Thursday, August 31, 2017

Friend Request

Friend Request

Friend Request asks us to consider- how well do we really know someone? Especially in the age of social media. Louise Williams is a divorced mom and interior designer living in London, and she has a secret- something that only a few people know about, going back to her high school years. We all know high school is formative and fraught with obstacles to acceptance for some kids- and Louise was one of those kids. She wasn't popular but she wasn't at the bottom of the social hierarchy either, and when Sophie Hannigan deigned to hang around with her, she was on the cusp of getting into the "in" crowd. But Sophie's friendship came with a price- how far would Louise go to fit in? 

Twenty- five years later Louise is still carrying around the guilt of what she did. The story is set in both the modern day and in 1989- the year something happened to Maria Weston, the new girl at school. Maria and Louise hit it off early, but soon Louise has to choose between Maria and Sophie. It's a hard choice, as Louise desperately wants to be accepted by Sophie, and by extension the other cool girls. And of course Sophie takes full advantage of that. I think anyone who's been through high school can probably relate to at least something here. Louise knows what she's doing is wrong, but she can't stop herself. 

The kicker is when Louise gets a friend request on Facebook- from Maria Weston. But Maria died twenty- five years ago, didn't she? Louise remembers the night Maria went missing, and her body was never found, but everyone has assumed that she died. Someone, however, is on Facebook, and as the story goes on Louise continues to get eerie messages, and feels like she's being stalked. She's not the only one- Sophie is also contacted. And with the high school reunion coming up, old secrets are being dredged out again. 

This was a page turner for me, in spite of the fact that it was kinda slow. Not necessarily in a bad way- it's just not action-packed or fast-paced, but I enjoyed it. The author takes her time getting into Louise's head, and we get to know the people around her, including her ex- husband Sam and some of the people from school- Sophie and Esther, another former friend and classmate. People change after high school, some more than others, but no matter how much time goes by, do we ever really get over the wounds that are caused, or the triumphs or defeats of our social group? 

That plays a large role in the story. Memories, regrets, and the consequences of things we did in high school. It really makes you think how vulnerable people are in the age of Facebook and social media, where so much of our lives are accessible online. I loved the reunion and the author shows us the excitement and terror as she navigates the old minefields. Later in the story things start to get a little out there, maybe a bit unrealistic, but the central theme is the same. Can you really trust anyone other than yourself? Old friends, ex- lovers, enemies- you never really know what somebody thinks, deep down. There were some nice twists, some misdirection, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A very nice debut also. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What Happened To Monday

What Happened To Monday is a movie currently airing on Netflix and released in France as Seven Sisters. It's the story of an overpopulated future where families are only allowed to have one child- any children beyond the first one are taken by the Child Allocation Bureau and put into cryosleep, until such time as the world has more resources. Sounds lovely, right? Well one guy of course breaks the rules and raises seven daughters after his wife dies- the trick is that each girl is allowed to go outside one day a week, the day that corresponds to their name. Oh yeah and each girl is named for a day of the week. 

Still with me? Okay it sounds kinda out there but to be honest it's pretty good. I went into this a little skeptical but hopeful, and after an iffy beginning it took off. I would say the first half hour was a little slow, and I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, but once Monday disappears things start to heat up. The remaining sisters don't know what to do or where Monday is, so they try to find her- but this future society is totally regulated, there are checkpoints everywhere, and it makes Divergent look like happy town. 

Image result for what happened to monday

Noomi Rapace plays Karen Settman, which is the name all seven sisters go by in the world, and kind of like Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black she manages to give each girl their own look and personality. It took me a bit to keep them straight, especially once the action takes off, but it's a fun ride. Glenn Close is in it as well as the big bad- she runs the Child Allocation Bureau naturally- but I was surprised how good this movie turned out to be. There are a few twists along the way, including one I didn't foresee, and the action scenes are well done too. 

There are times where the realism factor is a little iffy, it's not perfect by any means, but it's worth a watch. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Top Ten Hidden Gem Books in Science fiction/ fantasy


 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  decided to go with SF/ fantasy, I feel like there's been a raft of under the radar, or just really good, SF books lately, and here are some recent favorites. 

