Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Game of Thrones: Catelyn Stark- Yea or Nay

A Clash of Kings  (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)

Catelyn Stark is a controversial figure in Game of Thrones fandom. Some hate her for the way she treated Jon Snow, among other reasons, while others cut her a little more slack. I always tended to kind of like her in the books- even though she is a problematic figure for many reasons- whereas on the show I did not like her portrayal at all. And as I was mulling the return of Game of Thrones and its seventh season, I thought it would be fun to take a look at Catelyn- books vs. show.

First of all this post will have spoilers. Catelyn is the wife of Ned Stark, the Warden of the North at the beginning of the series, and she comes from House Tully, one of the great Houses that rule Westeros. She seems to be a good mother for the most part, although we get hints that she might be a little less patient with Arya than with Sansa, who is more of a "proper" lady. And of course she treats Jon Snow very badly, which is what sets many fans against her. Jon of course is Ned's bastard child, raised alongside his legitimate children, and his daily presence at Winterfell is hard for Catelyn to accept. Of course Jon may not really be Ned's bastard- the most prominent theory out there is that Jon is the child of Lyanna Stark, the sister of Ned, and that he raised Jon as his own to protect him.

So let's look at this a minute. Catelyn can't stand Jon's presence- let's look at some background.

It was the one thing she could never forgive him. She had come to love her husband with all her heart, but she never found it in her to love Jon. She might have overlooked a dozen bastards for Ned's sake, so long as they were out of sight. Jon was never out of sight, and as he grew, he looked more like Ned than any of the true born sons she bore him. Somehow that made it wrong. 

Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys'  Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. 

And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall o the shores of the Summer Sea. 

It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face. 

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. "Never ask me about Jon," he said, cold as ice. "He is my blood, and that is all you need to know. And now I will learn where you heard that name, my lady." She had pledged to obey; she told him; and from that day on, the whispering had stopped, and Ashara Dayne's name was never heard in Winterfell again.

Who is Ashara Dayne, and why was there whispering? Well Ashara is the sister of Ser Arthur Dayne, and there were rumors that Ned fell in love with Ashara at a tourney, so maybe some assumed Jon was a bastard that Ned had with her?

The other thing to keep in mind here is that Ned and Catelyn were newly married at this point. When he came home from the war with a bastard in tow she hardly knew him- they had been married just before he went off to fight. So not only did she have to get to know her husband, but he came home with a bastard! Or so she thought, understandably. Given all this, I think it's pretty understandable that she feels the way she does.

Later Catelyn and Robb are talking over the succession if anything should happen to Robb, and he informs her he wants to make Jon his heir. She's shocked, and shares her concerns with him.

Catelyn knew how stubborn her son could be. "A bastard cannot inherit."
"Not unless he's legitimized by a royal decree," said Robb. "There is more precedent for that than for releasing a Sworn Brother from his oath." 
"Precedent," she said bitterly. "Yes, Aegon the Fourth legitimized all his bastards on his deathbed. And how much pain, grief, war, and murder grew from that? I know you trust Jon. But can you trust his sons? Or their sons? The Blackfyre pretenders troubled the Targaryens for five generations, until Barristan the Bold slew the last of them on the Stepstones. If you make Jon legitimate, there is no way to turn him bastard again. Should he wed and breed, any sons you may have by Jeyne will never be safe." 

Catelyn is thus eminently practical- and looking out for Robb first.

So let's move on from the Jon question. What else does Catelyn have going for or against her? Well I think she gave Robb good advice, both the counsel she gave him about Jon (it makes sense from her perspective), and also her general advice to Robb- who to trust, who not to trust, etc. You can't really fault her advice to Robb during the war, in my view. However she makes a huge mistake that arguably starts the whole war to begin with. Coming across Tyrion at an inn, and remembering the lies that Littlefinger told her, she arrests Tyrion, which infuriates the Lannisters and starts the fighting. Now granted it was probably just a matter of time before Starks and Lannisters came to blows, but this was not well thought out and has such terrible repercussions that it's not an exaggeration to say that she kind of started the war.

