Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Just Finished Reading... A Hero for the Empire by Christina Wescott

After hardly doing any reading all year because I'd been so busy, in the last few weeks I've built up quite a nice TBR (to-be-read) pile between e-books on my iPad mini and a stack of good old fashioned paperbacks, which I'll admit, I get more enjoyment out of. I think its something to do with the fact that when I'm looking at a screen, I'm usually working, so I can't relax the same way reading an e-book as I do when I've got the printed version in my hand.
Anyway, enough psycho-analysis, I'm here to talk about the latest book I finished!
Now, I'm actually pretty picky about my sci-fi romance, which is why I don't read as much as I either should (to keep up with what's going on in the market, etc) or would like. However, both the blurb and extract I found of A Hero for the Empire online sounded pretty good, so I went ahead and got an e-book copy from iTunes, which is where I get a majority of my e-books these days.
I found this book to be quite well written, the action scenes and description done very well, though I felt it was a bit rough and ready to start with. We're tossed into this world with little reference, and some of the terms weren't really explained, so it took me until well into the book to fully understand the political and military side of it. However, I can't talk, because I know how hard opening chapters are, and the same problem -- rough opening chapters where the story struggles to get going -- is a flaw of my own that I'm constantly struggling with.
Anyway, the other thing was that the romance side of things also started off a bit rough. The two main characters were instantly attracted to each other, and were thinking about sleeping together within like a few hours of meeting. We've all read books where this works, but in this case, it was a little jarring. I actually think it would have worked better if the author had said they were attracted to one another, and left it at that, because following shortly after, the romance got pushed back in favor of the story, which felt more natural and allowed the characters to come together more organically.
This was one of those books that starts off good, but ends up being great. The further I got into the story, the more addicted I was, the more on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what was going to happen and how in the heck the author was going to pull together a convincing happily-ever-after with all the things going wrong all over the place. But she did it, and she did it really well, with plenty of action and the exact right amount of romance to round things out.
I'm really looking forward to seeing where the author goes with the series next, as I think (I hope) it will only continue to get better from here.
All in all, this was a great sci-fi romance read, one I think is a good representation of the genre we're all hoping will gain ground and popularity. Oh, I also have to say that even though I'm not a cat person, I really loved the psychic cat. He had his own great personality and called the hero his "person" which was just adorable! Anyone on the look out for good sci-fi romance should check this book out.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Just Finished Reading... Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

So I've been totally slack with my reading habits this year, especially in the last six months. However, I have a new resolve to start making more time to read so I'm not so caught up in my own work all the time, plus its good too see what else is out there.
To that end, I finally got my hands on a book I'd been meaning to read for ages - Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach (also writing as Rachel Aaron). There's an interview in the back of this book, and the author says that she'd had the idea for her Paradox series in the back of her mind, but a few years ago, went looking for an action packed space romance, but when she couldn't find any that were exactly what she was after, decided to write one herself. The reason I mention this is because that was one of the reasons I decided to write Atrophy.
Anyway, I'm not a big fan of books written in the first person. That's not to say I won't read them, but they've got to have a really awesome hook to get me in, otherwise, it bothers me. About three pages into this book, I stopped noticing it was even written in first person. Good writing is good writing, people, so if a book can grab you, it won't matter about those little things that otherwise might stop you from reading on.
This writing in this book is awesome, which, when added to great characters and an exciting story, makes for a five star read, if I was the type of reader to give out marks.
The main female character, Devi, is exactly the kind of brave, confident kick-ass heroine I aspire to write, but haven't got a handle on yet. This book shows it can be done, and can be done well. So its probably not surprising to admit that I wasn't even half way through this book when I immediately went and ordered the following two (in paperback, because I'm old fashioned that way) and now I'm sitting here day after day, waiting for them to arrive so I can find out what happens to Devi.
As for the romance, it was good, but there probably wasn't as much as I usually enjoy in my sci-fi romance (however, I know in my own books, sometimes I go over board with the romance and don't have as much sci-fi, which I know isn't everyone's cup of tea). The romance between Devi and Rupert was handled quite well, and Rupert is a whole mystery unto himself that I can't wait to find out more about. 
All in all, this was an awesome book, and I certainly hope Rachel Bach continues writing sci-fi romance -- if not this series, then maybe something else, because she certainly has a talent for it!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Countdown: Top Season Returns of 2014/2015 - #1 Arrow

And after a bit of a delay, we're back with the countdown of shows that I think made the best return for the 2014/2015 season. I know, I'm a bit slow with this considering the viewing season is now almost half over already, with most shows airing their mid-winter finale. Still, I think the shows I've mentioned have continued to impress right into the middle of the series, and hopefully will continue into the second half when they return in 2015. At number four we had Once Upon a Time. The number three spot was Chicago Fire. And Agents of SHIELD came in at number two.
If you've read this blog recently, its probably not surprising to find I've awarded Arrow the number one spot...

