume any such thing. Having experienced Gloria’s kindness she assumes far more kinder interpretations of her behaviour).

So, even though I risk sounding like a broken record, I have to repeat how excellent this series is with the female characters. Not just because they’re good and capable and interesting but because they’re also different. They have commonalities in different ways (Claire and Alice share an interest and talent for Engineering, Gloria and Claire attended the same school, Liz and Maggie are sisters) but they’re all still very different people.

The plot itself wasn’t especially unique – we have another rescue mission as our heroes ride to the rescue with cunning, cleverness, a whole lot of courage and daring and ingenuity and a great deal of determination. It’s not especially new, but it is great fun, well written, nicely paced and any outing with these characters will make me smile.

Paranormal Romance: Yet More Engorged, Throbbing and Fainting, Oh my!

Sex is amazing. Sex is a beautiful, wonderful and extremely fun thing. Sex in a book can add a lot of spice, a lot of characterisation and a lot of realness to a book. And, since so many of our books have female protagonists, it’s always nice to see a woman who engages passionately in her sexuality without shame or judgement and finds genuine joy in it (which is why I wish we saw more paranormal romance where they actually did that!)

However, sex can also be extremely funny and down right weird - especially the way some of these writers write it. I’m going to assume all of these authors are not virgins who have no access to decent porn (the internet is there for a reason folks!) - though anyone who has read the Aurora Teagarden series is going to find that a stretch - but some of these scenes make me wonder am I doing sex wrong? Because I can’t imagine doing some of these things in bed (or the sofa, or the kitchen table)

The Medically Worrying Orgasm

One of the prettier metaphors for an orgasm is the “petit mort” the little death. Trust the French to have a pretty and slightly morbid way to describe sex. Now, while orgasms in these books rarely leads to death (the odd succubus notwithstanding) there are certainly times when I think that the participants might want to drop in on their doctor for a check up.

Like the screaming. Yes, passionate noise during sex is understandable - but outright shrieking their lungs out? Screaming so loud they become hoarse? If my lover started howling like that I think I’d stop and check to see if I they are badly injured, or that a serial killer hadn’t snuck in behind me. More of these scenes should include the guy pulling out and gasping “oh my god, are you ok?!”

In addition to the screeching, we also have blindness. I admit there probably are people out there who would boast “I fucked so hard I detached a retina” but… really? If you go blind during sexy times, you should stop humping and head to the emergency room. Sudden blindness is not sexy and not to be taken casually.

Of course, you always know you have had super-hot sex when you can’t move afterwards. Sure, you may be a kick arse vampire hunter who can run for 15 miles then singlehandedly kill 8 werewolves, 2 vampires and an angry tax accountant without breaking a sweat or breathing hard - but sex? That’s going to wipe you out! I wonder, again, how vigorous and how long these hyper fit, super physical people have to be having sex to exhaust their impressive stamina. Some of them are supernatural and can lift cars for crying out loud! They must be humping so fast their hips are a blur!

The ultimate test of sexiness always has to be losing consciousness. Because nothing says sexy like your lover collapsing on top of you like a corpse (I’m looking at you Lynsay Sands).  I have to say my lover going blind or screaming would worry me during sex - but I can’t think of anything killing the mood (and any erections) faster than thinking your lover just died and you’re now intimately connected to dead body

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Blood Sport (American Arcane #2) by Justen Hunter

Eric, possibly the last witch in the world, has been promoted to the knight of the Bay. It’s his job to police the supernaturals of San Francisco and solve any problems that arise – it’s a new role for him and he’s definitely still finding his feet.

But vampires are dying – dying in ways that scream of black magic. Which means there’s a magical practitioner in town other than Eric, one who is working with demons and maybe neck deep in lethal vampire politics

Eric faces another very steep learning curve.