In her defense she is relying on advice given to her by Littlefinger, who she's known since childhood, and she's been sent home by Ned to prepare for war, just in case, so it's not much of a stretch for her to make that call when she encounters Tyrion. Littlefinger told her he was behind the assassination try on her son Bran. So what would she do? Not to mention her own sister had sent her a letter implicating the Lannisters in the murder of Jon Arryn. So she is being manipulated, no question.

Lastly I want to look at one of my favorite chapters in the series, the one where she meets with Renly to treat with him on behalf of Robb, who is claiming kingship of the North at this point. She is seeking an alliance with Renly's forces. There is so much good stuff in this chapter, I'll just share a few quotes. I especially like it when she puts Lord Randyll Tarly in his place!

"No disrepect to you, Lady Stark, but it would have been more seemly had Lord Robb come to pay homage to the king himself, rather than hiding behind his mother's skirts." 

"King Robb is warring, my lord," Catelyn replied with icy courtesy, "not playing at tourney."

Renly grinned. "Go softly, Lord Randyll, I fear you're overmatched." 

And when she muses that all the nobility, all the knights, in Renly's camp have no idea what's coming, Lord Rowan asks her what she means.

Because it will not last," Catelyn answered, sadly. "Because they are the knights of summer, and winter is coming."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books Second Half of 2017


 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.

Top Ten most anticipated reads for the second half of the year. There are a lot of books coming out that I'm looking forward to, so this is a pretty easy list. 2017 has been a great reading year so far for me, and that looks to continue if some of these are half as good as they look. On to the list.  

A Map for Wrecked Girls

Wilders (Project Earth, #1)

The Pack (The Wanderers, #2)

The Lake Effect

Into the Drowning Deep

Killer. mermaids. 

One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns, #2)


Star's End

Looks kinda dreamy 

Two Roads from Here

What if you could see both paths when making a decision? 

Brave New Girl (Brave New Girl, #1)

Clonage and dystopia. 

There's Someone Inside Your House


Barbary Station (Shieldrunner Pirates, #1)

SF on a space station w/ mercenaries & stuff

The Secret History of Us

Tuesday Tagline #41

Get Even (Don't Get Mad, #1)

Don't get mad... that about says it all! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Eternals

The Eternals, Vol. 1

Deep in the Andes mountains a momentous discovery is made. A professor and his daughter, led by a man who may be more than he seems, discover an ancient Inca chamber full of artifacts depicting extraterrestrial contact with earth. The man turns out to be an Eternal- a subgroup of humans with miraculous abilities- and hidden in the Inca chamber is a cosmic beacon. A beacon he wishes to activate. But there is another group of mythical beings, known as Deviants, who will stop at nothing to destroy the beacon, and a raiding party of these creatures soon arrives to do battle. But what is the beacon for? Who does it call to? 

So begins this collection of Eternals stories from the 1970's. This was the era of Chariots of the Gods and the idea of ancient visitors from space was in vogue. Jack Kirby, who along with Stan Lee created many of the Marvel characters now on the big screen, took this concept and ran with it for nineteen issues until the series was cancelled- and in that time he introduced all kinds of quirky and strange ideas. The cosmic beacon is meant to welcome back the Celestials- a race of all- powerful space gods who experiment on creatures throughout the cosmos, and later return to judge their subjects. 

This is the time of the Fourth Host of Celestials, and they have come to enact a fifty- year judgment on Earth. If the Earth is found wanting it will be destroyed. And the Eternals are meant to serve the Celestials in this process. 

"They planted intelligent life on this planet--the crop has matured...the Celestials will test it and weight its value!"

This was a fun read. The Celestials are a longtime fixture of Marvel comics, and with them appearing in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, I thought it would be fun to look at their earlier appearances. This is a story that frankly would make a good movie- it's very cinematic in its scope- and even a reboot of the story with modern writing and art could be nice if done right. The story follows several of the Eternals- chiefly Ikaris and Thena, although others come and go- as they attempt to protect humanity from Deviants and Celestials alike. One of the cool ideas here is the concept of Hosts. The First Host came a million years ago to experiment on early humans. The Second Host came to apparently check up, and at that time destroyed the Deviant civilization that had enslaved humans. The Third Host was just a few thousand years ago and was about study and cultivation. And now the Fourth Host is about judgment. 