Yes, I have already posted about how awesome I thought the first episode in season three of Arrow was. The subsequent episodes have only made this show more epic. They killed Sarah, and now
Laurel is secretly training (as much as Laurel sometimes annoys me, I have to respect her resolve to become tougher) while Felicity has gone to work at Queen Consolidated under Ray Palmer as I predicted... but who couldn't see that coming?
We got an awesome Felicity-centered episode (anything featuring Felicity is awesome) however, Oliver is just asking for it, really. Someone punch that guy in the face, maybe it'll knock some sense into him. Seriously. At the end of the Felicity episode, he gave her one of his speeches, something along the lines of no matter what happened to Felicity in the past, he was glad for it, because it had made her the woman she is today. He finished by pointedly saying "and you know how I feel about her." Sure, why not twist the knife, Oliver? Felicity ignored the comment and told him she had to go. What else was she going to do?
Maybe run straight into the conveniently positioned arms of her new boss, Ray Palmer.
Again, who didn't see that coming. After wooing Felicity with an expensive dress, even more expensive jewelry and then taking her out to a "work" dinner (actually, it really was a work dinner) it was easy to see what would happen by the end of the episode. Oliver was displaying an unsurprising jealousy over Felicity's new closeness to Ray, though it seemed he was happy to show it to everyone else, but around Felicity, stayed as stoic as ever. I have to say, it was a little cliche, but I did enjoy how the writers maneuvered the characters in this episode -- Diggle was in Oliver's ear about his true feelings for Felicity and the fact that he was hurting her by denying her the chance to be with him (or something along those lines), so toward the end of the episode, it seemed Oliver had finally decided to open himself up to the possibility of being with her, except when he went to see her at his old QC offices, what did he find? Ray and Felicity kissing.
The look on his face said it all, before he went back to the Arrow cave (newly monikered in recent episodes) only to come face to face with the fern Felicity had bought to brighten the place up. In that moment, he snapped, letting the fury and hurt out. Unfortunately, in the aftermath, you could all but see his resolve strengthening that nothing would ever happen between them, especially if Felicity was moving on. Which she totally isn't. I think Ray and the kiss were just a distraction. And with the little clues being left, it seems more and more likely that Ray will turn out to be a bad guy. I think it will be a case of Ray had always meant to use Felicity when he came to town with his nefarious plan, but hadn't expected to care for her, or some such thing like that.
Meanwhile, I will try to contain my geeky excitement when I state that the Arrow-Flash crossover was easily THE BEST crossover any show has done ever. I don't have words to describe how awesome that was. I really loved that it showcased the differences in the Arrow-Flash teams, but highlighted that they do what they do for the same reasons, even if their methods are a little different. I could go on, but maybe I'll save that for another day and another post.
Lastly I have to say that tonight's mid season finally, with Oliver facing the leader of the League of Assassins, after they presumably find out he was the one who killed Sarah, looks amazing. I'm sure it'll end in some cliff-hanger where we don't know if Oliver is dead or alive (of course they're not going to kill him!) but I'm hoping it doesn't. I'm hoping we get some smallish resolution so we're not spending the next few weeks counting down the days until the mid-season break is over.
All I can say in finishing is that if the first half of Arrow season 3 has been this awesome, I can't wait to see what they do in the second half.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Countdown: Top Season Returns of 2014/2015 - #2 Agents of SHIELD

Welcome back to my countdown of shows I think made the best comeback for the 2014/2015 viewing season. At number four we had Once Upon a Time. I the number three spot was Chicago Fire. And today, second place goes to Agents of SHIELD...

After the epic last few episodes of Shield season one, I had been dying to find out where it would all pick up -- Ward's betrayal both of the team and Skye personally, Fitz telling Simmons he loved her and then almost dying, the mystery of the drug Coulson and Skye had both taken, Skye's origins -- to name a few of the prominent threads. And there were plenty of other things going on as well.
This season started off with an entirely different feel. Really, what else were they going to do after literally destroying everything at the end of last season?
From the start, we were quickly introduced to a handful of new characters. At first, I did miss the old "team" on the bus solving mysteries, and the show was definitely lacking the smushy-feel-good-team thing they had going on last year. However, I quickly came to love these new characters and the new dynamics that had opened up. I'm especially interested in Lance Hunter... no, the accent has nothing to do with it! Okay, maybe a little. I think a Monday Muse post featuring him will definitely be on the cards once I get a bit more information about his character.
Anyhoo, while there are many interesting things going on, like Coulson possibly going crazy and doing that weird alien sketching on the walls until they got the answers about the fact it was a map, what I really want is to start seeing Ward redeeming himself. And while he has made a start by keeping his promise that he would never be untruthful with Skye, he's still kind of in creepy-evil-Ward mode, so we need him to work that out of his system. In the previous weeks, Ward finally decided to escape when he found out SHIELD were handing him over to his brother, who just happens to be a senator. Senator Ward told Coulson all about how evil Agent Ward was, while Agent Ward told Skye all about how evil Senator Ward was. Who you gonna believe? I'm going to go with Agent Ward on this one, even though his motivations are still very murky.
After escaping, Ward left Coulson a present in the form of some top ranking Hydra agents, and then rang Skye up to tell her he'd be sending some more gifts their way. Still creepy, but it seems he's trying to do the right thing in his own twisted way. And that was all well and good until this week when it appeared he staged a murder-suicide of his parents and brother, only to then return to Hydra.

I'm still hanging onto the hope that he can and will redeem himself, but if he did in fact kill his parents and brother, he's obviously got a long way to go. I'm also rather worried about his motivations and what he's going to do within the ranks of Hydra, it might all end up going sideways.
I cannot wait and am literally counting down the days to the next episode to find out about Coulson's alien-city-map thing and what move Ward will make next. Of course, there are plenty of other questions to be answered, like the whole thing with Skye's father, the issues Fitz is having and the whole thing with Lance and his ex-wife working together.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Countdown: Top Season Returns for 2014/2015 - #3 Chicago Fire

Welcome to the second installment of my countdown of which series I think made the best returns for the 2014/2015 viewing season. In the number four spot, we had Once Upon a Time. Taking up the number three position is Chicago Fire.

