Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wynonna Earp, Season 2, Episode 3 Gonna Getcha Good


It is time for a homecoming game in Purgatory, apparently in celebration of the only hockey game the high school has ever won. 10 years ago and they’re still celebrating it. That’s kind of faintly tragic.

More tragic is that those old hockey players are dying - starting with one man ripping out his own liver while a creepy guy in  burlap sack looks on and apparent compels him into it. I’ll take Demonic Pact for a 100, Bob

Nedly goes into full on cover-up mode because he doesn’t need the drama around the big game. Much to Nicole’s frustration and attempted shaming. Nedly has no shame at all

Wynonna herself isn’t that focused on this monster either - because she’s obsessing over the ritual she saw last week in the old school. She doesn’t want to focus on little demons and revenants so Black Badge can hit their quota. There’s something big and bad out there she needs to focus on - her ongoing insecurity about Dolls not being there adds to this. There’s something big out there and she doesn’t know what to do about it  - again harking back to the fact she’s not a leader or doesn’t know how to be.

Mercedes is still around though being immensely fun, encouraging the drinking of tequila and lamenting how her parents left os much of their money to the town. She’s also not thrilled with trying to sort out the lives of her younger siblings. She’s still fun and trying to set Wynonna up with Perry, another member of the ill fated hockey team. She agrees to do this mainly so she can try and find out more information about the hockey team

He’s also very very easy on the eyes which helps.

Thought that information on the team thing? Is kind of shoddy writing - Wynonna kind of lasers in on the team, the hockey trophy, ripping our own organs et al right away without any real evidence trail leading her there.

Though she seems to be right to be suspicious of Perry since he skins a rabbit (Hey, they’re in the boonies. Maybe this is lunch. But since he’s in a hotel room I’m sure there’s rules about that. No smoking or vaping and no skinning small game). And at the big, more than a little pathetic meeting to kick off the celebrations of the match he ends up dumping Wynonna, his date, to help another panicking Hockey player who is drunkenly rambling on. Perry definitely seems more interested in silencing the man before she says something he shouldn’t

Doctor Who, Season Ten, Episode Eleven: World Enough and Time

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World Enough and Time is the penultimate episode of this season.  This means that we potentially only have one more episode with our beloved Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, especially given that the season finale is entitled The Doctor Falls. There's also some tension regarding the fate of Bill, given that Pearl Mackie only signed on to be a companion for one season.  Are we going to lose the first LGBT companion and second Black companion after only one season? It's all a bit too much to take my fellow Whovians.  

As much as this season has been about Missy's redemption, it's also been a sort of look back at previous Doctors and previous adventures. This is why the The Mondasian Cybermen are the prefect adversary in World Enough and Time. Unlike the present incarnation which is completely metal, the cybermen are still being established and they still have cloth faces, like they did in the original Doctor Who
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The upgrade is terribly painful and the cybermen scream in pain and one even begs to die.  It's why the next upgrade is to make it so that the cybermen don't care about the pain. We finally know the purpose of the iconic handles.  It made me think quite a bit about when Danny Pink became a cyberman and the pain he complained about. We know that Mondas is pretty much a twin to earth and that when faced with the possibility of the extinction of indigenous people of the occurred, everyone went cyber and now they no longer resembled the beings they used to be. This is a necessary explanation because until now, we had no idea why anyone would willingly choose to become a cyberman. 

Orphan Black, Season Five, Episode Three: Beneath Her Heart

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For much of Orphan Black the Hendrixs have been the comic relief.  While dealing with Neolutionists, Allison has attempted to uphold the facade that she's just another suburban WASP. This means she's taken her kids to soccer games, participated in community theater, volunteered at her church and even run for local office.  Trapped in what many would think of as suburban hell, Allison has always sought to maintain her image and exert power wherever possible.  However, the truth of the matter is that despite everything that's going on, Allison's world is very very small.  At best, she's been a big fish in a tiny pond and in Beneath Her Heart, the realities of Allison's life and past are explored. 

Beneath Her Heart begins with a flashback to the Hendrixs hosting a dinner part with Aynsley and Chad (could there be two more WASP names?) as their guests. It's about as typical as you would expect, with Allison refusing to share her desert recipe while fielding calls from Beth.  It's an early sign of Allison trying to hold her life together, even as the clone world is trying to intervene. Allison is in complete denial and makes it clear that she won't even say the C word. Since we are talking about Allison, the C word of course means clone. 

With the desert finished and the dishes cleared away, the Aynsley and Chad suggest that they shake things up a bit.  This quickly weirds the Hendrixs out because they clearly assume that their friends mean sexually.  It turn out Aynsley and Chad have brought some mushrooms.  Allison is reluctant at first but she takes the plunge, leaving a sober Donnie to watch over his wife and friends.  Of course, as soon as Allison is higher than a kite, this is when Cosima shows up. It seems that Beth thought that meeting another Leda clone would bring Allison on side. This is the first meeting between Cosima and Allison. Because Cosima is just so naturally zen, she realises that Allison is high but doesn't make a big deal out of it. 

