Saturday, August 4, 2018

Host (Rogue Mage #3) by Faith Hunter

Thorn has managed to find her space in Mineral City- her efforts to save the city have largely won over a lot of the… wary residents. They’re not all her utter fans… but she has her place there

But she’s certainly not safe. She has come to the attention of her old Mage Enclave who have sent their own ambassador - with their own agenda.

But beyond politics there’s always the shadow - and one of the Greater Darknesses are stirring; a power more dangerous than anything Thorn has faced before

I love this world - the world building of this series is amazing and layered (and, frankly, born to be an RPG). I love the layers of different supernatural elements: the apocalypse, the seraphs, the angels of the host (in all their diverse forms - and the level and variety of mythology and examination of the different angels of the host is fascinating and involved. There are so many more than just men with wings. And we’re reminded whoever wrote the Bible with three headed angels with a gazillion wings and just eyes, eyes, everywhere was a very very creative person) and the ongoing consequences of angelic rule alongside battling the dark: what it is like to have an ally who may be every bit as dangerous as the darkness they’re fighting - who may decide to dish out their own judgement. And that’s on top of the complication of the Seraphs having destroyed the majority of the Earth’s population to begin with - do you trust them? With allies like these who needs enemies? And there’s still the ongoing question of whether the angels are what they claim to be. Then there’s a whole lot of religiosity - because end of the world etc, but at the same time they have enforced religious tolerance.

Throw into that a post-apocalyptic ice age with lots of implications as to what that means for society, with technology and society adapting to that

And then we have the witches - the unforeseen, soulless, with powers and a whole history of prejudice and their own community and traditions which are so very different to what humanity has built - and there’s a real effort to give them a whole culture that is very distinctive to them. Not just magic but also their lack of soul and their greater speed and smaller stature. The world building is just exquisite. I love it. I want a thousand stories in this universe to wallow in it.

Thorn herself is an excellent character - a perfectly produced character out of place. She’s lived so long among humans she no longer thinks entirely like a witch, she’s ignorant of so much of her culture and power and traditions - but she’s also intensely aware of her own lack of soul, holding onto a faith (which is so important in the human community she lives in) while also being intensely aware of how, as a soulless being, she’s intensely outside of the trappings of that faith. She faces prejudice from those around her but also a proud acceptance by many after what she’s done. It’s complex and layered and comes with some excellent relationship with powerful friends - and their own complexities

What I don’t get is Rose. Or the prophecy that makes Thorn and her twin so special. I mean, I can get Thorn being upset about her sister being missing because, sibling obviously. But there’s the whole prophecy and power and ominousness around it which I never quite got - and I never really invested in Rose because she just didn’t seem to encroach much in Thorn’s life so it felt kind of pushed in and intruding on the main story

Friday, August 3, 2018

Marking Time (The Immortal Descendants #1) by April White

Image result for Marking Time (The Immortal Descendants #1) by April White

Saira Elian grew up moving every two years and so she has learned to be independent. At this point, Saira is pretty sure that she can handle anything that life throws at her but she didn't count on falling through a graffiti tag and ending up back in Victorian times.  The 17 year old Saira suddenly finds herself gearing up to battle Jack the Ripper and learning that the world is so much more complicated than she ever thought it was. Being a descendant of immortals and in her case, a descendant of Time  and apparently the one fated to bring the families together, means that Saira is going to have to race against time if she is going to save her mother. Thankfully, for the first time in her life, Saira has friends that she can count on and a vampire who has loved her for well over 100 years. 

I have never been a fan of YA, so I had my doubts when I picked up Marking Time but I'm happy to report that I quickly fell into the story and cannot wait to find out what journey White takes her characters on. I will admit to having my doubts about Saira at first but as White reminded us how stark and independent her childhood was, it makes sense that she would chafe under the suddenly imposed rules of a relative that she had never met, and being forced out of her comfort zone to embrace things like dressing for dinner and attending an exclusive boarding school. 

There is a strain of romance running through this story. When Saira first meets Archer, she has no idea who he is and how much he will come to mean to her.  It would be a mistake going into this believing that it is a paranormal romance because while the love story is important to the entire narrative, it isn't the point to the story.  I have to admit to not being a fan of teenage girls being paired with vampires hundreds of years older than them but this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that when Saira develops a relationship with Archer in the past, he is human and actually not much older than her. It's one of the few iterations of vampire/teenage girl that doesn't feel completely predatory. 