 World of Water (Dev Harmer Mission, #2) 

Six Wakes

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1) 

The Complete Morgaine (Morgaine Saga #1-4)

Emilie and the Hollow World (Emilie, #1)  

Kalahari (Corpus, #3)

Alex + Ada: The Complete Collection

Rolling in the Deep (Rolling in the Deep, #.5)

Heir to the Jedi (Star Wars) 

Time Salvager (Time Salvager #1) 

Tuesday Tagline #54

Everything But The Truth

We're all hiding something. Ooh I like this one. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

On the Run IX

Andreas paced back and forth as Anna glared at him, testing her flex cuffs for the millionth time. It was no use of course, but it's instinctive to want to free oneself when captured. Across from her Eric was sitting calmly, actually smiling, which irritated her to no end, although the dried blood on his scalp worried her a bit. Was he okay? He'd had to drop his weapon of course when they paraded Anna out with a gun to her head, but even though Eric dropped his an overzealous trooper decided to teach him a lesson. She'd been a little surprised when Andreas had stopped it.

"Stand down, you piece of shit," he'd barked and the trooper turned away with a shrug. They were down men, after all, that did tend to breed resentment.

"Anna! Walk with me," Andreas called.
She rolled her eyes but complied, and when a trooper made to escort her she just said "Oh, please."  They walked in silence for a time until she spoke.
"What do you want, Andreas?"
"I want to know what you were doing in that tower. Why are technicians dead just when you two happen to be here? Amazing coincidence?" She sighed. "Look, I know you're wont to see conspiracies all around you, but trust me. We had nothing to do with that. In fact, if it wasn't for you, we wouldn't even be here. Wherever this is."
It's Eridanus 4..."
"Yeah I know it's Eridanus 4. I mean why be in this miserable backwater if not for you clowns? Shooting everything in sight."
"Anna, don't be dramatic. You know damn well..." He stopped, as if to change tack, then started again. "Don't pretend there is only one mandate."
"But there is only one! You have no authority to be traipsing through blowing everything up, hunting us!"
"That's where you're wrong," he smiled thinly. "We have a mandate as well. And it's to stop you."

He stopped, and the people behind him stopped too, troopers pretending to check their weapons as he faced Anna.
"What gives you the right to do what you're doing? You two?" he jerked his thumb toward Eric. "The gates are artifacts, from a race we don't even understand. They're... a gift from God, if you will. There's a reason they're impervious to weapons. And you and your crew take it upon yourselves to go around sabotaging them. And you're surprised that we want to stop you?"
"Andreas, we're surveying the gates, and you know it. Determining which ones are problems, which are unstable. We're only trying to shut down the ones that could be..."
"Right. As determined by your patrons in the science division. Well, sorry to say, not everyone agrees with their analysis. And sadly to say , there is not a consensus. So here we are."

He set off again, silently dismissing her. She was so mad she was trembling, and when Eric came alongside she just mouthed damn him. Eric nodded and they trudged along, lifting their shackled hands occasionally to swipe at incessant insects. This was one tropical vacation they wouldn't mind seeing the back end of.

As they trudged along Eric's mind was racing. How are we going to get out of this one? It didn't look good, certainly. But what did Andreas want? He could have shot them both down immediately, but didn't. Why? He didn't like the idea of being paraded back to Control under Andreas' supervision- that  could only mean the man was confident enough to act openly. That didn't bode well for their own patrons. He was about to move up and try to engage Andreas when he heard a coughing behind him and the line came to a halt.

One of the troopers was bent over, hacking and having trouble breathing, apparently. Another trooper, the female one, was patting him on the back and the rest were milling about, looking nervously into the surrounding brush. Andreas came back down the line impatiently, demanding to know what the problem was. Eric thought briefly this might be an opportunity, but the guards on him and Anna were paying close attention. He sat tight while Andreas and the other trooper tried to help the guy in trouble. It didn't look good, the guy was retching and Eric was thinking maybe they should have paid more attention to any biohazards on Eridanus 4.

After a few minutes Andreas got the group moving again, with two other troopers helping their ailing fellow. Eric was looking for a chance to bolt, and he could see Anna was too, but with the flex cuffs on there wasn't a lot they could do. He watched the troopers closely, trying to catch their names and observe any mannerisms, any weaknesses he could exploit. Before long they came into view of the remote base, and everybody dispersed when they got inside. Andreas directed the ailing trooper and his helpers to the medbay, while he personally marched Eric and Anna to the control room. Once they were seated at the circular table in the middle he let his lieutenant- Riggs-  watch over them while he conferred quietly with his medic.

Apparently he didn't like what he heard, as he came over to Eric with a hard look on his face.
"So what are we dealing with here, Eric?"
"Fuck if I know. We haven't been here much longer than you."
"Right. You keep saying that." He turned to Anna. "But you, my dear, have been here a wee bit longer, haven't you? Waiting for your white knight to show up, after being so unfortunately separated back on Tantalus? A shame, that." He cupped her chin in his hand and looked her in the eyes. "I don't suppose you spent your time looking up hazardous lifeforms while you were waiting, did you?"
"No, you idiot. I did not," she snapped, twisting her head away from him. "Sure I did a basic scan, who wouldn't, but the readings were all fine. And besides the station here has been online for several years, the techs had nothing major to report."
"That would be the same techs who are missing?" Andreas asked with a frown. "One of whom is laid out in that whatever it is- PreC tower- looking like something scared the crap out of him? How reassuring."