Aynsley and Allison end up at the front lawn looking at the stars wrapped in blankets. Allison starts to wonder if her life in suburbia is all there is for her. She actively thinks of all the things that she could have done instead of serving mini pizzas and playing chauffeur to the kids. It's a great reminder of exactly why Aynsley and Allison were friends and why letting Aynsley die continues to haunt her.

In the present, things haven't become any easier for Allison.  Donnie and Allison get a visit from Mr. Frontenac, demanding to know Helena's whereabouts. Frontenac makes it clear that of all the clones, he thinks that Allison is the most expendable.  Cosima is a scientist, Sarah and Helena are both fertile and Helena's unborn twins have shown remarkable abilities to heal themselves.  There's also Kira, who has special skills. Because Allison is supposedly just a housewife, she doesn't have much power or much to barter with as far as Frontenac is concerned. Frontenac makes it clear that Allison had better have a good long think about exactly how valuable she is.

It's time for M.K.'s memorial which Allison watches via skype.  Allison is upset that she was unable to do anything to save MK. The clones decide with everything going on to just take it easy for the day.  Sarah ends up spending time with Felix sulking when Kira makes it clear that she doesn't want her mother to come to Dyad with her. 

With no official clone business to take care of, Allison heads to the Church Fall fair which she is not running this year. It doesn't take long for Allison to have a little run in with Nona Walker, who has been selected to run it.  Naturally, Allison is not down with this at all and so she pours several lorazapam pills into a bottle of ice tea and gives the bottle to Nona, claiming that it's a reconciliation drink. Before Nona can down it however, the minister pops by and starts talking about moving forward. Allison's conscience kicks in and she grabs the bottle before Nona can drink it. 

Allison conscience is picked at again when she runs into Chad and his kids. It seems that Chad blames himself for his wife's death, saying that if Aynsley hadn't kicked him out for cheating, he would have been there to save her.  We all know that Aynsley died because Allison didn't stop the garbage disposal when Aynsley's scarf got stuck in it. Allison also only had an affair with Chad to get back at Aynsley because she thought that Aynsley was her monitor at the time. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Mist, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot


A brand new show and we open with a guy who knows as much about it as I do since he has amnesia - he’s a soldier (or dressed as one but doesn’t apparently have dog tags) with ID identifying him as Bryan. He also has a dog called Rufus - in case you failed to read these names, Bryan helpfully reads it all around. Whereever he is, it’s pretty beautiful.
t’s the kind of scenery I could stare at for hours. On a HD television. In a centrally heated house with wifi and the ability to order pretentious coffee by the internet.

He wanders around until the Mist comes in - and turns poor Rufus inside out. Literally

Right guys, you’ve all be warned - there will be gore. Though i think the writers may be misreading their audience - most people are going to be way more upset by a mangled dog than they would be by something like, say, a child.

From here we go to a teacher called Eve who is being suspended by the headteacher. Ahem, amnesia bloke in the mountain and butcher mist? Unless Eve is being suspended for turning the class pet into a taxidermy plot, I want to go back to Bryan

Apparently she’s being suspended for teaching sex-ed much to the shock and horror of puritanical parents who want lots more teen pregnancies.

We’re not going to follow the 8,000,000 characters in this series with a brief series of introductions and a complete lack of people being turned outside out.

So we have Eve’s partner Kevin who plays permissive cool parent next to her restrictive controlling protective parent. That would be towards daughter Alex who identifies much more with her dad because he never says no rather than her mother because she always has to be the bad guy (which annoys Eve immensely).

Alex’s friend is Adrian, a bisexual boy who wears eyeliner and has a homophobic father who hasn’t spoken to him in 2 weeks for being a bisexual teen wearing eyeliner and a homophobic mother willing to let that stand. Adrian, in theory, is very socially aware, sadly the writer isn’t and it’s more like he just spouts word salad from social justice sites without context (hey, writers, male privilege exists, wel done for acknowledging it. But the idea that a bisexual man uses male privilege to drool after football players is just bizarre, ignores straight privilege and homophobia. Gay/bi men don’t generally get the privilege of being able to overly list after football players).

Alex has a thing for Jay the Popular Football Player and Jay’s dad is Connor, the sheriff/head of police.He’s not a fun guy.

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Thirteen: The Feast of All Sinners

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It's clear from the ending of this season finale that the writers wanted to write something which could serve as a series finale should The Originals be cancelled. I have to admit that if it were to have ended here, while bittersweet, it would have been nice.  The Mikaelsons may love each other but they are absolutely toxic and dysfunctional together. Apart, they are free to pursue their own goals and passions. 