The final episode of Chicago Fire season two was a classic cliff hanger. The chief got married, Casey proposed to Dawson, but before anyone could really enjoy these moments, the team were called to a fire in an abandoned building. At first it seemed pretty typical, but then while every single member of the crew, except for the chief, were inside the building, communications went down and the chief couldn't contact them on the radio. Just when the audience was sufficiently creeped out by this fact-- kaboom! The building blew up, complete with fireballs exploding out of the windows. So to start back this season, we needed to know what happened to the crew. Maybe it was dumb, but I actually wasn't expecting that any of the characters would be killed. Seriously injured, yes, but not killed. So when it turned out that Shay had died, I was actually shocked. Killing off characters in the first episode of the season seems to be a theme this year.
The action hasn't stopped in the weeks following. We're seeing the type of episodes a show would usually pull out in the middle to end of the season to keep the audience engaged; from two fire trucks crashing into each other and causing a huge accident, to when Severide got involved in a gang shooting on the subway. It will be interesting to see how the writers keep this up for the rest of the season, and if we're seeing this level of action now, what on earth could they have planned for the end of the season? I also have to mention that I love the continuous cross-cameo appearances Chicago Fire and Chicago PD always do. I don't think there's ever been another two shows that have the luxury or plausibility to be able to work off each so closely.
There are a few interesting character arcs happening in the show at the moment, but I think the best one is easily Peter's. He's been looking into his family background, and also suffered an inner-ear injury from the explosion, meaning he couldn't be cleared for active duty as a firefighter any longer. He made the call to transfer from firefighter to paramedic, taking Dawson's role, as she has become the new candidate. This role swapping has been interesting, and I think will only become more interesting as the season continues on.
The other interesting arc is Severide and him dealing with the loss of Shay. For a while he really spiraled with drinking and staying out all night and the thing with Lindsay (a cop from Chicago PD) came to an end.
For like a second it seemed like he was going to stabilize, and there was even this tiny brief moment when he and the new girl paramedic Sylive seemed to connect. Except then Severide went off to Vegas and did the cliche get-married-to-a-chick-he-just-met thing. At first impressions, this new woman seems to be on the level, but it appears she might have similar skeletons in her past to Severide. While I'm hoping that she'll be the one to pull him out of the rock-bottom grief over losing Shay, I'm thinking its more likely she'll be the cause of many new problems.
Whatever the case, Chicago Fire has well and truly sucked me in for the year.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Escape Velocity Release Announcement

Just a very quick post to share the exciting news that Escape Velocity will be released with Entangled Publishing on the 26th of January 2015. While the cover isn't quite ready yet, keep an eye out, because I'll be posting that as soon as I'm able to!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Countdown: Top Season Returns for 2014/2015 -- #4 Once Upon A Time

Now that we're well and truly back into the viewing season, I'm giving out the first ever awards for best returning series. Ending a season in some ways is the easy part, that's when the climax happens, and other all sorts of exciting things. But much like writing a book where you need to hook your readers withing the first chapter, starting off a season can be challenging, and if its not done right, viewers can be quickly lost and ratings destroyed for the remainder of the year, which can of course result in a show being cancelled.
In separate blog posts, I'll be listing the top four shows that I think have started their new season off with a strong lead, followed by some honorable mentions. 
To start us off, sitting at the number four slot is Once Upon a Time...

The end of season three was quite well done by the writers/creators. Many things were resolved (Captain Swan ship, anyone?) but there were also many new questions raised, and we were given a hint about the new characters for season four. The new season has picked up almost where the last left off. The townsfolk realize there is a new player in town when a snow monster goes stomping around, followed by a giant ice wall surrounding the town. Regina lost her new love in Robin Hood when Emma accidentally brought his dead wife forward through time with her. Regina's good/evil struggle has been very interesting and I think handled very well by the writers.
For the Outlaw Queen shippers (I think that's what they're calling it) we've been given sparks of hope for the couple. Robin Hood's wife was cursed by a freezing spell and someone suggested that true love's kiss would break it. He tried, but nothing happened. Regina offered the explanation that the ice was acting as a barrier. Later, Robin admitted that he thought it hadn't worked because he was in love with someone else. Regina was obviously elated at this revelation, but respectful of Robin's choice to be with Marian for the sake of their son and the fact that she is his wife.
However, for the time being, Marian is frozen solid -- not dead, but not alive. There isn't any foreseeable solution to this, though Regina did promise Robin she would find a way. In the meantime, there has been a lot of Outlaw Queen angst as Regina tries in vain to find a solution for unfreezing Marian, only to come up short, while Robin struggles with his love for Regina, his lack of feelings for Marian, and even his own sense of identity. In this week's episode, viewer were treated to a moment that no doubt all Outlaw Queen shippers were waiting for. It was obvious that Robin's struggle was becoming harder, and no matter how many times Regina asked him to leave her alone and forget about her, he just couldn't do it. After talking to Will Scarlett (whose character had been brought across from the failed Wonderland spin-off), Will offered some advice along the lines of if your love isn't worth destroying your entire life over, then what's the point? He was talking in terms of Marian, but instead of helping Robin remember his feelings for his frozen wife, it instead sent him to Regina. I'll admit, the scene that followed is the type us romance authors dream about writing.I could try to recount it, but I know I wouldn't do it justice. Watching it unfold is so much better!

On the Captain Swan ship, things aren't all roses and love hearts for the golden couple either. Emma feels bad that she ruined Regina's relationship and feels she doesn't deserve any of her own relationship happiness until that is resolved. However she also confessed to Hook a few weeks back that every single guy she's ever dated is dead, and she doesn't want to lose him as well. Hook replied with a typically macho "you don't need to worry about me" response. Still, I'm sure these issues are far from resolved and it will be interesting to see how they continue evolving over the coming season.
This past week, Emma was confronted with the fact that her family can be a bit nervous about her and her newish powers, when Mary-Margaret hesitated to hand over Emma's baby brother only moments after displaying a burst of uncontrolled magic. Later in the episode, Emma blew out an entire wall in the sheriff's station, followed by dropping a lamp post that almost took out David. Although technically Hook wasn't one of the ones seeming wary of her, he did try to get closer when she told them not to, before taking off in her car.
This is playing right into the hands of the Evil Snow Queen, who turned out to be a different snow queen than Elsa, which bring us to the other interesting element to this season in the introduction of Elsa and the mystery of what happened to Ana.
The writers/creators were pretty clever in jumping on the Frozen juggernaut, and already the legend used in OUAT has been slightly altered and built on by the writers. Its going to be fascinating to see how they build it through the rest of the season, however, if there's even and hint of Elsa singing "Let it Go" I won't be held responsible for my actions!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Vampire Diaries 6x06 -- Proving They Can Still Surprise Me

