Friday, December 23, 2016

Holidays!



We're approaching the holidays guys - so expect low posting for us for the next week. We will either be too busy (and drunk), in food comas (spilling drinks) or faaaaaaar too drunk to write coherent posts

Or playing with new shinies (drunkenly)

Or cooking. So. Much cooking (while drunk)




Thursday, December 22, 2016

Phantom Kiss (Chicagoland Vampires #12.5) by Chloe Neill





This is an intriguing little short story. It doesn’t particularly add to the greater meta plot – which, as I’ve said before – I quite like because I don’t like short stories and novellas to be actual canon books – in that I prefer them not to be essential reading

At the same time, I do like them to add something to the overall plot: like more exploration of a minor character, or a fun look into the “downtime” lives of characters who we constantly see consumed by action or some aspect of the world building that doesn’t really fit into the major plot.

And I suppose this book kind of does that in that we explore ghosts and paranormal researchers and what it means to live in a world as a paranormal researcher where the paranormal is demonstrably real as well as the extent and damage that ghosts can do

So, yes, that is technically a new angle. I just am kind of left asking “who asked for this?” was there enough about ghosts ion the main series to leave anyone thinking “I really need to know more about this?” I don’t know, maybe it’s just because it has been too long since I read the last main book but I honestly can’t say “ghosts, I need to know about this” is really the impression I got from it

I think maybe if we’d switched out the protagonist and focused more on Annabelle the actual necromancer, delved more into her powers and the world of ghosts rather than seeing it through Merit’s lens we would have had more interesting and fuller book. Instead it was kind of weird that she was such a side character in a book that focused on hauntings. Even, in some ways, that she decided to call the vampires for help at all. I mean, she’s the necromancer – this is your specialty, lady! Necromance already!

We have a random Obligatory Bigotry Moment that reminds me of Anita Blake so much. A random guest at Merit and Ethans wedding shower decides to randomly spout a lot of nonsensical bigotry against vampires (and I don’t just mean that bigotry is nonsensical because bigotry is – but this bigotry makes no sense. I mean, vampires want to eat us all? I get that attack. But vampires are lazing around on benefits? That’s just blatantly cribbing from real world bigotry) setting herself up perfectly for Merit to slap her down and then everyone to basically say “oh how rude”. Seriously she shows up at a wedding shower and then spouts open bigotry against the bribe? Yes this kind of thing happens – but all too often in fiction this is how bigotry is presented: someone doing something so overtly terrible that everyone, EVERYONE, would gasp at how rude it is. And they do it in such a way that it’s easily knocked down step by step while everyone nods and agrees. It’s rarely that easy, that overt or that simple. This isn’t depiction of prejudice as it is – it’s depiction of righteously vanquishing easy prejudice and feeling good about it.

The Walking Dead, Season 7, Episode 7: Sing Me a Song



Back to the main plot and Jesus and Karl have decided to smuggle themselves into the Saviour camp. Jesus, being competent, is now all hidden and stealthy and going to do stuff later

While Karl, not being competent, opens up with a machine gun, kills a couple of extras and is duly captured by Negan.

Since Negan has some delusions about being a nice guy or just likes to hear himself talk or sees something in Karl so decides to give Karl the guided tour. There we see the average Saviour grovelling and kneeling around Negan and with Negan playing random head games with people. It’s clear everyone is constantly on edge around him, waiting for him to lash out with one of his sadistic games.

That includes his “wives” including Frankie who actually speaks back to him several times. But in the end, like everyone else, she is under Negan’s thrall and is forced to tell on another of his “wives”, Amber. She has been “cheating” on Negan with her actual lover. He is offended that any of his wives are scared of him as he has never ever hurt them. Which is an excellent depiction of how ignorant and shallow so many people’s understanding of abuse is. He tells Amber that she can leave him at any time – but we all know there are consequences, we all can see how utterly terrified of him she is

Frankie puts it into words – when he protests he never hits them she points out they all know there’s worse than that. Negan is an abusive rapist – and the fact he never lays a violent hand on a woman doesn’t change that.

Of course, as punishment for “breaking the rules” her partner Mat has his face burned with a red hot iron. Which pretty much tells us Frankie and Dwight’s history. Both of them are clearly torn being lieutenants in Negan’s regime

“How do you sleep at night?”
“I don’t”.

Throughout all this, Negan switches between scaring and playing head games with Karl and trying to impress him. Negan has a weird relationship with Karl – seeming almost impressed by someone who, in his own words, should be battling teenaged angst but instead is so dangerous. He hears about Karl having to kill his mother and forces Karl to take off his eye patch and expose his empty eye socket. Karl alternates between being tough-as-nails and slightly scary and being scared and vulnerable – even Negan feels bad when he sees how upset Karl is when he describes how disgusting his empty eye socket is. Negan forgets he’s a teen but encourages Karl to embraced his badassery

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Moon Chosen: Papercuts Podcast




I recently had the immense cathartic and immensely traumatising fun of discussing the... details of Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast at the excellent Papercuts Podcast

I joined the usual awesome commenters: Cynna, Ollie and Robin at Papercuts along with Paige from The YA Kitten, and Maverynthia of Blue-5tyle.com who came together in suffering and snark to tackle this dread beast of a book

We suffered. Oh How We Suffered. Come listen to the horror

The Librarians, Season 3, Episode 5: And the Tears of a Clown



I’m not a fan of this episode. It had a rather heavy handed, trite message and not a great deal of character development. Oh we have some useful moments – a reminder that DOSA still exists (remember them?). And the concept that new Artefacts are being created and they have to build a whole new wing of the Library to house them. After all the ancient Artefacts are ancient because magic hasn’t been in the world for a gazillion years. Now magic is back – so new Artefacts can join the fun. This makes a lot of sense and also adds a whole new dimension of stories to open up.

We also have a really wonderful moment where Eve tries to keep Jenkins out of trouble because with the big bad darkness coming (which we seem to have lost for a few episodes) if the Librarians are taken out she can think of no better person to save the world than him – which I definitely agree to. But he also says there’s no way he would ever not come from her

Because he’s awesome, she’s awesome and they're so very awesome together

Ezekiel’s abs are also awesome which is pretty much the last awesome thing about this episode

They are amazingly awesome though

Anyway, we have a guy who has got his hands on one of these shiny new Artefacts and he promptly uses it to magically create a carnival. Anyone who objects to sudden carnivalness is brainwashed to become clown minions, fanpoodles or jugglers all declaring it to be the best thing in the world as well as causing themselves severe injury through over juggling.

You already know you’re dealing with a disturbing personality who wants to live in an eternal carnival and doesn’t think he’s in a lower circle of hell. And there’s some powerful magic at work that can have you live off carnie food for more than a month and not just die from horrendous health complications.

So, beyond a disturbing love of clowns and candy floss, why does this magically powerful man decide to spend his life in a carnival?