Always and forever is the vow that has kept the Mikaelson siblings returning to each other over the centuries.  They have occasionally hated each other, sabotaged each others happiness, and even daggered each other from time to time and yet nothing has been able to come between them.  We even spent a good part of the season hearing repeatedly that despite being Klaus's adopted son that Marcel is not a Mikaelson, nor would he ever been good enough to be considered one. 

In order to save Hope, the Mikaelson family must separate forever. The only way to stop The Hollow is to pull her out of Hope and then divide her between the Original siblings.  Since the Hollow is always going to desire to come together again and to rejoin Hope, since Hope is perhaps the most powerful witch who has ever lived, this means that the Mikaelsons must always stay away from each other.  It means that Klaus can never see his daughter again.  As you might imagine, this brings about a shit ton of angst.

With time running short, the Mikaelsons choose now to make peace with each other. Klaus goes to see Marcel and admits that he failed him as a father and that he is not surprised that Marcel turned into a better man than him.  Marcel however is not easily swayed and tells Klaus that he's about one hundred years too late for the mea culpa.  Marcel actually points out the fact that Klaus never thought that he was good enough for Rebekah and not part of the family.  Finally Klaus admits that it isn't that he didn't believe Marcel good enough to be with Rebekah but that he feared that if the Rebekah and Marcel were allowed to be together, that they would stop loving him.  I think this is the most honest Klaus has ever been about his pettiness and toxicity. 

Four vampires are needed and of course, Kol isn't answering his phone. A panicked Freya decides that if they cannot reach Kol, that she will turn herself into a vampire in order to be able to hold The Hollow at bay.  For Freya, it's about not having Hope grow up without a mother the way that she did.  Freya's biggest fear is that on top of losing her siblings that this will cost her Keelin because how could Keelin possibly love her if she becomes the same monster that killed Keelin's parents.  Of course, Keelin is now all in and tells Freya that she will never lose her. Just wow, the Stockholm syndrome is strong here.  It bares repeating that Freya participated in holding Keelin captive, experimenting on her and causing her pain, all for the sake of saving her precious family filled with serial killers.  How can Keelin just over look that?  I suppose it wouldn't be convenient for the authors to admit this fact. Fortunately for Freya, Kol shows up to save his sister from having to go without magic forever. For Kol, this is a pain he doesn't want anyone else to suffer. 

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Twelve: Voodoo Child

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Voodoo Child is the penultimate episode of this fourth season and it quite certainly could have come sooner for me. I don't know how it's possible but it seems to me that the writers have managed to drag out this short season, making it feel twice as long as it is.  Perhaps it's that this universe has reached its expiration date. With The Vampire Diaries finished, it feels as though The Originals, is just grasping at straws, holding onto the former glory of its predecessor.  After all, how many stories are there really to tell about the Mikaelsons? I suppose that I should be thankful that at least this week, the writers didn't resort to another meaningless flashback. No one wants to see either Joseph Morgan or Daniel Gillies in those horrible wigs again.

This season, the main antagonist is The Hollow.  This means that The Originals are once again going up against a powerful witch.  The writers created a werewolf origin story for The Hollow, trying to weave it into the meta. How many times are the Mikaelsons going to come up against witches, angst about how much danger they are in and ultimately end up victorious and perhaps a little more twisted? Perhaps this is why the writers sought to make Hope the one who is supposedly really under threat. The problem with this strategy is that even though Hope is easily the most vulnerable Mikaelson, she is also a child with possibly even more plot amour than Klaus because of it, thus bringing us back to square one.

I will however say that some of the best parts of this season thus far where the scenes Klaus shared with Hope.  I was however disturbed to see Klaus telling Hope about what an evil man he was and how she and she alone brought out goodness in him. What kind of burden is that to place on a child?  Yes, Klaus wants Hope to live but telling her that to stop him from being a serial killing monster with Daddy issues that she has to keep fighting?  It's manipulative and wrong regardless of the impulse behind it.  You just know damn well that this horrible trope will be pulled out repeatedly to remind us all of just how special Hope is to Klaus.

The big dilemma is that The Hollow has taken over Hope's body. Hayley is the only person who can kill the Hollow but of course as long as the Hollow is in Hope's body, there's no way Hayley is going to act no matter how evil The Hollow is. Kudos absolutely have to go to Summer Fontana, who plays Hope, for selling the possession so well.  I've got to say that I'm impressed with how well Fontana has managed to embody The Hollow and make the whole possession truly creepy adding an element of horror to a show that has almost from the beginning been ridiculously cheesy.  I hope that they will continue to give Fontana interesting things to do.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Outcast, Season 2, Episode 4: The One I'd been Waiting For



After last episode, this episode feels much less dramatic and important. Mainly, i think, because this episode is focused on the two people most peripheral to everything actually relevant to this show. Anderson and Aaron.

