Friday, June 30, 2017

Bloodline Season 3

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Bloodline season three had potential. We left off last time with John on the run, heading north to who knows where, while Kevin had just killed Marco after failing to convince him to back off his investigation. The Rayburn family was falling apart and it didn't look like there was anything that anyone could do to stop it- and with season three being the final season, this show would go out with a bang, right? Well... not so much.

The acting is superb and the locations are phenomenal but the story this time was so muddled, so out there, that I just couldn't buy in. Even though like a train wreck I kept watching.

The problem is that none of the characters are likable. Not anymore. John was always the good son and the fixer, but it doesn't take long to see that he's really not very nice in this one. You can make an argument that he lost control in season one when he killed Danny, and it's only natural that he and his siblings would try to cover it up, but in season three he frames Eric O'Bannon for Marco's murder and plants evidence on him. And then lies through his teeth about it at trial. I liked John in season one and felt for him in season two, but here I just wanted him to get busted.

Kevin is another one. Kind of a bumbling guy, he means well but can't stop drinking, he was always kind of hapless until he bashed Marco's head in last season. A crime of passion, no doubt. But even when Roy Gilbert helps him by covering it up he can't stay out of trouble. Roy draws him ever deeper into a morass of drug running and before long Kevin is being investigated, drawn into a sting meant to take down Roy. It's a little unrealistic just how dumb Kevin is in this show- I mean he has no clue when Roy is totally manipulating him- and his wife Belle seemed like a decent sort until she realizes what he did and just goes along with it. Does anyone have a conscience on this show?

Meg for some reason is missing for half the season- she, alone of the kids, says enough and leaves, to live her life free of the Rayburn mess. Can't blame her frankly, but she deserved a better story here. With John and Kevin off the rails, they could have used Meg to be a voice of reason, but she just doesn't have enough story time. And if there was ever any doubt about Sally this season solved that! Sally is revealed as a manipulator who also lies under oath, primarily to protect her daughter, but she may be the worst of the bunch.

How does Kevin go from a good guy who is flawed to someone who basically all but celebrates when Eric goes to prison, meaning he's free (until his drug exploits doom him)? I mean Kevin didn't even struggle with the aftermath of framing Eric, so it was hard to relate to him also. And speaking of Eric, we knew he was a petty criminal and kind of a bad guy, but in season three he almost looks like a saint. And what they do to him is truly awful. The guy takes a plea and goes to prison for thirty years for a crime he didn't commit. It's pretty bad when Eric O'Bannon is the most sympathetic character on the show. Same for his sister Chelsea, who gets harassed by police and loses her job partly because she stole some pills but also because everyone blacklists her due to her brother.

Ozzy the slightly crazy guy who caused trouble with all his nosing around- his story went nowhere and then the shocking end of him made it pointless. He was a waste of screen time because he did nothing. Janey is having sex and Diana wants John to do something- he says he'll talk to her and nothing further is done. Beth from Miami shows up and has a few scenes but is not very pivotal- if she had not been there it wouldn't really have mattered. I had a hard time remembering her character and they did nothing to remind the viewer. There's just so much here that didn't make sense or was a wasted opportunity. Is Bloodline worth watching? Season one is, season two you can take or leave. This season though was mostly disappointing.

Bookcover Spotlight #107

The Lake Effect

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dangerous Girls

Dangerous Girls

I had heard a lot about this book prior to reading it and it definitely lived up to the hype. It's a mystery about a group of teens who go to Aruba and what happens after one of them- Elise- ends up dead. Anna is accused of the crime and finds herself alone and abandoned while her case goes to trial. Everyone turns against her, or so it seems, other than her father and her lawyer. It's not entirely clear if all of her friends have turned against her or if they've just been shepherded away by their parents- most of the teens come from wealthy families- but Anna has a pretty tough time being stranded and accused.

Anna and Elise were best friends, and along with Anna's boyfriend Tate and a few others, they went to Aruba to have fun. Things don't always go according to plan though and little chinks in the relationships start to show themselves- I wasn't always sure if what I was reading was the truth. The story is told from Anna's perspective, but we get snippets of police transcripts and some of her friends have to testify at her trial. It's probably not a surprise that some people have differing accounts of the events than Anna does. I liked Anna and felt for her, and yet constantly wondered is she telling the truth? Are her friends?

I pretty much believed Anna and it seems pretty obvious that the police have botched the investigation. Serious crimes like this are rare in Aruba and the cops did not seem prepared, nor did they handle the crime scene properly. Anna seems to be getting railroaded and other suspects were ignored or not handled properly. Why is the prosecutor out for Anna? And what really happened to Elise? The story starts off with a bang as the teens have just discovered the body and called emergency responders. I seriously had a hard time putting this one down- several bloggers had told me it was a fast read, and they were right. I sailed through this book.