Because when he was an awkward teenaged boy he had a crush on a teenaged girl who liked carnivals so clearly creating an awesome carnival will make her love him forever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Unbinding (World of the Lupi #11) by Eileen Wilks



Kai and Nathan are still in San Diego while Kai tries to heal some of the damage caused by the rampaging magical dagger in the last book

But it’s soon clear that destroying a magical artefact imbued by a god of chaos has ramifications. They may have foiled his plans, but the god of chaos is now out and he may be dead but he is powerful and looking to change that

All the while Kai still has decide what she wants to do with her life. She loves Nathan and she has a unique powerful talent the elves can help develop – but does she want to be the human in the Court of Winter, separated from her friends, divided from her culture and often derided by the oh-so-superior elves?



Hmmmmmmm

Definitely hmmmmmm.

This is my brain on this story:

Brain 1: It’s a book without Lily and Rule. This is going to be interesting because we’re going to get to see this world through a different lens. We’re going to see a different mind set and excellent part of the world setting that Lily would otherwise not notice. This is an excellent way to open up this world when we’ve excellently established Lily is the central protagonist so it isn’t a distraction

Brain 2: But but but, Lily was established as protagonist because she’s super awesome and amazing. And I’ve had several books of back stories to make me not only be invested in Lily but be thoroughly cheering her every move. Who is this Kai and Nathan and why do I care? They’ve had, what, one short story and a couple of cameo appearances? I am not invested enough in this people for them to displace my awesome Lily. They’re far too external to the main plot, the main battle etc to be really relevant to the rest of the series. It feels more like a spin off series – hey an awesome spin off series –but now these people are stood in Lily’s space. I don’t know half of these people We keep getting revelations and shocks about these people that completely miss because I feel like I’m supposed to have read 4 other books to actually know who they are

Brain 1: But this let’s us examine so much of the world building is accessible here! Lily sees the elves as an annoying enemy and is pretty much not that involved or invested in elven culture or world building and her practicality makes her tolerate the need for Cullen’s theorising but definitely not being willing to run with it. Kai is front and centre in elven culture, sidhe realms, dramatis personae who are constantly mentioned actually appear in this book. We meet them and the depiction of elven society is awesome – we have such an awesome building of a completely alien culture, different standards and values and ethics. As well as a really really interesting take on the concept of the Fae Queen of Winter – not just a queen of cold, but a queen of hard truths and a queen of the warm winter hearth. Definitely an original take

The Walking Dead, Season 7, Episode 6: Swear



I actually kind of forgot that Tara and Heath hadn’t actually been part of the Saviours storyline at all – and, in fact, for most of this season they were separate from the rest of the group because they were both on a harvesting expedition.

I think that’s a comment on the fact that both of these characters are such background characters with little or no real attention paid to them and definitely with no storylines of their own. They were there to fill in the crowd scenes and, this being the Walking Dead, to fill some inclusion quota before their inevitable tragic demise. So I was quite impressed and shocked by this episode that focuses so much on Tara

I like how this episode opens with Heath and Tara having, basically, an existential crisis. I think it reminds us a lot of some boiling issues that were happening on the show before the Saviours arrived and consumed everything

Health is horrified by the fact they outright murdered a group of Saviours on the say-so of the people from Hilltop. This reminds us, though it can be hard to remember at this point, that the Alexandria group is actually the aggressors against the Saviours. It was Rick who launched the massacre, it was Rick’s group that decided to be mercenaries and hire out their services as killers to make a trade with Hilltop. I think that’s important to remember, if not least of which to remember the direction Rick was heading in – which wasn’t a million miles away from where Negan is

It also reminds us of another division in the Alexandrians. The old Alexandrians led very sheltered lives. Heath and his fellows, are in many ways several steps behind the others in realising what then world is about now. His horror over what they’ve done and his realisation that it’s all kill or be killed now; a lesson Tara et al learned a long time before. But he’s still in the shocked mode and just seeing the world now all as every man for himself, the brutal story of survival. Of course, Tara has learned this but she’s also survived as part of a group and had chance (and happiness) and hope rekindles. It’s a comment really that Alexandria represented hope for Rick’s people – but their arrival shattered the naivety of the Alexandrians and brought despairing reality to them

This is an episode that does the whole broken timeline thing – which I hate so I’m going to shuffle things back in order. While scavenging, Tara and Heath are separated and Tara ends up in the river and washing up on a beach where she is found and helped (secretly) by Cyndie

Monday, December 19, 2016

Savage Prophet (Yancy Lazarus #4) by James A. Hunter



Yancy carries the Seal if the Horseman of War. His mind is being colonised by the demon Azazel and it’s a battle he’s losing

It would help if he could stop drawing on the dark power the demon offers. But with the world in the balance and another seal possibly falling into the hands of their enemies, he seems to have no choice. As he drags himself through horrendous, torturous experience after another, faces agony and horror and watches the Guild of the Staff completely collapse around him – can he really say no to the demon’s magic?

But if he accepts the demon’s help, does he risk being a greater threat than the very thing he’s fighting against?



The ongoing meta plot of this series now goes into high gear as the seals of the apocalypse and the archdemons who guard them are now front and centre to the storyline. We don’t just have Yancy stumbling across a situation that happens to be related to the epic ongoing battle on which the world rests.

This feels much more directed because of this, the grand fate of the end of the world and the consequences there are much more central. Even though that has been on the cards for a while, the last book felt more local, focusing on the Big Foot (big feet?) rather than the very world being in the balance. We definitely have the broader focus here. Along with all the epic conflict and fight scenes I expect from a Yancy Lazerous novel.

Perhaps because it is so focused, I don’t feel like this book is jammed with unnecessary fight scenes – not because there are less of them, but more because each fight as actually relevant to the overall plot line. In previous books if Yancy went to a bar, asked someone for information, pretty much anything, there would be a battle. I think one of the problems I have in taking Fast Hands Steve seriously as an epic enemy (beyond the awful name) is that he was introduced in a completely random unnecessary fight. Building a whole vendetta enemy out of a fight in a bar because Yancy can’t even play music without there being conflict going on really fails as a back story. Sometimes I feel Yancy eats BBQ in restaurants all the time because he can’t go to the shops to buy groceries without fighting ninjas, demons, and vampiric girl scouts.

Here all the action was on point

There’s also some devastatingly dramatic tension with Yancy confronting Fotuna after the horrendous things he suffers in this book. It doesn’t downplay or minimise the trauma nor expect Yancy to just breeze past it – it’s devastating and presented as such.

I also like Darlene

When we first met Darlene and Yancy dismisses her as an office worker way out of her depth, I waited for him to be proven gloriously wrong. I waited for this to be proven wrong. I waited for her to pull out some ninja magical nuclear powers and leave Yancy gasping at her violent awesomeness.