See Aaron has gone home to his mother Patricia who is desperately happy to see him again and super sad about his burns and above everything, despite, all evidence to the contrary, convinced that Aaron is a good man.

She is, of course, very very wrong and Aaron wants to be dark and evil and he’s already prepared for possession and primed to absorb all the dark shit in the world and all kinds of bad things. Basically he needs all the therapy.

He calls Anderson and taunts him before stabbing his mother, painting an inverted pentagram on the wall, painting his room black and screaming “You’re not my real dad!” before disappearing

His call to Anderson, annoyingly, interrupted the exposition which had Junkyard guy (I Think I need to remember his name soon). Basically the woman he’s buried (and now dug up for their viewing pleasure) was called Helen - and she was the Sidney for the last lot of demons/spirits/aliens/whatever they are who Kyle’s dad duly dealt with because he was totally into the demon slaying. Kyle, however, is furious that his dad wasn’t at home and instead abandoned him and his - I’m going to have to stop you there Kyle. With Aaron running around we are already waaaaaay over our daddy issue quota.

So Anderson gets to Partricia in time to die in his arms, because everyone knows a fridged woman has to die dramatically, preferably in the arms of her love interest and Anderson starts to swear vengeance and make… I was going to say a lot of grief and rage based decisions but, really, Anderson’s decision making isn’t exactly spot on at the best of times.

This involves lots and lots of Anderson trying to hunt down Aaron on his own. The best part of this is Kyle pulling a whole “if we become monsters fighting the monsters then we’ve lost!” speech. I’d repeat it - but doesn’t EVERY half-way dark or gritty series have one or two of these? You know the drill. Also Anderson kind of wants to murder a severely injured and traumatised teenager which, y’know, not great. Anderson is full of fire, brimstone and killing the evil

12 Monkeys, Season Three, Episode Four: Brothers

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Cole and Ramse are children and they are running through the fields but stop when they come to a foodbank.  Cole wants to check it out but Ramse says that they should check it out tomorrow. Never being one to listen, Cole decides to go and check it out. Of course, Cole is attacked from behind. 

Emerson Hotel 2007

Cole and Ramse are having a drink and Cole still believes that this is all too easy. Ramse reminds Cole about Olivia saying that the Witness would be surrounded by protectors. It's not enough to settle Cole's mind because he cannot wrap his mind around why Olivia would decide to betray the Monkeys now. Ramse points out that The Witness took everything from her. Cole directly asks Ramse if he's certain that isn't a set up and Ramse assures Cole that Olivia wants what they want. 

2046

Jennifer is sleeping in the splinter room and she has visions.  Adler wakes Jennifer and demands that she leave and sleep elsewhere.  Jennifer grabs her sketch pad and starts to draw what she saw in her dreams, trying to figure out what it all means. She repeats, "6 or 7 dying man", several times. Jones walks into the room and is not impressed to find Jennifer in her chair or Jennifer's drawings on the wall.  Jones focuses in on the drawing of the man dying on the ground and Jennifer reveals that she doesn't know who he is. 

2007

Cole and Ramse make plans on how to confront the witness. They think back to a family of gun runners from back in the day who ran their shady business out of a bakery and decide to arm themselves by robbing them.  

Titan- 2047

Cassie and Deacon embrace and she asks about Cole and he reveals that it's just him. Together, the two begin to sneak out and Deacon explains that Mallick gave him directions out of there. Cassie is shocked because when they left it was 2045. 

The Pallid man comes across the bodies of Cassie's guards and Mallick claims that Cassie had help in escaping. The Pallid man is determined that Cassie not escape before their next jump and orders Mallick to find Cassie and to get ready to move Titan. 

2007

Cole enters his room at the Emerson but Ramse has not arrived. Ramse is at the hospital where Cassie works and he places a call to have Cassie paged to the ER. 

2046

Jennifer wakes after having a vision of a blonde woman lying on the floor covered in blood and she looks at the camera, only to find Olivia staring right back at her.  Jennifer decides to visit Olivia's cell.  Jennifer instructs Olivia to stop talking like a super villain. Jennifer points out that she stabbed Olivia and she didn't break but supposedly broke after a couple months in the dark. Jennifer determines that Olivia is unbreakable and she blames Olivia for the nightmares she's having. Olivia is back to smiling and is not giving any answers. Jennifer tells Olivia that she's never spent a day anywhere she doesn't want to be. The daughters enter the room and Jennifer instructs them to point their guns at Olivia. Jennifer then enters Olivia's cell and asks Olivia to tell her a story which is going to make the nightmares go away.