"What are you going to do?" Eric asked quietly.
"Well, I'm going to get my man stabilized and we're getting out of here. Don't worry, you'll be home soon enough. Although I wouldn't look forward to that too much, if I were you." Smirk.
"Bullshit. You talk a good game but I hardly think things have changed that much. You're talking out of your ass." Hopefully. 
"We'll see, won't we?" said Andreas cheerfully. "In the meantime, you..." At that moment the female trooper rushed in, her high ponytail swishing behind her. "Sir, we have a problem."
"What is it?"
"Russell, sir. He's...worse. Raving and thrashing around, and he... doesn't look normal. There's something wrong with his eyes."
"His eyes?" Andreas replied scornfully.
"You have to see it, sir. I can't really explain..." She looked embarrassed.
"Oh for fuck's sake, we don't have time for this. Riggs! You and Taylor get the jump ready- start the sequence. We're out of here. And watch these two. Alright, Gillian, let's go. and this better be good."

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Game of Thrones: The Dragon and the Wolf

Well here we are- the finale of season seven. What a ride it's been  - we've had dragons and ice wights and character moments, and lots of foreshadowing. Lots of set-up for the endgame, which is now upon us. Or will be, when Game of Thrones returns for it's eighth season. This episode, the longest of the series so far, had some great moments and a lot of talking. Lots of talking. But at least we have the main players talking to each other, rather than about what they're going to do someday. Winter is here, exemplified by the snowflakes falling as Jaime rides from King's Landing, to redeem his honor and fight in the north. And given what we see at the end, anyone who doubts winter is here will soon be disabused of that notion!

Spoilers for this episode of Game of Thrones, and for the books as well.

The Unsullied are back and facing down Lannister troops... somewhere. I have no idea where they actually were, but it didn't look like King's Landing. And then the Dothraki arrive- lots of them. So we have a show of force and Jaime and Bronn seem suitably impressed. We cut away to Daenerys who is on her way to King's Landing and a parley with Cersei. And they've got their captured wight in the hold, which goes apeshit when the Hound nudges the crate it's in. Yup- still animated! Cersei meanwhile gives the Mountain his operating instructions- if anything goes wrong, he's to kill Daenerys first, then Tyrion and then Jon. And you know, after that, use his discretion. 

Brienne and the Hound have a reunion! You can see they both have a lot of respect for Arya based on their conversation- the Hound makes clear he has no intention of crossing her anytime soon. It was pretty nice seeing these disparate groups come together- people like Davos, Missandei and others along with the big guns- Jon, Dany and Cersei. The trek to the Dragonpit for the parley was nicely staged.

And when everyone is assembled we have a Clegane face-off. Will they clash? I think I half expected them to, but it was just a tease. If Cleganebowl happens we'll have to wait til next time to see it. And then Daenerys arrives- I like how she made sure to arrive last, after Cersei- and her arrival was suitably impressive. I enjoyed seeing Cersei's face when she sees her first dragon. The parley itself gets off to an inauspicious start when Euron tries to hijack it by taunting Theon, but Cersei yanks his chain to shut him down. We have a little back-and-forth and then Dany unleashes her surprise- the captive wight. Good thing they had it chained, or Cersei might have been history. Maybe they should have left the chain off? No that would be treacherous. 

Cersei is stunned, and Euron is like I'm outta here. Can they swim, he asks. When the answer is no, he's like good, see you later, and he leaves for the Iron islands. Cersei agrees to a truce, but only if Jon stays neutral and remains in the north. Jon refuses, saying he's already sworn himself to Dany, and that's that. Cersei leaves and the parley is over. Brienne tries to sway Jaime to talk to her, but he's like what's the point? Dany is grateful for Jon's honesty, but she and Tyrion wish maybe he could have been a little more circumspect. Or, you know, just learn to lie once in a while! 

Tyrion meets with Cersei and after a tense beginning they reach an agreement. Cersei returns to the Dragonpit and agrees to join forces- the Lannisters will march north. But wait- she's lying. Big surprise there. Jaime rather naively begins to prepare for the trek north and she's like dude, do you really think we're doing that? She has no attention of honoring her commitment, and tells Jaime that Euron didn't flee- he's going to Essos to pick up the Golden Company, who Cersei is hiring with a loan from the Iron Bank. Gee, is anyone surprised Cersei doesn't play nice? Again, the capture-a-wight plan was such a good idea! Jaime has finally had enough and leaves, and we see him riding north as the snow falls. 