And I was wrong. She was out of her depth. She absolutely fell apart in a combat situation and generally Yancy’s first impressed was confirmed in spades

This isn’t a bad thing. Why wouldn’t a fully experienced combat veteran like Yancy NOT recognise someone with combat training. Plus waif-fu – or awesome fighting power houses who don’t remotely look the part – is an annoying trope that is kind of elated to the super-hot-thin-people-eating-fried-chicken-covered-pizzas-and-not-exercising trope. Actually being an active, experienced combat fighter generally comes with a level of physical fitness and muscle tone. And that’s aside from demeanour, grim bitterness etc – there’s every reason why Yancy should have been able to accurately peg Darlene

On top of that, Darlene isn’t terrible. I mean it would be tempted to shame her, hate her, demean her or otherwise reduce her because she isn’t a fighter. But she isn’t. Her skills, her administration and her encyclopaedic knowledge of the Guild’s procedures, reports and previous events is an asset and in the end definitely gives her some extremely useful input to saving the day

I like this. I like that Darlene can be capable, useful, respected member of the team without being a combat monster. While being, yes, a soccer mum. Especially since we still have Ferraldo who is, as I’ve mentioned in several previous books, a definite, skilled, dangerous combatant and tactician. We see two female characters, both adding awesome strength to the plot in very different ways.

We do have some very dubious elements that come with the world building. This is something similar to what Supernatural faced: when you have a world setting which moooshes all kinds of mythologies together, there’s a lot of dubious tropes you can follow, along with things like colonising, appropriating and generally raiding other cultures and belief systems which are all issues we’ve covered before. This book takes those issues and then sets up, the White King, a pretty blatant Judeo-Christian mythology god, as basically above them all. We have an excellent story of Indian naga and Buddhism which seems nicely done – and then jumps into this with angelic intervention and a seal of the apocalypse. We have this whole Buddhist based legend and story and just stuck in a quick “subordinate to Christianity” in there. Aside from this then ending up as part of the story lead by Fortuna and the Fates, again, restricted and controlled by the White King. Similarly when the gang travel to Haiti we have the Loa treated the same way – with Baron Samedi being pretty much completely erased as a loa and replaced by one of the seal bearers.

Which adds into the ongoing trouble of the whole Haitian and Voodoo depiction in the genre and in media in general (and in general societal awareness for that matter). Voodoo is constantly portrayed as evil, dark awful darkness with whole lots of racist undertones and exotic/savage otherness.  And in this book? Baron Samedi is literally a demonic horseman of the apocalypse. Voodoo is all about zombies, mind control, torture, gangs, child soldiers and death. All of it – there’s no counter example at all. More, the whole power of voodoo which the mage council doesn’t understand? That’s Nox. The special demonic power which is the very antithesis of

And Haiti? This is set in Cite de Soleil, a shanty town in Haiti, that is presented as basically a lawless giant violent hell slum of child soldiers, voodoo warlords, torture and awfulness.

Look, Cite de Soleil is a terrible place, it’s on record of one of the most dangerous places. And no, I’m not saying that Haiti should be presented as wonderfully wealth and prosperous and stable without gangs and crime. No, you don’t have to present Haiti has a utopia, or Voudoun as this perfectly serene religion whose followers are all enlightened saintly people.

The there’s no counter-narrative here. Everything about Haiti, voodoo and Haitians here is presented as evil, dark, horrific and generally awful. Also with absolutely no inclusion of the very relevant history behind Haitians history here. No, I’m not expecting Yancy to give us a nice historical recap of Haiti being the first (and only?) nation founded by rebelling slaves or the crippling, punishing debt that was then imposed on it by the international community in response. However, I also don’t condone a book to take a country, culture, people and religion and turning them basically into a hell-scape for Yancy to run around killing things in. You could literally have turned his entire time in Haiti into some hell-realm controlled by goblins and made no real change to the plot because nothing about this depiction acknowledge or treated Haiti as an actual place or tried to treat any Haitian as an actual person

Also I’m going to sideswipe here at the naga Buddhist monk who was basically serene and peaceful in between dishing out kung fu and, really, really? Y’know I said that it was excellently done to incorporate Buddhism into this story was nicely done? Well it would be nicer if the depiction of the one actual Buddhist person wasn’t cribbed from a 1980s kung fu movie.

This is pretty much the POC in this book – we have some other side POC who are part of the guild, but they’re not exactly major players or hugely influential on the book or plot line which does nothing to counter this… We continue to have no LGBT characters.


This series continues to have a lot of awesome moments, a lot of epic battles and an excellent meta plot. I think this book has all of that in excellent, amazing degree – but it also has a really terrible diversity problem that is, if anything, only exacerbated by it drawing so heavily on different cultures and mythologies


Lucifer, Season 2, Episode 10: Quid Pro Quo



Ok, I am almost torn on this episode. By the first half I was vaguely annoyed. Last episode we had some pretty major things happening in Chloe and Lucifer’s relationship and then we seemed to have a huge distraction with a resurrected storyline suddenly ambushing this excellent development

And then we’re quickly back on track onto the story again, hitting this relationship development hard and awesomely with some truly excellent character moments and development blowing the whole series wide open so well that left me applauding this episode.

So obviously there’s a bit of a rift between Chloe and Lucifer after last episode when Lucifer skipped out on their date because of his ultimate avoidance issues. (Lucifer goes to see Linda over this who, excellently, pinpoints why Lucifer fled from this dinner with Chloe)

Building on that rift we now have the court case where Perry Smith, the man who orchestrated the murder of Chloe’s father. And it all goes kind of sideways when a) the key witness on trial gets brutally murdered and b) Charlotte decides to step in on the side of the defence using inside knowledge of the case.

Things go sideways quickly – Lucifer steps up as a witness to prove to Chloe how much he’s dedicated to her, using his supernatural charm (which we seem to have skipped for a few episodes) to make the whole court love him (including the judge). But Charlotte, Perry’s defence lawyer, is of course immune to his charm and uses insider knowledge and Lucifer’s utter refusal to lie, to cast blame on Chloe, imply she was the real one who murdered her father’s!not murderer.

Chloe is obviously furious with Lucifer because who else could possibly have fed Charlotte this compromising information?

This is because Chloe doesn’t know that Dan has slept with Charlotte (Ella knows. Because Ella is awesome and fun) and while he was asleep she went through his phone. Dan now has All The Guilts.

I wonder what Charlotte’s play is here. I mean, ostensibly she says it’s to destroy the link between Chloe and Lucifer so Lucifer will join her and Amandiel in heaven. But Amandiel has already convinced Charlotte that killing Chloe will make Lucifer hate her forever and ever. So does she really think that Lucifer is going to let her sabotage of his relationship with Chloe go? That doesn’t really fit.

Anyway, Charlotte offers Chloe one chance to get her father’s killer in prison, an offer to completely sabotage her own client. Chloe has to go up on the stand and call Lucifer a liar. Lucifer’s honour, his adamant refusal not to lie, is a key part of his identity. To have Chloe disparage that honour in open court and have her declare how terrible he is as a partner, she doesn’t value him and how, basically, the court should deny everything he says

I think this is true but also needed foreshadowing a bit more – how Lucifer’s honesty is not only constant but so vital to him and how much impugning that would affect him. They could have built it into his deals – a deal with the devil is sacrosanct because Lucifer’s word is inherent to his sense of self. I don’t think they’ve really done that good a job of establishing Lucifer’s sense of honour

Chloe is faced with a real choice – does she stand up for Lucifer, his honesty and how much she values him but see the case against her dad’s killer collapse. Or does she disparage and dismiss him and see her dad’s murderer go free

It could go either way since Chloe and Lucifer rebuilding their relationship after this would perpetuate the endless “will they won’t they” – but instead we have a really beautiful moment where Chloe emotionally declares how much Lucifer means to her.