2007

Staff at the hospital are confused as to why Cassie has been paged to the ER. Cassie arrives and attempts to follow her when she leaves but runs into a locked door. Fortunately for Ramse, a nurse uses his swipe card to open the door so he is able to follow.  Ramse pulls out his gun and shoots a blonde woman but it's not Cassie.  Out of time, Ramse is forced to leave the hospital and return to the Emerson where Cole is waiting for him. Ramse makes up a story about getting into a scuffle with some guy and Cole is suspicious because it was hours ago. Ramse then lies and claims that he was lost and got on the wrong train. Cole actually believes that Ramse went to see his mother and Ramse says that he only wanted to be close enough to see her face. Ramse shows Cole a picture of Cassie and Cole together and suggests that Cole take a few hours to go and see Cassie in case he doesn't get to see her again.  Cole points out that Cassie hasn't met him yet and that he doesn't need to screw up her life.  Cole explains that Cassie was in charge of an outbreak at a community center in New York and was there for months in 2007.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ashes of the Phoenix (Phoenix Rising #1) by Jess Haines



Lyra runs a magical book store - despite having no magic herself. Still, she thought she was well protected against most of the tricks wizards can pull

Until a man stole one her more valuable books

And turned her into a bird. Neither of those are things she’s willing to let go


This book caught my attention because I haven’t seen a lot of phoenixes in the genre. And a book where the main character spent it entirely as a bird is definitely incredibly different and a completely novel concept. Things like this interest me as it points to an author thinking so far outside of the tropes we’re used to having

It’s also really well done - I can see this as the struggles a human would have when forced into such an alien body they don’t know how to pilot.

The world setting also is highly promising. Not just phoenixes and demons but a definite range of magic, magical creatures and big differences and implications with which with a clear rich and involved magical world.

The concept of the phoenix is also really original and curious - even if it’s only fully realised at the end of the book which is epic and is the main thing about this book that really drew me to wanting to see where this is going. There is a foundation for an absolutely awesome series here - so much can be developed in so many amazing ways

I did have an issue though - beyond the complete erasure of POC and LGBTQ people and any other minorities.

Unfortunately I kind of feel like a deadline was looming and the author had to get this book to the publisher like yesterday because it feels vaguely unfinished.  I know less is more (except when talking about bacon, of course) but in this case I could have used some more expansion

As I said, this book is here to introduce a new world, a new concept and a whole load of new characters. Which is great - and it does a good job of beginning to introduce these people, these concepts and this world (and I’m intrigued) but not enough for me to get fully invested in them (especially the characters). Everything, the world building, the creatures, the monsters, the magic, and the characters (definitely the characters) could use a bit more to get me invested in them

iZombie, Season 3, Episode 12: Looking for Mr. Goodbrain Part 1


It’s the second to last episode and everything is heating up - and we finally, after a season where Liv and Clive have been utterly relegated to the sidelines of so much - have a murder which is relevant to the actual plot - but it also blows open this already extremely plotline heavy season.

But firstly we have the revelation last week that zombies are real. It isn’t reveal day because it’s a terrible trashy newspaper that sensible people don’t take seriously (like the Daily Mail) so it’s not exactly being taken seriously. But still zombies are the topic of the day and it’s certainly enough to make Liv choose to dye her hair and tan her skin - since it’s her zombie face on the front page of the newspapers. It also means she isn’t recognised by the reporter who has the nerve to approach Ravi and ask him for more information - he tells her to get out now and not talk to him again

Another person who has recognised the source is Katty Cups who lectures him on how irresponsible he’s bean and this is how he lost his job at the CDC, encouraging the completely fringe groups.

Peyton’s also seen the newspaper but tries to clumsily reassure Liv which is adoreable. She’s also been offered a job by mayor Barracus to be his chief of staff which is a major promotion. But Peyton is torn over his possible involvement in the Weckler murder - though when she mentions it he doesn’t blink. Liv reassures her - if Baracus is innocent then she can help the zombie mayor. If he is guilty she can keep an eye on him.

Then we have a body - and it’s Katty Cup’s body. She’s been murdered. Which is quite disturbing for Ravi but he doesn’t seem to have anything good to say about her. Liv does eat her brain still to help Ravi and we begin the shenanigans.

Shenanigans 1: Katty is from the CDC and is here investigating a strain of flu apparently brought from a plane journey from Paris. Ravi calls nonsense - there’s been no outbreak in France and this flu is defunct: he suspects it’s more likely to be suspected bioterrorism. Turns out Clive is majorly paranoid about disease-  or at least bioweapons - and spends the rest of the episode desperately staying as far away from any suspect as they can.

