Friday, July 15, 2016

Zoo, Season 2, Episode 4: The Walls of Jericho

The gang is running around to save the animals from the plot of Reiden global to wipe out all animal life and, because of that, all humanity because we can’t live without animal life.

Perhaps realising how dubious this whole plot line is, they have the secondary goal of trying to save Jackson who has been infected by the mutation. Something they have now shared with Mitch despite Chloe’s disapproval. This is a good idea because a) any idea Chloe has is terrible and b) why deny your one scientist the chance to make the cure?! What was the plan? Just hope? Also Mitch has a triple helix DNA now. I can’t even imagine what altering the structure of DNA like that would do to a being – I imagine it’d fuck up cell division rather terribly

Every decision that Chloe makes is terrible. She talks later about balancing being in love (because everyone on this show is a couple. Everyone) with being a leader. Instead she should try to balance her complete lack of good decision making with pretending to be a leader.

Anyway they need some uber mutated animal and as luck would have it, Davies has just captured an Earthquake causing sloth

An earthquake causing sloth.

An earthquake causing sloth.

Ok, fine, whatever, let’s run with this. More trouble is caused by moles bringing down a skyscraper (and Mitch decides to comment on how unusual it is for moles to work together. In the same episode with an EARTHQUAKE CAUSING SLOTH. Because co-operative MOLES are really worthy of comment here).

Faced with building destroying moles and earthquake causing sloths, the gang decides to go run around tunnels. Underground tunnels. With alligators. Yes, alligators.

Why are they doing this? Well the earthquake sloth may be the key to curing the disease, apparently.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Blood Challenge (World of the Lupi #7) by Eileen Wilks

Lily’s engagement to Rule has put her on the hit list of many hate groups – but when there’s a campaign against her, the people she cares for her boss and even a werewolf going on the rampage it’s clear she’s dealing with something far worse than the vandals who sabotaged her care or the people sending her hate mail.

Meanwhile Benedict has found something impossible – Arjennie… a second Chosen

This series has had some ups and downs – and this book is definitely continuing the direction upwards after all of this huge and dazzling world setting has now been absorbed and we’re now keeping the focus on what is relevant. This book takes this wonderful, wide world and makes sure we don’t drown in it while we also don’t ignore it. It’s a lovely balance – this wide world isn’t ignored but nor are we left flailing to try and understand what is relevant in the vastness

And against this backdrop we have some very intriguing characters; the new character being Arjenie. And I love her. Oh how I love her. She’s hilarious, she’s aware yet almost niave in how easily distracted she is. I love her geeky adoration of facts. I love her courage without it being flashy or violent. I love the fact she’s not physically dangerous – and her disability definitely does case her physical limitations – but that doesn’t make her less active or courageous.

There’s also Rule with his fascinating conflict over the Mantels and his relationship with the Leidolf – making good decisions but not emotionally connected ones, feeling duty bound but not emotionally bound is something else that will be good to see.

Other nice gems for me was seeing more of Isen, the Rho of the Nikolai pack. He’s always there as a distant figure and we’d already had excellent moments when he made a distinction between speaking to his sons as both his father and their leader. It makes him both a skilled leader AND a loving and caring father. And, in this book, we increasingly see him as an effective ruler. But better than that – he’s an effective ruler because he likes people. He’s interested in people. He studies people and he uses this knowledge to actually reduce conflict in his Pack

Containment, Season 1, Episode 12: Yes is The Only Living Thing

Thankfully, except for one incident I’ll get to, this episode did not annoy me sufficiently to reach for the drinking gifs. Which is helpful because it’s rapidly making me confront how many of our shows are wall to wall alcohol.

Firstly, let’s look at the fallout from Sabine Lomas basically blaming everything on poor Dr. Victor Cannerts - who is having a break through and may have finally found a cure. This cure happened at just the right time as Trey and his gang decide to deal with the inventing of plagues by killing him – only to be convinced by Jake to act as bodyguards for him instead in exchange for a first hit at the cure. Jake and Trey previously bonded when Trey had some kindly advice and support for Jake over his grief and trying to drink it away

But Victor will need this cure super fast as another plagued guy tried to get revenge, was shot – and spattered Trey’s brother Cinco with infected blood. Cure or bullet is now the motivation.