Going into the sixth season of the Vampire Diaries, while I still really enjoy the show, I wasn't sure which direction the show was going to take; either a sad plunge into suckiness, or continuing at a steady drama-fueled pace until the CW decided that the show had run its course and didn't renew it for another season. In the Delana Ships That Aren't Shipping, But Totally Should Be post I did last year, I even said that I had to wonder what else could possibly happen to these people that hadn't already. Well, I probably should have gotten a clue from the way season five ended; with Ric returning, among other dead people, while Bonnie and Damon got obliterated by a huge white light.
I expected when season six started that eventually Damon and Bonnie would find their way back, and in the meantime this would be some serious angst fodder. But I couldn't have imagined the sequence of events that followed, events that worked so well and were so logical story-wise, that I had to write this post to say well done to the writers, because they actually surprised me, which is pretty hard to do these days. Usually I can see a twist coming in a TV show a mile off, but I sure didn't see the one coming in last night's episode.
So, after losing Damon and believing he was gone forever, Elena went off the rails, and then when she had a moment of clarity in which she saw how bad she'd gotten, she asked Ric to compel her (because Ric became a vampire through the Original vampire spell, and could therefore compel other vampires) and erase her memories of loving Damon. Now, I thought this was totally extreme, and wasn't very happy about it. Surely Ric could have compelled her to maybe just feel better about losing Damon, or something that would still mean she loved him, but didn't hurt as much any longer. But no, those memories had to go until she only remembered that Damon was the psycho killing brother of her ex-boyfriend. Of course, this illusion didn't last long, because Stefan soon told her what she'd done, when she was giving him a particularly ironic lecture about not dealing with things.
So, that was all fine and dandy. Except whoops! Damon came back. Without Bonnie, I might add. She sacrificed herself so that Damon could get through the magical portal thing that they needed to get back from the weird space-time, alternate universe place that Bonnie's grandmother had somehow sent them to. I'm sue Bonnie's going to turn up at some stage, but that will probably be a twist in itself. Like, she won't remember who she is or something.
Anyhoo, so Damon came back and was understandably stunned to find that Elena had erased her memories of loving him. All he wanted was to see her, but of course she avoided him, and since she couldn't remember all the good Damon parts, thought her fake-compulsed happiness must surely be better than whatever she'd felt when she remembered him. Bravo, Elena, because that makes so much sense. Most of the time Elena doesn't bother me too much, but occasionally she has these moments where you just want someone to slap some sense into her.
So Damon spent the rest of the episode alternately lurking and pursuing Elana, until he got nabbed by the latest crazy vampire hunter to hit town (side note; why are the vampire hunters on this show always ten kinds of crazy. Aside from Ric, I suppose, but he wasn't exactly stable himself). And Elena did everything in her power to avoid him, including jumping out of a window. Until she realized Damon had been taken, and of course that was what woke her up to her own stupidity. As she waited with Caroline to intercept the van the hunter was driving Damon and Enzo in, she told Caroline that she was going to have Ric restore her memories. So the audience was cheering, and no doubt envisaging a passionate Delana reunion before the end of the episode. Except right here is where the writers decided to screw with us in a spectacularly brilliant twist.
The van came up on where Stefan and Ric were waiting. And you would think, being the smart vampires that they are (not, apparently) they wouldn't park their decoy broken down car so freaking close to the magical vampire killing town line. But they did, so when the hunter pulled up and realized he'd driven into a trap, he was just one accelerator-stomping car-ram away from getting those pesky vampire over the line so they could die.
Stefan was the last man standing, and wasted precious seconds on the phone to Elena telling her what had happened. And then he had a decision to make; save Ric, or save Damon? Actually, it wasn't much of a choice. Sorry Ric, but family first, and all that. So Stefan walks over the line, and immediately starts bleeding all over the place, re-suffering the wound that had killed him when he became a vampire. He manages to get Damon and Enzo free, and then they all stumble across the town line again to heal.
Meanwhile, a new player in town, a doctor (I think her name is Jo) who they conviniently found out in this same episode was a witch, randomly turns up to stem Ric's bleeding. He tried to tell her she needs to get him over the town line, but she just spouts off some medical stuff and then gives him CPR when he passes out. For a minute there, we all think Ric is dead again. But then he wakes up, and in that second, it hit me exactly what the writers had done.
Doctor Jo saved Ric with actual medicine, and the magic town line had stripped away all the magic, meaning Ric was human again... which meant he had no vampire powers, like, oh say the power of compelling other vampires.
That's right. In a stroke of evil brilliance, the writers have taken away Elena's ability to get her happy memories of Damon back. Seriously, this Delana ship is so twisted. Now, Elena doesn't feel anything for Damon except for maybe mild disgust and loathing, and she's fixated on the fact that once many years ago, Damon killed Jeremy. Look, the kid is fine, maybe she should be more worried about how screwed up he is over losing Bonnie. If that's not enough, Elena has become interested in another guy, fellow med student whose name I can't even remember, but next to Damon, is totally white bread. In the preview for next week's episode, it seems Elena is going to pursue this relationship, despite knowing what it'll probably do to Damon, which is kind of a bitch move if you ask me.
But anyway, we all know it won't last. The Delana ship is like fate, and nothing can stand in between it for long. There's already been some talk that the feelings they had for one another could be stronger than the compulsion, so at some stage, I'm sure some uber-dramatic thing will happen that will cause Elena's memories to come flooding back, and all will be right in the Delana universe for another five minutes, until the next catastrophe strikes.
So, bravo to the Vampire Diaries writers, because just when I thought there wasn't anywhere else to take things, they went way outside the square to totally rearrange the lay of the land. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book vs TV Series -- The 100