I think this is made more poignant but the lack of a Hail Mary Pass. We don’t get a last minute save. Perry isn’t found guilty. He walks free. It was legitimately a choice, a sacrifice, for Chloe that had meaning and wasn’t just magically put right

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Salem, Season 3, Episode 6: Wednesday's Child



This episode has everyone splitting off in different directions. I will start with what’s the most important to the plot though not necessarily on everyone’s high priority list. Because Salem.

John is definitely worried about this, having dispensed with bizarre plot distraction Bob, has returned to town, got patched up by the serial killer/cannibal/barber/meat pie vendor and warns Hathorne that the French of weapons of mass destruction. So basically all the defences of Salem are pretty much moot and what he needs to do now is set up defenders long outside of town so any big explosions are happening waaay in the countryside.

Since this seems to be the extent of his plans, it’s perhaps reassuring that the French are not even remotely involved in the blowing-up-Salem plan (what, another plot which is going to be abandoned?) and it’s actually going to come from inside the town: or so says Sebastian to Mary

And why is he telling Mary? Because while other people really really really want to stop Salem being annihilated Sebastian is busy pulling petals off posies “she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not” and mooning after Mary while disturbingly feeding blood to his zombie mother. He demands Mary love him while Mary asks him to please please please focus on the evil demon child who wants to destroy the world, Sebastien is far more concerned by the fact she loves John Alden and he’s totally jealous and it’s so unfair.

Sebastian, go write some sad poetry and take up moping already.

Mary tries kissing him but eventually has to have sex with him in front of John’s magically frozen self to prove to Sebastian that she totally wants him honest. This whole thing reeks of rape, Sebastian is basically ransoming the entire town’s (the town Mary can’t leave) future if she doesn’t sleep with him. But hey this creepy slimy rapist got her some pretty gowns guys

Baroness Marburg is still a zombie but she assures Sebastian she can totally handle Baby Devil. Lucy Lawless, save us!

Mary and John do use Tituba to have a reunion, lots of declarations of love with Mary laying down lots of epic lines about how she is damn powerful and awesome and totally doesn’t need her powers to be the strongest damn woman on the planet. I feel she needs to borrow Isaac’s waif to scream “You Go Girl!” in the background.

We also learn a little about magic – namely that the Essex Witches and their magic and their big epic tree has nothing to do with the devil or demons or anything – it’s Women’s magic, natural magic and my gods WHY has no-one mentioned this before in 3 seasons? And are we going to talk about how this natural magic is happy to embrace demon contracts? Does this change how power is expressed? What does this mean! You waited until season 3 for this, Salem

Anyway the actual point of this awesome bit of world building is that Mary is still bound to Salem so she just can’t run away with John and abandon everyone to fiery doom.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Year of the Boar: Tica (Changeling Sisters #1.5) by Heather Heffner



Tica has struggles to fight – bone cancer has left some devastating effect on her life and her future. Her dreams are severely set back and she has to fight hard to be someone other than “the cancer girl”

But there’s another struggle looming – the cursed Vampyre Prince Khyber has come to Hawai’i with a mission: he wants to die. And the keys to doing so lie in recruiting Tica to the fight to protect Hawai’i and the spirit world from desperate spiritual attack.




This book did an excellent job of filling in a few of the gaps – there are characters I read about in Year of the Tiger that I felt had a lot going on that I had missed. Which was true – but the elegance of the series is that I didn’t need to know Rafael’s backstory to understand Year of the Tiger, the battles that were fought or why Rafael felt the way he did. It was clear that Rafael had a major life above and beyond what Citlali saw, and that wasn’t a bad thing

Which is something else this story does excellently, we continue the whole metaplot of The Changeling Sisters series but also get to exp

I think, perhaps, this would have been improved without the focus on Khyber, to be honest. I think it would have been better served with a less involved vampire – or even no vampires at all (do the taking over dark spirits need the direct vampire presence to be an issue?). It would have done better at giving the idea that this is a battle across the globe with different warriors struggling against them. It would expand the universe.

But it still did expand that – because Khyber was pretty much unnecessary to the main plot of this book which was definitely, overwhelmingly Tica’s story. Which I also love because it sets another champion up who is every bit as awesome as Citlali

And Tica is awesome. She’s passionate and determined. She isn’t perfect and definitely has some painful, difficult moments with her friends and certainly with her mother. But she’s extremely knowledgeable and tough and faces both personal battles, accepts the vastness of the supernatural and absorbs and adapts to it well.

Her story is really well written, excellently paced as it matches development of her character and the world, her difficult, painful relationships, her very painful struggle as well as the action involved in fighting to save the spirit world and fight off the dark spirits (and the dark Spirits of Plague are horrendous – and much better villains than the vampires that seem almost clumsily inserted to the rest of this awesome story) as well as a lot of Hawai’ian mythology

Teen Wolf, Season 6, Episode 5: Radio Silence



Stiles is back….

…uh-huh that means Teen Wolf is powering up a major gut-punch to the Feels, doesn’t it?

Stiles is in a train station. Yes, apparently the Wild Hunt dumps everyone in a train station and then just kind of leaves them there. It’s not even a good station with free wi-fi and great snack shops and maybe a couple of decent coffee shops – just rows of benches and the occasional radio announcement

Everyone, despite waiting there hours and hours, seems to be almost comatose. As Stiles repeatedly pokes their stories and exposes the nonsensical holes he still can’t convince them something odd is happening. When the wild hunt rides through now and then, smacking people and dropping new captives off in the waiting room, everyone quickly forgets. At least Gwen is reunited by

It’s not really explained why Stiles is the one who is able to remember the hunt and not just stare into space

But he isn’t the only one – there’s also Peter Hale. Yes, Peter Hale, evil wolf, Derek’s relative, Malia’s dad, the werewolf who bit Scott and generally not a nice man. He was last seen in Eichen house and he managed to escape during the power outage caused by various hijinks from previous seasons. He is pretty much giving up but tolerates Stiles’s repeated attempts to escape.

Which doesn’t get very far. But they do find another guy who has been there far longer and is at the end of his patience and driven to desperation. He can think of one way to escape – the portal where the Hunt enters and leaves, guarded by supernatural fear and requiring you to jump on the back of one of the Wild Hunt’s horses

It’s brave to say the least. And turns out to be foolish since it gets you horribly horribly burned to death. Not nice.

Peter succumbs to despair and tries to tear down all of Stile’s hope by randomly taking his possessions to point out how useless all of it is because they don’t exist any more.