Shenanigans 2: Katty and Ravi slept together. Liv gets visions of this and is absolutely horrified. While it’s tempting to be amused (ok I was amused) by Liv’s horror recoiling while Clive cowered in the corner, I think I’d prefer the depiction being Liv horrified seeing a friend that way rather than the idea that Ravi himself is somehow horrifying (especially since previous brain influence has kind of overwhelmed Liv’s own preferences and opinions).

The interviews of the air passengers don’t reveal much beyond the prejudice of one fo them (which Ravi nicely skewers - someone “like him” Wearing a “whosit” and a muslim. To which Ravi interprets as “being brown” “wearing a turban” and “being a sikh”). She also declares him having no value for human life so the next interview is the Sikh man focused almost entirely on his baby. That’s a nice take down, iZombie.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Edge of Awakening (The Soul Tamer Series #1) by Alanna J. Faison



Jasmine died. She died in utterly terrible, awful conditions.

But for Jasmine death is not the end - she has a destiny and a mission to train for as she and her allies prepare for the battles ahead

But how much was her family hurt by this destiny?



This book is a spin off series of the Rayne Whitmore Series, following Rayne’s dead sister, Jasmine. Jasmine is destined to become a Soul Tamer, joining a team of other new Soul Tamers, trained by Micah and other mentor Soul Tamers into their powers, skills and missions.

This adds a whole lot of interesting world building to this already excellently rich world. I think it’s an excellent idea to use a new protagonist to do this as Rayne couldn’t exactly stretch to cover this without severely distracting her own story and generally slowing things down

Instead using a new character and a new world we have an excellent chance to build into more world building, using the first book in a series to have the usual introduction to a series without derailing an already ongoing plot line.

And this world building is extremely good and interesting - the general use of ghosts and demons, the different powers and abilities and how they work and interact. I really like the little nuances like how simply being the most powerful doesn’t make you the most effective.

But more than the general world building is the personal stories of her fellow Soul Tamers - albeit some of the needing more development. All of them are young and all of them have had tragic pasts - but their pasts point to a lot of terrible injustices in the world, from starvation and poverty to hate crimes that starkly covers a lot of this diverse cast.

A lot of this book covers their training and I do like some of the interractions - probably Cas and Rayne the most because they do strike sparks - there’s respect and competitiveness and they’re probably not a great fan of each other but it’s not full on girl hate we see quite often in urban fantasy and young adult.

Her closest companion is probably Jayce, but Jayce is the LGBTQ representation in this book and it’s not really done well (another character may be a lesbian or bisexual but she also may be asexual, it’s not clarified yet). At one point he calls someone out for assuming bisexuals are just looking to have sex with anyone all the time - which is great. If that pretty much wasn’t the sum total of Jayce’s character. He exists to hit on guys, and that’s basically his characterisation even when said guys are not interested in him.

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 13: Those of Demon Blood



Side plot I’m supposed to care about - Simon has groupies now because of his whole daylighter thing (like this wasn’t predictable? Well to anyone who isn’t a character on this show since all of them are so monumentally bizarrely foolish). They want to join his “clan” which Simon would rather not because Raphael already has plenty of reason to want to kill and eat him and he’d rather not add this. Clary also decides to get Simon’s band (which doesn’t even exist since the other members left) but having daylighter groupies helps with that.

The main plot this episode is that someone is murdering shadowhunters and carving out their runes (since Shadowhunters are an amazing source of evil this probably makes the world a whole lot nicer). The bodies appear to have been killed by Seelie, werewolves and vampires.

Time for Inquisitor Herondale to look at all of her terrible bad decisions everyone else has made and yell “hold my beer” and go in!

Bad idea the first, since she’s decided that since Jace is her grandson he’s the best thing ever, offers the confused guy the joy of family (hey he does point out that he has had 3 surnames this year so it’s quite understandable) and declares him the new head of the institute when she leaves. Because she’s not even subtle about her nepotism. No, really, she outright says he has the right surname so he gets to lead. Jace protests that Alec is more qualified since he does, y’know, lead rather than just kill stuff and mope

While I ask do you actually have anyone in the Institute over the age of 25 to lead this place? Anyone? Anyone at all?

Oh and she urges Jace to ignore, y’know, logic and just focus on his gut. Which to me sounds absolutely the worst advice from anyone with the title “Inquisitor”

But this is her less awful decision. Because confronted by murdered Shadowhunters she decides to a) lock up Simon after he saves Clary after an attack (she lives, alas), b) block all Downworlder’s from the Institue, c) drag in Luke because he’s a werewolf and then subject Downworlders in general to DNA testing and finally, d) order all Shadowhunters in New York to be TAGGED WITH TRACKING CHIPS.

Seriously Valentine would be a better Clave leader at this point.

