Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Stolen Ink (Ink Born #1) by Holly Evans

Davian is a tattoo magician – a man who can sense the magical tattoos under people’s skin and bring them to life. He’s spent most of his life hiding the true extent of his powers, hoping to avoid the attention of the Council and live a quiet life with his friend and business partner Keir and, hopefully, find a cute guy to have some fun with.

Except someone in the city is killing people with tattoos and stealing them – an agonising and terrible way to die. With his power, Dacian is perfectly placed to stop him and people are pressing him to get involved – but can he stop the killer and stay under the Council’s attention?

I really like the world building of this book – it does a really good job of taking a modern world and making it feel like a Dungeons and Dragons town. We have wizards and cars. We have elves and modern technology. It all seems to work – part of that may be not going into too much unnecessary detail at this point: it does an excellent job of hinting and shaping a lot without going into lots of details

Which is good because we can already see many many kind of wizards each of which are clearly very different from each other. We have elementals. We have fae. We have elves. We have wereanimals. We have a lot – and a whole lot of them are repeatedly touched on with excellent little details that are there to give an impression of a wider, different, broad culture (like the social nature of elves, the personalities of elementals etc etc)

This applies to government as well – we have so many hints of how this is worked related to the Council, how they treat powerful magic users and some indications of the way powerful supernatural forces interact with this organisation

Again, no-one sits down and starts expositioning lots of information about the society – because that would make absolutely no sense at all and would really clutter up this beginning book. But it does an absolutely awesome job of portraying an amazing world without dragging down the story

On top of that the actual focus – tattoo magic, the magic that Dacian and Keir have and the very foundation of the plot of this book. This shows how much imagination and detail can actually go into world building when it’s necessary to the plot

Unfortunately the story does kind of drag in the middle. Dacian spends a lot of time not knowing what to do, he’s kind of been tapped by several people as the one who should do something about the serial killing. He’s understandably reluctant since he’d rather keep his magic secret (and pretty much everyone seems to know he’s more than he seems) and he definitely doesn’t know what to do. So I can get that there’s a bit in the middle of the book where Dacian figures out what he can actually do

Time After Time, Season 1, Episode 5: Picture Fades

John had gone back to France in World War 1 to find his son – but not just find his son, but save him from where his fate to die in an ambush.

HG needs to go back and stop this (obligatory Martin saying “but saving lives is a good thing” so HG can point out that breaking time lines is bad in cause the audience has forgotten the central problem of every single time travel show and book ever since the genre was created) but he insists on going alone. Despite not speaking French and having no clue about World War 1 – Jane who speaks French and is a historian so could be quite useful but she is told to stay home because she’s a woman. Jane calls him out for being sexist and he responds by putting his manly foot down

So Jane… pouts and has a little tantrum and does as she’s told

John has made contact with his son Henry and finds that Henry is a completely good man, a doctor with no inclination towards serial killing at all. He has a fiancée, he’s happy and is all bright and good. Oh and he hates his father, believing his dad abandoned his mother completely, running out on the family.

We get lots of John’s conflicted sad face that his son isn’t like him, that his son hates him but also kind of hopeful that his son is a good and decent man unlike him. Yes we’re doing John the morally conflicted serial killer thing.

Since Henry doesn’t want to abandon his unit just on John’s say-so, John resorts to kidnapping to save his son’s life. (HG tries to intervene, he’s not exactly effective) His son is not amused and certainly not grateful and continues to speak bitterly of his father

Leading John to have a massive rant about everyone judging him without even knowing him – history, his son, etc etc. Is this a rant against people condemning him (because that’s kind of ridiculous) or a rant against people not knowing about him (we’ve seen he was deeply troubled by his anonymity next to HG’s fame) or a rant because the one person who may know him as a father rather than a serial killer also hates him? I don’t know – could be any or all of the above.

To add to that he also holds up Henry as the one good thing in his life – because he’s produced a genuine, caring gentle son who seems to be a good person.