Meanwhile in Winterfell things are getting interesting. The showrunners would like us to think that Arya and Sansa will come to conflict, but no. Sansa's not that dumb and time is up for Littlefinger. Sansa accuses him of treason and murder for the death of Ned Stark and Lysa Arryn, among other things, and Arya does the deed. No more Baelish! We then have a nice bonding moment between the two Stark sisters. Dany meanwhile agrees to sail north with Jon to White Harbor, where they will join forces with the Dothraki heading north. Next stop: Winterfell! And probably a good thing, because a little farther north something very bad is happening. 

The army of the dead are at Eastwatch, and there are a lot of them. Plus giants! Oh and a dragon too- turns out undead Viserion breathes blue flame that can melt the Wall. Yes, as expected the Wall is down. Or part of it- enough for the dead to march through. It's a pretty effective way to end the season, and I'm not sure it makes up for a long episode filled with talking, but it is powerful. Oh and a few loose ends. Theon begins to redeem himself after Jon tells him he's both Greyjoy and Stark- he sets out to rescue his sister and has to survive to do so. And we have the confirmation that Jon is actually Aegon Targaryen- the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, which surprised no one. Still, it's a poignant moment? And finally we have the long- awaited #boatsex. 

Random Thoughts

I loved the look on Dany's face when Jon announces that he is sworn to her service. 

I was so disappointed in Jaime, as usual, but finally he began to redeem himself by taking off.   

The whirlwind romance continues! Dany tells Jon she should have trusted him from the start, and the have more googly eye moments. 

Littlefinger didn't seem too worried about Faceless Men, which is odd since in the books everyone knows who they are, and Littlefinger would be the first to not take them as a mild threat. 

Golden Company reference! Interesting that in the books they are about to depose Cersei for a Targaryen pretender and in the show she is hiring them! Oh well at least they got mentioned. 

Did Tormund and Beric survive? 

Tyrion does not look happy at the prospect of #boatsex?  

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sunday Post #209

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

Kind of an interesting week. I went to an eclipse viewing on Monday although the drone they had there was a bigger hit! It came down with a box of frozen yogurt, and it was funny- when the drone started down it was like everyone forgot about the eclipse. The drone (and the fro yo) kinda stole the show. :)  

Other than that thanks to everyone who recommended fantasy reads last week- I added a few! I also watched The Defenders (it's just okayish) and decided to read Six of Crows to break the slump. Plus Bardugo is coming to the area? So may as well. Also I'm thinking of adding starred reviews- nothing will change except I'll be assigning a star rating, something I've refrained from doing in the past. I've always preferred just to share my thoughts, but it might be nice to have an objective scale of sorts too. 

Last week I reviewed Emma in the Night and I'll have a review up this Thursday for Friend Request.  

Emma in the Night

Mickey Spillane, Kiss Me Deadly.

The Pack (The Wanderers, #2)


The Defenders

Image result for the defenders

The Defenders are finally here. After four separate series on Netflix they have all come together as a team- to battle the Hand for the fate of New York City. Some of the individual series have been better than others, but how would they work as an ensemble?  I binged the Defenders and the first thing I can say is eight episodes works a lot better than the longer seasons the individual shows had. Even with eight episodes I felt this was a bit padded at times. 

I'm just going to break this down into what I liked and didn't like, and would love to know what you think if you've watched it. This will be a spoilery post. 


The camaraderie, the banter and just the team dynamic- I mean these are four very different people, and to bring them together- I thought it worked really well. Luke Cage and Danny Rand are famously buddies and I thought they did a good job setting up their relationship, starting from a place of distrust and slowly earning each others respect.  

The supporting cast- this was a large ensemble, with the supporting cast from each characters' series assembled and having a moment to shine.  A rapprochment of sorts for Matt Murdock and his supporting cast was handled nicely, and I also enjoyed seeing Trish as well. Even Jery Hogarth made an appearance! And of course we got the seeds for a future partnership between Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. 

The Royal Dragon restaurant. At one point the four heroes take refuge in a Chinese restaurant, and spend several hours there getting to know each other and hiding out from the Hand. And eating. Lots of eating. Can I go there? 

The show opened strong with Danny and Colleen in Phnom Penh tracking the Hand. The whole first episode was about set- up, and getting all the characters back into circulation and on a course to meet. 

Elektra. She was a high point, and Elodie Yung is fabulous as the assassin with ties to Matt. It helps to really know their backstory, and it quickly became a central theme of the show, as did the relationship between Danny and the Hand.  