The chance of a cure and Jake’s ongoing, admittedly well portrayed grief, over Kate also encourages Jake to stay behind and not leave with Meese. If there’s a chance of a cure then he needs to stay to protect Victor before it happens. Of course he also has Quentin, the most annoying child ever, who he gives to Jenna to get out of the city as he promised Kate

Personally I entertain the idea that he’s actually deciding to stay to put a big fence between him and the kid.

Everyone else is taking Meese up on his idea. Teresa and Xander go to see Teresa’s grandparents – Bert and Micheline and they’re so sweet and endearing and I really really like Micheline and Bert. But they clearly don’t have enough food to actually support Their grief over Micheline’s dead daughter is poignant – and Micheline has a terrible life lesson of her experience with her and Bert and her then schoolage daughter in racist town: her lesson, leave to keep your family safe. She urges Xander and Teresa to do the same – and gives her her pearls to help pay her way.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dyre: A Knight of Spirit and Shadows (Dyre Series #2) by Rachel E. Bailey

Ruby the new Dyre of North America, has been kidnapped – and only Des and Thierry, the people who love her, can try and get her back

She’s been taken to Europe, and must choose between a possible escape from the legacy she never asked for – or loyalty to the new family and people she has found.

I do feel like this book pulled out of a lot of woo-woo all of a sudden without a whole lot of weight or depth behind it. And since that woo-woo was convenient for the plot it felt a little flat to me. Like “how will I find Ruby?!” “Oh I’m psychic now! That’s conveniently useful!”

No, it’s not that convolutedly written, not at all. But it doesn’t change the convenience of it – a convenience that is often repeated. The characters don’t know what to do? That’s ok, a dead person is going to haunt them and give them step by step instructions on how to solve this problem. And it works. It also introduces more supernatural woo-woo that everyone just kind of swallows and it all works wonderfully with minimal difficulties. It’s just so easy. It just has all the answers spoon-fed to them by some convenient woo-woo

This is exacerbated by them not even exploring the supernatural woo-woo being handed to them. Like the idea that geas-bound have woo-woo… ok can we explore that? Why? What goes into the process? Where does the power come from? What’s the history here? Or the fact that every time Des has a vision she also bleeds from her ears and nose! Every time she has a vision she has a cranial bleed! She is literally having grand mal seizures, she is having strokes. She is literally asking people to punch her unconscious to help Rose through visions! What Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance book doesn’t LEAP on the angst potential of this! She’s risking death and brain damage for the sake of the woman she loves! Where’s the angst? Where’s the wailing? Where’s the guilt and martyrdom and nobility and overwrought emotions?! How can this just be a thing? Or there’s the supernatural afterlife that is revealed. How can the tangible proof of their afterlife not be powerful and world changing and immense?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Paper and Fire (Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine

Jess, Khalila, Glain and Dario are now working for the Library – but working knowing that their lives hang by a thread and the Archivist is just looking for an excuse. While the last members of their group – Morgan and Thomas – are imprisoned. Morgan fights for freedom – and Thomas may be already dead.

Together they need to free their friends and somehow escape the Library’s incredible power and reach

I am just going to repeat all my endless praise for the world building of this book that I said during the first book review of Ink and Bone. Because it’s still awesome

I do love how the characters look on their battles with the library. Because they don’t want to destroy it, they don’t want to bring it down. They want, desperately, passionately, for the Library to be what it should be – the excellent, shining force for good. It should be this place which can protect knowledge, spread knowledge and advance the whole world. We have wonderful looks back into the past where the Library stood against all kinds of discrimination (as I’ll come to, the cast is wonderfully diverse), where the Library passionately resisted control of nations for the sake of knowledge for its own sake.