However Jane, in the present, does some research and discovers actually Henry died somewhere else (and spills all this knowledge and more to Griffin) and hurries back in time to save HG who she sees now being caught in the explosion. Back from the future she runs straight into John and quickly reveals that Henry is under threat again because she’s skilled like that

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase by Greg Cox

A hundred years ago a treaty was signed to prevent three factions of an ancient magical dynasty going to war over the spell book that was their legacy

This spell book contained the power to literally end and remake the world – only after long deliberations was the book split in three for safety

But now, someone claiming the legacy of that ancient sorceress is back and determined to reunite this tome

Mother Goose has risen again

I’m always a little wary of TV series to book conversions because they very rarely work. The problem is that so much of a TV series is left to interpretation: we’re not in the character’s heads, we don’t know how they think and seeing someone else’s take on these characters can be really jarring (just look at the Grimm book adaptations).

Even without that, just the tone set by books can be very different from TV – like the very act of describing characters: this book opened with Eve and Jake. Eve was described as a “statuesque blonde” and Jake “ruggedly handsome”. Don’t get me wrong, no-one looking at Eve on the show can argue that she is, indeed, a statuesque blonde and no-one will disagree that Jake is ruggedly handsome. But to open with these descriptions ironically makes the appearance of these characters more important than it would be on television

I think this happens a lot with tv-to-book adaptations. Because TV is such a visual medium, descriptions and appearance are automatic but, conversely, are not always relevant (beyond the constant drive to use pretty actors). Eve’s statuesque blondeness is rarely relevant in the TV series, it just is. But book adaptations feel the need to include the same level of description as they have in television – but Chekhov’s’ gun applies. If you mention appearance in a book we assume this is somewhat relevant: by trying to imitate the visual aspect of television, this book managed to create the impression in the first few chapters we were looking at an Eve/Jake romance: because when your book opens with two characters fighting for their lives against a mystical boar, the only reason “statuesque blonde” and “ruggedly handsome” would appear in the text is to establish a romance subplot

Into the Badlands: Season 2, Episode 2: Force of Eagle's Claw

Time for more stunning visuals – but not quite as many fight scenes

Sunny has just been betrayed and is now being used in the arena – but the boss guy doesn’t especially want a crafty, manipulative rat like Bajie running around either. So, twist, he chains them both together for the gladiatorial combat so Sunny has a disadvantage

Ok, this show could have gone very badly with this – portraying the fat guy as the inept comic relief. But, in general, it doesn’t. Sure Bajie isn’t a skilled fighter but nor is he utterly physically inept and he is the one who directs their escape. He even manages to save Sunny – (of course Sunny does most of the fighting and the attacker ends up well and truly splattered)

They do escape and cross the long grassland. Again we see competence from Bajie – he can find food (and I wish it were more a case of them both being hungry and Bajie getting food for them rather than Bajie stopping to eat while Sunny wanted to continue on) and he’s the one who can remove their shackles

And while Sunny attempts to leave him behind, he may need Bajie to get across the huge wall that separates them from the Badlands

I’m curious that they have made Bajie competent – in a show that is so utterly physical, that is defined by these beautiful, amazing fight scenes, it would be easy to turn the fat guy into inept comic relief. Especially since Nick Frost has spent no small part of his career playing that role.

Over to Lydia who has joined her father and the Totemists. And they’re all very peaceful and kind and very religious and Lydia is super happy there (though next time save your speech about how happy you are to be home for an event other than someone’s wedding – way to make the day all about you!)

Until they’re raided by vicious nomads who are there to steal and rape. The Totemists are utterly pacifistic and refuse to fight back, all kneeling. Except Lydia who fights – killing them both to save her dad from being killed and the new bride from being raped. Even as she desperately struggles for her life, none of the Totemists help her

After the nomads are killed her father is furious “who are you to kill in our name!” he demands – killing is completely forbidden in their religion, even to defend themselves.

Once Upon a Time, Season 6, Episode 14: Page 23

Flashback opening – back to Regina in her Storybrooke days, pursuing her eternal quest against Snow White while an increasingly sad and even slightly desperate father who continually tries to take her off the path of vengeance and to find happiness

Especially since Tinkerbell shows up to again remind Regina that she had a chance to go for True Love and failed. Look I’ve said before how much we hate that particular storyline. How Regina is shamed and blamed for her own lack of happiness because she wasn’t willing to jump into a romance with a complete stranger. Especially when we consider how much more pain that whole romance has brought Regina. (or, for that matter, that her whole path to the darkside began because her true love died on her. You want to blame Regina for being reluctant to enter a romance?) Add in that Once Upon a Time is really pushing that romance needs true love. So, yes, someone slap Tinkerbell upside the head.