I like Eric on many levels. I like that he’s a protagonist who doesn’t fall back to violence as a problem solver. I like that his first stop is reason and trying to make people co-operate. I also like that his power doesn’t really lend itself to violence – sure it’s growing and increasing, but ultimately he is surrounded by people (by women, no less, who are considerably more violently powerful than him). His magic is more useful than dangerous. He carries a gun but is no marksman, he has some magical tricks but they’re costly and difficult and even Serena, his new sidekick, comments on how bad he is at fighting. He is a normal guy discovering a new world and new abilities and, no, that doesn’t come with the full skill set to cope with that

What I’m not fan of is his naivety. He doesn’t see any problem with telling all the vulnerabilities of supernaturals to the police even as Teresa protests (which has an extra level of dubious when you consider that Eric is a straight white guy and Teresa is a POC woman who is asking him to be more careful about the police), sure that the police are the good guys and there’s nothing that could go wrong. He tells the whole world that he is a witch – seriously, because of him just about everyone now thinks witches are about and he is a witch when before him everyone thought witches were extinct – again in the face of endless warnings. He trusts Amy implicitly and, yes he certainly has reason for that, but he still knows nothing about her, what she is, her history or even her last name. Worse, he trusts Nick and is even willing to go with him to another world, merely because the guy said it was important and with a similar lack of information.

It’s not even his naivety, per se. A na├»ve character who wakes up to the reality of the world isn’t a bad thing. But he doesn’t. His trust never comes back to bite him in the arse, his trust is never unfounded, his rose tinted glasses are not really pulled away. It’s almost stretching my plausibility meters – like Serena. Serena has a lot of potential to be a good character, I’m curious how she develops. But “develops” is the word. He shouldn’t be taking a brand new vampire and a complete stranger to crime scenes and deputising her as his chief assistant. How can he trust her with all this information, he’s known her for a few hours?! This should blow up in his face. Someone should protest – but no-one does. It’s a form of very clumsy plot armour.

Atlantis, Season 2, Episode 10: The Dying of the Light

The whole gang is camping with Hercules grieving and praying for Medusa and them still having to flee patrols because Jason decided to let the big bad live last week because he’s a damn fool and totally disrespected Medusa’s sacrifice.

Jason is even more angsty and mopey than Hercules (and for much less cause). He has decided rather than run from Atlantean patrols he will take them all on on his own. Ariadne and Pythagoras want to run to the rescue while, reasonably, Hercules is quite done with Jason and his melodramatic antics putting them at risk and ignoring their sacrifice.

The other two do help Jason slaughter the patrol (Ariadne has her bow) and save his life a couple of times (not that he notices). Except one guard who kneels before Ariadne, his queen. Ariadne welcomes him. Jason stabs him

This is not how you win the loyalty of the crown. Ariadne is doubly pissed that Jason ignored her command – to which he says “who are you to give me orders.” Come on Ariadne the answer to that is “your queen.” Orders are kind of in the queenly job description along with shiny hats, the permanent smell of fresh paint and corgis.

Hercules is not very impressed by Jason’s heroic massacre (I agree! He can massacre a surrendered guard but he can’t kill Pasiphae?) nor of how effective it was – by killing several poor lads (robbing mothers of their sons) and confirming that they’re out there. Hercules continues to (rightly) criticise and scold Jason and Jason responds by hitting him.

Pythagoras eventually separates them

That night Ariadne tries to speak nicely to Jason but he’s too bad tempered and pouty because he’s apparently so very sick of taking orders (like he ever had to take a lot?). She tries to get him to talk through his angst but he refuses, far too angsty for her to understand

Hercules is duly depressed – but for far more reason and with a good deal less pouting. He points out that this, where they all are now, is what Medusa died for. Pythagoras reminds them that the Oracle predicted that Jason’s epic mummy issues would corrupt him. He clings to the idea that the Oracle’s prediction that Jason can save Atlantis – and decides to consult Melas the corrupt-cowardly-fool-traitor priest which means risking his life going back into the city

Hercules does make a point of telling Ariadne she shouldn’t be guilty over Medusa, but she wants them all to be friends again. Which would involve Jason not being a whiny manchild.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Undead and Unwed (Undead #1) by MaryJanice Davidson

When some people have a bad week, they really have a bad week.  In the case of former model and now executive secretary Betsy Taylor, being laid off is actually the bottom of her list of concerns.  When Betsy is run over by a car and wakes up in a morgue, she immediately believes that she somehow missed the bright light.  After trying to kill herself  in several different ways and talking to clergy about the state of her soul, Betsy decides to try and pick up the pieces of her life.  Unfortunately for Betsy, this means getting involved in vampire politics and dealing with telling her family that she's actually not dead.  What's a girl to do when she finds herself jobless, dead and without her precious designer shoes? Luckily for Betsy, it turns out she a vampire queen and so perhaps her death might be more interesting than the life she left behind.