I'm absolutely fascinated with the world that White built.  There are shifters, vampires, werewolves, time travelers and people who can see the future.  I really cannot wait to learn more about the immortals who created these unique descendants. Because the world is so rich, there are so many directions that White can take the story, particularly if she chooses to focus on the war between the descendants themselves, or take the story into the future. 

I know I've gushed just a little bit but there are a few problems with Making Time.  The first book in every series sets up the universe and establishes the rules for what the characters can and cannot do but I do believe that White got bogged down with the details when she started discussing DNA and creating a scientific explanation for how and why the descendants are the way that they are. It was the only time I found myself skipping the page and I really felt that it added nothing to the story to speak of.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Preacher, Season 3, Episode 6: Les Enfants du Sang

Things are getting dramatic this episode - but we’re also splitting the cast a lot which is never my favourite thing

Firstly we have the return of Eugene, rescued from Hell to discover the whole town destroyed in his absence, Eugene has embraced hope and faith. After all, if he hadn’t been taken to hell he would have died in the town as well - he decides god has a plan for him.

His much more cynical room mate at the orphanage (how old is Eugene?) has little time for his “god has a plan” spiel - and even Eugene should have that shaken when he’s adopted. By the Saint of Killers who intends to return him to hell

It’s all hilariously zany (and I’m a terrible person who laughed at the “Lone Star Orphanage, inventory low, make us an offer). But even the Saint of Killers seems moved by Eugene’s dedication to faith and hope - which is saying something since he’s certainly intimidated tougher people than Eugene

But last week our most hilarious storyline was Cassidy - and I expected this to be a lot more… comic than it was. But it’s actually surprisingly moving

Cassidy has been captured by Les Enfants du Sang and it is AWFUL. They have light bulb candelabra, they have a man playing a harpsichord. They’re led by a man called Eccarius who has an owl and they meet in Kevin’s grandma’s basement. Cassidy is duly scathing of these poser vampire wannabes and curses out his own opinion of what being a vampire means: it means being hated, shunned, to watch everyone you love die and ultimately you end up drinking engine cleaner just to feel something different. It’s quite bleak

But before he leaves Eccarius eats his owl. Whole. That pretty much proves that while his flock of wannabes are posers, Eccharius himself is the real deal.

Of course, Cassidy is still scathing - he rejects they’re anything alike and mocks Eccarius as basically being a walking cliche. And how vampirism is awful - to which Eccarius suggests maybe Cassidy is doing vampirism wrong

And he shows him how to do it right - because Eccarius can fly and compel humans and shapeshift and move super fast and has all these awesome cool powers we’ve never seen Cassidy use. Eccarius has made vampirism fun and he promises to show Cassidy how at their ceremony

Where he bites one of his cultists. Eccarius’s power comes from drinking blood - something Cassidy only does for healing. Cass is furious (he’s exploiting “morons” so he can do magic tricks”) and attacks Eccarius - which fails epicly because Eccarius has blood but Eccarius tries to reason with him. Yes drinking blood and turning his son went badly for Cass - but Eccarius takes consenting adults who are good people. Cass is still clearly uncomfortable with it and still wants to leave… and Eccarius asks him to stay. Cass wonders why - with all his powers, his cult of followers, his aristocratic background, education et al, why would he want Cass around

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Beast in Him (Pride #2) by Shelley Laurenston

Back in high school Jessica was awkward, lonely, bullied, helpless and desperate

Many years have passed since then - she’s now successful, powerful, rich, has an awesome network of friends and an amazing pack. Of course she has some old scores to settle and is perfectly willing to give old crush Bobby Ray Smith the run around.

I love Jessica. And I would love this entire book to be the story of her awesome life. Jessica was an orphan and grew up almost friendless, ostracised and severely bullied. Her family lost through a plague that hit so many were-wild dogs (and I like that the world building includes elements like that - that a disease can his one population and what that does to their culture and survival). We then have the gap to adulthood

Jessica is wealthy, successful, snarky and she has a pack. And while I am a complete and utter cat person and would never ever ever have a dog, I absolutely love the wild dog pack. I love how they have fun. I love how they rely on each other. I love how they constantly support each other. I love their bonds, I love their karaoke, I love their family and how important it is to them. I love how they support other lost orphans and work closely with them to help them feel belonging and connected.