Needless to say many people are just not that thrilled with this. Magnus is riotously pissed that Alec, the man who supposedly loves him decides to ask for a DNA test on the basis of his species. Magnus. Is. Not. Amused and kicks Alec out of his house

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Half-Off Ragnarok (InCryptid #3) by Seanan McGuire



Alex Price is following his family tradition of Cryptizoology. He is living with his non-human grandparents (he has a complicated family tree), working as a zoo keeper in the reptile house and continuing his research

Of course, the zoo authorities don’t know that his research is into the breeding habits of basilisk and tracking whether the local fricken population is changing. All the while trying to juggle a relationship with the big cat keeper, Shelby while keeping all his secrets

Then people start dying - turned to stone. With his basilisks, a local gorgon population and a cockatrice running around, there are several possible culprits.


Hail! Hail the God of Scales and Silence!

Yes, every book review in this series is going to start with a homage to the Aislinn Mice who are made of utter awesome. And my main complaint about this book is there wasn’t nearly enough Aislinn mice. More of the mice!

I have to admit I went into this book with an immense amount of hostility - because the protagonist was changed from Verity to her brother Alex. And it is Change and I liked Verity so I opened this fully prepared to say how wrong and unjust and awful this is and, in the name of the mice, we must bring Verity back.

Thankfully I was wrong - or, rather I was overreacting. I liked Alex as much as I liked Verity - even though they are very different people - and I like that, that they were clearly different people with very different approaches to their family legacy (while Verity is conflicted, Alex embraces it despite the frustrations). His focus on science, breeding and studying crytpids in the wild with a focus on reptiles and amphibians is very different from Verity and her urban focus. But he was still so interesting, utterly invested, scholarly (same as Verity with a different focus) and a whole lot of fun. I am happy with Verity and Alex

I also really like how we explore their unconventional childhood and how that has affected their relations with others and the constant

But even better is Shelby the Designated Love Interest who is so many more times more interesting than Dominic. It would have been easy to make her less scholarly or educated or science based than Alex, especially since he’s the geek and she is blonde and attractive - but I love how that is definitely challenged and she is more than happy to stand toe-to-toe with him intellectually or action-wise. They work really well together, are great fun and she has a nice developed history and a clear personality. I liked her a lot.

American Gods, Season 1, Episode 8: Come to Jesus




It is time for the dramatic finale of this very very dramatic series - and this show goes all in for the closing episode - and it just leaves us hungering desperately for more.

We open with Nancy making a suit for Wednesday and Shadow and telling them a story - the story of Belquis, the Queen of Sheba, the avatar of female power, life and rebirth. A great, amazing, powerful figure

A woman who was at the height of her power having huge orgies of people nommed by her vagina. And a woman who has seen a general decline of her power and influence, age after age men have hated this powerful woman and what she represented, they have undermined what she is, what she represented. From attacking and repressing women and female sexuality, from appropriating the feminine ideal of rebirth through to non-man-made but definitely exacerbated crisises like AIDS. Belquis is reduced from the goddess, to a broken homeless woman watching her temple be destroyed through the window a restaurant.

At this lowest point, this goddess, this queen was approached by the Technical Boy with dating apps and a way out of the hole

And Anansi harshly stomps on the idea that she should be judged for that - because you can’t build a society tt does everything it can to break a woman down to utter powerlessness and then judge her for what she does to survive (and thi is clearly, in the way of this show, an equal judgement on people attacking low income women, sex workers, etc).

To add to all this he says that Wednesday needs a Queen. Which is on Wednesday’s agenda

Also Anansi totally doesn’t buy Wednesday’s claim that the New Gods killed Vulcan for pledging allegiance. Shadow doesn’t even try to maintain the fiction. He’s stunned and angry over what he’s just seen - Wednesday basically being a murderous mob boss.

But Wednesday points out he isn’t pissed off - he’s confused. Utterly confused by what he’s seen. Though Nancy is aiming for pissed off - because angry gets things done.

Which is the next stop on the road trip - Kentucky and a party for Easter, run by Ostara herself, surrounded by eggs and chocolate and lots and lots of bunnies and a large collection of Jesuses. Many many Jesues, Jesi? And I have to love the imagery of this, the Easter party with all the sugar and sweets and chocolate and bunnies with Jesus thrown in, almost jarring with their presence, one of them even bleeding sweets from their stigmata. There’s Mary on one of the sofas suckling a baby Jesus.  It shows just how hodge podge and confused this holiday actually is. Wednesday helpfully explains to Shadow exactly who Ostara is - or was - and Shadow is completely enraptured by the Goddess of Spring. He’s also beginning to see the gods around him and beginning to believe. He even asks Wednesday who he is.