The fight choreography was good for the most part. A definite improvement especially for Danny, whose own series was lackluster in that department. I thought the earlier fights were a little more impressive, things got more muddied in the later episodes, but it was solid. Nothing like the iconic hallway fights we've seen before, but still good. 


Iron Fist- he's marginally better here than in his own show, but the casting problems of that show are still evident. The actor playing Danny Rand is just not convincing in the role, physically or from a martial arts perspective. They do what they can with staging and camera work, and choreography of course, but he is not a fearsome warrior- and above all else Iron Fist should be impressive. It's not just his signature power move- the actual "iron fist" - it's that this guy is supposed to be the best of the best. When they clash briefly he is more than easily handled by Matt, and Elektra has absolutely no trouble with him. 

Madame Gao has lost a lot of her mystique, although to be fair that started in Iron Fist. From a mysterious elderly woman with unknown powers and a tie to K'un-Lun, she is demoted here to a lieutenant role by the arrival of Alexandra, the new big bad. Sigourney Weaver was fine as Alexandra but she doesn't do much, and when we meet the five fingers of the Hand I was not overly impressed. Murakami and the previously impressive Gao were the most interesting to me. 

Stick- he was as annoying to me here as he was in previous shows. I just didn't really understand his role- Stick and the Chaste are kind of cool in the comics- but here he didn't do anything for me. In fact I kind of cheered when Elektra killed him! 

Random Thoughts

There was some inconsistency in that Elektra on at least two occasions pretty much defeats Matt, Luke and Jessica singlehandedly- but then at the end her and Matt go toe-to-toe for a long time. And... she handles Danny quite easily, considering he's the "living weapon" and the ultimate martial artist. Also, how is it that Luke is pretty much impervious to anyone hitting him but Elektra easily handled him as well. A little too convenient. 

What is the significance of Black Sky? We never really find out why the resurrected Elektra is called this, and why Alexandra wanted her. 

We finally find out the meaning of the big hole underneath NYC. I had a feeling it was a Hand project, and it was kind of neat to imagine dragon bones underneath the city. Why are they in that location, and is there a link to Shou Lao the Undying? Also what is the "substance" we keep hearing about? 

I thought one of the better fights was between the newly resurrected Elektra and a bunch of Hand goons in episode three. She went up against a lot of people, that must have been tricky to choreograph. Elodie Yung is amazing as Elektra. 

We never get a sense of what happened to K'un-Lun.  

We need more Trish. I think in some ways I enjoyed Jessica the most in this one, and I'd like to see more of her and Trish.  

Bookcover Spotlight #116

Nearly Gone (Nearly Gone, #1)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Emma in the Night

Emma in the Night

Emma in the Night is a gripping psychological thriller about two girls who go missing and only one comes back. Cass and Emma both go missing from their home after a tempestuous summer- the family is pretty dysfunctional but things were really bad before they went missing- and after three years Cass turns up alive, and says she knows where Emma is. They just have to find her given the fragmentary information that Cass has. The story is told from two POV's- Cass and Abby, a forensic psychologist with the FBI. Cass tells her story as the same time as Abby tries to analyze what Cass is telling her, and put the pieces together. 

Complicating matters are the family dynamics. The girls' mother Judy has narcissistic personality disorder, so this book is about personality disorders and family dynamics as much as it is about two missing girls. It's all intertwined. But it's very readable, I read this in two sittings because I just had to know. I preferred Abby's chapters frankly because of the adult perspective and her analytical approach- and to make matters even more interesting, Abby has her own family history of narcissism that she deals with- and this both informs and threatens to hamper her investigation. I thought Abby and her partner, Leo Strauss, were a high point of the story and very believable. 

I've seen other reviews talk about just how dysfunctional this family is, and I have to agree. Not only is Judy very narcissistic, to the point where it affects everyone around her, but the girls have a stepfather who Judy married after cheating on their father, and a stepbrother as well. Everyone is competing for attention and to be top dog, and while I had a little bit of trouble believing everything that happened, it was still compelling. And a little scary. After all, how well do you really know someone? 

Cass tells investigators that people believe what they want to believe, and that is a core theme of the book. Do people overlook things they don't want to see? Of course, and Cass' perspective is suspect because you know right away she's probably going to be an unreliable narrator. That's what made Abby's perspective so interesting- at times Abby feels almost like Cass is trying to tell her something or indicate something to her, without actually saying it. Can Abby keep up? Will she draw the right conclusions? It doesn't help that Abby still has unresolved issues left over from the initial investigation three years earlier, when the girls first disappeared. Her partner Leo and the Bureau were not entirely onboard with her theories of what happened, and things sort of died down when they were never found. 