I just want the story of Jessica. I want the story of her and her four closest friends. I want their fun, I want their complete lack of embarrassment over everything (they’re not wolves - they’re dogs. And since when do dogs care about being silly?)

And I want the story of her claiming her power; not just wealth and success but how she built her pack and staked out territory and her pack together. There’s some excellent, awesome scenes where this wild dog pack showed just how much they are contenders and excellently take down the packs who look down on them.

Jessica is also a Black woman. She is completely lacking in stereotypes or tropes or other elements that so often make us cringe when we see a Blackety-Black portrayals. On the downside I reached page 163 and read “get my Black, Wild-dog ass out of there” and said “wait, she’s Black”? Which is almost a little odd because one of her pack is Asian and that’s very clear; we also have another Japanese wild dog who visits and is a major business partner which is very overt.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Killjoys, Season 4, Episode 2: Johnny Dangerously

After last episode it’s time to catch up with the rest of the cast - and remind us that everyone else is amazing and fun

So John, D’avin and a very pregnant Delle Saya (who is pregnant with D’avin’s child due to… shenanigans) have been dumped on a planet. It’s in the middle of nowhere and definitely not in the Quad. Thankfully the three of them come with a lot of sass. So much sass.

In fact, can I take a moment to praise the world. Sure we have orange coloured evil to the right of me, the ominous iron threat to the left of me and incompetence all around me: but I have Killjoys and Wynonna Earp providing me with THE BEST SASS AND SNARK. Sure it doesn’t balance, but I’ll take what I can.

Some people try to rob them but make the mistake of underestimating the pregnant lady which means they get beaten by an angry Delle Saya. But Johnny who is actually severely injured collapses so they have to take him to the only settlement they can find. The inhabitants of that settlement are duly intimidated by the gang who are stomping around, snarling and pointing guns at people to try and get some treatment. But there’s no doctor and limited supplies which leaves one choice - Hullen goo. Yes Delle Saya turns him into a Hullen

And. It. Is. Awesome.

Seriously Hullen Johnny is hilarious and awesome and more than a little terrifying with his massive mood swings and his habit of pointing guns at people to steal their hats. D’avin notes that Delle Saya didn’t mention Evil Johnny as a side effect but she points out she’s in survival mode here so… yeah she’ll lie. And Johnny knows that D’avin is getting a little protective of Delle Saya due to the spawn. Delle Saya also warns that at some point Johnny will lose all his emotional connections and it will be super awful the more emotional connections he has. Which, yeah is going to be bad because Johnny is a walking hug. He does get visions of Dutch though to keep him Light Side

The people of this town have a deal for the gang - they say they’re sharecroppers with a big mean overseer about to screw them all over unless the killjoys speak for them. Which kind of isn’t what the Killjoys do but hey they’ll get a ship off the planet.

When the people arrive to be dealt with. Johnny shoots them. All with epic skill and coolness. To D’avin’s horror Johnny does defend himself that he only shot people in the head who had guns because he’s a nice guy still honest. He’s not a nice guy. He is awesome though

So what Johnny figured out with his brilliant Hullen brain is this is actually a prison, the people they’re with are prisoners. It’s pretty nifty deduction. Hullen Johnny is awesome. So it turns out they’re actually in a debtors prison where people are forced to pay their debts with nasty means including growing organs and having them harvested just to grow more organs - only the prison tacks on so many charges they can never get out of debt. Yup, that sounds ultimately evil here- Hullen take a step back.

So they make a new plan - except evil Johnny sabotages things because a) humans are trash and b) Johnny is awesome.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Wynonna Earp, Season 3, Episode 2: When you Call My Name

Waverley has been taken by a Revenant - a cannibal mountain man revenant who likes traps. He also has the ability to steal voices to send a reassuring message to Nicole to stop her looking for them

Wynonna is stuck half way up a cliff with her imaginary mother reminiscing of the time her mother took her camping and taught her how to survive in the wilderness. I don’t know if imaginary mother is anything like her real mother but she’s practical, gives lots of good advice and also is very very sassy and sarcastic

Everyone on this show is sassy and sarcastic. This is why the show is awesome.