Of course Stile’s doesn’t give up – and remembers the intercom system announcing various stops from the non-existent trains which speaks now and then. He hopes to use the radio to communicate with the outside world…

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Uncanny Resurrection of Abraham Carver by Vincent Cross





This book is both very short and very beautiful. The language used is extremely elaborate and artistic- and it works. Normally I’m annoyed when language seems to be an overly frilly barrier towards actual interpretation of the work – but this works because the visuals are clearly the main element of this story. The beauty and artisty, the evocative mental images, the powerful, heady emotions – these are why this book exists, why this story is there

And it is extremely beautiful, it is very emotional. It’s intriguing to follow not because of the story per se, or because of the characters, or because of the conflict, but to see the imagery play out, so see the scene being set, the emotions be evoked. This is all about theme and aesthetic, of tone and appearance more than plot

But I’m left wondering what this is? Because is it a story? Is it long enough to be a story? Does it have an established enough plot and characters and world setting? It feels more like a snippet in a longer story, even as a short story it feels so much like a part of something greater. It’s more like an artistically crafted Vignette. An out take, a snapshot. The whole feel of the story makes me think that it’s more about an artistically crafted image more than a story. This is a scene, this is a display, a performance. It’s an artistic craft of elaborate, beautiful, stylist language with an intriguing concept and a lot of dark edginess.

It’s been pared down to just these elements with the rest dispensed with. It kind of works here because it’s clearly what the point of the book is. And it works as this. It really does – it is beautiful and stylish and quite excellent to read

But is it a story? Is being a story the point?

I mean the plot revolves around the sacrifice a woman made for her husband she loves and how that effects them

The Librarians, Season 3, Episode 4: And the Self Fulfilling Prophecy



This episode is in one of my most hated formats – the broken time line. The characters are running around with random, poorly-explained amnesia with occasional flashes of memory to try and piece the story together

So Eve, and the Librarians were celebrating in Las Vegas and we have a nice touching scene where everyone is super kind to Eve because they all recognise she’s probably not feeling great since Flynn has deserted her. Again. Alas we don’t get to stay on this excellent scene of bonding to join his slighting weird story

And I think I could actually really like this whole plot of prophecy fencing and second guessing prophecy if it weren’t for the broken time line

Basically there’s this unstoppable magical assassin focusing on Eve. He also drops a prophecy cube – a kind of stored prophecy – which reveals that the assassin will kill Eve in the Library

Jenkins is firmly of the opinion she should stay in the Library and be safe because it’s the Library. In a glorious moment of self-mockery, Eve lists the 8 gajillion people who have easily infiltrated the secure Library. I always appreciate a lovely chunk of self-awareness.

Instead they follow up a random library mission to a school with lots of random luck, including the swim team passing several tests after ridiculous improvement, winning the lottery and the captain winning a trip to train in an Olympic pool in Greece – which then dumps Ezekiel, Jake and Evem, via school pool, into a strange world with odd amnesia. They’re joined by several people from the school, including the captain of the swim team, the headmaster (who has a little power play with Eve before Eve effortlessly takes control because she’s Eve) and the cleaning lady, Nina

And they have several swimming goggles which, revealed through flashbacks, are the key behind all the luck of the school swim team: they help you see a bit of the future

The gang uses these goggles to navigate past a series of traps with fun little moments – like knowing they can use a coin to find the trapped areas of the floor because they’ve seen a future of Ezekiel giving that coin to a museum – so it can’t be destroyed.

At the same time, at the Library, Cassandra and Jenkins return with a second prophecy cube and tell us the rules of prophecy (very important since Eve is prophesised to die). You can’t just run from prophecy – you either defeat it with a larger prophecy (the example given is an Oracle, who seeing that she would be murdered by one of her priestesses, made several other prophecies that each of her priestesses would be murdered by her wife – and promptly married and murdered each of them. Breaking the prophecy with more prophecy. So, yes same-sex relationship, no lots of murdering) or have someone outside the prophecy break it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fields of Iron (Magnificent Devices #11) by Shelley Adina



Gloria’s plans to stop the Californias invading the Texican territories and likely massacring thousands of people – including several innocents in between the two territories, looks to have been scuppered when she narrowly avoided being kidnapped by the California’s ambassador

She can see only one way to stop the war – to appeal to the Viceroy himself. But to even get to the man involves crossing a territory where no woman travels alone – and with her speaking not a word of Spanish. It seems only a marriage of convenience will allow her to make her plea for peace.




I have to say yet again how much I love Gloria Merriwhether-Astor for being one of the most selfless, kind yet non-matyred characters. It has to be stressed that Gloria has no personal stake in the events of this book

Gloria is an extremely wealthy woman. She if the heir to a massive munitions manufactory which is making an absolute fortune selling arms for a brewing war. Gloria has everything to gain from this war going ahead and everything to lose by stopping that war

But she’s a deeply moral person and she absolutely refuses to accept this war going ahead. Considering her father directly responsible for this war and the upcoming massacre of a vast number of people including several innocent tribes – like the Brujas we saw last book and the Navapai who are caught in the middle. Gloria is not only determined to stop this war and cost herself a whole lot of money but she is willing to endure a lot of hardship to make this happen. She has been kidnapped, faced a lot of set packs and physical discomfort and, finally, in this book actually opts to marry a man she doesn’t love or even know very well because it’s the only way she can navigate the incredibly misogynist society of the Californios.

Gloria is a protagonist acting entirely from altruistic motives. And entirely against her own self-interest. And entirely to her own detriment. Yet she isn’t a protagonist who is being dragged into this by fat or destiny or special Chosen One status. Nor does she spend any real time bemoaning her fate or what is happening. She spends some time debating whether she really wants to take a certain step – but it’s only really about which step she takes, not about whether she should keep going forward. No matter how much she sacrifices, she is completely lacking in angst because these are actions she actively chooses; she’s not acting badly done to. She is an active participant here and the choices she makes are her own active decisions

Part of this may stem from her slightly shaky low self worth. Again this is interestingly well done – we have a lot of protagonists in the genre who will sit in a corner and dramatically declare how hideously ugly/awful/terrible they are. Gloria isn’t like that, she merely fails to acknowledge how extraordinary she is: partly because of her extremely terrible father but also because she has been surrounded by the awesome protagonists of this series which she persists in comparing herself too

Lucifer, Season 2, Episode 9: Homewrecker



This episode may be one of the turning points of the season as it has some excellent realisation moments from Lucifer

Last episode Lucifer made it clear to his mother, Charlotte, and his brother, Amandiel that he doesn’t want to go back to heaven and he doesn’t want to go back to hell – he wants to stay on Earth. He wants to stay in Los Angeles, this is his home, this is what matters to him. And it matters to him a lot

This is all expositioned extra clearly by Linda his excellent therapist. Ok, normally when a show or book manages to find a way to Tell everything, especially character development, so expressly it’s usually convoluted or doesn’t make any sense at all or is generally made because the author seems to think their audience are so terrible lacking in intelligence that everything needs spelling out

But Linda is excellent, she helps grow Lucifer not by just expressly pointing out his growth and feelings but prodding him every step of the way. And I love her all the more now she has both learned the truth about Lucifer and managed to at least partially got past that. There’s one excellent scene that covers this with Linda meeting Charlotte. She’s both in awe that Charlotte is the ex-wife of god (and respectful of Charlotte’s excellent rebuttal that she isn’t defined by her marriage) while also ferociously refusing to share any information about Lucifer with her. Respectful, even in awe, but still very aware of her professional ethics. Linda is awesome

Actually I’d love to see a series all following Linda, the therapist to the supernatural.