I was a little surprised that the trial played such a big role in the story. I thought Anna was going to get out and then her and the others would somehow investigate, but instead Anna is in jail for most of this and the investigation plays out around her. That's not a complaint though, it's just different from what I was expecting. The tension stayed pretty constant throughout and there were times when I was mad at the police and mad at the media for the way they seemed to characterize Anna as guilty before she was even convicted. I think the author is taking the opportunity to make the reader think about how blown out of proportion little things from the past can be when suddenly one is in the media spotlight.

And I have to mention the twists. A book like this of course has a twist and this one got me pretty good. I mean of the different scenarios that were possible I had considered this one, but when it happened I was still wowed. All I can say is if you want a fast- paced YA with some twists and turns this is a great choice.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Best Books of 2017 (So Far)

 

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new Top Ten list will be posted. Everyone is welcome to join. Link back to The Broke and the Bookish so everyone can check out other bloggers' lists. It's a fun way to get to know fellow bloggers.

This week is a look at the best reads (so far) of 2017.  

  
Lost Girls


Dark Matter

How Will I Know You?

A Darkness Absolute (Casey Duncan, #2)

Refuge for Masterminds (Stranje House, #3)

Radio Silence

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)

The Rains (Rains, #1)

What She Saw

One of Us Is Lying

Dangerous Girls

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)

Tuesday Tagline #45

Brave New Girl (Brave New Girl, #1)

There's A Price To Pay For Standing Out. Yes I suppose there is- especially in this one. I think this is a pretty good tagline, and it reflects the story pretty well. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

On The Run Part II

This is the second part of a flash fiction story that started here.

The sun was bleeding red into the horizon when he opened his eyes. Must have dozed, he realized with a start. He had been surveying the city from up here, trying to determine if there was anything worth looting, but so far nothing. Other than the occasional trinkets and artifacts he had found, scattered here and there. These had been a mid tech level people, from what he could see, and were not like to yield up anything useful at this point.

A distant screeching caused him to start, and he peered cautiously over the lip of the tower wall. He had been able to evade the harpies (what else could he call them?) after their initial attack, and after taking a roundabout way into the city he had managed to stay unseen. His side still throbbed where they had clawed into him, but so far the anti- bacterial med had done its job. They were clearly agitated, he could see, but did not appear to be hunting him. From what he could see, they were agitated most of the time.

So... next steps. This was a dead world, from what he could see- if this city was any indication. Other than the harpies and a few skulking animals he had seen no sign of the former inhabitants, other than their bones. Could there be a thriving city just over the horizon, or across a sea? Sure, but he couldn't wander here forever. What was left to him, but to return to the only hope he had? He absently fingered the beacon, turning it over in his hands- would it work this time? There was no way to know.

All around the deserted city the grasslands extended into forever. Only to the northeast did he see something- a shimmering that was very likely a body of water, possibly even an inland sea judging from its expanse. But he could see no ships, could spy no habitation, just a shimmering that extended beyond sight. Sighing, he slid the beacon back into his pack and stood up with a groan. Time to move. He descended the crumbling tower and was soon on the streets again.

The city had been eerily quiet the last two nights, but as he made his way toward the outskirts he thought he heard a rustling somewhere, and there... a stone dislodged, perhaps? He stopped and raised his pulse rifle, scanning for movement, but saw nothing. Continuing on, he heard it again, and then he saw a flash of movement over some rocks. Shit. Quickening his pace, he could hear movement behind him now, and on the sides... were they herding him? He stumbled once as he decided he needed to get out of this city- now- and then he heard the hooting, or was it chanting?

He could see them now, in the shadows... and worse, they were above him, flitting from story to story in the upper levels. They were humanoid, roughly, and there were many. He pushed down a rising sense of panic and thought of Anna- he was not going to check out here, in some nowhere place in the back ass of creation. And if they did take him, it was going to be expensive.

They were closing in now, and as he rounded a pile of rubble something hit him and he was down. There was a horrid cry and it was on him, all sinewy strength and musky smell, dark eyes and bloodstained teeth. He grabbed the thing's throat to keep it at bay as its claws bore into him, and with his left hand he managed to keep the rifle up. Squeezing off a burst, he blew the thing's head nearly off and was momentarily blinded by the close flash. Regaining his feet, he ran now, ignoring the pain in his ankle as he nearly twisted it on a pile of scree. The howls of the creatures were all around him now, and he knew there were too many. He stopped for a moment as he felt the noose tightening, took aim, and squeezed off a few more rounds, taking out two more. He was hoping the superior technology would give them pause. They did seem to slacken a bit, and he was starting to feel hope, and then realized there was a new factor. A rustling of winds, a screeching cry, and the harpies were there, though whether they were onto him or wanted to scrap with some howling marauders he had no idea. Nor did he care, if he could slip out.