This gives us some nice insight into the whole Earp family and relationships which is a nice lens to see through. There’s also some ominous warnings about not relying on other people which is something Wynonna has got past in the last couple of seasons and I really don’t want to see her backtrack here

Wynonna manages to agonisingly climb back up to the road, having to leave Peacemaker behind on the cliff to begin tracking down Waverley.

Waverley may be voiceless and stuck in a cage with a murderous cannibal coming in and out - but thanks to a helpless hunter walking into one of those traps she’s able to non-verbally communicate to Wynonna where the traps are. With charades. And the path to booby traps that way is just hilarious

Revenant who was super scary ends up rather casually murdered in one of his own traps by Wynonna luring him -guess she doesn’t always need Peacemaker to get stuff done.

The rest of the gang are doing some demon research - the demon doing sacrifices to Balshure may have super duper speed - and dealing with issues. Doc is angsting because his recent brush with death sent him to hell - which he thinks is kind of unfair because of all the heroing he’s done. He angrily talks about it with Dolls who seems to think the key here is redemption - but Doc doesn’t buy that because all this heroing is just having them kill more people. Dolls rejects the comparison between them - but does reassure Doc they’re going to be ok. There’s definitely a mixed but positive relationship between the two.

Dolls himself is having issues with his medication which Jeremy wants to tell the others about - if nothing else then because having an unstable dragon around is just not a great idea. Dolls nixes the idea.

When Nicole finds a lost hunter (whose son walked into the cannibal’s trap) she gets to follow a trail leading the others to Wynonna and Waverley (though I do like Doc’s “I trust Wynonna’s judgement” and Nicole’s answering “I helped her kill a revenant she was sleeping with”. They may all love Wynonna but they have no illusions about her) and everyone is reunited - they just need Nicole with the climbing experience to go down and retrieve Peacemaker.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Originals, Season 5, Episode 12: The Tale of Two Wolves

We’re counting down to the last 2 episodes of Originals ever - but just when you thought Plec had finished, Legacies has been announced and is, sadly, a thing. This means we’re now all treated to a BACK DOOR PILOT


So everyone is sad because Hope is dying. And, technically, I think it’s really well done. The acting is really good (and, while I have many many many many many oh-my-gods-so-many issues with The Originals the quality of the acting has never been one of them. Just about the whole cast is absolutely masters of their craft and, let’s face it, to sell this nonsense they have to be). And there’s some really moving scenes including Hope and Elijah spending all day together having fun, poking bullies, driving a Bentley and generally been really well connected. They seem to have got over the whole killing Hayley thing - and when Hope has a near death experience she has a nice moment with her mother’s ghost who carries a message to Elijah to help comfort his angst as well. Hope knows she’s dying and wonders if she should die because she, a three way Hybrid with extra Original zing, was never actually supposed to exist in the first place. It’s very real and full of genuine emotion including moments with Elijah reminding Hope what a terrible childhood they had and lots of understanding and connections

It’s sweet… but since we know that Hope is going to be the protagonist of the new spin off series so we know she’s not going to die which means no matter how hard they sell it, it kind of falls flat

This is also the chance to introduce other characters who are clearly going to be in the new series - Landon, a normal human waiter who is going to be (one of) Hope’s love interests (and I say one of because there is no way this new show isn’t going to have a million love triangles), Josie and Lizzie, Alaric and Caroline’s Gemini coven daughters and, of course, a return of Caroline and Alaric.

While Hope and Elijah are having an emotional time, Klaus refuses to accept his daughter is going to die and hatches a plan to save her - using Josie and Lizzie’s syphoner powers to drain the darkness out of Hope and put it into him. Caroline agrees because, as we see repeatedly, she and Klaus have always had a weird connection which completely ignores how he threatened and abused her so constantly. Alaric is not a fan and stakes Klaus because, as the books in the Library are clear, Klaus is still like the Worst person Ever. Though why they have Stefan’s journal I do not know - is the diary of a major serial killer really something you need in a school library?