Betsy Taylor is easily one of the most unlikable protagonists that I have discovered recently.  Betsy is shallow, with no impulse control, collects marginalized people as BFF's and has a little problem with Kellie Independence.  Originally, Betsy wants to stay far away from vampire politics, convinced that she has to worry about getting a job and finding regular people to feed from. Even when she learns that Nostradamus, the ancient vampire who has been responsible for several massacres might possibly be gearing up for yet another power grab, thus endangering vulnerable humans, Betsy simply wants no part of it.  What finally pushes her over the edge is a bribe of designer shoes.  Really?  I'm supposed to root for this person?

Even if I could get over that, the fact that Betsy's favorite movie is Gone With the freaking Wind, her justification for the book and film are something I simply could not embrace.  Betsy absolutely refuses to acknowledge that this nasty plantation story is not some wonderful antebellum romance but actually a glorification of White supremacy and slavery, even when told so directly by a character of colour.  That little factoid almost made me slam the book closed.
"It's a book that glorifies white people at the expense of blacks."

"The vain white people who ended up alone and unhappy, or the white people who got the shit kicked out of them by the Union Army? Or the white people who starved to death during Reconstruction? Or-"

"All right."

"You know, for somebody who could buy London. you're awfully touchy about slavery.  I mean, no one in your family was ever a slave."

She sniffed. "You can never know my pain."

"The pain of being the first kid on the block to have her own Patek Philippe watch? You poor oppressed creature."

She giggled. "Thank God you understand.  This is of course, why I tolerate your bigotry and snobbishness." (pg 178-179)
Seriously WTF?  Who argues that a black person who has never been enslaved is overly touchy about slavery?  This is supposed to be funny but instead I found it to be horribly racist.  Defending the racist Gone With The Wind, is one thing but absolutely ignoring the connection between slaves and the lives of modern African-American is simply beyond the pale.

I suppose this moves us onto marginalized characters.  Jessica is an extremely wealthy Black woman who has been BFF's with Betsy since they were children.  Yes, this puts her straight into the sidekick category, a label which Jessica actively identifies as. Jessica buys Betsy's home, thus providing Betsy with a place to live after her untimely death and is more than willing to support Betsy for the rest of her life.  Jessica's characterisation is  so absolutely problematic that it makes me wonder if Davidson has interacted with a WOC at anytime or just believes that she can write our experiences from watching some crappy television portrayals.  Davidson actually has Jessica call Betsy's father, "honky". It's clear that Davison simply planned on making Jessica a female George Jefferson with her her own Moving on Up theme song except in this version, Jessica is there to see to every conceivable need that Betsy has.

Teen Wolf, season 5, Episode 4: Condition Terminal

Parrish has playing cards that are painted to look like Lydia. Why is this not considered intensely creepy? Why is this adult police man being so creepy over a high school student? Can someone please stop him?

Over to Lydia and Parrish testing his abilities by burning him. Which actually burns. Oh and flirting to distract him. Distracted flirty Parrish doesn’t feel pain from the flame at all, even though he has a layer of soot on his palm. He also had a strange dream – of carrying a burned body to the Nemeton. Which he doesn’t even know about (Lydia fills him in on it and how it’s making Beacon Hills super freaky and magical). Parrish puts the body on the tree and his dream ends before the good stuff happens.

Except we see him playing with his cards again – and this time one side of the Lydia-Queen’s head is burned. And in the unedited vision we clearly see Parrish place Lydia’s burned body on the Nemeton – and it’s not the only body there – the Nemeton is surrounded by bodies and they all burn in flames that surround Parrish.

Now back to the police station where Donovan is stuck in prison until the Bioshock villains rescue him. Everyone else is recovering from fighting the Kanima – and Lydia is badly injured, Theo stepping in to provide emergency first aid. And Natalie now has one hell of an introduction into the supernatural world. They go looking for Tracy and find her body with Malia (who quickly protests innocence) who tells them about the bioshock villain. Deaton points out they have to move Tracy’s body since she’s not returning to human form which Sheriff Stilinski objects to! It’s a crime scene! There are rules! Procedures! Deaton wants to know if the Sheriff is ready to hold a press conference announcing the presence of the supernatural.

Deacon and Stiles both talk sense into the poor out-of-his-depth sherriff. Covering up a teenager’s death is just too much for him

Donovan is now on the experimenting table of the bioshock villains who rip out his teeth… nasty – to have them replaced with newer sharper ones. Wendigo teeth

To the hospital with Lydia desperately trying to beg her mother not to tell anyone about the supernatural (Natalie seems to be at least a little in denial) and Liam joins Scott to tell him about the whole crawling-out-of-graves revelation from last week.