Ever since I started watching The 100 last year and found out it had been adapted to TV from a book, I had thought about getting the book to read so I could find out what happens, or if the book is anything like the TV series.
When it comes to TV shows or movies made from books, I can go either way. Sometimes I've read the book before the screen version comes out (like Hunger Games or Divergent), sometimes I've already watched the movie/series and decided I liked it enough to see what the book version is like (which I did with True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse series), and sometimes, even though I might love the TV series, it doesn't make me want to run out and read the books and I'm happy enough with only the screen version (The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars).
In the case of The 100, it was the Bellamy/Clarke ship (I refuse to call it Bellarke!) that finally did it for me. Quite by accident, I came across a review of the book online, and even though the review was less than glowing, considering it was one star and sarcastically pointed out many of the book's faults in comical fashion, it made me want to read the book. (So one star reviews aren't always bad! I think if I got a one star review by this particular reader/reviewer, it wouldn't be so bad because I'd probably be laughing at it too much) Anyway, so I got The 100 and the second book, Day 21, yesterday, but unfortunately I won't be getting straight into them as I have some other "work related" reading to do first.
From what I can gather from online reviews, there are a couple of very obvious differences between the book and the TV series. First of all, I haven't seen any reviews that mention Finn or Raven, so have to assume they were characters brought in for the show, while a couple of other characters, Glass and Luke, are in the book but absent from the TV series. Second of all, Wells isn't killed off in the book like he was early on in the TV series, and is actually one side of a love triangle between him, Clarke and Bellamy. And that brings us to the best difference -- Bellamy and Clarke. I can understand why the show's writers decided to kill off Wells and create Finn as the love interest for Clarke. But I'm not sure why the TV show creators have steered away from the Bellamy/Clarke romance and don't look to be taking things there any time soon, no matter how loud the Bellarke shippers get.
So as season two of The 100 continues on, I'll be reading the books in the coming weeks. In most cases, I don't usually compare books to screen adaptations too much, because the two are different medium and need to be handled in different ways, and when different people are working with the same concept, obviously different visions will eventuate.
And while the Bellamy/Clarke ship isn't playing out on the screen, I'll be getting my romance fix from the books.

*22/01/15 Update: Read my final verdict here

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Muse - Bob Morley as Bellamy Blake on The 100

Seems we are long overdue for a Monday Muse. I'm going for a home-grown muse today in Bob (or Robert) Morley playing Bellamy Blake on The 100.
When I started watching The 100, I thought Morley looked familiar, but didn't think too much about it. However, when I decided to do this Monday Muse post, the first thing I looked up was, only to find that he is Australian, and was on shows such as Neighbours and Home and Away; two popular TV soaps here in Australia where a lot of Aussie actors get their start. He also did a cameo on Sea Patrol, which was one of my favorite Aussie dramas when it was on a few years ago. Not only that, but his hometown is only about 40 minutes down the highway from where I live. 
But enough about that, we're here to talk about Bellamy!
I've been intrigued by the character of Bellamy ever since I started watching The 100. He is a perfect example of those grey characters I love so much (see also Hook from Once Upon a Time or Sebastian Monroe from Revolution as other examples). At first, from Clarke's point of view, Bellamy kind of comes across as an arrogant jerk. He emerges very quickly as one of the group leaders, being that little bit older (I think) and also having trained as security on board the ark before he jumped shipped.
It is revealed (in the first episode I think) that Bellamy is the only person on board the ark with a sibling (as its forbidden for couples to have more than one child to keep population growth under control), Over the course of the season, we find that Bellamy blames himself for his sister being imprisoned (for the crime of her existence, how unfair is that?) and after his mother is "vented" (I think is what they call it. Or was it spaced? Either way, it involves being sucked out of a hatch while still alive. And this is the punishment for many crimes on board the arc) Bellamy makes a deal to kill the chancellor of the ark in return for stowing away on the drop ship bound for earth -- where his sister is headed.
It is through this series of events, and others that unfold over the course of season one, that we see Bellamy emerging as a grey character. He will do anything for someone he loves, even if it blurs the lines of right and wrong, which is what us romance authors/readers love to see in a hero. Bellamy is constatnly struggling with his sense of identity, with doing the right thing for the right reason, or doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. And since he's only human, he's made his fair share of mistakes in his pursuit of what he thinks is best for himself or others.
Even though he risked everything for his sister, she isn't all that understanding or forgiving, and tends to make things even harder on him. Like siblings often do, they disagree over a lot of things, and sometimes Bellamy's protective instincts where his sister is concerned gets in the way of what is best for her, even if Bellamy doesn't agree.
As for other relationships on the show, Bellamy is a bit of a loner. He doesn't have any close friends or confidants, though he and Finn were starting to bond toward the end of season one. Now that he and Finn have been split from the main group and rejoined the adults, I think they will come to rely on and work together even more closely in order to find Clarke and the rest of the group.
And when it comes to Clarke, this is another interesting dynamic. There was obviously no romantic attraction scripted between the pair -- Finn came out as the love interest for Clarke from very early on. However, as these things often do, fans saw something in the interactions between Clarke and Bellamy. I must admit, the idea of a relationship between Clarke and Bellamy had crossed my own mind.
The shippers call it Bellarke (really, that was the best they could do?) and dedications are popping up all over the place, calling for Clarke and Bellamy's relationship to develop in season 2. However, the creators have come out and said there was never any planned romance for the pair, but in the same have admitted they can see the chemistry. Unfortunately, it was also said they weren't listening to outside voices saying the couple should be together. So, while they didn't confirm anything would ever develop between Clarke and Bellamy, they also didn't say it was impossible.
As for Bellamy's current situation, its going to be very interesting to see how that develops over the coming weeks. Bellamy had found a definite independence and fallen into a solidified leadership role at the end of last season, but now the adults have come to the ground and of course taken control of things. When Bellamy found that the traitor, Murphy, was still alive, Bellamy snapped and attacked him. Kane had him "arrested" -- whatever that means now that they are all on the ground and things are in shambled -- and basically told Bellamy, Finn and Murphy that they were acting like savages and had done a terrible job dealing with things since being on the ground. Of course, the adults had no idea what they'd been through, dealing with the grounders and all sorts of other things. I'm sure Bellamy isn't going to deal well with having the adults around again, trying to dictate how things should be, and I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen to him, and how he and Finn will eventually track down or reunite with Clarke and the others. Whatever happens, Bellamy's journey, and season 2 of The 100 is set to be awesome.
And of course, because this is a Monday Muse, we'll finish with a gratuitous shirtless pic...