He was almost to the grass when he heard something behind him. Turning, he could see two of the lopers closing on him, teeth bared, and he shivered. He took the first one with a pulse and as the second one reached him he reversed his grip, swinging it like a club. He connected just as the thing took him down, and then they were thrashing on the ground. It was stronger than him, and crazy, but he  had a knife and he was able to reach it even as the thing tore at his throat and chest. He swung the knife, taking it in the neck. It howled so loud his blood froze, but he stabbed it again, and then again, and suddenly he was stabbing it ferociously- it was dead but he kept on- and soon he was covered in its blood. He suddenly felt nauseous, and as he looked around he could see the battle still raging, two of the howling creatures bringing down a harpy even as another winged creature took one and carried it into the sky. Fuck this.

He was running now and in the grass, and after a time the sounds of slaughter receded, to be replaced by the sloughing of the wind and the night sounds of insects. The moon shone high overhead, and ahead he could see a dim glow. The Gate.

Cover Characteristics Portholes


Cover Characteristics is a meme by Sugar and Snark- every week a characteristic is selected and we post 5 books with that week's theme.    

This week's pick- Portholes

Rogue topic!     

Glow (Sky Chasers, #1)The Complete Land that Time Forgot (Caspak, #1-3)Image result for books with porthole coversImage result for charlie chan carries on cover

Glow (Sky Chasers, #1)


The Complete Land that Time Forgot (Caspak, #1-3)


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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sunday Post #200


The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

My 200th Sunday Post. Wow. I've been doing this one for a while now and I love how it's a community within the community, you know? I've made a lot of friends because of this meme and would like to give a big shout out to Kimba who makes this happen every week. My version of this has morphed a lot over the last couple years and sometimes I get a bit carried away with the extras, but I love sharing 'em and if people are clicking over to Artstation or a website and discovering some cool art... well, that's the point.   

So this week it's been milder, mostly 70's- no 90's thankfully- and I did a ton of reading. I'm on such a roll with good books- other than the occasional dud everything's been pretty good. I've been steering back towards fantasy/ SF since reading so many psychological thrillers lately- and my upcoming books are a nice mix. I've been watching The White Princess (kinda bored) and Shetland (awesome) and I watched S4 of Black Sails also. 

I reviewed Brave New Girl and talked about Jon Snow this past week in my discussion post. I'll have a review up this week for Dangerous Girls and Ivory and Bone is coming up too.  And... on Monday I'll have another flash fiction. On The Run part II - you can find the first one right here

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)Brave New Girl (Brave New Girl, #1)Dangerous GirlsIvory and Bone (Ivory and Bone, #1)

Song of the week





PULP COVER OF THE WEEK: 

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NEW ARRIVAL/ UPCOMING REVIEWS:


BOOKISH LINKS






Friday, June 23, 2017

The Chocolate Tag



I was tagged over at Books Bags Burgers (thanks Uma!) for this one, and it looks like fun, so here it is- the Chocolate Tag. 

1) Dark Chocolate - a book that deals with a dark topic 

Girl Out of Water

This was a pretty positive book but Anise does deal with her missing mom, who is basically a drifter and comes and goes. 

2) White Chocolate - your favorite lighthearted or humorous read 

Big Little Lies

3) Milk Chocolate - a book that has a lot of hype that you're dying to read 

Roar (Stormheart, #1)

4) Chocolate with a caramel center - a book that made you feel all goey in the middle while you were reading it 

Love & Gelato

5) Wafer free kit kat - name a book that has surprised you lately 

Radio Silence

6) Snickers - a book you're going nuts about 

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)

7) Hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows - a book you would turn to for a comfort read 

Eight Hundred Grapes

8) Box of chocolates - what series have you read that you feel has a wide variety and something for everyone

A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, #1)


So that's it. I'm hungry now (off in search of chocolates) but if you feel so inclined, feel free to consider yourself tagged and share your chocolatey answers with us. 

Bookcover Spotlight

Kalahari (Corpus, #3)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Brave New Girl

Brave New Girl (Brave New Girl, #1)

Brave New Girl is a YA dystopian (are they still writing those?) about a girl- Dahlia 16- who is a clone. One of many. The society she lives in genetically engineers everyone- having babies is apparently obsolete- and Dahlia is a hydroponic gardener, grown for just that task. Her group exists to be gardeners- and other than some recreation they really don't do anything else. They don't have any rights and are not allowed to indulge any interests, and they don't question this because they're engineered and trained to obey, not question. 