Melissa is just so much calmer around the Supernatural than Sheriff Stilinski – just asking if there’s anything medically relevant before diving into surgery. Unfortunately Lydia begins to see this villains as she succumbs to the anaesthetic (you’d think Melissa would be suspicious of the extra doctors – she is, after all, the only medical professional in Beacon Hills)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

California Bones (Daniel Blackland #1) by Greg Van Eekhout

Like his father before him, Daniel Blackland is an Osteomancer (someone who attains magic by ingesting bones)  At the age of 6, Daniel's father fed him his first set of bones hoping to make his son strong.  It is a strength Daniel will need in days to come if he is stay alive.  Daniel remembers all to well the sound of the Hierarch eating his father.  Until now, Daniel has focused on staying alive but now that he and his crew are tasked by his crime boss Uncle to break into the area where the Hierarch keeps his collection of magical bones, and a sword fashioned from Daniel himself, it's going to take every ounce of magic to Daniel has to survive.  

In many ways California Bones could be described as a dark fantasy.  Some scenes are gritty and horrifying like when Daniel's father becomes a meal for the Hierarch.  What Daniel remembers most is the sound of the Hierarch chewing.  That one detail gets repeated several times in the novel and it never gets less creepy.

Van Eekhout does a great job setting up the Blackland universe and the rules of magic are clear and easy to understand.  I love the idea of magic evolving from the bones of animals - sometimes even mystical animals because it invokes powerful imagery.  Every time Daniel invokes his Kraken magic, I found myself picturing the mystical beast and what powers it might have.  

That said, one of the major problems with this book is that part of it really feels dialed in.  For instance, Daniel gets tricked into pulling a job for his criminal boss uncle. How many times have we seen the "good guy" forced to work for a bad one to get the end result he needs or to save someone close to him?  From the beginning, there's never a doubt that the uncle will betray Daniel and lead to an escalation of the problem.  It means there's no twist to figure out; it's all so very obvious. 

I also found that Van Eekhout really needs to show and not tell in his work.  In California Bones, we are told repeatedly how tight Daniel's team is and how they would do anything for their fearless leader.  Each of them can benefit if the job goes well but apparently, the reason they all say yes is because Daniel asked them. A tight knit group breaking into a government vault makes sense and I don't need to be hit over the head with how close they are.  In fact, what Van Eekhout should have done is given us examples of them displaying their closeness to each other, caring for each other.  Van Eekhout barely pulled back from this by creating woo woo reasons for the teams loyalty to Daniel but it didn't make up for the constant reminders about how close the team is without an evidence to back it up.

Falling Skies, Season 5, Episode 3: Hatchlings

So last week they found a huge nest of breeding skitter-beasts (which are now mindless feral monsters and not intelligent creatures leading their own rebellion because the writers are possibly drunk, have severe memory problems, don’t give a shit or all of the above). The plan is to use Digaan’s and Matt’s new weapon to kill them all and it seems to work

Current plan, which Tom is spreading to the world because of course he should dictate global strategy – why wouldn’t you want a hallucinating history teacher with rage issues who protected his half-alien traitor genocide daughter from leading you?! – is to destroy dormant Espheni technology before the aliens arrange the power back and to kill any squishy bioweapon bugs

Which is a fancy way of saying “kill shit and break stuff.” For some reason Anne, Cochise, the Volm et all think this is an amazing plan and totally not something that could have been thought up by an illiterate child cleaning a library who happened to have a book of Sun Tzu fall on his had, and it has been distributed to all the Mason Militias in the world

Oh my god the militias have been named “Mason Militias”. Every resistance movement around the world is now named after him. Let the Espheni win! Humanity no longer deserves to live!

So vast amount of Espheni stuff has now been destroyed but there’s an ominous cloaked area the Volm can’t see, which is powered by small batteries they have which they use for non-military purposes and haven’t repurposed yet because the script says so. One is nearby, the other is in DC

Maggie brings food to Caitlin who they met last episode to pretty much confirm that, no, they can’t cure her mutated monster brother. Except mutant Brian manages to use Maggie’s spikes to talk to Caitlin, calling her Kate, which only he does. But it hurts Maggie, it’s difficult and he can only really communicate in monosyllables to say how dangerous he is.