Friday, October 24, 2014

I'm Still Here... Just

A quick post to say I am still around, even though I've been radio-silent on my blog and Facebook lately. I've just been busy in all aspects of my life the last few weeks -- family, writing and other things. I've started and obviously not finished about four blog posts in the past two weeks, about various topics. Hopefully I will get them finished and posted some time in the coming month, along with news about release dates for my first book with Entangled, Escape Velocity, and maybe a cover too!
So, that's me -- around, just not around here at the moment.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Arrow 3x01 - Two Seasons Worth of Shipper Angst Resolved and Destroyed in the Space of an Episode

The first episode of Arrow season three did not disappoint. I knew it was going to be good from the promos, but it exceeded my expectations, which is saying something, because if you've read this blog long enough, then you know I always tell it like I see it!
SO. That ship. I know I'm not the only fan who thinks Oliver and Felicity are too adorable. I don't think I've ever said that about a TV couple before. But its true about Oliver and Felicity, there is just something about them that makes you get all mushy.
From the start of the episode, it was apparent that in the five months that had gone by since the Arrow took down Slade, things had become calm and somewhat predictable in Starling City. Team Arrow had been spending their days putting away criminals and mob bosses, slowly but surely cleaning up the streets to the point where crime rates were at their lowest level. Laurel made the observation that soon there wouldn't be any criminals left to put away.
On a more personal front, Roy had nicely settled into the team, and I loved that he was fully kitted-out in this opening episode and doing some crazy Oliver-esque stunts. Dig had settled into domestic bliss with Carly and was waiting for the arrival of their baby.
As for Oliver and Felicity, it was apparent that Oliver's admission that he loved Felicity, despite trying to claim it as a ruse, had broken down the final barriers between them. If ever I've seen two people who technically aren't together act like a couple, Oliver and Felicity are definitely it. Which makes it all the more frustrating that Oliver can't see it and continues to push her away. But I'll get more into that in a moment.
So with this new-found awareness between them, Oliver and Felicity were in a really good place. Armed with advice from both Dig (and later Sarah, though that was after the fact) Oliver decides to ask Felicity out on a date. Their interactions in the next few scenes was where the adorable mushiness came into play. They were both nervous when meeting up at the restaurant. Oliver voices the question of what do they have to be nervous about, to which Felicity responded with a typical Felicity-ism "We've already exhausted every topic that one would normally talk about on a first date. And a second date, and a third date, and every date, actually. And I've already seen you shirtless. Multiple times... shirtless all the time." I'm sure there wouldn't have been many people who weren't having a giggle over that.
So the date was going really well, with Oliver opening up to Felicity about some of the things he hadn't told her before, admitting that she had changed his life the minute he'd walked into her office for the first time. After this, he all but says he wants to be with her... except before Felicity has a chance to reply or clarify the meaning of his words, everything gets blown to hell. Literally.
The look on Oliver's face when he wakes up from the explosion says it all. I knew in that moment how the rest of the episode would play out (and I'd also like to say I totally called it in the last Arrow post I did! Although, it was probably easy to predict...) but even so, the writers didn't disappoint in drawing out the angst of the Olicity ship.
Felicity isn't dumb and she knows Oliver better than anyone. She knows how he is going to react about this, in fact pretty much everyone knows how he is going to react. Dig tries telling Oliver not to overreact, but Oliver claims he let Felicity distract him, and if his head had been in the game one hundred per cent, then he might have realized something was up with the last guy he took down, who had planted a tracker on him.
This is then reinforced when he gets hit with a dose of the newest version of Vertigo, which shows a person's greatest fear. Oliver sees himself, and then later admits to Felicity that he is scared of what will happen if he lets himself be Oliver Queen. What he fails to realize is, because of everything that happened to him, he couldn't be the old Oliver Queen ever again, even if he tried.
However, his desire to have a life outside of being the Arrow is more than apparent, when Oliver tells Dig that with Carly and a baby on the way, he has the life that Oliver himself can never hope to have. When he says this, he looks at Felicity, and its all there in his expression, his desire to have that with her, but shadowed by the painful knowledge he never will. 
So, worried that either he is going to hurt Felicity, or that she will end up physically hurt by being with him, he tells Felicity they need to talk. She asks to put it off, and then later admits that she doesn't want to have that talk, because as soon as they do, it will be over.
This scene was done so fantastically by the writers/directors. You can see Felicity is already resigned to what Oliver is going to say, but then she gets rightfully frustrated with him and says "Say its never going to work out between us, say you never loved me."
And how does Oliver respond to that? He freaking kisses her! Its that moment where he can't take it any more, and maybe just needs one moment of something for himself before he pushes it all away. Totally unfair on Felicity, but I think this is what also strengthens her resolve. After the intense, yet reserved kiss, in which its easy to see they both want so much more, Oliver murmurs "Don't ask me to say that I don't love you."
I'm pretty sure everyone who ships Olicity, or even just likes the show, couldn't have watched that without their heart breaking, just a little.
I'm not really sure what Oliver expected from the kiss and this admission, in fact, maybe Oliver didn't know himself. Yet I'm pretty sure he and everyone watching would have been stunned by the strength of Felicity's convictions. She replies with "I told you as soon as we talked, it would be over." Before walking away from him. Of course, before Oliver can really process this, he gets a phone call from Barry Allen, who needs advice about becoming the Flash.
However, this wasn't even the biggest shock of the night. The episode ended with Sarah being killed -- something I totally didn't see coming, and something the show's creators had kept under wraps quite well, I believe. 
The writers have set some high bars to continue on for the remainder of the season.There's a new guy running Queen Consolidate, who is somehow set to become a new player. He's charming, and obviously interested in Felicity. He's offered her a job at QC, even though she hacked all his systems as revenge for stealing the company from Oliver. Whether this extends to him also being attracted to her remains to be seen, though this would obviously be an easy place to inject some more tension into Oliver and Felicity's relationship, especially if it seems Felicity is looking elsewhere, away from Oliver.
However, it also wouldn't surprise me to find QC's new CEO ends up being the new villain of the season.
So, here's some of my predictions:
1) I think Sarah getting killed is going to push Oliver way back into the darkness, and convince him that he made the right choice in pushing Felicity away. Felicity and Dig (and to an extent, Roy, though he obviously has his own Thea-releated issues going on) will try to bring him back again, there may or may not be a conversation between Dig and Felicity where Diggle tells Felicity she is the only one who can get through to him, though since Oliver pushed her away, she doesn't know if that's true.
2) Felicity might take the job at QC under the new CEO Ray Palmer. This might be to get inside information, or as a way to get the company back, or maybe just because she needs the money. This will obviously put her in Ray's path more and more. He might even put the moves on her, resulting in a lot of Oliver angst and jealousy.
3) I can see Felicity eventually deciding she can't do Team Arrow any longer, that being around Oliver and knowing they can never be together is too painful. She'll decide to leave, and Oliver will be stoic and accepting, but secretly heartbroken about it. Either he'll let her go and then at some stage realize he has to get her back, or at the very last second, he'll beg her not to leave him. There might be some words spoken about her being his light, and without her, he'll get lost in the darkness, or something as equally romantic.
4) On the other hand, Oliver might slowly come to the realization that by not being with Felicity, he's only hurting himself and her, and they spend so much freaking time together, and already act like a couple, they might as well enjoy all the benefits, though I think this scenario is more unlikely. 
5) Though Oliver is still insistent that he and Felicity can't be together, the building tension will eventually get to breaking point, and they'll have one night/moment together. Felicity will end up pregnant, making things even more super-complicated (this one is totally not going to happen. I mean, the first part might, but not the pregnant part. That's me just going overboard shipping and fan-fictioning)
6) The girl Oliver got pregnant before the shipwreck will turn up with Oliver's kid in tow, with the explanation that she'd heard his mom had died and thought it was time he knew the truth. This will definitely cause complications all over the place, changing everything from the way Oliver sees himself and his life, to his relationship, or non-relationship with Felicity.
...I did have some more, but I seem to have forgotten them! When I remember, I'll come back and update the post.
But for now, I just have to say that Arrow is easily my favorite show on TV, and if the last two seasons are anything to go by, then we're in for one hell of a ride over the next few months. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday Tunes -- Just Another Day