Why do they do this? No one knows. Even in the comics not much is known about Celestials, and it's that sense of mystery that makes them interesting. This series is definitely as product of its time- the 70's- so the dialogue is hopelessly overwrought and the art is pretty hokey. I think a lot of today's readers might have trouble with this- comics were more juvenile back then even if the concepts were not- but if you can overlook that, this is not only an interesting piece of comic history but also a fun read. And some of the visuals and descriptions are great. 

Miles of travel reveal the first traces of the Deviants' lost grandeur: a giant carved face, half buried in the ocean floor, peers with sightless eyes that date from a time before the great flood.

That's what I'm talking about. An interesting subplot here is a forbidden romance between an Eternal and a Deviant- Thena and Kro. She's a prominent daughter of the Eternals' leader and he is a ruthless Deviant warlord, but somehow there is a connection. Apparently they had a fling in ages past and Kro wants to renew it, but when Thena accompanies him to the Deviant city she witnesses the horrors of their society, including the ritual of Purity Time an occasion where Deviants that are considered rejects are killed. Thena is of course horrified but soon befriends one of the Rejects, an unstoppable killing machine that has been bred to fight. When a Celestial arrives to investigate the city, chaos breaks out as its very presence practically destroys the city, and Thena takes the reject and another mistreated creature with her as she escapes.

As I said, for all the neat concepts, this is very much dated, and I'm not sure it's even in print. I obtained a copy through ComiXology (where a lot of normally unavailable stuff is available in e-form) but I had fun with this. At one point Ikaris and Margo take a cab in NYC and we get this little gem. 

"Thanks cabby-- keep the change... I enjoyed your sense of humor."
"We need one here, buddy!"

Good stuff.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sunday Post #196

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

It's Memorial Day weekend here in the US and I'm looking forward to a nice long weekend of parades, reading and binging. It was a pretty good week here although it rained a lot and it never got that warm, but with the unofficial start of summer this weekend it has to get nice soon. Right??? I only read one book this week, I've been back to binging on Netflix, but some new books came out that I'm excited about so hopefully I can get started on 'em this weekend.   

I watched Suicide Squad this week (finally) and liked it. SyFy launched the entire third season of 12 Monkeys last week as a weekend binge so I've seen the whole season now. It's a really good show that not a lot of people are seeing? Oh and The 100 wrapped up this week with an explosive (!) finale - between that and 12 Monkeys my nerves were all ajangle. And... I posted my review for Refuge for Masterminds (School of Unusual Girls #3) this past week and the author relayed some background on one of my favorite scenes.   


Girl Out of WaterRefuge for Masterminds (Stranje House, #3)What She Saw

Song of the week



One Of Us Is Lying


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bookcover Spotlight #102

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)

COYER 2017 Summer Signup

It's that time again- signups are open for COYER Summer edition. Starts the 17th of June and runs through early September, with prizes and Twitter parties and all kinds of fun stuff. You can read anything for COYER this time and/ or you can do the Summer Reading List. Details can be found here. The Summer Reading List sounds kinda fun, you pick 30 books and there are going to be read-a-thons during the summer too to help get through 'em. You don't have to read all thirty, it's just a list to choose from. Again, check out the details page -COYER is pretty laid back this time so it's easy to fit into your summer.

This time I'm just doing COYER without the Summer Reading List, since summer is going to be so busy and I want to keep it flexible. I think last year the COYER link page had over 700 reviews (not sure, don't quote me) so if nothing else- COYER is a great source of reviews! And it's fun too. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Refuge for Masterminds

Refuge for Masterminds (Stranje House, #3)

Refuge for Masterminds is the latest installment of the School for Unusual Girls series and the best one yet. The hallmark of this series is that each book has a different POV- there are five girls training to be spies in Regency England- and this time the focus is on Jane. Each girl has a unique skill and Jane's strength is her ability to see several steps ahead in any situation- hence the mastermind of the title. Of the five she also seems to be the one that Emma Stranje, the headmistress, is grooming to succeed her someday.

