Friday, November 24, 2017

Flame in the Dark (Soulwood #3) by Faith Hunter



Nell continues to work with PsyLED, the supernatural crime fighting organisation. And more and more she is drifting away from her insular church routes, leaving behind its thinking and training. Her magic is also growing as her insight and power is becoming more and more of an asset to PsyLED

But when they become embroiled in a supernatural murder case that involves a United States Senator, Nell may have to draw on her power more deeply than ever before: with the risk she may lose all of the new freedom and experiences she has discovered


I do like more of Nell’s self-growth and awareness this book; her acknowledgement and clear labelling of her experiences as abuse and how that has changed her. How this affects her views of current relationships, how it has scarred her and how it colours her interactions in real life.

I also like how she’s even applying this to the “saviour narrative” that she learned and is more and more challenging. Like she acknowledges her family tried to save her from abuse and that marrying John saved her from a far worse fate. But she equally can see how her relationship with John was abusive and twisted her own experiences and expectations of relationships. Just as she loves her family and knows they tried to help her, equally she has little faith in them keeping her little sister safe against the church. Her whole complicated relationship with her family is fascinating- her love and faith in her family tempered with her deep, wary awareness of what they’re part of. And even the family recognises that - the confines they live in that they can’t seem to break: they rely on Nell with her outsider ways to do things they will

Then there’s the love triangle - and for once a love triangle I actually like: because of what it recognises for Nell. The conflict of old versus new, safety and familiarity over what could be and, ultimately, who Nell is and who she has become

Equally I love how Nell is both fiercely confronting anyone else who would treat her in a patronising or sexist manner, and challenging her own church instilled attitudes while also realising that not everything that’s happening around her fits in that lens: especially with the wereanimals and other supernaturals.

Nell is the gem of this story: her growth her, experiences, her interactions with the others really makes this series. And on top of that we have her unique supernatural nature, how her powers control and lure her, the dangers of them, the alienness all add up to something quite unique.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Chaos Choreography (Incryptid #5) by Seanan McGuire




Verity has changed her life dramatically recently. She’s married Dominic, a former member of the Order of St George, which was definitely a surprise (though a family tradition). And she has finally made her decision to follow the family business of crypto-zoology rather than pursuing her career in dance.

At least until the producer of the dancing reality TV show she almost won calls her asking her to come back for a very special season. It’s a last chance at her dancing dream, one last chance to see if this is really what she wants… and one last opportunity she cannot turn down

Except when her fellow contestants turn up dead - and it looks like woo-woo and cryptids may be involved.




Hail! Hail the return of the Arboreal Priestess!

It’s been a long time since we saw Verity and I agonised for a little while about whether I wanted to see more of the rest of the family or welcomed the return of Verity. I know, I’m awkward because I lamented moving from Verity in the first place- and then I discovered Alex, The God of Scales and Silence and much preferred his storyline

But at the same time I love that we are returning to Verity. One element of series with shifting protagonists I’m not a great fan of is we tend to forget the older characters. They just vanish or fade into the background - characters which were once compelling enough for entire books are now seemingly reduced to irrelevance. So I love that we have established this precedence, I love that we can revisit these characters and that no-one with be forgotten. More series really need to take a lesson from this

And despite liking Alex’s story - that doesn’t mean I don’t love Verity, I do. And I especially love how this book is coming back to one of the main conflicts of Verity’s story that wasn’t entirely finished was her conflict over whether she wanted to dance or follow the family business. I mean she made her decision, but it felt vaguely like the decision was forced on her. And that’s not bad - sometimes circumstances over take her dream, but it was nice to see that her passion, her dream hadn’t completely left her and it was important to her to revisit it. I really liked how this was done, seeing her connect to old friends, having her both see the things she loved so much about dance but also seeing them with a new light and, perhaps, with less nostalgia. I really really liked the many excellent, subtle ways

The Walking Dead, Season 8, Episode 5: Big Scary U



Ok, can the Saviours be dead now? No, really, we’ve had four episodes of epic fighting, some tragedy - can this war be over now? Can we not have a last minute resurgence of Negan and just have it over? Can we have Gabe suddenly reveal his purpose in life is to shoot Negan in the head repeatedly?

No?

We’ve got to have a whole episode of Negan analysis. Oh. Yay.

Did anyone want this?