Going old-school today, back to 1992 with John Secada and Just Another Day.
I was still in primary school when this song came out, and I don't ever remember thinking it was exactly 90's gold when I was in my teens. I would hear it on the radio enough that I knew a few words here and there.
However, a few weeks ago, it popped into my head, and I had to go download it. I think because it kind of goes well with Escape Velocity. I've been doing edits on this book for weeks, and the decision was recently made to change it from a novella to a full novel. At the moment I'm working on adding an extra plot element and a handful of new scenes. I think the journey my characters go on definitely fits with the words of this song:
"Why can't we stay together? Just give me a reason, give me a reason. I, I don't want to say it. I don't want to find another way to make it through the day without you. I, I can't resist. Trying to find exactly what I missed. It's just another day without you."
Now let's enjoy some cheesy 90's goodness. Check out the ripped stonewash jeans and billowing white shirt...

Friday, September 26, 2014

New Season of Arrow -- Counting Down the Hours

So the last episode of Arrow season two totally slayed me, mainly because of the Oliver "I love you" moment. Sadly, I can't tell you how many times I've watched that clip, and it still makes my heart skip a beat (read all of my gushing about it in the Ships That Aren't Shipping Post-Season Follow Up).
Yes, they tried to fob us off by doing the whole psyche! it so wasn't real thing at the very end of the episode. But there was something in the intensity of the way Oliver said it that even the revelation it had apparently all been to trap Slade couldn't make me believe that Oliver was lying.
So I've been all shipped up and ready to see some serious Olicity action going into season three, and when I saw the promo for the first episode a few weeks ago, I was that pathetic person screaming at my screen. Because of THIS people!!

If only it weren't so blurry. Let's try another one....

Hmm, not much better. How about we just watch the promo?


Yes, its pretty safe to say I'm all over this ship. 
Seriously, though. I thought they would drag things out just a little bit longer, and the skeptical part of me says this "date" and "kiss" are all some part of an elaborate ruse to flush out a bad guy. Or, if its not all part of some weird mission, then about five minutes after they get together, Oliver will decide that Felicity is in too much danger by being with him, and since he loves her so much, he doesn't want to see her get hurt, therefore the best thing he can do is break up with her. I just cannot believe this ship will sail smoothly and they'll suddenly be in this blissful, domesticated superhero relationship. 
Two weeks to go until episode one of season three lights up our screens... how many more times can I watch the promo while I'm waiting?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Noticeably Absent