Hal, Tom and Weaver find another horde of skitters, one they assume has an Overlord in control. Tom finds this frustrating since it means he can’t follow his own commands (and, yes, he is commanding the Mason militia) since they’re up to their necks in Skitters and can’t break technology before the Espheni get it back online. The skitters are replacing at a ridiculous rate – Anne considers this and believes the Espheni are managing to replicate them quickly and she speculates some kind of biological mutant science thing

More speculation is interrupted by little Orphan Caitlin and her Beasty Brian – Brian has escaped and knocked Anthony unconscious and is now running loose who knows where. Tom decides a raging skitter being in their stronghold running free and possibly controllable by Overlords within 5 miles is totally not worth worrying about so basically ignores it. While Weaver thinks Beasty Brian just wants to be friends since he didn’t kill anyone – he just wants to hug them. With his claws.

The Strain, Season 2, Episode 1: BK, NY

Opening flashback – 1932 Romania with a young Abraham being told a story by his grandmother, the story of how the Master gained his huge body – by hunting down and transferring his vampirism and soul into a man with gigantism, his vampiric nature removing the frailties of the condition (the whole process is monumentally disgusting). As a bonus, Yusuf Sardu, the giant man who was infected carried the sword cane that Abraham now carries.

In modern day Manhattan Abraham remembers his failure to kill the Master despite it being broad daylight to ensure we remember the last season. He’s hunting where the Master fell and went to ground despite being tired and out of breath himself. There he is found and captured by the Hunter Vamp who Hunts Vampires.

Abraham is introduce to Gus (Hunter Vampire has no time for their bickering). Hunter Vamp takes them to where the 6 Ancients are all kind of nailed up to their pedestals, asleep but understanding. Hunter Vamp, Quinlan, speaks for them and tells them The Master is the seventh Ancient. He’s normally hidden from the other six though – and those Six want to ally with Abraham to kill the Master (though not teach him how to kill an Ancient, for obvious reasons). Abraham decides it’s time to talk about literature – wanting to know if a book called the Occio Lumen exists. This is apparently important.

The deal is Abraham lives if he can find the Master and inform them. Then they are told to leave before the Ancient’s wake looking for food: and a man is dragged in to be lunch. Which is pretty brutal.

Meanwhile we have an overpass of New York with lots of fires, alarms, sirens and gun fire which I think indicates the growing dystopia. Vasily is busy vampire proofing their base while Ephraim feels the need to remind us the Master isn’t dead and how wrong Abraham was. Because Ephraim still needs to be eaten. It seems a pretty clear attempt to, yet again, push Abraham out of the leader’s seat

Vasily has his own plan – he will secure his base. Then secure a little wider area, then wider still – slowly claiming more and more safe land. Dutch doesn’t like Ephraim any more than I do and gives him snarky attitude he richly deserves for assuming she’ll babysit Zach, his kid. Ephraim and Nora head out

They head to a pathology lab, planning to set up there with all the nifty equipment though they have tokill a few vamps first. Nora still feels sad for the victims. They’ve set up shop to figure out a medical solution to the vampire plague. This involves Nora applying science and brainstorming and Ephraim drinking too much and pointing out how wrong all her ideas are (she’s right, but he’s awful about it because he’s an awful person who should be eaten). He’s also defensive about his drinking despite Nora not objecting – it’s not her job to police the manchild who should be eaten.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Under a Vampire Moon (Argeneau #16) by Lynsay Sands

After getting out of a loveless marriage, in which she was controlled, lied to and emotionally abused, Caroline is trying to move on with a Caribbean vacation.  Unfortunately for Caroline, St. Lucia seems to be littered with honeymooners and with her traveling companion not feeling well, Caroline has plenty of time to spend on the beach wondering how she ended up over 40 and alone.

When Christian Notte gets a call from his mother Margarette, to inform him that  she has someone she would like him to meet, Christian doesn't hesitate to drop everything and head to St. Lucia.  Margarette seems to have a knack for helping immortals find their lifemate and Christian cannot wait to see if she has done the same for him.  

As all things that come with finding a lifemate, things quickly take a twist.  At 40, Caroline is very nervous and scared to be hurt.  She's highly aware of her age and when the youthful looking Christian catches her eye, she knows that she shouldn't be with him.  Now that Christian has found his lifemate, he must woo her and help her get over her fears but he has to get close to her first.