Anyway, daddy dearest has got on this train and tries to get her to use cupid’s arrow to track down the person she loves most in the world thinking this will lead her to Robin. Actually, no daddy, it will lead to you. Which will be the laziest use of magic ever. At this stage she hasn’t met Robin and knows precisely one thing about him –he has a tattoo. The idea that he is already her true love is really bizarre even if Regina has a huge thing for guys with ink

Not being into this game, Regina instead corrupts the arrow to make it lead her to who she hates most in the world – and it leads her tooooooooo a mirror.

Yes, Regina loathes/d herself more than anything, loathed what she became, loathed who she was. And oh isn’t that painful

To the present and EQ is running around doing her evil, promising Henry (who still thinks she’s redeemable) that she’s going to do more dark and evil and terrible things because evil. She has grabbed the shears of fate snipping, intending to use them to break the bond between her and Regina and therefore free herself to kill her. And she’s going to use kidnapped Robin to bait the trap.

And even Robin realises EQ needs a fresh start and saving from herself. Not that she’s ready to hear that.

Despite knowing it’s a trap, Regina walks into it – there’s a snipping of fate and the fight is on. Sadly it’s more swords than magic, c’mon CGI department, Regina vs Evil Queen should not be a sword fight!!

More than the fight itself is the nice way they exposition their emotional conflict while still fitting naturally: with Evil Queen pouring scorn on how Regina has “filled the hole inside her” (recognising, in the foundation of that self loathing, that there is a hole inside her) with love and family while Regina is equally determined that they’re real and powerful and have changed her.

And then Regina wins the upper hand… and doesn’t kill Evil Queen. The EQ spits “I hate you” but Regina doesn’t hate her/herself… not any more. She has found love, redemption, family, she has been redeemed, she isn’t that self-loathing person any more. And because she loves not hates she’s going to not kill the EQ

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Walking Dead, Season Seven, Episode Fifteen: Something They Need

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Something They Need is the penultimate episode of season seven. It basically amounted to putting the pieces together to prepare for the big battle against Negan and the Saviours.  After all the time spent setting this up, this battle had better be epic because it feels as though we have been in one big holding pattern for a very long time. The battle will hopefully be the big pay off. The writers have certainly risked a lot on this. 

As expected, Sasha was captured by the Saviours and put into a cell similar to the one Darryl was held in.  It's not long before David comes in to inquire if Sasha needs anything. Of course, nothing is free and David makes it clear that if Sasha wants water, she's going to have to submit to his sexual advances. Sasha responds by head butting David which for me, amounted to one of the better moments this season.  Because she is handcuffed, David sees her as easy prey and starts to get rapey. Negan intervenes and stabs David in the throat. Apparently, beating people to death with Lucile, throwing people into a fire, ironing faces and forcing women to marry him by removing their choices is fine, but rape in the manner that David attempted is unacceptable to Negan.  It's a bizarre moment indeed and I cannot even begin to understand how Negan rationalises this to himself. 

Negan's impressed by the fact that Sasha stormed in there alone to exact revenge and so instead of killing her, he wants to harness her "beach ball size lady nuts". Yes, Negan actually thinks that he's being complimentary in this moment. Negan hands Sasha a knife and tells her that she can try and kill him, even though she would probably lose because he's standing above her with a baseball bat, she can kill herself or she can kill David before he turns into a walker and agree to become a Saviour.  Negan wants the later, particularly because he's become aware that Nick & Co. are up to no good. 

Enter Eugene, who tries very hard to convince Sasha to just submit.  He explains that the bravest moment of his life was when he drove the RV away as a distraction but that he was scared out of his mind.  Watching Abraham get killed only served to drive home the fact that at his heart, Eugene is a coward and therefore willing to do whatever he has to to survive.  Eugene tells Sasha that if she submits, she will never to be afraid again and that she can survive this.

When Negan returns to check on Sasha, she is standing in her cell, having already taken out zombie David.  Negan is happy to accept this decision as Sasha indicating that she's willing to work with him.  Negan wants Sasha to help him get to the bottom of what is going on in Alexandria, as a test of her loyalty and promises her some creature comforts for the night so that she can think through what she's going to do. 