Yes, it has been well over a week since my last post! But I can say with all confidence that I haven't been idle in that time.
So, what have I been doing with myself? Well, besides the usual life stuff that we all have, I started writing a new book. Its a YA novel, and an idea I've had in the back of my head for a while now, unsure of what I wanted to do with it. I decided to let the muse free, and have smashed out 43,000 words in just over two weeks. The book is about a bunch of teens who get sent out on a honking big spaceship to find help because their planet is only a few years off suffering a catastrophic event that will pretty much destroy their world. Its only going to be "category" length, so I'm actually almost finished, I'm down to writing the climactic chapters, and hope to have it finished by this time next week. I have a possible submission opportunity all lined up, but details will come later when its all official like.
I've also been working on further edits for Escape Velocity, and I'm glad to say we're getting down to the final stages now. I hope to have a release date in the coming weeks, and maybe if I'm really lucky, a cover to go with it!
In romantic suspense news, my fabulous agent Paula is still shopping my Cedar Falls novel, and some new opportunities have arisen, so hopefully we might be able to find a home for Rick and Maddy.
So that's me for today, with plenty of work to keep me entertained!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

True Blood Season 7 & Series Finale - A Whole Lot of "Meh"

Since I've blogged about the final season of True Blood a few times in the past weeks/months, I thought it only fair to write one last post on the closing of this series.
So, the title probably gives a pretty good indication of what I thought about this last ever episode. However, its not all black and white.
In terms of Bill and Sookie, Bill's death scene was predictably bloody and gruesome, with Sookie ending up covered in his blood after she staked him. At least with Bill dead, we won't ever have to listen to him call her "Sookeh" ever again. The Bill/Sookie shippers... what do they call that, Bookie? Sooill? Damn, now I have to google it... Hmm, can't find it. Maybe there isn't one because they would all suck. (ba-boom-ching)
Anyway, bad jokes aside, Maybe the Bill/Sookie shippers cried their way through the death scene, but I sure didn't, which is saying something because usually it doesn't take much for me to get the waterworks going when I'm watching a TV show or movie. I was like "just get it over with already so something else can happen!" The only really interesting thing about that scene was Sookie refusing to use the last of her fairy powers to kill him. I was glad she finally owned who she is and fully accepted it. So, it wasn't what Bill wanted for her, but whatever, he's gone!
Sookie went on to live her life, and the closing scene showed her happy and pregnant, dining outside her house with all of the important people in her life six or so years later. We didn't get to see the face of Sookie's man, obviously that didn't really matter. I did like this closing scene in terms of everyone getting their happily ever after. Jason was there with Bridget, the chick Hoyt had brought back as his girlfriend before re-meeting Jessica (side note, that whole Jessica/Hoyt wedding scene was so drawn out and boring... seriously, I felt like there was just so much wasted fluff in this episode.). Jason had a couple of kids with her and they looked happy, along with everyone else in Sookie's close circle of friends.
And now, for the only things that saved this episode from being a total loss: Eric and Pam.
Really, I don't think it would be a stretch to say Eric and Pam have pretty much carried this show for the past three years. The Sookie storylines have gotten steadily more boring, while the Eric and Pam storylines got more interesting. Seriously, those two deserve a spin off series. I mean, can you imagine how awesome that would be?

So this episode featured what was possibly one of the funniest Eric scenes to date. After killing the Japanese mafia who'd gone after Sookie, Eric stole their car and I was in hysterics watching him bob his head along to whatever techno music the dead mafia guys had been listening to. And just when I thought the show was going to end on the too-sweet scene of everyone happy and living the dream at Sookie's house, it flashed forward to a few years further down the track, to Eric doing informercials about the new True Blood, followed by them at the stock exchange, making lots of money I would presume.
So that was it. A little disappointing really. I was hoping True Blood would go out with a bang, but it seemed to be more about bringing things full circle and tying up loose ends. I'm sure there were some fans who were satisfied with this ending, but personally I was hoping for more.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Muse - David Ramsey as John Diggle on Arrow

I got season one of Arrow on DVD way back at Christmas time, and since 90% of my favorite shows are in hiatus, now seemed like as good a time as any to start re-watching this series.
I find it amazing when you go back and watch something for the second time around, how much you miss during the first viewing, how many clues to future happenings are left, and how many things appear in a different light once you've got a bigger picture to work with. So for today's Monday Muse, I'm talking about John Diggle, Oliver's kind-of-but-not-really sidekick.
Diggle started out as a hired bodyguard to protect Oliver after he was abducted in the first or second episode.
Of course, the last thing Oliver wanted was a nanny, so he continuously gave Diggle the slip. You could see this frustrated Diggle, but also gave him a challenge. Diggle did his best to keep up with and/or find Oliver whenever he escaped, but obviously he was no match for The Hood/Vigilante/Arrow.
However, Diggle did manage to impress Oliver with his skills, and was obviously very perceptive, confronting Oliver with the fact that he thought there was more to the playboy billionaire than everybody else saw.
When Diggle eventually got himself between Oliver and a target, getting shot with a poison bullet, Oliver made the decision to bring Diggle in on the operation. At first, Diggle didn't want to know about it, but after giving it some thought, changed his mind.
However, Diggle joined on the condition that he would be Oliver's partner, not his sidekick, which is fair enough if you ask me!
I really like the balance that Diggle brought to the team, with the addition of Felicity soon after rounding things out very nicely. Diggle works as Oliver's voice of reason, giving a balance to the guy who literally was walking the edge for a while there.
However, interestingly enough, when it came to Diggle getting revenge for the death of his brother, some role reversal happened, with Diggle being the revenge-driven impulsive one, while Oliver tried to reason with him.
Diggle's story lines have been interesting in their own right, totally aside from Oliver's story arc. There's still some mystery as to exactly who John Diggle is, what he's done and what he might be capable of. I'm hoping the writers will continue exploring this in depth, and wouldn't be surprised to find Diggle has some darker aspects to his past/personality than one might necessarily expect.
And of course, because this is a Monday Muse, we'll finish on this note:

Incident Report IBC-726A-39

FORMAL INCIDENT REPORT SECTION ONE Incident Date:___ 25 th August 2436 __ Incident Time:___ 22 :30 hours approx ___ Incident...