Anyway, this realisation of how vital Los Angeles and the sense of home is to Lucifer – the first place he has ever felt at home – he also faces a threat to that. This week’s murder victim was Lucifer’s corrupt landlord and his son is now selling Lux, Lucifer’s home, out from under him. And he buyer is a gloriously awful wealth real estate mogul who is just wrecking everything to spite her enemies. I kind of love her, I always have a soft spot for people who are gloriously awful and revel in it – I call them Magnificent Bastards and I kind of love them for it.

While the murder investigation goes on, Lucifer tries to scrabble up some way to save his home – with parties blocking the place from eviction (because of course he does) often not focusing on the case because of it. And here we see the wonderful relationship between Chloe and Lucifer – even as he endlessly frustrates her and his inability to follow the rules clearly exasperates her to no ends – she still deeply cares about Lucifer and his plight. Not enough to do more than to provide some legal distraction during Lucifer’s fight because she’s still Chloe and the law matters to her – but still there to offer real support. She knows how much Lux means to Lucifer which in turn makes it important to her. I think moments like this show the connection (not necessarily romantic) between characters more than anything else – forget kissing, sex and dramatic proclamations of love: simply making someone’s priorities your priorities is the most powerful depiction I can think of.

Unfortunately Charlotte is also in on the game. I’m all kinds of torn about Chaerlotte. In and of herself, I kind of love her, because she is the utterly perfect Magnificent Bastard. Charlotte is the Honey badger, she wanders through life Not Giving a Shit. And I think for this character to be awesome we either need a major storyline to focus on her (which I don’t think we have the space for here because we’re focusing on Lucifer and Chloe) or give her no real goal and just have her wander around causing chaos and being generally hilarious – let’s have a season of establishing her as this utterly powerful, confused, lost, sociopathic character finding her feet and dropping the occasional body and snarling and Mazikeen (hey we could make far more room for Mazikeen then – a character who really really really needs more attention. Or more room for Amandiel which makes him more than moving through Charlotte’s orbit. Hey couldn’t we have a 3 part story of Lucifer, Amandiel and Charlotte all adapting to the human world separately. Oh the storyline we could have).

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Vampire Diaries, Season 8, Episode 7: The Next Time Hurt Someone It Could be You



Time for the obligatory holiday episode and, honestly, it’s just so pointlessly awful. Really really awfully pointless.

Caroline has decided she wants to have this big grand holiday party with a lot of food and booze. So much booze. All the booze. More booze. This is the Vampire Diaries people they can’t get up in the morning without a double of jack.

Damon, to the surprise of no-one, has got over his little stabbing episode and decides to join the party. Caroline and Stefan act like this is totally ok and Caroline, bizarrely, spends the entire episode pretty much trying to turn all these murderous people who hate each other into a merely AWKWARD dinner and why can’t everyone just try to get along and play nice and drop awkward questions like who ordered who and who has made terribad awful deals with the devil forever more, mmmm ‘kay

It’s weird. And it’s weird because we’ve seen Caroline do this before so many times when it fit her character. She was the organiser of parties, of social events, throughout their school life. This is what she lived to do – to host and organise and order and make all her friends unite and work together – but that was years ago. She isn’t that person now and this isn’t a school ball.

Anyways, in response to being murdered last episode Damon decides to murder Stefan with a Christmas ornament

Seriously, this vampire family has a giant wooden Christmas ornament with spiky bits that are reinforced enough to stab someone in the heart. Who has this?! Why?

This sends Stefan to the spirit world to have a little 1:2:1 time with Cade his new devil boss and pretty much covers the only relevant part of the episode while everyone else sits down to the Most Awkward dinner with Damon threatening to kill everyone, Pointless Matt and his even more pointless dad showing up for reasons and Caroline trying to get everyone to play nice

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Van Helsing, Season 1, Episode 13: It Begins



Vanessa has been captured by the big bad vampires which means she now has to suffer the most awful of tortures

Dmitri’s speeches

Honestly, there’s a lot of wrong with this show – but in terms of enjoyment pretty close to the very top of the list has to be the over the top ridiculous, awful villains

If only this show would realise this and EMBRACE it. Dmitri is amazing comic relief.



EMBRACE YOUR COMIC VAMPIRE

I keep waiting for the punch line but I just get that creepy feeling – y’know the one you get when laughing along to one of your creepy uncle’s comic diatribes before realising “oh my god, he’s serious, he actually does thing gay jewish illuminati are going to impose Sharia law”

Anyway we “learn” that Vanessa is actually the descendent of Van Helsing which is possibly why he has super powers

Well, I put “learn” in quotation marks for a reason because it’s the title of the show. This isn’t a reveal. They also want to harvest her eggs. Or impregnate her. Or both. They want to create a new generation of day walking vampires so they don’t have to keep blocking out the sun and likely destroying all of the plant life leading to a mass extinction but no-one seems to talk about that. Also they want to feed Vanessa blood because…

Meanwhile the head vampires, Rebecca, Anastasia (who is here for… reasons?) and Dmitri all kind of hate each other. Rebecca is also working with Taka, the head of the resistance to attack the fort in exchange to give them a vampire free island on which to starve to death on. And she gets… well I don’t know but her reason seems to be she’s jealous that Dmitri is going to make daywalker babies with a human. Because a female villain still got to have a male motivation, right?  

Salem, Season 3, Episode 5: The Witch is Back



So John and Bob are fighting uber rascist zombie Native American savages because Salem has zero respect for the depiction of minorities

As they fight, Bob gets stabbed which necessitates John to part her clothes to see her wound and notice that she in fact a woman. He had absolutely no idea until this moment.

Bob shares her backstory – those savage raping Native American savages (ye gods, Salem really?!) killed, kidnapped or raped her family and she hoped that the great John Alden would save them. He didn’t. So she now decided she will seek revenge as a warrior which means pretending to be a man because women aren’t allowed to fight

Also she kisses John while she has this great sucking chest wound

I would say this could become a comment on sexism, female vulnerability at this time, the tyranny of being forced to rely in men, the problem of male only professions – but instead we have that kiss which means we’re likely to have a love triangle or Bob dying tragically in tragic fashion so John can be So Very Sad about this.

Back in town Anne is being tortured by evil Baby Devil – while Minion is indifferent. He doesn’t understand sadism. He doesn’t care enough about humans to want to hurt them and finds it all rather distasteful. Luckily for Anne, predictably Cotton shows up to save his precious baby. He hands himself over which means, technically, he totally gets to claim the reward for turning himself in. Rather than laughing and killing him, Baby Devil decides to grant him his wish. Which is to save the womb holding his child

Or, Anne basically. But He decides he’s going to call the baby Hope regardless of Anne’s wishes and all will be wonderful and perfect because woooomb. While Anne is going to be all redeemed and find love with him again and it will all be perfect because wooooomb. Basically everything about Anne, good or bad, is set aside because WOOOOOOOMB

Also baby Devil wants Cotton to become his biographer and record his life story before he destroys the world because of course he does. And even if he doesn’t get involved and decides to nominate Minion to recite events to Cotton. And it’s all pretty hopeless – Minion describes a long series of events and all Cotton hears is “zomg god! So wonderful!” Minion is critical of god and Cotton gasps “BLASPHEMY!” unsurprisingly the fallen angel doesn’t sweat blasphemy all that much. Minion tries to raise the idea that power corrupts – and therefore god is the mostest corrupt ever

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 8: Lotus



Lucifer is still out and about causing chaos – and still pursued by Sam and Dean, the Hunters, Castiel, the earnest but rather inept Angel and Crowley the sarcastic. They also bring Rowena on board after Crowley minces her latest attempt at trying to marry a rich man since it turns out he’s conning her. Splattered in blood and gore she declares it’s the sweetest thing he’s ever done for her

See it’s moments like this that make me really like Rowena.