At this point, the Argeneau series is incredibly formulaic even for a paranormal romance novel. Since Caroline is human, she doesn't know anything about the immortal society and thus believes Christian to be almost 20 years younger than her.  Age is a huge hangup for Caroline.  She's obsessed with crows feet and cellulite on her thighs.  Her constant worry is that people will think that she is a cougar and judge her for being with Christian.  The soundtrack to her brain is all insecurity and I found it exhausting to be quite honest. I can understand her hesitancy but Sands took it too far.

In any PNR there has to be a situation which delays the HEA and serves as some sort of plot.  In the case of Under a Vampire Moon, Sands chooses to have Caroline believe that Christian is gay.  The idea is that Caroline will relax, secure in the knowledge that she is with a man who doesn't want her sexually.  Uh huh.  She's so lonely on vacation that she thinks it would be fun to play the role of beard for a hot young gay man.  Uh huh.  And why does Christian need a beard?  Well, because his family will reject and possibly disown him if they discover his sexuality.  Uh huh.  I know, take a deep breath.  

Up to this point in the series,  Sands has only had one gay couple mentioned in passing.  On several occasions, she has used either  mistaken sexuality or outright implied that a character is gay as the stumbling point and to illicit laughter.  I for one, don't find it funny that Sands thinks the very real fact that LGBT youth are rejected by their families and left homeless because of their sexuality should be used as fodder in this fashion.  

The Messengers, Season 1, Episode 11: Harvest

Ghostly Vera is now watching the car with her body in it about to be crushed. She decides to shout at the guy piloting the crane. Alas, she’s forgotten the whole invisible and inaudible thing. Instead she returns to her body and manages to wriggle out just in time.

To the rest if the gang who have found the farmer brothers, Vincent and Mark Plowman, one or both of which may be the horseman of Famine. They’re planning to sew the clouds to make it rain over drought stricken fields with a whole new, super-special formula and one seems awfully conflicted about this. There’s definitely some tension between the brothers.

Joshua with his newfound leadership declares that one of them is definitely famine and the whole cloud seeding thing will be the seal-breaking sin. Koa thinks the simple solution is to kill them both – easy peasy. Raul agrees – of course Joshua and Peter both point out that they’ll kill an innocent man and Erin adds further that they could be killing two innocent men since they don’t actually have proof either of them is the horseman

Lucifer is totally pro-murder. He also reminds them all how he helped them in the last naughty deal so they should totally work with him.  To add a time limit, Vera calls to report that Alan has been kidnapped and she is in the middle of nowhere. Koa, again, speaks up for murder. Honestly murder, no murder, I speak up for anything that will actually move the plot forward rather than circle us back to Vera and her son.

Joshua, who is now in charge for some reason, splits them up (sending the murderous Koa to help Vera, though she reminds Raul that murder is totally a good plan).

Koa and Peter are heading to Vera – but Koa is also having side-effects from her powers (reminding them that they need to find the 7th Messenger before I get thoroughly bored in order to remove the cost of their powers).

Before they can arrive, War, Pestilence and goons show up and Vera hides and plans to astrally project to follow them. Hey she used to have a time limit – has she taken up pearl diving to increase her lung capacity or something. The horseman are playing with the new element – which turns blue when Vera stands close to it.

But after playing she finds her body has been moved and runs back to it to find it tied to a chair – she’s now a prisoner of the horsemen along with Alan. War is much more sensible than Joshua and is happy to kill their enemy – except the rock glows blue near Vera again. It glows red near war and blue near Vera.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Killjoys, Season 1, Episode 4: Vessel

The Killjoys are all hunting a guy with lots of snark – which Dutch handles effortlessly (though they’re trying to get it for D’avin’s first collar) with added reminders that D’avin can’t just shoot and kill people as a Killjoy. Alas the guy gets himself killed (well exploded) on a security wire. At least it’s a dead or alive warrant. So D’avin has to scrape him up

The whole shenanigans makes Dutch late to meet the awesome Bellus in Leith Market who is fun and snarky. She also has a new warrant from them, direct from the 9 which Dutch is passing on despite Bellus saying they’ve been “voluntold.” Dutch doesn’t want to work for the “inbred fascist nobles” who run the company and think they run everything. This is overheard by Bellus’s guest, Delle Seyah Kendry (an Inbred Fascist Noble). She hears Dutch is the best female Killjoy which Dutch doesn’t let stand – she’s the best Killjoy, period. The highhanded noble wants her to prevent a war

She wants them to take a woman to Kresh – a woman who has rarely encountered men (Delle tells Dutch to keep her “lovers” in check which Dutch is amusing and snarky over, but doesn’t bother to deny).