Side point - Sweeney and Laura also arrive at the party (And Easter isn’t thrilled to see a dead woman at her celebrations). Ostara, goddess of spring and rebirth has the power to resurrect Laura and is willing to do so because she owes Sweeney… but she can’t, because a god killed Laura. And she can’t undo god work.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling #13) by Nalini Singh




While Silence is falling, it may be too late to save the Net. The infection of the PsyNet is growing and catastrophic collapse is imminent - a collapse that could kill thousands. As it gets closer there are more and more Psy infected by darkness, driven to unreasoned and uncontrolled violence even as Psy society is learning how to live without Silence

Kaleb, leader of the net and former Councillor, can think of only one way to save the Psy - the key must be the Empaths.

He collects Empaths into a camp to learn how to overcome the trauma of being suppressed in the Net and try to find the extent of their powers after so much knowledge has been lost. And who better to protect them in a hostile net than the Arrow Squad?

Led by Vasic - broken by the demands the Arrows have placed on him, he is slowly awaiting death and not valuing his own life. But if anyone can reach him it’s the Empaths - specifically Ivy



While we followed so many trope laden romances over this series, in the background there has been another story developing - the Arrows. The Arrows have always been a really fascinating element to this series because they are the very epitome of what Silence was for - and the damage it did. All of them are Psy with lethal combat abilities - the very Psy who rely on extreme Silence training to control their lethal abilities. At the same time they are the Psy used and abused by the Council to enforce their reign, causing so many disappearances and deaths. Seeing them turn from Silence, even as they relied on it’s training was an excellent parallel to the actual fight for the future of the Psy Net. Seeing Aden worry about his people and trying to lead the Arrows to a new future and a new life - independent from those who constantly use and abuse them is, again, a wonderful microcosm of the actual net and the Psy race in general. There’s also Vasic, bowed, broken and wounded from the terrible deeds the Council has forced upon him, now just looking to end a life he no longer sees as worth living. Again - an excellent parallel to the wounds of the Psy Net and the many broken and damaged Psy who have been so torn by Silence

Their story, interlinked with Kaleb, the new de-facto ruler of the Psy, also shows the growing evolution of the Psy themselves - and not just in the loss of Silence or the battle against the Darkness Infection of the net. But simple things - in a society where inconvenient people are just disappeared (because actual Psy criminals would expose the lie of Silence), what does it mean in a new age when justice must be done in the light? When justice happens where everyone can see it? When you have a society where the most powerful and ruthless have always ruled, where people’s power is denoted by their inherent woo-woo, what does that mean for future rulership, what does a government look like? In a society where obedience and conformity has been ruthlessly enforced for nearly 100 years, how do they adapt to allowing actual dissent and disagreement? Where are the lines drawn?  In some ways  wish there were no romance at all in this book and we focused on the Arrows and Kaleb and Sahara alongside the other Councilors actually looking at what the future of the Psy should actually look like - because that is fascinating and just the elements that are hinted at here
  
I have to say i was also annoyed by this romance because of Vasic and Aden. We have seen repeatedly how deeply Aden and Vasic care for each other, how close they are - we have seen how worried and sad Aden is that Vasic is embracing death, how determined he is that Vasic won’t die, determined to show Vasic he is valued and cared for. I was looking forward to see them growing closer, for that love to become clearer, for Aden, who knows more than anyone exactly what Vasic has had to endure and suffer, to be the comforting arms that Vasic could fall into and be lifted up and…

And Designated straight love interest Ivy appeared. Oh. yay. And we had another book - now book 13 - without a single LGBT character so we can tell the same trope laden straight romance again and again.

And I have to complain yet again about the archaic gender roles in this series because they’re cringe worthy. How come the man always has to be the big dangerous alpha in control one? How come he’s usually the one with the big dangerous powers? Even when a woman has strength and power - like Mercy or Adria - she has to be paired with an even MORE Dominant man. And when she’s dangerous that means she’s desperate and fragile and needs a big strong man to save her like Sienna (note that the big strong dangerous men - Judd, Vasic - don’t get big, extra-dominant women to order them around. No, they get sweet, gentle, delicate and sometimes fragile women to shelter and be all protective and gentle with. Even Sienna was more dangerous to herself and had to be paired with The Most Dominant. I cling to Indigo, though even her and Andrew’s dynamic was hardly a subversion.

Not only have we got Shapeshifter biology supporting this rigid binary with big Alpha possessive males and “matriarchal” females but now the Psy are getting in on the action as well: apparently most Empaths are female. Because lovey-emotions-soft-gentle-healing while most telekinetics are male because big-strong-destructive-dangerous-heavy-lifting-chest-hair.

Why couldn’t there be a big dangerous telekinetic woman who is breaking things and covered in the blood of all she has slaughtered saved by the gentle, loving, patient Empathic man to find her heart and emotions. This is a world with amazing imagination, incredible world building, awesome character development, a history that is truly fascinating and is generally excellent in so many ways - so why - with all this excellent proof of imagination and creativity, are the romances and gender roles so cliched and tired and limited?