I went into this expecting a lot of Cass' story to be unreliable, so it was nice when elements of it were confirmed, making it even more curious as to who was telling the truth. I also tried to figure out the why of it but wasn't able to, there are lots of clues but you can't really get there until the end, when all the info is out. I enjoyed this a great deal, not only for the mystery but the look at narcissistic personality disorder, which I found very interesting. A great read. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

On The Run VIII

Eric felt like he's been punched in the gut. Andreas was here? He was both relieved and worried. At least he was dealing with a known quantity. Did it have to be that known quantity? He looked over at Anna, shook his head. She was as like to shoot him as talk to him. And he could see the troopers taking positions, knew already that Andreas had the entrance under observation. They couldn't make it out of here.

They let the door close and looked around. Eric jerked his head toward the stairs, and she nodded. She glanced at the ramp with the dead man on it and shuddered. No way she was going down there. They hurried up the stairs and took up positions on the second level- there was more room to hide here than on the open and airy third. They heard the entrance open and could hear the clatter of weapons, people entering. This was going fabulous.

"Eric! Dammit I just want to talk!" Eric could hear him directing his troopers this way and that, and he smiled. Andreas, of all people. Here. He heard someone say, "Sir," and then Andreas was calling to him again. "I see your proximity alarm here, Eric. I know you're in here. Come on out and we'll discuss. I don't want trouble. I'm just here about the missing technicians."

He could see Anna rolling her eyes. They said nothing- maybe they'd get lucky and Andreas would go downstairs. But no such luck. He knew that Andreas was silently directing his men, probably two to watch the ramp while the rest stormed the stairs. It was just a matter of time. This might be it- maybe he should have listened to Anna. They could have gated out- but then again they would have probably just run into the strike team on the beach. Maybe if they had waited though, for the team to move inland- even if there were guards posted at the gate, their odds would have been better. If this, maybe that... didn't really matter. He raised his fist to Anna, and she nodded. He loved her in that moment, knew she was as scared as he was, but she'd never show it.

The troopers came up in a silent rush, and still Eric held his fire. He didn't want to kill, hated it- and maybe Andreas did want to talk? The first trooper to see him though squeezed off a round immediately, and in seconds there was pulse fire everywhere. Okay enough talk. He fired back, ducking behind his cover, and saw Anna firing into the troopers as well. It was chaos. They held their position as long as they could, he wasn't sure how many had gone down, but instinct told him when they were going to be overrun, and he and Anna peeled off, going separate ways. It was a close thing, with pulse fire blowing chunks out of the ceiling above him, and he felt a stinging burn on his left arm. That was close. 

Anna was breathing hard, adrenaline coursing through her. Other than some nicks and scratches she was okay so far. She took a deep breath and felt a sob hitch in her throat. DammitI told him this would happen. She fired again, then ducked back. Well, not this exactly, but something. This was not good. Her only hope was to get to Andreas, if she could knock him off they could maybe stop this. It was a fleeting hope, but she had nothing else. She stopped firing and ducked into a doorway that opened silently. Waiting...

The first trooper came around the corner, to meet the butt of her pulse rifle. He has some dental work in his future. She flipped the rifle over and sent a pulse through the next guy's leg. He howled and went down, and she kicked his weapon away as she rushed past. Behind her she could hear more coming- had they encircled her already- but it didn't matter, she was at the stairs. Praying that Eric was alright she flew down the steps, stopping just before the ground level. She couldn't see anyone- surely Andreas had left someone behind to guard?

Where was he? She scanned the area quickly, saw no one. Bullshit. He wouldn't have sent everyone up. She heard a thump upstairs- a shock grenade? She was out of time. Then she saw the red dots on her torso. Where were they?

"Hi Anna." She felt a gun at her head.
Fuck. It all happened so fast, before she could do anything a hand covered hers, pushing her pistol down.
"Don't even think about it."

Game of Thrones: Alys Karstark

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

Alys Karstark is a character introduced in A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire. She flees her uncle who is trying to gain control of the  Karstark ancestral lands, but she's not having any of it. With her father executed and her brothers scattered (or dead), her uncle sees this as an opportunity to wed her and be lord of Karhold. She flees to Castle Black, where Jon Snow gives her safe haven. But her uncle will not give up easily.

This post will have spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire.

You are my only hope, Lord Snow. In your father's name, I beg you. Protect me. 

Alys is first seen by Melisandre in her flames, and mistaken for Arya. The red priestess sees a girl on the run, heading north, and tells Jon- but when she arrives, she asks for protection from Cregan, her uncle (or technically a cousin since Cregan's father Arnolf is her great-uncle). Another case of Melisandre seeing one thing but misinterpreting it. Jon grants her sanctuary, and when Cregan shows up, Jon has him imprisoned.