So we’re actually going back before all the fighting to get some more insight into Gabe, a character no-one has cared about for so very long. Gabe is apparently super worried about dying a fruitless death

This is the man who nearly got himself killed saving Gregory’s useless arse. Gave you nearly died the most fruitless death ever. Honestly you’d have to work hard to have a more pointless death. Note, Gabe is willing to put in the work on this

We also see the Saviours before the battle, especially Negan’s inner council of soldiers including Simon, his right hand man who seems to get as much shit and threats from Negan as he gets support: I think that Negan is very aware of who may replace him. Simon’s also invested a lot in Gregory (who is there to convince everyone how he still totally has Hilltop underwraps which… is a hard sell) which isn’t exactly good for him. One thing that Negan does make clear is that he isn’t in favour of indiscriminate slaughter because people are a resource

This is an excellent and interesting point - in pre-industrial times people WERE a resource, people were valuable, everything from agriculture to building was very labour intensive. This, again harking back to the earlier episodes of this season, shows a step away from the basic survival narrative (where extra people use up your scant, scavenged resources) to building a new society (where you are confident you can produce enough resources to survive and now need people to help build a better future).

Then we get the attack and Negan and Gabe ending up in the same trailer. I thought Gabe would be brutally tortured by Negan. Instead we get them talking

Oh what joy.

Gabe has decided his purpose in life is to get Negan to confess and embrace redemption. Uh-huh. This involves lots of poking Negan to try and figure his philosophy in case we haven’t guessed it. This comes with a lot of Negan self-justification by how everyone is a combination of strength and weakness and he forces people to be strong. How he inspires people and how he has united all of the disparate gangs that used to rule here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Lucifer, Season 3, Episode 8: Chloe Does Lucifer



So, Lucifer, Chloe and Trixie are playing monopoly and it’s super super adorable.

But Lucifer has a huge moment of doubt when Amenadiel much approves of his “quiet night in” and even says “boring suits you”

Boring.

Lucifer is MORTALLY OFFENDED by this.

And like every other time he has an issue he decides to externalise this on to the case. So he declares the murder victim, a computer programmer, is “boring” and her room-mate who loves selfies is “interesting”

This whole concept this episode leaves me a little blah. I mean Lucifer is supposed to be daring, self-absorbed, sexy, charming and adventurous, his parties wild and elite. And yes, he’s shallow - but he’s been shallow for a long long time. Long enough to spot fakes and definitely long enough not to confuse “attractive” with “interesting and worldly”. Now we can argue that Lucifer doesn’t care too much about the latter with good evidence given his previous actions (but, at the same time, he apparently appreciates the finer things in live and has an extremely successful exclusive club… which would argue at least some ability to tell the movers and shakers from poseurs) but the idea that this centuries old being would both CARE about fakery and interesting, worldly people AND be unable to spot it? Just seems… unlikely

This also brings us the odd episode of Esther and others not finding Lucifer that interesting which… if they developed this into a story thing of Lucifer maybe losing his supernatural charm as well as his devil face would be interested. But they don’t… which is just inconsistent world building. Remember season 1 when Linda threw out all professional ethics to sleep with him? Remember the number of people compelled by his presence? Remember how Chloe pinged his radar as the only one not affected by his mojo? Yeah, I’m going to need an explanation for these people being indifferent to his devilish charm.

So, the murder victim was in contact with people who run a dating app for the rich and pretentious which has super strict entry requirements - and on arrival the owner, Mac is impressed by Chloe, but, again, super off Lucifer. He’;s also unco-operative because this is a crime show and everyone is always unco-operative at all times but it never matters because the police can commit infinite crime for their investigation and it’s never ever a problem.

So Chloe decides to interview the one person kim the dead woman probably spoke to by going to a party and hoping he hits on her while she’s channeling her inner Lucifer. Something she’s very very bad at, her small talk includes talking bulk buying at the super market. Also both she and Lucifer consider presecco to be a posh drinking choice. Every European bone in my body cries out for me to be judgmental and snarky about this. And yes, she does laugh like a demented witch on crack



Of course she does find the man because the plot says so and questioning him reveals he doesn’t rate Esther because he always has to play act around her while Kim was someone he felt comfortable around and could be himself. Because we’re being subtle with the messages here.

Jumping on a possible revenge theory they go to see Esther, wearing a bikini so Chloe can be all disapproving and judgey, of course, and she cracks under Lucifer’s mojo to reveal her whole well-travelled lifestyle is just completely fake. How shocking. Lucifer is shocked. I am not shocked. But it also reveals a money angel

In the predictable denouement it turns out that Kim was the one behind the highly success elite dating app but didn’t have the confidence to face it - and hired someone to promote the image. Hence Mac; and then she wanted her money back. Chloe and Lucifer both confront him and, realising he’s a fraud, Lucifer uses his own predictable self-obsession (and, again, it doesn’t make sense for Lucifer to find such a fraudster predictable AND not to recognise them)

We see Lucifer return to his sexy lifestyle, but part of him maybe appreciating a quiet night with Trixie and Chloe a little more.