So what is Lucifer up to? He’s leaping from body to body, briefly causing a brouhaha by possessing an Archbishop and then a massacre when said bishop’s staff noticed the holy man unable to hold a crucifix and decided the best thing to do would be staging an exorcism

Lucifer doesn’t exorcise easily. Also, shallow moment, but is there a reason why the staff of this Archbishop are all so hot? Or is television casting so broken you can’t even have a casting call

But he leaves of his own accord to find a new host. The President of the United States

Remember last week when I asked exactly how much damage Lucifer would do in his new body? Well, we now have the president of the US, who is an unhinged, violent, impulsive nihilist with no real grasp of reality

Wait, sorry, I turned to the news by mistake, let me try again

We now have the president of the United States possessed by satan.

When the gang finds out (no surprise, Crowley has a minion on the president’s stash), they’re duly disturbed and worry exactly how they can even get near the president to combat Lucifer. Especially since Lucifer has dispatched the Secret Service against the Winchesters

Something which would be problematic if the British Men of Letter’s didn’t show up, in the form of Arthur Ketch, the fixer of the Men of Letters with a huge stash of shiny lethal toys and an extremely improbably accent. He came because Sam called – and you can’t hardly blame him. I mean Satanic President is the wor... second worst thing that could happen to the presidency.

He still wants to recruit the Winchesters on side and make up for the whole torturing and murdering thing (oopsie) he’s totally willing to lend them his toys. Which is useful because he has a handy-dandy exorcism orb. It’s shiny.

Will Game Of Thrones Bring More Girl Power?



For many seasons, one of the primary criticisms of Game Of Thrones was its handling of women. We wrote previously about the rape of Sansa Stark, which was one of the most controversial things the show has done to date during its six-season run. However, there were other issues as well. Daenerys Targaryen was objectified and sold into marriage by her own brother, and was only taken seriously as a leader when she had dragons at her back. Cersei Lannister derives power from her beauty and name but for several seasons lived in the shadow of her authoritarian father. And on countless occasions, the shrewdest and most successful women in the show have used their physical charms to get ahead (or get by). In short, there wasn't ever a whole lot of female empowerment in Westeros.



This changed drastically in season six. We saw Sansa help to bring down her husband and rapist. We saw Daenerys dismiss her lovers and admirers to lead her army on her own. We saw Yara Greyjoy assume control of an Iron Fleet in her weakened brother's stead. And we saw Cersei orchestrate one of the deadliest schemes in the show's history all on her own with no help from her powerful and wily brothers or her long-deceased father. That's all to say nothing of the likes of Arya Stark and Brienne generally kicking ass. It was the season of girl power on Game Of Thrones, and the shift toward female empowerment got quite a bit of attention.



Now the question is whether this trend will continue when season seven rolls around in 2017. That's an open question at this point, but for now let's look at a few things that could be done to lend even more power to the women of Westeros.



Sansa Could Cast Littlefinger Aside



There's a lot of debate over Sansa's relationship with Littlefinger at this point. Moviefone, which will often post fun articles and interviews looking ahead to upcoming projects, posted some comments from the actors that indicated there may still be some kind of trust between them. It's implied that Sansa might be considering Littlefinger's vision of taking the Iron Throne with her by his side. The idea is that she wants credit for taking the North. But this would feel like a step backwards. Sansa has fallen prey to the whims of men in her life throughout the show, from Joffrey to Littlefinger to Ramsey, and it would be refreshing to see her stand up for her independence. There's also an outside shot that she could choose to marry Jon and take her place as the Lady of Winterfell, given that he's not her brother—but this feels unlikely.


Yara Could Win A Battle



Yara Greyjoy carries herself with a certain swagger that's unique among Westerosi women. It's implied that she knows what she's doing and that the naval troops of the Iron Islands have reason to trust her. But we haven't really seen her do much. It would seem to be a relatively easy move for the showrunners to give her a battle to win en route to Westeros with Daenerys.



Cersei Could Use Her Wealth



We could almost forget, at this point, how much money the Lannister family has. And that's because we attribute it mostly to Cersei's father. Backing this up, Lottoland published an infographic depicting fiction's richest characters. Ordinarily a destination for Euro Millions lottery players, the site seems to have put this up as a means of playfully teasing those players with fantasy wealth. But the point of interest here is that Tywin Lannister made it onto the list. And yet, Cersei is usually portrayed these days as being at the end of her rope, or struggling under the Crown's debt. For her to reclaim the wealth of her house and wield it like the Lady of Casterly Rock would be an interesting power play.



Arya Could Finish Her List



Finally, we could also see Arya Stark finish her list. The youngest Stark daughter has already become a rare symbol of female power in the show, and if she continues her journey to becoming a cold-blooded, man-hunting assassin, she could represent the ultimate girl power triumph.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast




  
I don’t know how I got roped into this, but it appears I’m reading more P.C. Cast. I blame Cynna, Olivia, Maverynthia and Paige for my pain and suffering. I will be joining them on the Papercuts Podcast to discuss this atrocity we have all endured.

Because this book is just so very… typical. It was utterly awful in several ways.

I think to understand a lot of the PROBLEMATIC awful elements of this book as opposed to the awful WRITING elements of this book and the awful CHARACTER elements of this book it is necessary to look at how this book treats race

A very very very very simplistic reading of this book would suggest there are no POC in this book – but I think that’s largely because an editor (yes, I actually believe this book may have gone near an editor despite all evidence to this contrary) looked at this and said “you’re going to make them POC? Nooooo, stop this Save the Pearls awful!”. This means the book is very very very very careful not to outright label skin colour of anyone. There’s one reference to Earth Walker skin colour:

“The dirty, earthy colour of all Scratchers”

Which pretty much makes their dark skin confirmed in the most utterly racist way possible.