Jane has secrets from her past (what good heroine doesn't?) but her secret is terrifying because it may affect her entire future. Nevertheless she is committed to the school and the other girls, and her talent for seeing the possibilities of future action are indispensable. The story continues here shortly after the events of the second book, with Napoleon threatening England and their nemesis, Lady Daneska, pulling the strings. Daneska is a fabulous villain because she is a former student of Miss Stranje and she knows how the school operates. In the last book she came dangerously close to infiltrating the school and achieving her objective. Here the intrigue intensifies as the action shifts to London and the social scene.

All the supporting players are here, including Georgie (one of  my favorites) and Alexander Sinclair, the brash America inventor who has stolen Jane's heart. Jane is no wilting flower though, she's sharp tongued and tough and I loved reading her perspective. As much as I liked Georgie's POV in the first book, I think this one is my favorite. The series seems to have hit a rhythm now and I'm left wondering who will pick up the narrative next- Sera or Maya? Both have intriguing abilities and would be fascinating to read about- but here the focus is squarely on Jane.

I liked the relationship between Jane and Sinclair a lot. There's just a whiff of scandal to it as they tiptoe around each other and their feelings- and again Jane's secret poses a huge hurdle to their possible happiness. I liked how this was handled, there's not a love triangle but there is another nobleman who has a past with Jane, and it didn't go how I expected. I always like it when someone you think you're going to hate earns your grudging respect. And I couldn't review this book without mentioning the Patronesses- three high ladies of society who fan themselves and preen but are tough as nails and not above packing a pistol or dagger in their reticule as need arises. They steal pretty much every scene they're in.

I noted a sequence on board a ship where I could almost smell the tar and feel the rocking of the boat, where a guttering oil lamp illuminates a shadowy cargo hold. I felt right there with her as she went through the ordeals and triumphs of her mission. This series keeps getting better and better and the author continues to show a fascinating alternative history where small changes in events could lead to vastly different outcomes. I am loving this series and the only problem I had with it was when it ended.  

Top Ten Summer Freebie 2017


 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 Top Ten Summer Freebie! I decided to go with books that have a summery feel or have a summery cover. Who doesn't love summer? Weeeee!!!

Girl Out of Water

Summer in California surfing or summer in Nebraska? 

Since You've Been Gone

Looks like summer.

The Vacationers

I mean just look at this one.


Summer on an island off New Hampshire.

What I Thought Was True

I don't know too much about this one but it has a summery vibe.  

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

Need I say more?   


Not a summery cover but this one took place during the summer.   


This looks like summer also.   

Dangerous Girls


Eight Hundred Grapes

I really have no idea if this is set in the summer or not, but I like the cover and the Sonoma wine country setting sure felt like summer.  

Tuesday Tagline #40

Girl Out of Water

Monday, May 22, 2017

12 Monkeys S3 Episodes 1-3

Image result for 12 monkeys syfy image

12 Monkeys is back! Season three started off with quite a bang, and SyFy did something interesting this time. They released the whole ten episode season over the weekend of May 19-21st. Kind of like binging it on Netflix almost (or Hulu, where the first two seasons are). This was actually a mixed bag, since I couldn't pause the episodes so I had to take some quick notes as I watched. But enough about that. I'm going to divide the entire season up into several posts, taking a few episodes at a time, and share my thoughts. My initial reaction though: this acclaimed but ratings- challenged show is as great as ever, and it's a shame more people aren't watching. It's fabulous TV. 

Oh, and there will be some spoilers in this post. 

So we start where we left off last time- Cassie, Ramse and Jennifer are lost in time and Cole is desperate to find them. Worse, Cassie is being held by the cult of the 12 Monkeys, and unbeknownst to Cole, Cassie is pregnant with the Witness- the future leader of the 12 Monkeys. Yes, Cole and Cassie's child will grow up to be their greatest enemy. It's enough to make your head hurt! But at any rate Cole has been trying for months to find clues as to where his friends are, and he's starting to look rough. Stress and lack of sleep are affecting him and Jones is ready to pull the plug. After all, Cassie is not the mission, stopping the virus is... but Cole won't give up on Cassie. 