Now for side plots that are much more interesting

Linda. Linda is planning her ex-husband’s funeral but also clearly troubled. In steps Amenadiel for advice and support and Linda’s over-the-top funeral planning cracks to reveal the truth (because Linda is many things - including self-aware).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Z Nation, Season 4, Episode 8: A Crisis of Faith



Remember northern light! Well Kaya is still up there with her baby and the calmest of grandparents - unfortunately she’s also up there with Zona invading and has no choice but to hide and call for help

Considering how much Zona collapsed they’re still managing to send troops all over


Our main gang has arrived in Cannabis country! Or, as more aware people point out, those leaves are maple leaves. They’re in Canada (yes I will be mocking a certain Canadian with this).

They are attacked by strangely nice zombies, hoosiers, mounties and hockey players. I think we’re down a moose and an irate goose from a full set of stereotypes here.

They end up barricaded in a church with lots and lots of zombie nuns to squish. Doc, a product of catholic upbringing, has all the guilt and a fear of nuns. Which, as far as I can remember, is pretty much the point of a catholic upbringing.

They end up barricaded in a church and I think it’s kind of a wonderful call back to all of those horror films where people are barricaded in surrounded by zombies trying to get in. Murphy is just done with everything. He loved Zona, he thought everything was amazing and now he has to confront this terrible reality with extremely dubious “hope” offered by Newmerica which everyone is duly cynical about.

I can really see this with Murphy, everyone else has been just surviving for a long time, he had a holiday from it for 2 years and coming back is so gut wrenching.

Meanwhile Warren is still having her dreams/visions but is getting more and more torn by doubt. She still doesn’t know where these visions are from and if she can trust her - she even confronts Murphy about them; he was awake what did Zona do to her? Of course he doesn’t know - I can’t picture him taking too much interest. She wants to know - because if her visions are real, nowhere is safe, everywhere burns: including Newmerica

They decide to let murphy read her mind, a thing he can do because of cure and blood and stuff, he only sees a placid landscape - not seeing what she sees. But he does feel what he feels - the horrendous agony of burning to death. He’s horrified and sympathetic to Warren who was tears in her eyes - showing just how utterly terrible it is. He holds her hand - perhaps a new understanding between them

We also have a survivor messing around playing with church bells and causing zombies to act up. After capturing him, stopping an over-enthusiastic Lilley from questioning him (something she’s disturbingly eager to do) and escaping into a tunnel under the altar they learn his story

Monday, November 20, 2017

Z Nation, Season 4, Episode 7: Warren's Wedding



Hey, you know how this season has been surprisingly mature and sensible for Z Nation generally sticking to the plot and not involving completely out there random episodes which just cause headaches?

Zombie Juggalos.

Yup, back into the weird stuff.

So after starting all mature and moving with Lucy’s funeral the gang move son - only we can see Murphy is clearly traumatised and angry. He is attacking zombies, when normally he’s the first to hide at the back of a crowd, and quick to intervene, spoiling for a fight. He’s not listening to Warren (and has a lot of seething anger towards her)

This all leads to them rescuing a woman tied to a ferris wheel just out of reach of zombies. Warren doesn’t want to intervene, but Murphy insists

On releasing her the woman talks about, well, lots of random stuff but mainly that her son is the house from which loud music is playing. Murphy is determined to charge in - rescue, revenge - whatever they’re bad people so he’s justified in hitting them and killing them

Warren desperately tries to stop him - it’s the zombie apocalypse, there are few humans left, you can’t just kill people. But lilley points out he’s acting out of trauma - and 10k and Doc as well - and they can’t be easily stopped. But she refuses to join them; she won’t be part of it, she won’t enable it. So she stays with the released woman who talks about fraygo, partying and pretty much all the drugs ever.

While Murphy & co go inside and get captured by juggalos. Or post apocalyptic zuggalos.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Superstition, Season 1, Episode 5: Tangled Web



Time for a heavy handed flashback and the belief that putting a grown man in a baggy sweatshirt and a baseball cap you can somehow make him pass as a teenager: basically Isaac telling his sons that the ring of solomon is the family’s legacy and how they need to not touch it unless they’re fully committed to using it in ways he will never actually explain. Also stay out the damn woo-woo room.