But despite all that they have come a long way from those original routes. As the Library became more and more about power. Defending Library independence from national control has changed to them outright taking over, destroying and controlling nations in the name of Library Power. We find whole stashes of books they are not only hording, but actively suppressing (we learn that the printing press has pretty much been invented dozens of times over centuries and each time has been viciously suppressed by the Library – Thomas and Wolfe are not the only ones by a long way. After all, the press is a relatively simple invention).

Through this, in some ways, even the enemies they fight are not entirely demonised. They horde those books even though they’d ban them and not read them – because even then destroying them is an anathema to everything they stand for. They legitimately think they’re a force for good even as their actions in the name of that good go ever darker. Which is why the whole struggle of the gang not WANTING to burn it all down – but desperately wanting to make it better.

Preacher, Season 1, Episode 7: He Gone

Everything is dark and terrible this week, with Jesse definitely leaping off into the deep end after banishing Eugene to hell

It’s obvious Jessie feels terrible about his and equally obvious that he’s definitely not going to talk about or admit there’s a problem. He sinks deeper into his father’s teaching – his father who was “righteous” in that terrible, judgemental, shaming and inflexible style of “righteous”.

Tulip is aware of this more than anyone else as we see some painful flashbacks of her childhood as well. Firm friends with Jessie, we see clearly her talking about her mother being in prison and her uncle drunk. Even today, Tulip struggles desperately to look after her alcoholic uncle while the whole neighbourhood, the whole town, looks on in judgement and condemnation with no help at all as she struggled to move him inside.

As a child, she all but moved in with Jessie and his dad – before his dad had social services pick her up and take her away – because she’s an O’Hare and he has deemed the whole family trouble.

Emily’s discomfort with Jessie is only growing stronger and stronger as Jessie becomes more and more fire and brimstone and generally awful and conflicted.

It’s Cassidy, of all people, who pressures Jessie to talk about it – since he’s the one who saw what Jessie did to Eugene. After discussing things with Tulip about who knows Jessie more (it’s Tulip – oh yes it is) Cassidy confronts him about the whole idea that god has a plan and what Jessie is doing is for the greater good

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Purloined Poodle (Iron Druid Series Novella) by Kevin Hearne

I admit that when I picked up this book I had mixed feelings and expectations.

On the one hand, it’s Kevin Hearne (who we love in unreserved fanpoodling glee). And it was a book about Oberon, who we definitely love. So what’s not to like…

…well, animal companions can be fun and cute and Oberon definitely adds something awesome to the Iron Druid Series… but a whole book around the cute interlude? Yeah that can get… annoying. Also, when it comes to short stories, I do wonder what the point is of many of them. Sometimes it’s for fun, sometimes it’s to explore different elements of the world that haven’t otherwise been touched. And sometimes it’s a way to hold fans upside down and shake them until the loose change in their pockets falls free (also known as The Charlaine Harris method).

Yet this book worked.

It worked because it was balanced. Yes Oberon is a dog, but for the most part he thinks like a human. His narrative is not annoying or impenetrable – because he has spent several decades with Atticus learning how to communicate with humans and among humans. His mind set isn’t frustrating and impossible to follow or awkward or clunky.

At the same time we still have several cute moments that really do convey Oberon’s doggishness – yes Oberon is focused on his mission. But he’s a dog – and he has a low attention span. And a loathing of squirrels. He’s food orientated and he still has absolutely zero concept of time. He has next to no colour vision (or awareness of ethnicity making racial inclusion somewhat fuzzy though there’s at least a Latina police detective) I like this combination of not making Oberon so doggy that he comes off as a gimmick, but also making sure he doesn’t just feel like a human in a fuzzy suit. It’s an excellent balance of making him accessible without making him bland and generally keeping it excellently balanced.

Outcast, Season 1, Episode 5: The Road Before Us

So, last episode it was pretty much confirmed that Rev Anderson’s exorcisms were pretty much a theatre that achieved next to nothing.