"Daggers in the dark. I know. You will forgive my doubts, my lady. A grey girl on a dying horse, fleeing from a marriage, that was what you said. "
"I was not wrong."
"You were not right. Alys is not Arya."
"The vision was a true one. It was my reading that was false. I am as mortal as you, Jon Snow. All mortals err."

Alys is a bit like Lyanna Mormont- assertive and loyal to the north. Her father was executed for killing Lannister prisoners, and her brothers Eddard and Torrhen were killed by Jaime Lannister. Her betrothed, Daryn Hornwood, was also killed. Her brother Harrion, who is currently the heir, is a prisoner to the south.

Before the war I was betrothed to Daryn Hornwood. We were only waiting till I flowered to be wed, but the Kingslayer killed Daryn in the Whispering Wood. My father wrote that he would find some southron lord to wed me, but he never did. Your brother Robb cut off his head for killing Lannisters. 

I thought the whole reason they marched south was to kill some Lannisters. 

To prevent her from being victimized, Jon arranges for her to marry Sigorn, the new Magnar of Thenn. A wildling. This in effect creates a new noble house, which will inherit Karhold if Harrion Karstark dies. Problem solved- and Jon has an ally in Karhold. Melisandre officiates at the wedding.

Jon turned to Alys Karstark. "My lady. Are you ready?"
"Yes. Oh, yes."
"You're not scared?"
The girl smiled in a way that reminded Jon so much of his little sister that it almost broke his heart. "Let him be scared of me." The snowflakes were melting on her cheeks, but her hair was wrapped in a swirl of lace that Satin had found somewhere, and the snow had begun to collect there, giving her a frosty crown. Her cheeks were flushed and red, and her eyes sparkled. 
"Winter's lady." Jon squeezed her hand. 

I love the relationship between Jon and Alys.

"You could dance with me, you know. It would be only courteous. You danced with me anon."
"Anon?" teased Jon. 
"When we were children." She tore off a bit of bread and threw it at him. "As you know well."
"My lady should dance with her husband."
"My Magnar is not one for dancing, I fear. If you will not dance with me, at least pour me some of the mulled wine." 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Ten Back To School


 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 we're celebrating (?) back to school with a Top Ten freebie. I decided to go ten schools/ academies I'd love to read more about. 

  Sanctuary Bay

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

Legacy (Night School, #2)


Cath and Levi. Or Regan! 

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The library in Waterfall City even though it's not a school per se.

Radio Silence

This might be kind of a cheat but school/ starting college are both a part of the story.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Instead of schools we have factions, but they're sort of like school (especially Erudite I would imagine).

Lost Stars (Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens)

We don't hear much about the Academy but this book delves into that a little bit.  

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Assassin school.

And... since I can't think of another book, we'll go with a show. 

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Tuesday Tagline #53


Bad things happen. Fight to make things right. Or let it wreck your life. This is kinda different from a lot of taglines, a little more in- depth maybe, I don't know, but I'm intrigued, between that and the cover. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Game of Thrones

As Game of Thrones rockets to a conclusion for season seven (seriously has this flown by or what?) we venture forth once more beyond the Wall, in search of the army of the dead. The magnificent seven, as many are calling them, only really need one dead wight though, so they can prove to Cersei that the threat exists. As asinine as that plan is, it forms the heart of this episode, the last one before the finale. And with the previous two episodes  advancing the plot in a huge way, it's a safe bet we're going to get some fireworks in this one as well. And it didn't disappoint.

Spoilers for this episode of Game of Thrones, and for the books as well.

The magnificent seven are north of the Wall and having a good time, judging from their banter. Okay maybe not fun per se, but judging from the dialogue the writers seemed to be having a good time. We hit some character beats we needed to hit- Jon and Jorah bonding a bit, including a very nice exchange about Longclaw and who should have it, along with some banter between Tormund and the Hound. Seriously those two? And Gendry let Beric know what he thought of being sold to Melisandre, but didn't exactly get an apology from him or Thoros. Speaking of the former red priest, it's amazing he can walk with all the wine he must be swilling. 

Oh and they have some Night's Watch guys with them as well- can we call them redshirts? They certainly played that role. How would you like to be one of those guys? Might just as well have a "kill me" sign on your back! Anyway we don't really know how far north they go, but they eventually find a band of zombies to ambush and the action gets started. Jon takes out a white walker and they soon have their zombie proof. But... trouble's a brewing as here comes a zombie ARMY. Jon sends Gendry back to Eastwatch to warn Dany and then he and the rest of the group go... in a different direction. Why? You got me. 