Once again, Eugene goes to check on Sasha and this time she puts on a pitiful voice and asks Eugene for something to help her end it.  Sasha makes it clear that she cannot allow herself to be used to hurt their people and pleads with Eugene for a knife, a gun, a razor or even a damn piece of glass.  When Eugene agrees to think it over, a smile crosses Sasha's face, clearly indicating that she's not actually thinking of suicide. Unfortunately for Sasha, when Eugene does return, it's to slip her the poison that he made for Negan's wives.  It's the solution that she asked for but not what she really wanted.  A dejected Sasha slides to the floor as Eugene talks about not wanting Sasha to kill herself but how he trusts that she can make her own decisions about what's best for her.

Sleepy Hollow, Season 4, Episode 12: Tomorrow

Last week we learned that Lara was Molly who came back in time to save her mother from becoming War

This week we open by seeing that. And part of me thinks this is unnecessary since we know this – but it’s also kind of awesome to see it. To see Jenny leading the resistance against Malcolm’s forces – being called a terrorist for it. And seeing Malcolm use the 4 horseman and his police force. Including war – who kills Jenny in front of Lara/Molly

Except not before Jenny manages to raise a whole lot of doubt in Molly’s mind about the history that Malcolm has filled her head with – including that Molly said that Diana was dead. Before Molly died she manages to cut a hole in War’s helmet with a magic knife – and show that War is Diana.

Molly questions future Malcolm about this and lo his lies unravel, leading Molly to find Ichabod, get a pep talk and some time travel mojo

Which picks us up where we left off – with a newly Warred Ichabod who is ordered to kill Molly and Diana. They escape thanks to a woo-woo knife and make it back to the Archive

Along the way they sum up some basics of Molly’s life (how Malcolm let her wander alone and desperate for a while before swooping in and playing caring father figure) and everyone decides to call Molly Lara since that’s what she was called for so many years and it saves everyone from having to say Young Molly and Old Molly. By saving Diana, Lara has pretty much completely changed the future (at least the details) so her memories are now very uncertain and, effectively, she and Molly are different people or will be because their experiences will be so different. At least Lara still has her skills.

Everyone is recapped and knows where they stand and everything gets more complicated. Firstly blood from the woo-woo dagger happens to mix with some black goo and apparently War blood + Ichabod blood + Black goo of spider demon memories = Henry Parish!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Grimm, Season Six, Episode Twelve: Zerstörer Shrugged

"You shall break them with a rod."

Zerstörer Shrugged is the penultimate episode of this series and to say I'm pissed doesn't even begin to cover it. Dear writers of Grimm, you need to fix this next episode. I will not accept an ending to Grimm which brings about the death of the only two reoccurring characters of colour in the entire six year run of this show. I WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS. I will also not accept that the Zerstörer is this horribly scary devil dude, when so much of what happened is clearly the writers trying to squeeze in relevance in the later stages, rather than spending this entire season building a believable story around the Zerstörer.

When we left Nick and Eve, they were stuck in the other world about to do battle with the Zerstörer. Eve goes all ghastly uber hexenbiest but isn't really able to put up much of a defense.  It's Nick who realises that the Zerstörer is toying with them and instead of actually killing them which he could do easily, he's trying to trap them. Things don't look good for these two.

With Diana now firmly asleep, it's time to try and figure out how to get Nick and Eve the hell out of the other world. Adalind and Renard argue about who is going to open a portal.  If Renard's informant is on point, and Diana is indeed the Shaphat, Monroe suggest that Diana can actually open up a portal using the stick. To back him up, Monroe pulls out his family Wesen bible.  Renard at first has no patience for any kind of biblical talk until Monroe explains that the bible does describe an area like where Nick and and Eve might actually be. It buoys Monroe's case that the bible includes an illustration of the Zerstörer. 

At the Spice Shop, Hank, Wu and Rosealee are looking for myths across cultures for any references which could be useful. They come across an ancient German text which Rosealee uses google translate to decipher.  They learn that the text says,"evil darkness trapped" and "Grimm pull child wife" followed by "follow and flee." 
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It's then that the scoobies realise that it's March 24th, the day the cloth warned them about. I know that there's been a lot of shit going on but did no one think to mark the days off on a calendar? Are we supposed to believe that the scoobies are really that forgetful when they've done nothing but spend time researching this damn prophecy all season? Now they begin to wonder if maybe just maybe, the Zerstörer stalked Eve, so that she'd going looking for him, forcing Nick to follow, thus causing the opening of a portal allowing him to escape. Did you follow that because it's convoluted as fuck? Look, I know that this shit was foretold but the assumptions that had to be made for this plan to work are downright astronomical.