Anderson is all about his pride, determined to drag Kyle around all his previous “successes” not to check up on them – but to prove to Kyle that his godly powers work. Surprise – they don’t.

I think it’s really interesting to see this portrayed – and it’s not just Anderson’s arrogance (which he clearly has in spades), it’s not even the fact he doesn’t seem overly concerned about the victims he’s supposed to be saving (though it has to be said their wellbeing doesn’t seem to be his priority). We know from past snippets that Anderson has given up a lot, perhaps even his family, for his path. To face the fact he’s failing time and again, that he apparently has zero success rate is going to be hard if not impossible for anyone to swallow. But in light of what success means to him, there is a definite hint that the victims are less people to be saved so much as a score to keep. This crusade as much to prove himself right as not – when he chews out Kyle for insensitivity it’s not the father of the missing girl he demands an apology for – he demands it for himself. For his wounded pride. For suggesting he has failed – despite all the evidence that he IS a failure.

We see more of this when he drags Kyle to find one of his previous exorcisms – a teenager now living on the streets. She’s clearly still possessed, hurt by Kyle’s touch (and ominously calling him “the key” and needing “his light”). Kyle is hesitant to hurt her - but Anderson yells at him to hit her. And when she’s exorcised and the demon gone, the girl is left comatose

Anderson calls it a win – again showing a complete disregard for the actual victims. Kyle calls him out and it excellently builds on what I’ve been saying all season. What evidence do we have that Anderson’s narrative is correct? That the possessions are demons? That there are souls being saved? All we see – all Kyle sees – is terrible violence often dished out (to his wife, to a child) and, in the end, both his mother and this girl being left in comas. Who is saved by this? It’s only Anderson and a faith he refuses to challenge despite mounting evidence of his own errors, that insists they’re actually doing a good thing. Sure none of the people they come across are doing WELL in possession – but how many of them are doing well when exorcised as well? I think we have one child and then we have no idea of long term effects

Killjoys, Season 2, Episode 2: Wild, Wild, Westerley

So the team is reunited and we’re heading to Old Town in Westerley. Firstly we establish with a brief hallucination and flashback that Dutch is firmly backing away from her relationship with D’avin so we can have another season of awkward sexual tension.

We also check back to D’avin’s memory hallucinations back on Arkhan in which he remembered lots of presumably scary Level 6 people slaughtering Scarbacks, which, as we remember from the last season are freaky masochistic sort-of-pacifist-but-also-armed-resistance monks.

Next step is make sure D’avin is reinstated as a RAC agent in which they speak to Turin – the first of many characters this episode who we were pretty certain died last season but apparently didn’t. After lots of checking out the others are not Level 6, they both basically come to the idea that Level 6 is terribad awful and needs to get the fuck away from the RAC which needs to go back to its happy, reputation essential – neutrality.

Which isn’t happening yet as, at the end of the episode, Turin, Dutch et al form a reluctant alliance to figure out exactly what Khylen is up to and why.

But before we get to that, the gang is heading back to Westerley to get Pree home and generally try and sort out what is left of the mess of Oldtown after the Company bombed it then walled it off with a very very shiny laser fence: said laser fence is a) awesome and causes lots of hilarious geeky glee from John – and he’s so very cute with that. It also scans them all revealing that Pree was technically a Warlord

Y’know I really appreciate these little snippets that point to Pree having had an exciting and adventurous life before this, but little snippets don’t replace the need for actual storyline. Just saying.

Naturally to get through this fence they need a Killjoy warrant and they have one to help a Company man called Jelcho

He is The Worst.

Basically he’s fencing in Oldtown, not giving them any supplies, no food, no medicine and generally ruining the whole place as an object lesson to every other Company town about what happens if you rebel. He’s quite happy to pretty much annihilate the town to make that point. Oh and his resume includes “torturer”. He is officially, The Worst. I look forward to the time when Dutch murders him most brutally, which will be great fun.

He wants them to hunt down and bring in some escaped prisoners before they do anything unfortunate.