Even if it were ambiguous and it is rarely mentioned, that doesn’t mean the racialisation of the Earth Walkers and the Tree Tribe aren’t clear. The physical descriptions have several markers – the Earth Walkers have black, coarse hair, broad noses; the Tree Tribe has blond hair, small noses. And these are just some examples – Mari spends most of the book hiding her mixed race identity using dark hair dye and darkening her skin and disguising her features with mud – which screams darkening her skin. Sure she could be disguising herself by being the person who is literally and clearly blathered in mud all the time

But… really? I mean can someone even live like this? She thinks the tribe ostracises her – but if she is this filthy all the time is it any surprise everyone backs away from her. Ultimately, another character openly comments that her skin is a different colour. It’s hard to avoid the idea that the Earth Walkers are not a POC analogue even if not POC themselves






And we know that with some extra really problematic tropes that have been dropped on them. The Earth Walkers are cursed – at night if they are not “washed” in moonlight the women become passive, despairing, depressed and suicidal while the man become animalistic, violent, savage rapists. So much so that even washed they cannot live with their wives and daughters because big angry rapey men – with POC coding this isn’t just problematic, this is disgustingly racist. Seeing this the Tree Tribe kills the animalistic men and enslaves the women – assuming they’re helpless, pathetic, incapable of helping themselves and the good noble tree tribe HAS to enslave them for THEIR OWN GOOD

Seriously, this white saviour narrative is so strong Cecil Rhodes would ask you to steady on a little. Not only are these magical slave/slaughter traits disgusting in and of themselves, but they’re also used as redemption for the Tree Tribe’s slavery. One thing this book does manage is to make it clear that enslaving the Earth Walkers is wrong – but this narrative of woo-woo JUSTIFIES them, it absolves them. They’re not evil, they just didn’t understand that this entire race of people they were murdering didn’t want to be murdered and enslaved. They’re killing them FOR THEIR OWN GOOD.

The woo-woo which causes the POC to rape and be enslaved is an appalling, insurmountable part of this book which pollutes my tablet with its presence. But it’s not the only issue – the way the Earth Walkers (coded POC) and the Tree Tribe (coded white) are described is utterly awful. The Earth Walkers are ugly – coarse, rough featured, plain; while the Tree Tribe are “refined”. This is the objective description of the two people – the beautiful blonds and the ugly, coarse POC who are rapists and enslaved.

Teen Wolf, Season 6, Episode 4: Relics



Melissa joins Chris Argent hunting in the middle of the night. And it’s a silly idea. It’s silly because she’s not a hunter, has no experience in this kind of thing and really can only be a liability without some more experience

And the show knows it’s silly. Openly acknowledges it – but neither the objective writing nor Chris belittle for this – while at the same time we’re nicely reminded of her medical skills to affirm that she DOES contribute to the group. But may be more involved this season – which can also be a good thing

Also Melissa and Chris are definitely on the way to a romance.

Less importantly, they find more bodies – and Malia. She didn’t cause the bodies but she is definitely continuing to have control issues. Something Chris decides to work on – and interestingly not linking it to her werecoyoteness; but to bloodlust. A bloodlust he remembers so well from his sister Kate who became such an utter monster: this is a nice twist because one of my many many many many loathings of the Argents for so long, including Alison, was how they bought into the idea of werewolves as monsters so completely. Nice call back Teen Wolf.

He recruits her to help defend the whole gang of teenagers who saw the Wild Hunt last episode and are now slated to vanish as well because of that. With Mason getting the idea that the Wild Hunt travels by lightning, during the next storm they gather nearly all the survivors in the Argent bunker, underground and warded, to be safe.

Sadly it’s almost all because some people won’t listen – including Gwen who is a POC in Teen Wolf and should really know better than to risk vanishing so much. Leaving Malia and Chris to guard the annoying teens (preferably without shooting them or tasing them, Malia), Scott and the B Team go to save the others who aren’t in the bunker

And end up playing Lacrosse. Because Teen Wolf

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Steel's Edge (Edge Series #4) by Ilona Andrews



Charlotte de Ney is a Blueblood – not by birth, but as one of the coveted and precious healers she was granted nobility in exchange for her service. She has led a sheltered life – one that left her unprepared for the heartbreak of her first relationship

And the deadly lure of her power’s dark side

She tries to escape the temptation and find another sheltered, safe life… until brutal tragedy hits again and links her to the Edger Richard Mar and his obsessive quest to end the slave trade. It’s nearly impossible for her to pursue this conflict without succumbing and becoming an abomination – but sometimes more than survival is at stake



Do I start with lots of glowing praise? At what point do I say “Ilona Andrews” and you know that this review is just going to be such a glowing shining ramble of adoring praise? How many times can I say that the world building is awesome, that I really love the concept of the Weird, the Broken and the Edge, how that feeling of being between two worlds is such a powerful theme in this series, how every character so excellently epitomises this sense of not belonging, of being the outsider. Even when not directly as an Edger but so often as a side due to magic or heritage or similar trait.

I love the whole concept of healer magic – how people with such skills of healing are equally positioned to be such terrible scourges. And I love how we can present the idea of magic being out of control so well without desperately grabbing at a dubious addiction narrative.

I also really like Charlotte’s back story, her growth, her naivety and moral compass that forces her to make hard decisions, her integrity that pushes her towards both self-sacrifice and vengeance both.

I like a lot about Charlotte and how she is quite different from a lot of characters we see. She’s incredibly dangerous because of her power and certainly doesn’t need to shelter in the manly shadow of Richard (and tells him frequently she doesn’t need that) – but she isn’t an amazing warrior either, since she has led a very sheltered life – and definitely isn’t a Warrior Princess (but nor does she need a male protector – and even has Sophie be her bodyguard). She’s also a woman who is very much part of the aristocracy – steeped in manners and poise and respectability and tradition and etiquette. And she uses these skills, she treats them as a serious skill set, a skill set that needs to be honed, that needs to be learned and developed

In the genre of the Strong Female Character with Swords, these traits, these skills and these strengths are often regarded with a level of contempt (or any overt traditional femininity). But Charlotte awesomely turns them into a weapon. Without these skills, Richard’s plan to bring down the slave trade would simply not work.

The Librarians, Season 3, Episode 3: The Reunion of Evil



This episode gets a big doubtful hmmmm from me. It gets a hmmmm because it’s primarily addressing two issues and one of those issues it annoyingly fails to address while addressing it.

Yes I’m feeling eloquent today

Cassandra and Jake are off on a zaney adventure trying to get a magical artefact. Side note here, we have a brief snark from Jake about Flynn running off again which gets another hmmmm from me – because this is a point. Jake et al has a right to be annoyed – especially since their team work is so well emphasised – by Flynn unilaterally deciding he’s going to up and run off to parts unknown. I think this is definitely something to develop – the whole emphasis on the librarians being a team would find Flynn’s impetuous lone-rangerness annoying

Anyway, the magical artefact is the Crystal of Angraboda (in norse mythology, the mother of monsters who had several children by Loki – including Fenrir and Jormungandr) and along with the crystal we have a lot of frost giants and a huge, terrible storm

There follows a full episode of Cassandra and Jake pretending to be frost giants who love plagues and chaos and drinking and bar games which is fun and all. But kind of misses what the actual debate of this magic-of-the-week is supposed to be

Magic

Whether you can use magic safely – something Cassandra has repeatedly advocated. Magic can be good. Magic can be powerful. Magic can be useful. While Jake argues over and over that magic is too dangerous and too unpredictable. They make many good arguments

Cassandra points out that many things are dangerous – science and technology is very dangerous before you understand it. Jake has the very reasonable counter that Cassandra doesn’t understand it and she’s brilliant and intelligent – far too much so to be this reckless. I think this is a key because his distrust of magic is clearly a distrust of MAGIC – not HER using magic. There’s even a point where he encourages her to use magic since it seems to be the only way out of a tricky situation