Oh I almost forgot the bear. Their first encounter with an undead bear was a tough one, with a redshirt getting offed and Thoros almost dying. I thought he was a goner, especially when the Hound froze up (see what I did there) due to the fire. Thoros ends up dying anyway, which was not really unexpected, but still tough to see. 

While all this is going on we cut back and forth to Winterfell, where Arya and Sansa are having a serious disagreement. Arya shows her the letter she found and I thought they had a pretty good exchange- they both have good points, it's too bad they couldn't just communicate a little more and work it out. Sansa mention to Littlefinger that she hasn't heard from Jon for weeks- can't he send a raven?- and Littlefinger slyly denies knowing anything about how Arya found the note. She makes a good point about how Jon's lords are pretty quick to waver in their loyalty. I couldn't agree more. 

Also Tyrion and Dany discuss the coming meeting with Cersei, and they don't agree on much. This is where the folly of this whole mission to the north is so evident- instead of working on their plans for conquest or defense of the north, they're waiting on Jon's suicide mission. And speaking of, Gendry is running back to Eastwatch and gets there in what I'm going to assume is record time? I mean really. We've discussed the ridiculous passage of time on this show at length, but this is really pushing it. Gendry makes it back in less than a day apparently, and while we don't know for sure I certainly got the impression they went a goodly ways north. At this point you just have to ignore time and travel distances and just go with it. 

Jon and the rest are surrounded by zombies but they don't move in after the first wave of them falls through ice. The whole set-up of this put me in mind of the forthcoming Battle of Ice in the next book- there has been a lot of speculation about Stannis' tactics in that battle, with him taking up position in an abandoned village near a frozen lake. Some think he is setting up the Bolton forces to fall through the ice when they attack, and this may be a nod to that from the showrunners. Anyway for some reason the Hound decides to provoke the zombies- why would you do that?- and pretty soon they all come (but don't fall through the ice-hmm). Battle ensues and it looks bad until the air force arrives- Dany got the message and has come to the rescue with all three dragons!   

Sansa meanwhile sends Brienne to King's Landing in her stead, as Cersei has invited her to come. What is THAT all about? Looks like the showrunners want Brienne there when the undead corpse is brought to Cersei. And Arya and Sansa face off once again when Sansa searches Arya's chambers and finds her faces. Nice! Meanwhile Dany's dragons are lighting the place up and it's glorious. However, then something really bad happens. 

The Night King kills Viserion with his spear or whatever it is, and Dany and company barely make it out- minus Jon who falls through the ice. That was tough watching Dany have to leave. Should she and her two remaining dragons take on the Night King? Well we have to save something for season eight, but it still rankled to see her leave when I wanted her to exact some payback! I'm surprised Rhaegal didn't at least make one pass over the Night King and his lieutenants, give 'em a taste of dragonfire. Oh, well. 

Everything up to this point was great, but then things fell apart a little for me. Jon is still alive, of course, but who comes to his rescue? Benjen Stark. Jon's uncle gives him a way out and fights off the wights long enough for Jon to escape, but it looks like Benjen is done at this point. What I want to know is, how do you keep a horse alive in that environment? Jon makes it back and while they're tending him, Dany sees his scars. She knows there is something to Mel's story. Jon tells her he would bend the knee if he could, and she is amazed that he would do that given his situation. He tells her he believes in her, and they stare at each other for a very long moment- I'm glad they didn't kiss quite yet, it would be too soon, but I thought they were going there for a second.   

It should be interesting to see how they feel about things when Jon's heritage becomes known. 

Random Thoughts

"I suppose you favor your mother," says Beric to Jon. Little does he know! Nice line though- another hint to Lyanna.

I thought the battle scenes were a little unclear at times as to who was dying! I had to go back and confirm that it was a redshirt who went down initially when the bear attacked, and again when someone fell off the cliff into the zombies. For a minute I thought that was Jorah biting the dust!

Tormund took Gendry's hammer when Gendry left which seemed like a bad idea in case, you know, Gendry ran into any wights. Luckily that didn't happen. I hope Tormund brought his hammer back? 

I'm assuming it's pretty cold north of the Wall and when they spent the night on the island with no fire, I'm not sure how they survived? I mean obviously Thoros didn't, but still. 

The flaming sword is pretty fricking awesome. 

An undead dragon? That's... not good. Discounting for a moment where they got those massive chains, it was pretty terrifying for the undead to gain Viserion's services. They paid a big price just to take a zombie to Cersei. 

"I wish we'd never gone," Jon tells Dany. Me too pal! It was pretty dumb and now you're down a dragon. I knew from the script leaks and spoilers that this was coming, and next episode should be... quite. Is the Wall coming down?