Some world building, the Nine decide to outsource breeding, having all their children born to surrogates so the women of the Nine families don’t risk themselves in childbirth. Dutch is snarky about how much the surrogates get out of this deal. The woman they’re transporting is carrying the last heir of one of the Nine families – if that heir is lost the other Nine will go to war over the free-for-all for resources and that will be a bad thing. So she wants to heir delivered and with no-one knowing she’s involved so Delle’s family can be seen as neutral in the whole thing

Bonus, they have no idea where the surrogate is (also nifty hint of world building, Dutch has an instrument on display which is usually reserved for female royalty. I have to say this is a liiiitttllle off since Dutch, with her secrecy, is unlikely to keep such an object on display in public parts of the ship). She’s left her cloistered monastery (where the surrogates are kept away from all men) and is now missing – investigations found that the monastery was attacked and most of the sisters were killed except some in hiding who won’t talk.

First step in getting those sister’s to talk is to speak to their priest/monk/masochist/rebel friend, Alvis who manages to intimidate the guards/police rather menacingly. He does know where the woman is though, a safehouse, apparently in the Westerley Badlands – which is an odd definition of safe (we also get some world building on Badlands – basically polluted wastelands the company has left in its wake).

After piercing technological security and a lot of snark, they find the safehouse, the nuns and the surrogate, Constance (and Nuns with guns). There’s a brief confrontation before Dutch proves her credentials by being awesome, dangerous and not killing people (which the nuns think they’re there for – reasonably since some of the Nine want Constance dead).

Defiance, Season 3, Episode 6: Where the Apples Fell

Alakk has Stahma held at gun point – Datak arrives and they fight. Datak quickly gains the upper hand but Stahma stops him from stabbing Alak, her son

She then stomps on his foot and lays an epic reality slap-down on her son – she has championed him from the very beginning, facing off against Datak, embracing Christie, has even become Rahm’s agent and destroyed the arch for him. Christie sacrificed everything for her baby, for their bloodline – she spits on Alak, calls him an ungrateful coward who has shamed their family. The baby crying distracts the whole tense scene. Even Datak seems quite taken aback.

Alak still intends to leave the Tars. Stahma stands in his way, refusing to let him leave with baby Luke – they argue and Nolan storms into the building (brought by Andina the servant who reported that Stahma was attacked by Alak. Andina covers for them the minute Datak tells them to. Alak continues to be most unpleasant – and reveals Stahma and Datak are the spies. Datak smacks Nolan a bit and he and Stahma run and escape.

Nolan organises a manhunt of volunteers and they also discuss how defensible Defiance is (despite them having no weapons while Rahm is well armed) and how the best way to defend is to find Datak and Stahma and hear what Rahm’s plans are so they can prepare. Also when Alak describes the arms dealer who is selling weapons to Rahm, Berlin realises he’s her ex-boyfriend Conrad – and Amanda (noticing the reaction) gets Berlin to tell her too. Amanda wants her to tell Conrad Defiance wants to buy his guns.

Nolan has Irisa look after baby Luke, much that she resents that (it’s a job that doesn’t involve picking up a gun. Yes, they have issues). He takes Alak to see T’evgin and Kindzi; he wants their help to find Stahma and Datak using his ship’s satellite imagery and invoking the VC as a shared enemy – T’evgin is not impressed, this is not his war. Nolan is bemused about why they won’t help him – until he realises that the Omec don’t actually have the resources to return to their ship – of course they won’t admit to such weakness

Alak speaks up, noting that Stahma was there which T’evgin is happy to admit to her “teaching him” human culture. Kindzi is less amused by this. And Alak quickly shuffles away from the conversation when it turns into what a willing sex partner his mother was (actually I think they missed a chance here – Castithan are very overtly sexual, there’s no indication that Alak would be grossed out by the idea of his parents being sexual).

Nolan leaves with some threats and T’evgin stops any criticism from his daughter before she even starts. Still later they do have it out. T’evgin points out Omec culture supports many partners though they haven’t live traditionally since there’s only the two of them (which also says T’evgin and Kindzi have had sex – uckies and incest AND sexual assault since he’s her commander.) Kindzi is furious because her dad didn’t tell her – and honesty has always been a major part of their relationship. Rather than address that, he calls Stahma entertainment and not important. And they kiss, and probably have sex