The problem arises when Dahlia gets stuck in an elevator with Trigger 17, an elite defense cadet who *gasp* speaks to her. They're not allowed to communicate with other groups, so she's scandalized, but they have an hour alone in a defective elevator so he tries to draw her out. She discovers that as a defense cadet he has more freedom than she does, and slowly she starts to question her worldview. It's hard though because she's literally never done anything- and has never felt attraction before. As you can probably guess that changes with Trigger 17! 

This was a pretty solid YA dystopian. It didn't blow me away at first but as I got into it I liked it more and more. It picks up some momentum as it goes, and I liked that Trigger 17 wasn't the usual bad boy. He's actually being groomed for leadership, although that goes out the window when he and Dahlia decide to hoof it. It kind of reminded me of Divergent in the sense that Dahlia has no idea what is outside the compound- all she knows is inside. Trigger has been out though on patrols and he tells her a little. Their relationship seems mostly realistic, he's definitely a risk- taker and she is not, but that changes as it goes along and she discovers some things about her background. 

I liked the sense of mystery and I'm always predisposed to like a cloning story if it's done well. I did think it a bit unrealistic that she didn't question things a little more, but we sort of get an explanation for that- it appears the clones are literally engineered to not question. The fact that she does is of course part of the mysteriousness. So the science is iffy, and if you've read a lot of YA dystopian this may seem familiar, but I still liked it. There are some twists at the end that were welcome as it expands the story, and there's a cliffhanger ending- it didn't really bother me though, and instead made me anxious for the next book! 

All is not as it seems in this world, and I thought the worldbuilding was mostly solid. I'm not entirely convinced by the society she's building here, but I am invested enough to keep reading. It took me a couple chapters to get involved but once I did it was off to the races. I enjoyed this a lot. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Game of Thrones: Jon Snow

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)

Jon Snow... certainly one of the more important characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. Bastard son of Ned Stark (or is he?) and Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, his story arc is one of the most eventful and compelling in the series. The bulk of Jon's story takes place in the north, much of it beyond the Wall, so it is through his eyes that we learn about the Watch, the Others and the forbidding lands of the wildlings. For this post I wanted to take a look at some of the major points of Jon's life, mainly from the perspective of the books. Some of this will apply to the show as well, since there is overlap, but I'm coming mainly from the book perspective here. And there will be spoilers obviously. 

I'm not going to exhaustively go through his history- that would take lots of posts- I'm going to share some thoughts and relevant quotes from key moments. The first is from Jon's early relationship with Donal Noye, the blacksmith of the Watch. He's the one who kills the giant Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg in the tunnel beneath the Wall, losing his own life in the act. He has an interesting perspective on the Baratheon sons. 

"Robert was the true steel. Stannis is pure iron, black and hard and strong, yes, but brittle, the way iron gets. He'll break before he bends. And Renly, that one, he's copper, bright and shiny, pretty to look at but not worth all that much at the end of the day."

And here's what Stannis thought of Noye. 

"Noye made my first sword for me, and Robert's warhammer as well. Had the god seen fit to spare him, he would have made a better Lord Commander for your order than any of these fools who are squab bling over it now."

Noye is the one who taught humility to Jon, and urged him to fight with the other recruits, not just to lord it over the others. 

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Let's talk about Ygritte. The love of Jon's life, he encountered her high in the Frostfangs on a scouting mission with Qhorin Halfhand. The Halfhand later died and Jon joined the wildlings, as he was commanded to do, to spy on them. This whole sequence in A Clash of Kings, when Jon meets the wildling host and sees giants and mammoths for the first time, is one of my favorites. And his relationship with Ygritte is awesome. 

"You're mine. Mine, as I'm yours. And if we die, we die. All men must die, Jon Snow. But first we'll live. "

Jon's relationship with Stannis is fascinating. Stannis clearly likes Jon, and Jon knows that Ned Stark respected Stannis even if he didn't love him, so their verbal sparring is amazing. You get a sense of it on the show, but in the books there are whole chapters to revel in where they go back and forth. I like this exchange where Melisandre is walking with Jon after a meeting with Stannis.   

"His Grace is growing fond of you."
"I can tell. He only threatened to behead me twice."
Melisandre laughed. 

And since we're talking Melisandre... their relationship is amazing too, and she has warned him numerous times that he is in danger. The frustrating part is that he does not listen.  

The ruby at Melisandre's throat gleamed red. "It is not those foes who curse you to your face that you must fear, but those who smile when you are looking and sharpen their knives when you turn your back. You would do well to keep your wolf close beside you. Ice, I see, and daggers in the dark. Blood frozen red and hard, and naked steel. It was very cold." 
"It is always cold on the Wall." 
"You think so?"
"I know so, my lady."
"Then you know nothing, Jon Snow, she whispered."

Next time I'll look at Jon and his relationship with Tormund Giantsbane as well as a few others including Arya. And I'll speculate a bit on where Jon's story might be headed...