Ok am I the only one kind of skeeved by the immortal telling his sons that he will outlive them that the family legacy is his personal jewellery? I mean there’s something there, right?

In the present Cal and May do the totally unsubtle hey we ran into each other at the same cafe, what a surprise, we should all have lunch together and share lots of happy memories and pretend to be a family, right Garvey?

Garvey is not playing this game. Nice try. Do not pass go. Do not collect the last-16-years-never-happened card

So he goes home to find they have a house guest. Aunt Nancy who knows Bea (though she doesn’t seem especially thrilled to see her) and is an old friend of the family’s. Isaac mainly. She comes with dire warnings about Dredge, how it’s connected to some bad woo-woo in the past and if she doesn’t bring those memories to the surface, someone’s going to die. She also brings pie

I think more portents of doom would be tolerable if they brought pie. We should mention this to the union

Until Tilly arrives and she really doesn’t like Aunt Nancy - or, as she reveals - Anansi. The trickster god, collector of stories and generally person Tilly doesn’t trust or doesn’t like and should not be let in your home and you certainly shouldn’t eat their pie

To underscore this point Cal collapses after eating said pie. Anansi explains he’s been sent back in his memories to Arlo.

Bea joins the Not Pleased crew since Anansi is dragging up some very painful family memories for her story here but she still trusts her and tries to calm down Tilly - Anansi is powerful but involved in the unique place of this town. But Tilly isn’t easily appeased - asking how many more towns Anansi has left in her wake, broken and destroyed, collateral damage so long as she collects her stories. She thinks Anansi just sees people as characters, sources of drama not actual people. And when Cal gets into distress it’s she who wakes Cal up with a taser and reminds them that in Anansi’s memory visions you’re in danger and can still die

It seems Tilly has a lot of inside knowledge about Anansi and this is confirmed when she confronts her in the woo-woo room. It sounds like Tilly used to live with Anansi, Anansi calls Tilly “her favourite.” But Tilly says “yeah the Artful Dodger had nothing on me” which suggests the relationship wasn’t kind of ethically ideal. I hope more of this is revealed.

Anansi notes that the Hastings treat Tilly as family but Tilly is still keeping secrets - which Tilly insists is her right to do so so there are some revelations coming. Anansi also defends her whole memory game simply because it’s better this knowledge comes from her than Dredge

Once Upon a Time, Season 7, Episode 8: Pretty in Blue



So we keep hearing all this looming fear of Henry and Jacinda getting it on, so let’s finally have an episode looking at why:

In the past we have Ella (and Jacinda) and Henry getting ever closer to each other. They’re training and we all know in these sort of situations there’s nothing like getting sweaty and trying to hit each other for romance. You know we’re only 5 minutes away before them foot sweeping the other and laying on the floor faces inches apart.

While they keep doing the “almost kissing but stopping at the last minute because neither of us can read body language” thing they’re joined by Alice who wants Henry’s help to find someone - Killian. And she calls him Papa! And we get ALL THE FEELS (also notices how he’s a lot younger than he was)

Killian is overjoyed but is very very careful, making sure they never touch because of that heart curse he’s mentioned in previous episodes. Alice insists she’s actually been cured and it’s fine - and hugs him. To which Killian collapses with lots of ugly green magic. See, this is why you never take someone’s word for it that they’re cured before getting up close with them.

Alice runs through a portal - and these portals are just everywhere these days - followed by Ella and Henry to try and bring her back while Regina stays to use her magic to work on killian so she stays behind

Sadly this seems to be something of a habit with Regina - either depowering her or coming up with some reason why her magnificent Evil Queen self needs to be sidelined.

Ella and Henry end up in Wonderland looking for Alice - and reach a tiny maze which needs people to use the drink me potion to enter - and there’s enough for one only

Time for a bit of backstory and fundamental differences between Ella and Henry. Henry is uber positive, convinced they’ll always find each other and true love finds a way yadda yadda because he has been hopelessly damaged by their Sogginesses the Charmings and their utterly relentless saccharine positivity which would totally turn me into a serial killer on general principles. Ella, meanwhile, is not. Her mother fell in love with her step father and gave him a magical locket that would always let them find each other because nothing says true love like constant surveillance and needing to find your spouse at all times. ROMANCE

Except she totally ditched them when she was a kid and daddy went looking using the Stalker Locket to Wonderland where the locket then went dead proving mummy dearest totally didn’t care any more and lo he was a broken man and Ella became bitter and true love is clearly a lie etc etc. And now she wants to go through said maze to find mummy dearest and unleash all the angst.