But success! One of the temporal markers he has left in the timeline goes off, and they've found it- Titan! The mysterious city where the 12 Monkeys have imprisoned Cassie. Cole goes in and almost succeeds in getting to Cassie, but in true 12 Monkeys fashion something goes wrong and more mysteries are in play. But we get to see... future Cole! Yes, future Cole saves present Cole and gives him a clue leading to Jennifer. Because- they need Jennifer. She's the Primary and all that, but bottom line is- she's always been the key to everything and that hasn't changed. They need to find Jennifer. 

Episode 2 - Guardians

So where is Jennifer? Well funny you should ask. Turns out she's in France, circa 1921. She finds herself in a trench as the Germans are defeating the French, and when German troops are shooting everyone she has to think fast. So she's like do I know any German? And we get... this. 

That's... Jennifer. The secret weapon of this show. 

So... Jennifer cools her heels in Paris for a few years until Cole and Jones find her, and come back in time to get her. Nice to see Jones getting in on the period action. It was a riot too to see Jennifer trying to plant clues in history books, including performing at a theater with plays that looked rather like popular movies of the late 20th century! This show is so fun. And when they show up to get her, all she can say  is "Finally". It's gotta be tough to be her. 

Cole is so fixated on saving Cassie he doesn't realize just how alone Jennifer has felt for the last few years, stuck in the '20's, and after a run-in with the cult ends up resetting the timeline, he gets another chance to get it right. And she forgives him. Jennifer is back on the team!

Episode 3 - Enemy 

This episode was dark. Olivia and Ramse hook up with Cole and the rest at the facility, but is there a deeper game happening? Jones is suspicious and so is Jennifer- they take no chances and confine both of them, but eventually Olivia convinces them that she's telling the truth. There was a really cool moment when Cole takes Olivia back in time three months and throws her in the dungeon, figuring that three months in solitary in a half- flooded room with rats will break her. And by all appearances it does- she looks so shaken when they go down to get her- but by the end she is clearly playing the long game, and even though Cole may have indeed been on to something when he said he knew how to break her, the joke may end up being on him. 

Also we get a good look at Jones' obsessions, and Olivia even asks her if the mission trumped her feelings for her daughter, which galvanizes Jones into essentially torturing Olivia by putting her in the time machine and splintering her at a slower pace, causing great pain. It's hard for everyone else to watch but Jones shows no emotion. But later, when Hannah tells her that's not the way, and relates how they all feared the mad doctor in the smokestack building, Jones realizes what she's become, and that tear in her eye shows she's not too far gone. She then goes to Olivia and cleans her up, and it's nice to see that Jones is still human- although as I note below if Olivia is playing the long game, then she's fooled everybody. 

Or has she? Jennifer warns them at the beginning, and again at the end, that they shouldn't trust Olivia. Cole ignores her and goes anyway- and I'm thinking after everything, WHY aren't you listening to Jennifer? 

Random Thoughts

Magdalena tells Cassie that she was raised to raise the Witness- that he selected her. 

When the Four Horsemen show up in Paris Jennifer tells them they're not supposed to be there. Wonder what that means? 

The Witness is the paradox in a box? Sent back in time to be raised in the past. 

Hannah's security team are pretty badass. 

"You'll upend the tables of history to save the ones you love. But me, you left behind" Olivia tells Cole. She clearly hates him for leaving her behind? She was the Kirschner girl in 1961...

Can I just say that Olivia is awesome? Alisen Down kills it and she is one of my favorite characters now. Also Deacon is becoming a favorite as well. Will he be the x factor? 

Olivia has the Kalavirus (love that title) in her blood and is immune to the plague. Also we're told she was engineered to ruin the world. What exactly is she?  

One of the fascinating things about episode three is that Olivia may truly be on the side of the good guys- she says she knows how and when to kill the Witness- but doing so means killing Cole's child (since that's who the Witness is apparently). And she tells Ramse about the Witness being Cole's child and he doesn't tell Cole he knows. So even as he tells Cole that the two of them are family, no matter what time they're in, he's actually playing his friend. It's kind of cold and Ramse has always been someone you never know if you can trust.